Although a rather small place, the Skaldsong Tavern is home to a wide variety of patrons tonight. Men from the world over, a few dwarves, and even the occasional elf. Nordlings of various clans and tribes roar with laughter and tell tall tales, and even a few Imperials sit here and there, some in various orders and some with no allegiance, while still others are traders - or even pirates. And, in one corner, sitting alone, iss a strikingly handsome hulk of a man - one-eyed, wearing the trappings of an Imperial Venator, watching everything around him with an eye like an eagle.
To one corner of the tavern, a small band of tattooed Nordlings plays lively tunes...
A few patrons are even dancing in a small dance floor to one side of the tavern. A wide variety are enjoying themselves there: drunk Nordlings putting on nonetheless impressive dancing displays, some Imperial men and women dancing together gracefully in pairs, a few scoundrels wandering the dance floor trying to find a woman, and even two Frost Dwarves off to one side of the floor kicking to the music in what are apparently their own traditional dances.
All are welcome in the Skaldsong Tavern, a meeting place of many peoples and cultures in Baldur's Fjord, a great and peaceful hub of trade. All in all, it is a very pleasant place, if a tad cramped. But you aren't here just for the pleasantness, as you make your way over to the table of Agni Bloodrune, the dwarf with the proposition... Perhaps, before you settle in for the night, you'll have time to engage in the tavern's atmosphere.
- Prologue -
Gates of the Fjord
Agni sat at his table, leaning back in his chair, feet propped up - and watched smugly as more people gathered around him. Grinning, he stood up in his seat and beckoned everyone over.
"Come, sit!" he said, opening his arms wide invitingly as everyone took a place around the dwarf's table. He reached into a bag hanging from the back of his chair and spread a large map over the table - a map of the few mapped regions of Northrim.
"So yer all interested, eh? Quite a crew! You'll have t' sign the contract, o'course, but we'll get to that after I tell ye more about where you'll be goin', in case ye change yer mind 'fore I'm done."
A waitress came by the table and left a tankard for everyone present. Agni dropped several gold coins onto the woman's platter and gave her a wink before she moved off again. The dwarf then cleared his throat and continued, laying a thick finger on the map as he pointed out locations.
"Alright, so there're a few ways to reach the door in the Jagged Edge, o'course. I'm gonna offer ye a few suggestions t' think about, but I'm not comin' with ye, so it's up to you lot what paths you take - just so long as you get there 'n' get the sword back. Get the job done, and I don't care if you carved through the bowels o' the Underworld itself to get Dáinsleif.
"Anyway, I thought o' three different paths that'd work, dependin' on yer preferences..."
(NORDLING PATH - long, relatively safe, many stops, less law and scrutiny)
He rested a finger on Baldur's Fjord, marked with the symbol of a boar over a sword. "We're here, obviously, in Baldur's Fjord. So, one path ye could take is to head north to Kvarsisal, then to Bjornburg, then Wulfsted, to Endibraut, and into the Jagged Edge, and you'd just have to go a bit south to the door, which is here," he put a finger almost due east of the Immortal Wood, a decent ways into the Jagged Edge, which was nothing but uncharted mountains on the map. "That'd be a long path, fer sure, but it'd be pretty safe, and it'd have lots o' stops fer resting, eating, and buying equipment, and ye'd have less regroupin' to do. Bear in mind, though, that the Nordlings don't have as many strict laws as the Imperials, and there aren't many people patrollin' the roads and paths you might take... so there'd be less scrutiny than headin' through Achaean territory, if any o' you are some kinda criminals and that's a concern. The cities you'd stop in would be safe, for sure, as long as you don't piss off any o' the tribes."
(WILDERNESS PATH - quick, extremely dangerous, no law, no help, very little if any rest, safety, or stores)
Agni scratched his beard and then continued, "There's another path that's bloody dangerous, but I'll tell ye, if yer interested..." he put his finger on Baldur's Fjord again and traced the path as he spoke. "You could cut directly across - go straight into Blekmyr Marsh, then into the Edge. You wouldn't have any places to restock equipment or safety t' rest in, but if ye really don't like any civilization or scrutiny from anybody and ye wanna get there as quickly as possible fer some reason, this'd be the way to go. May very well get some o' ye killed."
(RIVER/IMPERIAL PATH - relatively quick, extremely safe at first, many towns offering excellent equipment and safety in Imperial law, but great scrutiny)
After taking a short break to drink some ale, Agni continued, "There's a very safe and pretty quick path ye could take, if none o' you have problems with the Imperials. Take a longship down the Rime, all the way to Rimegard, and you're sure to not be bothered by much 'cept Achaeans. Then, from Rimegard, ye can head to Arrowfall and then toward the Edge. I'll say one thing fer Imperials: as far as humans go, they know how to make good armor 'n' weapons, and their cities are very safe and burstin' with all kinds o' laws. You'd be safe, but you'll also be surrounded by nosy Imperials, if that's a cause fer concern with anybody." He chuckled. "Not that it should be, considerin' how this bunch we got here has a few from three o' the biggest Imperial orders, fer some reason. But hey, none o' my business."
(CUSTOM PATH - choose your own way [note, obviously, all paths are customizable as you go])
Agni set his tankard aside. "But like I said, which way ye go is up to you. Hell, you can try takin' a longship all the way up to Blekmyr, if it suits yer fancy and you can find anyone willin' to do it. Switch things up however ye please... just get me Dáinsleif."
He rubbed his hands together eagerly. "Regardless o' what path ye take, yer gonna have to go through Blekmyr, or the Immortal Wood, or somethin', to get to the Edge. I wouldn't recommend tryin' the Immortal Wood, 'cause the elves won't let you through, and some green dragon'll eat ye if a worg doesn't get to ye first. 'Course, Blekmyr isn't safe, so..." he shrugged.
"The door is hidden in the mountains. I'll make it on the map here..." he pulled out a simple metal stylus and marked a X in black ink where he had indicated before, in the Jagged Edge...
"Ye can keep this map, o'course," he said. "Whoever wants to keep up with it for the crew."
Agni reached into his bag again and drew out something else: a thick, rolled-up piece of parchment. He unfurled it, allowing it to bounce across the length of the table - it was quite a long sheet, and those who couldn't read felt a twinge of a headache just looking at it. The dwarf grinned and shrugged.
"Dwarves are very good lawieres!" Agni said with a laugh. "Ye don't need to read all this mess. It's mostly just weird legalities you'll never even be concerned with. All that matters is that it says you can take whatever you want from the Forbidden Halls of Clan Dimmlundar - except Dáinsleif. And that you have the full permission o' all the dwarf clans to do this, as was agreed upon by a great meeting set up by Clan Silvershield.
"If you have any questions, just ask me. But... you can't get written permission to go on this fine adventure until you sign the contract. Here's me pen," he set the metal pen down in a small bottle of ink he produced from his bag, "and you sign here," he scratched around with the giant parchment roll until he found the space for signatures, which was currently empty.
The tall and immensely muscular, one-eyed Venator discreetly moved away from the table - he hadn't been sitting, to begin with, so it was easy to slip away unnoticed, and he moved to stand a few feet away, still holding his tankard as he apparently lost himself in thought. Agni did not notice his departure, or at least he did not let it dampen his enthusiasm.
"So!" Agni said with a smile, sitting in his chair once again. "Any questions? Concerns? Once ye all sign, or not, I'm off ter bed, and you can all go about getting to the Forbidden Halls however ye please, but the journey's gonna take a while, so I'd recommend leavin' in the mornin'."
((Welcome to the campaign's prologue, which will give everyone a chance to interact with other players and with NPCs.
I'll be posting very frequently to update NPC reactions and other things, depending on what everyone does. For the sake of this prologue, please do not leave the tavern. There's nothing particularly important outside in Baldur's Fjord, all of you are staying in this inn for the night, and the campaign will open up to much larger and freer areas in the future. But, for now, stick to interacting with the environment you already have, and - more importantly - getting to know the various other characters.
By the way, don't be afraid at all to spam the topic with interactions! If someone isn't involved in a conversation, they shouldn't feel intimidated into the need to read it (especially since your character wouldn't know it, anyway). Only read posts relevant to you; if two other players are having a conversation in a different room, don't feel like you have to read everything they're saying, unless you want to. I don't want anyone to feel overwhelmed by posts, but no one should feel that they have to wait for other people to post when they aren't involved with what they're doing, if you catch my drift.
For anyone wanting to look up descriptions of the various characters, please see the character list in the OOC thread. And remember to keep OOC discussions, questions, etc., in that thread. Have fun!))