One would be hard pressed to find a more refined and admirable-looking old knight than the Grand Master of the Knights Templar, Lord Alderic Durandus, as he stepped out at the top of the mountain of stairs leading into the grand Pantheon of Templaria. He struck a kingly figure in his glittering deepgold armor, the four-pointed star on his breastplate seeming to glow from within as it reflected the harsh midday sun. His old sea-blue eyes, nearly as grey as his silver hair, scanned the shining walls of his beloved city, surrounded on nearly all sides by the sparkling ocean.
He turned back to the assembled warriors there in the courtyard, his expression stern. "I assume you have all visited the monument by the docks as my posting commanded? Good. Then you know what we are dealing with. Ten years ago, the Inquisition discovered a hive of villainous mages dwelling in our fair city, the jewel of the Empire, tarnishing it with their loathsome presence. Their leader, Khaldun the Black, was driven out of hiding and engaged in our very streets, cutting a path of destruction from the Temple of Hades all the way to the docks, destroying buildings and killing priests and other citizens as he and his lackeys fought off the Inquisitors who pursued him. To our great shame, the murderer escaped by boat over the sea. None dared to take the fight to the water, where his fire magic might be an even more potent enemy. He has not been heard from since."
Lord Durandus paused dramatically, setting his jaw. "Until today. A village along the coast was found burned to the ground, with one inhabitant left alive to tell the tale. Mad with grief and the memory of what he had seen, all he could do was roam babbling about the wreckage, weeping over the piles of ash and corpses that had once been homes and loved ones. All he could say was a single word: 'Khaldun.'
"The priests who came to bury the dead felt a great emptiness in the air, as the souls of everyone living in that town had been drained away by Khaldun's necromancers. Where the attack came from, and to where Khaldun escaped, we are not sure.
"It is your job to find out. I am offering a sum of twenty gold solidi for any information leading to the whereabouts Khaldun. There are rumors that he may be hiding within these walls, while others say he is operating entirely at sea, or perhaps has built a tower as far away as the untamed Southwest, among the beastfolk and Amazons that dwell there. For his head, I am offering a reward of three hundred gold solidi, plus a treasure from our vaults. This monster will not escape again. Among you stand Inquisitors, Knights Templar, Venatori, and professional mercenaries and fortune hunters from all over the Empire and beyond. Working together or separately, I am confident you can bring this demon to justice. But first, we will have to find him..."
As Lord Durandus finished speaking, he stepped back to allow a shadowy figure to take his place. Clad as he was in armor as dark as the night, he required no introduction, nor did he give one. He merely drew back his black hood, revealing a hideously disfigured visage, half of it mangled by burn marks that seemed to form a Ω shape across his right cheek. His hair was ashen grey, his skin pale. Clearing his throat, he spoke before the enthralled audience.
"The Inquisition," he said, and silence fell as everyone strained to hear his low voice, "has been investigating Khaldun's activity for over a decade now. It is a black mark upon our organization's history that we allowed this accursed wretch to escape our grasp the first time. It will not happen again." He nodded gravely to the Inquisitors present among the assembled, one of whom reached a black-clad hand down to calm his vicious war hound. "To ensure this, the Inquisition is adding another three hundred solidi to the reward offered by the Templar. If one of our own claims this prize, he or she will be honored greatly by our order. And, just to make myself perfectly clear, we do not want to capture this mage. We want his head... with no body attached."
He paused, taking a deep breath, as the audience grew tense. "I have been instructed to inform you that we have found several leads you may investigate to find the whereabouts of Khaldun's lair. First, you may wish to look around his original hideout, located underground near the Temple of Hades. Some of our Ebonguards are keeping watch over it currently. Merely ask, and they will show you the way. Secondly, you can try inquiring around the docks, as there have been rumors of strange, magical sightings at sea. It could be only the fish stories of drunken seamen, but I mention it nonetheless."
Extending his black-armored arm, he gestured to a row of five figures standing at the bottom of the temple stairs. "Finally, Sir Thomas Draconius, a knight of Illikon, was with the Imperial Legion when they found the sole survivor of the village that Khaldun destroyed. Sir Drake can answer any of your questions about that incident, since the survivor is currently in the house of healing as the priests attempt to calm his fractured mind."
Sir Drake, a handsome young knight clad in the armor of a hoplite, smiled at the crowd. His features were clearly those of an Imperial noble, and his shining armor with its breastplate covered in heraldry confirmed this. His muscular bare arms and dual swords spoke much of his prowess as a warrior as well.
The Grand Inquisitor stepped back now, and the speech was resumed by the more eloquent old Grand Master of the Templar instead. "Beside Sir Draconius," he said, "you will find an Inquisitor Channeler named Basil. He is hard to miss, for he is very black, from his clothing to his skin. If you require anything from the Inquisition, he is the man to ask. Beside him stands one of our finest knights, Lady Amelina Celestine. She too is hard to miss, for she is very gold, from her armor to her eyes. If you require anything of the Knights Templar, she is here to serve. Finally, the last two, ah... individuals... the red-haired elves... are from the Venatori. I suppose they might also be of aid. Somehow."
The twin wood elves, clad in the dark blue and silver ceremonial colors of the Venatori, exchanged glances. Then they shrugged and grinned at the crowd of adventurers.
"If you need anything else," finished Lord Durandus, "plenty of merchants have gathered like vultures to see to your needs... and help themselves to your purses. Just follow the path down off the acropolis, and you'll be in the market district. Now... hmm... Yes, I believe that's everything. Everyone I see standing below me looks like an experienced warrior or soldier of fortune. A king's ransom awaits you, should you succeed. Do not disappoint me."
FACTION-SPECIFIC INTRO'S (you can read all of these if you want, or just read yours):
INQUISITORS (AND RICHARD):
You see a wide variety of fortune hunters and soldiers and knights milling about you, from all walks of life and all ends of the earth. Will you team up with them, or try to strike out on your own and beat them to the prize?
VERY IMPORTANT NOTES FOR EVERYONE:
- Your character's current status and inventory will be posted in the Character Stat Sheets topic (see links at the top of this post). Keep an eye on it when things get hairy!
- You may converse among yourselves freely, but if you wish to take an ACTION, then end your post with something like "Joe started to climb the wall" or "Joe attempted to steal the dagger." I will tell you whether or not you succeeded the action. DO NOT determine that for yourself. Wait for me to post again.
- PLEASE try to keep your posts REASONABLY SHORT. Somewhere between 1 and 3 paragraphs, perhaps. We have a LOT of players here. Hopefully when the numbers start to thin out, I can allow more elaborate posts. But don't make me read too much. I have stuff to do! Like... things! Seriously! D:
- Otherwise, you are free to do whatever you like. You can try to sabotage other players' plans and leave town first, before anyone else. Or you can try to form a good team and leave town together, hopefully increasing your chances of survival. You can go by land or by sea. It's your adventure! Have fun with it! And try not to die.