The Order of the Rune
- Dwarf Fighter: Jocke
- Dragonborn Paladin: Anders
- Halfling Rogue: Johan
You were born in the once-mighty city of Caerfyrddin, an ancient stronghold of the Nerath Empire. With the fall of the Empire five generations ago, Caerfyrddin has diminished. The mighty keep still stands, but is manned by only 25 men of the City Guard, a far cry from the 200-plus Imperial Knights that served during the Empire’s three century-long rule.
You come from different backgrounds, but one thing unifies you: at around 15 years of age, a strange marking began to appear on the skin of your inner forearm. At first, it just seemed a discolouration of the skin, but as weeks passed, the marking darkened and resolved itself into an unmistakable runic shape. Horrified but excited, you searched the dark alleys of the city for a mage, seer, scholar, or lunatic who could decipher the rune.
You were directed in fits and starts, but ultimately unerringly, to an ancient scholar of Imperial history who looked like he may well have been present at the Empire’s founding, 400 years past. He studied the rune carefully, sketching a copy onto a sheet of parchment, then
shooed you away “so I can find some answers. Come back in a few days, and I’ll tell you what I’ve learned.”
What he learned was shocking indeed. “You are not the only one”, he said. “Four others have come to me, each with a marking similar to your own. I have invited them all to join me in my study tonight at 19 bells. Come back then, and I will tell you the truth of what you are.”
The five of you assemble outside the scholar’s study, waiting impatiently for the massive bell at the top of the south tower to announce the 19th bell. You are a strange grouping indeed: a stocky
dwarf, not 10 hands tall; a slim and svelte halfling, shorter still; a towering dragonborn, scaly hide rippling under muscles that put even those of a prize warhorse to shame; a pale human, squinting through eyes ruined by long nights spent poring over arcane tomes by flickering candlelight; and a half-elf, wearing a holy symbol on a thick chain around his neck. Passers by give you suspicious looks and a wide girth. “Bane-damned adventurer’s, or I’m not Taraan Shoulderdown”, mutters a rough-looking craftsman as he edges past your group into a nearby pub.
Finally the bell tolls, and the scholar emerges to usher you into his quarters. Shoved against one wall under a minuscule window is a cot, nearly buried under a pile of scrolls, books, and bits of loose parchment. The other three walls are bookshelves stretching from floor to ceiling, and in the centre of the room stands a massive desk, groaning under the weight of the books the scholar has stacked upon it.
“Come in, come in,” he waves manically. “Such an amazing discovery! I’ll be famed throughout the Downs!”
“Your kind is ancient indeed, older than even the fallen Empire! Legends tell of fell men and woman bearing the runic marks. The script itself is beyond the knowledge of any scholar whose work remains, but the runes seem to mark aspects of power unique to the bearer. Yours,” he waves at the dwarf, “bears these marks: Earth, a will as mighty as the stone of the mountains and as unyielding.”
Shuffling scrolls and books madly, the scholar points out various components on the runes marking each of you. He cannot decipher them in their entirety, but what he does tell you fits uncannily with your personalities.
“During the Empire, some of your kind who were loyal to the Emperor formed the Order of the Rune, and did great deeds in the name of Nerath. But during the decline, corrupt counselors who feared the might of the Order turned the Emperor against them, and the last commander of the Order, Sir Caliban, was discredited and banished from the realm. He fled with his infant son north, a step ahead of the assassins sent by the counselors. He passes out of the histories here, but my research has unearthed a new fact: he was for some short while in a remote trading town called Winterhaven. I know not where it lies, save that it is to the north. But if you want answers, you must seek him out.”
The scholar continues at length, but concerning topics only of interest to himself (and presumably to other wizened academics). The five of you excuse yourselves one at a time, meeting up at Taraan Shoulderdown’s local to discuss the scholar’s revelations. The decision is easy: you must learn more about the runes, and the only man who knows anything went north, to a town called Winterhaven. You decide to set out on the morn…