Kildrak Bitterbits was walking down a road. What road it was and where it lead he did not know, nor did he seem to care. It was morning in the wood, and his spirits were glum. Ever since he had been banished from his dojo and the great Dragonborn sensei he so respected, things just didn’t seem right. He felt now as if his life somehow lacked purpose, being thousands of miles from home on an aimless journey, wandering through foreign kingdoms and strange lands. He had vowed to walk west to the end of the land and back, and it seemed just as he would reach the end, he hit this peninsula and some duchy, whatever it was called; his head was hung low, he stared at his boots as he walked. “If only there was a chance of redemption”, he mumbled to himself. “A chance to regain my honor, and to train and serve proudly in the dojo once again”. Just as he spoke these words, Kildrak Bitterbits saw something. He lifted his boot to examine the piece of parchment he had just trampled. It seemed like a map of sorts. It was an unfinished sketch of the layout of a building and the surrounding grounds. Written across the top of the map were the words “The Manor”, along with various other references. Feeling like this was a fortuitous sign, Kildrak rolled up the map, shoved it in his sack, and went on his way, this time with a little more spring in his diminutive stride. Perhaps this is the map to my redemption, he mused to himself has he continued down the road. Little known to Kildrak Bitterbits, less than 20 feet from the road in the brush lie a gruesome spectacle. The scattered corpses of others that had gazed that same map. Not Dwarves like himself, but rather several devils, a dark elf and a human. Not far from one of the bodies of the devils lay an embroidered cloth patch. It was a black blade in front of a purple sky, with blood and colorful patterns covering the ground. Kildrak Bitterbits however, was much too consumed in his own thoughts, and never even noticed.
As Kildrak approached what seemed like the gates of a small town, he noticed something moving in the bushes. He called out and was answered by the emergence of a wild-eyed, naked dwarf from the bushes. Taken aback, Kildrak went to reach for his pick but then the nude Dwarf called out that he meant no harm, and that he was simply lost and had just awoken in the woods, naked and without any memory of how he got there or much of the past at all. Kildrak seemed to find sympathy for the fellow Dwarves words, and asked the brother his name. However, the confused old dwarf could not remember.
“Well then”, spoke Kildrak, “I suppose I will call you Tusk, on account of the Boars tusk you wear through your flesh”.
“Tusk…”, mumbled Tusk.. “I like it”.
And with that the two new companions walked through the gates of what they were told was Hill’s Pass, population 1800. second Town of the Independent duchy of Velen. The two companions asked around and soon were directed to a Dwarven tavern, the Rusty Mug, where they found food and lodgings. While they were there, they met another adventurer named Oben-Grade, who by all accounts seemed like an overgrown Dwarf. Kildrak and Oben began to buy each others pints, and ended up talking for several hours, along with Tusk, who mostly just listened, wishing that he as well had tales of the past to share.
Oben recounted stories of escaping from the slave pits after his size was altered through sorcery and he was forced to fight in the gladiator arenas of the Border Kingdoms, the lawless lands on the souther shores of the Lake of Steam. Tusk and Kildrak were both enthralled by the stories of Oben-Grade, who spoke with simplicity, and claimed it was only through the will of Moradin that he escaped, and that this is why he had pledged himself as an Avenger of Moradin, bringing down the wrath of the the Great Hammer to all those who would wrong him again. After a while of talking, the sun was down and Kildrak decided to tell Tusk and Oben-Grade about the map he had found. They seemed curious and asked him what they should do about it. As Kildrak looked up, he realized that both of these dwarves here with him at the table were wounded and needed leadership. As he stared into their waiting eyes, he felt the strength of his sensei start to well up inside him, and he made a decision that from there on out, he would make them his…. henchmen.
“Let’s figure out where this Manor is exactly”, Kildrak smirked.
After gathering information, the newly formed party learned that the thieves guild was the best place to find our information about the manor, so they headed off there at once. It was dark on the streets, and they were stared at by a few locals who looked at them with slight suspicion, though ever since the rift opened, Dwarves are a lot more common throughout the realms than they used to be.
After reaching the thieves guild and bribing their way in, the Dwarves spoke to a teen boy named Kyle, who told them all about the Manor of Gimaelior the Mad, the rumors surrounding the mansion, and also that they should talk to Alruse Finperis, the local money lender if they want more information or perhaps a job. Kyle told them to check the Apothecary shop across the plaza in the morning to find Alruse. Upon leaving the guild, the group stumbled upon another Dwarf named Dervish who seemed raving mad and was going on about his family being killed at sea and needing to find a drink badly. The party offered him some company and he joined them momentarily. Deciding to sleep outside of town, the party travelled across the plaza towards the town gate. Upon passing the Apothecary shop though, they noticed a light on inside and what sounded like noises. Deciding to see if perhaps Alruse had decided to stay late, they entered the shop, only to find… Devils!! The Dwarves were immediately attacked by what looked like a devil with a spiked chain whip and more devils that looked like any other soldiers, but with pointy red ears and tails. The Dwarves fought boldly however, and managed to slay the devils, with only one escaping through the shop window. Confused and weary from combat, the Dwarves decided to leave and return in the morning, to sort things out with Alruse and figure out exactly what was going on. Before leaving however, Dervish decided to drink a random potion off the shelf in hopes it would be somewhat intoxicating. After quaffing the liquid though, his head grew to 3 times it’s normal size! It was quite a laugh for the rest of the group.