A Fragment of Time

A town called Navale

Navale, a humble coastal town built around the fishing docks that founded its settlement. Here the loose confederation that is Allansia’s army, holds a small barracks to the south of town. Lead by the stern Captain Belvadin, a dwarf veteran, whom has seen many a skirmish in his distinguished career and now has been selected to train and lead the new-founded militia for the town.

Although a relatively peaceful town, Navale has recently been suffering disturbances along the dockyards. Reports from patrols speak in hushed tones over shadows leaping from the  hulls of incoming merchant vessels coming from the east. Several patrols have disappeared in the night, only to be found the next day murdered. With the new found militia having limited numbers to call upon, word has been sent to Toragard for reinforcements in the matter lest the situation worsens…

The road was long but uneventful. Within a few days they had reaqched Navale, by which time it was approaching early evening. They headed for the barracks located to the south in order to see Captain Belvadin. The captain greeted them warmly and ushered them to be seated upon reaching his office. 

"Thank you for coming so quickly, we are very much in need of your assistance." began Belvadin.

"What seems to be the trouble captain?" enquired Alexis.

Belvadin rose from his chair and walked solemnly to a nearby window. 

"Recently we have been losing several of our patrols at the docks, only to find them dead in cruel displays the following morning." he answered.

"Are they trying to send a message?" she asked, "Or just stir fear?"

Belvadin gritted his teeth in frustration.

"Either way its working" he replied bitterly, "because if this isn't brought to an end, then we wont have any patrols left and Navale descend into fear and chaos." 

"How were the patrolmen found captain?" enquired Essella.

"They were pinned against the walls of the dockyard warehouses. Their faces slashed and their uniforms in tatters." he replied mournfully.

"Worry not captain!" Alexis proclaimed and she jumped from he chair, "We'll sort this mess out."

"I'll send a patrol with you" he answered.

"I think we'll be better off without captain" she replied, "you've lost enough men, and we don't want to risk any more. Besides, we've faced worse situations" she smirked.

"As you wish then," Belvadin conceded "may fortune be with you".

With that the party settled to dinner at the mess hall.

"What's for dinner?" asked Alexis inquisitively.

"Fish stew ma'am" answered the chef solemnly.

"To the Pit with that" snorted Navek, "I'm going to tavern for some REAL food. Eat from land but never the sea I always say."

"Same here" grunted Durr'Graz. And with that they strode off down the cobbled street to the nearest tavern.

"Meh, no pleasing some people" shrugged Alexis.

5.6 was in the cart at the stable muttering to himself.

"Mustn't eat the horsys cos 'lexis said no" After a few select rodents, he wrapped over himself  some tarpaulin and gently dozed. 

The mess hall was as quiet as a graveyard. Not for a lack of people, but the mood was none-the-less solemn and grim. Alexis tried her best to liven them up with tales of the party's eploits. Some gathered, but most drifted slowly to the dormitories as night fell. 

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Return to Toragard

It has been 2 months since the fall of of the Half-Fiend Zagor and the liberation of the Desolated Swamps. Since then Toragard has been slowly rebuilt to its former glory. Hextor Francis had been aiding the garrison in the recruiting and training of militia forces in order to fill the vacuum left from the 4 years of siege. The project has been so successful that it has eclipsed the original garrison's numbers.

A new face recently comes to town, Navek Tzar'Irell (a half-giant soldier from Wolftown) upon hearing of army recruitment at Toragard comes seeking work. Upon successful recruitment he comes to the 'Plot Hook' tavern for some much needed lunch after signing all those prerequisite documents at the barracks. Here he meets Alexis, strolling in after a hard weeks shopping and investing in real-estate. After making friends with Navek over Alexis' usual acrobatic barstool mounting antics, the 2 set down to lunch together.

Across the courtyard at the training barracks Hextor (the 't' is silent!) and 5.6 are setting about the routine combat sparring.

" Ok lads, if you can hit the target" pointing to 5.6 (who waves enthusiastically at the recruits), "then you're training will be complete…. now 5.6….. gently this time" 5.6 smiles happily, then prods them flying across the courtyard. After a few hours, the recruits lay about groaning in pain, Hextor looks on wincingly in renewed disbelief.

"Okkayyy…. thats enough for today guys, we will pick up again same time tomorrow" Hextor declares, then inching towards the door, tugging 5.6 by the wrist.

Eventually 5.6 and Hextor make their way to the tavern and are introduced to Navek. Navek upon seeing 5.6 without his helm on scoffs "abomination!" and moves to another table. "Hey!!" Hextor remarks scornfully, "5.6 has saved more lives than you had hot dinners." Navek cleaning his fourth plate of beef and onions "somehow I doubt that" Upon entering the tavern Durr'Graz comes in. "Durry!" Alexis squeels excitedly. 5.6 finishes his whole  cow.

It was cool autumn evening, and the sun had just recently set. A lone traveller walks in rhythm to his staff as it clicks along the cobbles down the road. Wearily, the traveller lifts his wicker hat as the noble town of Toragard emerges over the horizon. He strolls on as the evening rolls on, passing through the newly carved masonry of the town's gateway. The warm light of the tavern cast a soft glow upon the floor, making a welcoming trail to its door.

Upon entering the tavern, there were several soldiers off duty along with a few craftsmen drinking away the aches and pains of the day. Making is way to the bar, he slid tiredly onto an empty barstool. A hearty middle aged gent leant over the bar, polishing a tankard. "Welcome sir, what pray brings you to humble Toragard?" The stranger peered from under his hat.

"Can you tell me where I can find these individuals?" replied the stranger, gesturing 4 partchment pictures… 

Alexis introduces herself to the stranger. "I have a proposition for you and your party" he replied. 

 

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Prologue

It was a cold night high in the mountains. A vast army snaked like a dark spear spined column along the narrow pass, slowly making its way towards the summit. At its forefront, a rider swathed in a dark cloak. Ahead loomed a temple over the ridge as they approached. The rider raised a hand in gesture to halt. A bent figure in rags scrabbled from   the amassed infantry and  bounded up to the rider. He whispered in a dry, hollow voice.

 

“My lord, are you sure this is where the artifact resides?”

 

The leading rider threw back his cowl to reveal a pale yet noble man with raven dark hair that flowed over his shoulders.  He chuckled darkly and replied,

 

“There can be no doubt, my gaunt accomplice. Here as the accounts of Melgrin the Seer have foretold. There can be no mistake”

 

He gestured to a device on the archway to the entrance.

 

“Look yonder… the device on the entrance.”

 

Then moving his hand to the inside of his shirt, he pulled out a small leather bound tattered notebook. Flicking through the rough and old pages he turned to an ink inscribed diagram of a device depicting an hourglass wreathed with a serpent.

 

“It is an exact likeness” he proclaimed heartily.

“Have the troops readied. Our time … has come”

 

With that the his lieutenant drew his sword, and in a dry croaky voice he shrieked

 

“FORWARD!!”

 

With this command, the horde lurched forward like an armoured tide towards the gates of the temple. The towering doors creaked and groaned mournfully under the strain of the assault, until finally it buckled and exploded in a shower of shrapnel and splinters. The army surged through as a fierce torrent. Inside the temple, the retainers fell back in terror as the onslaught decended upon them. Within moments they were overrun and trampled to death. The horde pourewd on through until they reached the inner chamber. The first ranks crashed against the door in a cloud of dust. 

 

“HALT!!” Cried the leader.  The horde ceased their advance. The leader dismounted his steed. Opening the tattered notebook, he flipped through its ragged pages. As he ran his finger along the text he found a passage detailing about the artifact.

 

“So. The artifact’s power passes even through stone walls. Truly this is a remarkable relic” He proclaimed in a maniacal fit of glee. His accomplice looked up at him  with stricken panic across its gaunt features. 

 

“Master… you mean to say that the artifact has the power to turn creatures to dust?” It remarked alarmedly. 

 

“Yes my faithful minion. For this artifact is a fragment of the God Time. It was found hundreds of years ago in the mountainside where this temple had since been built upon. The temple’s very purpose is to guard this fragment from outsiders. For to come near it is to age in moments. The warriors turned to dust because they were aged years in the blink of an eye. This… my malformed lackey, is the remnants of a God. And to possess such an artifact is to become a God!” A cruel smile crawled smugly over his lips.

 

“But master!” The accomplice retorted, “If we cannot even approach the artifact. Then how by the Demons of the Pit, are we to obtain it?”

 

The leader broke out into a foul and skin crawling cackle. 

 

“Fool! Do you think Mordain Baelgrun is without device and cunning for such a mere obstacle as time? I am a creature of the night, a vampire of the darkest progeny. I cannot die from age. For time has no hold on that which is not alive!”

 

With that he strode boldly across and flung the doors aside, shattering them to tinder. Inside the chamber shining incandescently was a shard of what appeared to be glass. It hovered above a stone pedestal. As Mordain walked closer to the artifact, the air seemed to get gradually thicker. He reached forth towards the relic. His hand felt more as though it was dragging through a mire than air. Upon grasping the shard-like item his skin grew taut, but with a flush of energy returned to its current state. 

 

"It is powerful, but my regenerative power can easily stalemate" he grinned.

 "Come minion, we have what we came for, now let us return to the estate… where I shall plan my conquest"

 

His hideous laughter echoed through the temple and out into the cold mountain air as he and his forces descended back toward the gloomy forests below. Thus Mordain dissapeared from known history. Some say he met his end in wars over his kingdom's borders, others that he simply fell into a toporous slumber. Not much is known for none that have entered his region has returned to tell the tale…

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