Five Tales of Ara Am Akiir
It is the year 2392 ME. The town of Kessian, on the shores of the eponymous Lake is happy, prosperous, and safe. Harvests are bountiful, the weather mild and the many dangers of Telisar seem to give the place a wide birth. Ara arrives in town in the last span of the Shark to find a harvest festival underway, a multi-day affair with games, food, and entertainment. Wandering among the wooden houses one night Ara hears mournful crying. Following it he discovers a woman sat upon the stair to her home, her body wracked with sobs. The woman led the inquiring Ara into her home, drew the curtains and in hushed, urgent tones explained that the town’s well-being is contingent on a yearly blood sacrifice. At dawn on the 1st of the Lion, a child will be rowed to the centre of the lake, bound about the ankles and wrists, and thrown into Lake Kessian. The child is chosen by lots; this year, the woman’s 6yr old daughter was selected. If the sacrifice is not given, it is said the town will fall to blight, disease and starvation; hundreds will die. The woman begs Ara to save her daughter, to smuggle her out of Kessian tonight, before the dawn ritual.
It is the year 3186 ME. Ara has come to Zikrin’s Eyes, a loose collective of farms west of the town of El Zikrin so named for the twin watchtowers that stand either side of the main road. The Martial Order of Bahamut has taken over the north tower, and are conducting an investigation to root out what they deem “corruption.” The knight-brothers have tried a young man for Tiamat worship. Ara arrives just as a public execution is being prepared. The man freely admits to worshipping Tiamat as his father had done and his father before him, but denies any wrongdoing. The locals too support the man, who say he is fine and good, and they beg the soldiers to release him. They are intent on his death however, having been alerted to the man’s religion by his neighbour, a loud, belligerent and unpopular lout.
It is the year 433 ME. Ara is hired by a farmer to drive out a band of Orcs who have taken over his land. The Orcs are violent and cruel and are terrorizing the area. Ara confronts the Orcs and learns that they are the last surviving members of a tribe whose ancestors were driven from this land hundreds of years ago when the Ereland Wavebreaker and the Dwarves first settled Wodenshore. This very farm stands on the Orcs’ ancient burial ground, and Grummsh demands the Orcs reclaim their homeland before he will allow the souls of the dead to pass on.
It is the year 2849 ME. A wizard has built a tower on the grounds of some Elven ruins in the foothills of Throm’s Teeth, south of El Astrum. After the tower was erected, a strange sickness took hold and the forests for miles around are withering, the trees turning black and the ground becoming grey dust, and the animals have fled. Ara visits the tower and discovers it stands over a gaping portal at the heart of the ruins from which a necrotic power pours, killing the very earth. The wizard is a priestess of Mimir; she claims she is studying this power, trying to understand its truth so that it can be stopped. An ancient, emaciated elf is held prisoner in a cage next to the portal; the wizard says his people were responsible for rupturing the barriers between planes in irresponsible pursuits of knowledge. The elf claims the wizard ruptured the portal intentionally to harness its power, and now only killing her will seal it anew.
It is the year 17 ME. One day on the road east of El Qatra Ara sees a half-dwarf bandit rummaging through an overturned cart. The body of the driver, an old man, lies dead in a pool of blood in the grass. Ara confronts the bandit, easily subduing him. By order of Good King Orin, banditry is punishable by death and as Fist Ara is charged by duty to execute this man. The bandit knows this, but is defiant. He says he is following the path of Woden, which teaches that the strong have a duty to survive, that might is virtuous. The man says his actions are blessed by his god, which supersedes the rule of the King.