As Luck Would Have it
The cold stillness of Ralinwood, stark white and grey, is cut through like a knife. A harsh tempest of snow and rain, heralded by winds akin to a horde of ogres, buffets the port town. Many have taken refuge indoors, to escape the chill and warm their bones. None can explain the sudden bluster or the strange heft to the tempest’s freezing strength, but a tingle in the air warns that it may get worse before it gets better.
However, a beacon of warmth and merriment stands vigil on a stretch of the Docks. A two-story building at the water’s edge, promising refuge, vigour and as much alcohol as it takes.
Many of the wandering vagabonds look to it with eyes of hope and full pockets of coin, ready to spend the bitter nights wallowing waist-deep in joy, drink, and company instead of snow. A rather hefty man of ragged age and ale-baited breath waits to see you enter The Swashbuckler’s Luck Inn.
Upon the notice board in town, a large sheet of parchment is scrawled with surprisingly clean wording and a few drink stains:
Listen up ya rowdy lot o’ townsfolk!
It’s been a bit since the business of setting folks up with new places to settle shop or expand, and by her glory it be ’bout time we celebrate such a grand thing.
I, Salty Pete, be inviting ya lot with open arms and tankards o’ ale to enjoy a night of celebrating a new dawn fer Ralinwood an’ another year o’ living true. This here be most true o’ the new folk and their ventures to which I be sendin’ the most welcoming invitation I can be managing wit’ me gruff health.
Music, merriment, mead, it’s gonna be a right good time and I wanna share it with ya lot.
Come to the Swashbuckler’s Luck, under its new management, and let’s drink the night away and bring about this new year proper!”
. . .
The storm only continues to grow worse as the night of the party draws near.
The usually dingy tavern grows ripe with cheer as people file in to take shelter from the storm–some even find themselves being chased in by ice elementals! People from all walks of life have made their way to the festivities–some known, some new like a suspicious wild elf and orc pair. The illustrious Empress-ive Exotics, a new and thriving business that sells all kinds of rare oddities, were found peddling their wares. A caravan of Ajaunti held a tea party while playing matchmaker for a lucky paladin. Even Zaid Acreages, the farmer’s collectivization action, and a mysterious newcomer named Alba, claiming to be the new Regent’s brother, could be found milling about.
Like with most parties, however, it didn’t take long for misfortune to strike.
A blood curdling scream ripped through the tiny pub, as the bar wench chanced upon the corpse of a young busboy. Like the beat of a drum accompanying a horrific melody, adventurers who were served drinks began to drop to the floor. The doctors were able to stabilize them before their condition became fatal; but, the busboy was not so lucky. Wardens immediately flocked to the scene and began their interrogations, searching for the culprits.
In true Ralinwood style, despite the stroke of horror, the party continued on–and so did the storm. The icy winds grew unbearably cold and chilled all who stepped outside to their bones.
A mage from the Republic Arcanist Collective by the name of Ambroos began to gather mages to perform a ritual that could part the raging storm outside. Unfortunately, no one but the mages were willing to help and the ritual was left dangerously unguarded.
When the ritual began, Belkars, drawn by the powerful elemental magics, started to swarm the ritualists and disturb the ritual. Warriors seeing this ran out of the tavern to save their friends but it was too late. The ritual completed but was only able to reduce the strength of the storm, rather than stop it, and a backlash rippled out from the ritual causing all to enrage when they saw someone’s face for the first time. Townsfolk made their way back into the tavern when they were no longer rabid and continued on with their night trying to pass the storm but a second murder was discovered. Cata the wild elf was found resurrecting in a nearby circle. Someone had spirit severed her while she was collapsed from the fight with the elementals.
While town nursed their sorrows and tried to figure out who was enacting these assassinations, a group of rowdy drunkards stormed their way into the tavern. Their disposition was…unpleasant at best and it wasn’t long before a brawl broke out. Luckily the brawl was quelled rather quick and everyone was able to get on with their night.
Penelope the hobbling had also found her way to the tavern. Dressed in rags, she begged for money. She had invested everything she had into her shop pitch and was destitute now that town had decided not to side with her. When she solicited what she could from Ralinwood, she made her way back to town now that the storm had been quelled a little.
Only moments after she went off into the dark, a blood curdling roar shattered the glass of the tavern’s windows. A Behir had slithered out of the water and onto the docks. Its lightning breath scorching anyone foolish enough to go near. Belkar swarmed around the Behir, suffocating and feeding on unlucky victims. Town cleaved its way through the hoard of elementals and Callum McKraken was able to lop off the head of the Lightning Lizard in one fell swoop.
After the battle, the storm truly died down.
The new doctor of the walk-in clinic arrived and greeted Ralinwood.
And yet another corpse was found: this one charred and hobbling shaped. Poor Penelope had been struck with the force of raw elemental energy and reached final death.
Ralinwood now on a war-path, arrested various culprits and put them to trial.
The orc and wild elf pair who arrived in the chaos of the storm confessed to their crimes and identified themselves as followers of the Grey, agents of anarchy.
Having admitted fault, the pair were swiftly put to death though neither suffered final death…