Our story begins in the village of Harken.
A village large enough that the locals call it a town, but small enough that no one else does. A village in the Nentir Vale, a village that has stood proud and defiant against the many evils that threaten it.
For hundreds of years the Nentir Vale has been plagued by one thing or another. From the Orcs that invaded through the Dawnforge Mountains and sacked Hammerfast, to the Dragons, like Calystrax, who lies sleeping in Forgepeak, and the continual threat of the Iron Circle that rose to prominence after the fall of the old Nerathean Empire.
The Harken Forrest lies at the outskirts of Harken and it is well known that the elves and druids who live there don't take kindly to people wandering onto their lands.
Through Harkenwald where Harken is centered, the White River runs, running from the great Dawnforge Mountains, forged by Moradin during the Dawn Age, and tributing in the Witchlight Fens, a dark and sombre marshland that no decent folk enter and not very many live long enough to leave.
The Village of Harken, isolated from any allies, surrounded by foes, has prospered from the continual support of the great Barron Stockmer and the ongoing union of the Academy of the Cobalt Order, and the Order of the Radiant Lion.
Through these great people the darkness is kept at bay.
But alas, this peace could not last. One night the Barron calls together initiates from each Order, along with a member from the City Watch and a dear and trusted friend from his personal retinue to his house, close to the centre of the village.
The Barrons banquet hall is much less grand than expected. Sure, it’s glamourous, with a single golden chandelier brightly illuminating the long oak table and ornate oak chairs. The picturesque paintings on the walls of the village and its surroundings are intermittently spaced by portraits of members of the Stockmer line. There are ornate looking sconces on the walls as well, illuminating the paintings and casting a warm, inviting light on the decorations. But the opulence that was typical of city leaders is missing. For the locals of Harken, the explanation was simple. Stockmer never wanted more than was necessary to show his authority and splendour to the guests he would entertain. He had no desire for the grandiose bravado and decadent trappings that he could easily have if he so wanted. Instead, he ensured that Harken prospered, pushing every gold piece from his personal wealth into his quest to see Harken become a city.
The table is covered with simple but delicious food. Roast chicken, baked potatoes, corn on the cob, plum jam, mince tarts and beef pies were just some of the food that the eight people around the table enjoyed. At the head of the table is Stockmer himself, a burly but jolly man who always wears purple as he tries to copy city leaders from other lands, hoping to force Harken into cityhood. On his right sits Leonid, a slender half-elf with a welcoming smile and darting eyes that always seem to hover a second too long on gold purses and silver necklaces. On Stockmer's left sits Jasmine, a member of the City Watch and a Dragonborn, tall and broad in full plate armour with an ornate Longsword and a burning fire in her eyes. To Jasmine's left sits Adoman, a clumsy and inexperienced Paladin. Stout of heart but quick to rush-in without thinking, his golden plate armour bears the symbol of the Order of the Radiant Lion and his own, personal holy symbol hangs loosely around his neck. To Adoman's left sits Setzer, the leader of the Radiant Lions. The happiest man alive, he is known as, if not the quickest. Laughing whenever he speaks, and speaking in a booming voice, Setzer is quick to liven up any conversation, whether you want it or not. Opposite to Adoman and Setzer, to Leonid's right sits Dante. An initiate of the Academy of the Cobalt Order, Dante was quiet but always watching. A strange melancholy hangs about him, as if weighed down by experience. To Dante's right sits Gael, another initiate of the Academy. Gael seems to always be reading a book or studying an ancient inscription. Quick to help his fellows in need, Gael always analyses a situation first before acting.
At the other head of the table, now standing to the side, is the leader of the Academy of the Cobolt Order, Balthazar Anian. A wizended and aged man, Balthazar is ornately dressed in deep blue robes and carries an intricately carved staff. He watches the members of the gathering intently and in deep contemplation.
After the dinner concludes, Baron Stockmer speaks. “Dear friends, thank you for coming here tonight. I have gathered you all here, representatives from the Cobolt Order, from the city watch, and from the radiant lion, to speak of a grave issue. The Archmage in his divination has felt a surge of magical energy from an old, abandoned tor to the North-East of here. As you are all sworn to protect Harkenwold, I am pleading with you to go and investigate this. Obviously, I cannot force you, but your assistance would be dearly appreciated in this trying time. I understand most of you are graduates of your respective orders and as such I believe your leaders have seen it fit to set this as your final test.”
“Jasmine, as a member of my city’s watch I am not ordering you to do this, it could be very dangerous. But a prospective promotion could be in the works for someone who is so willing to risk their lives for this great city. Leonid, my dear friend, after everything I have done for you I would hope you would say yes without question. As for the rest of you, your leaders are here should you have any questions, and my personal assistant will give you all the details that we currently know. I unfortunately have business to attend to elsewhere, so thank you again for coming tonight.”
The Baron departs and his assistant, a meek looking Halfling, fat from food and in plump purple clothes that do nothing to aid his appearance, approaches. He describes in relative detail the weather, geography and little-known history of the tor, which does little to enlighten the company. The only useful information he divulges is the tor’s location.