“You dream of an immense and shining city built by mortal hands, but its beauty is worthy of being a seat for any god—the heart of a mighty empire. High above it, five great dragons soar majestically among its spires, defying the heaving stormclouds the loom above.
Far below, the streets’ many lanes roar with the cheers of the city’s gathered masses. A thunderous drumming, and the crowds part to make way for their imperial legion—a seemingly endless tide of grim soldiers armored in gold and crimson regalia.
The legion marches to the city’s gate, where an immense portal yawns like a vicious tear in the fabric of creation. A hundredfold imperial mages struggle to maintain it with a heaving lattice of arcane magics. Without hesitation, bellowing warcries in the name of their beloved Emperor, thousands of soldiers file into the portal’s light to worlds beyond.
You know with certainty that you witness the last glory of an empire that marches to ruin.“
A Dire Ritual
A dream, of a familiar place, shared between four souls with a common destiny. There, in the dark of a forgotten tomb, lay the four heroes that would go on to shape the fate of the world.
As they stirred from that dream, they found that they were the focus of a malevolent ritual—its master tearing at their souls while they lay sleeping. This was not to be their end; finding the will to resist the magic, they leapt from their stone plinths and fought their way to freedom. As the ritualist lost control of his spell, it turned on its master, consuming him.
The plinths on which they slept were flanked by great statues of ancient and forgotten heroes—five in all, though one statue and its corresponding plinth lay unoccupied and in ruin.
And so they awoke, four in number, bound together by survival as they walked those ancient halls to the light of the world above. Remembering only their names, and nothing of their past, their martial abilities slowly began to rekindle when faced with mortal danger. They were:
Glib Torbish, a gnome illusionist, who was quick of wit and silver-tongued.
Sherwynna, an elven warrior, swift of blade and fleet of foot.
Hamesh Grimhammer, the dwarven cleric who channeled the divine might of a forgotten god.
Finnit Underfoot, a halfling barbarian whose stature belied his great strength.
After overcoming countless pitfalls of the crumbling tomb, they found the meagre supplies of the ritualist’s party in the entrance chamber. Rather than rot in the ruin, they gathered what they could and set out into the raging blizzard and to meet whatever awaited them.
In the bitter cold and blinding snow, they trudged ever onward until stumbling upon a forest edge. Not far in the tall pines, they chanced upon a wagon and makeshift hut—the smoke of its hearth was a beacon in the frigid night. Within, they met an ashen-faced elf, tending the flames.
A warm fire burns in the center of the room, tended by a silent figured wrapped in animal skins. His delicate, ash-colored hands poke idly at the coals.
Sensing you, he turns, and his crimson eyes flash from beneath his hood: “You’re late.”