Adventure 28: What Might have Been

After Nacu’s training is completed, the heroes proceed to Stambrecht where Aelessa indicates she will try to pick-up the dragon’s trail. As they approach, they see fires and columns of smoke arising from the eastern part of the city. The talk of the city is that Malathraxis has attacked again, motivating the heroes to lend what aid they can putting out fires and tending to the injured.

Aelessa indicates she will need several days at least to track down information on the dragon, so the heroes settle in to various Inns or earth-shaped abodes. Shir commissions a finely crafted Gola while Kur-Dan liberally spends cash on things like a bath for his trusted war Khunna. That evening, Kur-Dan is visited in the Inn by Haradina, who lifts the curse, indicating that, “I wanted you to know what you could be sober before returning your freedom of choice.” Considering her words, Kur-Dan chooses moderation and opts for only a simple glass of wine to celebrate the end of the curse.

Two days later the heroes hear about a carnival brought in by King Oberwald to ease the suffering of his people with a few days of diversion. The heroes attend, enjoying the various forms of entertainment available, including games and performances of various sorts. Later in the day the heroes spot a gilded tent with a sign in Meluvia reading, “Fortunes Told.” Nacu and Kur-Dan opt to enter, and are greeted by the famous Oracle of Banustan. Seeking their fortunes, Nacu is told that to defeat the dragon, they must bring it to the earth. Kur-Dan is told that a return to the old ways will cause others to suffer.

Meanwhile, Shir stumble across an ornate mirror lying against one of the tents. Written across the top are Trukk runes which say “What Might Have Been.” When Shir touches the mirror it shows him a vision of his life if Jura had never recruited him. It begins with Shir leaving an increasingly abusive Kur-Dan, eventually ending up as a farmer along the edge of the Gra Hemgerein Vol, trading with his Vel neighbors; however, this does not last. Eventually the Nezura come and he is enslaved, forced to fight in a Colosseum as a gladiator until finally he is struck down in a match against many opponents.

Later, Nacu and Kur-Dan encounter the same mirror after trying to find Shir, who they see in the distance arguing with the Vel Blade. Kur-Dan touches the mirror out of curiosity and like Shir he sees his life as it might have been. As Kur-Dan’s drinking increases he eventually is thrown out of the legion and eventually even Shir leaves him. Now unemployed, Kur-Dan takes to living in the streets drinking away his pain, eventually dying in an alleyway stabbed and robbed by the others living on the streets.

When Nacu touches the mirror, he sees how his life might have gone had Jura not rescued him. Taken by the Black Vel and enslaved by the Nezura, Nacu worked long years in the mines. When his talents are discovered, he is recruited by his masters. The horrors of the mines are enough to make him put aside his hatred, anything to escape the dank darkness and the constant threat of death. He is trained by the finest masters and eventually leads a unit during the conquest of Heru-Ardesh. Through the wars he rises in prominence and gains greater power, eventually being awarded a governorship of some conquered Tanathan territory. He dies of natural causes, surrounded by children and grand children, and is buried with honors by his Nezuran master.

Disturbed by the visions of the mirror, Nacu and Kur-Dan head back to town. Meanwhile, Shir meets with the Oracle briefly, then heads to an Arai temple in Stambrecht. Shir has a conversation in his head with Wendil, who insists there are rules governing the interactions of the gods with the world of men. Shir becomes frustrated, angered by the inaction of the gods, and curses them all save Wendil right there in their temple. Shir stalks out and tosses some coins at that stunned priest as he leaves. That night he breaks out in boils, but a glow from his Avatar of Shir markings cures them in a few hours.

That same night as Kur-Dan is relaxing in the Inn, a man comes into the Inn and starts yelling at one of the barmaids. As the man reaches for a knife, Kur-Dan springs into action and knocks the man out. As Kur-Dan stands over the man, the barmaid pleads at his back in Sturuk, and the bartender translates saying that this is her husband and that she is begging Kur-Dan not to kill him. Kur-Dan agrees and returns to his room to find Haradina, who asks Kur-Dan what he thinks would have happened had he been drunk. She leaves his room with these words, “Every man is free to make his own choices, but with this freedom comes the responsibility for the choice.”

After a few more days, Aelessa meets up with the heroes and says that she suspects that the dragon has a lair in the Belga Kragvar. They travel three days to the east and she eventually finds a cave that was once the creature’s lair, but it seems to have moved on a few days ago. Searching the area, Aelessa says that she see’s signs of smaller dragons and bootprints. While she cannot track the dragon’s flight, she says the bootprints head northeast towards the Falzansten Belgan.

The heroes travel for nine days and come across a burnt village with Vel looters scattering as they approach. After two more days of travel and they encounter an Arai in plate armor accompanied by a creature known as a Vargaryr, which Kur-Dan knows to be a creature associated with Grundel. The Arai announces that he is a champion of Grundel and that the god wishes Shir dead for his insolence. Skeletons emerge from the surrounding hills as the champion attacks and both Nacu and Kur-Dan are severely annoyed with Shir for dragging them into his fight with the gods of the Arai.

As the battle begins, Kur-Dan and Nacu stand their ground in the center while Shir attacks some of the flanking skeletal archers. The champion and the vargaryr head straight for Shir, and he is hard pressed by their onslaught. Kur-Dan dispatches the skeletal footmen quickly while enduring a rain of arrows while Nacu heals and uses his elemental to shield them. As the last of the Skeletal footmen falls, Kur-Dan and Nacu turn to sees Shir’s lifeless body in the snow. Kur-Dan pushes up the hill and drives the champion back with a ferocious charge, opening up space for Nacu to help Shir. Meanwhile, Nacu raises a wall of stone to shield them from the archers and restores Shir to life. Aelessa does what she can, striking from the bushes and withdrawing in a hit and run style.

With Shir back in the fight, the Vargaryr falls to the ground as one of it’s legs are chopped off. In it’s rage, it lashes out and tears out Kur-Dan’s throat, but a bolt of lightning strikes Kur-Dan’s body and he is instantly brought back to life (through peacebringer). With the Vargaryr down, the champion is dispatched by Shir with two devastating blows and the skeletons fall to pieces. They claim the champion’s ring of Grundel, which rots Shir’s arm when he puts it on. Kur-Dan takes the ring and it seems to not have the same negative effect on him. An hour later a glow form Shir’s avatar markings slowly heals the rotting arm.

Three days later the heroes find themselves near the dragon’s lair, unsure how to proceed.



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