Minor Milestone: I changed “The Banishing Hand of Retribution” to “I will persevere because, if I don't, who will?” to bring Visemar more in line with 5e. He is now a High Concept, two Personality aspects, an Ideal and a Bond. No Flaw because any of these could be compelled.
Visemar has the stern grey eyes of his lineage, their good humor slowly fading the longer he bears Storm Forged Raven Song. He wears his sienna hair cut short. As the eldest, he was meant to join the Paladin Order, but the Song ended that career before it began. Still, he maintains a military regimen and a strong build. Beneath his breastplate, he wears the Grey’s colors: black lined with burnt orange.
Indentured Hexblade of Winter and Ash
“I will persevere because, if I don't, who will?”
“Beneath the skin of a Warlock lies the training of a Paladin.”
“I am bound by blood to my family, bound by honor to the Song.”
Storm Forged Raven Song, ancient blade of The Raven Queen
Because I swore a Pact of the Blade, I get a +2 when I Flashily attack when I use an eldritch weapon.
Because I am a Hexblade of Winter and Ash, I get a +2 when I Flashily create an advantage when I curse an opponent with a conspiracy of ravens.
Because I am a Hexblade of Winter and Ash, once per session, I can Forcefully
attack each opponent near my curse with a burst of cold.
REFRESH 3 / 3
STRESS O O O
Episode 3: “Funny how the days go by invisibly…”
When I had come to, the house was in flames. Dovisch was gone. My sister’s hand was missing. My assailants had disappeared. It was me, Sky and fire. That was over a week ago. I rode to the only place I knew that could provide answers. Ravenswood. My family owned the surrounding forest for generations, but I wasn't ready to go home, not yet.
Ravenswood was eternally green. Even the encroaching autumn or the coming winter couldn't cause the leaves to turn. Growing up, I had been told that faeries tended each leaf which was why they never wilted or fell. Abby and I would walk through the woods, but we never saw these fey creatures in spite our efforts. We camped. We hunted. We sang and shouted. Nothing.
Crossing into the woods was palpable. All around me had been dying grass, barren branches and mud. Now? I can look up and see a canopy of emerald. Smell the grasses as if they were freshly cut. Even the wind felt warming.
Yet the birds were ominously silent. Leather creaked as I turned to look around. Aside from our own noise, there was nothing. I brought Sky to a halt. In all the years I've visited the woods, it had never been silent.
My breastplate let out an explosive clang. Something narrow struck my chest. I hastily dismount and grab my shield, using Sky for cover. Another metallic clang as another dart struck my armor. I peer into the trees and barely make out a shadow hiding behind a trunk. It began to fit another arm length dart to a similarly sized stick.
My sword hand begins to mist while I walk toward the tree. My hand rises, wreathed in a muted icy glow. An eldritch bolt shoots forward and scores the tree the thing hides behind, the bark turning white as it frosts over. Another dart flies at me, but I know where the attack comes from. The targe deflects the projectile. I see it.
The thing was humanoid and man sized. Whatever it was, it was covered in scaly skin that shifted as it moved. It had no hair but sharp teeth and ears. I could see just over its shoulder another approaching, also armed with whatever the stick… dart… thing was.
I continue forward, launching another bolt of energy. This one finds its mark. The thing’s scales sear away as the skin beneath gets burned by the sudden cold. A clawed hand rises up to its chest and wound before slumping at the foot of the tree. The other creature launches its dart, and I take cover behind the tree to avoid it.
I pull Song from her scabbard and charge into combat. My swing strikes toward its neck, but it leaps up and hangs from a branch to avoid it. My sword bites into the bark. It springs forward and tackles me to the ground. The glacial dagger comes to life in my off hand and thrusts into its side. The creature gurgles and collapses on top of me.
I roll the scaly skinned… person… off me. A metal necklace is clasped around its neck with a key attached to it. The necklace and key go into my belt pouch, and I grab Sky’s reins before walking the direction the second creature had come from.
We walked further into Ravenswood and approached a clearing some time later. I cautiously approached, leaving my destrier behind while I crept closer for a look. The field was littered with grave markers and a trio of mausoleums. I gazed skyward and saw the setting sun hanging just where the canopy picked up again. Odd, that, in all our explorations, Abby and I never came across this place.
Emboldened, though my hand rested on Song, I strode to the closest grave. Thomas Grey. The next, Wendy Grey. Then another Grey and another. My brows furrowed at the number of Greys buried here. I subconsciously glance in the direction of Castlerook, my home. We had tombs there, so what were these?
I come to the nearest mausoleum, built like a solid piece of stone and a black iron door locked shut. Willem Grey. A name I recognize. My grandfather's father. Kirdalia Grey. Several generations back, even compared to Willem. But the last… Brencia Grey… She founded Castlerook. More importantly, her door was ajar.
I peer into the darkness and listen for any presence inside. Nothing close by. I test the key against the lock, and they match perfectly. I look back in the direction of the past fight. Why would scaly skinned monstrosities have a key to her tomb? Why?
I pull the door all the way open; I needed to know what was important about this mausoleum or ancestor. It was the size of a small cottage, so I didn't have far to go. Plain stone walls, columns supporting the ceiling, and stone steps where a sarcophagus should be. My heart beat faster. Song whispered as I gently pulled her free.
The stairs circled around for some time. I quit counting after a while. It opened into a stone chamber flickering with light. I stopped at the base of the stairs and listened. A discussion of sorts, faintly heard in a foreign language. I try to sneak forward quietly, but my boots and armor weren't designed for it. The conversation stops as I do.
“We were looking for you,” came a man’s voice. “Lucky that you came to us. The Lady will be pleased.”
Shadows block the light. I can tell from this distance there were two more scaled things. The man made at least three. I can hear the man begin to chant in the guttaral tones; the pair affix their darts as I charge forward. One sails over my shoulder; I cut the second with my sword.
I swing Song in a wide arc, cutting the two neatly across the throat. Each gurgles incomprehensibly as the clutch their necks and collapse. The chant ends, and the ground erupts with a soft explosion when a trio of dirt encrusted skeletons pull themselves free. Their skulls are filled with sharp teeth and burn with an amber light. The priest backs away, pointing, “Stop him!”
Skeletal claws smash against my shield, their attacks coming rapidly and barely being parried. I step between two when I find an opening then clip the head off the third as I slip by. Grasping hands emerge from the earth when the priest tries to entangle me, but I manage to step away.
The spell had put me out of position when the skeletons retaliated. My shield up, I avoid their attacks, giving ground. I crouch, building myself to another charge. My shoulder slams into a skeleton, and pieces of it fall to the floor. My sword hand comes across in a hook and smashes the skull of the second skeleton who also collapses.
“Damn you,” screams the priest, stepping back into the shadows. I turn and focus the eldritch energy into a bolt. I hurl it at the retreating priest, but a door slams shut with a heavy metallic sound against the torrent of cold. Song and I burn with the hollow victory.
I storm to the door and study it. It's ornate. Heavy. Ravens embossed acrossed it. It is still unlocked. Well, only one way to go…
The corridor opens into an expansive hall. Ahead is an immense black statue of a raven, wings outstretched and brushing the ceiling high over head. The statue’s head is craned down, obsidian eyes peering at the altar at its feet. The priest is pressed against the altar with several scaled creatures gather in front of him.
“Capture him. The Lady would rather he be alive.”
A pair of them produce nets, while the others throw their darts. I parry a couple off of my shield and send two into the stone wall with quick cuts from Song. I approach the closest fiend and slash at it, but it drops to a crouch. The fearful priest summons a bolt of his own that collides with my shield.
The nets come flying toward me, and I can't quite get out of their way. They catch against my leg and briefly tangle with them. Taking advantage of my moment’s distraction, a couple darts find their mark and bite into my leg and shoulder. I grunt and grit my teeth with the effort of pulling myself free, then lunge forward to skewer one of the net throwers through the chest.
I must have caught them by surprise with my recovery. The hail of darts flying toward me seems slower, easier to cut down with Song. I smile and a storm of ravens sweep into the chamber, circling the priest. The coward tries to become smaller against the altar, feebly throwing a bolt into my breastplate.
More of the missiles fly toward me. Desecrate my family’s tomb? I seethe with anger and cut more bolts out of the air with rapid flourishes. Song rests by my side, and my other hand shoots up in a clenched fist. Fine! And the air is filled with an explosion of icy feathers. The last of the creatures are encased in ice and topple over, their bodies shatter on impact.
“Don't kill me! What do you want to know?” he pleads over the cry of ravens.
I stride over, staring coldly at the panicked man. “What does she want with me?” I growl.
“She-” is about all he can say before he lets out a pained scream. His eyes grow bloodshot; his face turns purple; and a gurgle escapes from him as he twitches violently then grows still.
I scowl then stab into his heart for good measure before dismissing the ravens. There were no answers here. My boots scuff the floor as I turn to leave.
“Stop,” comes a voice. A woman’s voice. Stern and self-assured. Serene.
I turn back and see nothing but the altar and raven. The statue’s eyes shine with an azure light. Song mimics the glow, its own runes steadily glowing with the same light. My boots scrape the floor as I walk closer.
“I gave you the Raven Song. I have a vested interest in your new life.”
My mind races with a multitude of questions, but the first one to win free is, “Why?”
“Brencia. She has finally managed to win freedom from death, and you are uniquely qualified to stop her.”
“Qualified. How?” I ask, still not certain who or what I was talking to.
“That dark place, the Shadows, where I found you and gave you the Song. You remember it?”
I did. Absolute darkness lit by small gashes of light from eyes and mouths leering at me. I still hear their whispering voices, their promises of pain and torture. Eternal anguish.
“Brencia meant to sacrifice you that day. I saw an opportunity and took you before you were imprisoned. You had a short stay in the Dark. That is where your sister is now that I freed you,” said the voice.
I held Song tighter. “Abby is alone in a sea of shadow fiends? Why? Why save me?”
“For her immortality, Brencia needed to sacrifice one of her own to take her place. I saved you because you know what your sister is going through. You touched death. More importantly, you have the ability to stop her.”
“And free Abby?” I ask.
“Perhaps. Now that Brencia wears her skin, Abigail will be anchored in the Dark the longer she's separate. Know that, first, Brencia must be stopped.”
“Who are you?”
“I am the Raven Queen, and if you want to save your sister and stop Brencia, now calling herself Lady Rachis, I have two tasks for you.”
I nod. Unsure if the statue could see, I agree. “If it frees her from that prison, I'll do it.”
The voice turns from conversational to instructional, “First, find the Dance of Wisdom. Speak with Laneira; she will show you the way.”
The voice becomes amused. “You are not yet strong enough to deal with Lady Rachis. After your quest, you will become what you thought you lost. A Paladin.”
I scoff, “I doubt my family would accept my return. They still think I'm dead.”
“My Paladin,” she emphasises. “You will set the cycle of life and death aright; you will be the sworn protector of Ravenswood. If you bring back the Dance of Wisdom. Go. Start your journey.”
The statue’s eyes dim, turning obsidian. Song’s runes fade back into the blade. I emerge from the mausoleum, and I see them. The faeries of Ravenswood.