"Knights of Dawn"
1328 AE - 1330 AE
This is the story of Alexander Blackhawk and the Knights of the Dawn who overthrew his uncle and restored peace to his homeland. Alexander Blackhawk was the son of a noble. He was to inherit his father’s lands and would rule the surrounding villages, but his uncle killed his father and usurped the lands and title. Alexander was able to escape, and devoted his life to the god of revenge. He grew up training as a paladin, hidden from his uncle who still sought to destroy him to secure his claim. When he was finally ready, he left the place of his training to find help in confronting his uncle.
He quickly found three allies. Mercy Kesper, priestess to the God of Death, Thadius Soulfire, a brilliant mage and powerful to boot, and Jakothellin Siatherin, the elven ranger who had taken a vow as a child to destroy trolls wherever they might be found. As a result, Jakothellin had to travel to the lands more commonly occupied by humans. Most of his new comrades in arms had difficulty pronouncing his name, so they shortened his first name to Jakob, and translated his last name to Silverleaf. Later, another adventurer joined the group, a young elven fighter named Justin Elmwood.
This group went on several adventures to prepare themselves for the ultimate goal of retaking the Blackhawk barony. One of the first big adventures was to eliminate a large lizard from a nearby village. Upon further investigation, the group realized that they were not dealing with any run of the mill reptile. The stone statues in the area gave away the presence of a basilisk. Normally, this would be a terrible ordeal for such a young group of adventurers, but the Knights of the Dawn had a trick up their sleeves. In an earlier encounter, they had discovered a sack of magical dust. This dust could make a user invisible for a time. This seemed like an excellent opportunity to try it out. The members of the group each took a pinch of dust, and soon the invisible hunters proceeded to surround and surprise the basilisk as it basked in the sun. Fortunately, the element of surprise was enough to overwhelm the beast, so the threat ended there.
Jakob had learned many skills in his century of life before forester training. One of these skills was leatherworking. This basilisk had a very tough hide so Jakob skinned the huge beast and prepared the hide to make a truly excellent set of armor. When they returned to the town, he rented a workshop, purchased some mithril, and went to work on the hide. First he cured the leather. Then he used the mithril to make studs for the leather (he also picked up some skill as a blacksmith). He then combined these into a beautiful suit of studded leather armor. It was even decorated with the face of the basilisk on the chest. The Knights of the Dawn then visited an elven settlement where Jakob asked some old friends to enchant the armor with powerful magic. He then provided two large emeralds to the enchanters to bestow with magic to warn him of the presence of trolls. He placed these gems into the eyes of the basilisk on his armor. Now, Jakob’s armor was complete (studded leather +5, +5 vs. petrification, detect trolls 100’ radius).
Soon thereafter, the Knights of the Dawn traveled to the Bremen Marsh, on a quest to retrieve an antidote from a plant which grew only in the depths of the swamp. (This antidote was needed to counter act a poison which had wounded an innocent citizen who happened to take a poisoned assassin’s blade, intended for Alexander.) This journey was much to the delight of Jakob, because the Bremen Marsh was a well known cesspool of trollish populations. Finally, they would be facing the trolls that Jakob longed to destroy. The road to the marsh was long and not without danger. Besides the normal dangers of brigands and wolves, the Knights soon found themselves facing a group of stone giants! This was a very difficult battle, but the knights finally triumphed. In the lair, they found large numbers of gold and magic items, one of which was Thorn the Dwarf friend, a long sword of some renown (+2/+3 vs. giants). Several days later the Knights discovered an ancient tomb. After spending some time deciphering the writing, an ancient for of elven, they learned that the tomb predated the Zokaran Empire. Undaunted by the age of the tomb and the dangers inherent in exploring such locations, the knights entered, hoping to learn something of the deep history of the land. This turned out to be the first poor decision the group made. As soon as they crossed the threshold of the tomb, a horrible screech rose around them. They had entered a banshee’s tomb, and her scream meant death. This was well illustrated by one member of the group, Mercy, perhaps with too much of a desire to meet her own god, dropped dead at the sound of the wail. The rest of the group quickly picked up their fallen comrade and made a tactical retreat. Luckily, they had a scroll of resurrection with them that Sir Alexander was able to use to bring Mercy back. They decided that they would record the location of this tomb, and come back when they were better prepared.
They continued on their way and after several more days made it to the Bremen Marsh. With his first step into the scummy water, Jakob’s eyes lit up, a smile crept across his otherwise stern face, and Troll’s Bane slid from its sheath with the high pitched ring of metal that all warriors grow to love, and all others know to fear. The Knights of the Dawn ventured through the marshes in search of the leader of the trolls, well that was what Jakob was looking for, the rest of the group was questing for the plant for the antidote. As they fought battle after battle with the vile monsters, Jakob collected a finger from each defeated foe. They fought a seemingly unending number of small battles, but finally found who they were looking for, but soon wished they hadn’t. The plant was growing near an old ruined citadel, dating back the time of Bremen, one of Zokara’s generals. And the ruins were the home of the trollish king and he turned out to be a massive giant of a troll. This fearsome creature quickly took the upper hand and slowly beat back attack after attack by the Knights. The event that turned the tide, however, was a simple spell cast by Thadius. He stepped up and cast a haste spell on Jakob. Jakob took advantage of his new found speed, Troll’s Bane blurring as Jakob pushed the attack. One, three, six massive slashes appeared across the chest of the giant troll in as many seconds. Justin’s blade also flashed in to score a hit, and Mercy’s axe tore two more large chunks from the beasts hide. The wounds inflicted from axe and Justin’s blade slowly began closing, the trollish regeneration kicking in, but Troll’s Bane was a magical blade created for just this purpose, and the wounds it opened continued to bleed freely. The giant troll was now fighting to escape, but Jacob would never allow such a beast free to reign terror, he pressed the attack, this time the three blades were accompanied by bursts of fire from the hands of Thadius. And then, the giant fell. The Knights of the Dawn were victorious. News of this dangerous group quickly spread through the remaining groups of trolls, and the Knights were no longer bothered during their excursion in the swamp. As a final act, Jakob took a finger from the giant troll. When they left the swamp, Jakob had a collection of 97 troll fingers and one giant troll finger. There was some thought of making a kilt of troll fingers. This is where the nickname “Jakob Trollfinger” got its roots.
Finally, it was time to confront Alexander Blackhawk’s uncle. The first stop on this final quest was the Death Maze. Alexander, as a paladin, felt that he needed a Holy Avenger to prove the validity of his cause. They worked their way through the “maze” by solving various riddles/puzzles to find eight small stones which fit into a circular lid in a central room. One room was simply a test to answer a series of riddles. Another was to cross a small field, simple enough except the Knights who entered the field all shrank to the size of ants. Another room had four shapes on the floor, and each shape would release an elemental. This was the Knights’ second poor decision, as they unwittingly released all four elementals at the same time, making for a very difficult battle. When the eighth stone was placed in the lid, the well was revealed. The knights each made a wish, including magic resistance for Justin and Jakob, and the location of an appropriate Holy Avenger for Alexander. So the Knights of the Dawn then traveled to the tomb of Davearrt near the Lake of Mist.
This journey had a couple of mishaps on the way. First, the Knights of the Dawn faced some wood giants. This was a relatively easy fight, but one of their number, Justin, was nearly crushed under the final giant to fall. With little thought of safety, Jakob rushed in and hit the giant, pushing it away just enough to clear Justin, but unfortunately was caught himself under the crushing weight of the fallen monster. After several minutes of dragging, pulling, and healing, Thadius cast a spell to reduce the giant just enough that it could be pulled off of Jakob. Exhausted, Jakob rested for a bit, but was well enough to continue. Soon thereafter, the Knights were traveling through a dark forest. As they entered a small clearing, one of the trees suddenly awoke and began attacking the group. Its roots moved with astounding speed, and two of the group were entangled and appeared helpless. Once again, Jakob rushed in to help. His ring of free action protected him from the tangles, so he was able to rush right in to the thickest part of the roots to aid Thadius. However, just as Jakob reached the mage, Thadius vanished, having cast an invisibility spell. Also, the others were able to clear the area. This left Jakob alone in the midst of dozens of angry, writhing roots. Jakob parried several root thrusts, but could not prevent all of them. He took several hits, one of which skewered him through the chest. Jakob had fallen. The invisible Thadius was able to drag Jakob’s lifeless body free of the tree, and the group was able to raise him back to life, with yet another scroll of resurrection. Finally, the Knights of the Dawn stood outside the tomb of Daverarrt. Inside were four golems, one clay, one flesh, one iron, and one stone. Fortunately, Thadius had some knowledge of golems and knew how to defeat each one. With a combination of fire, explosions and spells, the Knights eliminated the golems one by one, until only the iron golem remained. Thadius repeatedly cast lightning spells to slow the golem, and the rest of the Knights attacked the golem until it fell. Once these guardians were destroyed, Alexander claimed Davearrt’s Holy Avenger as his own.
The Knights were now ready to confront Alexander’s uncle. Along the way they met an obnoxious shapechanger who harried their journey with practical jokes. Eventually they caught the beast, now in the form of a giant badger, only to have it change to its normal form, a huge reptilian beast, covered in scales which looked to be made of crystal. The dragon introduced himself as Icyclitaphetapetalin, and apologized for any hardships he had caused, but wanted them to know that all of his jokes had been in good fun. Alexander was to focused to be bothered, accepting the apology and ready to be on his way, but Mercy saw an opportunity. She convinced the roguish dragon to help them play a few “practical jokes” on Alexander’s uncle. These ‘jokes’ consisted of many types of slander and rumor which discredited the usurping uncle, and brought the people of the barony to side with the estranged nephew, who was returning to claim his birthright. They traveled to his realm, basically knocked on the front door, and prepared to fight. Alexander’s uncle, knowing that his house guard was no match for this band of adventurers, and lacking the support of his own people, challenged Alexander to a duel. Alexander made quick work of his uncle, and reclaimed his rightful place.
Afterwards the group split up. Alexander took over as Baron Blackhawk, and eventually came to rule the entire Lordship of Carlis. Thadius stayed in Carlis with Alexander, as a advisor on arcane, and Mercy also stayed nearby, opening a branch of her church near the city. Justin returned home to Elvaris, where he joined the elven military. Jakob ‘Trollfinger’ returned to the Bremen Marsh, where he rebuilt Bremen’s keep. It is now known as Trollguard, and is a military training post for Elvaris.