Duchess Morwen of Daggerford is having guests for dinner-and you are invited. No strangers to Daggerford, you have come to the town's defense on more than one occasion, and you count Lady Morwen as a friend and a benefactor.
My name is Zola Farsight Stormwyk. My mom is Karsi, the very Karsi that stopped the ritual that almost rose Tiamat from the Nine Hells. My dad is Runar, a half-orc Artificer and the one who killed Severin the evil wizard. I was technically there when it all happened, I just wasn't born yet. So basically I helped my mom defeat the Cult of the Dragon.
I look more like my dad even though I took after my mom in being more half-elf. For a half-orc, he is more human looking. I got his hair and some of his height. By the time I turned fourteen I already stood taller than mom, and she isn't short! Uncle Grahz looks way more like an orc, and says I am the prettiest half-elf he has ever seen. Probably because I have "tusklets". I sometimes got picked on as a kid for my looks, but now all the boys want to court me. Aunt Omen always scares them off if my mom doesn't first.
I want to do magic, and I've been trying to learn from Aunt Omen my whole life. I just can't focus long enough to learn the spells! She says it will come to me if I study hard, but I think I would rather just make a pact like mom did with the Raven Queen... I tried once to call her to me, but she never came. Mom said she was dying when she entered her pact, and she still has the huge scar on her chest from a red dragon to prove it. I would rather not die or be dying, so maybe I'll try to hit the books.
I've only been gone from home a week, and already my supplies are dwindling. Mom packed me road waffles, but I ate them all while walking. They've always been my favorite food. Dad gave me four healing potions, and I just took the last one last night. This adventuring thing is hard! The first night I drank way too much and woke up the next morning with the world's worst hangover, so I downed one of the potions. The third day I tripped and split my chin on a rock, so there went another one. Then I tried lighting a fire with damp wood, and it wouldn't go up in flame. Brilliant me thought that pouring the rest of the Evermeade Uncle Ulrich gave me as a parting gift on the fire and re-lighting it was a good idea. Nope, I lit my own sleeve on fire and charred part of my arm. That took the last two potions. And my booze, sadly.
I was about to turn and head back to Waterdeep, giving up on adventuring, when a white raven flew into my campsite and landed on my pack.
"Hal-lo." She caws at me.
"Talis! Hi pretty girl!"
Mom's favorite raven has a parcel tied to her leg, and holds it out for me to untie.
"Zo-la! Corn! Zo-la!"
"I don't have any, sorry!"
I open the parcel, and several kernels of dried corn fall out. I smile. My mom always knows best. Talis swoops down and eats the corn, and I take out the letter.
My dearest Zola,
I hope you are doing okay on your first solo adventure. We really miss you, but I'm sure we will see eachother soon enough. I caught your father trying to go after you the day after you left, but I talked him down.
If you see Eliza anywhere please tell him that Omen loves him and wants him home... we all miss him, too.
I'm enclosing an invite for a dinner party... Lady Morwen in Daggerford invited me, but I am way too busy with work. I know you are probably close by there at this point- you should really go! Please attend and give her my regards.
Stay safe, keep your head on a swivel, and no boys! I love you so much, and can't wait to hear of your adventures! Please go to the dinner party.
I want to write a return letter, but Talis takes off with one last squawk after finishing her corn. Oh well. I guess it's time to figure out where Daggerford is... I'm sick of eating rations, I don't really want to have to talk to important people but I'm looking forward to some real food! Maybe I can find some travelling companions too, because I'm failing at doing it alone!
Steinbjorn is a devout Cleric of Freyr. Born to a retired warrior father and cleric of Freyr mother. A veteran of the war against the Dragon Queen, Steinbjorn is no stranger to leading men and fighting. Upon returning home after the last battle against the Dragon Queen, Steinbjorn and his men found their village in ruins and under attack from a splinter group of cultists. Spurring thier horses they charged into battle! Before long they were overwhelmed, 10 vs 40. As Steinbjorn was pulled from his horse the last thing he saw was a cultist hammer swinging to finish him off. A flash of light blinded all those in the area and for a split second Steinbjorn saw his parents, clad in their battle gear, crowned with celestial light. His mother deflected the killing blow with her shield. His father bellowed as white fire emanated from him, screams of pain as the righteous fire burned the surrounding cultists to ash. Some time later Steinbjorn woke up. He was on a cart and the sad face of his grandmother greeted him. His grandfather drove the cart. She nodded to his left. Looking over Steinbjorn saw his fathers old battered chain mail and mothers shield. It hit him. Hard. Village destroyed. Friends and family gone. Just him and his druid grandparents left to carry on. Over time his grandparents healed his wounds and taught him how to bend the power of the land to his will. Steinbjorn can now create berrys, produce flame and imbue a simple club with incredible power. The first time he donned his father's armor and strapped his mothers shield onto his arm, a beam of light shone down from the heavens. Time seemed to stop. Celestial images of his parents flanked a massive warrior sitting on a throne appeared before him in the beam. Steinbjorn stepped forward into the light. His parents reached out to him. His mother touched her shield. Upon it formed the symbol of Freyr, a blue bladed greatsword. His father rested his hand upon his sons shoulder and the old chain mail mended itself. In a flash the old suit looked new and shiny. Symbols of Freyr now etched the bracers and shin guards. A white tunic and cloak also etched with holy symbols rounded everything out. The armor fit better as Steinbjorn is taller then his father but thinner. Finally Freyr himself reached out and placed a hand upon Steinbjorns head. Never had Steinbjorn felt such peace or tranquility. Freyr imparted a sliver of his power to his newly anointed cleric. Without a word being spoken, Steinbjorn knew that his time has come to leave the care of his grandparents and set out upon the world to spread the word Freyr, heal the sick, protect the weak, and destroy evil. The beam of light slowly faded. Steinbjorns parents smiled at their son. Freyr nodded. Later that day Steinbjorns grandfather presented him with his club. The old ironwood club had served his grandfather well over the years and now it would serve the grandson. Saying goodbye Steinbjorn headed south. Two months later he came upon a small farming community under attack by a pack of gnolls. Rallying the villagers, slinging sacred flame and his club Steinbjorn fought without mercy. After dropping his fourth gnoll, the other gnolls parted and in stepped the largest gnoll of them all, the chieftain. After just a few seconds Steinbjorn knew he could kill the chieftain quickly but put it off to help raise the moral of the villagers. With a roar to Freyr, Steinbjorn crushed the skull of the chieftain with his club! The other gnolls ran off yipping into the night. Hailed as a folk hero, Steinbjorn was invited to a dinner in nearby Daggerford.
"Well aren't you a pretty one." Mike looked up into the old Human woman's face, blinking her eyes as she awoke from her mid-day nap. Mike didn't feel particularly pretty, her clothes were worn and dirty. Her hair was covered in oil and sweat and a bit of dried blood from when that shopkeep had backhanded her for going through his trash. And to top it all off it was raining, which always made for a gos sety day of begging. In her cup was barely enough for a slice of three-day-old sourdough. "Spare a coin, Miss?" Mike asked, but the old woman seemed not to have heard her. "Do you have any family little one?" she asked instead. "No. My mum run off." In truth, Mike had been the one to do the running, but her mother had been a dreadful woman, so Mike didn't feel bad about the lying. "Aww, such a pretty little thing, to be all alone how do you survive out here." Mike smiled and felt the weight of the dagger under her clothes, "I get by." "I'm sure you do, but how would you like to do more than that to learn a trade, have a home, eat three square meals and have a little coin in your pocket." "Yes!" Mike leaped to her feet and grabbed at the old woman as if to make sure she was real "Tell me what I have to do! Do I have to steal something? kill someone? The old woman gave off a bark of a laugh. "No dearie, that's not what I have in mind."
15 years ago:
They were sitting in the drawing room of the Blushing Nymph, Madame Longstepp had hustled her in here at the end of the day, despite the fact that she had already met her quota of clients for the day and despite the fact that it was a broiling hot Waterdeep day and the ballgown she had been in since midmorning was feeling heavier by the second. Mike hated dresses, but it was part of the job. "I have a proposition for you." The old gray bearded Elf said to Mike. Mike took a beat, to see if he was serious and then gave him a wry smile. "Yes, well that's usually how these things work." The old Elf laughed hard, he was an odd duck, much more emotional then most of the Elves she saw during business hours. "Fairly said, fairly said, I mean I have a business proposition for you." "Again, that's how these things..." "I mean! a different business then the business you usually do. Not that there's anything wrong with your business! it's just..." the Elf sighed, "Have you ever thought about being an adventurer." The question took Mike surprise, "I mean, doesn't everyone." The old Elf leaned forward "I think you have potential, I've been watching you." "I've seen you watching, but do you...are you...you want me to apprentice in the killing trade? Why? why me?" "Because Mike I've been alive seven hundred and thirty years and when my instincts tell me something about someone I listen. And..." "Yes?" "I'm old and alone and you...you remind me of someone I lost long ago." "Hmm, okay then, as long as you can pay me the same as Madame Longstepp, and promise that I'll never have to wear another ballgown. I'll be your apprentice." "Truly?" The old elf seemed more than a little shocked "Truly." The Elf stood up and held out his hand to shake. "My name is Ember."
5 years ago:
"Keep your goddamn shield up girl!" Ember snarled his sword clanging hard against her. "I'm trying you old hag!" Mike responded, In truth, her new neck tattoo burned every time she lifted that arm. But best not to tell the old man that. "What's the name of this podunk little town again." "Daggerford. And it's not podunk, not when they're paying us to deal with there gnoll problem." "Paying me you mean, didn't you say I was taking the lead on this one." "True, lass, true but I'll be there to give you the benefit of my five centuries of monster killing experience...and to sing you a bawdy limerick or two." Mike lifted her shield again as Ember slashed against her with his practice blade. "Great."
Mike sat at embers feet as he sat up in bed the room kept intentionally dark, so Mike couldn't clearly see the wreck his face had become. "I've had it girl, that hill giant did me in, I should have known better at my age. But you've got my knowledge, and you've got my name, you'll do fine, you'll do fine. Now go, I don't want you to see me...and besides the Duchess Marwen sent a courier today asked we attend her in Daggerford, she always pays well that one, you'll need someone to watch your back..." "Cheeks." Mike said between sobs. "Ah yes that Tabaxi has a chip the size of Faerun on her shoulders, but she cab can handle herself alright, now go girl go, and make yourself a legend!
Chekasha (“Cheeks” to her trusted allies) hails from the Abandoned Bog – a remote and nearly inaccessible Tabaxi community of roughly 100 families in a hidden southern peninsula of the traditional jungle regions that most Tabaxi reside. With this isolation came a clan culture of fear and hatred of other groups – including other Tabaxi clans. Chekasha’s family sits comfortably in the upper-middle class bracket; she was educated in the history and current events of her people, can read and write, and was trained as both fighter and diplomat. Her father (addressed as Elder Kondasha) was a member of the Elder Tabaxi Counsel – a small collection of all-male Tabaxi that made decisions about the community’s political and social rules. Her mother (named Chelseek) was just as capable to hold position of influence, but social change in the last 10 years had swung towards restricting female involvement in politics. A new wave of superstition and suspicion had infiltrated the normally rational political sphere (possible influence from Zaltec, the Eater of Hearts?!). This socially conservative shift angered and frightened Chekasha; luckily, her privilege allowed her to continue to be educated, participate in tribe hunts and be generally less controlled by the roaming groups of hostile and hateful male Tabaxi militia.
At some point in her young life, Chekasha had met and fell in love with a female Tabaxi named Sansara (Sara for short). However, marriages were not only arranged in her community and “dating” was unheard of, but same-gender pairs were outlawed – punishable by confinement (jail time), exile, and even possible execution. Chekasha and Sansara met in secret, and eventually completed the marriage ritual under a full moon, hidden away in a tree top. Unfortunately, the honeymoon did not last long. A month after the marriage ceremony, Chekasha outed herself and her wife – when a small group or militia men began to harass Sansara in the street, Chekasha broke social code and attacked the male Tabaxis and ran off with Sansara. This news eventually made it to the Elder Counsel, and the decision was made to punish Chekasha and Sansara. However, Chekasha’s father used his political influence to spare Chekasha from death – but not Sansara. While Chekasha out on a hunt, Sansara was quickly executed in the center of town; when Chekasha returned, she was instructed to pack her belongings and never return to her home. Without much time to process the death of her wife, Chekasha fled to the jungle tree tops, desperate to make sense of the loss. Within a week, Chekasha’s blind rage and grief drove her to return to the community on the night of the next new moon and kill as many elders she could find – hoping maybe she would be killed in the process and end her own suffering. With ease, she managed to kill 6 of the 7 Elders as they slept. As she attempted to access her own family’s home to assassinate her father, her mother caught her by the window, and begged her instead to flee. Chekasha trusted that her mother may have some plan to help her, and instead ran back to the trees – just as the militia began to realize what had happened.
Chekasha wandered aimlessly for months, simply killing to eat and honing her work with her daggers. Chekasha’s wildest dream at first was to return to her community and kill everyone who was compliant with the execution of her beloved Sansara. As time passed, Chekasha grew to recognize that building allies may benefit her. She eventually made her way to Waterdeep and quickly developed connections to the Thieves Guild – doing odd jobs in stealing, intimidation, and the occasional roughing up. While she initially enjoyed imposing her might onto others, it quickly lost its flavor. She moved to a room in a boarding house when she heard of a security job – not realizing it was a brothel until she entered the establishment (The Blushing Nymph). Chekasha jumped at the opportunity to keep these women safe, eager to remove unruly guests and track down patrons who robbed or assaulted a worker and give them a taste of their own medicine. Chekasha quickly built strong friendships with the workers of the establishment, who nicknamed her “Cheeks”. She and Mike formed a strong friendship, as they both could use their literal and figurative power to keep their found family safe. Cheeks goes to Daggerford for small jobs with larger social connections (hence her connection to the Lady who asked us to come over for dinner), and picks up larger heists and jobs involving intimidation in Waterdeep – however, some jobs have started to evolve into assassinations, not just a rough-up in an alleyway. At first, Cheeks was unsure how she felt about killing folks who have not caused her any harm, but that hesitation has been slowly decreasing. Cheeks had done a few jobs for higher-status clients, and has built connections across the spectrum of classes.