Location: Kashin, Tongue Wrecker Tavern & Inn
Date: Cal 14th, 1333 Avard
The ogremai Thalessa led a division of orcs, ogres, and kobolds during the War of the Four Winds. Only the gods know that she had the lowest kill rate of any ogremai during the invasion of Rakore. Her orcs did not starve to death, but they went hungry. Her kobolds had the highest survival rate of any division. Her ogres built base camps. No other ogremai could compare in expressed humanity.
One of Thalessa's personal kobolds, wasn't. A halfling child she had raised as her own daughter, disguised as a kobold, showed Thalessa that the 'new' ways of the ogremai were really no different than the 'old' ways they had shrugged off. Where before the ogremai had been at each others' throats, and the orcs had been their enemies, and the kobolds were vermin to be chased and eaten, the ogremai had changed into disciplined warriors that had to band together to survive the onslaught of the srik. The srik changed the ogremai, but Thalessa saw how incomplete the change was. Perhaps alone among all the ogremai, she understood the next step in their evolution.
Word came of the destruction of the ogremai armies. Whole corps of orcs were wiped out, each by a single mage that sacrificed himself, turning his body into pure energy that hundreds of thousands of orcs might die.
Thalessa's division was, thankfully, not wiped out. She surrendered. Her orcs were ordered to the Tikranor Plateau and into the service of the dwarven king. Her kobolds were ordered to the Johnathon Hills and into the service of the same dwarven king. Her ogres were ordered back to their deserts, never to return under pain of death.
She was ordered back to the Choranil Deserts, as well. She pretended to go back. And then she polymorphed herself into a human woman some six feet in height. She helped beat back the soldiers of the Mad God Nabrol that remained. She set up a farm hold in the western hills, and invited all races to help rebuild.
Thalessa had a theory on how the mages had sacrificed themselves: runestones. Runestones were an ancient kind of magic that had been abandoned even before the Storm Wars. The ogremai-turned-human was worried. If the mages were using the ancient runestones, then anyone could use them, for she knew that the stones could be created and transformed by those without magical ability – and twisted and bent by those with it. Runestones were dangerous in the right hands, and disastrous in the wrong hands.
She explained the runestones to those closest to her, and sent them where she could not go, to find them, secure them, hide them, and see if the mages of Rakore did, indeed, use the dreaded runestones.
The demon summoner of Ayra was on the run in Kashin. Every person who had used her perfumery and candle shop was under scrutiny. The only hint Norion had was a set of twins, one of whom was a butcher named Zhaneesa. The twins had disappeared, leaving the butcher shoppe dripping in blood.
Beth overheard an altercation with the Guard – who now were under suspect, as well, for their superiors were men of questionable morals who had dealings with the demon summoner. The Guard had caught a tall woman in plate carrying off a wounded child that was perhaps a demon. The demon was naught but a halfling, so rare in Rakore that the Guard knew not what one was. The gnomes were all but extinct.
One of the Guard knew Beth from the previous night's demonic beat down. He explained that they had set up a watch for anyone returning to Ayra's shoppe – and the not-quite-a-demon-child-like-thing that was a halfling had been caught inside. The halfling had evaded the Guard inside, and then leapt out of a second story window to the waiting woman in plate mail. Then they had tried to outrun the Guard in the streets.
Beth had listened to the altercation better than the Guard had, and already had quite an insight into the true nature of the two at the Guard's mercy. Beth reassured the Guard that the two were safe, not demonic, and that she would take them under her wing to the Tongue Wrecker – where they could be found if the Guard had further need of them.
The tall woman in plate, Mara, introduced herself and her halfling companion, Wellby. Together, the three went to the Tongue Wrecker where Mialee and Eingrim were able to tend to Wellby's wounds. After several discussions and revelations, they pooled their knowledge. Mara and Wellby were looking for a mage in Kashin that might be able to help them find runestones – a mage by the name of Zhaneesa.
DM's Notes: Caileb and Sualy had moved out to join us in Florida, and had been itching to get back behind the dice. We worked out a suitable background around the same time I found out about The Complete Armorer's Handbook: Weapon & Armor Upgrade System by HeavyArms. I figured that we could play test it in the campaign world at the same time as we introduce a 'new' old magic system of runestones.
None to date.