Okay, folks, here it is: the first story post of many.CORE STORY 1.1: BOARDING THE ARIA
The S.S. Aria is a colossal luxury liner docked in the busiest port of the busiest city in the kingdom of Baron, coincidentally also named Baron, the capital city and home of the Great Governing Hall, one of this world's Eight Great Wonders. (It's marked on the continent map with the big radar blip, down in what we'd call "Florida.") The ship is scheduled to set sail at noon today and boarding began at dawn.
Surprisingly, the inside of the boat is much larger than it appears on the outside courtesy of several dimension-warping spells and has comfortable room and board for all two thousand passengers over the course of its next four weeks at sea.
Religion Row contains temples to each of the neutral and good gods, and there seems to be a shop or market table for everything from the exotic to painfully mundane. And you should see the food court, spread out as it is across three levels of the ship. There’s a botanical garden unlike anything on land and swimming pools and bathhouses for as far as the eye can see. The tickets were so costly because they spared no expense.
Faolan, you're crouched by a window in the second story of a run-down warehouse by the dock, in good spying distance of the Aria. You picked up a masterwork looking glass between now and your last hunt -- feel free to add that to your gear -- but it's been a slow morning. Too slow. When lycanthropes move around in human society, they almost always do it in the morning when the air is crispest and the meat is still groggy. Time is slipping by, though. Something isn't right.
But then you see him. Banefang's son Jotun, the prey you've been stalking for months, steps up to the loading dock and reveals his ticket to the Aria's greeter. His father is wild, unkempt even in human form, but not this guy. Jotun is everything his father isn't. Suave. Dressed like a merchant. He likes to trade stories with his victims before ripping their throats out, see the surprise on their faces when he turns. And he's just walked onto a month-long cruise full of witless nobles and traveling money.
Kiirwe, you've just discovered a signet ring that belongs to your father but you want to be sure. No one's been able to identify it; not with any certainty. One of the S.S. Aria's many ports of call is a tiny island called Blackwater, known for its beautiful obsidian rock gardens and hot springs, but you're more interested in the tactile telepath that lives there than a warm bath. If he can touch the ring and give you any clue as to the identity of your father, read the history from the object, you'll be one step closer to solving the riddle of your birth.
Harry, you're here because you're looking to lay low for awhile. A long while. And a month-long cruise is just what the doctor ordered. You were hired by a wealthy baroness to exorcise a pair of demons from her twin daughters but things got hairy, Harry, and the whole thing ended with a lot of blood and a couple of dead schoolgirls. The broken ritual was a result of the baroness' uncontrolled grief but she doesn't take blame well, of course, and has put a price on your head so large you're thinking about polymorphing a cadaver and collecting the reward yourself. But the bounty hunters on your trail have made things a little more difficult than you expected so, hey, all right, let's go fishing.
Pilunna Nameth, you're here at the behest of your god and your visions. You saw this boat in your dreams. And you saw a man, too, laying in a pool of gore with his throat ripped out and arms twisted backwards in one of the hundreds of passenger cabins on the Aria. The thing that killed him was moving too fast to see but you have to find and rescue this handsome mystery man before it's too late. He's 6'6", 200 lbs., so he stands out in a crowd and his gray eyes ... are haunting.
Sabo, you've spent the last several months frequenting the stacks of the library at the Great Governing Hall, the equivalent of the Library of Congress, where you found mention of an ancient book, the Tome of Clear Thought
, in the possession of a wizard named Ptolomy on the tiny island of Blackwater. It's impossible to determine the age of the clue due to the preservation techniques of the library so you don't know if Ptolomy is dead or alive. But you do know that Blackwater hasn't gone anywhere and that's where you're going.
Evil Weasel, you're traveling under the pseudonym Mr. Black so as not to reveal your true nature. The coat you're wearing (that's also traveling under the pseudonym Mr. Black) has recently begun to speak to you, in your mind, but only in short, jumbled sentences and never for more than a few minutes a day. No one else can hear it. (At least, not yet.) You bought the coat from a black market dealer in a shady alley in Baron so you sort of expected it do so something evil like this; you're just a little disappointed it hasn't yet done something a little ... more ... evil. But you're willing to give it time. Like yourself, great evil isn't born overnight, and that's probably why the coat has brought you here to the S.S. Aria. Now it's only a matter of making a bit of mischief...
Riikus Thoon, you've come to the Aria to meet with other like-minded individuals in the interest of de-throning the Kings of the Black Hand. The current King, a tyrant by the name of Herod, is on the verge of starting another race war and the time to act is now. The boat, because of its inner pocket dimension, is immune to scrying and thus a perfect place to conduct matters of utmost cloak and daggery.
So far, you've only communicated with your fellow revolutionaries via messenger pigeon and they were insistent on such a clandestine meeting for fear of being discovered and destroyed before their various plots could come to fruition. You'd like to see someone try and destroy you but agreed to the meeting anyway. Even the deadliest warriors understand that he needs allies when outnumbered 50,000 to 1. The meeting is at midnight tonight on one of the lower decks, in room 616.