The Black Hearts
The story begins with Arrador, Necross the Mad, Valster and Malachai sitting having a drink at The Three Heads. Desperate “Des” Tern is over at the bar, his unsightly wife is in the back and his three beautiful waitresses are tending to tables. Lis, the party’s waitress for the night, comes over to fill their mugs and offers them freshly prepared fish stew. The tavern is friendly with The Alliance, the thief’s guild in Dyvers, and the party has only recently been recruited.
Necross, feeling brave, decides to chat to Trinny, another waitress. Trinny finds him charming, but has other things on her mind. When Necross questions her, she explains that her neighbour disappeared mysteriously recently and no one seems to know why or who is responsible. Trinny goes to the back of the tavern, seeming distant, so Necross questions another waitress about the disappearance of the woman. Hennah explains that several people have disappeared of late, but she knows nothing about the matter.
Necross finally rejoins the group and explains what he has heard, staring at the tower of empty bowls next to Valster. Just then a dirty looking freckled boy named Jez bursts through the door and runs straight to the party. Arrador allows a glance up at the energetic young lad who explains that Mutch, the party’s handler for The Alliance, wants to meet with them at a tavern down the street at 8 bells that evening. Knowing nothing more he rushes off to deliver his next message. The party have a couple more mugs of ale before deciding to head out. Just then, an old bard begins playing a soulful Elvish melody in the corner.
After arriving at the One Eyed Mug, a quiet local with a few strange characters keeping to themselves, the party meet Mutch in his usual corner booth. He treats them as good friends, but after a round of drinks he gets straight to business.
He explains that the job is to obtain the Lady’s Teardrop, a well-known gem, from inside the Manor of Lord Bastonvar. The aging lord once lived with his daughter, a powerful mage, who has not been seen for some time and is believed to be dead. Mutch explains that the party is to sign up for work detail at the Manor the following morning, they will be required to complete various odd jobs for the Lord, such as gardening or painting, and to use this opportunity as cover, allowing them to investigate the property and plan a way to get inside without being caught. The Teardrop must be taken that same evening, before the Lord embarks on a journey.
After Mutch finishes the briefing, Necross decides to confront an elf sitting off to one side. The elf does not look pleased and tells him to leave. The party decide to head home for the night, although Valster decides he wants to grab one last mug of ale and sits near the bar.
The Night Assault
On the way out from the tavern, Necross hears the sudden scream of a woman in the distance. Asking if his colleagues heard the scream, he runs off up the street. Arrador calls back to Valster to come join them and the three head after Necross. As they get close, however, a crossbow bolt flies out of nowhere and hits Necross on the side of the helmet. The party duck for cover around him and check if he is ok. As it happens, the bolt glanced off his helmet and he is unscathed.
Arrador tries to sneak further up the street, in the direction of the rogue bolt, moving as silently as possible. Suddenly he spots another bolt speeding towards him from a side alley and attempts to evade, but the bolt catches him in the stomach, impaling him. Blood gushes from the wound as Arrador collapses back in pain, desperately trying to manoeuvre himself into a position of cover against the nearest wall, away from the alley. With blood pooling on the cobbles, Arrador tries to heal the wound magically, but the pain is unbearable and his magic fails him. He can smell death, his own.
The sorcerer, Necross, bravely runs up to him, staying close to the wall, and begins using his own magic to heal the horrible wound. In the chaos, Malachai hears the attackers around the corner and readies himself for an imminent attack. Valster draws and cocks his crossbow and takes aim. The atmosphere is tense.
Arrador and Necross, together, manage to heal the wound and staunch the flow of blood. The bolt is slowly pushed from the wound as the elf’s flesh knits together.
Healing completed, Necross glances around the corner and spots the attackers. A tall grey-skinned orc, wielding a crossbow, with a mighty claymore scabbarded across his back, takes aim at Necross’ face and fires. The incredibly lucky sorcerer manages to pull away just in time as the bolt shatters against the wall where, moments earlier, his face had been.
It all happened so fast, yet he still managed to see two other figures, one carrying the unconscious form of a woman. Glancing around the corner, once more, Necross sees the orc drop his crossbow and run straight at him, the enormous sword in hand. Thinking quickly, Necross casts “Dragons breath” and spews forth flames from his mouth, hitting the left arm of the orc directly. Screaming in pain and anger, the orcs flesh melting off his bones, he attempts to grab his claymore but trips and falls just as Valster fires a bolt into his leg. The orc collapses to the ground near Arrador who draws his dual daggers and leaps on the orc, stabbing both directly into his chest. The orc takes his last breath and expires.
Necross rushes down the alley, finding the woman seen carried by the mysterious figures lying in a crumpled heap on the cobbled street. It was Trinny, slowly bleeding out from a slit throat and on the verge of death.
Immediately, Necross casts a spell of healing on the young woman, which instantly begins closing the wound. With time being of the essence, he picks her up gently, and carries her over to the others. The woman’s injury does not prevent the party from looting the orc’s corpse before they move her back to The Three Heads.
After laying her down in a back room of the tavern, Des thanks Necross and promises him free ale for life for saving Trinny. Now worn out and exhausted the friends head off home to get some rest.
The next morning the party arrived at the Manor of Lord Bastonvar. They were greeted at the gate by two Armed Guards. After explaining that they were there to work, the guards let them pass by.
The Manor itself was a tall, gothic looking building surrounded by gardens and a further surrounded on all sides by a wall, with only the front gate as an exit. After speaking to Rawke, a built elderly looking man, the party were instructed to perform work in the gardens. After explaining what they need to do, Rawke left the party and headed into the Manor. After a couple of minutes of work, Necross decided he wanted to begin investigating the Manor grounds. The party talked him out of heading directly to the front door, so Necross walked around the building looking for ways to enter or anything else that may be interesting. Arrador decided to walk close behind him, just in case he finds trouble, Malachai and Valster stayed behind continuing with their work, deciding to investigate at a safer distance.
Necross and Arrador walked around the Manor, peering into the windows for clues or advantageous ways to get in. They walked right around until they got to the back of the Manor. There they found a garden complete with an ornate fountain, leading to three doorways. One to the left, one to the right and one in the centre. Arrador called out for Necross to go back to the front where the others were, but he insisted that he wanted to investigate through one of the doors.
After careful decision, he decided to go through the left door. He reached out and grabbed hold of the massive bronze handle, and pushed the door open. WAAAAAAAAAAAAH! An extremely loud noise echoed throughout the Manor and Gardens. The door was magically sealed with an alarm. In the confusion, Necross peered inside just long enough to notice that he stumbled into the training room, complete with weapons lying across the tables. In the middle of the room ??, startled and angry, came running up to Necross. “What are you doing here?!” he boomed. Necross explained that he was done with his work. Rawke Looked at him, confused. "Your work just started! Not even 15 minutes ago!” he lifted his arm and threw a punch at Necross, sending him flying backwards. “Get back to work!” he yelled.
After Necross and Arrador returned to the others, Necross explained what he saw and the party began devising their break in plan for that night.
The Break In
That night the party went back to the Manor. Their plan was to use a tree to climb over the wall at the back, then attempt to pick the lock of the centre back door. After most of the party managed to get over the wall, there was a loud SNAP and a crash as Necross fell to the ground. The branch he was holding had snapped from his weight. The party quickly hid in nearby bushes and waited, in the dead of night, for any nearby guards that may have heard. Valster, however, was still waiting on the other side of the wall, as he was struggling to grab hold of a branch due to his short stature.
After waiting a moment, with no guards in sight, the party regrouped. Valster finally made it over and joined his comrades near the back door of the Manor. Malachai, knowing more than the rest at picking the lock on doors, moved towards the door and attempted to pick the lock. Success! He pushes the door gently, and they all wait in anticipation as the double doors swing wide revealing darkness inside. Malachai lights his lantern and the party equip footpads to help conceal their movements from anyone inside.
They begin exploring the areas around the Manor, moving from room to room, but find very little of interest and, strangely, not a single person. Along the walls are small very feint lights that help guide in the darkness. The party stops once they find a door slightly ajar, appearing to lead into the main living area. A light inside illuminates the room, but the party struggle to see what’s inside without giving themselves away. They turn back to explore a library momentarily, but move back to the door after discovering nothing of interest. From the doorway Malachai peers in, noticing a candle burning, a stairway leading up to the first floor and a foot sticking out from behind a couch close to a fireplace. The party move into the room silently, but are surprised to find that the owner of the foot is laying, dead. It is Rawke, the man that hired them for the garden job earlier that day.
After looking around the room, Necross looks up at the stairs and takes a step. Just then a giant of a hound, the size of a horse, leaps out at him snarling and gnashing its teeth wildly. He narrowly misses Necross, spraying his face with saliva. The creature is acting very aggressively, with a look of menace in his eyes. The party ready themselves for attack as Malachai slashes at the beast, cutting it deeply. Arrador fires a arrow across the room, impaling the
Hound between the eyes. It howls in pain, but this only serves to anger the hound. Malachai attacks the hounds back with his dagger as Necross uses his Wrack spell on its leg. Its leg cripples over in pain as the spell surges through it.
The beast tries to attack back, but it does so in vain. Valster fires a crossbow bolt into its leg, as the beast collapses to the floor. It is unconscious and unable to move. Malachai walks over to it, places his dagger to its throat and ends its life. Breathing heavy, but uninjured, the party move on past the hound and back up to the first floor. Necross walks into a nearby room and immediately spots a small lockbox. He unlocks the box, and opens it. It is filled with jewellery and coin, but this is not what he is most excited about. The rest of the party move into the room and look up at him. Necross lifts out a bright blue tear-shaped gem. It was the Lady’s teardrop. The party start laughing with joy and relief, but look up at Necross soon after. He is looking very happy holding onto the gem…a little too happy.