NEPA Known World

Preamble II

13 Thaumont 998 AC

Why does fate conspire to bring us together? Only the Immortals may know and even they may not. But fate has intervened again today and brought our adventurers together. They do not know each other but have, through varied paths, arrived at the town of Threshold and specifically to the Juggling Ogre Inn and Tavern. Before the day is done, they will face adversity together and be forged into a team.

The night is chilly and overcast. The spring rains threaten the lands but have not yet begun to fall. It is a good night to stay inside and enjoy some of Willington Stough’s hospitality. The ale flows freely and the plates are piled high with bread and mutton.

Stough is busy tonight. His customers are the merchants of Threshold and they are packed in to the dark and warm space. After all, his establishment is located on Market Street, closest to the majority of established shops and not far from the open air market. Any respectable merchant has to pass by the Juggling Ogre. A large statue of Asterius stands in the entrance way, beckoning them; protecting them.

Willington stops for a second to catch his breath after setting down a few tankards of Shireton mead. He smiles as Jael, the bard performing tonight, begins a new song. She tosses her long red hair from side to side as she sings, her fingers deftly playing on her lute. A Hin song no doubt as though she stands nearly six feet tall, she once lived among the Halflings and has an affinity for them.

However, the mood is heavier in the tavern than would be expected given Jael’s light song. The bar is not filled with laughter but filled with whispers and dread. There are strangers in the bar: adventurers. Recently, merchants have gone missing and this is a merchant’s bar. Baron Halaran’s men seem to have no clue where and when the forces of evil will attack next and no one seems safe; at least no merchant. Talk in the bar is of the latest merchant to be snatched. His family and business were untouched and no one knows why or how he disappeared. He was in bed one night and when his wife awakened the next day, he was gone. There has been no demand for ransom in any of the cases. The last man was the fourth merchant to disappear. Some suspect the Iron Ring but they have never been known to operate in Threshold.

The only other topic is of Clifton Caldwell, another local merchant but one who is thought to be a little off kilter (“crazy as a loon” says one merchant). Apparently he has not arrived yet though he frequents the tavern almost every night that he is in town. He just purchased a large manor outside of the protection of the town walls. He has complained that it is filled with foul beasts and has been trying to get an adventurous party to clear its contents. So far there have been no takers but quite a few people think his disturbance of the castle’s evils has led to the recent kidnappings.

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