Midnight in the quaint village of Cheudre, near the center of the kingdom of Moregnon. Lately the village has been inhabited by a large number of Olmennan soldiers, seemingly there to poke around the old ruins in the forest east of the town. Political tensions are high, and even the people of a small settlement like this can feel that something bad is going to happen soon.
Three travellers make their way to the tavern in Cheudre, each passing through Moregnon for their own reasons. As the fires cook a suckling pig on a spit and the regulars chatter away, a storyteller in the corner holds a small audience rapt with his retelling of the myth of Hepatica, le soldat bleu. The story attracts the attention of a rather proper-looking woman named Charlotte, one of the three out-of-place travellers. She listens intently, taking notes in a small pad as she nods thoughtfully at the old storyteller’s words.
Outside, two village men banter angrily about developments in Hepatica’s ruins outside town. It seems a large Olmennan force has made their way into the ruins and is searching frantically for something. The soldiers have killed a few Cheudre residents in their zeal, causing the local militia to respond in anger. Further bloodshed is inevitable.
Another of the three travellers, a dark-haired young man named Milo, approaches and asks around about the Olmennan forces. It seems he’s looking for his brother River, who is rumored to have joined the Olmennan army after leaving their settlement in the frozen reaches a few years ago. Milo must bring news to his brother and hopefully persuade him to return.
The last of these travellers is a strikingly beautiful woman of extreme features who calls herself Honoria de Danan Cesaria au Blanchard. After attempting to pay for her room at the inn with dazzling gemstones instead of gold, Honoria is turned away and forced to find another way to pay.
Milo makes the decision to go to Hepatica’s ruins and see if he can find a trace of his brother. Charlotte speaks up and joins him, curious to see these ancient structures with her own eyes. Reluctant but pushy, Honoria joins as well in hopes that she may convince an Olmennan official to aid her with her financial concerns.
The party leaves Cheudre and plunges into the deep forests outside the town’s borders, careful to step lightly and quietly should any preta lurk about. Sure enough, one such monster ambushes the party but they escape with their lives. Charlotte and Milo muse for a moment on the nature of preta while Honoria becomes increasingly fed up with their surroundings.
Soon enough, the travellers find a clearing in the woods where the land itself glows a brilliant blue. Atma is present here. It is the ruins of Hepatica, a monument built in his honor during the First Age of Man and left unspoiled ever since. Olmennan soldiers crawl the walkways and broken corridors carefully, on the lookout for suspicious presences.
The party’s attention is drawn to a woman speaking vehemently with an arcanist near the ruins’ entrance. Her odious presence is unmistakeable; she is general Avae, the white knight of Olmenna and paladin of the pearl dragon. she murders the man with whom she spoke without provocation, sending a chill down the travellers’ spines. Honoria decides to stick with the other two since, as she puts it, “some soldiers obviously can’t be reasoned with.”
Avae leaves and allows the party passage into the ruins. They plumb the depths of the monument, illuminated by the solid blue glow of atma all around them. After some close calls with preta and a few puzzling environmental hazards, the party is cornered by Avae and sent flying through the floor by a powerful sword technique. Before they can gain their bearings, the travellers are immersed in a pool of brilliant blue liquid. They have found – and been submerged in – a well of atma.
Crawling out of their predicament, each traveller laments the possibility of becoming preta from atma saturation, but before they can panic they are met with a gentle, deep voice. Before the three appear images of two men and a woman, dressed in the clothing of different countries from the First Age. The one who spoke introduces himself as Hyuga Manekata, a former member of the legendary military group Six Realms. The others are his companions, the bard Bedlam and the arcanist Cecilia DuBourge.
They explain that they are spirits – as far as they can tell, that is – and are inexorably tied to the well in which they were found. Hyuga says that he and his companions need to escape so that they can figure out what has happened to them over the years, but to do that they need human hosts. Honoria asks fervently about atma saturation and what would happen if they took beings of pure atma into themselves, and Cecilia explains that since she, Hyuga, and Bedlam were wild cards in life, their essences could protect the humans from saturation.
Time becomes a factor when Avae finds a way down to the room containing the well and begins breaking down the walls to gain access. Bedlam draws the humans close and uses some of his power to transport them outside instantly, avoiding a confrontation with Avae. After the travellers agree to become hosts for the spirits, they make their way toward the capital of Le Moregn without hesitation to seek safety.
In the Cheudre forest, Avae catches up to the travellers and forces them into a battle with her subordinates, arcanists who can summon preta. The fight is an easy one, and Avae is forced to summon her “pet,” a large insectoid named Kalivos. Unsure of their capabilities against such a beast, the party flees through the forest.
Kalivos gives chase but is eventually tripped up by a huge colony of gnomes who beat on it incessantly and knock it unconscious. The party is safe to make camp and head for Le Moregon in the morning.
Party Level: 4 Karma: Charlotte 5, Honoria 9, Milo 3