The Second Generation
Baergras Ironbeard and Phaeta Orcbane own Ironbeard’s Emporium, a traveling caravan that imports dwarven goods from remote areas and sells them to the smaller cities and towns nearby. They’re well known for reliability and reasonable prices. Their son, Baernabas, is honor bound to take up his father’s trade, and he does sincerely want to serve both his family and his community… but he can’t help but find the work dull.
The only exception to his general disinterest in the work is when the caravan must travel outside Bastion’s Ridge (a dwarven settlement named for its founder; the name has been appropriated for the hill itself as well). The chance to see and experience new things was alluring. While staying in towns, he would often wander off at night to explore the city, and always found something new and interesting to learn.
Baernabas attained adulthood and was given his second name, Moontreader, by the clan elders. It was meant as a gentle chastisement for his nighttime wanderings (“That boy would walk to the moon and back,” they’d remark). It was also meant to show that the clan valued his curiosity and approved of his desire to see and explore. It was hoped that through encouraging this behavior they could get him to accept his responsibility and channel that energy into expanding the business when his time came to take up the reins.
During one fateful return trip after a long three months of travel, the caravan was beset by a ragtag team of five adventurers calling themselves The Emerald Company. Baernabas recognized them from the previous city: they had tried their hardest to sweet talk and haggle with his father, but Baergras would only accommodate them to a point. Then when Phaeta caught the half-elf among them trying to steal some knives, things got ugly. The adventurers were driven off, but now they seemed to be back for more. They targeted the horses and shot flaming arrows at the wagons, setting them alight. Fortunately for the dwarves, the light of the fires caught the eyes of a few travelers a few hundred yards behind. These travelers sprang into action and, with their help, the dwarves drove off the adventurers.
These new travelers were led by Reverend Coulton Zip, a worshipper of Fharlanghn, god of the roads. Baernabas had never heard of this god, but was fascinated at once. Zip’s philosophy was that all who travel ought to look out for one another, and they were simply glad to have been able to help. Had they not stopped at that particular roadside shrine (Baernabas had seen it many times in passing, but had not been allowed the time to hop down and ask any of those frequently gathered there what it was), they may not have seen the fires at all. Only when Baergras insisted upon it did Zip accept any money for their help.
Baernabas and his father endured a quiet battle of wills against each other following this encounter. For four years, though Baernabas was outwardly compliant and did his level best, he and his father both knew where his heart was: outside Bastion’s Ridge and traveling with the clerics of Fharlanghn. Finally they sat and discussed it reasonably. Baernabas would be allowed to leave. He’d be allowed to take thirty years, “so you can just get it all out of your system.” But during that time, he would be expected to scout potential contracts with manufacturers and correspond with home regularly, and upon returning, he must finally accept his birthright and begin training for his career in earnest. Baernabas, still a young dwarf of 55, thought this a reasonable agreement – thirty years still seemed a long time to him.
Within weeks he returned alone to that roadside shrine to Fharlanghn and saw, as always, a completely different gang of travelers. He asked around until he found someone in charge: Reverend Akella Bitterswood, a road-dusty elf telling a short anecdote about two men trying to cross a bridge. Her audience were all much younger and of varied races, and a few wore Fharlanghn’s symbol on their chests, either embroidered or badges pinned on. Baernabas was allowed to accompany them after a short talk. As a recruit, Baernabas would be expected to help anyone they met while traveling, find and see new places, acquire new stories, and generally just get into adventures. “The road is the best teacher” was Akella’s mantra.
Baernabas befriended a human skilled with healing named Salvestro Lancaster, who travelled with them for a time. It was between him and Akella that Baernabas began to learn how to pray to Fharlanghn for guidance and strength, and how to channel divine energy to help others.
Baernabas and the others, in time, came to a crowded marketplace. There he spotted a gnome he recognized as belonging to The Emerald Company. The man seemed to be stalking a well dressed halfling (who was himself accompanied by two human bodyguards). Baernabas suspected foul play, considering his previous encounter with the gnome, and endeavored to put himself in between the adventurer and the halfling. Through a combination of luck and guile, Baernabas foiled the assassination attempt at the last moment, at the same time managing to draw everyone’s attention to the would-be killer. The local authorities identified him as Norman Spracket, a known bounty hunter. But why he was after this halfling (the local philanthropist Bannon Faede) baffled everyone…
Spracket was sentenced to ten years, but Baernabas heard that he’d escaped, likely with outside aid, within the month. Having gained the trust of Bannon Faede, Baernabas and his fellows were recruited to locate a statuette that Faede had had his eye on for some time. His contacts assured him the relic had been traced to the ruins of some city that had been destroyed in some battle or another during the Great Dissension. Faede needed some reliable people to locate it for his personal collection. Baernabas and the others agreed simply because it would be a new and interesting journey.
While in the city, they encountered Spracket once again, this time with two others of the Emerald Company. It soon became apparent that they, too, were after the artifact they’d been sent to recover for Faede. Only citing that it was an item of dangerous magical potential that they needed to locate and destroy, the EC threatened Baernabas and the others. Rather than a fight breaking out, it became a sort of tense race through the ruins to find the statuette. Eventually Akella squared off with their leader, an apparent wizard called Arlem Reyes, when they reached the artifact simultaneously. In the fray, the EC’s thief Ursula Pendergras caught up and snuck away with the statuette. Fortunately for Baernabas, he heard her coming through a dark alleyway as she made her escape. He hid and simply tripped her as she hurried past. She dropped the statuette and Baernabas, much closer to the ground, picked it up quickly and pocketed it before fleeing. His luck stuck with him: he next met Salvestro, who was able to cast a sending to the rest of their party that the artifact was in their possession. They withdrew quickly, reuniting with Akella and the others, who in turn was pursued by the EC, led by Arlem Reyes.
It was then that their luck turned sour: Reyes proved to be a skilled necromancer, and had no scruples whatsoever about reanimating the corpses hidden throughout the war-ravaged ruins. This act more than anything seemed to infuriate Reverend Akella. She bellowed in rage at Reyes, decrying his actions: Fharlanghn teaches that when we die, our spirits continue to travel while our tired bodies are shed to enjoy a well earned rest. To rouse such from their slumber was deplorable. Baernabas watched in awe as Akella brandished a silver disc engraved with Fharlanghn’s symbol and uttering a short prayer… and watching the reanimated corpses disintegrate all at once. Even Reyes himself seemed to feel pain at the sight of it. Though Spracket and Pendergras now seemed somewhat doubtful of their leader – Baernabas had the feeling that their leader’s necromancy had come as a distasteful surprise to them – they followed him when he called for a retreat.
On the return trip to deliver the statuette to Faede, Baernabas set him well toward learning to turn undead as Akella had done. With help from Salvestro, he quickly became proficient. Akella observed their nightly studies and prayers quietly, only stepping in to correct their rare mistakes.
When they returned to Faede’s home with the statuette, they hoped to learn more of the artifact. It seemed the halfling knew very little, however: he’d read it had some significance to certain ancient cults, but his only interest was purely aesthetic. He added it carefully to a wall of similar such memorabilia as Baernabas and the others watched. He thanked them deeply and paid them handsomely for their work, hailing them as heroes for fending off the Emerald Company. Peace lasted only a short time, however: soon Reyes was leading a small but powerful band of the undead, as well as his living cohorts. Fortunately, the city had a temple dedicated to Pelor in another district, a fact Reyes had either overlooked or felt unimportant, and the battle began quickly. Baernabas wanted desperately to fight, felt honor bound to offer his axe and test his newfound ability to turn undead, but Akella insisted it was more important for him to tend the wounded and prevent Reyes from creating more of the undead. Reluctantly he agreed it, as it would be a better way for him to serve the city as a whole. He did his best to tend the wounded, but as his skill with practical healing was dismal, and his ability to cure through divine means was still rather limited, this mostly consisted of dragging the dying away so Reyes, now floating ominously overhead in a red dimness and commanding his troops, could not reanimate them.
Baernabas found a man who was actively being eaten, which turned his stomach… but also seemed to strengthen his resolve. The poor man was clearly a civilian – his fancy dress gave that much away. He must have just been trapped and forced to try to hide when Reyes arrived. Baernabas managed to get the zombie’s attention with a fumbled and mumbled turning attempt, but when it failed to destroy or even frighten the zombie, he had little trouble dispatching it with his axe. He tended to the dying civilian as best he could, but was too late to save him… all he could do was hide the remains for the time being to prevent them from being eaten by something else, and gave him his last rites (typical of Fharlanghn’s teachings, it wasn’t much: “Kick off your boots and put your feet up, friend; your journey’s over.”). He hurried off to find someone else he could actually save.
In time, the clerics and paladins of Pelor defeated Reyes and captured him alive. Baernabas heard later that his living allies had fled before the end of the battle when they saw how the tide was turning. Reyes was incarcerated indefinitely in an anti-magic field within the Temple of Pelor. He was still awaiting trial last Baernabas heard.
Baernabas made it a point to find the family of the man he’d failed to save. With help from the well connected Faede, he was directed to a half-elf aristocrat called Lady Wylla Graviani. She was a wreck when the news came of her husband’s passing, but in spite of this she thanked Baernabas for being there for her husband. Baernabas felt abashed, as he was only doing what seemed proper to him, and so was bewildered when Lady Graviani offered him a gift (a pair of old but well loved lightning gauntlets). He didn’t want to take it, but she insisted, and made sure he knew he was welcome there whenever he came to that city.
Time passed, and more adventures were had. Baernabas had been traveling together with these friends and allies for nearly three years, and Akella was starting to see that he was ready to move out on his own. She blessed him and consecrated him as Reverend Moontreader. Baernabas thanked her and promised to prove that her trust in him was not misplaced. He set out on his own that very day, with only a “Happy trails, partner,” by way of farewell.
The next few months were fairly uneventful. He went wherever the road took him, staying at roadside shrines to Fharlanghn when he found them, crashing at taverns when he had the gold (or could convince the owner to give him a bed in exchange for a blessing), or otherwise just camping under the stars. He came eventually to a place called Broken Town, where he met a fellow devotee of Fharlanghn, Sir Benjin Shire, and a wandering merchant called Jaysen Firefly. After a few misadventures and profitable quests, the three became allies, and now travel together.