Last Stand

The Truth Shall Set Them Free
a night of wine, women, song and child slavery

The Firstborn manages to sneak their way onto Gold Isle, and finagle a way to get into a large dinner party, hosted by the Bastet Family. Posing as servers(Ashen and Lucien), taking a break from jobs at unrelated houses (Cro and Roel) or being a guest to someone who was invited (Belias), they all arrive at the party.

Upon entering the Bastet household, they eventually see that a subtly crafted illusion has been cast over the house. Using a powerful teleportation spell, each guest to the ball is shifted to the Kilnier household, which has been hidden under the guise of the Bastet house.

The Bastet, being the most powerful magic using family in Last Stand, created the elaborate ruse to protect their property from being looked at too closely. Due to free flowing and powerful liquor, the illusion isn’t noticed by the majority of the partygoers.

After mingling for a couple of hours, and examining the accessible areas on their own, the Firstborn wait until the drink has taken hold of the guests. In the study, they notice beneath the illusion, a large chandelier that bears an expertly cut emerald the size of a wagon, the controlling stone to the bracers placed on the child laborers.

The Firstborn make their way to the basement, where they uncover a secret passage leading deeper into the island. As they cautiously make their way down, they notice the tempurature rising. After a couple hundred yards, they discover the cause of the heat: a river of lava!

The rough stone walls of the chamber house a unique vein of mineral, which is being mined by a couple malnourished children. Knowing they have to stop the atrocity, the Firstborn grab one of the children, along with a sample of the ore, and flee, running across a rope bridge spanning the lava. They manage to elude the taskmasters who are chasing them, and end up crossing into a one way teleportation chamber, which deposits them behing Tong’s Brewery.

Knowing that they must seek sanctuary right away, the Firstborn head to the only place they trust: Grellig’s bar. Upon arrival, they are taken to Grellig’s office, where they are kept safe from any pursuit. Jayvin arrives shortly thereafter, having recieved a message from Grellig’s associates.

The party explain to him the events of the evening, and he informs them that Gold Isle has been locked down due to a “security breach” of unknown origins. Belias’ sister, Anora, is still on the island.

The child is placed in protective custody, and the Firstborn are escorted home. The waiting game begins once more, as the slave ring slowly comes to light. Anora is returned home safely a few hours later.

The Firstborn all notice that they’ve acquired watchers, from three different factions. Staff from the school, Jayvin’s fellow Shadows, and a third party, presumably from those that wish the conspiracy would stay a secret.

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Conspiracies and Cover-ups.
Keep Calm and Carry On.

A week after the attack, and the Firstborn has struggled to find time to get together. The Smith children have been running ragged trying to balance schoolwork and the workload dropped on them by their father. Having his children’s name slandered by the Jade Talon family has sent him into a frenzied state.

Luken’s father, on the other hand, has hired a personal trainer for his son, to teach him to defend himself against further attacks, and be damned what Administrator Clelan has to say about students carrying weapons.

Dorgen Ashe has been battling with bouts of guilt, struggling to accept the fact that he isn’t responsible for the attack on the Firstborn. He dealt with the situation as best he could, but still feels like he failed the group by not preventing the injuries sustained by the Firstborn.

The faculty at Kihan’s has been scrutinizing the Firstborn, their attitudes ranging from waspish annoyance to fullblown outrage at the smallest (sometimes imagined) infractions.

Chip and Cog, Instructor Halfhand‘s homuculi, have been around the Firstborn more and more. Being an extension of Halfhand’s will, seem to be the most understanding and honest with the group. Trading jokes and passing along warnings, the two constructs are showing more and more that they are individual beings, and not just additional hands for the Artificer.

During the weekend, Roel, Ashen and Cro are finally able to isolate from the watchful eyes of parents and teachers, and discuss what happened, and what they can do. They decide to go back to the scene of the attack and see if there are any clues left there as to how the kobolds managed to get into Last Stand, or at the very least, the Tannery.

As they get ready to head to Dockside, a young messenger from the orphanage approaches with an invitation to lunch with Keeper Terrance Hobb, head of the White Star, the organization that runs the local orphanage.

Cro RSVP’s to the messenger, who returns dutifully to the Keeper with the Firstborn’s reply.

The Firstborn, without further ado, head to the Tannery. They find that the local guardsmen have already cleaned the place out, removing bits of ruined furniture and random odds and ends left behind from the previous inhabitants. They decide to check out the disposal chute in the far corner, which was used to dump all sorts of unpleasant things into the water below.

Using a bit of rope and some ingenuity, they lower Cro down the chute to see if anything interesting lies at the bottom. With his keen observation skills, Cro spots a small chest suspended over the edge of the opening. The Firstborn manage to secure the chest, and sneak out of the Tannery before the guards return from lunch.

Inside the chest is a bottle of goblin liquor, a pouch filled with 100 silver pieces, and some random bits of crap that could belong to none other than Biff and his crew. The question is, where did all that money come from? And why that particular vintage of liquor, one that isn’t normally sold in Last Stand?

The next day, Cro, Roel and Ashen go to the orphanage to have lunch with Keeper Hobb. Hobb, an elderly gentleman with a big heart, has discovered something that he thinks he shouldn’t have.
One week ago, a former orphan, Tade Fenden, was found dead. Tade was adopoted out two years ago to a family that reportedly moved to Agrimar a year ago.

Tade was found dead in an alley behind Tong’s Brewery. No evidence of foul play was discovered by the coroner, but there were a unusual aspects of the teenager’s death. First, there were strong traces of the opiate Cla’niet in his system. The levels built up in his body showed that he’d been using the drug for well over a year, and in doses high above the legal limit. Second, the wear and tear on his body, both internal and external, would normally be expected to be found in people who had worked in cramped conditions with poor ventilation and exposure to harsh chemicals for decades. Tade was fifteen years old.

Keeper Hobb, being concerned and outraged at the condition of his former ward, decided to do some research. He came across six other cases of former orphans that had died under the same circumstances, as well as a startlingly high number of other children that were exposed to the same harsh conditions. The cases go back almost twenty years.

Checking through his personal files of his former orphans, he found that the other six cases involving adopted out kids all had the families reported as moving out of Last Stand within a year of all paperwork becoming official.

Hobb immediately took the found information to the police, who just dismissed him as being paranoid. Even the Justicars wouldn’t listen to his pleas. Hobb informs the Firstborn that he has noticed that his personal items have been tampered with, and reports seeing strange figures on the Orphanage grounds at night.

The lunch meeting is interupted by Hobb’s butler, who informs him that the local Imperial Magistrate is here, and demands Hobb’s presence. The butler sneaks the Firstborn out through a back door, and as they are leaving, they see the Magistrate, along with a number of soldiers, desecend on Hobb, citing criminal charges and demanding to see all official files of the Orphanage, declaring an audit’s beginning.

Right before Hobb left, he passed a single worn pouch that was found on Tade’s body. Inside, they find a wrought iron bracer with a crudely cut emerald set in it. Beneath the emerald are rough glyphs of scrying and warding. The party deduces that this could be a short range way of keeping magical tabs on Tade, and whoever has similar bracers like it.

Also in the pouch were a pair of thick leather gloves, scorched and pitted. The damage to the gloves shows that the wearer handled various acids, and was exposed to extremely hot temperatures on a consistent basis.

Lastly, is a worn down chisel. Also pitted and scarred, the chisel has a melted appearance to it, showing that it had been exposed to extreme heat and acid.

The group is determined to follow through with Keeper Hobb’s wishes, and find out who is using Last Stand’s orphans for malicious gain. Meeting with Jayvin, the party explains to him the situation with Hobb. Jayvin tells them that officially, he’s been issued an order to ignore Hobb’s accusations on the basis that he’s a paranoid old man. Jayvin cannot officially act on this, because the Crown has gotten involved in the cover up.

Who could have enough political clout to keep something of this magnitude quiet? What exactly are the kids being used for? How does the Crown benefit from this immoral and illegal operation?

All evidence points to someone is mining something. But what? The party starts researching geographical data, looking for signs of ore deposits, potential dig sites and recent structural changes to Last Stand’s islands.

Councilman Miles Kilnier is the prime suspect right now. He has the power over the Council, he has the wealth needed, the mining and crafting experience, and the Imperial sway to operate something of this nature and get away with it. But is it him? And if it is, how do they prove it?

If someone is monitoring other slave laborers with these bracers, they’d need an enormous emerald as a focus to exert any amount of control over the smaller emerald wearers. But how to find it? Break into Kilnier’s estate, of course!

TO BE CONTINUED….

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The worst thing about living in Last Stand...
...is all the damn kobolds.

After an uneventful summer, the next school year starts. The Firstborn, still riding high off their prank at last year’s graduation, have become heroes to their schoolmates. Anyone who wants to be anyone will go to great lengths to be seen talking to the Firstborn in public, or, miracle of miracles, to actually hang out with them.

A few weeks into the school year, a new student transfers into Kihan’s. Dorgen Ashe moved to Last Stand with his uncle, who was reassigned by the Army after suffering a serious wound in combat. Dorgen and his uncle were members of the Jade Sting, a Free Company that patrols the edge of The Unclaimed. Although Dorgen is the same age as the party, he has already seen combat, and is allowed to wear his weapon, under peacebond, while in school. Whispered voices wonder why Dorgen transfered into Kihan’s as opposed to the Academy, but no one seems to know.

Dorgen’s appearance and air of mystery and danger is a point of interest to all, to the point that a lot of attention shifts from the Firstborn to Dorgen. Dorgen, uncomfortable under the scrutiny, finds himself unconsciously drawn to the Firstborn, and quickly becomes friends with the group.

Unfortunately, the fame the Firstborn has won isn’t without a price: the cadets they pranked on last year are now employed by Last Stand as bottom rung guardsmen. Lead by Barthoff “Biff” Ramatha, the cadets do everything they can to mess with the Firstborn. Curfew citations, “friendly” warnings to follow the rules, suprise inspections to curb underage drinking, even random searches looking for ‘illegal substances’ are commonplace. Whenever they can give the Firstborn a hard time, they do so gladly.

One of Biff’s squad members, Kev Rollins, starts to draw the attention of the keen-eyed party. They notice that Kev tends to watch them closer than normally, and seems to possess greater than average intelligence and cunning, making him the more dangerous of that particular group.

Once again, Jayvin shows up in town. After hearing the groups’ problems with Kev, he warns them to be careful. He says he’s in town on unrelated business, but that since Willem Greywall is still on the loose, he wouldn’t be suprised if there was something amiss.

Another of Biff’s squad members, Jax Fenton, reveals an interest in metalworking and jewelrymaking, which draws him to Belias. Belias, showing Jax some basic techniques on Jax’s off time, manages to get some dirt on Kev and Biff. Apparently, their squad hangs out at the old Winders Tannery.

The Tannery, located Dockside, was gutted by a fire a couple of years ago, and since no one could get the smell of burnt skin and animal fat out of the place, it sat abandoned since the fire.

One night, the Firstborn see Biff’s squad heading to the Tannery, and decide to follow. After peeking into the boarded up windows, they see the group of guardsmen drinking cheap liquor and squabbling. Kev, in the privacy of their hideout, seems to be completely in charge, cowing all the rest into leaving. Alone, Kev sits drinking, talking to himself.

The Firstborn, seeing an opportunity to confront Kev on their own terms, kick in the door and start closing in. At that point, the trap springs shut.

Metal bars fall into place around the entrances, and Kev disappears. A team of kobolds appear, led by a sorcerer, who tells the group to come along peacefully, or the kobolds will have to take them the hard way.

As a pitched battle ensues, the party realizes that most of the kobolds are actually illusions, and that only two of them are real; the sorcerer, and the one with the poisoned bolts. The sorcerer managed to summon a water elemental to aid him in subduing the party.

Parrea, the female catfolk and fellow Firstborn, gets brutally beaten by the water elemental, and almost dies. Ashen also hurt, having been knocked off the second floor balcony by the elemental after attempting to move past it.

After killing the kobolds and watching the water elemental fade, the party is able to send for help for their wounded friends. Ceros, Parrea’s twin brother, is blinded with rage over the attacks on his sister, and blames Ashen for letting her get hurt.

In a turn of bad luck, the first guards on the scene are Biff and his squad. Seeing Parrea hurt, and their adversaries over the bloodied body, Kev quickly paints a picture of a brutal assault, and the Firstborn are hauled roughly to the nearest jail “for questioning.”
Ceros’ and Parrea’s father, outraged at his daughters injuries, accuses the Firstborn of brutalizing his daughter.

After four hours of being locked up, Jayvin finally manages to get the Firstborn out. Moving them to a safe location, he informs them that circumstantial evidence and loud voices has kicked up a political shitstorm, labeling the Firstborn as the villians.

As the nightmare chain of events comes to an end, two questions remain. How did the kobolds manage to get into Last Stand, and why did they want to take the Firstborn alive?

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Bloody Deeds
murder, mayhem, and a man with a salamander.

After finding out that 11 kids from the Kihan’s went missing and were found dead, seven of them sharing a birthday with the Firstborn, the party decides to investigate. After being denied any information about the disappearances murders, the Firstborn take it upon themselves to find out what happened. Mylea Madsen, mother of Firstborn member Roel Madsen, is the Head Librarian at Kihan’s, and has a key to the main door of the building. Sneaking into the school one night, they break into the Dean’s office, knowing that Clelan Aficias has the official file on the incident. Faced with a locked door, and no real lockpicking skills to speak of, Belias Smith and his younger sister, Anora, fall back on the family trade and remove the door from its hinges.

Once inside, they quickly locate the file. Cro’Vax Greenleaf uses his scribing skills and quickly makes a copy of the documents for later study. The party expertly replaces the door and manages to sneak out into the night. On the way off of campus, Ashen Templebound sees a figure standing under a street light, cloaked in black, talking to himself. The figure, a half elf named Jayvin Hicks, is a field agent of The Shadows, A.K.A. The Shadow of the Throne. Jayvin had been sent to Last Stand to investigate some rumors of a Tide sympathizer surfacing in the city. Jayvin introduces himself to the party, and shares with them information on the killings that he has. Deep cover agents hidden within the Tide ranks revealed a prophecy that came to light a year ago. Seeressess of Kin’varos, on the fourteenth New Year of the Era of Light, awoke from their trances and spoke.

“Last Stand bears seven children. A pair of mixed heritage. All heralded the beginning of the Light. All must die.”

A half-orcish pirate, Tharnak, managed to slip into town unnoticed. Destined to become a Bloodchief of Kin’varos, Tharnak took on the mission to exterminate the Firstborn. With the help of his firstmate Willem Greywell, Tharnak managed to slay most of the potential Firstborn kids in the city.

The party, finding out from Jayvin that Tharnak was hunting them, turned to Grellig, an orcish businessman who operates the largest casino and brothel in Last Stand. Grellig, possessing an odd code of ethics when it comes to children in danger, put his men on the streets to work, and located the pirate and his first mate. The Justicars managed to arrest Tharnak, but Willem escaped.

Having been alerted of the danger to the Firstborn, the school’s faculty try to lockdown the campus when runners reported an attack within the city. Willem had activated his Captain’s failsafe, awakening a warforged crew member armed with an artifact stolen from one of Kihan’s instructors.

Knowing that staying in the school meant they would be trapped, the party managed to slip off the school’s campus. As Stormcliffs was being shut down, Anora arranged a diversion so her brother and her friends could sneak aboard the air carriage and get to Grellig’s casino, the only safe place in the city for them.

Grellig’s agents smuggled the Firstborn into the casino, where they were kept safe from the attacks. Willem and his warforged companion launched a desperate attack on the holding facility that held Tharnak, but were defeated. Willem disappeared, and the unnamed Warforged was destroyed, the remains lost in the channels below.

As life returned to normal for the Firstborn, they continually dodged angry retorts and pranks from their rivals, the senior class military brats from the Academy. In a move that will go down in history, the Firstborn arranged a vulgar and humiliating prank that made the Academy graduating class look like fools, and made them, once again, out to be the heroes of their school.

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The Beginning

As the dog days of summer wind down before the school term starts, the group of friends decide to pit brains against brawn in the neighborhood pick-up game of rugby. Dominated by a team of military brats, the last game of the season ends in a landslide, the trophy and dinner sponsored by the local orphanage seeming to go, once again, to the winning team.

In a fit of inspiration (and a little bit of jealousy), the party throws their ragtag team into the mix, challenging the ‘Sea Hawks’ to a no guts, no glory match.

Ironically named ‘The Killers’, the team uses keen eyed tactics and superior intelligence, along with some dirty tricks, to snatch the game away from the Sea Hawks, and make them look like a bunch of whiny losers in front of a large crowd of local kids.

High on their victory, the party rides their newly won coolness to glide through the rest of summer, on to the beginning of the school year.

Their second year of school at Kihan’s Institute of Higher Learning begins on a dark note. Over the past six weeks, eleven students have turned up missing or dead, seven of them from the same grade as the party.

As the names are read off, the party realizes that they share a common link with a majority of the deceased. All of them were born on the same day, of the same year. The same day that the newly chosen ‘Era of Peace’ begins.

Is this just a horrible coincidence, or do dark forces gather around them?

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