In its conquest of Astacia the Empire stole many treasures and works of art, but none more infamously than the beautiful statue of Helce, goddess of wisdom. They desecrated her temple, raped her priestesses and stole the idol.
The people of Astacia rebelled soon after the occupation, and the rebel-guerillas, with their intimate knowledge of the deeply forested hillsides, drove out the Empire’s soldiers. Guerilla attacks on the Empire’s border have been happening for the fifty years ever since and the Astacians demand the return of their works of art.
Following the death of the Last Emperor, the wise new Vizier Elect has decided to concede and return the statue in an attempt to make good the horrendous injuries the Empire did to Astacia. He hopes to end the border conflict. One of the Last Emperor’s most trusted Paladins has been entrusted with the task and his underlings (the PCs) must accompany him.
The Paladin, ever faithful to the Empire, cannot let it suffer such an embarrassing concession. He and a few other patriots have conspired to destroy the statue in transit. The conspirators have slain the messenger who was sent to tell the Astacians of the Vizier’s decision, so any Astacians will be unaware of the PCs’ mission and may attack.
Assuming the PCs don’t go along with the Paladin, dispose of him and take the statue themselves, they will arrive in the capital city of Astacia only to find it may not have been such a good idea after all. This city and twenty miles of surrounding countryside is in imminent threat of being destroyed by a volcano, but the people stubbornly refuse to leave. Perhaps the PCs will have to steal the statue back and take it to safety, or maybe they will be more heroic and stay to help carry the Astacian women and children to safety when the mountain erupts…