Lord Humar had born but one son, no more, no less. He was only a small man, despite all his power and lands; as he always said, 'what is a lord for peasants, is an insect for kings'. His men liked him well enough, though, and all knew that they would follow the lord most anywhere. He was graceful and kind, and always rewarded to those who supported or aided him. Some called him soft, because the criminals in his land where usually just banished from his lands, and not punished in any way. Only rarely would he put criminals in the dungeons underneath the Rolls Keep, the ancestral home of house Troy. His wife, lady Trina, was a slim, intelligent, lowborn woman who the lord loved and trusted perhaps too much. All in all, the region controlled by house Troy was happy and prosperous.
But that all changed when he was born.
It was a stormy night, the night of his birth. His mother, lady Trina, was the first of many of his victims, though her death was less painful than that of those that were to come. She died so early, she had no time to name him. His father was with her when she died, and when the babe was presented to him, he looked away, knowing that this was the murderer of the woman he loved. He returned to his chamber in the highest tower of the Rolls Keep, and spent many days confined in there. Some say he spent his time weeping; others urge that he sat in silence, with his head in his hands. Whatever the case was, when he came out, he was a different man. The first thing he did was walk down to his dungeons, ignoring all who stood on his way. Halfway through his journey down, one of his most trusted councillors stood before him and said that the smallfolk were worried, and he needed to go out to talk to them, and tell them that he was unharmed. He commanded his guards to cut him down, and within 10 seconds he lay beside them with an axe in his neck, while Humar continued down the steps to the dungeon. As he entered the dungeons, he commanded that all the prisoners would be brought outside. They stood in a long line, side by side, still bearing chains. One by one, he went up the chain, asking each man what he did and if he could justify why he had done it. After he had asked the questions, listening intently to their answers, he stabbed them in the stomach with his red-and-yellow dagger, the colours of his house. As the man would lie bleeding on the grass beside his fellow prisoner, he would begin asking the next one the questions, and so he continued, listening to their pleads of innocence, until eventually all were dead. Then he spoke aloud.
'Any man who decides to commit a crime shall find the same fate as these criminals.' He pointed his blood-red blade at the dead men before him, and a grin crossed his face.
After that day, things changed in the Rolling HIlls. Many more executions followed, all executed by lord Humar himself. More money went to the lord than ever before, the taxes rocketed upwards. He never asked after his son, and nobody dared to ask him about what should be done with him. He was raised in the church next to the castle. He was treated well here, but he was a silent boy. He didn't talk at all unless he was forced to, which was rare; this is how he earned his nickname, Nospeak. He always watched his father execute the criminals, though, hidden in the crowd. When he was seven, the godswives caught him in the garden, killing fish that he had caught in the river and laying them in a row one by one. When they asked him why he had done it, he said only 'my father is a great man'. Nobody dared to punish him, for nobody wanted to anger the lord.
At his 15th year, he was a man grown, and allowed to leave the church and do what he wished. The first thing he did was leave towards the castle, planning to talk to his father and to truly become his son. The men at the gates took their time, but when he was finally allowed to enter the castle, they took him directly to his father. He stood in the center of his large hall, facing away from the entrance where his son came through. The floor was covered in a sticky black goo, Nospeak noticed vaguely. The guards escorting his son left when he commanded them to, and he turned towards him. He was grinning as he told his son that he had missed him, and asked him where he had been all these years. Nospeak walked forward, towards his fathers open arms, glad that he could finally be who he was born to be. When he was almost there, his father took a flintstone and struck it over his blade. Sparks flew, and Nospeak slowed down, confused. What was he doing? His fathers grin grew into a great, bellowing, laughter. The second the sparks hit the ground, he was too late. The ground itself shot aflame, and the world around him turned into a blazing inferno of red and yellow, the colours of his house, smoke filled his lungs, the flames scorched his skin. When he stumbled out of the room, the castle itself started to burn, and behind him the laughter turned into screams of pain. He didn't know how, but he managed to make his way outside the castle, together with half the guards. Behind him the castle was burning, and he passed out from the pain of his entire body.
When he woke, he was lying in the church, his body burning as if he were still on fire. Slowly, his thoughts cleared, and he realised what had happened. His father had tried to burn him, and had burned himself as well. But... his father loved him, he knew that for sure. Why would he burn him? What was going on? His mind panicked, searching for a solution, some answer to this problem. There was only one solution; burning is love, burning is mercy, burning is life. A face appeared before him and said words that he did not understand. All he heard was the crackling of fire. When he looked up, his neck on fire from the movement, he saw the sound came from a small hearth. Instinctively, he got up, ignoring the blazing pain that seared through his body. Somehow, it seemed more dull than it was supposed to be. Vaguely he heard the man who leaned over him call at him, but he ignored it. The fire looked so warm, so... welcoming. The crackling of the fire seemed to call out to him, and in this sound he thought to hear his true name... Gark'ng. He smiled maniacally. He walked to the fire and picked up a log out of it, the end burning, but the heat was nothing compared to the pain he felt at every movement. The wooden walls burned easily when he held it near them, and soon they were aflame. The man behind him grabbed his shoulder, and the flesh seemed to crackle beneath his hands. He pulled his hand away, calling out in pain. Gark'ng turned around, grabbed him with his other hand with a power he did not know he had, and he threw him into the flames. He screamed, but all Gark'ng heard where calls of joy. As he walked away from the church, more people, wounded or ill or sick, joined in on his calls.
Walking through the village, the people outside looked at him in horror. Many ran, towards their homes or the blazing church he did not know. A few men stayed and watched him walk, remembering him as the boy who they used to know. One of them stood in front of him, clutching a rusty longsword in his hand, the point aiming towards the burned body of Gark'ng. He was wearing no armour, only the clothes of a farmer. Gark'ng opened his mouth to speak, but then realised his tongue was gone. Instead, some ashes fell out of the gaping hole that used to be his mouth, falling to the ground in front of him. The farmer put his arm over his mouth, his eyes showing disgust. Suddenly, he swung his blade clumsily, aiming for the burned mans neck. The blade shattered the instant it hit, and the look of terror on the mans face was the last he would ever has as Gark'ngs hand shot forward and covered his face. The mans screams were muffled as his face started to burn through, and the blade his still had in his hand dropped to the ground noisily. Gark'ngs fiery eyes shone hungrily when he smelt the burning flesh. No more men stood in his way as he walked towards where he knew he must go.
The large inn stood in the centre of the village, a majestic large building built many years ago. A sign bearing the red rose the inn was named after hung above the large oaken door. As Gark'ng walked inside, he heard many gasps, and the small gnome bard playing his lute stopped, his mouth gaping open as he stared at the Burned Man who just entered. Gark'ngs eyes located what he was looking for quickly; the huge hearth set in the wall of the inn. Once this inn burned, the entire village would follow, he knew. The streets here where small, the buildings built as closely packed as possible. But when he walked towards the blazing heat of the hearth, he suddenly felt a thud in his right shoulder. He felt with his hand, and clenched his fist around the wooden shaft of an arrow. Turning around, he saw that the bard had pulled out a small shortbow, and had notched a second arrow already. The gnome called out in a squeaky voice, asking who he was and what he was doing here, threatening to fire another arrow if he did not leave immediately. Gark'ng felt no fear, though; all he felt was confusion. Why would this creature not want to be liberated and empowered by the incredible sensation of burning? He pulled out the arrow slowly, shedding no blood. The point had not even penetrated his thick skin. The bard loosed another arrow, but his aim was poor, and Gark'ng was quicker. A ray of burning hot flames shot out of his hands, aimed directly at the bards face. He jumped aside, crying out as the flames grazed his shoulder. His clothes were on fire, Gark'ng saw. The people who were still in the tavern ran away as the bard screamed, rolling on the floor, desperately trying to douse the flames. The wooden stage he was performing on soon started to burn as well, and Gark'ng knew many people would be sharing this bards joy today.
Many years he ravaged the lands, searching for new blood, going to places where no man had gone before for the sole purpose of burning it to the ground. He slowly started gathering a cult around him as well, known as the Burning Hand, an insane group of fanatic fire clerics who assist him in burning things down. He does not know they are worshipping him, but he leaves them be because they usually aid him when he burns things. These clerics fear all death but that by flames, and often their own gets burned by their fiery god. He lives forever, simply walking onwards, fearing none, burning all, but never satisfied, always hungry, hungry for more flames...
So, how did this simple boy gain such ungainly powers? The answer lies in the flames that burned him, as these were not ordinary flames. The lord Humar of the Rolls Keep had long been planning this murder of his son, you see. He wanted to have his son suffered as he had, when the boy killed his beloved wife. So, he had one of his many knights, a noble man named Cryll Werther, go to a far away land and find the most horrible death any man could have, buy it, and bring it to his castle. The knight was commanded to ask no questions about why this would need to be done, so he set out, without questioning the lords intentions. Many years later he returned, bearing many stories that he planned to tell his children and his wife. But first, he returned to his lord, to bring to him what he had found. The lord listened as he told him about a merchant who carried many a mysterious item, and when asked about the worst death had presented the knight with a bottle filled with black substance. The merchant had said: 'Any man who burns and perishes in these flames, will no know worse pain than he felt on that day. But the man who burns and lives, he feels the pain of burning for all eternity, and despite everything he will never be happy.'
The lord took the bottle from him, and then, almost casually, told the guards to execute the knight standing before him. Before they took him down he had killed five of the guards and injured two more, but a crossbow bolt to the knee finally brought him down, and he died by a stab wound in the neck. Lord Humar decided to keep this bottle until his son would present himself to him, which he knew would happen one day. That was the only way he would feel ultimate pain. And when the time came, he himself would burn with his son, so he would know the pain his son would feel as well, and finally be at peace.
The knight was a clever man, though, and before he had gone to the king he left his journal, which he had made during the journey, in the house of his wife. His son would later find it, a brave boy named Renald Werther.
Renald Werther, now an old man, asks the PCs for help. Many priests are talking about the day of flames coming again, as it came 100 years ago and scorched their country. Only Renald realises what the true threat is, having read his fathers journal and seen Gark'ng. He still bears some scars from the fire that killed his mother and sister. He begs the PCs to search for the secret of this mysterious black substance, and find out if there is any way to stop the Man who Burned, before he comes again, bringing destruction for all in his path...
Summer may be winding down (in most places), but the fires of imagination still burn bright.
Thousands upon thousands of years ago, role-playing was invented by our ancestors. Long before the first wheel rolled down a hill, and long before the first loaf of bread was sliced, early humans sat around their caves regaling each other with tales of gods, creatures, heroes and villains, and entertaining themselves with impersonations, play-acting, and role-reversals. All this was made possible by the roaring FIRES inside their caves, which warmed their bodies, roasted their meats, and shone light on their faces.
This month we celebrate FIRE and Role-Playing!
'The Quest revolves around the element of FIRE. Water, Air, and Earth need not apply.
Items, Locations, NPCs, or Plots. All are welcome as long as FIRE is involved! Don your asbestos suits and enter with us, into the all-consuming inferno that is this month's Quest!'
15XP for each submission with 100XP for 1st and 50XP for second.
The kingdom is in turmoil - the heir to the throne has gone missing.
An arsonist has been setting villages ablaze and must be stopped, but how do you stop the king?
Gark'ng has joined the clergy and is an excellent representative, but he is biding his time until he can show the whole city his firey love on a grand scale.
A fire has started deep in the forest, and the elves and dryads are begging for someone to make it stop.
A cleric of water has arrived, and claims to be hunting down a great evil brought into this world.
Gark'ng has realized his true calling - he is not human but dragon and is seeking a way to ascend.
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? Responses (5)
Whoa. Lots of different ideas and concepts in this one. It could use a polishing read-through I think, but it's a poignant tale. Almost reminds me of a game of thrones type of tragic family drama...the father angry at the newborn that slew the woman he loved, by simply being born.
So, will you reveal the mystery of the fire? And what happens to Gark'ng next?
Welcome to the Citadel, sammo!
Welcome to the citadel, this is one heck of an introduction.
I love this story and it is beautifully told. There are unanswered questions like what exactly happened to the king, but they are irrelevant. I would like a few words from you on how you intend to use him in-game but I have already come up with a few and added them.
Wow, what an insane idea. Was drew in and wondering what was going all the way to the end.
But this is just the beginning and it begs for more. We can come up with the answers but I am very curious as to how you thought to handle it. Who gave him the power and his new name? Why? Would he not be shot by archers at some point? Arrows made of wood have the obvious ending but how? How is at happening.
You have me by the throat gasping for more.
Update: Continued the tale, and changed some stuff. Also added some explanation, and a plot hook for a campaign :)