DARKNESS GATHERING: INTERLUDE #7

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“And some things that should not have been forgotten were lost. History became legend. Legend became myth.”  — Galadriel, Lord of the Rings

Drombeg Stone Circle

Stone Circle

Deep in the wilderness, a cult founded a stone circle in which to practice their horrific rites. These rites always included summoning otherworldly creatures and bribing them with the souls of mortals. The stone circle was about 40 feet in radius and marked by eight stone blocks that weighed 20 tons each. They were intricately carved in Abyssal with names and prayers to various vile gods. As the power balance in the Abyss changed, so did the gods to whom the cult paid homage. Prayers written on the stones were never erased, and they became a kind of historical record of the practices of the cult. The stones also were imbued with magical power and served as the marker for a permanent summoning circle. The center of this area held a huge wheel made of oak, on which victims would be strapped. The cult originally used an altar, but one of the dark gods communicated that it preferred the victims to be upright. The wheel was surrounded by a magic circle that trapped the summoned creatures. Thus, if the cult merely wanted to gift their master, they could summon an otherworldly creature that could take the victim’s soul and then leave when the summoning spell ended. The cult members would remain relatively safe.

These practices went on for centuries, since they were far from civilization and their predation on the surrounding towns was sparse enough that no one really caught on to the real reason for people occasionally disappearing. These ongoing practices caused a lasting evil effect in the area. Also centuries of using magic that opened a gate to the Abyss eventually weakened the fabric of reality there. The cult members noticed that they could summon creatures far more easily and began to plan attacks on the nearby civilizations. Any summoning or calling spells with the evil designator cast here are more powerful.

However, the cultists never realized their ambition. A paladin of Pelor tracked one of the cult’s victims back to the stone circle and brought a small army to deal with these vile people once and for all. The members were slaughtered while crying to their evil masters, but the vile gods never responded. The cultists’ bodies were left to the animals after being blessed, and they eventually rotted away or were consumed. The paladin and his army pulled down most of the stones and broke them apart and scattered the pieces. Only a few were left standing, and these were defaced with holy symbols. The great wheel was burned and its ashes buried. Rejoicing, the good people left the area. Within two generations it was forgotten. Time and the elements wore down the standing stones so that the writing was barely visible. The magic circle broke and eventually wore away. The bones of the cultists lay scattered among the wilds near the site.

The paladin returned a year after the massacre of the cult, and founded a church to Pelor on the same spot at the cult’s magic circle. The church was built in a short amount of time, and served as a waypoint on a major trading route. Travelers could stop to rest in the relative safety of the church, protected by the paladin and priests. As time passed, the story of the evil cult faded into myth and legend, and was ultimately forgotten or laughed at as a fairy tale. And in time, people started to build houses and markets around the church, establishing an even more effective place to rest on the trade route between Threshold and Stormport. In time that small village needed a name, and the obvious choice was to name it after the paladin that originally built the church of Pelor. And so, the town of Falstaff made its mark on the map.

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But as we all know, there are three rules to endings that must not be forgotten: First, good always wins. Second, Evil always returns. And third, the first rule isn’t always true.

And so it is with the town of Falstaff.

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