Griffix

Griffix

Wizard. Former party member. Griffix died with the rest of Baern Rockhammer’s expedition to the Isle of Dread. Raised by the party after two years in the Spirit World, he adventured with the party on the Isle of Dread until he could return to Stormhaven. He was killed by the plague in Stormhaven.

Backstory

There were two of them in the Gullswing, a tavern adjacent to the adventurer’s guild hall. The men were carved slabs of beef, cautious and wary like a set of lithe panthers chained to the booth, mugs of ale gripped in scarred hands. With monosyllabic grunts they introduced themselves: Odacer, a fair-skinned, thick-thewed youngster of barbarian birth, and Fletcher, lean-faced whipcord of a man; a guide, a hunter.

The deal was simple enough, standard contracts for mercenary muscle. Rockhammer got a full quarter share and first pick. Everyone shared the rest. Afterwards Rockhammer promised you a little extra with a content smile and a patter of flattery - out of earshot of course. You wonder how many of the others were given the same promise and how would it all shake out when the time came to carve up the spoils.

As Rockhammer laid out the details you had doggedly collected, you sat at the booth trying to look as though this was your natural element, glancing beside you at your friend and colleague Himm. The two of you were a far way away from your cloistered alcoves in the college library. Himm looked as nervous as you felt, hands trembling as he gripped the ale Rockhammer ordered for the group. You were finally going to get the adventure you’ve dreamed of all those long nights poring over bound copies of journals and bard’s tales.

In the hazy light of the too few torches, Fletcher glanced at Odacer, who nodded, and then said simply to Rockhammer, “OK”. A deal had been struck. You could feel the nervousness ebb slowly into excitement. This is what adventure is all about - looking these grizzled men in the face as an equal. You only hope that for all your training and studying that you could hold up your end of the bargain. You were sure you could; but the others, besides the two new, professional members of your party, you knew little.

Rockhammer, a rich dwarf who was part of the clan who runs the city of Stormhaven, studied with Himm, a short, slightly humpbacked half-elf before the two of you had met. They weren’t old friends, but were as close as a half-elven merchant’s son and the fifth grandson of the scion of Stormhaven could be. But, that was long before you began your studies at the college.

It was there, in your fifth year of study, during your research into the old Valosian Empire, the serpent kingdom that fell before men or dwarves ventured from their caves and forests, that you came across the tale of the free-faring – a device that made men into gods. Long nights, lit by everburning candles, you spent translating the maps and notes from an old and (most likely why no one had noticed it these long years) mislabeled journal. Eventually, you were able to determine the location of the island, far to the south of the lands of the Horde. It would be an incredible journey, but not one you could take on your own.

After much discussion with Himm, after hours the both of you spent verifying your translations, your geography, the fantastic description of wealth and arcane knowledge, you decided to risk the question.

Do you want to go on an adventure?

Himm thought for some time before answering. He was sure he knew some people. He was, after all, the son of a prosperous merchant whose contacts spread from the Sea of Grass to the Elven Islands. He left the next morning to make the necessary enquiries. It was then that you had the first pangs of guilt. For one part of the journal you translated but never shared –the edict that none should travel to the island or should seek the free-faring, and the warning that came with it.

Eventually, Himm brought a dwarf by your rooms to look at the work. He introduced himself as Baern Rockhammer. You could see his concealed elation as he pored over the manuscripts – yours and the original. He made some vague promises and asked that you or Himm tell no one of your discovery.

A few days later, Rockhammer returned. You knew more about him from Himm by then; that he was the fifth grandson of the Lord Rockhammer, the head of one of the founding families of Stormhaven; that he was destined for a life in the college or church being so far removed from succeeding to the Lordship; that he used his wealth and knowledge to traipses the globe seeking fame, fortune and lost secrets; and that he was a collector of magicked items and scrolls, to which he put to good use on his adventures.

It was early morning when he was shown into your rooms by the steward with obsequious deference. You volunteered to go with him, your studies in the higher circles of magic being ideal for such a venture. After a quick consultation with his companion, a feral young nobleman named Einer One-Hand, he agreed. Both you and Himm would join the party. Terms were arranged, a supply list made, and he asked the two of you to meet him at the evening bell in the Gullswing Tavern where the rest of the party would gather. The sun was setting as you finished a vague letter to your father, circuitously mentioning your choice. You gathered the gear you had, some of it purchased as recently as that day, and left your rooms at the college.

All of this, the tavern, the meeting in your rooms, the ink stains on your hands as you delved into the minutiae of a score of scrolls, it all came back as you camped that first night on the island. The natives called it just The Island, the journal referred to it as the Isle of Dread. And you thought of the warning the journal contained. Would you live to see your family, friends or the college again? You were beginning to doubt it. Where did it all go wrong? You let your mind wander back past the bruises of outdoor living and the flickering campfire, past the bone-chilling cold and the sheet of ever present rain, past all of the things around you and back, back to the morning you boarded the ship at Stormhaven.

The journey to the island was the stuff of dreams. The sight and smell of the boats was intoxicating; here on the docks, downside, a throng of multitudes passed unlike the strut and pomp of topside. The journey to the mainland was short. After a few hours trip up the merchant trail to Bissel, the trading city in the Dragonsback Pass, everyone stepped aside into the woods. Rockhammer produced a lengthy parchment, and as he intoned the words of power, the party held hands and slowly turned to mist. The journey was one of a camp here, a camp there; air walking between each, carefully avoiding notice, sometime successfully, sometimes not. The fights had been glorious; your magical prowess was superior to what was found in the semi-inhabited backwardness that is the Southern Lands. Then, at last, you came upon an island

The island was impossible to measure from the sky. It was cloaked in mist, with only the top of a volcanic cone peeking into the sky. The southern end of the island showed signs of life: a series of villages dotted the jutting peninsula south of a gigantic, two-mile long wall.

You put into the village closest to the wall. The wall was old, built by Valosians you thought based on the weathered inscriptions. Nestled against it was the village. You never thought to ask what it was called. The people met you with hostility and gibberish. Rockhammer was able to communicate using a magical item he wore around his neck. After some arguing, they allowed you to have audience with their leader, a woman they referred to as the Zombie Master.

The woman was impossibly old. She, to your surprise, spoke fluent common. She gave dire warnings about the free-faring and those that seek it. She spoke of a wheel and of a hidden evil within the free-faring. She asked your party to leave. Rockhammer refused. She shrugged her shoulders, prophesized our deaths and began to take her leave. Or so you thought. Instead, she led you back to the rudimentary temple to whatever gods these forgotten peoples worshipped, and there, she offered you a divination. The six of you asked two questions apiece. You asked if you would find adventure, she said yes. Then you asked, would you return to Stormhaven? She stared at you, and at last said one word that chilled you to your very soul: No. After the spell had faded, she demanded you leave. You did; at spear point. Outside the wall, you made the first of your camps and in the camp light studied the map to the island. Rockhammer announced he could not provide transport via the air, and that you would need to find the volcano on foot.

It never stopped raining. The second night, just outside the tar-pits the natives used for torches and to seal their boats and houses, you sat huddled in the cold, only your magic providing you with warmth. This was not how you dreamed an adventure would go. But, here you were. As you fell asleep you dreamed of your rooms at the college, at home, of the ancestral lands of your family; you awoke in misery, still on the island. All of the introspection of the night before had vanished as you stood up out of your tent, stiff, tired, cold and hungry.

It was the next day that your group stumbled upon the bloodspike behemoths. A timely spell saved Fletcher from one of the beasts that had circled behind him, but unfortunately, this brought the ire of the creature and with one swipe of its spiked tail, darkness fell upon you. It seemed as though your brain was ripped out and a veil of black covered your eyes. Finally, you approached a pin-prick of light that widened into another world: The spirit world. You realized as you sat on an impossibly over-sized version of the island that you were dead. You found a cave to protect yourself from the unidentifiable horrors that roamed the island. Eventually you met others, adventurers who met you fate. Since then, in immeasurable months, days or years, you have lived in their caves, hoping that one day, someone would find you and bring you back to the world of the living.