All Around Her – A Fantasy Adventure
The players come across a group of shipwrecked merchants looking for someone to escort them to their hometown of Willowstead. They say that they are wealthy and that they will reward the players handsomely upon arrival.
The journey to their hometown takes around five days. The merchants have meager supplies and depend on the players for food and drink. There are a handful of them and all are dressed in simple tunics and worn leather. Their clothing is torn and many have minor injuries, some even show signs of more serious wounds due to the shipwreck.
- On the second night, the players are attacked by a group of assassins. The assassins do not bear any insignia, but one of them has a tattoo of a stylised snake.
- During the battle, two of the merchants, Marcas and Atena, are/werehave captured. The others plead with the players to find and rescue their shipmates. They will not divulge why the two are so important to the others.
- The assassins are camped in a nearby cave and are quite easily found trusting to their martial prowess rather than subterfuge or stealth. They are members of the cult of Thagos, from which Marcas and Atena previously escaped and are tasked with returning Marcas and Atena to the cult. Their primary mission is to make sure Marcas is safe and they will do nothing that would bring him harm (knocking him out or drugging him is not out of the question as long as there’s no permanent effect). <are Marcas and Atena recovered? What happened?>
- One day later, during their stay at the inn, the players see a group of local guardsmen looking for Atena.
- Atena attempts to steal from the players during the night and escape. If she gets caught, she’ll claim the playershave kidnapped her. If she succeeds, she’s still relatively easy to track down.
- After arriving in Willowstead the truth about the merchants comes to light (if it hasn’t already). At this point, the players can decide what to do with her. See “In Willowstead” below.
If the players reach Willowstead with Atena, she’ll try to do anything she can to avoid being given to her parents, who are the local lord and lady. She’ll claim her husband beat her (not true) continuously. If the players confront her parents with this claim, they will not deny it, but rather lay the blame on her (“if he did, she must have deserved it”). The parents will give the players a small reward for her return. If they accept it, Roben also demands a cut as they were also promised a reward upon her return to Willowstead.
If the players intend to return her to the cult, she claims the cult’s head priest has tried to rape her (a lie). Marcas is shocked at this, but believes her.
If pressed enough, Atena’s parents will admit to the truth of her origins. Some people in the town will know about strange happenings a couple of years before Atena’s birth and the Shrine of Aurok is common knowledge. If Valeria learns of Atena’s origins, she will push the players to go to the shrine. If Atena escapes or the players let her decide where to go next, they will also end up to the Shrine.
The Shrine of Aurok
Aurok is a local fertility god. Hiss shrine resides on a gigantic tree near the village of Willowstead. The tree is 10 meters in diameter and 200 meters high. There are stairs built around the tree allowing access to the shrine.
If Atena finds her way to the shrine, the god will manifest itself in a form half man and half ox. He’s strong enough to defeat the players alone. He will attempt to claim Atena as his own, as was promised long before her birth.
If Marcas is present with Atena, he will fight Aurok in order to save Atena. Marcas calls upon the power of Thagos and transforms into a giant snake. However, he can only defeat the ox god if the players help him.
The merchants are a group of mercenaries who have travelled from a neighbouring country, after having rescued Marcas and Atena from the cult of Thagos.
Cult of Thagos
Cult of Thagos is a small religious sect in the neighbouring country. Thagos is a local deity, often depicted as a man with a snake’s head. His primary characteristics are slyness and cunning. During the rebellion which lead to the overthrow of an unpopular king, the leader of the peasant rebels was Marcas, a devout of Thagos, who is now seen as his avatar among men.
As the leader of the band of mercenaries who are escorting Marcas and Atena, Roben’s foremost loyalty is to his group. While he’s definitely interested in the riches Atena has promised him, he’ll still not needlessly endanger his compatriots.
He’s a childhood friend ofMarcas, which was the reason Marcas contacted him when Marcas’ plan to elope was formed. He’s resistant to Atena’s charms, and has tried to convince his friend to leave her, but Marcas will have none of it.
Marcas is a long, thin man with dark hair and a messy beard. He’s young and handsome, in a naive sort of way. He’s the son of Thagon’s head priest (named after the cult’s foremost hero and the chosen of Thagon). He’s the most important thing in the world to his father, and the successor to the cult, after his father. He is madly in love with Atena and would do anything for her — and refuses to believe anything bad even when faced with overwhelming evidence.
He also bears a the same tattoo as one of the cultist sent after him. It’s a sign of priesthood in the cult.
Atena is a small brown haired girl. She’s pretty, but not outstandingly beautiful, though she has an extraordinary charm. She’s also a pathological liar.
She was married to a powerful baron when she was 13, but escaped and joined the cult two years later 5. Now she’s 18 and looking to elope with the son of the head priest of the order, who arranged the mercenaries to help them.
Her parents are the lord and lady of the county in which the town of Willowstead is located. They live in a small castle, half a day’s journey from the town. She’s their youngest daughter and has always been somewhat estranged, raised more by their servants.
Atena has a supernatural power which makes people immediately love her. She realised this soon after her marriage and has been abusing it ever since. However, the effect fades off with time, which is why she’s constantly changing scenery. The power is limited, however, and she can only keep a handful of people under her thrall. Currently, much of her energy is used on Marcas, and she can only enthral one or two others.
Her true motivation was never to return to Willowstead, as she knows very well that her parents will only send her back to her husband, the baron. She’s looking for a place where she can spend her next years in comfort, waiting until the effects of her power wear off.
Valaria is a middle-aged woman who acts as a healer for the mercenary group. She has joined only recently. She has long dark hair with a couple of streaks of silver, braided behind her back. Her eyes are a deep shade of grey.
She is a witch and a seer, and has known of Atena and her power for a long time. She has kept an eye on her from the day that she left to marry the baron. She’s originally from Willowstead, but will try to avoid recognition of that fact.
Her goal is to keep Atena safe and, if possible, find a way to extract the power out of the girl. Even though she’s immune to Atena’s power, she has grown fond of the girl and blames the gift for her less than honest nature. She will not divulge this knowledge to the players unless absolutely necessary.
Origins of Atena
Long before Atena was born, her parents were desperate for a male heir. They had conceived two daughters (Atena’s older sisters), and a son who had been too weak and had died early in childhood. Desperate, they decided to call upon Aurok to grant them a strong and healthy boy. The god obliged, with a caveat; the next daughter to be born would belong to him, and should be brought to him after she had turned 18. Atena’s parents agreed to the terms, thinking they’d never have another child. Alas, not long after Atena’s brother was born, she was conceived. This covenant is the origin of her power.