From the Background:
'Didn't he die well!' Yells Hister Brey, Chief Executioner of the infamous Port Blacksand. The maniac picks up the puffy severed head of his latest victim and tosses it into the hysterical crowd in Executioner's Square. The rabble of bloodthirsty peasants tosses it from one side of the crowd to another before the head lands at your feet. The lifeless eyes of what was Blacksand's foremost dye merchant stare up at you. In response, you roll your own eyes at this macabre New Year's celebration and groan inwardly at the thought of another three days like this one.
A short weasel-like man climbs up on the stage while guards are dragging the podgy body off it and an old washerwoman scrubs the bloodstains off the chopping block. He unravels a piece of parchment, puts a pair of gold-rimmed spectacles on his nose and starts his speech with an air of self-importance.
'That was one Mister Alamos Thor, a wealthy and illustrious dye merchant who always wanted to get ahead...'
'Well he didn't today!' Roars Brey. Boos and hisses assault him from the crowd and in return, he makes a few gestures to them. The beaurocrat looks irritated at this exchange and waits impatiently for the noise to die down.
'...in business.' He eventually finished. He then continued. 'Alamos's time was unfortunately cut short as he did not pay his window tax despite him being helpfully informed of it at the monthly tax collectors' meeting held in the cellar of Lord Azzur's Palace warned quite publicly of the consequences of not paying in the classified list of city deviants, written every month and kept in a secure strongbox in a secret location for safety. For such a grievous crime, our lord in his infinite kindness has decided to share Alamos's wealth with the poor of Blacksand. Those that make the backbone of our fine city.'
You start to push your way through the cheering crowd, having no wish to be part of the events which are about to happen. You only just get to the edge of the square when the guards start throwing gold pieces into the crowd. The peasants and beggars start to stampede and brawl over the paltry sum of money. Screams of pain go up from the crowd, which has become an orgy of flying fists and feet. You turn your back to this melee and start to walk down Square Street, back home.
The streets are full of people, most of them drunk because of the five-day New Year celebrations. It is now Fireday, the 24th day in Locking and so it is the 2nd day of the drunken festival. As the drizzle soaks through your cloak, you step over comatose beggars and peasants in the cobbled street. Eventually you walk down Candle Street. The smell of sewage is stronger here, indicating that you are getting closer. You have spent nine months in Blacksand and even after all of this time, your stomach still turns at the its smell. The hot days are unbearable. Everywhere you go, the smell of raw fish mixed with excrement and rotting flesh conquers your senses as if to remind you of the triumph of stench and corruption over this City.
Yet you gave up the comfortable life of a noble of Salamonis to be here and you still have not regretted it. You still remember the day you told your father that you needed to be a wizard. Not wanted, needed. You explained that your intention to study magic was not a whim, but a compulsion, driving you on. You did not know what, but you knew that eventually, it would lead to ascension. You remember the rage in your father's face. 'You were betraying the family! Your lot was to be a knight! You must lead the troops of Salamonis!' He would wave his sword in your face and threaten to finish you if you mentioned it again. So you did not mention it again. You packed your backpack and left the city. You knew exactly where you needed to go and it was not long before you were bribing a gate guard to let you into Port Blacksand.
You did not go to the Sorcerers' guild and you never have. You laugh at the bizarre building as you walk past it but you do not laugh at its weirdness. You laugh because despite its powerful members, there is still one sorcerer who has no part in it and he is the one you wanted to learn from. As you walk down Candle Street, you reminisce about the first time you did so in order to reach the Singing Bridge. Of all the places in Allansia, this is where your schooling in sorcery would begin. Under a rickety bridge over a dead, stinking river, there lived one of the greatest Wizards of good that Allansia had ever seen - Nicodemus.
You had heard the tales of the mage as a youth. You hard how he slew an evil shaman to prevent the resurrection of three ancient wizards. You learnt how he narrowly escaped the death spell and you learnt that eventually he had become sick of people asking him for help and so he had retired to a place where only the desperate would seek him out.
You were scared when you first approached the hut. You had heard rumours that if he took a dislike to you, you would leave his hut as a small furry animal- if you were lucky. However, it did not dissuade you. You needed to learn his wisdom, so you steeled yourself and knocked on his door.
You remember him flinging to door open, and looking at you with impatience and anger.' Why have you disturbed my afternoon nap?' He demanded. However, when he heard what you had to say, his anger turned into interest. You offered him the medallion of your house.
'Are you really prepared to give it all up for sorcery?' He asked. You said that you were, so the old mage took you in.
Over the past nine months, you have learnt the basics of magic and you are now beginning to learn some more powerful spells. You also have the job of doing Nicodemus's legwork.
You are now at his door again, clutching the vegetables and fish that he wanted. The old mage opens the door. You prepare a meal for the two of you. While you fry the fish in a pan, the mage looks at you thoughtfully.
'You know my apprentice, our lives change over time.' He begins. 'As a young man, I felt I had to complete the journey of a hero. Now I feel my journey is complete, I must point others in the right direction of their own hero's journeys.'
'What has this got to do with me?' You ask.
'Patience my apprentice.' Chides Nicodemus. 'Your time will come. But you must do something important for me tonight. A young man has grown up here in Port Blacksand. One day, he will save Allansia from a great evil, but he doesn't know it himself yet. Do not ask me why he was placed here. The Gods work in mysterious ways. But last night, I had a dream from Hamaskis. In my dream, I was wearing my red robes and hat of ritual and he told me to deliver an Elvish artefact in my possession to this man. I need you to do it.'
Nicodemus pulls out a small intricate box and hands it to you. You pull the lid, but cannot open it.
'Only the one it was intended for can open it. His name is Syleron Maris and he works at the Valentis Bane inn as a barman. He will do something of great import one day and he must have this Elvish made artefact tonight.'
'Of course I will deliver it.' You reply. 'Maybe this is my own hero's journey.'
'Maybe it is.' Replies the old wizard. 'Now off you go.'
'What? I haven't armed myself. I haven't even eaten yet.'
'No time for that! Just get the box to Syleron. It shouldn't be that hard for an enterprising apprentice such as yourself!'
Nicodemus is standing up now and shoving you out of the front door. He has a lot of strength for such an old man. As soon as you are outside in the cold and the rain, he slams to door shut in your face.