A Game of Thrunes

Session 0

The story began with an ordinary day in Kintargo, and six ordinary lives.

First was Gaian Vespinus, tour guide of Kintargo, taking a small group of visitors to the sites of the city.

Next was Pavo Quinteselle, who enjoyed a dinner with famed bard Shensen. He agreed to pick up a special midnight delivery she had organised.

Third was Rufus Hilltop, town guard. He was briefed on the latest city murder, before beginning his patrol. He wondered if the murder was related to his ongoing investigation; the method seemed related.

Next was Bug, the halfling street urchin. His day was less-than-ordinary, having a run-in with the Basili Boys, who now believe he is responsible for the death of their leader. Bug escaped their wrath and met up with Lentius Dio, self-proclaimed vigilante of Kintargo.

Keldor, the tiefling magus, started his day with a training session with the new town guard recruits. In the evening he accompanied his friend Evalyn to a dinner party held by Sylus, a local up-and-coming moneylender.

Finally, Titus Scipio faced another busy night at Belor’s Beerhall. He could not know that the evening was about to take an interesting turn…

Gaian's Tour

He stood in the shadows, watching those gathered in front of the temple ahead. In truth, the shadows were probably unnecessary; those he was watching were far too engrossed with the huge structure before them to notice the common folk passing by. Which was, of course, the reason he chose this place.

For those who were visiting from elsewhere in the Empire, it was a symbol of the power of the Church, even at this far-flung locale. It was, in many ways, the greatest obstacle to them relaxing, an act by which they often tended to be less careful with the contents of their purses. For these, it was best to watch them closely for signs of such relaxation as they left this place, to better time when and how to part them from their coins.

For those visiting from outside the Empire, the structure was even more effective. One could, if watching closely enough, see the varied emotions of intrigue, fear, and horror upon their faces. It was a good place to start, a place to give life to those primal emotions, and build on them to the point where they watched with a thrill for devils on every corner. And where the first group would relax as they moved through the city, these would become hypervigilant, their senses so attuned to external threats that a friendly face looked that much friendlier, and for such a friend the purse strings were that much looser.

Of course, with a mix of visitors present it could be difficult to play both games. Today most of the crowd were of that latter group, and he smiled; this made things easier, not to mention more fun. He waited a few more minutes for the tension to build, the questions to start, the men and women to naturally fall into their little huddles as he studied them. Then, with a sudden burst of speed, he sprinted through their midst, leaping onto a stone planter between them and the Temple, resplendent in his fine clothes, his features accentuated in the manner of the stage performers of the city.

“A marvel, is it not?” he asked, his voice ringing over the crowd. His stage voice was not up to that of the true performers, and the stage upon which he stood would be viewed with scorn by most such men and women. But it was his stage, and this was his show.
“The Temple of Asmodeus; once the domain of the great hero Aroden, now a place of worship of the denizens of Hell!

“I see your fear, I feel your secret excitement at what sights must lie within its darkest depths.” He continued in a loud, rapid stage whisper. After another pause for effect he continued, raising his voice again sharply enough to startle several members of the crowd as he smiled.

“Well fear not! I, Gaian Vespinus, will guide you unerringly through this great city, and show you wonders that make the denizens of Hell seem pedestrian. For this is Kintargo, the beating heart of humanity’s culture; here, even the Devils come to dance!”

Just A Little Story

Pavo’s hands came to rest on the skin of his drum, his story ended; the metronomic beat that accompanied the final stanzas no longer needed. While his hands quivered slightly with exhaustion, he still made the effort to reach out and take his mug. It leaves behind a small puddle, the condensation having had time to build up and run down the sides of the cool mug to the battered table Pavo sits beside.

The beer, while warmer and flatter than Pavo would have liked, still falls upon his parched throat like rains on a dusty desert plain. The bard puts the mug back down with slightly steadier hands and clears his throat while rolling his shoulders, trying to ease his tiring muscles. Normally by now there’d be a smattering of applause from the audience in Belor’s Beer Hall, the odd clank of a deposited (or thrown) coin or two, and perhaps the odd request.

But not tonight. Pavo looks around for the owner, his friend Titus Scipio, but cannot see him – even with the smaller than normal amount of patrons in the hall. In fact, most of the customers tonight seem to be crowded away from Pavo, back turned. Pavo would feel like the crowd was deliberately shunning or avoiding him, but he knows better. It’s not Pavo they’re unconsciously avoiding.

Licking his lips, Pavo glances at the table where a solitary man sits, lounging almost panther like with his steady gaze upon the wilting bard. A gaze that has been nearly unbroken through the repeated recitals of the one story the man keeps demanding.

It is a good story, great even. The Heroes of Sandpoint. An epic, with plenty of action, violence, risks taken, world ending dangers, love, sacrifice, laughs, terrible evil foes and the valiant men that faced them down. But it is new to Pavo and tonight was his first performance. The bard was one who was capable of critical self-evaluation, and knew that it wouldn’t be his best telling.

And when he wound up the tale the first time for the night, he got what he expected – a few claps and whistles, a few copper coins and a beer. Until he was approached by a stern man dressed in black with haunted eyes. The man deposited several gold coins next to Pavo. “That story. Tell it again.”

Pavo had managed to hide his reaction to seeing so much money well, put a smile on his face and suggested a re-telling after a few different tales. The man leaned forward, “I’m paying. You tell.”

And so Pavo told the story a second time. And a third. The fourth time, Pavo begged off, despite the gold. Before he could blink, there was a dagger at his throat, the razor sharp blade caressing the sweating skin of his neck as delicately as lover. Pavo glanced around in despair, but as far as everyone else in the beer hall went, they didn’t seem to exist. He looked into the man’s cold, sad eyes, and saw no mercy there. So, he told the story a fourth time.

But it was a long story, and the bard had been allowed no rest. He could not tell the story of Sandpoint again tonight. Despite the pile of gold that lie on the table beside his beer.

So it was with trepidation that Pavo watched the strange man approach. This time he did nothing but look at the bard for a while before announcing “It is a good story, and you tell it well.”

“My thanks, milord,” Pavo replies. “I like it also, but, perhaps some stories end better?”

“Perhaps. But it ended better than how it would have been if I had been there,” replies the man as he places several more gold coins next to Pavo, before standing and walking out the door.

The bard stares after the man, his heart strangely racing. After a few moments lost in thought Pavo sighs and returns to the present. He seems slightly bewildered at how the crowd seems to have spread out throughout the beer hall after being huddled away for so long.

“Tell us a story, you lazy bard!” comes a cry, “You haven’t done a damn thing all night!”

Sighing deeply, Pavo goes to speak, but he can only think of one story. “Ladies and gentlemen, let me tell you an epic tale of bravery and determination, against the greatest of odds. Let me tell you about some of the greatest heroes of our time. Let me tell you about the Heroes of Sandpoint!”


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