Near the Village of Graymire, The Western Kingdoms, The Age of Legends
In a small roadside tavern, four traveling adventurers took a break from their travels: Toskar, Urog archer and defender of the wilds; Ayla Linnormsheart, Rogashi-trained berserker; Joltun Valdos, mage-knight and monster hunter of the Silver Legion; and Wulfram Callomere, Hero of Wyvyd, King of the Caelwyn. They were headed toward the small village of Graymire, but the innkeeper warned them that a terrible beast held the village in thrall and advised them to stay away.
Upon arriving in the village, the party found the mood somber and grim. They quickly learned that a black dragon had been terrorizing the village for several months. The villagers had been commanded to sacrifice one of their own to the dragon each month or else the village would be razed.
When the party tried to convince the mayor, Raluf, that they were there to help, he tried to frighten them off with threats. The party learned that the villagers used a lottery system to choose their sacrifices. Raluf warned them that if were still in the village at sundown the following night, they would be expected to participate.
The party met a traveling author named Thrayan Aloskar, who had been chronicling events in the village for several days. He explained that his fellows were founding a library to preserve the lore of the world at the City of Caleborn and that he was gathering stories for a book. He reiterated what the party had already learned and also explained that the villagers were terrified that any attempt at heroics were doomed to fail. If anyone attacked the dragon, it would become enraged and destroy the village and everyone in it.
Concerned about how to help the village, the party asked if anyone in the village held a different view from Raluf. Thrayan suggested the party speak to the innkeeper, a woman named Jara.
Once the party got Jara talking, she showed them a letter from her late husband, last month’s sacrifice. The letter said that Raluf had rigged the lottery to kill Jara’s husband after he discovered that the mayor had been rigging the lottery. It warned Jara to avoid crossing Raluf.
The party talked it over and decided to confront Raluf at this month’s lottery and then to convince the villagers to let them stand against the dragon.
The next night, a strange thunderstorm rolled in as the party arrived at the lottery. They discovered that only a small fraction of the villagers actually participated and that participation was voluntary. Undaunted by this revelation, they pressed on, trying to convince the villagers to let the heroes stand up against the dragon. A bolt of lightning struck nearby as Toskar the urog archer loosed an arrow, puncturing the lottery bag and revealing that it was full of both black and white marbles, whereas it should only contain a single black marble.
Exposed, Raluf defended his actions. He explained that, although the villagers had agreed to choose fairly and randomly from those willing to be sacrificed, Raluf’s wife had convinced him to rig the first lottery so she could sacrifice herself. She had been been injured badly in a previous season and could no longer work to support the village, so she felt useless and wanted to give her life to save the village.
Soon thereafter, an older man took ill due to a winter fever and everyone knew he was going to die. Raluf went to him and asked him if he would be willing to sacrifice himself and rigged the lottery again. Thus began the secret practice whereby Raluf allowed people to volunteer and rigged the drawing to choose them, culling out the weaker, older, and less productive villagers over those in their prime.
Jara’s husband, however, somehow figured it out and dared Raluf to rig the lottery against him or else be exposed. Raluf did so, not realizing he had that he had already given a sealed letter to Jara and that his death would be clinching evidence against Raluf. Of course, Jara’s husband never understood WHY Raluf had been doing it. He insisted he was an innocent man, guilty of nothing but doing the best for the village.
Lightning and thunder roared overhead as the party convinced the villagers to make a stand against the dragon with the heroes as their champions. Eventually, the heroes won the villagers over.
Thrayan Aloskar approached the party after the lottery was over and rather enigmatically remarked that the hoped the storm had not been too much of a distraction.
At midnight, the villagers and the heroes traveled to the old henge where they normally bound their sacrfices for the dragon. Using divine magic, Wulfram robbed the dragon of its ability to fly with a powerful curse. Ayla and Jotun laid into the dragon while Toskar peppered it with arrows. Though the battle was fierce, puncutated by thunder and lightning exploding out of a clear sky, the party was ultimately victorious and a bolt of lightning burned the dragon to ash as it lay dead from the party’s furious onslaught.
As the party celebrated their victory, cheered on by the villagers, Thrayan Aloskar passed out. When he regained consciousness, he could not remember what had happened during the past couple of days. But the party and the villagers told him the whole story and he took furious notes so that he could record it for posterity.
The Chamber of the Frozen Flame
The heroes awoke from death, their minds filled with the tale of the village of Graymire, something more than a dream but less than a memory…