If one where to be able to study true history in detail and without any dilution of truth, one could find that there are distinct moments, most of them seemingly insignificant and even fewer that are actually recorded, that set the course of the fates of men. Who could have supposed that one such moment would change the course of a small settlement effort a hundred lifetimes after it occurred? ________________________________________________________________________________ In a deranged hut located in the middle of a curious maze a demented wizard stooped over his captive. "You all mocked the Great Relvinian. Saying I couldn't do it," he spat triumphantly "now you see I have harnessed the great power of the demon plinth." "You fool!," the defiant speech of the man strapped to the table suggested he was paladin, trained to be valiant in the face of certain death, "none doubted your ability to activate the demonic portal. It was your demented notion that they could be commanded in peaceful endeavors." Relvinian slammed his fists on the table. "Well I have done it! And they carry out my every whim" "Do they now?," the paladin made a glance behind his captor. Relvinian's eyes widened. Before he was able to turn a heavy broadsword smashed through his torso; the demon blades were designed for maximum torture, and there was often more crunching and breaking than slicing. "You dare betray you're master?, Relvinian's speech was sputtered with blood "no one crosses me!" Before the demon could lift the great sword and finish rending his body in twain he touched the paladin who vanished. There was silence in the forest; the sound of ribs being hewn apart was not audible here. The man coughed as he stumbled to his feet. Why had the evil wizard allowed him to escape? He collapsed towards a tree and steadied himself with his forearm. Through the trees he saw the glow of fires from a small village; that would be his final resting place. He took his last steps and collapsed near the center of the small village. As he hit the ground a small notebook fell from his grasp. Mud dripped from it's leather-bound cover as it leaned upon a small sapling. ________________________________________________________________________________ Catalin rested on a log as he slipped on his swamp boots. Scarce could he suppose that the fallen arbor upon which he chose to sit just so happened to be the last in line of the legacy whose forbearers had also given rest to the relic of a long forgotten paladin. He mused at the boots and their curious appeal. The way their moss-green color gave no evidence of staining left a person wondering what kind of beast would yield such a hide. Or perhaps they were some how cured from the swamp itself. He looked over to the brave brothers Greycliff; he was grateful not to venture into the Fens of Death alone. With his brother now missing he was beginning to wonder if their grand plans to recover and sell lost artifacts of Paws was well worth their lives... ________________________________________________________________________________ The party raced back to the village cemetery. Within the swamp they had found hope that Catalin's brother yet lived scrawled in the pages of a muddy journal. The journal revealed that, in a very uncharacteristic self-sacrifice, his brother risked certain death in order to save the golden city. He had found a keystone of some sort that had been used in the assault ages ago that had once left Trinsic in a smoldering rubble. Upon reaching the cemetery, they inserted the small stone into a notch on the peculiar head stone and a portal appeared. As soon as they stepped through they found themselves high atop a tower overlooking a mysterious maze of briar and thorns... This must have been what his brother was trying to conceal the keystone provided a direct connection from within this cursed maze. If one could open a portal to this place at will, they could easily overwhelm any city's defenses both from within and without. Immediately Catlin detected a faint sign of his brother on his map. But it was only the faintest of a heart-beat and it was emanating from the corroded house in the center of the maze. Aeritas drew his sword and motioned downward to the bulky red masses sauntering around the trees. Demons! As they were making plans on how best to deal with their current obstacles Radu's faint heart beat suddenly lit up and then vanished. No longer thinking of his own life, Catalin charged towards the red harbingers. Aeritas and Thomas Whaley followed in suit. With no plan and little hope for success Catalin let fly his arrows. The demon looked toward him and laughed as he raised his sword. Then suddenly a blast exploded and the demon recoiled sharply, dropping his massive sword. As it stumbled backwards the figure of a man of Storm Hold was revealed. Robin Redding had heard the call on the map and arrived just in time! Seeing the beast had dropped its offensive sword, Aeritas charged and pierced the giant's massive chest with his mighty spear. The creature withstood nearly twenty such piercings before it finally collapsed to its knees. Their momentary triumph was short lived as they entered the lich's morbid lab. Looking upon the alter they saw why the faint heartbeat had vanished; Radu's eviscerated corpse lay on the bloody stone steps. Catalin was afforded no time for grieving - from the corner of the room a shadow wearing his brother's image lunged at Aeritas, bearing its teeth with clear intent to feed on the living. Before the grotesque abomination had a chance to clutch its target, an arrow stuck sharply through it's skull. Catalin had another arrow already notched and ready to let fly, just incase the first shot had not been sufficient. Finally, they were given a few moments respite to comprehend all that had just transpired, and Catalin knelt over his brotherâ€™s remains. At last he would finally get to share those songs of old that told the stories they held so dear. As he sang, the spirit of his brother was felt by all within the room. By some grace of the great Spirits Radu was granted a few moments to speak, and he shared a message that would change the living brother's course in life. "Catalin, I know now the truth of our father's words "In death we are only made free". Thanks to your valiant efforts this lich's attempt to bind my soul has been thwarted. Seek no more for worthless treasures in the swamps. See to it that evil fiends such as these are no longer allowed to roam throughout the land unfettered!" As Radu's spirit faded into the great beyond, Catalin vowed to fulfill his brother's appeal. Paws would no longer be a mere project for excavating relics. He would raise there a banner for all freemen and freemaidens. Any riches or good fortune that happened upon him would be spent for this soul purpose: To oppose anything that sought to seize men's freedom. In the distant future, the only true and untarnished record of this fateful change in destiny would be found in the words of Radu's muddy journal: "In death we are only made free."