Born in a land not too different from this one, was a boy by the name of Norkul Ravenbrook. He was an only child, but only because his mother died during child birth. The only constant thing in his life was his washed up paladin-turned-diplomat of a father, who always dreamed of reliving his glory days through his son. Norkul was a devout follower of Thom, as was his father’s and ancestors before him. Of course, this caused a rift between the households of Ravenbrook and Verdout, who followed the god Pelor. Naturally, being the independent boy that he was, Norkul gained a liking toward the youngest daughter of the Verdout family. Marla, was just as independent and innocent as Norkul. Never letting trivial things like feuds and rivalries get in the way of friendship.
As part of his pedigree, to prepare for the trials for his acceptance into the paladin order, Norkul was sent away to the enchanting forests of the elves during the summers of his younger years. The many years of doing this gave him the ability to fluently speak the elven language.
In their late teens, Norkul was sent away to start his acceptance training into the Paladin order and Marla entered the Priesthood of Pelor. The two drifted apart but always tried to keep in touch, that someday they could reunite and pickup their friendship where they left off.
Norkul was accepted into the order with high marks and was a promising paladin. With great fighting prowess and a keen intellect that can only be taught by elven, he took up the mantle of Thom and went out to do what he felt he was destined to do.
Many years and battles past, and Norkul has seen many things. Victories and defeat. Happiness and sorrow. But, he felt that the order’s mission was too ham-fisted. Always, he would see people that fell through the cracks. People being slaughtered while the order focused on what they felt were more pressing matters.
A situation that changed his life was on a night of his last mission. There was word of a goblin raider band that held the small town of Nenlast under their scrutiny and Norkul’s squad was dispatched to stamp them out. During the purging, there was word that a couple was dragged off to Lake Nen and Norkul urged his captain to send a team or even himself to help retrieve the family. The captain felt that it wasn’t worth the manpower for such a minor incident. He spent a day trying to convince the captain to change his mind, but to no success. Against orders, Norkul rode off to the lake in the dead of night with no companion to watch his back. When he arrived to the lake, he felt like his soul was ripped out of him. It was no family. It was two children, a boy and a girl, not much older than when Norkul started to befriend Marla. They must have been captured while they were out on an adventure, like what Marla and he would do. The children had drowned in the lake, perhaps the goblins knew that someone was after them and felt they had to dispatch them to get away. Norkul felt a burning rage within him that could only be quenched with vengence. He hunted down the small group of goblins to the Ruins of Fastormel where they were making camp for the night. Norkul went into the camp with only thing in mind, to avenge the deaths of the children. When the deed was done he returned to the camp in Nenlast. He expected disciplinary action, in fact he welcomed it. The captain met him at the entrance and began schooling him on the teachings of the order. While mentally blocking the captain’s relentless whining, he dropped his shield and sword. Then in one swoop he took off his bloodied plate armor and threw it to the captains feet. He was done with the order. Too many wrongs went unpunished and he was going to see to it that he was going to take care of it personally. Taking his backpack and personal greatsword, he made his way down the road to the south. As he was walking he remembered that had gotten a letter from Marla about a month ago. Eagerly, he takes the letter out of his pack, breaking the wax seal of Pelor and begins read it:
I hope this letter finds you well, old friend. I wish I could say that my reason for writing was purely social, but that is not the case. I need your help in a dire matter.
Almost a year ago, a group of suspicious individuals were wandering the city. Of course, this alone wouldn’t be cause for concern. You get all kinds of odd folks passing through a trade city. It was that some of them wore a symbol I was unfamiliar with that first piqued my interest. You know I was always a good researcher even on religious subjects so the mystery started as simply a curiosity. It took months to identify the symbol…but I blame myself more than anyone else for the delay. If I had devoted more effort to…I should have treated this matter more seriously then; however, beating myself up now won’t do any good. Still, I couldn’t have guessed what I had found. The symbol resembled that of an ancient demon lord of the undead, Orcus. By the time I made this startling revelation, the strangers had departed the region west towards the village of Winterhaven.
I redoubled my effort and tried to retrace their steps around Fallcrest. Aside from acquiring a few bags of residuum, they were keeping a low profile in the city. Residuum alone isn’t a worry but it is a common ingredient in magical rituals. When my investigation turned up nothing else, I turned to divination. I managed to gleam a name, Kalarel. I presume he is the leader of their cult.
When I took this matter to my master and the other clergy within the Grand Temple, they…had mixed expressions. I’ve earned a “reputation” for delving into the obscure and I think it is preceding me. The higher ranked priests and priestesses wonder if I might have merely imagined the whole event or remembered Kalarel’s symbol incorrectly. They have agreed to hire adventurers to verify my claim. Still, I fear that they will just spend a few days in Winterhaven, not look into anything and report back to collect an easy reward of 250 gold.
What I am asking you to do is to find this man and prove my concerns true or false. If you did your best in searching the area and told me I was wrong…I would believe you. If I am right, you’ll need to find something physical to prove it. The clergy would have no choice but to take this seriously and we could send aid to Winterhaven. If you could do anything to hinder their plans, that would be a great help as well.
I’ve always been a confident person…yet, I find myself praying that I am wrong. Please take care and hopefully, we can talk again about happier times.
As he carefully folded up the letter and put it back in his pack, he knew what he had to do first. He looked to the west and set his sights on Winterhaven.
(Credit for Letter from Marla goes to the DM)