“Sign your name here… Well, then just make an X. That’s good enough.”
You have signed on with the Sundered Bastion, a well-respected adventuring company. The organization is quasi-governmental — it is partially funded by regional governments as a militia and constabulary force, and its members have the equivalent of a letter of marque that legitimizes their activities. Said activities include keeping the peace, investigating monster predations, plundering “prizes” from defeated enemies, etc. You might have joined for adventure, coin, or to promote law in a lawless land – your reasons are your own, and no one in the Bastion asks. If your character isn’t the type to officially join a organization, the Sundered Bastion accepts mercenary contractors but you will not get some of the perks of the company: regular (but meager) pay, a place to sleep, protection, etc.
Unfortunately, the Bastion is full up in the major cities of your world, and you are sent to a remote post across the Ocean of White Waves, a limitless desert which stretches for weeks. Your guide is Hilk, an elf monk who is one of the few who dwell in this forsaken land. For a small donation, he leads the way for you and your party, travelling at night to keep cover from the heat.
Over a hundred years ago this land was dense forest and fertile plains, until one night a fantastic dark meteor streaked through the sky and landed with a tremendous explosion, instantly burning the land of all life for miles. The entire landscape was transformed into a desert barrens, and in the center was the smoking channel of the meteor’s path through the mountains: the Chaos Scar, a foreboding rift in reality that weaves strange and deadly forces around anything foolish enough to stray to close to it. Surrounded by wasteland and enclosed by a wall designed to keep the evil in and the good out, few had either either the will or the means to.
Yet two decades ago, the land acround the Chaos Scar began changing: plants and trees began growing, spreading across the landscape with preternatural speed. Animals returned as creeks and ponds began to fill with water again. Small settlements sprang up, enabling industry of a sort — the mining of the rich pockets of stone sloughed off in the meteor’s fall. No one is sure the source of this change, but few doubt the Chaos Scar is involved, and as the land has become more inhabitable so too have attacks increased from the odd beasts that roam near the scar. Something is changing in the Scar, and people are getting scared.
As you leave the desert sands behind to find green earth, a lone structure breaks the line of the horizon, miles away: Restwell Keep, the local headquarters of the Sundered Bastion and your destination. But things are not right here. The ground is sere and brown; crops are wilted or burned. Hilk the Guide waves you to silence, pointing at a