Destiny Of Kings: The Story


The principal source of the evil affecting the Kingdom of Elyria is Lord Valen, younger brother to the deceased King Ramelos and uncle to young Prince Tristayne. All his life, Valen has lived in the shadow of his older brother, nursing feelings of envy and spite toward the relation whose very existence barred him from access to the power he craved.
A decade ago, with Ramelos and most of his key advisors away at war, Valen tried to seize the Elyrian Darkwood Throne. The coup failed and the quaking younger sibling was forced to throw himself at Ramelos’ feet upon the sovereign’s return. Despite his compassionate heart, the King was obliged to punish his scheming brother. Stripped of most of his titles and lands, Valen was sent south to reside in a modest castle as a minor lord of a small and poor principality.

Motivated both by his vaulting ambition and by a new bitterness at his brother’s treatment of him, Valen almost immediately renewed his plotting and slowly rebuilt his power base. A cornerstone of his strategy was to forge a secret alliance with Morgan, Duke of Andevar; a small but important province on the southern borders of Elyria.

Unwilling at first to throw his lot in with Valen, Morgan’s heart has changed in recent years due to Ramelos’ ‘injustice’ toward him. Having twice lost parcels of land as a result of the King’s rulings and having all too often seen his overly harsh judgments in civil matters overturned by the King’s justice, Morgan has become increasingly estranged from his lord.

The latest affront to Morgan’s pride was an estate transfer just last spring favoring the King’s old friend and Patriarch of Fontemere; Archbishop Willas Mendota. It was the loss of this rich tract of cropland that finally drove Morgan into Valen’s arms. Together, Lord Valen and Duke Morgan have plotted for months, awaiting their chance.

The plotters’ chance came just a few days ago. While hunting in a rugged corner of the royal game preserve, King Ramelos was struck by an errant arrow, and died soon after. Some of those present wondered aloud whether in fact it was an accident, but there were witnesses in sufficient number to label it an accident.

While the witnesses quibbled, the clerics labored, but all for naught. Attempts to raise the king from the dead mysteriously failed. Only Lord Valen and his assassin knew that the deadly projectile that felled Ramelos was a magical arrow of slaying, whose effects would defy every remedy.

With the untimely death of King Ramelos, Elyria’s political situation has rapidly deteriorated. The Royal Council, under the direction of Holland, announced to the Elyrian people that Tristayne would be king. Lord Valen, however, has challenged the proclamation, putting forth his own claim to the throne. There are those at court and elsewhere who support him. Only reverence for the old king and widespread esteem for Holland have, for the moment, checked Valen’s plans.

After lengthy and tough negotiations, it has been agreed that Tristayne will be king, but that Valen will become regent during the period until Tristayne can be located and plans for his coronation at Fontemere Abbey can be finalized. In exchange for holding the throne for the young prince, Valen has forced Holland and the Royal Council to accept him as next in line for the crown. In this dark and foreboding atmosphere, the great and near great of Elyria breathlessly await Tristayne’s return to Rilsavar.

All that is, except Valen. As regent, he has moved quickly. King Ramelos’ guards have been removed from Rilsavar. In their place, Valen has installed his own knights and has officially taken command of the military. Holland and the Royal Council have no men-at-arms at their disposal. Naturally, Holland fears for Prince Tristayne’s safety. Wandering about in the wilds of southern Elyria, the young prince is the perfect target for assassination. Officially, Duke Morgan has stayed neutral on the issue of succession, but Holland suspects the worst. If only loyal troops could be put at Tristayne’s disposal! But the old cadre of loyal palace guards has been scattered to the winds under command of officers loyal to Valen. Without trustworthy military retainers at his disposal, the old king’s advisor has been forced to consider a desperate plan.

Working in utmost secrecy, the aged Holland has recruited a party of adventurers to locate Tristayne and bring him safely home. Bold and dangerous men have been brought in haste to southern Andevar, there to meet with Holland to plan the most dangerous move in a dangerous game. Should this plot be revealed, none can expect to escape with their heads since the employment of a private mercenary force to locate and bring in Tristayne can only be viewed as treasonous when the royal guard is already mounting its own official search. How easy it would be to lay ay the feet of the plotters a purpose less wholesome than ensuring the safety of the young prince. How readily would Valen leap at such a revelation in order to extend the duration of his regency on the pretext that he very foundations of the state were threatened by treason so close to the throne.

Beginning the Adventure:
As a first step in preparing for the adventure, pick one of the PCs to receive Holland's message. Preferably, this should be a fighter, ranger, or fighter multi-class of good alignment. Someone of neutral alignment is also acceptable. Look mainly for leadership qualities in this adventurer. He will be responsible for "recruiting" the rest of the party for a dangerous mission. In order to make the circumstances of the adventure more plausible, it will be necessary to establish some connection between Holland and this individual that explains why Holland would place such trust in him. If this adventure is being used as an isolated adventure, you can do this very easily simply by indicating that the chosen individual once served as a mercenary captain in Elyria and so is well known to Holland. If, on the other hand, you are fitting this adventure into an ongoing campaign, a less direct connection may be appropriate. In this case, make it the character's father who served Elyria, and indicate chat there is some "debt of honor" that the father once promised to pay by either coming to Holland's aid at need or sending his kin to pay his debt. In this latter scenario, Holland trusts the character because his father vouches for him. The son takes on the mission at the father's request. When the leader has explained to the players how it is that he has been summoned co appear in Elyria, he informs them that on a certain day they must travel to the Three Feathers Inn, located in the Elyrian province of Andevar. Aside from this information and whatever hints the leader may drop as to the reward that can be expected for serving the head of Elyria's Royal Council, the players will know nothing of their mission until briefed by Holland. They will enter Andevar from the northwest (see map reference for "Start Here.") Once the party is assembled and enters Andevar, read the following passage to them:

—It is with some apprehension that you enter the kingdom of Elyria. By now. rumors have traveled far and wide that things are not well in this troubled land. The king of Elyria has been killed, felled by an arrow in what may have been a hunting accident, but might just as easily have been murder. Whatever the true fate of King Ramelos, it is now known far and wide that Elyria is a kingdom without a king. As you cross the frontier into this realm, it is clear that a great sadness is abroad. Everywhere the peasants have built mourning pyres and the air is thick with the heavy aroma of holy incense, certain signs of a sovereign's death….

The Three Feathers Inn is a safe haven for anyone in Prince Tristayne's service. Rolfe; the innkeeper, once served in King Ramelos’ army and remains entirely loyal to the cause of Tristayne and Holland. When the party arrives at the Three Feathers, Rolfe, who has been briefed by Holland, recognizes its leader either from past acquaintance or from Holland's description. If the party's leader is the son of one of Holland's former comrades in arms, Rolfe (who also served with the father) identifies the son via some family resemblance. After identifying himself, the innkeeper leads the party to a back room where Holland awaits them.

—At first, there is no sign of the king's chief advisor. Just an old itinerate tinker in the hooded, travel-stained cloak of his profession. But when the figure stands and throws back his hood, there is no mistaking him for any such thing. Tall, gaunt, and hatchet faced, Holland wears authority like a suit of armor. Though quite aged now, the steel-gray beard still merges with a healthy head of curly hair and the sun-darkened skin exhibits a glow of health. Striding across the room, he grasps each ff your hands and welcomes you individually to Elyria. As he greets you, his icy blue eyes examine you as if appraising your worth.

Inviting the party to break their fast, Holland directs them to a table laid with a simple meal of ale, bread, and cheese. While they eat, he contents himself with asking them about their trip and deftly prying from hem details about their backgrounds. Once he is satisfied that the party meets his requirements for skill, boldness, and trustworthiness, Holland speaks more seriously: