The city of Dalhearth is a prosperous and bustling trade city full of merchants and vendors, some local but most from afar. It is located south of the Winterhaven Enclave, on the northern tip of the continent Tiranor. Johann Sleetstorm and Klint Andios arrive in Dalhearth on an overcast and chilly morning.
At a glance, the pair provide a stark and jocular contrast to one another. Johann, a fully bearded dwarf with a scar across his left eye, no taller than a prepubescent human boy, treks through the winding city streets leading the way to their destination. A pathfinder, fully clad in studded leather and hides, one could safely assume that this dwarf has spent most of his life surviving in the wilds.
Behind Johann, Klint nonchalantly follows, taking in and observing the hustle and bustle of the city. Klint’s presence draws attention and some people cannot help but stare with befuddled looks on their faces. Towering over everyone else at nearly seven feet tall, this immaculately well-dressed half-orc ironically projects the poise of a proper gentleman. Equally perplexing is the instrument he carries around, a set of reeds protruding from a bag slung over his shoulder.
The two approach a stone building labeled Stormgarde Company Guild Hall and ascend a short flight of stairs to the entrance. Inside they are led to a large meeting hall, preoccupied by two people – a dwarf and a halfling, both female. As Klint and Johann approach, the female dwarf greets them and introduces herself. Her name is Johanna Runefaust, Commander of the Dalhearth Branch of the Stormgarde Company.
Johanna stands at roughly the same height as Johann and is fully clad in polished heavy armor that emits a soft glow. She offers a firm handshake to both newcomers and acknowledges Johan Sleetstorm, who has built a reputation for himself as a folk hero amongst the hill dwarves of the Winterhaven Enclave. He played a key role in his people’s fight against the Duergar of Grim Ungor and helped establish a new home, Knoc Liath, after his people were driven out of their homeland by an army of undead. As a mountain dwarf from Grom Kazad, Johanna is also a native of the valley and is sympathetic to her kin’s plight.
Klint is also a native of Winterhaven, hailing from the grand city of Etoile near the heart of the valley. He settled in Knoc Liath and for several years has taught at a school he cofounded. Johanna expresses relief that this new group the company has pulled together has a couple of natives from the valley. She introduces Klint and Johann to the halfling, a beautiful young lady called Eleanora Gladehart. The charming and amiable halfling wholeheartedly smiles and greets her new allies.
“Take a seat for now, we’re expecting three others,” Johanna instructs as she begins mulling over a short stack of documents placed upon a podium.
Klint and Johann quickly befriend Eleanora, whom they promptly take to referring to as El. She is a Druid from the south and is the newest recruit, having just registered with the company hours ago. Before the three are able to become better acquainted, three others are escorted into the hall by a receptionist and are instructed to take a seat. One of the strangers, a young, androgynous rogue glances at El and immediately takes a seat next to her. The other two, a tall elf with a lean and muscular physique and an exceptionally grotesque-looking dwarf, stroll across the hall and sit at a distance from the gathering. The receptionist takes his leave and closes the doors to the hall.
“You’ve all been summoned here today to uphold the pledge you took when you registered as a mercenary for the Stormgarde Company,” Johanna announces as she stands behind the podium, addressing everyone in the room. “Winterhaven is in dire need of our assistance. A plague has spread throughout the north, and to prevent it from spreading any further the roads have been closed off and the region has been quarantined. With Osiria isolated the royal guard and militia are also cut off, leaving the southern regions of the valley vulnerable. While this bodes ill for the kingdom and its people, it means adventuring companies like ours are back in business and are returning to the valley.”
“We have a few groups already conducting business in the valley,” Runefaust continues, “But we’ve lost contact with one. This group, full of you fledgling null-rankers, will be running a reconnaissance mission to reestablish contact with the missing entourage. Along the way, you’ll be stopping in Margalo to take care of a goblin problem they’ve commissioned us to deal with.”
The elf seated at a distance audibly shares his indifference with a dissatisfied grunt. In response, Johanna comments, “This is your orientation as non-ranked initiates. The purpose of this trial run is not only to showcase your capabilities, but to determine whether you are fit to represent the Stormgarde Compnay. You will be led by a ranking member of the guild, and the leader assigned to this group is-“
Before Johanna could finish, the doors to the hall burst open, the sudden deafening sound reverberated through the hall and startled El for a brief moment. A paladin in blindingly shiny armor erupts from the entrance of the hall, grinning from ear to ear exposing his pearly whites, his curly locks bouncing and fluttering as if a gentle breeze was blowing. Johanna’s glare breaks from the paladin and she keenly reviews her documents before sighing heavily and tossing them aside. “Oh for fuck’s sake,” she mumbles under an exacerbated groan as her head sinks into her open palm.