Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A to Z of Jarlsburg: the Antiquarian [UPDATED]


Some monsters become bogeymen, things to scare children into obeying their elders.

Some attacks become memorials, celebrations to remind the victims that the darkness was fought back.

But that's not how the citizens of Jarlsburg deal with the Antiquarian.

The people of Jarlsburg simply prefer not to speak of, hear of,  or let alone remember the monster's reign of terror.

Fifteen years ago, the creature announced it's arrival on Mirren 23rd, the longest day of the year, by causing all one-hundred and eleven people in Victory Square to drop dead at 9am precisely.  But that wasn't enough horror for the Antiquarian, all children born on the 23rd until 12:01am were stillborn, 44 in total. Finally, by nightfall, four entire families from the eldest to the youngest, spread throughout the city, were slaughtered where they stood at 9:23pm. 

Each day for nine long weeks the Watch would be called to a new atrocity always after nightfall as another family would fall to the monster.

It took a shroud of necromancers nearly three weeks...twenty-one families...one-hundred and thirty murders before even a clue could be discovered.

That solitary clue was a name, the Antiquarian, a malign and brutal being from the very fringes of folklore who had terrorized cities as far back as Thoda and Old Vizogeo. Very little was known about the monster because it was believed to speak or even write its name would draw its attention.

It was almost another four weeks...twenty-eight more families...one-hundred and ninety-six more victims before a motive could be determined and that required the help of a High Cleric of Qnd.

The High Cleric revealed that that the Antiquarian was on the hunt for an old and hopelessly mundane vase to add to its collection of antiques that it kept in a cave on the shores of the Styx. The Antiquarian was not only willing but thrilled to murder everyone in Jarlsburg to find it. All of this death, fear, and heartbreak was about finding an antique vase for this monster's collection. After filling in the Watch and the Inquisition on the Antiquarian's motive, the High Cleric performed ritual suicide to protect the Clergy and her god.

Armed with this knowledge a sentinel of diviners were able to agree on a target where the fiend would most likely strike next and Watchmen and Inquisitors were posted there to protect the family in one central spot.

However, the diviners' predictions were off and another family, another nine victims, were murdered on the Antiquarian's quest for its vase.

Thankfully, their next vision was more accurate and a Unit of Battle Wizards, Priests of Pelor, Watchmen, and Inquisitors protected the fourteen members of the Sherton family when it arrived.

Now I'd like to tell you that the brave men and women who were guarding the Sherton's used sorcery and swordplay to triumph over this malicious being who had terrorized a whole city for a good portion of the summer, but I'd be lying to you.

The Antiquarian was shown the Sherton's vase, which had been given to them three Boxing Day's past by a family friend, and it grinned a terrifying smile of razor-sharp teeth and pointed at its prize. The vase was held by a newly appointed Inquisitor and the Antiquarian tilted its head and closed the space between them startlingly fast. It whispered something in the Inquisitor's ear causing the vase to fall from his hand and shatter.

The monster laughed loudly and wolfishly and with a wave of its hand struck every person in the room dead except the Inquisitor. Within moments more Watchmen and Inquisitors drove through the doors and more Battle Wizards teleported in but all that they saw were the corpses and the young Inquisitor on his knees and struggling with his face.

The Antiquarian had left Jarlsburg without the newest piece of its collection which had cost the city the princely sum of Five-hundred and Fifty-Five souls. Was their more to the story?  No one wanted to speculate, let alone investigate, citizens and city officials were content to try and put their lives together and close this chapter of Jarlsburg's history.

The only other facts we know is that when the Inquisitor left the Sherton's home where the massacre took place he was now wearing a mask that would become his trademark.  No one knows what he's hiding and many wonder where the mask originated, but the Antiquarian is the last being to see Lot's face.

__________

This section is the behind the curtain section, where I share tidbits about how this idea came about in the DnD and Pathfinder games that were set in Jarlsburg.

The Antiquarian took form in a post on rumors of Jarlsburg (Rumor #8) and then slowly began to become intertwined in the back stories of High Inquisitor Lot and the Lunar Council (who were created for two players who were running Silvercloaks (Inquisitors) instead of Ironcloaks (Watchmen).  If the game hadn't gone on hiatus, the game would have started to move closer to at least exploring how the Antiquarian's reign shaped Lot and the Lunar Council.

We'll get around to that one day.

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