Diocese (based on this geographic location) is a village in the elven forest-country of D’ourden. Once a major hub of trade, the village has seen better days.
Formerly known as Ceske, the village was founded 1,194 BCE (years Before the Common Era). Originally developed as a trade hamlet along a road linking D’ourden to the dwarf country of Moradin and the (then) human land of Carpathia, the elves eventually settled around the area and developed a small village amidst the forest. The village was developed on prosperous grounds, as the elves found the area was suitable for brewing wine and beer, growing grain and fishing.
Ceske gained its current name, Diocese (translated from elven to the common tongue means “end of gods”), from the numerous tragedies that have befallen the village. In 337 CE, a vicious skirmish between Alliance and Scourge forces destroyed the village. During the skirmish, a Scourge mage called down the sorcerous art of the black rain upon the land. While the black rain falls, divine magic is suppressed (clerics/druids/paladins/rangers can’t cast spells, for example). This was an effective tactic of the Scourge, suppress divine magic so the Alliance couldn’t heal their fallen troops…handy, especially when the Alliance relied on healing to keep their numbers relatively even to the overwhelming numbers of the Scourge. One soldier who survived the battle recalled the horrible struggle,” Its as if the gods themselves had failed us, as if they had abandoned us, as if they had died.”
In the dark times that followed, Ceske spent most of its time being rebuilt. Of course, as fate would have it so, the village would be destroyed again in 873 CE. A massive battle between Xar Ascalon’s forces and a combined alliance of Moradin, Byzantine, and Azure forces resulted in the black rain appearing again (Xar Ascalon conjured the magic), as well as the destruction of the forest east of the river. Currently, Diocese is undergoing repairs. This time, the process has quickened, as Moradin, Voron, Latium, Carpathia, and Azure have pooled resources together to get D’ourden back on its feet. Of course, the village still faces its fair share of problems. One such set includes the spike in the murder rate around the village. The escape of Nebin, a gnome serial killer, from prison has not quelled the common people’s fears that they may be next.
As the PCs head to this god-forsaken village, sinister events began to unravel. Sinister events that involve the aforementioned gnome serial killer.
“Okay, let’s see what we got,” one of the fishermen, a halfling, says as he holds his oil lantern over the net of captive fish. As he holds the lantern over the fish, all of the fishermen elicit sighs and remarks of disgust. The halfling fishermen gasps,” Ugh… It’s impossible!” “Me thinks me gonna be sick,” another fisherman, this one a dwarf, mutters. “All of them,” a human fishermen reveals,” with that psychopath’s, smiling, laughing face!” “Looks just like him!” one of the elf fishermen exclaims, as the other elf goes for the guards.
The fish, most of them being trout, have lost all their identifying features. Now, the fish have a pale yellow, anchovies-ish appearance. A name is soon coined for the fish, “laughing fish” or “smiling fish”. This is because all of the fish now “smile”, with red, ruby lips and sparkling, white teeth.
That morning, the village is alive with the news of the “laughing fish.” The population fears the fish are another of Nebin’s ingenious ploys of mass murder. How or why he “poisoned” the fish is not yet known, but it doesn’t take long for the village watch to impose a quarantine on these fish until further notice. A few individuals, mainly druids and rangers, take some fish to see if they are, indeed, edible. Without fish to eat, a great deal of the village’s source for food is cut off.
Such a quarantine is ill news for the village’s seafood restaurant: The Kraken’s Seafood Pub. The restaurant, located in the southwest corner of the town square, is deserted today. The only person inside is the pub’s elf owner, Enal Clearwater. He fills his mug with beer, attempting to drown out the bad day. Unfortunately, his day is only going to get worse…
“Look alive, feudal slave,” a jet black-haired human woman robed in red and black carols,” presenting the antic assassin, that killing kibitzer, the comedic cutthroat, the one and only, Nebin!” She moves to the side, as a servant would do when a king appears. Into the room walks a short, pale-skinned gnome whose skin is tinted with a hue of yellow. He belts out a maniacal, bone-chilling laugh as he removes the wide-brimmed black hat that rested atop his golden locks of hair.. This is Nebin. He wears a lavish, purple suit trimmed with silver under his black winter overcoat.
“Good g-gods,” Mr. Clearwater stammered, horrified by the reality that killer gnome is here in his office! “Where!?” Nebin asks, turning around quickly before adding,” Oh, ha ha ha! I see, that was just an expression of…admiration? Mr. Clearwater, please, I have no time for flattery.” “I-I wasn’t trying,” Enal tries to add before Nebin cuts him off, “We merchants of business and trade have arrangements to discuss.”
“A-arrangements?” Enal nervously asks. “For my fish, of course,” Nebin explains, calmly,” this has all been worked out weeks in advance. You are merely the last, tiny obstacle in my plan so don’t speak to me again,” Nebin’s voice rises angrily before soothing again,” ‘kay?”
“Now, what has everyone in this sterile village been gossiping about,” Nebin asks, imposing a question on Enal. Moments pass, the seconds seem like hours to Enal Clearwater. Nebin begins to drum his hands on the table, gazing at Enal and smiling. Uncertain of whether to answer, Enal replies nervously,” Y-y-your fish?” Nebin’s face changes from being very calm and relaxed to anger. He brandishes a fish from his coat and smacks Enal across the face with it. “I told you not to speak!”
As Enal rubs his right cheek gingerly, Nebin continues,” As I was saying, since every fish along this area of the river bears my famous,and quite frankly, fabulous, face, I should be getting a cut of the profit of every fish product sold! Hundreds, if not, thousands of gold pieces a day to fund my happily, hedonistic lifestyle!” Nebin jumps into a chair across from Enal and props his feet up on the table before adding,” So, how much longer do we have to negotiate?” A moment passes before Nebin rectifies his mistake,” Oh sorry, good sir, you may speak now.”
Enal’s eyes and voices reflect his nervousness. “N-n-n-no one can g-g-get a profit on f-fish by c-c-copyrighting them, they’re a n-n-natural resource.” Nebin’s calm, smiling face turns into one of dismay as he states,” But they share my unique face!” “I-I-I can’t help it, it’s the law!” Enal tries to explain the situation to Nebin. It’s all in vain, as Nebin’s face turns into one of disgust. “Hm, trying to cheat me, eh?” Nebin asks, baring his teeth before calmly smiling again. “That’s okay,” Nebin asks,” we’ll see who has the last laugh between the two of us.” Enal gulps as Nebin rises from his chair and points a finger at Enal and threatens,” You have until tonight to change your mind, Enal, or you’ll be the poorest fish of all!” Nebin places the hat upon his head, emitting the same bone-chilling laugh he made when he entered. His associate, the human woman dressed in red and black, blows a kiss towards Enal as she leaves. “Buh-bye,” she expresses cheerfully.
“He’s crazy.” The only words Enal can bring himself to say. The poor elf prays to Corelleon Larethian that this encounter was all just an influence of being drunk. He remains in this state for another hour, when the PCs enter the pub…
Helluva introduction… Part III (final part until next session) coming soon.
“Big Brother is watching you!“