0. Proclamation Ceremony
Thught looked at the fabulous stonework that surrounded him. There was no doubt that his people’s hand had helped create it. The choice of marbled granite, the beveled edges on the stirs leading up to the dais, the intricate chisel work that went into crafting the climbing ivy on the soaring pillars surrounding the dais, all said dwarven craftsmanship. The view around him made him scowl. The thought of his imprisonment, his youth spent enslaved and toiling for his oppressors, made his angry. The sight of the intricate dwarven stonework around his brought back too many bad memories. The darkened mood threatened to take him over until he pushed it all aside with a shake of his head. He thought about the task at hand and prepared himself for the next chapter in his life.
Thught stood at the end of a short line of people standing side by side. Standing directly in front of them was a regal looking middle aged man who wore along red velvet cloak that partial obscured the shining scalemail that covered his chest. A jeweled longsword hung at his belt and a thin band of mithril and gold adorned his brow. Facing them, his back was turned to a gathering of people who had come to see the adventures off. From the size of the crowd Thught reckoned that nearly everyone from the nearby village had turned out to watch the ceremony. With a smile the man turned to the audience and addressed them.
“I, Lord Beckenmire, have the honor of introducing to you, the fair people of Malloria, the next group of brave adventurers that will enter the Maze of Chaos,” the Lord announced. He strolled over to his right and stopped in front of the first person in line opposite from where Thught stood. Standing a few inches taller than the six foot lord was an athletic built human ranger. He had a tanned and weathered face that shown a confidence born from experience. He wore a suit of leather mail that was pieced together from a variety of unknown creatures. On his hip were two sword but what was most impressive was the great bow strapped to his back. It was so massive that on tip rose a foot above his head while the other reached down to his knees. He watched the Lord intently, his arms crossed and his body tease. He did not move at the lord’s advance.
“First I give you Striike of the Bow, hailing from a small village along the eastern coastlands. This bowyer turned adventurer is excellent marksman, cunning warrior and ruthless hunter. May his aim never fail him!” the lord announced. The audience cheered. Striike nodded his head ever so slightly before returning to his statue like pose.
The lord walked in front of the next person in line, a slender but equally athletically elven druid. He was also dressed in leather armor, much like the ranger, but his armor was created in such a way to mimic the flowing of ivy and the crashing of waves. And various pieces were colored to match the golds and reds of fallen autumn leaves. He held an ornately carved staff in front of him, grasped firmly in both hands. His long brown hair was tied back in a red leather string that revealed a handsome face, and deep brown eyes that sparkled with power of the earth.
“Second I give you Ter’ Rain Prothect hailing from the depths of Wildwood. A child of nature, he has embraced his wild side turning his animalist control of mother earth into a force to be reckoned with!” the lord announced. Once again the crowd cheered. The elf bowed slightly at the waist.
The lord finally walked over to Thught himself and addressed the young dwarf.
Saved the best of last I see, Thught boasted silently to himself.
The dwarf was the shortest of the group with his shaved head and thick beard. His eyes were a deep blue, much like the color of the ocean, which was odd for a child of the mountain. He was dressed in a full suit of shiny scalemail with a heavy headed, two-handed hammer hanging on his belt. The weapon was so large its haft almost dragged on the ground.
“And last but not least I give you Thught hailing from the mighty peak of the Stoneridge mountains to the west. Descended from the finest of stonesmiths, he is not only stout and sturdy but possess a mind so keen he can turn the tide of battle with but a thought!” the lord announced.
The audience cheered loudly once again. The lord waited for the cheering to fade away before addressing all three of the adventurers.
“Now is the time of your departure into the depths of fame, fortune and legend. The opening ritual is a ceremony that will help celebrate the joining of your wills to descend into the depths below. Each over you must place a palm on the altar behind you and solemnly pledge your intent to journey below,” the lord explained.
Slowly turning to face the altar the four adventurers placed a palm on the altar. After long moments of silence Striike was the first to speak.
“By my bow I pledge myself to the darkness below,” he said in a soft confident voice.
“With Silvanus’ grace I too accept the challenge,” Ter’ Rain said.
“Aye, I will go,” Thught said in a deep rumbling voice.
With his final word the altar issued forth a moan and slowly moved away from the adventurers. Stone grated on stone as the altar moved away to reveal a fifteen foot wide staircase leading down into the darkness