Note: Mike assembled this adventure prologue after Session One, based on things that came up during play. Adding this outside of actual chronology for narrative purposes.
On the outskirts of the Violet Lands, in a campsite along the Right Road, four men huddled around a campfire. Each of them had started out on a lonely road west, yet fate had brought them together.
Dressed in simple skins and thick leather armor, Tarkov the Wolf looked out into the darkness, scanning for potential dangers. A hunter from the Forest of Glass, he sought his lost love, the Moon-Priestess Jaala, who had been captured by raiders from the Azure Wasteland. He clutched the crystalvid pendant he wore about his neck: The last thing Jaala gave him before her capture. He held it before him and pressed the red button at the base: A holographic image of Jaala appeared above it: her image waved, smiled, and mouthed silent words.
Bathed in the campfire light, Ivo Fontaine poked at the flames with a long stick. His fashionable Decapolitan business suit was dusty from the road, and he sat on his battered leather attaché case. Once a barrister in the Ten Cities of Orange, Ivo’s luck changed after losing a particularly important case… and all he’d received as payment were a bag of “enchanted teeth”… or so he’d been told. He held the small leather bag that held the 32 perfect teeth… perfect except they were jet black and etched with strange runes. He could feel them vibrate in his hand, and he felt the compulsion again: The teeth wanted to go west, and he could just tell that they would reward him somehow, and greatly, if he could bring them all the way to the fabled Black City at the Edge of Space and Time.
Staring up at the stars as if to try to make sense of them, Major Jake Slayton of the United States Space Force seemed very far away. He pondered whether one of those pinpoints was the sun of his home: Far-away Earth. He reflected on how he got here: One of the first humans to set foot on Mars, he’d found a strange, black obelisk covered in strange sigils in a shallow cave. He touched the thing, and suddenly it appeared to unfold in many dimensions, filled with the void of space and countless stars. He felt the pit of his stomach drop out and thought that he might be falling… and then he found himself standing beside a cracked and fallen version of the same thing. Yet, his feet stood in strange bluish-silvery grass, an orange sun shone in a lavender sky, and a strange four-winged bird flew overhead. He wasn’t on Mars anymore… and this sure wasn’t Earth, either. At that time, a strange trader came by in a cart pulled by an… emu? The man hailed him as a “Satrap” and jokingly offered a week’s supplies for the major’s helmet. When Jake took off the helmet and accepted the offer, he didn’t understand the trader’s surprise, nor the offer of even more supplies, including an old sabre. The next day, while sorting through the pack he’d acquired, he found a red nylon wallet emblazoned with what looked like the logo of the Soviet space program: Inside was a set of heavy plastic flatware stamped with the letters “CCCP.” With a gasp, the major realized that he wasn’t the first spaceman from Earth to be here… wherever here was.
Watching the other three with an inscrutable expression, the fourth man puffed on a long pipe. Clad in a flowing but tattered crimson robe, the bald, bearded Vitus the Red seemed to stare past them, perhaps looking into fractal complexities only those attuned to the magical underworks could perceive. Or maybe he was just watching a moth flutter around the campfire. It was hard to tell. Why a wizard of the Red Order had journeyed all the way from the council’s floating citadel in the heart of the Redlands, few could say: Vitus just said he had business in the Black City, and that he welcomed traveling companions.
“I think we’re only a day’s walk from Violet City,” said Ivo. The others nodded. “We’ll be able to sleep in real beds tomorrow night! Like I said, I know people there, and I should be able to get us passage on a caravan heading west. I worked very closely with agents of a Lord Schnook back in the Ten Cities, and I got them out a legal mess that turned a tidy profit. I’m sure he’ll remember me, then he’ll sign us on straight away!” Slayton smirked: He’d met lawyers like Ivo before…