It was an odd day, to say the least. A chance meeting with colleagues and acquaintances from work or your opposite number, something that would’ve been odd but not remarkable on a normal day, suddenly spiraled into one of the toughest fights of your life. You’re no stranger to bizarre happenings – few people in the Converged world have that luxury – but this was as serious and terrifying as anything you can imagine, suddenly roiling to life right before your eyes. Beyond that, it happened in one of the Pyre’s most public seats of power and places of safety; this is perhaps the first huge chaos incursion of this magnitude that you’ve ever heard of in a place so well-guarded as the Golden Square.
On top of that, although you’ve spent your life knowing that you were a little different than everyone else, you never really expected your patron to take a personal interest in you. Then again, you never expected a massive Chaos assault on the Golden Square, either. As you try to sleep that night, images you saw in the distance through the warped space return and dance in your mind’s eye, like glimpses into a personal Hell. That old saying about gazing too long into the Abyss returns to mind, and when the half-glimpsed visions recede, all you are left with is the sense that the Abyss has been looking deeply into you as well. Moments before you drift off to sleep, you begin to wonder if maybe the Chaos attack was less random than it might seem… and if maybe it was aimed squarely at you.
The night passes uneasily, full of dreams of the strange, broken beasts and the nightmarish Flenser lurking within that deranged old mage’s skin. But even on top of that, one image sticks out to you, something you had no time to look at during the tense fight: half-seen amid the hell-plains in the distance, a shimmering image of an old man’s face. His long white hair, arched eyebrows and cruel smirk were enough to give him an eerie, devilish look, before you even spotted the horns on his forehead or the blazing crown floating in midair between them. Whoever – or perhaps more importantly, whatever – he is, you’re now uncomfortably aware that you are being watched… and for what purpose, you cannot imagine.
The next morning, you are dragged out of bed by a friendly but pointed member of the Pyreguard, who leads you out to the Golden Square once again. You aren’t quite sure what to expect when you and your comrades in arms are shoved up onto a hastily-erected stage in front of the scorched ring of former merchant stalls, now littered with razor-sharp obsidian chunks. Soon enough, though, the purpose is revealed: a senior Warden steps onto the platform and delivers an adequate speech extolling your bravery and thanking you for the lives you saved by your actions yesterday. What’s more, the merchants whose lives you were able to save – indeed, almost everyone who was not unfortunately struck down in the initial explosion – have gathered a sizeable reward for you. From their combined inventories, they have produced enough minor magical arms and armor to equip your new squad with weapons, armor, magic foci and perhaps even a protective amulet or cloak here and there. (This, naturally, is the means by which you acquired your gear that I said, “Oh hell, just take the Auto Add thing” about. If you still want to have an ancestral or personally-crafted item, let me know.) Finally, an elven Druid who happened to be a bystander to the attack offers you a scroll which has the Animal Messenger, Endure Elements and Purify Water spells on it, and suggests to call on her if you have any questions regarding the lay of the land or discover any new and interesting wild beasts or plant life. Her street address is noted on the scroll, but you can usually find her at the Ninetrees grove in the north quarter. (She also winks at you, specifically. You know this for a fact, and also that she is totally hot for you. You are the cute one, after all.)
After the merchants are done thanking you, the Warden captain approaches you with a document containing detailed orders and directions to the castle you’ve been asked to investigate… and we’ll pick it up here next time.