Shadows in the Abyss

Out of Goldshore

The Account of Mara Varensis for the Brass Library

Author’s Foreword

Dearest reader.

It is with humility that I offer this account to the Brass Library, and to the passage of time, as neither a great scribe, nor a writer of any renown, I fear my account may be inadequate to fully capture the story it seeks to tell. My own thoughts and feelings have crept into the pages, and for this I apologise. With that said, what I hope to present is an account of the story of one of the greatest pirate captains to sail since Akatash himself.

I was stationed to sail with Aramis shortly after my twenty second birthday, by then his journeys were already underway. Initially I was brought aboard to write this account, but writing now with hindsight, with the volume complete, my role here has represented so much more. This is not the story of Aramis the Blackhearted, nor The Prodigal Lord, nor the myriad of other men he has come to be known as. This is the story of Aramis the Man, the man I have grown to respect and admire, a man I would sail with to edges of Atmar, a man I have grown to love.

This tale begins before I became a pivotal member of the crew of the Brandon’s Revenge.

-Mara Varensis

Goldshore and Brandon Rockheart

Aramis speaks little of his past before Goldshore, so I will begin my account there. After all, everyone who tells the story starts it on that tiny rock just off the coast of Tirrimere. A quiet port town with little understanding of the troubles of the world beyond the horizon. Everyon knows that it’s the idyllic refuge where Aramis the Blackhearted grew tired of bedding the same wenches, and drinking the same ale, and set out for adventure aboard the Mad Shark to fight blade on blade with the Imperative. The true story is so similar, and yet so different.

The tale begins with four misfits, out of place and out of money, drifting through lifes grand tapestry with little direction. Long before Aramis made his name, he travelled with a half-Orc named Mattheus, now a travelling brawler who can be seen fighting in Freeport’s less respectable taverns, an Elven sorcerer of immense power named Gwetherinurder Gwetharinder simply, Gweth who would later perish in the Tomb of the Allfather, being cast into the River Styx. His fourth companion, a halfling known to myself and others as Olo Loamesdowne Burrows would become one of the most feared pirates upon the seas himself.

Their first great challenge was a chance happening. An orc cleric by the name of Hagrash the Whisperer had styled himself as a priest and taken over the Goldshore monastery. Back then, I am told, Aramis was barely a man, and rarely removed his father’s harp from his pack, opting instead to assist with his crossbow. Back then, it seemed that Aramis would be of little use to the group, as Mattheus demonstrated heroic prowess far beyond the capacities of the rest of the group, seeming at first a natural leader, brave and strong with broad muscular shoulders, those eyes… (My apologies to the reader, this story was dictated by one of the crew members, Lyria).

Hagrash was destroyed, and the monastery was cleansed, earning Aramis, Olo, Gweth and Mattheus some respect with the Goldshore locals. But a man is born a pirate, he does not become one, and following a run in with the town guard, and a spat with their captain, Aramis and his company found themselves in the stocks for the first time. At this point in the tale, the name of Tegan Foales must be known, a character who for better or for worse is forgotten in the life of Aramis Barbcock, a life which after all, has been filled with women of all kinds. Foales was a woman who saw in Aramis some spark of hope, something to be nurtured, and it was this misplaced idealism that allowed the crew to escape the stocks and it was what broke her heart in the end.

The party was employed by the town to recover a prisoner who had escaped the local jail cell. A wizard whose name has been lost to time had taken up residence in a local fortress, and was drawing together a gang of bandits to assault merchants and tradesmen on the road to Goldshore. For the first time, Aramis’ role as a strategist was tested. What resulted was the near decapitation of Tegan, Aramis being brought to within an inch of his life by a bandit archer and a daring rescue involving the inventive use of a grappling hook. The prowess of Mattheus could not be matched however, and following this false start he was able to make quick work of the wizard and his warg bodyguard, beheading the leader in a single swipe. Years later he would dispatch the champion of Freeport’s Ring of Fate with that same powerful swing. The party had undertaken their first true challenge, and at the same time an unmarked merchant vessel, captained by a fierce eyed Dwarf arrived on the Goldshore coast.

Celebrations were short, and before long the mayor had another task for the party. It seemed that Hagrash’s magic had not been completely dispelled, and undead had begun to creep from the crypts just north of the town. The party were dispatched to manage the situation. This is where they met Glanwolfe, a character who is often left out of the songs and tales told of Aramis Barbcock, but his strength as an ally was clear from the outset, and his tragic death would punctuate the beginning of the greatest exploits in Aramis’ career. Glanwolfe, a druid of the forests north of Goldshore had noted the rise of Hagrash, and the destruction of the forests. He could no longer shepard it, and he joined the party in their adventures from that day.

The tomb was cleared with little trouble, with the healing abilities of Glanwolfe to assist the party, their strength was too great for the patheticly few undead in the crypt to face. Captain Brandon Rockheart met with Captain Nenta of the town guard and expressed a need for promising talent to protect his (entirely legitimate) business enterprises as a merchant sailor. Nenta did not hesitate in ridding the town of the troublesome Aramis Barbcock and his associates, and Brandon offered a place aboard his ship to the party. This is the truth of the story of Aramis Barbcock. I have omitted many of the embellishments which the greatest bards choose to include, I have found no evidence of Aramis killing a vampire or being chased by the kings guard naked through a barley field. The story has humble beginnings, the later exploits of Captain Barbcock will need no such embellishment.

-Mara Varensis – Priestess of Anglis

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