Waking Dragons

A Wizard Appears

You grew up listening to stories of the town in it's heyday.  When a caravan would stop at the town every day on it's way to the Dwarven north, when barges would moor at the river while transferring goods to a caravan or resting for a longer trip south to the great desert, and when the money, food, and drink flowed easily.  Twenty years ago, the war ended that prosperity.

Kobolds, orcs, goblins, ogres, and other subhumans burst out of their caves and began ravaging the land.  While they didn't overrun many of the larger cities, it quickly became dangerous to set foot outside of their walls.  The caravans slowed and showed up with more and more guards, then finally stopped, and each town was forced into isolation, making due with whatever items and food they could produce by themselves.

Over the decades the Vast Swamp to the south and west expanded, cutting off all contact and trade to the desert and slowly engulfing towns along the way.  Locals blame the heat, the sweltering and muggy weather on it.  Rare word from the north is that the Dwarves deal with problems of their own, freezing weather cutting off any trade with the barbarian tribes, and no word at all from the Elves to the West.  The major port town half a days travel to the east was once a major source of caravans, but none will travel the road now.  Rumors have reached you that pirates also prey on the rare boats taking on shipments these days.

You've grown up in the shadow of raids by the subhumans, dealing with lean winters and theft of your town's vital supplies.   This caused many of you to volunteer to help defend the town, spending much of your childhood training in weapons or magic.

Today the town is a shadow of it's former self, a few hundred families trying to scrape by on whatever they can farm or fish from the river.  Houses that used to be in control of all the ore shipments this side of the land are now promising anything to the few families that can grow crops.  Just like the many who died fighting in the war, the town can mourn its blacksmith, stables, wood mill, and any commercial building but the inn, which itself sees very few new faces, but serves as a center for residents to gather to reminisce or complain.

Last night was the inn was crowded beyond full at the first new excitement in a number of years.  A tower was built.  As in not there the day before and there today.  Fifty feet across, over a hundred feet high, solid stone, without a single window.

At first there was panic.  A new form of siege warfare?  A tower built by giants overnight?  Some horrible kobold magic?

A few townspeople crossed the river and braved the couple of miles to the tower.  While they wouldn't approach, they did study the large stone man standing in front of it and were slightly relieved, given that legends place those as guards to powerful human wizards.

The relief quickly went away when the first townsfolk heard it stomping into town early this morning, rattling buildings with each step, leaving foot-sized holes in the floor as it walked into the inn, making everyone dive under their tables before the realized it was benign, and finally dropping a sheet of paper on the counter.

"Root of Manglade?  Bars of silver?  Glass vials?  Sixty pounds of raw meat?" you heard the innkeep mutter out before she laughed and tossed the paper back to it.

Three hours later the stomping noise returned first, then the golem, another sheet of paper in its hand, only this one ended up tacked to the wall of the inn.  As the golem stomps out of town, you gather around to read the paper.

"Hiring adventurers.  Report to me in the tower."

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