Agrin’s Gate is a based upon a narration of the Dungeons and Dragons sessions played by Karl Reimer (Dungeon Master), Dave Lenton (Aelar), John Baarda (Ashar), Josh Matthews (Balthazar), Grant Davis (Cordus), Jake Redekop (Drel), Grant Davis (Drull), Andrew Alkema (Iltani), and Rylan Halteman (Vore). I initially wrote this to keep track of the growing list of characters and events that were transpiring, as well as for the joy of writing. In its final form the narrative was over 11,000 words long, and represented the longest piece of writing I’d ever done (and the most fun!)
A few months after finishing it, I’d wanted to revise and expand it, adding more details, lore, and backstory to this wonderful world I helped in creating. I have no excuse to explain my failure to do this sooner, but I’m glad to be doing it now.
A note to the reader: While I will try my utmost to insure that this work remains consistent in style, as a writer I am influenced by what I read, and so my style has changed (hopefully for the better, though reading Tolkien’s The Silmarillion has given me a prosaic long-windedness). Nevertheless, I apologize for any thematic incongruities you may encounter. Please send a note to me if you find a poignant one.
My first thanks must go to Karl as DM for our group he was tasked with creating the world we played in and populating it with characters and adventure. Second thanks go to Rylan & Jake, my chief assistants in the editing and enriching of the original narrative, and then to my compatriots whose imagination fueled the personalities of characters I couldn’t begin to flesh out myself. You guys brought this world to life, making the telling of it all the easier for me, thanks.
Prologue – The Gate
Agrin’s Gate, so named after Lord Agrin, a noble with a thirst for conquest, had been founded in decades past. Back then it was nothing more than a motley collection of thatched roof houses by a river. But with the river running deep into the wildlands, trappers and hunters were able to bring in many valuable commodities like furs, timber, and any medicinal plants they could find. Lord Agrin, reaching the autumn of his life, petitioned the capital for support to turn the settlement into a vibrant trading post, to make it a bastion of civilization on the edge of the world; a place where he could live out his days hunting in peace.
In granting his request the capital supplied Agrin with road builders and artisans. Within a few short weeks of his arrival it became clear why the settlement had not been growing in trade and wealth. Agrin had supposed the problem was with the boorish and unambitious nature of the woodsmen, but it turned out to be a far more sinister. Every time wealth had come into the town, whether by a merchant making a large trade, or a nobleman looking to retire where he wouldn’t be disturbed, the village had been attacked by goblins from the hills and wildlands. Like parasites they fed on the work and fruit of the people, raiding at night or on the long, winding paths back to the larger towns.
Agrin was not to be slowed by such a threat. The road builders were immediately put to work making a straighter, safer route to civilization while stonemasons and builders began constructing a wall to protect the people. He trained some of the more capable hunters in the use of the short sword and the spear, and within a few weeks began issuing scouting parties to locate the rank pits in which the foul creatures cowered during the day.
Over the next few years Agrin waged a bloody campaign against the goblins. He found that the growing wealth of the Gate, as it was coming to be known, drew the goblins forth from the wildlands across the river. Many brave men were lost, but they fought with such valiance that each death among men came at great cost to the goblins. Agrin’s wife, Lady Agrin of Chelth, came to join her husband at the Gate and proved a capable strategist in the skirmishes against the goblins. It was she who proposed cutting back the trees along the capital road, and used the wood to build great fires at the mouthes of the goblin caverns, asphyxiating the vile creatures like the cunning vermin they were. The Lord’s heart was glad to have his Lady, and all the people loved her, for her wisdom and her counsel.
One day, while hunting beyond the river, Lord Agrin and his party were set upon by a large company of goblins. They had weapons of capital make, taken from the bodies of slain scouts, and also hideous beasts with the likeness of hounds, but more cruel and filled with malice. Though Agrin’s party defeated them and left none alive, the Lord was mortally wounded by a spear thrown by the company’s leader. When his body was brought back to the Gate, the people mourned for three days and nights, because in his life Agrin had done been good to the people, and made them prosperous, and had drawn much evil from the land like venom from a wound.
Because of Lord Agrin the Gate and it’s people were safely sequestered behind a stout wall of stone, and had a path to the capital much less fraught with peril than it had been. The woods, being now mostly free of corrupting influence, flourished and grew, although men who ventured too deep in the forest returned speaking of strange music and lights, often finding themselves back at the Gate despite being sure they’d never strayed away from the path into the forest.
After the Lord’s passing, the people named the Gate Agrin’s Gate in his memory; and declared Lady Agrin to be their leader for as long as she would stay. Lady Agrin, while honoured by the people, was too grieved to remain in a place so full of memories of her beloved, and returned to Chelth, the land of her fathers.
That was ten years ago. Since then the Gate has continued to flourish, and besides the occasional skirmish the goblins leave the people alone. Businesses, inns, and merchants have come to live here, and the town prospers. In recent months however, the frequency and intensity of raids on the road has been increasing; and Bryne, captain of the town guard, has put forth a request for mercenaries to deal with the problem. It is here that our tale begins.