The Holy Thelgast Empire seeks to bring peace to the world through absolute order. It presents its neighbors with a simple choice - join the empire and become subject to its laws and a part of its religion, or join the empire and become subject to its laws and a part of its religion after the empire's armies have finished the bloody business of conquest.
The elite of the empire's forces are the various knightly orders, special forces made up of the strongest soldiers, the brightest officers, and even the occasional mystical sorcerer or two. The dirty deeds often required to expand and maintain such a vast empire are handled by those orders known as 'dark' knights.
One such group of dark knights is the Ludvalian Order, which was established only fifty years ago. The players' characters are skilled by inexperienced individuals who for their own reasons sought to join the order and, having presumably demonstrated their potential in classes and exercises, have each been granted the rank of cadet. As such they are now receiving field training to acquire the necessary skills and further prove their worth for full membership in the knights, in the form of their first assignment.
Should any of you be so lucky as to not die horrible deaths, you might just become a member of one of the most feared and hated organizations in the continent's most diabolical seeming empire.Many tales begin with a dark and stormy night. This is not one of those tales.
Yes, it is dark, night usually is even by the light of the stars, and yes it is raining and a bit windy but not so much that anyone could rightly call it a storm. Further, the scene playing out is not the start of the tale, so consider this a case of in media res or something similar.
Discarding any questions for now, let your attention be drawn to the scene just mentioned, to a specific spot on the map. A large village at the base of a larger mountain, though small by the standards of mountains, which are rather high. The standards, but also the larger mountains.
When, where...what? An invasion, with atypical intent. Men in fairly well crafted armor, men with oft-used swords and shields and spears, men with killing intent and a talent for what they love, which is killing if you can't guess. The poor unfortunates defending the village can do nothing against them except die messily and pitifully, which is exactly what they do and they do it well. They have little if anything worth stealing, and so they die not only terrified but also terribly confused.
The invaders break into home after home, occasionally acting as looters searching through the belongings of the dead but more often after a quick search they leave and move on with little loot to show for it. One man attempts to save himself, panicking, by offering a young woman, perhaps his daughter, to one of these invaders. There is a brief silence and the matter is settled when both the man and the young woman are cut down, and the man's home is searched like all the others.
Not far from the village there are a few figures on horseback, caped and with more presentable arms and armor, leaders and elites. One of them breaks the group's fashion harmony by wearing no armor, instead a hooded cloak, and having no noticeable weapon save his bent staff, suggesting he is a sorcerer of some sort or another.
One of the invaders runs toward them, falling to a knee and bowing his head. "He's not here, Master. There's nothing here."
The man addressed is perhaps the leader of the men on horseback and by extension the party of invaders as a whole. He is a giant of a man, growling as he tightly grips the reins of his admittedly unimpressive looking black steed, disregarding the thing's terrifying size. It has no majestically decorated saddle or horsey helmet, nor any evidence of good breeding, just bulk and a mean face. The man glances over at the sorcerer, if indeed that is what he is.
The cloaked figure nods after a few moments of thought. "Very well then. The rain is light enough. Kill everyone and make a visible attempt at burning everything down. Let the men loot and abduct as they please, now. Another tragic bandit attack."
A dramatic scene to be sure, slaughter usually being compelling and hopefully horrifying stuff. The purpose of it all is unclear, however, and so the men and women of the village have died for nothing, as far as all of you observing this event from safely afar are concerned. The village is fairly remote, and so it will be some time before anyone else becomes aware of this tragedy, and it is unlikely anyone will spare much of a thought for such brutality when it is so far removed from home.
It's not as if this sort of thing doesn't happen all the time, after all.