Campaign of the Month: May 2022
Revenge on the Kraken's Bane
Lord Ardragon of the Moonsea
Barkus is a Tiefling Beastmaster with a pirate background. He has dark red skin and generally wears his hair in long thick dreads. He is always accompanied by his loved companion, Vaska.
Barkus’ childhood story is similar to most young Tieflings. His family bonds were strong because they had to be. The wider community of the Sword Coast has always been suspicious of their kind and as a result he was often scorned and considered an outcast of the community. Living outside of Mulmaster didn’t prove to be much different. His father (Kala) was a skilled fighter and his loving mother (Vaska) was a scholar. They imparted all their knowledge to Barkus and his younger siblings (brother Darmus and sister Charma).
When Barkus was 18 his family was attacked by an angry mob of local villagers. Kala ordered his children to flee while he and Vaska faced the mob. Barkus fled with his siblings but at some point lost them. In the morning he returned to the family homestead hoping to find everyone safe. Unfortunately all he found was the charred remains of their hovel and the shattered body of his mother. There were no signs of Darmus, Charma, or his father.
Barkus did the only thing he could think of. He traveled to the closest port town looking for work. It wasn’t long before he was hired as a grunt on the Kraken’s Bane.
While on the Kraken, Barkus worked harder than most. He hoped that by working hard that he would find acceptance within the crew that he also considered outcasts. Unfortunately, he found that he was the outcast among outcasts. He was ordered by the First Mate (Mangus Wallerby) to bunk in the darkest and dampest recesses of the ship and was given the least appealing duties. Mangus took every opportunity to attempt to break Barkus.
Six months into his service on the Kraken, the ship was attacked by a rival pirate ship, the Vengeful Crocodile. During the battle, Barkus found himself drawn to the center of the battle. He quickly grabbed two shortswords and began cutting down the boarding crew. He was unaware that his actions had drawn the attention of two people; Mangus and the captain of the Kraken, Bear Wingate.
Time passed and Barkus forged two relationships: Mangus as student and Captain Wingate as companion. The fact that Barkus was forging such a strong relationship with the captain infuriated Mangus. As a result, the first mate began to build a fierce animosity towards Barkus and would train and pester him unmercifully. Mangus became highly untrusting of Barkus and his captain. Little did Mangus know that the relationship between the two had grown far beyond companion and the two quickly fell in love. Hiding it from the crew as best they could; but eventually it was inevitable that everyone would find out. Not that many would mind two men falling in love, but the fact that it was a captain and a crewman could be troublesome.
During his adventures on the Kraken’s Bane, Captain Wingate made sure that Barkus was well schooled on the cities around the Moonsea. They would often stop in ports where Bear would introduce him to key contacts and locals. On one trip to Mulmaster, Bear encouraged Barkus to revisit the location of his family home. It was nothing but a ruined foundation how, but there was healing to be done there. As he sat on the foundation wall an old Halfling woman approached. “Barkus? Is that you?” It was Stana Taruk…Barkus remembered playing in her garden when his mother needed some “assistance” watching the kids. She was always a kind woman. She told Barkus that after he left, that his younger brother Darmus had shown up on their doorstep. Having nowhere to go, she and her husband Jamis had raised him until he was old enough to join her brother-in-law at the Seagate Monastery. Sadly, nobody ever found Charma. After they had talked for a while, Stana reached into her pocket and pulled out a tiny starfish charm. It was his mother’s. Stana explained that she often comes up here to harvest Vaska’s herbs that now grow wild. She recently found this in the garden. It must have been fate that he had returned on this day. She handed to Barkus and got up to leave. She turned back with a smile and said, “It is so good to see you again. I pray to the gods that you have found peace.” Upon returning to the Kraken’s Bane, Barkus pulled out the charm and contemplated it for what seemed like hours. With his knife he made a small incision on the inside of his coat and with a needle and thread he sewed the charm into the coat and then sewed the incision closed. He was flooded by a mixture of feelings and then he noticed it. On the inside of the coat, just below the incision, in what appeared to be blue sparkling thread…two names, Vaska and Kala…his parents.
Over the years, Bear introduced Barkus to much of the pirating culture, though in all honesty, Bear wasn’t much of a pirate…but he was one hell of an agent for the Zhentarim and was pretty much responsible for making sure that all Zhentarim tradeways across the Moonsea stayed open. His main port of call was Raven’s Bluff and his Zhent contact was Layla Songbird, or as most called her Lady Raven. The Kraken’s Bane docked there at least once a month; generally when the moon was fullest. Bear always said, “there is little pirating to be done with the entire world can see you by moonlight.” Bear and Mangus would always accompany one another into town. They would meet with Layla at the Dragon’s Claw to receive any new initiatives from the Black Network.
On one such trip to Raven’s Bluff, Layla warned Bear that there were reports that a new cult had been spotted in the Moonsea. They were calling themselves the Kraken Society. She instructed Bear to search for any evidence of the existence of this cult, but warned him to be careful. There were some concerns that the Zhentarim may have spies within their own ranks. Bear and his crew would spend months patrolling the area looking for evidence, but none was to be found. It was almost as if the cult existed they knew exactly where NOT to be. The reason for this was soon revealed.
On the next full moon, the Kraken’s Bane docked in Raven’s Bluff…everything happened as it always did. Bear would leave Barkus on the ship with a kiss and a command. “Keep everything in order, we will be back in the morning.” With that Mangus and Bear would depart for the Dragon’s Claw. However, that is where the similarities ended. Something was off. The crew that remained on the ship was extremely “docile”. While the captain was away most of them would be drinking or causing a racket…but not tonight. All of a sudden in the middle of the night the silence was shattered. Barkus stirred from his slumber and emerged from the captain’s quarters. The scene that unfolded was terrifying. The remaining crew had hoisted the sails and were untying the moorings. Then, in the distance, he saw a man running towards the ship…screaming, “Its TIME!”
“Time for what?”, Barkus though. Then he thought his eyes were playing tricks on him. The man was being chased, but what was it? “Is that what I think it is?” A bear….a HUGE bear. Mangus made it onto the deck of the ship just as it broke from the dock. The Karken’s Bane had set sail…and with one huge, powerful leap…the bear had lunged forward and managed to pull itself upon the deck. The crew surrounded it and a large net dropped from the masts upon the creature. The crew screaming. “What are they saying?” – MUTINY! That is when it dawned on Barkus….that was no bear…it was Bear. Mangus stepped forward and brandished his silvered longsword and stabbed the creature multiple times. As he life began to fade from it eyes, he slowly transformed back into the man that Barkus loved. “You must avenge this treason. The Kraken’s Bane is yours. Don’t let him have it.” With that, Captain Bear Wingate died looking into the eyes of his lover.
Barkus was seized and set adrift in the Moonsea. Layla, had already set forces out to look for the Kraken’s Bane, but no luck. They did however find Barkus and brought him back to Raven’s Bluff. There, he learned from Layla that they had discovered that Mangus was actually the Kraken Society spy and that they had been looking for an opportunity to liberate the Kraken’s Bane for some time. Layla put him up in a room at the Black Claw Inn with instructions that he could stay there as long as he needed. He was numb, broken, devastated. His entire world had been taken from him. He removed his coat and walked across the room to place it on the coat rack when he noticed it. Another name had been added to the inside lining. In blue shining thread, just like his parents, Captain Bear Wingate. But that wasn’t all, on the opposite side of the coat there was something new. In red thread that shone like wet blood, Mangus Wallerby. And with that, Barkus’ adventure begins.