As our story began, we found ourselves on a narrow ledge overlooking a large, very deep pit; this was explained to us as “part of the portal system.” At the instructions of the government-appointed guide, we joined hands and jumped. And that was when the oddities started.
Rather than arriving safely in Novgorod as promised, we found ourselves separated and tossed into a vast, empty graveyard, filled with statues, decorative ponds, and the like. After locating one another, we found ourselves at the edge of a reflecting pool; touching its surface, we were pulled back to the void between worlds.
Subsequently, we found ourselves dropped into a room, filled with ankle-deep water, and experienced changes of form. Across the room from us were blank-faced doppelgangers, precise duplicates of our human forms; behind them, a looming statue of some alien god, terrifying to behold. The duplicates subsequently turned hostile and were defeated, dissolving into swirls of dark ink in the waters at our feet.
As soon as the last of them perished, we were cast once again into a void, this time to reappear in a random farmer’s field outside Novgorod. We arrived just in time for the Imperial Guard to show up, at which point we were escorted to the seat of government in Novgorod to meet with Vasily Stukov. After attempting to explain the portal malfunction, we were forwarded to the Hall of Companies, as we looked to be “adventuring types.”
After a lengthy registration process, the newly formed Avenger Company rented several rooms at the Golden Gate Inn, but found their doors to (temporarily) lead to blinding white rooms with threatening messages scribed on the walls.
Later that night, the company received a package from an unknown source; it contained an intensely magical birdcage in which was perched the skeleton of a small songbird. It resisted all attempts at identification, and a researcher at the Mages’ College was likewise unable to ascertain its origin or purpose.
Returning to the inn for the night, we were startled to hear birdsong emanating from the enchanted birdcage. Just as we reached our rooms, a burglar burst out of the door and sprinted down the hallway, leaping out a window. Following, we found the window to open fifty feet above the river, and glimpsed a dark blot in the water, as though ink had been spilled.
The following morning, we set out to find ourselves a proper headquarters. Eventually, we managed to track down a shabby shack in the Azure District, slightly refurbished the place for security, and listed it as our mailing address at the Hall of Companies. Checking back at the Golden Gate one more time, we found that we had been given our first assignment: see to the protection of a Nustok farmer’s sheep.
Renting horses, we immediately set off on the 5-day journey. Halfway there, near a crossroads, we noticed that the tracks from a wagon abruptly veered off the road, and stopped to investigate. Bad move: we were ambushed by a rather nasty party of thieves, apparently the same who had run the wagon down. Fortunately, we were able to dispatch them without too much trouble, although we did fail to take any prisoners.