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Nine Powers Stories

The Key to Riches

The Key
to Riches

Prologue
12
Appendix

Prologue: Arlinac Island

Arlinac Island

Through the Ages

Arlinac Island has pleasant summers and picturesque winters. The island was a convenient place for merchant ships to stop and replenish drinkable water when sailing between kingdoms. Three small villages were settled on the island during the Age of Heroes. But none of these villages grew into a town. The merchant ships that stopped there were busy making money, not spending it.

The largest village was at the island's southern coast, below a mountain that descended into forested hills and flat grassland.

At the beginning of the Age of Intrigue, the Creator announced that the ninth power would be created on Arlinac Island. Many people departed the island, expecting historically important events would be observed most pleasantly from a distance. Other people moved to the island, hoping to gain favor with the Powers—or even become one.

As immigrants arrived, that southern village grew in size. Much of the flat grassland became farmland. Craftsmen wanting to avoid the taxes and tarrifs of The Continent's kingdoms decided to try island life. The wealthiest of these craftsmen soon dominated local politics. They became the self-proclaimed nobility as they guided village into becoming Arlinac Town, and paid for the construction of its infrastructure and most important buildings.

The Powers

Maw Lute was created at the start of the Age of Escapades. She decided Arlinac Island was far enough from The Continent to provide some privacy, but close enough to be convenient. Within its southern mountain she made her main lair, named Igneous Halls. The three villages learned how to deal with having Maw Lute as a neighbor.

Speleoth often creates one of his Caves near a Dragon Lair of Maw Lute. In honor of Igneous Halls, the most special of lairs, Speleoth created an unusually large Cave within the northwest peak of Arlinac Island.

Merchant sailors and pirates fought as the waters around Arlinac Island grew important for trade. Gnash admires the ruthlessness displayed in these naval engagements. At sea everyone battles using all their strength and cunning. Gnash claimed a bay in the northeast corner of Arlinac Island to be a memorial for sunken ships and their crews. The ships sail again, their crew missing or Undead, and their treasures are remembered and pursuable rather than resting forgotten on the bottom of the sea.

When Remover was created as the ninth Power, she claimed a peninsula near Arlinac Town as the site of a perpetual Faded Realm.

The other Powers later claimed a special spot on Arlinac Island. Achiever creates Bigbeasts to hunt on the valley surrounding the island's largest bay. Yarnspinner created an Enhanter Forest on the southwest coast, and Little Humble established a Meek Manor even nearer to Arlinac Town. Futhorc named a trio of rivers on the eastern coast the Rune Rivers. Frosty Kostkey claimed the snow-covered southeast peak.

Arlinac Town Districts

As Arlinac Town grew it welcomed followers of all the Powers. Although most people worship many of the Powers, it is normal to feel a stronger affinity and loyalty to one specific Power. The people who built up Arlinac Town naturally settled in districts whose personalities are dominated by the philosophy of their patron Power.

The Harbor District attracted the followers of Achiever. These became the town's primary farmers, hunters, fletchers, sailors, fishers, furriers, and shipbuilders.

The Caretaker District attracted the followers of Yarnspinner. These managed the town's dominant inns, taverns, restaurants, and orphanages, as well as its hospital and zoo.

The Earthly District attracted the followers of Little Humble. These craftsmen developed their own styles of carpentry, pottery, leatherworking, forestry, and crafting of plain utilitarian goods.

Unsurprisingly, the Merchant District, dedicated to Maw Lute, became especially vibrant. Arlinac Town boasted as many merchant shops, traveling merchants, banking, theatres, and concert halls as a small city.

The nobility (the wealthiest of the merchants following Maw Lute) gathered into a subsection of the merchant district they named The Glittering. Here they crafted expensive artistic and/or wondrous items that further increased the prestige of their town. Some townsfolk say the wondrous items created by the nobles tend to have abilities useful for ensuring the nobles retain political prominence.

A magical accident warped and merged the cellars and basements of the town's buildings, joining them into a non-Euclidian labyrinth nicknamed The Mega-Basement. As it was underground and interesting, the followers of Speleoth have moved in to claim and tame the apparently endless rooms and hallways. The magical nature of the place is studied by the followers of Futhorc who sometimes devise ways to use the labyrinth's strange geometry to amiplify the magic of their spell-scrolls.

Even the followers of Gnash were eventually welcomed into Arlinac Town. Their district, named Orderly, has become a haven for the frail and elderly, for its watchmen receive help from Gnash and crime is punished ruthlessly yet fairly.

The Industrial District attracted the followers of Frosty Kostkey. These became the town's primary smiths, miners, carters, and machinists. These industrialists considered themselves loyal citizens of Arlinac Town, but were sorely persecuted when an army of Frosty Kostkey's invaded Arlinac Island.

Finally, after Remover was created as the ninth and final Power, her followers founded a small district of their own outside the town walls. They named it Sellsword Street. There anyone can hire guards, mercenaries, or treasure hunters.

Political Tensions

Most people of Arlinac Town live busy and peaceful lives. But four noble families have the time and desire to scheme and struggle for more political influence and power.

The Cassander family are Bergtrolls famous for their love of fire magic. They travel to participate in Futhorc's rune quests, hoping to win and be awarded with the ability to do internalize more fire-themed spell-scrolls and use those spells at will. The family's elders, Vicvor and Mawjorie, are the town's most famous Casters. More than once they have used their magic to shink fires and save the town from fire.

The Cassander family has begun using their wealth to incorporate useful machinery into the town's public infrastructure. A few notable machinists are now contracted to build steam-powered devices to pump water and provide streets with light at night, and fanciful clockwork devices help the town's zoo and botanical garden.

Heroes who impress the Cassander family might be given spell-scrolls or special items crafted with Musing. The Cassanders can also help arrange meetings with important people, or the secret delivery of messages. Sometimes the Cassanders have special knowledge of the Mega-Basement and can "tunnel" from place to place in Arlinac Town with non-Euclidean passages that arrive more quickly than any route above ground.

The Cassanders, especially Vicvor and Mawjorie, view Arlinac Town with the kind of affection most people feel towards a pet cat. The town is mostly self-sufficient but sometimes needs them. The town moodily switches between acting appreciative of attention from its caregivers and acting resentful with an immature display of independence.

Vicvor and Mawjorie's youngest daughter is Vivoan Cassander. She lacks her parent's patience and perspective. To her the town seems like a spoiled, ungrateful child—able to reject her parent's guidance and aid with a degree of rebellion that she would have been punished for displaying. She has been working with one of Frosty Kostkey's champions to secretly weaken the town's defenses and make it vulnerable to hassassment by abominables. Her parents do not know about these plans. They only know of her unusual interest in machinery. They are taking small, cautious steps in allowing her to use some of the family wealth to improve Arlinac Town with technology. So far accidents and complaints are rare, and the town seems to be benefitting from Vivoan's projects.

Vivoan is genuinely kind and generous. She loves Arlinac Town in her own way. In her mind, her parents' strict discipline and insistence upon self-improvement were a necessary part of growing up to become the remarkable young woman she is today. She thinks Arlinac Town needs to deal with more surprises and hardships to similarly become responsible and grand. She does not want the town to suffer any permanent harm.

Unfortunately, Recil Cogpin is a remote with bigger plans. Yes, it would be entertaining to watch a few abominables attack Arlinac Town. Yes, it will be ironic fun when new types of machinery reverse-engineered from those creatures is incorporated into the town's defenses, and the threat to the town actually makes it more pleased with and reliant upon machinery. But a large army of Winter creatures is mobilizing. The preparations will take a few years. Recil needs more parts, which are easier to claim unnoticed as more machinery is used in Arlinac Town's infrastructure. Then he and other remotes will take over the town's defenses, and much to everyone's surprise (surely Vivoan most of all!) a nearly bloodless conquest will turn Arlinac Town into a Winter paradise.

The Perdica family are Therions famous for breeding dinosaurs. Harmless ones are sold as pets locally or shipped to The Continent. Dangerous ones are carefully used for hunting competitions, or in the town's arena.

The family's elders, Nolak and Janire, are famous for their generosity. Their wealth supports the town's hospital, and most of the orphanages. Most members of the family are also respected. Unfortunately, the family is troubled by several of its members going mad in early adulthood—eccentricity carries much more of a stigma for younger Perdicas.

Heroes who impress the Perdica family might be given free herbal or magical healing at the hospital, generous gift certificates for local businesses, or lenient interactions with the town watch.

Nolak and Janire are secretly insane. Even their own family is ignorant of their evils. As patrons and physicians they are loved and esteemed by all of Arlinac Town. They are admired as a caring and devoted couple with a happy marriage and praiseworthy parenting skills. But they have secretly used alchemy to "enhance" their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. The alchemical side-effects are responsible for other family members going mad. The hobby of dinosaur breeding is a legitimate and strong business that earns the family much money, yet it also provides a place for Nolak and Janire to test out new alchemical recipes on newborn dinosaurs.

Recently Nolak and Janire have accidentally made an astounding alchemical discovery: a recipe that creates a mind control potion! Unfortunately, it only lasts a few days and then has fatal side effects. They have been using test subjects stolen unnoticed from the poorest townsfolk, and paying bribes as part of secretly disposing of the bodies. The Perdica family is very wealthy, but other family members will notice the expense of these bribes unless Nolak and Janire develop some private source of income...

The Lysamic family are Barrowers who want to establish the island as a Kingdom colony. They believe that Arlinac Town will only enjoy security and prosperity—both in the present and for properly commemorating its history—when under the umbrella of Continental strength. The heads of the family, Warnett and Brenni, act politely in public by in private are bullies.

Heroes who impress the Lysamic family might be given valuable information from The Continent, or free assistance from mercenaries or bodyguards, or they might see minor threats mysteriously disappear.

Warnett Lysamic uses a secret society named The Gardeners to control the Sellswords and use assassination to shape Arlinac Town as he desires. Except he actually does very little, not usually caring about local politics. When a critical issue arises, however, the dead bodies begin appearing.

The arrival or creation of an impressively powerful magical item would awaken The Gardeners.

Warnett has also decided an external threat to the island can unify the town under his leadership. He has slowly been using some of his family's wealth to unify the local pirates into a force that will some day (briefly) follow his orders. This work is very slow. Warnett knows he needs representatives capable to bargain with pirate captains, but secretive and loyal to him alone. Do such co-conspirators exist?

Demotrax is a dragons seeking to become a cyborg. He is a self-proclaimed dragon "prince" and tries to act as a local noble. That alone would not be so bad. But Demotrax also claims to see the natural rhythm and music of the island, and does reckless things from an alien mindset. No one else can see a rational basis or purpose to his proclamations that the island's inner harmony requires more or less farmland, or lyric ballads, or kite flying.

Someone has learned to manipulate the "messages" that Demotrax believes he hears from the island. Although the townsfolk normally humor the dragon, chaos will errupt if the dragon demands something completely unacceptable, such as switching from a coin-based economy to barter, or exiling from the island of all the elderly inhabitants.

Demotrax, like all dragons, wants to increase his hoard and thus grow stronger. Yet he sincerely loves Arlinac Town. He feels a constant tension between gaining personal wealth and donating funds to various town projects.

The Treasure Hoard Panolpy