A group of commoners found themselves the witnesses of a murder outside of a seaside ale house, nothing too uncommon for an area known to host a bit of swordplay among buccaneers or treachery among cut-throats. But this was different, the body of a frail old man lay at their feet, what words or demands had precipitated sharp daggers was lost to the wind.
One of them, intrigued by the death or ushered by greed perhaps, found a peculiar map upon vellum the only possession of the warm corpse. Soon, a wisened odd fellow appeared along with a gathering crowd of other curious onlookers. The strange man, omitted his introduction instead hey eyed up the dwarf, two halflings and five men who were the first to inspect the murder. He offered these eight a bit of coin, and an alibi to excuse the commoners of their part in the crime. In exchange for this, he suggested they use the map to find an underwater tower, that tonight alone would be uncovered by the tide, the treasures within were theirs for the taking, but the sharp-eyed man said that the purpose of getting to the tower was to get to a huge Black Pearl, and the pearl alone was his to claim.
But the eight commoners turned treasure hunting brigands had no idea what lay in store for them.
What occurred in the tower, was damnation for the men. Less than half of the group returned before the sea swallowed it all. And none of them were the same as they who had entered. Within the men encountered vicious pirates half the race of man, seafarers with orc blood in their veins. A number of these savages took the lives of more than one unlucky hired plunderer.
But the inherent dangers were more perilous than the curved sabers of the men sent from the ship ‘The Black Mariah’, and men common and savage faced death by unsavory and unspeakable means. In one horrible twist of Irony a dwarf not even midway through the term of his life who had spent it hitherto as a Rat catcher in the mines of his mountain home, died from the razor sharp teeth of dire rats after falling from a perilous height.
The cost of lives finally tallied an amount sufficient enough that the common men, turned plunderers found the despicable pearl for their sharp-eyed master, but even with their reward, comfort and safety were not to be had. Instead the plunderers found themselves pursued by remnants of the pirate fleet, back to the Sartosan coast. Even more certainly were the treasure seekers sought by the long reaching arm of the law. A price was placed on each head, and the Sheriff Lupus Tabbeck and his bounty hunters were sent to catch the men with the black pearl.
But the pearl could not so easily be handed over, for the men had already handed it over to the nameless merchant and been rewarded handsomely for their troubles. But no gold or silver was enough to repair the damage scarred across their mind, nor lead their pursuers astray.
Ducking and evading the vengeful pirates and bounty hunters became the torture of night and day. Each of the survivors having already been transformed by their traumatic experiences within the tower of the black pearl sought new identities and an escape from the coastal village.
One of them a once upon a time rope-maker, had begun to have night terrors from the tower, and had begun to hear ‘angelic’ voices. The voices told him he must lead the others and take them East. And so it was he who lead the others east into the dangers of the unknown and chaotic Borderlands, to a reclusive haven unknown to any of the group, but which the voices whispered “The Keep on the Borderlands…”