Once upon a time, in two versions of the same world, a band of Heroes chased a notorious Thief.
The world was called Cynus and the thief was called Zed Mandrake. The versions of the world were very similar, only tiny differences separated them. Also, both versions of the thief were the same. The heroes, however, were very different. In one world a group of dedicated Hounds: a winged Paladin of the Fey, an Elven alchemist in uncertain masquerade, a flame-touched wanderer and diplomat, a Ratfolk adventurer of exceptional cunning and lore. In the other world a group of fierce Hunters: an Elven magus and scholar, a noble Halfling knight, a human cleric of Marrus, a feline Witch, a Tengu archer, another disciple of the Sky-Lord.
These two bands shared a story, though they knew it not.
They were called together by a human noble, Cassandra Talbot. The thief had pillaged her manor and stolen many valuable things, but also an amulet of great sentimental value. Talbot offered gold for the safe return of the amulet and information that Mandrake had been sighted in the ravaged city of Callimaco to the west.
The Hounds and Hunters went down the same road. They faced the same goblin toll at the Fire Beetle Tree, one group paid in gold — the other in steel. They went to the same city, marveled at the same gargantuan grove of spire-trees, argued with the same dwarves, slept under the same roof. They also wandered into the ruins of the Doom and found the very epicenter of the devastation. The place where the Sword of Ruin’s shadow hung like a fly in invisible amber. They fought the same skeletons of gold, they each bartered with the demon frozen on the roof, they each left with a ring of pure mithril lackadaisically thrown in a traveling pack.
But here a difference. The eye of the storm was covered in ash. For the Hounds it was white. For the Hunters it was black.
They each followed the thief’s trail to the floating Adamant Mine. They each found his treasure and his letter waiting. A letter that warned them to take the weregild he left behind and follow him no further.
Neither Hunter nor Hound obeyed.
Each group found a different scent of Mandrake’s trail. The Hounds followed the Bottle’s word to Hornghast, grey tower by the sea. The Hunters found their way in the tears of the Innkeeper to Yellowdale, fields of golden wheat.
The Hounds found Hornghast embattled by gloom and death. A shining narcotic held the shadows away from the populace, but kept them locked in slothful dreams. They did battle with the drug peddlers and were enlisted by the King himself to find the source of this peril and destroy it. They battled through betrayal and salt water to free the captured being that produced the drug. The Hounds slew its captors and brought a fresh wind of justice to the gray streets of the city. They earned new honor and a fierce new ally at their side.
The Hunters found deception and wisdom in the fields of wheat. Battle with a fiendish traveling circus saved a young boy’s life. The stern cleric of Banu, Prose Willow lead them to a corruption that endangered the land and blotted out her divine vision. In the ruins of a forgotten estate they found sorrows and secrets long forgotten, but purged the land of the evil seed that blossomed before their eyes. Their company grew with the addition of a naive acolyte of Banu and a taciturn swordmaster.
Both bands were given a prophecy. The god Banu’s dark words for the Hunters, the Sylph’s strange riddle for the Hounds. Both saw strange scraps of metal fall like rain from a clear sky.
Neither found their quarry. Only a thin possibility of his next location — Rainscour.
So they followed the thief’s steps – all the way to the Blank Gate that barred the way to the City of Rain. With patience, wit, and a bit of luck both bands stepped through the featureless stone — where now the tale begins again.
Two worlds, one journey – at last the Heroes will meet.