Sunset Vale Saga

The Fist Of The Future
Sunset Vale Saga #30

1. Neiriel & Caerwyn purchase holy symbols of Mielikki & Mystra, respectively.
2. Neiriel visits Silent Hall and speaks to a Weirwood tree.
3. The party wins flying mounts.
4. Arcturus (inadvertently) frees a captured pegasus.

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Talona's Price
Sunset Vale Saga #29

1. Toggel informs the party that the Moontower can help Neiriel.
2. The party is teleported to Silent Hall by Old Lady Macanaster.
3. The party meets Mizugo and
4. The party check in to The Sign Of The Dreaming Dragon and meet Jobin and Esbelle.
5. Toggel visits Cod & The Boss and Murdock Diamantaire.
6. The party meets Caerwyn.

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Very Bad Things
Sunste Vale Saga #26

Neiriel stood atop the roof of The Ladyhouse in Corm Orp in the dark of the late night. Three hooded, black-cloaked figures stood beneath her behind the that temple, ice-cold arrows sticking out from their forms. Their initial surprise worn off, the black-cloaked figures launched their own volley of darts at Neiriel. Three struck home deep into Neiriel’s chest and abdomen, and the poison quickly hit her heart and lungs, causing her to gasp in pain as her vision blurred and her legs went wobbly. Aeron quickly ran up the side of the building to her, and put her on the winged lioness, Elsa.

The lioness telepathed to her mistress, “Archon, there are enemy at the temple and the ranger is hurt. We need help.” Then she roared towards Aeron, “Get on! We are leaving!”

“Not without Ziv,” Neireil sputtered, coughing up blood. “Take us to the front of the temple, Elsa.”

Meanwhile, inside the entrance of The Ladyhouse, Aerith confronted the two dark figures that had entered that way. One of them wore a fearsome metal mask and wielded a dark-bladed rapier with a black diamond pommel. They were on Aerith in a flash, and with two swift strokes, the masked assassin had killed Aerith before he could do anything. The other assassin quickly started dragging Aerith’s dead body deeper into the temple.

By the main entrance to the hamlet, Varia received Elsa’s message, but had her hand full controlling the three-score gnolls she had persuaded to turn against their tribe after the defeat of Ghostaxe, The Last Alpha. Miriel, Arcturus, and the newly arrived Avil (with his equally newly acquired black iron greataxe) rushed to the temple, instead. Toggel and Bree atop Furious were soon to follow.

Meanwhile, Neiriel and Aeron mounted on Elsa circled to the front of the Ladyhouse and landed. There they saw the masked assassin cleaning a freshly bloodied black rapier blade. Neiriel let fly her icy arrows, missing with one but pinning the masked assassin’s arm to his body with the other. With a roar of pain he broke the icy shaft off, then he laughed to himself.

“Can’t have any loose ends, now can we??”

Then he lunged at Neiriel with his black blade, piercing her heart. Neiriel’s vision went dark as she slumped, slid, and then fell lifelessly off Elsa. Aeron in half-shock leapt off Elsa and charged at the masked assassin, silver blades in hand. Elsa pounced on the dark figure, almost knocking him down. But his black blade found purchase in the heart of the winged lioness, and soon she was naught but wisps of golden light dispersed into the night air.

Miriel, Arcturus, and Avil arrived only moments later to see Neiriel’s body fallen on the ground, and Aeron violently engaged with a dark cloaked figure. Avil pulled out his new black iron axe and charged at the assassin while Arcturus went to help Neiriel and Miriel provided covering fire. Under the combined assault of Aeron and Avil, the masked assassin threw a dagger from under his sleeve towards the darkness of the temple beyond, and then vanished.

Arcturus used his recently acquired power over death to quickly revivify Neiriel to life once again. Miriel scouted ahead and found the lifeless body of Aerith, but quickly moved on. She surmised that something else was going on. She peaked around the corner and saw that the kitchen was completely engulfed in flames.

By this time, Toggel and Bree atop Furious had arrived and circled the second story of the temple to find away to see inside.

Aeron went to examine Aerith’s body, when a dagger shot out of darkness from the back of the Ladyhouse and found purchase in his side. Suddenly, the masked assassin was there at Aeron’s side, holding the dagger in his hand and bringing his rapier in for the kill, but Aeron avoided the fatal strike to his heart, and only took a glancing blow. Avil re-engaged the masked assassin and swung a mighty blow into his side with the black-iron greataxe. Arcturus saw his opportunity to end this, and reached from behind and clutched the masked assassin’s throat, the black energy of death smouldering from his fingers as he appeared to choke the very life out of this deadly foe. The masked assassin fell to the ground. Arcturus quickly grabbed the dark-bladed rapier, and took possession of it before it did any more harm. As soon as he did, there was a quick series of whistles from the fallen assassin, and a volley of darts came out of the gloom somewhere in the back of the temple towards Arcturus. Most of them missed, and the one that did hit annoyed Arcturus more than hurt him. But as he looked down, the masked assassin’s form had vanished yet again.

Meanwhile, aloft outside the second story of the temple, Furious had broken through one of the windows, and Toggel had spotted one of the assassins and took a shot at it with his thunder cannon, Muad’dib.

“The fookers are in the fooking rafters!”, Toggel yelled down to whoever could hear.

Upon hearing that, Aeron summoned up a cloud of fog inside the Ladyhouse that obscured the line of fire of anyone further inside. It also provided cover for Bree as she jumped down through the window and onto the temple floor. From that vantage point she could see at least a quarter of the Ladyhouse was aflame, and the fire was spreading quickly.

But by this point, the curse of the black axe took complete hold of Avil. Once the masked assassin had disappeared again, Avil was in such a maddened rage that he could not tell friend from foe, and he went completely berserk. He turned his draconic rage onto the party and suddenly attacked Aeron with wild swings from the black-iron axe, but he missed badly. Miriel distracted the rampaging dragonborn with a shot right into his chest. Avil charged the elfmaiden with all his fury and unleashed a pair of vicious axe blows that nearly cut Miriel in half. Only the intercession of Arcturus with his devastating death touch saved Miriel from being hacked to pieces. Unfortunately for Avil, the final judgement of the Hand Of Kelemvor is absolute, and the dragonborn barbarian was reduced to naught but dust.

Arcturus then took advantage of the fog cover to revivify Aerith and quickly briefed him on the current situation. Aerith shadowstepped into the rafters directly above, made sure there was no immediate danger, and then took a moment to recover from his recent ordeal. The smoke up there was becoming more and more prevalent, as the Ladyhouse was now half engulfed in flames as the fire approached where most of the party was. With no good targets, and not much for them to do, Toggel and Furious flew to see if they could help Varia at the front line with the gnoll situation.

Bree warned the party that the temple also had underground grain stores, and if they should ignite the whole building could go. But she also mentioned that there could be powerful sacred items that need to be recovered. Aeron volunteered to go deeper into the burning temple to see what he could recover. Aerith, instead, began his pursuit of the assassins, who by now had fled the building they had set aflame.

Meanwhile, south of Corm Orp, Varia and the gnolls she had convinced to turn against their tribe had caught up to the massive gnoll warband and clashed. Varia’s tactically placed Wall Of Fire spells combined with her ability to whip the gnolls loyal to her to a savage fervor, and her use of the Fear spell, made it impossible for her foes to reach her. Toggel arrived on Furious in time to provide close air support on the battlefield against the remaining gnoll tribe Betas, who were attempting to get to Varia. But the White Fury and Black Howler Betas were forced to flee, while the Red Fang Beta was incinerated by Varia’s abyssal sorcery. At that point, with no gnoll leadership, the battlefield became a free-for-all brawl with every gnoll fighting for himself for supremacy over the tribe. Toggel had Furious pick up Varia, and they watched the ensuing carnage from a safe distance.

Back by the burning temple to Sheela Peryroyl, Aerith was on the trail of the assassins while Aeron was searching as best as he could for the items described by Bree in the burning temple itself. Suddenly a small explosion, then a bigger one. Aeron had to escape before it was too late. CRASH!! A burning rafter fell on top of the elf, trapping him in the doomed building. With all of his barbarian might, Aeron shoved the flaming timber off of himself, and got to his feet. Arcturus was waiting by the entrance and cast some healing magic Aeron’s way to shore him up. The party got away from the building as fast as they could as the final grain store ignited and the whole temple exploded in a sunburst of fire and burning wood.

Toggel and Varia saw the explosion even as far away as they were. Toggel assured Varia that everything was alright and that making sure these gnolls were finished off was the more important concern. As the battlefield winnowed down to two bloody and battered gnolls … and then finally one, Furious swooped in low, allowing Toggel to finish the last standing gnoll of the horde off with a final shot.

Having no luck finding any trail of the dark-cloaked assassins, Aerith returned to the party members at what remained of the Ladyhouse. Somewhat singed, they all managed to survive the explosion. The temple, though, was a smoldering ruin. As Toggel, Varia, and Furious flew back to rejoin their companions. They saw from the sky that the glowing flames of the ruined temple formed a pattern that looked like the symbol of Cyric, The Dark Sun, burning itself into the earth.

Exhausted, burnt, and wounded, the party made their way back to the Hungry Halfling Inn. It still stood, as did the rest of Corm Orp, save the Ladyhouse. Not only did the party save the inhabitants, defeat the horde, and kill the last alpha, they managed to save the hamlet and all the homes therein. And so, after many days in the wilderness, facing incredible dangers, and even death, the party retired to the very comfortable beds of the Hungry Halfling Inn for a well deserved and well earned rest.

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Ghostaxe, The Last Alpha
Sunset Vale Saga #25
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The Destruction Of Corm Orp
Sunset Vale Saga #24

Aeron stood before Sahila in careful thought. Corm Orp was in danger. The gnoll horde led by Ghostaxe, the Last Alpha was moving towards the small hamlet. But he also had a new responsibility to consider.

Finally, he stated his choice of what type of druidic tradition he wished to follow. Sahila nodded and told him that he should go to the Circle Of Standing Stones. Arcturus had a vision of her mother, Shadra, there after drinking water from the Wellspring. If Aeron did the same, Shadra would be able to advise him on the proper rites of passage.

But first the party set out with Syl to investigate the Fey Crossroads depicted in etched relief on Aeron’s scimitars, and whereabouts of Filverus and the mysterious archer cloaked in white feathers seen protecting him. Aerith, set out on his own towards Corm Orp, as he could cover the great distance quickly and beat the gnolls there, warning the residents in time.

“Be safe, cousin,” Neiriel told Aerith. “Do not try to fight ”/wikis/Ghostaxe/new" class=“create-wiki-page-link”>Ghostaxe on your own."
“Only if I have to.” Neiriel gave Aerith a sending stone, and then he was off.

When the party arrived at the Fey Crossroads, they found a score of freshly killed Red Fang gnolls. All signs pointed to Filverus crossing safely into the Feywild, but apart from the white-fletched arrows sticking from the bodies of her victims, there was no sign of the mysterious bow-woman in white.

Using his newly acquired power over death, Arcturus spoke with one of the dead gnolls as best he could with Neiriel’s translations. The interrogation yielded some further intelligence to the party regarding the current movements of the gnoll tribes and Ghostaxe, the last Alpha.

The party made their way towards the Circle Of Standing Stones now, backtracking through the Guardian’s Grove as the sun began to set. When the party arrived, night had fallen. Everyone drank the sacred water from the Wellspring, but only a few could hold it long enough to see the vision of Shadra in their minds. The party explained to the vision the need to go to Corm Orp as soon as possible to save the residents of the hamlet from the gnoll horde bearing down on the unsuspecting village.

After Aeron proved his understanding of the connection all things have to each other in this world, Shadra explained to him the oldest form of cooperative magic in the Realms is within the Circle Of Standing Stones. With the help of his companions Arcturus, Neiriel, and Varia, Aeron was able to channel a powerful nature magic far beyond his normal capabilities to open a portal in a nearby tree that lead to another tree in Corm Orp. Quickly the party stepped through, finally parting ways with Syl.

The party arrived at a small fruit orchard near The Ladyhouse, the temple to the halfling goddess of nature, agriculture, music, and romance, Sheela Peryroyl. Neiriel contacted Aerith and let him know the party made it to Corm Orp. Aerith briefed Neiriel on the composition and the gnoll horde and their estimated numbers. Meanwhile, Arcturus and Toggel set off to rouse the residents, and the rest of the party found Old Lady Macanaster and informed her of the dire situation. She quickly summoned the mayor of Corm Orp, Dumar Marsk.

Lady Macanaster, Mayor Marsk, and the party evaluated the options and came to agree that a full evacuation south, following the base of the Sunset Mountains towards the ruins of Hluthvar was the safest option for the residents. Miriel was also able to convince Lady Macanaster to send a message to an old gnome wizard friend she knew in Hardbuckler, and have him teleport Bree Topplebottle and the giant mecha-eagle Furious directly to Corm Orp in order to assist.

Mayor Marsk informed the guards of the gnoll danger and the evacuation plan, and then dispatched them to inform the residents of both. After a few hours, the hundreds of families that called Corm Orp their home had packed themselves, their loved ones, and whatever valuables they could carry or cart. The party was given free leave of whatever they needed from the hamlet’s armory to defend the settlement or waylay the horde as they saw fit. Then without ceremony or circumstance, Lady Macanaster and Mayor Marsk led their fellow villagers into the dark foothills of the Sunset Mountains.

The hamlet was empty now, save for the brave adventurers willing to face Ghostaxe, the Last Alpha, and his horde.

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Requiem For Ryton
SVS Epilogue #1

San’dorial had returned to Skatterhawk Manor with the tragic tidings of Ryton Skatterhawk, heir of the noble house of Cormyr dead. He brought the desiccated body of the scion upon his very own shield to his parents. The mission was a failure. He and Ryton found no truly powerful weapon that could defeat the Netherese Empire. All San’dorial could present was a magic gold sword created by the wizard Qheldin. Powerful, to be sure, but nothing that could stand against the Shadovar.

All that meant little to Lord and Lady Skatterhawk at that moment.

Who is responsible for my son’s death?

San’dorial spoke up. The rumor was correct in that there is indeed a Netherese agent working in the Sunset Vale. His undead minions killed Ryton.

And with that, San’dorial told the assembled the basic events that transpired since he set out with Ryton.

Lord and Lady Skatterhawk were hiding their sorrow well. Nobles are well practised at hiding their true emotions. But Alastra Nightsong seemed more visibly shaken at the recounting of the story. Her sister, Nieriel, had fallen. What more, the mysterious woman Faerveren had returned from the mists of her family’s past.

Lady Skatterhawk’s somber elven voice broke through Alastra’s reeling mind.

It is my deepest sorrow that our child will never know their older brother. We can tell them how brave he was, but they will never truly know.

She placed her hand knowingly on her abdomen and held it there for a long moment. Then with her other hand, she dismissed the elven wizard and half-elf bard. San’dorial and Alastra bowed and left the audience room.

As they both walked down the manor hall, San’dorial spoke. Your sister is in over her head.

We are dealing with the Netherese. We are all in over our head.

You should get her out of there before it’s too late. You are her elder sister, no?

There is nothing more in this world that I want to do, San’dorial. But … I can’t. But what I will do is give my notice to Lord Aubrin. There is a debt now between my family and House Skatterhawk. If they will have me, I shall serve as governess to this last heir. I will make it so that child WILL know of Ryton’s bravery and noble sacrifice. I will burnish it into their heart.

San’dorial seemed perplexed. You would give up your trusted place in a great Cormyrean noble house for this unborn child, but not raise a finger to help your own sister?

I do not expect you to understand. I have already done too much to help my little sister as it stands. Any more and I risk my family. Again, I do not expect you to understand. But my honor as a Daleswoman, and as a Nightsong tells me I owe the Skatterhawks. My sister lives while their son died. I shall serve their house from now on to repay that debt.

San’dorial waved both of his hands in the air as if to surrender. Clearly half-elven foolishness is truly without limit. I shall return home in the morning. Dealing with humans and halfbreeds is giving me a headache. Goodnight.

And with that, San’dorial entered his guest quarters and left Alastra alone in the hall. She took a few steps toward her guest room, braced her back against the wall, slumped down, and cried.

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Return To The Wellspring
Sunset Vale Saga #23

Come home sister.
You belong with us, sister.
You are not yourself.
You are no one …

Neiriel woke up from her nightmare with a stifled gasp. She was back in the cave which used to be the lair of the Mother Of All Hunger. The party had made camp here after defeating Shadoweye, the Black Howler Alpha earlier that day in this very same cave.

Aerith asked what was wrong and Neiriel told him the nightmare she just had. Though it was completely different than the nightmares he used to experience, Aerith felt there was a commonality that he just couldn’t quite put his finger on.

As the night went on, all concerns of nightmares were brushed aside when Adros strode in from the back of the cave.

Shadoweye, have you dealt with that group of … oh, well hello there.

Adros seemed surprised that the party was there, and not Shadoweye. He assumed correctly that Shadoweye was dead, and seemed to lament that the details of his plan to destroy Hill’s Edge was slowly becoming unraveled. He also non-nonchalantly revealed that he was working on behalf of the Netherese Empire, though he did not say to what ultimate goal. He did bemoan that now that the gnolls have one singular Alpha to lead them, they would be harder to keep under control. He considered that thought for a moment, then his form dissipated into illusionary wisps of magic and shadow. Adros was never really there to begin with.

The party realized that Adros knew where they were, and as dawn approached they made preparations to break camp. As morning came, a message from Bree in Hill’s Edge came to focus in Miriel’s mind. Bree was getting worried about the situation in Hill’s Edge and wanted to know when the party would be able to get her. Toggel sent Furious to Hill’s Edge to pick up the halfling child-prodigy physician and take her to safety in Hardbuckler. The group then made their way as quickly as they could toward the Wellspring Of Serenity.

Once they got there, the party saw the remaining supplies of what was to be a gnome forward scouting base camp. They quickly restocked their supplies, and made sure to load up on extra waterskins to hold the sacred waters from the Wellspring. Neiriel and Aeron flew down into the Wellspring’s grotto on Elsa and found Sahila swimming quite naked in the beautiful blue waters. Syl quickly followed by way of teleporting herself into the grotto’s central tree.

Glad to see them all, especially Syl, Sahila quickly got dressed for her guests and Aeron told her everything that transpired since he started journeying with the party up until that point. Sahila was saddened by the loss of life, but heartened by the news of Shadoweye’s demise and the presence of Fey in the woods after so long.

Neiriel and Aeron asked Sahila a series questions and had her use the Seeing Waters of the Wellspring to scry on Adros, Bree, San’dorial, Nieriel’s family, the location depicted on Aeron’s scimitars, and the last gnoll alpha, Ghostaxe, who had amassed his horde of gnolls at the edge of the Reaching Woods eight hours away from the hamlet of Corm Orp.

Aeron needed to progress in understanding his new druid abilities. Sahila asked Syl to bring a nearby herd of elk to the Guardian’s Grove, and told Aeron he needed to run with the herd. Trying to keep up with the herd triggered his Wild Shape, and Elk-Aeron led the herd for several minutes before reverting to his normal elf form and letting the herd wander once more.

Once Aeron returned to Sahila, she asked him which druid circle tradition he will carry on. This final choice is perhaps the most pivotal of his life, and Aeron took a careful moment to think on the ramifications.

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The Cave of Wonders
Sunset Vale Saga #22

The party broke camp to prepare for their long journey north. The dryad Aeron had named Syl accompanied them flitting from tree to tree almost like a giddy ghost, just happy to be alive.

On their way to the Lair of the Mother Of All Hunger, the party sought out one of the springs that Sahila had told may have become foul. There they found a dead gnome woman floating in putrefied water. Arcturus warned the party that pools like these are the source of the Cackle Fever. Varia used her magic and innate immunity to disease to retrieve the body while Miriel used one of the vials of holy water that Sahila provided them to purify the pool. Toggel recognized the gnome woman as Kasryn, one of the gnome scouts from the second scout team out of Hardbuckler that helped him rescue Arcturus from Ethylene and Shadoweye, the Black Howler Alpha.

Arcturus cast Speak With Dead to find out what Kasryn knew. She told the party that she was run down and killed by black-furred gnolls south of the prison camp that they assaulted to rescue Arcturus. The party then buried Kasryn in the forest not too far off, and continued on their way.

Not long after that, the party came upon a large overgrown depression filled with old barrels, kegs, and bottles. In the middle of it, asleep and snoring loudly, was a obnoxious smelling satyr. Varia retrieved the fey creature and determined that it was alive, though deeply unconscious for at least 2 years. Varia revived the creature, who introduced himself as Filverus. Filverus then told the party how he came to the woods at that particular spot to “entertain” one of the ladies from Qheldin’s Mask. It seemed as though satyrs did this frequently, and that the leader of Qheldin’s Mask, a woman named Moyia, deeply disapproved of the behavior.

Filverus knew little of the gnolls other than that they lived in a village in the northeast portion of the woods, and that he kept away from that part. He also did not know that Qheldin’s Mask was essentially destroyed by the gnolls. After discovering that the dryad Syl was with the party, Filverus got rather anxious to return to his home, Glimmermoon, in the Feywild. He gathered his pipes, and a lodestone that glowed when pointed towards the fey crossroad leading to the Feywild. Filverus then set off for home to get himself cleaned up. His only parting advice was, Do not mix the Jhuild with the Tangor! It will knock you right out!

The party was once again moving towards the lair of the Mother Of All Hunger. Soon they came to the desolate part of the forest that they knew surrounded her lair. Toggel and Furious kept a sharp eye out for movement from the air, while Neiriel, Aeron, and Miriel moved ahead to scout out the entrance to the cave. Seeing no signs of activity, they made their way into the lair. As they proceeded in,they noticed that it was unusually dark and hard to see in the cave, even with their intrinsic darkvision. They realized that only magical darkness could obscure their sight so completely.

Suddenly there was a thunderous rumbling, and the entrance to the cave collapsed, sealing the three scouts in. It took a moment for them to realize what has happened. Then they heard a chortling laugh from deeper in the cave. The trap was sprung! Meanwhile, the other party members rushed to the now collapsed cave entrance and began to dig and blast their way through the rock and earth debris, desperate to get through to their comrades.

On the other side of the rock wall, a pitched battle in the darkness was underway. Energy bolts from out of nowhere slammed into Aeron. Neiriel unleashed the fury of Isenbight, hitting her mark even in the darkness. Miriel hid as best she could, taking whatever opportunist shots she thought possible at their unknown assailant. A growling feral voice came from the darkness.

Adventurers. They always come back for the treasure. And then it laughed.

And then there was pain. Excruciating pain across Neiriel’s arm and side as three unseen spiked flail heads slammed into her. She almost buckled under the sheer pain, but stood strong. Aeron moved to tackle the source of the bestial voice, only to find himself thrown aside and then painfully pummeled into a stupor, the flail heads wrapped around his limp neck.

Suddenly, there is a brilliant flash of light in the cave. Arcturus, Aerith, Toggel, Varia and the giant mecha-eagle Furious managed to dig through a small portion of the rubble, and Varia was able to thrust her Gem of Brightness through the opening and fire off a brief cone of bright light into it. What she and Neiriel were able to see was a massive black-furred gnoll in a top hat, dangling the limp form of Aeron from a 3-headed flail like a puppeteer, laughing triumphantly all the while. Through her dark magic, Varia instantly willed herself behind the Black Howler Alpha, Shadoweye. And then the impenetrable darkness returned.

Neiriel felt around the collapsed entrance and found the hole. Escape was possible, but probably not the wisest move. She quickly grabbed the Ruby Elemental Gem Of Fire and shattered it on the ground, releasing an elemental spirit of purest flame in the inky blackness of the cave. It quickly moved to attack Shadoweye, and burned the Black Howler Alpha severely. Shadoweye furiously lashed out with his pain-flail at the Fire Elemental, but the more he struck it, the more it burned him.

Varia used the Gem Of Brightness again, this time she created a dome of light that held back the darkness and allowed everyone to finally see what was going on inside the cave. At the same time, by once again combining her dark sorcery with her holy magics, Varia revived Aeron. Now conscious, able to see, and freed of Shadoweye’s painful flail, Aeron moved himself to safety within the cave.

The hole was big enough now for Arcturus and Toggel to scurry through. Toggel let loose a blast of of colorful language as well as a thunderous shot from his cannon at the Black Howler Alpha. Shadoweye was now bloodied and burnt, but still standing. He would have made his escape, and teleported to safety then and there but for the deathly hand of Arcturus reaching out and snuffing out the very life from the Black Howler Alpha. A terrified Shadoweye howled his last howl in pain, and then crumbled to dust.

After a brief investigation, the party discovered the source of the magical darkness inside the cave. Six magicked human skulls radiated the dark illusion magic and Varia proceeded to crush each one under boot. With being late in the afternoon and nightfall approaching in but a couple hours, the party began making preparations to camp in the cave. The taste of victory over their foe was fresh and satisfying.

Magic Items Acquired:
(2) Feywild Lodestones
(1) Silver Circlet Of Brilliant Leadership

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A Game Of Gnomes And Shadows
Sunset Vale Saga #21

It began to rain as Neiriel woke to consciousness and opened her eyes to see the gnome called Toggel take his weapon and blow the back of Arcturus’s head out.

Varia drew her rapier, What is the meaning of this?!

It will be fine. He’ll be back in a moment. He always comes back.

Aeron returned to the clearing, just as there was a dark flash and a black orb of energy surrounded Arcturus’s body. The rain bent around the ominous sphere, as if repelled by whatever was inside. Finally, it dissipated in a whirlwind of gray energy, leaving only Arcturus, as he was before he arrived … except this time he is clutching the Scales of Final Judgement, the holy symbol of Kelemvor, Judge of the Dead.

I do not think Svelvara likes me.

With Arcturus looking none the worse for his ordeal, Aeron returned, and Neiri recovered, Miri confronted Ziv on his actions that brought about the calamitous fight. He revealed everything of his past with his family as Aerith Malveen, his life as a slave in the Shadowfell to the Shar-worshipping Netherese, his escape back to Toril, and the discovery of his true heritage as an aasimar. That’s when Toggel explained the basic history of the Netherese to the party. But Toggel had a confession too.

Arcturus … I met a girl while I was away. It delayed me getting back.

Aeron also revealed his own personal revelation and his re-commitment to ridding the forest of the gnolls. We need an alpha. We need a leader.

The rest of the party was open to discussing the idea, but did not come to a consensus. They instead agreed to move towards the safety of the shrine of Mystra and camped there, where they would be warded against any undead.

As the party camped, the mechanical bird Furious kept watch in the sky, Aerith scouted the perimeter keeping watch out for any more undead wraith women, which there were. But the faceless specters kept their distance from the shrine. Meanwhile, Varia summoned a celestial steed, the winged lioness Elsa, to her side to aid her in her campaign against evil. All the while Miri studied her mother’s spellbook, and discovered she could adapt the magic to her own use, but slowly. As she was, Miri started receiving mental messages from Bree in Hill’s Edge. Things were not going well with the Cackle Fever epidemic, and she wished to meet up with the party outside the city to get their help. However, the quarantine would make that almost impossible unless they found another way in. The party agreed that heading to Hill’s Edge looking for signs of gnolls along the way would be as good a plan as any.

When dawn arrived, a curious young dryad approached the sleepy camp. Aeron and Miri were awake and Aeron met the dryad. She seemed young and flighty and just amazed with being alive in the woods. She also had no memory of anything really, as she was only born a few hours ago from the tree that dead Jordan was buried at the root of. Aeron decided to wander with her to her home oak tree, where she presented him with the White Pearl of Power and the Sapphire Elemental Gem Of Air that was once Jordan’s. Aeron decided to name the fey dryad Syl, to which she agreed.

Meanwhile, Miri got worried about what was taking Aeron so long to get back and enlisted Neiri to help find him. After about an hour, they found him returning back to the shrine with Sil following behind happily. That party decided at that point to leave the shrine of Mystra and work their way north through the Reaching Woods towards Hill’s Edge, first stopping by the former lair of the Mother Of All Hunger, and then to head to the Wellspring Of Serenity. And with that the party broke camp to prepare for their long journey north.

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Dance With The Dead
Sunset Vale Saga #20

Six shadowy, wraith-like, faceless female forms approached from the direction of Qheldin’s Mask, commanded by an unknown force.
Ryton was poisoned, sickened, wounded, and weakened as he stood against a giant four-armed Nightwalker and its undead shadow slaves. Aeron had withdrawn, badly wounded and weakened from fighting another giant four-armed Nightwalker and its shadow minions. Jordan in her dire wolf form weathered the most brutal attacks, but was still poisoned, sickened, and helplessly restrained by tendrils of shadow. Varia and San’dorial were imprisoned in a cube of force by her brilliant and murderous brother, Adros. Neiriel and Miriel were moving freely and still alive, though Miriel was badly wounded. Aerith had taken flight, sprouting radiant wings, and was holding his own, fighting like a furious angel against one of the Nightwalkers. Of those that the party attacked, the green-cloaked Ethylene was down either dead or dying. Cyran had already been killed by Aerith, but his body had disappeared. And Adros, the real Adros, was nowhere to be found.
That is until Miriel found Adros … right behind her. Before she could suitably react, Adros encased her in a sphere of force and then casually approached the cube with his other prisoners. Meanwhile, the six shadowy, wraith-like, faceless female forms had surrounded Neiriel and reached out towards her. The place where their faces should have been glowed an eerie gray glow and Neiriel felt something being drained from her like sand poured through a sieve. To her horror, she saw the faceless she-wraiths that attacked her start taking her appearance as her own features became dull and faded. Thinking quickly, Aeron shattered the Diamond Elemental Gem Of Earth he possessed, and a massive creature of earth and rock sprung from the ground and moved to engage the faceless wraith women. Aerith had dispatched the Nightwalker he was fighting back to oblivion and engaged the second Nightwalker, which had just gutted Ryton unceremoniously and swatted down his bloodhawk companion, Nyx. But with the demise of the first Nightwalker, dire wolf Jordan was freed from her shadowy restraints and recovered from her maladies in short order. Quickly, she moved to engage the second Nightwalker, even as the surrounding shadows feasted on what little strength remained in Ryton’s body, devouring it until naught but skin and bone and darkness remained.
Suddenly there was a thunderous BOOM! and the second Nightwalker staggered back. In the sky was a giant eagle closing in fast. In its clutches hung a platform with the figure of a person on it. The giant eagle circled the clearing, and then the figure, a man in dark iridescent armor, jumped down towards the remaining Nightwalker, blade in one hand, crossbow in the other. Arcturus Hellsbane plummeted towards the giant creature of death and darkness, ready to send it back to the shadows. But the speed at which Arcturus fell threw off his swing and he missed his mark, bouncing helplessly against the Nightwalker’s immense form and landing with a bone-cracking THUD on the forest floor. Dire wolf Jordan charged in to distract the giant monster, but once again was seized by the shadowy tendrils surrounding the creature and held fast in place as the Nightwalker took one of its massive clawed hands and cut down Arcturus.
Then … an agonizing scream of pain. Neiriel. The she-wraiths were still upon her. Though the Earth Elemental stopped a couple of them, enough got past it to once again surround Neiriel and take what they came for. Helpless against their assault, Neiriel’s scream faded to nothing as her faceless body fell to the ground. Aerith, hearing the scream and seeing his kin fall to the ground, bore down like a bright arrow in the night sky towards the wraith women that surrounded Neiriel. Likewise, a furious Aeron sliced his way towards Neiriel’s body while his Earth Elemental continued to pummel the she-wraiths into the forest floor. All the while, dire wolf Jordan, held fast by the shadow tendrils and unable to retreat or flee, felt the full onslaught of the Nightwalker as it ripped at her wolf form until it gave way.
BOOM! Another shot could be heard from the giant eagle. The Nightwalker stumbled, and then slowly dissipated into wisps of darkness as it toppled, unable to withstand the barrage from the giant bird, wait … no. On closer inspection there was a rider on that bird, with a hand cannon hoisted at his side. Toggel Thunderwhistle had been the instrument of the Nightwalker’s downfall. But it was for naught. Even as the Nightwalker’s shadow tendrils vanished and released Jordan’s now elvish form, she was surrounded by hungry shadows, and a new one had arisen from the emaciated body of Ryton, hungriest of all. Another scream, this time of Jordan, as the shadows plunged their inky fists into her very soul and drained all the strength from her. She fell as the shadows swarmed over her body feeding incessantly until there was just the frail and brittle body of a dead elf girl in the dark. Meanwhile, Aerith and Aeron dispatched the remaining face-stealing wraith women, who all looked just like Neiriel now.
Satisfied that he had made his point, but disappointed that most of his pets had been vanquished, Adros summoned up a steed of shadow and rode to the prostrate form of Ethylene. “Get up, Ethyl. I do not think your game is going to work. Time to go.” She took Adros’s hand, having realized he was probably right, and mounted his shadow steed and sat herself behind him. But before Adros and Ethylene could make their leisurely exit, a tidal wave of water crashed into them, the phantom steed, and the surrounding shadows. San’dorial had teleported free from the cubic force prison, leaving Varia behind, and unleashed a torrent of water at Adros and his remaining allies. The phantom steed vanished, and its riders dropped onto the now wet forest floor. Aerith was on Adros immediately and struck him across the temples of his head, stunning him. The gravity of the situation sank into Ethylene and she quickly cast a spell that brought Adros back to his senses. Seeing that they were quickly becoming surrounded and outnumbered, Adros waved farewell to the surviving party members, then both he and Ethylene vanished with an audible POP!
Miriel found herself released from her spherical prison, just in time to see the shadow of Jordan’s corrupted spirit arise from her dessicated body, and Aeron angrily and tearfully shred the evil shadow of Jordan with his scimitars until there was nothing left. Meanwhile, Aerith cradled the faceless head of Neiriel in his lap as he desperately poured every bit of healing energy he had into her limp and nearly lifeless form. With all the foes vanquished, Toggel landed his mount, a mechanical construct shaped in the form of a giant eagle, and quickly moved to his friend Arcturus’s fallen body. And though Arcturus’s body was there, his spirit was elsewhere.
“I am ”/characters/svelvara" class=“wiki-content-link”>Svelvara, Chooser of the Slain." a dark-winged seraph spoke to Arcturus’s spirit. “Kelemvor, Judge of the Dead bid me to come and give you a choice.”


“The choice is made,” the dark seraph spoke, but no mortal would hear. An eerie blue light encompassed Arcturus’s body, and when it faded his skin was blue, but he was breathing and still alive, clutching a gold coin. Likewise, Neiriel seemed to begin her recovery as her facial feature slowly started returning and she took a breath. Meanwhile, Varia still remained in her cubic prison as Aeron took the body of his kin, Jordan, and walked of into the forest alone carrying her.
“I am done here,” San’dorial said with ultimate finality. He then summoned an invisible servant to carry the frail and lifeless body of Ryton away towards the forest. He then took the critically wounded bird Nyx into his arms like a sleeping baby. As he left, he turned to Miriel, and in Elvish said to her, “These people do not care about you. If you stay here, they will get you killed. Come home.” And with that he walked off into the forest night.
The party remained in stunned silence for who knows how long, until Varia’s prison finally vanished and she embraced Miriel with a tearful hug. Arcturus awoke also at that time, blue-skinned, golden-eyed, and sporting a long blue tail.
“What happened to you?”, Toggel asked.
“It’s a long story,” Arcturus answered.
Meawhile …
Deeper in the forest, in the shadow of an old oak tree, Aeron Oakstaff laid the necrotic body of his cousin, Jordan Oakstaff, into the earth. He performed the druidic funerary rites as best he could remember from watching the old druids who had took him in so many years before. At the end, Aeron fashioned a thorn armband and put it on as he began a dark and primal vow, intending to seal it with his own blood. Just then, a deep elvish voice from just beyond Aeron’s night vision spoke to him. It said, “Would you give up the inner peace of the ancient animal spirits for …. vengeance?” Aeron answered, “I would do anything to see those responsible brought to swift justice.”
The deep elvish voice continued. "These are the final days — the signs are clear: the Sundering of the World comes. These “hyenas” have slaughtered the beasts, destroyed the trees, poisoned the water, and murdered both kin and kith. Now, the Dark Hunger rises to devour the Moon, hunting the hunters. There is no garden to which you can flee. There is nowhere to hide. The Sundering is upon us — when will you Rage??"
At that, Aeron’s thorn cilice tightened painfully around his arm, almost growing in length as it dug and grew into his flesh. A sheet of his elven blood now coated the lower half of his arm, dripping from his fingertips. The pain immediately hurled Aeron into his primal rage. He let loose a mighty roar, and channeled his rage as he had never done before. “I WILL RAGE UNTIL THOSE RESPONSIBLE ANSWER FOR THEIR CRIMES IN BLOOD!”
Then a voice, like leaves in the wind answered Aeron’s bloody cry. “Then … bleed out and die, Aeron of the Or-Tel’Quessir. For you and your people’s complacency is responsible.” This voice was different from the other one. It sounded feminine, and though it was low and soft, it cut through Aeron’s raving roar as sure as one of his scimitars. The female Voice of Leaves then seemed to grow harsh, like the angry rustling of dry autumn leaves in the wind. “Withdraw ”/wikis/Fenmarel/new" class=“create-wiki-page-link”>Fenmarel Lone Wolf! I entrusted my woods to your people, and their insular isolation and haughty arrogance has brought their own doom. I will see if this one chooses to follow suit." Then the Voice of Leaves tone became soft. “So Aeron of the Or-Tel’Quessir, do you truly wish justice visited on those responsible?” Aeron answered, “Justice is the only thing I want, stranger, but I must do so following the path taught to me by the druids of my circle. To do otherwise would be a betrayal of their memory.” The Voice of Leaves responded, “Then, be very careful when you ask for justice … mercy might be safer.”
At that, Aeron’s thorn cilice ceased its tightening and loosened. “And I am no stranger to you, Aeron. I was there when you were born. I have protected, and fed, and sheltered you from that day to now. Aeron is he born from a sea of trees,” the Voice of Leaves whispered. “You know of my family?” Aeron asked. “The memory of the trees are long. That Old Fey Oak ”/wikis/Rillifane/new" class=“create-wiki-page-link”>Rillifane was wise to have favored your line." Aeron’s response was skeptical. “I did not know the Lord of Leaves placed his blessing on my family. Who are you to know of such things?”, he asked. “I am the spirit of all forests. You are as much my child as you are Old Fey Rillifane’s.” answered the Voice of Leaves. “Most mortals call upon me as ”/wikis/Mielikki/new" class=“create-wiki-page-link”>Mielikki."


’Now the Circle completes again", Mielikki spoke with finality.
“I will not fail you, Leaflord, nor you, Forest Queen.”
And with that, Aeron began to stride back to his companions with renewed purpose in his heart, body, and soul.

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