Our party started by the hidden shrine to Mystra just outside the ruined village of Qheldin’s Mask. They had just witnessed and participated in the release of the goddess Eilistraee from the Weave with the help of a dark elf calling herself Faerveren, and the destruction of Varia’s soul-forged dagger at the cost of her right hand. Varia was passed out from the exertion, and Miriel was still woozy from the whole experience.
The party decided it was best to seek safety and make camp in Qheldin’s Crypt to the north of the ruined village. With Aeron carrying the unconscious form of Varia, most of the party made their way there. San’dorial decided to stay behind and investigate the shrine to Mystra further.
Upon arriving at Qheldin’s Crypt, the party discovered warning inscriptions on the walls of the sarcophagus chamber, reconsidered making camp there, and then left to make camp in a clearing halfway between the crypt and the shrine that was slightly away from the village. Ryton went on further towards the shrine to let San’dorial know, and they discussed whether or not to leave the party and decided that leaving may be best. San’dorial was taking detailed notes of the inscriptions on the shrine’s concentric circular floor and surrounding pillars when Ryton left to return to the camp. After Ryton left, San’dorial discovered that the shrine reacts to magic cast within it. Certain concentric circles and pillars glowed when certain spells were cast.
Meanwhile back at camp, Varia returned to consciousness quite serene. Happy with the destruction of the dagger, she conjured new spectral hand and placed it on the stump of her wrist where here old hand used to be.
This is a worthy sacrifice.
After taking a several hours of rest, and San’dorial having rejoined the main group, the party discussed what they knew of the Netheresse Empire and the shadovar. As night fell, the consensus was for the party to teleport to The Halfway Inn outside of Evereska and consult with Neiriel’s grandmother, the venerable elf Lialeth Nightstar about the current situation.
Just as San’dorial was finishing up the teleportation spell, a group of three figures approached the camp from the night-shrouded Reaching Woods. Varia recognized one of them as her banished murderous brother, the alchemist and necromancer Adros Marwood. With him was a green-cloaked woman with dark hair and shadowy eyes that Adros called Ethylene. Accompanying them both was an old acquaintance of Aerith, a monk by appearance. Simply called Cyran by Adros, Aerith immediately moved to attack him, and the two groups clashed.
Outnumbered 8 to 3, Adros and his two companions seemed to be at a terrifying disadvantage. Cyran was truly overwhelmed by Aerith’s assault, not even being able to get three words out of his mouth before it being smashed shut by a blow from Aerith’s staff, fist, or foot. Cyran quickly fell to the focused, forceful, and relentless strikes of the party.
Ethylene was more annoyed at the situation than anything else, and fared little better than Cyran as a barrage of attacks came at her from almost all sides. She was able to call upon the powers of some dark god to sicken both Ryton Skatterhawk and the dire wolf-shaped Jordan. However, the violently incensed Aeron, last of the Sy’Tel-Quessir of the Reaching Woods, could not be so easily afflicted. Even as the green-clad woman rained viscous globs of poison on them all, the spirit ranger held his ground and dealt back what he got three-fold.
Meanwhile, Adros revealed that he somehow had a hand in all the calamity and chaos that had recently befallen the Sunset Vale. He also believed that Varia was still working for his former father, the High Priest of Cyric in the plague-ridden city of Hill’s Edge, and that his sister must be captured and interrogated at all costs to ensure his plan’s success. Neiriel was having none of it though, and quickly shot an ice arrow …
through an illusion of Adros!
Miriel quickly scanned the tree-line all around and discovered the rather poorly hidden form of Adros leaned against a tree, watching everything. She quickly let fly a crossbow bolt that sank into the wizard’s body, and shouted Behind!
Adros finished his spell. Varia and San’dorial were suddenly imprisoned in a cube of pure force energy, unable to escape. San’dorial cleverly established a magical private sanctum within the force prison that prevented anyone from seeing what was happening inside it.
Though Varia and San’dorial appear to be effectively taken out of the fight, the cost to Adros was severe, as Neiriel and Miriel unleashed volley after volley upon the wizard. Each crossbow bolt and ice arrow piercing deeply. Adros was felled easily by the combine might of the two bow-women.
Aerith knew what these creatures were, and the deadly danger they posed. He shadowshifted himself into the fray and summoned up all the energy of his lost angelic heritage into himself. His eyes burned with white fire and wings of glowing white energy sprang forth from his back. The ebony giants thrust their clawed fists into the earth. The ground convulsed and vomited forth shadow creatures that attacked. The shadows of the surrounding trees themselves came alive with malefic intent and grasped at the dire wolf form of Jordan, restraining her. Aerith unleashed a flurry of strikes on one of the giant Nightwalkers, staggering it.
Ethylene had finally fallen in combat with the party. On the other side of the clearing, Miriel went to inspect the body of Adros and found not the wizard, but a simulacrum duplicate made from snow and ice that was slowly melting.
Suddenly, a bolt of deadly necrotic energy shot at her from out of the forest, nearly killing her. But she held on, though gravely wounded. It was a trap. Miriel cursed under her breath and made her way towards the main fray with the two Nightwalkers. As she passed the spot where Cyran was slain by Aerith, she noticed the body of the monk was gone. She cursed under her breath again. Someone was playing a deadly game with them, and she didn’t like it.
Meanwhile, the soul-sucking shadows and their giant masters had turned the tide against the party. Ryton was poisoned, sickened, wounded, and weakened. Aeron had to pull out of the fray, also badly wounded and weakened. 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 still imprisoned. Neiriel and Miriel were moving freely and still alive … though Miri not by much. Aerith was holding his own, fighting like a furious angel against the shadow; a lone light against this tide of darkness.
But how long could he last?? How long could any of them last?? And where was the real Adros??
As those questioned lingered, six shadowy, wraith-like, faceless female forms approached from the direction of Qheldin’s Mask, commanded by an unknown force.