The Poisoned Feast

Session 2 - Maximus Departs

Maximus and Reverence stood a few feet apart, glaring at each other with their arms crossed. The skeleton laid lifeless behind Reverence, her spell long since faded. Raelyn was at the top of the stairs, inspecting the door. She had deduced thus far that it was protected by some sort of spell, likely from the Meloran Sigil, and that any glance (even a strong one such as her Eldritch Blast) simply bounced off it. They couldn’t even scratch the thing.

Mat sat against a wall on the other side of the room from the skeleton, staring suspiciously. Maximus spoke gruffly. “You’ll not use that foul magic in my presence again, priestess.”

“I’ll do exactly as I see fit.”

“If you conjure the dead again I will be forced to deal with you.”

“You’d do well to respect my polite dissent.”

Maximus’ face went red and he turned to Raelyn. “You understand the dangers of such heresy, do you not, Elf?”

Raelyn came down from the stairs, dusting off her robes absentmindedly. “That reminds me, I’ve been meaning to tell you I’m actually only one-half elf.” Maximus’ rage faltered for a minute. His club arm, solid wood a few moments ago, flickered for a few seconds before solidifying again. Mat chimed in from across the room.

“I’m with the Weeping Willow, I’d rather not see the skeleton move again.”

Reverence rolled her eyes, “It’s a completely harmless spell. It doesn’t even truly reanimate a corpse, it only opens a line of communication between my spirit and theirs.” Mat looked at her, horrified.

“WHY WOULD YOU WANT THAT?!”

Raelyn shushed him, “We’re in an enclosed space. There’s no need for shouting.”

“The black magic remains unused, that’s the end of this,” said Maximus.

“I will use it if I want to, and that is the end of this,” responded Reverence. The paladin began to retort again but she interrupted him. “Can anybody think of a way out?”

They all shook their head, even Maximus, and sat in silence. They mulled for a long time, suggesting various spells or attempting to tunnel only to be met with hard stone a few inches underneath the dirt they stood on. They eventually gave up, resigning themselves to being trapped, and began to talk. Nothing of great import, myths and legends from their respective hometowns largely.

As Mat sat mostly silent, unable to understand the references of beasts or regional tales, he thought he heard the sound of a young girl. From his vantage point almost in the corner of the room it was apparent to him that there was no one but them in this cellar. Yet still there came the harrumphing of a child, as if from inside his own head.

After three or four instances of this, and a particularly pronounced grumble, Mat focused his mind and, as strange as it was for him to do, thought to himself: “Yes?”

The response that came was quite uppity, with a hint of indignation. “You hurt that man.”

Entirely sure he was now going completely insane, Mat decided he had nothing better to do than play along. “The man who threatened to murder us all if we didn’t give ourselves up? That man?”

“Yes!”

“I’m fairly certain if violence were ever justified, that would be the situation.”

“Well I don’t appreciate mean men!” The sound of footsteps echoing away in his brain were followed by blissful silence. He reached up and rubbed his eyes with his thumb and index fingers, sighing lightly. This was it. This was how he finally went insane. In a basement with two witches and some guy who was one-quarter tree and three-quarters needing-to-chill-the-fuck-out.

After an hour or two Mat’s stomach growled. “Anyone happen to have any food with them?” he asked. Everyone shook their head, but Reverence raised her hand.

“I didn’t bring any but I can conjure quite a bit. It tastes very bland, though.”

“It can’t be that bad. I wish I’d thought to bring my spices with me.”

“Why would a person carry spices with them to a party?” Maximus asked.

“Yeah, that’s why I didn’t bring them,” said Mat, looking at Maximus like he was the weird one.

Reverence stood and cleared her throat, waving her hands in strange patterns in front of her as she spoke a fluid sounding spell. The air around them tingled on their skin for a moment and suddenly water seeped up from the dirt on the ground, filling the floor to about an inch. In the middle of the room a mound of pickled cabbage materialized, falling with a wet PLOP into the dirty standing water.

Mat blinked at the sauerkraut and then looked down at the water. “Was there not a better way to do this?”

Reverence huffed in exasperation. “I don’t get to choose what food appears and we have no vessel for the water. I’m sorry.”

Raelyn stepped toward the sauerkraut and tried a piece from the top of the pile. “It’s…not terrible. It’s not good either but it’s definitely food.” Mat begrudgingly trumped over to the pile and tried a piece, successfully swallowing without much difficulty.

They all picked at the food and barely made a dent, leaving it where it was. As they ate, they discussed their plans for once they’d escaped. The general consensus seemed to be that taking care of Evrett would usurp their plans to kill the king, at least initially, and then Reverence remembered their druidic friend.

“Balthazar! He’s still out there! I think I can try to communicate with him.”

“What good is he to us out there? Even if you can communicate he can’t very well one-man army his way into this compound,” argued Maximus.

“He can use me as a portal to go through the Fey, then through the Infernal, and into the room with us. Then he can take us all out back through the Fey. It’ll be difficult but I think I can help him.”

Mat rubbed his eyes, “Does anyone else feel like our lives would be a lot better if we just…didn’t do anything with magic? Not just us. Everybody.” Raelyn shushed him again.

Eager to be free of their dank prison, they all sat quietly as Reverence performed the powerful spell. She turned from them, facing the wall, and sat cross-legged, more for their benefit than hers. The magic involved could get fairly violent and her eyes turned a particularly ugly shade of murky gray while performing it. Her tail coiled around her like a cat and she began to chant.

Elsewhere, Balthazar had been trying to mend the many fractures of the Fey to no avail. He was realizing this was not something he could do by himself. They would need to convene a council if any meaningful repair was to be made. He was leaning against a tree, legs crossed and tail off to one side. The tip twitched every so often, his eyes closed and his mind blind to the physical world around him.

He heard someone calling a name. Not from the physical realm but from within the Fey. It rose above the cacophony of pain and joy and memory as a single, crisp call. He couldn’t quite make out the syllables, but he knew it wasn’t his own. He tried to reach for the caller, stretching himself further into the Fey only to be distracted by a sudden shouting in his ear.

“BALTHAZAR!”

It was Reverence. He could sense her tainted presence here within the Fey and they quickly communicated. She knew the dangers of what she was proposing and promised he could return to mending the Fey if he desired after he provided assistance. He agreed, knowing it would be better for him to take a break regardless, and pushed his consciousness into hers.

In the physical world his muscles flexed and his tail slapped the ground loudly, a few uncomfortable grumbles escaping from his throat. The transition was difficult because it was mind and body, rather than just the traditional mind. His physical essence was being torn from this realm, pushed through the Fey and into the Infernal.

When he finally opened his eyes he found himself in a very strange place. The sky was a pungent yellow with no sun apparent, a few red clouds dotting the far horizon. He stood alone in a field of black flowers with white centers, not unlike oddly colored daisies. Dark mountains rose to his left and the empty expanse of endless flowers flourished to his right. He reached out for the Fey and found his connection weak. He expected that, it did not worry him. What truly struck him was that the link between Reverence and himself was fading fast.

With force so sudden and strong is actually knocked Balthazar back a step, a hole in space ripped open in front of him, fire licking at its edge. Inside was a dimly light cellar. He saw his companions and a very familiar table. He quickly stepped through.

The room itself seemed to breathe a sigh of relief as Balthazar finally made it through to them. He looked down after feeling wetness on his feet, then spied the mound of sauerkraut. He looked at Mat, Maximus and Raelyn in turn. “What a strange way to feed one’s prisoner’s.”

“Nope,” said Mat. “That was the horned-one. She did it.”

Reverence remained transfixed, eyes still murky gray and mouth slightly agape. The portal had closed behind Balthazar but she didn’t seem to be breaking from the trance. The dragon-man turned and placed a hand on her shoulder, gently trying to shake her out of it. Raelyn’s face betrayed her and held strong in a state of concern. She had seen people lose themselves to these kinds of spells before. It was old magic, barely understood by those who studied it and attempted by very few.

Balthazar tried to shake her again and received no response. He was about to begin a spell of his own to attempt to break the trance when her body suddenly relaxed. She spoke quietly in monotone and her voice sounded layered, as if many versions of herself were saying the same thing at once.

“Move.”

By this point they had all gathered around her, curious and worried, and were not prepared for the shock wave. A new portal ripped open directly behind Reverence, reaching from floor to ceiling and no less than 5 feet wide. Everyone was thrown backward, Raelyn and Mat slamming into the wall while Maximus and Balthazar soared for a few feet before dropping into heavy heaps upon the ground. The familiar fire flapped at the edges of this portal and just as everyone was getting their wits about them a very imposing man in impossibly polished armor strode through. He bore the same sigil on his shoulder as Maximus and surveyed the room cautiously, short sword drawn. He spied Maximus standing from the floor and smiled like an old friend.

“Captain! We’ve come to save you.”

Maximus smirked and walked forward, clasping hands with his inferior. “Never left for the dead, eh?”

“We live to shine bright again!” They let go of each others hands and the new man looked at Maximus’ tree limb. “Neverwinter Nights, what foul wizardry is that?”

“A token from my travels. I’ll need status, my memory is hazy and I’ve been gone who knows how long.”

“Excuse me,” Mat tried to interject. They ignored him.

“One week, sir. Taken just before completion of the compound incursion. We’ve been looking high and low for you.” Maximus eyeballed the obviously infernal portal with a degree of disgust.

“Sergeant, tell me why we’re using Infernal magics. I thought we’d done away with them all.”

“Yessir. We took hostage one of Necromancer’s followers and promised a trial by Judge rather than Sword if he helped us locate you. He’s been looking for five days.”

“We’ve no time to waste then, let’s get going.”

“Uh, hey. Large men?” Mat stepped forward trying to interject. Maximus brushed him off.

“There is no time, drunkard. I’ve tarried long enough with you lot, I have to attend to my Oath and duties as a Neverwinter Paladin.”

“Okay, yeah, that’s fine. It’s just that we have no idea what’s happening.

Maximus took one step toward Mat, covering almost four feet, and grabbed him by the front of his shirt. He lifted him a good foot off the ground to bring Mat to his eye level. He spoke in a threatening growl, indicating his wooden arm. “Pray to your God I do not blame you all for this curse in my waning years.” He dropped Mat and turned away from them. His sergeant stepped through the portal and disappeared. Just before stepping through himself, he stopped. “You’d all do well to stop this evil, lest I be forced to do your job for you.”

With that he stepped through the portal, the hole closing with the sound of extinguishing flame. Reverence rocked forward and back once before falling to her side, finally free of the connection. Her eyes fluttered and returned to their normal state. A single trail of blood ran from her nose to her lip. She wiped it away as she stood and turned.

She was met with confused, insulted, pain-filled stares. Her stomach dropped. “What’d I do?”


With little incident, Balthazar managed to get them all through the Fey and back to the woods where he had just been. For the first time many of them got to experience the trip through dimensions, an unpleasant experience that was much like getting pulled through a garden hose by your belly button.

After a brief recapping of events for Reverence, no one seemed to want to discuss it further. They’d all had a long day and most of them could only concentrate on what a bed would feel like beneath them. They set out for the Prancing Pony and soon found themselves in its alley.

After a brief scouting by Mischief, they discovered that security was a little more tight than they had expected. Two guards stood by the front, and only, entrance to the Tavern & Inn, and a small group slowly patrolled the street. Balthazar thought quickly and laid out his plan for the others.

From the alleyway, Balthazar made his was conspicuously to the stairs leading up into the Pony. He was immediately stopped, just as he’d expected.

“No one’s allowed in or out,” said the guard on the left, the bigger of the two.

“Oh, really? Is there a curfew in effect?”

The guard looked at him like an idiot. “Always a curfew after the Festival. Everyone knows that.” It was then, somehow, he realized he was staring up at a seven-foot tall lizard-beast wearing modest robes. His disgust only grew. “’Cept for out-of-towners, I s’pose.”

As the three continued talking, both guards attention being grabbed quite expertly by Balthazar’s imposing presence, Mat successfully snuck behind the two armored bigots and made his way quietly inside. Reverence followed quickly in his path.

“My apologies, Gentlemen,” Balthazar continued. “You correctly guess that I am only stopping through. My ship has weighed anchor for a few days for supplies and I find it nice to stretch my legs. If you’ll excuse me I’ll be right in and out of your hair.”

Whether because they truly believed him or simply didn’t want to fist-fight a dragon, the two guards began to move out of the way just as Raelyn tried to slip past. She bumped into the smaller guard and he spun, grabbing her by the wrist. “And who’s this?!” came the man’s accusation.

She stammered, unsure and unable to come up with a convincing alibi. Balthazar came to her rescue.

“As I said, my ship has stopped for a few days and I like to stretch my legs. If you’ll excuse us, gentlemen, I promise we will be no bother.” The guards eyed him like he was holding a bloody knife. Judging by their slack jawed and dimwitted appearance, they were likely trying to discern the logistics of a half-elf and a dragon attempting to enjoy each others’ company.

They soon gave up.

Balthazar followed Raelyn and the Five soon found themselves in their own, private rooms upstairs. They each crawled into their beds, little better than hay but like a cloud to their weary bodies, and closed their eyes. Finally they could slip into unconsciousness of their own accord.

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Session 1 - The Blight Festival

The Five finally managed to reconvene an hour before sunset. The sun dipped low but still shined brightly upon the still-bustling port town of Eaglefell. The streets were more Orc than Human now, the latter having relegated themselves to their homes for the evening for relaxing or festivity preparation. Their enslaved Orcs were left to finish the day’s chores and errands. The party the Five were to attend, it seemed, was no small affair.

In the time between his meeting with the shady gentleman and the arrival of his new found companions, Mat had accomplished quite a bit. Chiefly he had drank much more than a moderate amount of beer, but more importantly he had learned quite a bit about The Blight Festival. He regaled his sober friends with the information he’d learned as they settled in around him.

Established over a century ago, The Blight Festival was intended to be a single party in celebration of the bicentennial of Doreni’s victory over the kingdom of Tuw. Thrown by an aging Great Grandfather of the current Blight, it brought people from all corners of the kingdom to the capital. The event, scheduled to last one night, ended two weeks later as the last dregs of well-wishers and party-goers finally packed up the lives they’d brought with them and returned home.

The small economic boom that happened in those two weeks for Eaglefell firmly planted its roots as the one true capital of Doreni, a title previously disputed between itself, a port town further north, and a small grass-fed town dead center in the kingdom. The coastal hamlet flourished and, hoping to build upon the success, the Great-Grandfather Blight threw a much grander festival the following year. He planned it to last for a full week to ensure it remained free of the logistical issues presented by the initial celebration.

It too was a rousing success and much more eloquently managed.

So the tradition was born with the festival being held the same week every year for half a century before Doreni fell on difficult times. Due to mismanagement by the then-King and rampant racial and social divide between the descendant slaves of Orc prisoners of war and the Humans, the most distant towns from Eaglefell collapsed first. Eventually conditions grew so grim that Eaglefell managed to somehow wall itself off from the rest of the kingdom. A rigid caste system was put in place, leaving only the wealthy and affluent (and their slaves) inside the city and the rest of the kingdom unattended to. The city had grown so large and sprawling, with an economy supported primarily by the ocean, that it quite effectively became a very small nation-state.

It was now ruled by King Melor, a man whose life motto amounted to ‘why fix what isn’t broken’. The Blight Festival was still held every year by the current Blight, a man named Evrett, but due to the drastic population decline once the city walled itself off the celebration lasted only one night and was attended exclusively by those with the most social and political pull.

“You said you had how many beers?” asked Raelyn.

“I’ve lost count, but I’ve been three times drunk and sober twice,” came Mats slurred reply.

“How did you remember all of that so easily with blood that is likely flammable?” Mat shrugged.

“Genetics.” He hiccuped happily and patted his belly.

“We will have to dress finely for this event. I’ve brought no proper vestments and I assume the same of you all. We would do well to make haste before the final shops close,” said Balthazar. Reverence brushed him off.

“I am always prepared,” she said and promptly pulled, as if from nowhere, a fine evening gown. She folded it gently and laid it on the table in front of her.

“Could you not have simply waited to summon it until you were ready to change?” questioned Maximus. She quickly redirected the conversation.

“Before we go, Maximus, you have not told us of the barracks. Did you find anything of note?”

“Little more than propaganda, the rank and file, military bedding and bland nosh.”

“What kind of propaganda?” asked Raelyn, genuinely interested. Maximus spat his answer in disgust.

“Peloran.”

Reverence and Balthazar shared a brief look of worry. They had decided on their journey to the Tavern to not yet inform their troupe of their own discoveries. They’d been queried upon arrival but had managed to deftly side-step the issue and redirect the conversation. It was a matter of morale and trust. They knew neither each other nor the others, and all information was privileged. Reverence recalled the scarecrow, warning against trusting anyone but her companions.

The problem was she couldn’t find a reason to trust these people either.

Balthazar broke the momentary silence that had fallen over their table. “You four will attend the festival. My devotion is first to nature and the Fey must be tended to.”

Raelyn, looking puzzled, asked, “What must be tended to about it? A plane of existence typically needs little—”

“You would do well, Elf, to know your own devotions and refrain from digging into others’,” Balthazar coldly replied. Raelyn blushed slightly and almost corrected him on his assumption of her race. Balthazar stood and left the table, leaving through a side door and disappearing into the woods beyond.

“Dragon-face needs a drink,” said Mat with a frustratingly empty pint.

“It is common knowledge that Druids are highly devoted to their cause, sometimes blindingly so,” advised Reverence. “How does his response surprise you?” Mat leaned forward and put his elbows on the table, hands open and fingers pointing across the table at her.

“Listen, I’m not from around here. Your magic makes me itch, your women all look the same, but your beer is strong like bull piss.”

“You’ve drank the urine of a bull?” laughed Maximus. “Surely it was a lost bet.”

“You do a lot of things growing up on a farm, oak-for-bones,” Mat said, eyeballing the towering fellow. Maximus’ face turned a little beet and he dropped his club-arm onto the table with a loud THUD.

“Oak is to wood what steel is to metal, farm boy.”

“Easily dismantled by the proper application of heat?”

Maximus stood up and pointed his club-arm at Mat, the bulbous end hanging in the air only a few inches from his temple. “You’d be wise to mind yourself in the presence of your superior.”

Mat leaned back lazily and threw his hands into the air in exasperation. “I don’t recall a vote being cast. Was I not given a fair shake? I demand we draw straws. You go first.” Maximus’ face flushed further. Before he could retort, Reverence stood and her eyes, normally calming silver, glowed a dim, dull red.

“You would both be wise to focus on our mission.” She stood commandingly, staring down first Maximus, then Mat as the former settled back into his seat. The light in her eyes faded slowly to their normal sheen. “We have little time to prepare. Matrim, go and procure finer vestments. You cannot attend wearing the garb of a farm hand.”

“I’ll have you know my moth—” Mat tried to interrupt. Reverence continued.

“Maximus, you’ll not be allowed in full plate. You’ll need to find some military dress.”

“I will return to the Barracks.”

“Fine. We will all meet at the festival grounds—”

Raelyn, with her soft voice, spoke up as she looked over one of the invitations. “This address actually belongs to a home. A very large home, of course, with grounds to match, but to avoid any confusion…” She trailed off as she started to needlessly ramble. They all nodded their heads in understanding.

All but Raelyn stood from the table and left, Reverence first to the bar to purchase a room and then up the stairs to the left, and she sat there alone in the steadily increasing roar of the bar. She summoned Mischief after a few long moments, hiding her in the shadows next to her as she ran her hand comfortingly down the tiny beast’s spine. She lost herself in thought, already dressed in robes fine enough for a party or a relaxing evening with some wine.

Speaking of which, she flagged down a waitress and ordered herself a glass of Elvish Wine. She had nowhere to be for at least an hour. It soon arrived and she sipped at it, yearning for the time when this was all over that she would be released back to her endless studies.

As she let her mind wander flashes of memory began to come back to her. Though confusing at first, she soon realized they were from the days preceding her being taken. She tried to pin down details but found it too arduous. Some small, ambiguous town far from here. Stacks of journals, her telescope and the sky. She remembered how brightly the stars had shined. A smile touched her lips as she traced the constellations and then, suddenly, they started to go out. One by one.

Raelyn snapped out of her daze and her heart began to race. Stars blinking out had only been mentioned once in the lengthy recorded history of this world, many millenia ago when the first bits of modern life had begun to write. She recalled the various tales and legends, all leading up to the star extinction, none of which were immediately useful as they were all blatant hyperbole. What mattered more was what they’d lead up to. A cataclysm.

A near destruction of all life.


They arrived with the event in full swing. They could see the lights and flashes from the opening celebration from a couple of miles away, the music a bit closer, and the cacophony of voices remained a dull unintelligible roar until they were nearly upon the massive estate.

Evrett Blight, it seemed, was a man of great means. A great, perfectly trimmed hedge lined the front of his property along the street like a wall. It stood as tall as a man and was twice as deep, extending almost half a mile from one end to the other, running along the street. One could make out the upper floor of the mansion while standing 50 feet or more from the hedges and it was nothing if not extravagant. Pure white with a angled roof that dipped very slightly in the middle of either side. It was 20 windows across on the top floor alone and appeared to only widen as you went further down.

The lone entrance to the grounds was a highly-polished golden gate. The lock fit centrally within the gate, just above chest-level, emblazoned with what one could only assume was the Blight coat of arms. The gates parted right down the middle of the seal, Reverence noted, much like the Peloran symbol on the doors of the local temple. Two guards stood stoic, fully-plated and with great swords sheathed on their hips. As the group approached, dressed in the best they could find this late, both guards tensed and the one on the left held out his hands.

“Invitations, if you would,” the Left Guard said.

The four, minus Balthazar who had stayed in the woods to communicate with the wilds, withdrew their invitations. All were still fairly pristine save for the wadded up mess that came from Mat’s pocket. The guard took the flat three first and then, apprehensively, grasped Mat’s from his open palm. He tossed it to the Right Guard who set about unwadding it to inspect its authenticity while the Left Guard checked the other four.

After confirming the invitations, the Left Guarded regarded them with an air of disdain. “The normal crop to attend this party know the proper social expectations. These…drapes you’ve all chosen will do, if only just.” The guards stepped to either side and waved their hands toward the gate, beckoning the group through as both carved slabs of metal swung wide inward.

They crossed the threshold and were met with only more extravagance. A long reflecting pool ran from the gate entrance all the way to the steps leading up to the front door of the Mansion. Fine gravel lined either side of the pool, with perfectly manicured dirt paths branching off on either side into the grounds. Trees and general flora lined those paths but otherwise the grounds were empty, covered only by exquisitely kept viridian grass.

The area around the reflecting pool was absolutely filled to bursting with people. Waiters and Waitresses, none of them Orc, moved with great difficulty through the crowd. They would barely press into the throng before having to retreat back to refill their hors d’oeuvres trays. A few people meandered the dirt paths that led their circuitous paths around the grounds but most remained near the reflecting pool and, in particular, toward the end near the stairs.

At the top of the stairs, standing by their lonesome, were two men of obviously great caliber. On the left a tall, angular man dressed sharply with hair the color of empty space. To his right a man in contrast; squat, rotund, and red-face, dressed in regal purple with long brown hair. Both spoke jovially, a drink in one hand each. The squat one spoke more animatedly, almost spilling his drink on multiple occasions over just a few seconds, while the taller one simply smiled and nodded, adding a comment here and there while keeping one eye on the mass of bodies below them.

“I’ve got five on fatty for king,” said Mat as he grabbed a meat-wrapped prawn from the nearest waiter’s tray.

“Your tact and wit is truly endless. Long may your reign be as advisor to the Gods,” Maximus spoke as he eyed the hundreds and hundreds of people that stood in front of them.

“You’ve never seen me on a battlefield, Woody. I make up in tactical ability what I lack in subtlety.”

“Subtlety is a virtue of the battlefield. To circumvent your opponents expectations is to all but guarantee a victory.”

“Sure, as long as your men agree with what they’re fighting for.” Mat bit into the juicy prawn and grabbed a glass of fizzing liquid from another passing tray.

Raelyn leaned over to Reverence and spoke with no hint of stealth, “It would appear the men came to discuss the coming war. Perhaps we should take care of the current mission while they are otherwise indisposed?” She had withheld her recollections regarding the disappearing stars until she could further ground her memory in fact. She had not had a chance to check the skies with any severity, but was planning to at next chance. She’d hoped they would be in and out of this place quickly, that she may take to the roof of the local temple and better scout the skies.

Reverence nodded, distracted. Lliira was here tonight. Not in physicality but in the spirit of the event. These people were bleeding joy like sweat and it warmed her heart. A smile spread across her face. It was rare, even a priestess of the Goddess, that she got to experience this degree of celebration. Her temple found funding difficult in their province, a hindrance only furthered by the constant political turmoil between the two majority worshipers in the region, neither of which found belief in Lliira.

She refocused and let the joy wash over her once more, touching the triangle pendant around her neck. She spoke under her breath, “I will not disrupt this occasion. These people will celebrate your name, even though their reasons may be grim.”

Raelyn glanced at Reverence, seeming to be the only one who’d heard her. He spoke quietly so the others could not hear. “I do not think Lliira would find qualm with disrupting a celebration of enslavement.”

Reverence sighed and nodded. “In her name I still must try to keep this joy alive. These people are…misinformed, yes, but they know only happiness in their hearts right now. That is something that all should have.”

Raelyn spoke grimly, “Few presented with such joy would question the poisoned well it pulls from. Perhaps we would be best served removing the offending pollutant and retaining the well.”

Maximus nonchalantly moved closer, “A stealth operation in a crowd this size would be nigh impossible.”

Raelyn added, “I can turn invisible.”

All but Mat turned to look at her, surprised. Mat was preoccupied with a rather scantily clad female Human who wobbled on her feet with glazed eyes. Her laughter begat the fuzziness of her mind, not to mention her choice in men.

Raelyn continued quietly, “I know nothing of murder, but I can certainly eavesdrop and gather information before we make our move.”

Reverence pondered for a moment. “Perhaps it would be best to wait until after the party. We could easily track him with Raelyn’s abilities and some sort of trail. Complete the mission before he returns to his palace.”

“Not advisable,” Maximus added. “The longer you wait to drop the target the higher the risk of failure. Each passing minute compounds the possibility of poor decision making or occurrence of unplanned events.” He looked around, suddenly confused. “Where is the drunkard?”

Mat had disappeared into the crowd. Even Maximus, towering with the god-given sight of a Paladin, could not pick the man out of the pulsing masses.

Reverence acted first. “We must find him before we continue, if for no other reason than to ensure he doesn’t cause havoc. Maximus, we will fan out to find him. Raelyn, use your magic to get close to the men on the stairs and advise us of the situation when we reconvene.”

The warrior and the priestess, dressed in fine linen vestments, entered the legion while the quiet half-elf grabbed a glass of fizzing liquid off a passing tray and leaned against the hedge behind her. A group of humans passed and suddenly she was gone, a newly emptied glass sitting on a nearby table.

Finding Mat in the crowd was proving to be quite difficult. Though Maximus was tall enough to see over the heads of most it was like trying to find a very hay-like needle within a hay-stack. Reverence had a slight disadvantage, being quite short, but her diminutive size allowed her to move more easily. In the time it took the taller to press 10 feet into the group she was already at the edge of the reflecting pool.

Raelyn had perhaps the easiest time. She needed to rudely elbow and shimmy past quite a few people but because of her invisibility drawing attention to herself was less of a concern. Everyone was so tightly packed into this place they all assumed any bumps or shoves were purely accidental. She soon found her way to the base of the stairs and made her way up them, taking a comfy seat on the top step just a few feet from the conversing gentlemen.

They talked about nonsense for what seems like ages. She kept her ears attentive for anything that might be useful but they seemed to be regaling each other with tales of stories past. A few minutes after her arrival, their conversation hit a natural lull and the taller man stepped toward the edge of the top step, holding up his hand palm-outward. Amazingly the entire party fell silent almost immediately. He smiled out upon his gathered neighbors and spoke with a voice obviously magically amplified.

“Welcome, one and all, to The Blight Festival!” A round of thunderous applause and whistles filled the air. He spoke again once they had finished. “Today we celebrate that which is most central to Eaglefell’s ideals: Victory!” The applause began again but he spoke over it. “Victory over an enemy most barbaric, against that which we hold most dear. A filthy dominant beast of a civilization that we crushed into submission through the glory of Pelor!”

The whole place erupted into cheers, whistles, and applause. It lasted for two complete minutes before everyone regained control of themselves. “Tonight we celebrate in His name!” The man smiled wryly and held his drink, stowed in his other hand, high into the air. “Make merry, you mongrel dogs, and let us wake the Gods!”

The crowd cheered and the music started up again. If the party thrived before the speech it now grew beyond its bounds. It was excess in its most pure, unadulterated form.
One step down from an orgy.

It was a few minutes later, with the search party still fruitless, that Raelyn noticed a man separate himself from the crowd at the bottom of the stairs and put on a dark black farmer’s hat. He adjusted it and then touched the brim before starting up the steps.

“Oh no,” whispered Raelyn. She reached out to Mischief telepathically and asked the dragon to appear to the other two and advise them of the situation. She stood, unsure of what to do, and crossed her arms. She was not a fighter, and surely if she revealed herself now she would draw much more attention that even Mat would be.

The crowd didn’t seem to notice his assent but the two gentlemen at the top of the stairs most certainly did. As soon as Mat began to climb two guards appeared from behind the pillars that flanked the door and lined the porch of the mansion, halberds drawn and pointing at the approaching stranger. They met him halfway up the stairs. Raelyn couldn’t quite hear the exchange over the sound of the party, but soon the tall man called to one of the guards.

“Let the enthusiast through! He only wants to speak.” The squat man looked a little uneasy, but that may have been the booze. He was on his fifth drink, after all, by Raelyn’s count.

Mat ascended the steps grinning broadly. He wiped his fingers on his pant leg and held out his hand, introducing himself to the two men. The tall man introduced himself as Evrett Blight and the squat man did not provide a name. It would seem Mat’s companions now owed him a small debt.

“So, Matrim,” Evrett offered. “What brings you to us this evening? Something of great importance I hope!” The three men shared a hearty laugh. Mat touched the brim of his hat and adjusted it awkwardly as the laughter subsided.

“Well that would depend on with whom I’m speaking, I suppose,” he said happily. “Just between you two and myself, I hear there’s someone out to kill the king.”


Maximus was getting fed up. The drunk shouldn’t have wandered off in the first place, now it was his obligation to find the damned fool. He frustratedly moved passed a particularly immobile group of people and was met with more of Mat’s absence.

The moments before he was taken were starting to come back to him. It’d been slowly returning over the course of the day. He’d been on a mission at a nameless compound. It was suspected to house a number of high-level officers within the Necromancer’s army; the same Necromancer who had done in his father so many years ago.

Maximus had hand-picked his small operations team and they had decided to move in the dead of night. Slowly and quietly they had all but cleared the compound. One building remained and they had yet to identify any of their kills as high-ranking officers in the Necromancer’s army. As they moved to breach formation he remembered the sound of wings and then that familiar blackness.

He scowled as he brought himself back to reality. He found himself incredibly frustrated with this situation, more so than any of the others it seemed. Though as a Paladin he was obligated to rise to the occasion if the information they’d been fed was true, there was no way to confirm its veracity. The other four seemed so happy to passively accept it as truth but he required answers. All orders come from somewhere and he only respected authority that had earned such a designation. Tall men in strange dark clothes did not get to inform him of his obligations.

He did have one thing to be thankful for, he supposed. Though his arm seemed to be permanently clubbed, he was capable of making it invisible. He had done so earlier in the night, before they’d come to the party. At this point it simply looked as if he were an amputee.

While Maximus grumbled some distance away, Reverence found it very difficult to concentrate on much besides getting bustled to and fro. Though initially her size had been her aid, after Evrett’s speech the entire crowd seemed to get more lively and she was now being tossed around more than moving of her own accord. She managed to pull herself from the ranks and off to one side in order to get her bearings.

Doubt filled her from a bottomless well deep within. Here she stood, a priestess of Lliira, in the midst of a joyous celebration and she refused to partake. Instead she filled her time with plotting and searching. She felt herself a failure as she leaned against a tree that lined one of the dirt paths. She needed a break from the endless heat of the swarm of people and she fiddled with the triangle pendant on her neck.

Each point had a star, all warm colors. One red, one orange, one yellow. It was a very simple pendant, one most people never noticed, but it was Reverence’s connection to her new goddess. Lliira hadn’t always been her deity. She was still her parents child and a traditional upbringing called for a much different lifestyle. She’d torn herself away from that at a relatively young age, searching for something more. She’d found a sense of one-ness within the goddess Lliira and had devoted herself to her ever since.

As her thoughts drifted, a nagging desire to continue her search pulling at the back of her mind, a small dragon creature appeared in front of her. It hovered at eye level, not quite tangible but opaque enough for her to see. It spoke with Raelyn’s voice.

Maximus experienced the same phenomenon a couple hundred feet away, trapped in
a sea of bodies. The dragon told them Mat was walking up the steps toward the house and that they must hurry. Reverence made fast for the stairs, sticking to the less-populated edge of the party, and Maximus b-lined for the same location. His massive stature and body aided him in simply moving past all but the most sturdy of party-goers.|

They both reached the bottom of the stairs as Mat and the two men shared a hearty laugh. Seeing no other option, and noting the guards between them and their quary, they both glanced at each other and started up the stairs.

Then they heard Mat give away their mission.


The two guards on the steps were on them unreasonably fast, one suddenly behind Reverence with an arm around her neck and the other keeping his distance from Maximus but with the tip of his halberd pressing against the paladin’s throat. Evrett snapped his fingers and the air seemed to shimmer. The sound of the party became muffled and another guard came as if from nowhere, standing between Mat and Evrett.

“That is certainly interesting news,” said Evrett, his eyes narrowing. “No need to disrupt the party.”

Reverence had a sudden realization. “A distraction spell. You’re a caster.”

“I take exception to such crass vocabulary. I prefer…well, I don’t prefer anything actually. I don’t tend to make my studies apparent to much of anyone.” Evrett took a step around the guard, keeping about five feet from Mat and locking eyes with the farm boy. Behind him, the drunk and confused King was escorted into the house quickly by yet another guard.

“I think there may be a misunderstanding,” Mat plead. “We know of a plot, but we are not the perpetrators.” Evrett stared him down for a long moment, then considered them all in turn.

“You’ll understand my apprehension in believing you. It would be quite foolish for someone with any such knowledge to so openly admit to it without a proper preface.” They stood in silence for another long moment. No one knew how to respond. Evrett eventually clapped his hands together. “Well, no sense staying out here in the open. I’ve certainly got some questions that need answered, not the least of which is who you all are and why you’ve decided to infiltrate my party, but there’s no reason we can’t be civilized. Come, we will meet in my sitting room and discuss this further.”

Evrett beckoned them into the home and each guard stuck close to their prey. As the last one entered and the door began to close, Raelyn managed to squeeze through and maintain her invisibility. Her stomach was rolling unpleasantly and her mind raced as she tried to think of a way out of this.

The room they walked into was overwhelming. The vaulted ceiling made of marble, the decorative pillars along the walls, the grand staircase that led straight up to the second floor directly in front of them. The floor was hardwood and two separate hallways formed on either side of the staircase, reaching deeper into the house.

“You’ll find the sitting room down the hall on the left, first doorway. I’ll be right in.” Evrett disappeared down the right hallway, toward what sounded like the kitchen. The guards pushed them all down the hall on the left. As they made their way to the sitting room, Reverence noted a door in the hallway with the symbol of Melora expertly burned into it. A strange symbol to have in a home, rather than on a boat, but she supposed this was a port town.

The sitting room only made them more uneasy. The walls were lined with the taxidermied heads of various large beasts, but the décor seemed to hearken to the warm safety of a grandparents home. There was a large fire place on one wall, bookcases lining the rest, and the entire floor was covered with what appeared to be a very large rug. The fire was already burning and a handful of plush couches and chairs faced the warmth. The guards sat them each on separate couches.

Maximus glared at Mat from across the room. “You’ve put us in a fine place,” he growled.

“It’s not my fault they were so quick to assume. I never said we were here to kill the king.”

“I think it best that both of you shut up,” said Reverence. She crossed her arms and they sat in silence until Evrett returned. He stood between them all and the fireplace. The flames behind him seemed to roar a little as he stepped in front of them, casting him in shadow from his guests’ point of view.

“I assume you’re all working in tandem,” he asked. No one responded. “No need to respond, I suppose. The timing was too perfect for it to be anything else.” He looked at Mat. “So, you say someone is out to kill the King? I need a name.”

“Should this not be a conversation had with the King? Or even the King’s protective guard?” Mat asked. “Forgive me but I fail to see how telling you will prevent anything.”

A menacing grin spread across Evrett’s face. “I am the King’s protective guard. My personal militia answers only to myself and the King. Trust me, the information you’re here to provide is best fed to me.”

“You’ll understand our apprehension,” parroted Maximus, “as we’re not from here and know little of the workings of this place. You could be some form of maniac hell-bent on corruption.” Reverence and Mat stared daggers at Maximus. He was liable to get them all killed at this rate.

Evrett brushed off the accusation. “It seems we have a trust issue here. I apologize and hope you’ll understand why I must get so aggressive.” Evrett waved his hand and every guard drew a dagger from their hip, holding it at each of their captive’s throats. “I have little time and a party to attend to, so let me be as clear as possible. You will tell me who is trying to kill the King, or I will assume it’s all of you and end the threat as I see fit.” He clasped his hands behind his back and watched them all thoughtfully.

Mat spoke first, “There’s no need for violence, we’re happy to co—” The dagger pressed a little harder into his neck and he stopped mid sentence.

“Pleasantries will get you nowhere. You have five seconds.” Evrett held up one hand, counting down from five with his fingers. As he approached one second, Maximus groaned in frustration. His club arm suddenly blinked into existence and he flung it out behind him, the bulbous end slamming into the temple of the guard. The fully-plated foe fell to the ground, dagger dropping to Maximus’ side harmlessly.

Seeing their opportunity, Reverence and Mat leapt into action. The guards having been momentarily distracted, it was easy for the farm boy and the priestess to relieve them of their daggers. Reverence jumped to her feet and turned around, flinging an open palm toward her aggressor while shouting a short infernal incantation. The man who had formerly held her suddenly burst into flames and began to scream in agony, clawing at his metal armor.

Mat had less success. He jumped to his feet after disarming his own captor and suddenly realized he was without a weapon, having let the dagger drop to the side. The guard got his wits about him quicker and brought the butt of his sword up to Mat’s temple, hard, and Mat suddenly found himself unconscious on the ground.

Evrett began to laugh and moved toward the fireplace, quickly pulling one of the fire pokers as if it were a lever. “A fight it shall be!” The two bookcases to one side of the fireplace began to turn, exposing a hidden stone tunnel behind them.

Raelyn, at first impressed by Reverence’s infernal abilities, refocused her efforts on aiding Mat’s dire situation. She spoke her own incantation and, finally breaking her spell of invisibility, threw her hands out in front of her, launching a purple blast that landed square in the chest of Mat’s guard. The man fell to the floor but was quick to try and return to his feet. She cast the blast again and this time he stayed down.

Maximus pointed his club arm at Evrett defiantly. “You’re outmatched and outnumbered, Blight. Tell us the King’s location.” Evrett continued to laugh and moved a little closer to Maximus.

“Outnumbered? Fools. I am never outnumbered.” Four men in linen robes poured out of the secret hallway and into the room, kneeling in a line to the right of Evrett, one hand on the rug. The four heroes looked at Evrett, confused.

“Surely you’ve more guards?” Reverence queried, hand raised in front of her ready to summon her magic.

“Why use more guards when I simply—”

Raelyn interrupted him, her eyes going wide with understanding as she shouted. “THE FLOOR IS TRAPPED.”

Evrett rolled his eyes, “It’s very rude to interrupt.” Raelyn moved her hands in a familiar pattern and threw another purple blast at him, but he quickly ducked and slapped his own hand on the carpet. Evrett and his four robed cronies spoke two words in tandem as Reverence began the incantation to set the man ablaze, but it was too late. The floor flashed with brilliant light and a familiar, foreboding symbol burned into the carpet from beneath. Reverence stopped mid-incantation, distracted by the sudden flash, and gaped at the floor.

“Lolth,” she whispered in terror. The floor flashed again and with a loud CRACK they all felt the earth shift beneath their feet.

As Reverence and Raelyn’s eyes readjusted, they came to realize they were in quite a different place. The floor and walls were made of large stones, sealed against intruding water. A single, simple wooden staircase led up one wall to a door that had the symbol of Melora expertly burned into it. Mat laid in a crumbled heap on the floor a few feet away from them, still unconscious.

Maximus picked a pebble up off the ground and waved his hand over it. The pebble glowed brightly and he tossed it into the center of the room, effectively lighting the cellar. A waterlogged table stood against one wall. A piece of parchment and a glass of liquid sat on top of it, but it was remarkable the thing was still standing at all. One of the legs looked as if it had been chewed upon.

As Raelyn took in their new surroundings she gasped, the first to notice the skeleton shackled to the wall behind them all. Reverence turned and could not stop herself from showing her sadness. She kneeled down and took the hand of the skeleton in her own, closing her eyes as she laid her other hand on top, and began to mumble a spell under her breath.

Maximus took this moment to make for the table and read the note. It was from a woman named Maribeth Devroux, denouncing Evrett Blight as a horrible man, though her word choice was a bit more unseemly. Perhaps deservedly so.

Mat began to stir on the floor, rolling over with a groan. Maximus quickly made his way over, kneeling down and putting a hand on his shoulder. Mat’s shoulder glowed golden for a brief moment and his eyes went wide as he felt an unsettling queasiness, and then nothing. He felt good as new.

Meanwhile, Reverence finished her incantation and opened her eyes. “Who are you?” she said to the skeleton. Though obviously weak, the skeleton’s relaxed head began to turn toward her, its jaw creaking from disuse.

“Mari…beth…”

“Who put you here?”

“Water…please…”

“Maribeth, you’ve passed from this life. We need your help. Who put you here?”

“Evrett…that scum…”

“How do we get out, Maribeth? We can stop him if you tell us how to escape.”

“No escape…only…thirst…”

The skeleton suddenly went slack and Reverence let its hand drop to the stone floor with a clatter. She hung her head in disappointment, obviously hoping for more useful information. Raelyn watched with grim fascination. She’d never seen such necromancy before, and she’d hoped she’d never have to. Across the room Maximus stood up, scowling. He had seen such foul magic, and he had only one opinion on the matter. An opinion that did not bode well for Reverence.

Mat’s eyes were wide and his jaw hung open. As the skeleton went limp he looked around the room before breaking the silence. “Hey, guys? What in the actual fuck is going on?”

View
Session 1 - Splitting Up

The sun shone bright above them, reaffirming the same assertion it made through the window in their room. The streets were busy, oddly so considering the part of town they were in and the time of day, but not prohibitively. As they took in their surroundings and wracked their brains for some semblance of recognition or direction, they all noticed something very strange.

The predominant race in the region was blatantly human (they stretched as far as the eye could see in colors ranging from ebony to ivory), with a few smatterings of variety here and there. That in itself wasn’t strange, as Raelyn was happy to explain, but more that each group or individual of Humans seemed to be accompanied by at least one Orc dressed in little more than rags.

“You’ve been here before?” Maximus asked quietly.

“Oh no,” she replied. “But I studied the Tuw-Doreni War at length many years ago. It was actually very interesting, it set the social landsca-“

“So now that we’re kicked out of the whore house, who wants a pint?” Mat interrupted glibly. Raelyn stared daggers but let it drop. He knew not the power to which she held the reigns and she preferred it stay that way.

“I need my bearings. Physically and spiritually. Silver-hair, what’s your name?” Reverence offered. Raelyn responded and that led to a round of introductions ending with Balthazar.

“You’d think you’d wear a little more out and about with a face like that,” Mat playfully jibed. Balthazar remained unfazed.

“I am the way I am. My fraternity with nature is the only thing that matters.”

Reverence continued where she’d left off, “Raelyn, would you point me in the direction of the nearest Temple of Lliira?” Raelyn thought for a long moment and shook her head.

“Doreni, and Eaglefell in particular, is mostly full of Pelor worshipers. Any other spiritual demographic is too small to merit a centralized place of worship. I can point you to the Temple of Pelor if you like?”

Reverence sighed and nodded. “It will have to do.”

“I will join you,” said Balthazar. “I find a temple creates a smoother channel between myself and the Fey, particularly in times of personal turmoil.”

“I’ll need to see to the local barracks,” said Maximus.

“Am I the only one in desperate need of alcohol?” begged Mat. He was met with nothing but silence and dead stares. Raelyn leaned over and quietly gave him directions, then more clearly advised Maximus on the probable location of the barracks.

Satisfied, Mat clapped his hands together. “So, meet at The Prancing Pony before nightfall, then?” They all turned and went their separate ways without answering. Mat stood alone in the hustle and bustle of the busy street, rucksack over one shoulder. He looked after them for a moment, then turned and headed off toward the Pony, muttering under his breath. “More ale for me, then.”


Reverence and Balthazar spoke little on their way to the Temple, less so out of distaste for each other and more so out of habit. They were both solitary creatures, strange as it was they had chosen to pair for this brief outing, and respected the others’ apparent lifestyle. Reverence, a priestess of Lliira, had always felt a subtle kinship with the druids. They had a serene calm she’d always admired, viewing it as a marker of inherent joy in its many forms. Balthazar, now a wizened druid of many years, understood the importance of spirituality more than most and wished only good tidings upon any follower he encountered.

Together, in this white-washed town of Eaglefell, they did make an interesting looking pair. Balthazar seven-feet tall with the skin and head of a dragon, Reverence hooded and diminutive in comparison but with distinctive horns she could never quite hide and a pair eyes shining silver. They received quite a few curious looks and more than once mothers hurried their children passed the two or to the other side of the street.

“Not afraid to hide their true face, it would seem,” said Balthazar, filling the aching silence between them.

“I find my hood can stave off the worst of it,” retorted Reverence.

“One should never hide their heritage, least of all one of such proud ancestry.”

Reverence held her tongue for a moment. Proud was never a word she’d heard describe her lineage, but she had always felt a certain affinity for it. She was never ashamed. She just desired to prove herself better than her kinds history begat. “It’s out of respect. Parents in places like this teach their children what they were taught and so goes the prejudice. I wish not a difficult conversation on someone who already struggles through life.”

“These people seem hardly to struggle.”

“Their dress is fine, yes, and a great many of them seem complacent receiving servitude, but it is not our place to judge.”

“Indeed.” Balthazar let the issue drop, ever conscience of stressing another’s morals. The people of this town could do with quite a few lessons as far as Balthazar was concerned, but Reverence had a point. They were not here to fight a war that was not theirs.

Unwilling to let the silence resume from there, Reverence offered her own topic. “I assume you’ve resolved yourself to our seeming destiny as I have?”

“The methods used to obtain us were perhaps…unsavory, but my duty is to the world. Should it come under attack I must defend it, even if the enemy is the universe itself.”

“Agreed. I must have a world upon which to spread my joy or my fealty means nothing.” Balthazar snorts before he can catch himself. Reverence eyes him suspiciously. “Yes?”

“Truly you are loyal and almost certainly noble, but joyful would not be my first descriptor,” Balthazar said. Reverence turned from him, her glare harsh and muscles tense. Balthazar regretted his comment but again decided not to press.

They walked the rest of the way in silence.

Upon arriving at the Temple they split ways without a word. The temple was enormous and the grounds three times that. The grounds here was obviously magically maintained, with fountains comprised of floating stones and water spouting from nowhere. The priests and priestesses here certainly had it better than Reverence’s ilk. The massive, ornate front double doors were made of wood and painted with the symbol of Pelor dead center, one half of the sun-face on either door. The grounds swarmed with scholars, believers, and clergy alike, the latter split into two groups: the young, fresh-faced and optimistic here to spread the word of the One True Lord, and the elder, wizened men and woman who likely ran the upper echelons of the church.

Balthazar took to a nearby grove of trees, finding a shaded spot under which he sat cross-legged with his hands on his knees. Here he would focus his energy and try to commune with nature as best he could, but already his stomach sat uneasily. He could feel the disturbance before he even reached out and that never bode well.

Reverence stole into the Temple in search of answers. She had noted on the walk here several priestly figures moving to-and-fro in a daze. She had always known priests of any God to be a group of good humor or dire straights, never ambivalence. She approached many of the robed professional members of the church to ask about the strangeness among them, but none seemed to be able to focus. A few didn’t respond and brushed past her, the rest simply waving her off and apologizing for their busyness.

Her patience growing ever thinner, she clutched the triangle pendant hanging from her neck and stopped for a moment. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, letting herself calm and re-center. Reverence muttered a short prayer under her breath to Lliira, the heresy not lost on her, and opened her eyes again. Lliira would give her strength, of this she was certain, as long as she tried. Sometimes it just seemed like she’d been trying for so long.

Realizing she could waste little more time as the sun was already starting to dip low in the sky, she marched toward the nearest priest. The man seemed to be in a rush, ever busy with his brothers and sisters spreading the Good Word. Reverence took the triangle pendant from her neck and hung it in her palm, chain between her index finger and thumb. She moved close to the priest and pressed it to his chest, speaking softly. “Your fellows are in a daze and this Temple has a sense of chaos. What are you hiding?”

The priests eyes glowed happily golden from the magic of the pendant as a long-lost joy spread its warmth over his mind. A smile touched his lips as he spoke to no one in particular. “They try and hide the truth but it is known throughout the clergy. Pelor…has abandoned us.” Reverence held the pendant to the man’s chest for a long moment, knowing that if what he said was true this joy would be the last he felt for a long time. She finally relinquished and moved past the man as if nothing had happened. He blinked a few times and shook his head, looking around in confusion before continuing on his way, completely oblivious to his encounter.

Reverence made for the entrance. This would require more than the power she could offer alone.

Balthazar found it difficult to concentrate on his breathing. The astral feeling of these temple grounds were different. He had been inside many Peloran temples before and had always found them serene, but this one had no such quality. His mind itched. The air stank of neglect. Nature had been twisted through magic so severely that it barely resembled its flowing self.

Still, he found his way eventually into the mind-space of the Fey and was met immediately by rampant discord. His mind was suddenly full of white-noise and old memories, none of them his. Violence wracked his mind-sight and he heard the tearful cries of many, interspersed by unfamiliar, and unsettling, laughter that boomed so fiercely it rocked his brain. He tried to connect the many frayed edges of continuity but found they had become so tattered they were all but irreparable by his hands.

In his many druidic years he had never seen the Fey in such disarray. Most shocking, perhaps, was that it had happened so suddenly. He specifically remembered the serenity of it a few days before he had been taken, but…he still couldn’t remember much after that. His memory picked up as he awoke in the dark, stone room.

He decided to realign his efforts. If he could not immediately repair the Fey or his connection to it, he would delve into what memory he had of the past few days in search of answers. At first he was met with the same images. Flame. Great wings. His father’s smile.

That was different. Before it had simply been a vague concept of his father. Now it was a full image. A small loop of memory of the smiling, aged man on his humble bed, taking Balthazar’s scaled hand in the pink flesh of his own. He wasn’t dressed in his normal vestments. He had on some sort of white robe, made of fabric unfamiliar to Balthazar.

No, no, it was familiar, but he couldn’t place it. In addition his father was not on his bed. He was on…something. Balthazar sighed in frustration, as much of an emotional outburst as he ever allowed himself. Picking out his own memories from the jumble in his mind both caused and aided by the Fey was no simple task, but staying focused on them for more than a few seconds was nigh impossible.

The grave feeling he’d had since arriving in this town only worsened, clamping down onto his core like the talons of a hungry beast. Few beings had power to bring disaster to the Fey and most of them no longer had names. They had almost been lost even to myth and legend. They lived on only as nameless Boogeymen in stories meant to keep druidic children from venturing too far into the Fey at too young an age.

Balthazar felt a physical presence bringing him back to reality. A hand on his shoulder, rocking him gently in place. He opened his eyes in shock, his worry readily apparent on them, and looked up to see the similarly worried face of Reverence staring down at him. They spoke in tandem.

“We are not safe here.”


Raelyn liked big cities like this. Big cities meant big universities, which meant tomes and tomes of regional literary goodies that she could pour over. The university was remarkably close so she quickly found herself in the Grand Library on its campus. A young girl staffed the reception desk with a happy smile and a book open in front of her, chin resting lazily on her hand.

“Excuse me, could you point me to the historical section?” Raelyn asked with a smile of her own.

“Absolutely.” The young girl closed her book and stood, moving around the desk toward Raelyn. “World, Regional or Local?”

“Local would be wondrous.” The girl nodded and lead Raelyn past the myriad book cases near the front of the building and deeper into its musty core. They passed through an innocuous doorway and found themselves in a 20×20 room with shelves upon shelves of scrolls, books, and leathery tomes ripe for Raelyn’s picking. Her young guide gestured to the room, “Everything about Eaglefell going back 200 years before the Grand Victory.”

Raelyn looked at the girl strangely. “I’m so sorry, the Grand Victory?”

The girl nodded enthusiastically, “Yes, of course. The Grand Victory over the barbarian Kingdom of Tuw, led by Oot’Gar, The Felon King.” The girl was talking about the Tuw-Doreni War, obviously filtered through 300 years of propaganda. Raelyn raised an understanding smile and nodded, “My mistake, I recall now.”

She bid the girl thanks as she left to return to her desk and began to peruse the shelves for any titles that jumped out at her. She seemed to window shop for hours, lost in the feeling of the spines and smell of the pages. She felt at home among the books. People were well and good but you could garner only so much from them. One could not keep a person as one would keep a book, knowing the knowledge was theirs and stowing it away for further use. She had amassed quite a collection from all over in her travels. Books on the sea, the sky, the earth and the elements. Books of lies and books of truths and books somewhere in-between, books on family—

Raelyn stopped with her fingers trailing along the spine of a book titled Mischief Becomes The Mighty Orc: Orc Servants and Proper Discipline. The prejudice in this place was apparent, and often disgusting, but that wasn’t what distracted her. She had remembered something about the time before she’d been taken. She was atop a tower with her telescope, marking stars on charts with her companion, Mischief.

Speaking of which, she suddenly noticed a strengthening tug at the back of her mind. Mischief was trying to reach out to her. She smiled and reached back, happy that their link had been reestablished. In a brief flash of smoke and with a crisp POP a small dragon appeared on her shoulder. It resembled the Dragon God Sardior, a red behemoth she’d once made a pact with. Its wispy tail swished back and forth as it nuzzled Raelyn’s cheek.

She pet the tiny dragon along its scaly spin a few times and then resumed her perusal. She soon had piled a good many books on the table and, satisfied with her choices, sat down and cracked open the first. Flipping pages and choosing chapters carefully from their indecies, she lost herself in the books and to the world around her, ever pursuant of knowledge and its bounty.


Mat trumped happily in the direction of The Prancing Pony, sun high in the sky and surrounded by people women of all colors. He had long since resolved to let his eyes wander. Everyone was so busy and unobservant that no one noticed anyhow, which meant he could get as much of an eyeful as he wanted.

The Prancing Pony was an unassuming Inn, tucked away between an Herb Shoppe and a Butcher in the city’s market district, but inside it was certainly a fine establishment. Fine craftsmanship on all the tables and chairs, not to mention the bar itself. One solid piece of stained and varnished maple. A few patrons sat here and there, but it was not yet the end of day so the customer variety was paltry at best.

Because of this, Mat spotted the man in the robe almost instantly. Tucked away in a dim corner that would be missable in the hustle and bustle of the night crowd, but now completely in view and unblocked by bodies, he stood out like a sore thumb. The stark contrast of his alabaster skin against the dark dye of the robe only furthered the effect.

Mat cautiously took a seat at a table nearby the man, not ready yet to engage him. He’d come here for a pint or two and he’d have them first. Play first, business later. He flagged down a waitress and ordered himself a pint of the house beer, a stout ale by the sounds of it, and promptly began hoping the beer in this strange place was as drinkable as the kind back home.

Halfway through his pint, after half a dozen stolen glances to the white-skinned man with the crystal glass of wine in front of him, the man he was neglecting meeting with spoke up. “Are you going to come over here or not?”

Mat played dumb and pointed at himself, looking confused. The mysterious man nodded and tapped the table in front of him. Mat stood and joined the stranger, settling into the comfortably worn chair opposite the man. Or woman. Mat suddenly realized he couldn’t peg down a gender on the person in front of him. Their face was remarkably androgynous and had few memorable features. In fact the only thing not immediately forgettable about the man was the fading, jagged scar that ran from beneath his left eye and followed his cheek, chin, and neck down to his chest. Mat couldn’t tell if the scar ended there or kept going as it disappeared into the folds of the robe.

Mat decided on they would be a He.

The man slid across five pristine slips of white parchment. Mat took up one and inspected it. Though the upward side was unremarkable, the underside was covered in ornate handwriting and golden borders. It appeared to be an invitation to “The Blight Festival”, admitting one to the party. The other four pieces of parchment were identical.

Mat put the last of the papers down and looked at the man expectantly. They sat in silence for a long time before Mat finally spoke up, “So…what do we do?” A confusion passed over the man’s face before he leaned forward, speaking quietly.

“What do you mean, ‘what do we do’?” Mat did not share the man’s secrecy and spoke normally, even backing away a little in unease.

“What are these invitations for? Are we to attend?”

“How do you not know what you’re supposed to do?”

“The guy with the wings just said “Kill the Ki—” The man’s hand shot across the table and covered Mat’s mouth before he could finish the phrase. The arm of his robes pulled up with the movement, exposing arms of a pale translucence and the beginnings of some intricate black markings that disappeared up his forearm.

“Do not speak your mission allowed. You are behind enemy lines. Act as such.” He removed his hand from Mat’s mouth.

“What enemy? We weren’t told hardly anything,” Mat whined. “We were told ‘kill this…guy, then I’ll be back’. The gaunt man was very unhelpful in clarification.” The stranger’s eyes narrowed knowingly.

“They are never helpful. My business with them is limited by choice but remains a necessity. They pay extremely handsomely and one does not simply refuse them as one might a civilian. There are consequences for everything.”

Mat looked at the man with desperate eyes, “Who is they?!”

The white-skinned man looked around suspiciously and leaned back in his chair, downing his wine. “We cannot discuss this. I have completed my agreement.” The man stood and Mat sat there, unable to think of a way to stop him. He sighed and resolved himself to his Ale, taking a long swig. The man took a few steps toward the door, then turned and addressed Mat in a low voice. “You seem…genuine. So I will tell you what I know. The weapons you have received are not what they seem. There are pieces in play at levels you and I could never fathom. Treat everyone but your companions with immediate suspicion and take no chances with your mission. Make your move only when you are positive it can be done efficiently.”

He turned with a flourish of his robe and disappeared through the establishment’s front entrance. Mat watched after him for a few moments before turning back to his beer. He eyed the five invitations on the table in front of him for the remainder of his drink. Then while drinking another. After a few more beers the bar began to fill up and for the sake of security he grabbed them off the table and shoved them into the pocket of his trousers unceremoniously.

He couldn’t be bothered by it anymore, he had drinking to do.

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Session 1 - The Gentleman & The Whorehouse

Madame Everleigh had founded The Delicate Daisy more than a decade ago. She had fought tooth and nail to raise it to its current status among the elite establishments of Eaglefell’s Red Light District, sometimes taking drastic measures to ensure its success. Though none could see it, the good Madame’s hands were almost certainly coated in red.

She looked out from her balcony above the receiving room of the brothel. Below her an unusually large late afternoon crowd caroused, imbibed, danced and played a bit of grab-ass. Her girls were well trained (exclusively by herself, of course), and she spared no expense to bring in the weary, wild, and wealthy. She knew that these days the good money was in exotics. That’s why she’d just last month unleashed a new batch of half-orcs on her unassuming customers. Already they’d been a boon for business, though when one toes a social line like that one must also invest in tighter security.

Her clients privacy was absolutely her utmost priority as long as no one damaged the merchandise. She hadn’t had an incident in almost a year (the poor girl had to be let back onto the street after; there just wasn’t much of a market around here for scars like that) and she very much prided herself on that. She had all but Doreni’s most influential in her pocket and soon even they would follow. She had it on good authority that Mr. Blight and his cadre had recently taken a liking to the alabaster skin and remarkable variety that Changelings could provide between the sheets. She was making moves already.

Everything in due time.

It was in this moment of self-reflection and appreciation that she was interrupted with some very rude news. Liliana knocked quietly and the Madame beckoned her in, turning from the balcony and returning into her office. “Forgive the intrusion, Madame. There is a disruption in the top floor suite.”

Everleigh’s brow furrowed, “Nonsense, dear. It’s never an intrusion when these things happen. Be a flower and fetch me Samson and Nichols.”

Liliana curtsied in her too-short skirt and disappeared. It would take the girl a moment to round up the brawn, and the Madame had never been one to shy away from business threats before. She would see to this personally.


Their eyes fluttered open almost simultaneously. The air smelled of lavender and chamomile, the room light by nothing but candles and a single window with its curtains thrown wide. The whole affair was draped in burgundy, gold, and earth satin’s. The merriment from downstairs was little but a soft thumping of feet and the occasional shout, an effect likely produced by the hand of a highly-paid, and judging by the intent of the establishment highly-private, wizard.

Mat didn’t like it.

He was the first to sit up and get his bearings. Life had taught him not to be caught unawares, despite his uncontrollable luck. A quick survey found him still dressed in naught but undergarments and completely defenseless save for his hat. He touched the brim, a habitual tic at this point. He’d been around so much Magic lately he was starting to develop some kind of complex.

Reverence, ever vigilant, rolled out of bed and got low, eyes darting around the room. She counted the four others, Mat sitting up and the other three still supine. She noted the many candles, short lengths of velvet cloth on end tables, and the tall, gaunt man standing in strange, crisp black clothes. He was inspecting his fingernails.

She also noted the lock boxes at the foot of each bed, the long mirror running from one end of the room to the other on the opposite wall, the various poultices and jars of lotions on the dressers underneath the mirror—

“Oh,” she said softly, realizing she was in a whorehouse.

Maximus wasted no time in standing, searching only for the threat. He quickly found the man in black. “Why have you brought me here?” He spoke firmly, with a military calm earned through years of fiercely fought battles and demand for order. The Man in Black looked up from his fingernails, as if only now noticing that they were all stirring. He folded his hands behind his back and looked at Maximus quizzically.

“How would you know I’ve brought you here?”

Raelyn pulled the covers of the bed over herself in modesty and stood, wrapping them around as best she could. She spoke as she pulled them tighter around herself to keep the blankets from falling. “It’s a fairly simple logical deduction. We’re all indisposed, you’re fully clothed and watching us.” She paused and looked around. “Also, where are our clothes?”

Mat stood and stretched, lackadaisical about his possible internment. “Yeah, what the busty silver-haired girl said.” Raelyn shot a glare at him.

“Some of us are more than our physical appearance,” she spat.

His response was quick. “Yeah, and a log swings between my legs.” He looked over at Reverence and shot a finger gun and wink her way. “Lookin at you, taily.” Reverence ignored him.

“Be quick, human. I feel grave tidings from my temple. How may I return?” Reverence moved toward the lockbox, assuming her robes were in there and trying to open it. The Man in Black laughed heartily. Balthazar, the last to truly stir and fully intent on staying out of any confrontation, quietly rolled from his bed and stood, trying his best to meld into the shadows near his bed. He found this quite difficult given his size, scales, and enormous dragon tail.

“Human! Oh my, I haven’t been called that in very long.” Maximus took two long-legged strides toward the Man and put their faces very close to one another.

“You will tell me where I am, who you are, and how I may return to Neverwinter.” He would never harm the Man, of course. It was against his Oath as a Paladin. The Oath was, however, very vague on threats.

The Man in Black became very stern and leaned perhaps a little closer to the Paladin still. “A Paladin would do wise to mind his actions, lest they be brought to the attention of my superiors.” They stared each other down for a long moment. Mat was the first to break the tense silence, eyeballing Reverence as she squatted and fiddled with the lock.

“Hey, horns. You drink Oosquai?” Reverence flicked her hand toward Mat and something invisible smacked him hard in the face. He winced and rubbed his cheek. “It’s a friendship thing! I want to be your friend, you flaming chit!” Raelyn chimed in from across the room.

“I think you just want to wax your bostaff.”

Mat grinned and pointed at her. “She jokes!”

“SILENCE!” The Man in Black’s voice boomed throughout the room and rattled the mirror behind him. The candles dimmed for a moment and then returned to full light. Everyone turned to look at him, all but Maximus jumping at the sudden loudness. The latter remained ever stoic, doing nothing but folding his arms across his barrel chest.

“We have little time, “ the Man continued. “You have all been chosen for a greatness that has been woven for millenia. The weapons you received will be integral to your part. I cannot provide you answers to the questions you surely have, but understand it’s not for lack of desire. I simply do not have them. I am an agent of the Cosmos, sent here to ensure your path stays true.”

Reverence noted that final phrase. She had heard that somewhere very recently. In the wheat field, from the scarecrow. Her eyes narrowed. The Man went on.

“You are in the Kingdom of Doreni, the port town of Eaglefell. You are here to kill the King. Questions?”

Mat raised his hand.

“About your mission, Matrim.”

Mat raised his hand again, eyes narrowing suspiciously. “How do you know my name?” The Man waves him off.

“It is not important. You will all complete this mission post haste. Do not dally as our window ever-closes. You will go and meet a man in a dark robe at The Prancing Pony, notable by the long scar that runs from his eye to his chest. He will be drinking a dark, Elvish wine.”

“You can’t tell it’s Elvish without drinking it,” Reverence absentmindedly added as she continued fiddling with the lock. The Man closed his eyes and took a deep breath before continuing.

“Understand me: You will not fail in this. You cannot fail. Try as you might this is your destiny and I’ll be hung that you will do anything to stop it. Too many hands have worked too hard. We are in the Final Act and the future of existence rides on…you all.” He looked around dejectedly. “I guess.”

“Talk about a vote of confidence,” Maximus snidely barked.

“I, for one, am offended,” Mat joked in turn.

“I will return once your mission is complete. The keys in your palms will open the lockboxes, wherein you will find your armor and weapons. May the Gods remain.” With that, the Man snapped his fingers. Distant thunder rolled and the light in the room dimmed to almost blackness, despite the curtains thrown wide. The once blazing sunlight temporarily blocked from pouring its warmth into the room. As quick as it disappeared it returned. Mat looked around.

The room remained the same, save for a new light dusting on the mirror. It stretched left and right of where the Man had stood and formed the shape of great, feathered wings. Raelyn’s stomach sank. Reverence swallowed. Mat looked thoughtful with his finger on his chin.

“Hey, everyone? I’m starting to think we’re in a whorehouse.” He paused for a moment, then continued, “And I’m fairly certain this is an orgy room.”


It took only a few minutes for everyone to gear up. It was mostly silent, despite Mat’s many attempts to strike up conversation (particularly with his new silver-haired companion, seeing as the one with horns refused to respond to his advances). Just as Maximus pulled on his last piece of armor, there came a loud ruckus from behind the door to the room and then it swung open.

In stumbled a large-bellied man with a mug of ale in one hand, arms around the shoulders of two woman at least half his size. He was laughing heartily until he saw the battle-hardened faces of the rooms occupants. His demeanor changed quickly, first to confusion and then to anger. “I’ve rented this room, you lot. I’ve got eight more girls coming up and I’m not liking to share.”

Maximus put his hand out, an expression meant to calm the man. “Pardon us, sir. We were just leaving.”

“Now hold on a second,” Mat said, pushing past Maximus. “I don’t think he can handle 10 on his own.” Reverence grabbed Mat’s ear and yanked hard once, earning a yelp of pain, and then released him. She spoke calmly.

“Like he said. We’re leaving.” They all made toward the door and the drunken man, perhaps thinking they were going to jump him, stumbled backward and shoved the women toward the group as he fled the room. Matrim caught both girls and wrapped his arms around their waists. He grinned handsomely at them.

Before he could make a move a rather bosomy woman strode confidently into the room with a hand on one hip. Noting the two girls Mat had in his arms, she spoke directly to him. “I assume you paid for their time?” Mat looked at both girls and back at the new woman.

“Well, I…” She cut him off before he could continue.

“I personally rent this room out and I don’t recognize any of you. You will leave my establishment. Now.” She stepped to the side and pointed out the door. Mat relinquished the girls and sadly followed his new cohorts. As they left they passed two large, leather-armored men coming up the staircase. The men stopped in front of the bosomy woman expectantly. She smiled softly at them. “Never mind, boys. The problem resolved itself. Do me a favor and hunt down the gentleman who rented this room, would you Samson? And Nichols, send Liliana and Teray up along with the other girls. We’ve got a bit of damage control to do.” The two men nodded silently and disappeared back down the staircase.

Madame Everleigh strode into the room to inspect it. She closed and locked the lockboxes, quickly made one of the beds whose sheets had been removed, and closed the open curtains. As she turned to leave the room, she saw the wing-shaped dust on the mirror and stopped in her tracks. Her stomach dropped and her heart started slamming in her chest.

It had been a long time since she’d seen a wingspan like that. It never bode well. She thought back, far back, to the last time. Before The Delicate Daisy was ever a thought in her mind. The time she was offered true salvation and turned down the Gods.

She couldn’t have this in her town again. Not now, not ever. She shook her head and cleared her throat, patting down the creases in her blouse. She would deal with this, too, in due time.

Everything in due time.

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Session 1 - The Oath-Keeper

His heart was racing. It hadn’t stopped since he’d awoken. He was in the middle of something very important when he blacked out but he couldn’t remember what it was. He was in a house, he remembered being quite stealthy. There were swords, hushed words.

That was it. Everything else was blank. In frustration he slammed his closed fist into the wall next to him, standing in the opened doorway. In front of him was the large, stone auditorium. He had work to do, and something had transported him here to toy with him. He didn’t like being the plaything of others.

Overwhelmed with a sense of urgency, perhaps fueled by the rage of a missed opportunity to further the cause of his Oath, he marched briskly to the tree that grew from the middle of the floor. No dirt could be found, but the dark-barked tree thrived in the magical light of the room. Its branches were thick with dark green leaves. He’d never seen a tree quite like it, but he easily recognized magic. This tree bled it like sap from a wound. It came off the thing in waves, almost smacking him in the face.

He inspected the trunk further and found no markings or apparent trickery. Paladins had to remain suspicious lest the evils of the world blindside them. He looked up into the branches and noticed a birds nest on one of the lower ones. He heard no birds, but he did see something shining through the various twigs and straw that comprised the structure. Unencumbered by his usual armor, he nimbly jumped and grabbed one of the thicker low-hanging branches, hoisting himself up to the nest’s level.

It was a key. A small, silver key that looked shiny and new. He took it quickly and leaped back down to the floor. As he turned the key over in his hand, completely baffled as to its purpose or reason for being here, he heard the sharp cry of a crow.

He looked up and was greeted by three jet black birds, each with talons out and ready to kill. The first couple managed to scratch his face and set about generally buffeting him around with their wings. This only further fueled his rage as he began to lash out blindly with his fists. He didn’t have time for this sort of madness, he had a mission to complete.

With a guttural war cry he swung wide with one fist and slammed his knuckled into the side of one crow, knocking it with a loud THUD to the ground. It remained there, a lifeless shell of its former fury. Its fellows, perhaps seeing the true power of their foe, quickly retreated back into the dark branches of the tree and out of sight. They made no further noise.

His breathing was quick and blood trickled down the side of his face from a small wound. He wiped it away and realized he was clutching the key painfully in his palm. He opened his hand and looked down, noting the white imprint the key had left where it had dug into his skin. Already he was tired of these games and would surely bring to justice the perpetrator as first chance.

As he regained his composure, he noticed a light coming from the trunk of the tree. It was small and centered. A keyhole. He quickly slid the key into its home and turned. From deep within the ancient wood there was the sound of something being dropped, and then a thin seam began to spread around the keyhole. It culminated in the outline of a door and, after flashing brilliantly for a moment, it fell forward and onto the floor.

He brought his hand down from his eyes, having shielded them from the flash, and saw something quite unexpected. A simple club, made of the same dark wood of the tree, but it seemed to be…blinking? More like phasing. One minute it was there, then it would become nothing but a fuzzy outline until it disappeared completely. Then, a few moments later, it would slowly fade back into existence.

He reached in and removed the club from its compartment, grasping it by its thick, knobby handle. It had a perfect heft to it, definitely something you could do some damage with, even against an armored opponent. As he grasped it, the phasing immediately stopped and it became completely solid.

As he inspects the club, his hand begins to tingle. He turns it over and sees a few tiny sprouts moving from the club over his hand. He quickly tries to drop the club but finds it won’t release from his palm. It’s stuck there as if it were slathered in glue. He could only watch in growing horror as the saplings turned into thick branches that crawled up his arm. His skin grew hard and bark-like, the club fusing completely with his arm and effectively replacing it.

A deep woman’s voice echoed in his mind, “Maximus Velis, Oath Keeper of Neverwinter. You are mine.” The woman cackled madly and Maximus screamed in terror, drowning out the sound of Great Wings beating behind him. As the icy feeling of the fusion reached his shoulder, his world went black.

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Session 1 - The Nature-Walker

A thick cord of calm helped keep the Nature-Walker grounded. Inherently his people already had a firm countenance and no qualms staring fear in the face, but his druidic training had helped push him above his peers. A connection to the Fey, constant calm, and the confidence his draconic abilities instilled within him made him a truly fearsome competitor in any match. An empty stone auditorium did little to rattle him.

Never one to tarry, he spied the table centered in the room immediately and made for it. He needed to find a way back to his homeland so he could finish…something. He stopped in his tracks, looking at nothing in particular as he tried to remember what it was he had been doing before he arrived here. He picked and prodded his memories, trying to remember anything from the past two or three days, and came up empty. Strange.

There were a couple of flashes here and there. His father, a flame, the sound of Great Wings beating the air like steady war drums. Like still images on paper with no connecting theme. He had never encountered such a severe blackout in his memory. This was obviously concerning.

Suddenly he found himself at the table. He must have absentmindedly wandered toward it while lost in thought. The table itself was waterlogged and rotten. It was a testament to its craftsmanship that it even still stood. One of the legs had clearly been chewed on by something and the wood was almost squishy to the touch.

Atop the table sat a glass of clear liquid and a note. Leaving the glass, he picked up the parchment and read the lengthy note.

You are nothing. You are a blot. You are a shit-stain on the fabric of reality and every ethereal plane. You, Evrett Blight, are the man who will bring about the end of the world and I will have no part in it. That said, I cannot bring myself to end you. You have done too much for my family and despite your recent transgressions there is still som part of you, I know, deep within that wants this all to end. So take this, the gift you never gave me, that you might never have to suffer such an unquenchable desire as I had for these weeks I’ve been in this filthy, disgusting cellar, and to perhaps bring some humility or empathy into your poor, poisoned, evil soul.

Sincerely,
Maribeth Devroux

As he finished reading he noticed some markings on the table. Underneath where the note had been, someone had deeply etched a pentagram into the wood. It was hastily done, but it shined in the magical light of the auditorium as if freshly paints black. Each point of the star was dotted with a different rune that he did not recognize.

He placed the parchment back on top of the rune and moved his attention to the glass. It had been there for awhile, as indicated by the many bubbles formed on the inside surface of the glass. He flicked it to make a large chunk of them disappear. It looked, smelled, and felt completely benign. He dabbed his tongue with a drop to discover it was nothing but water.

Having found nothing of real note, he went to put the glass down and suddenly found himself quite thirsty. He didn’t know how long it had been since he’d last had a drink, but since this water was here it made no sense not to take what he could get. He chugged it down and found himself only more thirsty. He looks around the room and sees something he did not before: a trickle of water coming from a crack low in the wall on one side of the room.

He makes haste to the flow and cups his hand, drinking for a moment before putting his mouth directly on the trickle source and greedily guzzled as the water grew in speed and quantity. The cracked widened as he drank, completely absorbed in quenching his newfound thirst. He didn’t notice the large crack that had formed in the wall above him and to the side, raining down a small waterfall of water before completely caving and releasing a torrent down into the room. The sudden rush of water blindsided him and as he was pushed to the side his head slammed into the stone floor, knocking him unconscious.

When he awoke he found himself near the ceiling of the auditorium, with little more than a heads space worth of air as the entire room was almost filled to the brim with water. Thinking quickly, he took a few deep breaths to expand his lungs and then one final large one he held before diving. He had to find a way out, fast.

The place where the wall had caved in was now blocked entirely by wet sand, meaning the only possible other exit he could see was back into the hallway he originally came from. As he made downward for the door, his draconic tail swishing back and forth with ease in the water, something glinted up at him from the floor.

A sudden sense of calm overtook him. Though he was not yet yearning for breath, he could feel his lungs beginning to shrivel, and now that worry was gone. He was enthralled by the item as he swam toward it, completely abandoning his plan to make for the doorway.

It turned out to be a beautiful, jeweled trident. The metal shined almost opalescent in the water and as soon as he touched it any desire to breath left him. He felt his inherent calm return to him. A soft woman’s voice called out to him from everywhere, filling his mind with soft, wet sand to slow his thoughts. He smiled lazily and admired the weapon in his hands. The woman’s voice speaks to him, “Sshhh, no worrying, Balthazar. The calmness is your ally. Come, let me show you the way to freedom.”

Balthazar felt the water drain around him. Where it went no longer mattered. He was safe with this trident and the strange, disembodied woman. As the final dregs disappeared into the floor, he heard the beating of Great Wings behind him, followed by serene blackness.

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Session 1 - The Draconic Half-Elf

What concerned her the most was that her link with Mischief had been severed. She could neither reach or nor apparently receive any communication with her small pseudo-dragon familiar for the first time since they had become companions. For the first time in a long while she found herself well and truly alone. Still, she had her book.

As she pushed through her own door she was greeted with an enormous, empty auditorium. Made from familiar stone, it was remarkably cold in here. She would hazard a guess that it was almost inhospitable, and as such her lack of any real clothing made her all the more uncomfortable.

At first glance it didn’t appear that this room had much of anything in it at all, but closer inspection revealed a small bowl in the center of the room. She quickly made her way over to the bowl to investigate and as she got closer she realized the temperature rose. It wasn’t a large amount, but it was noticeable. The room was still unreasonably cold but now, next to the bowl, she didn’t think she would die soon of hypothermia.

Ever the student, she reflexively opened her journal to note her observations on the bowl and dagger she had found lying on the ground next to it, but realized she had nothing to write with. She felt her heart sink slightly but put it out of her mind and closed the journal. The familiar thump of the pages closing together seemed to jog something in her mind.

She remembered the sky. Not unheard of, considering her preferred field of study, but it was something about the sky specifically. The stars, maybe. Yes, it was the stars. They were…going out. Her brow furrowed as she tried to dig deeper and remember more from before she’d blacked out, but nothing made itself apparent. She was frustrated with herself and unable to concentrate. She groaned and dropped her book on the floor, deciding to occupy herself with the artifacts in front of her for at least a moment.

The bowl was shaped like half of a hollow sphere with no flattening on its underside. It was frankly remarkable that the bowl was sitting so perfectly upright, even after she had disturbed it and returned it to its place. It was made of some highly porous volcanic rock she couldn’t place, but it gleamed darkly in the magical light of the place as if coated in some dark liquid.

The dagger was old, fairly dull and at first glance appeared to be rusted. She eyed the blade more closely and realized it was, instead, dried blood. She felt her stomach turn and went to drop the knife but something stopped her. She was feeling…happy. Giggly, even. For a moment it concerned her but then she simply let the feeling wash over her like a warm blanket. She stood above the bowl, looking at the knife, and a giggle quickly turned into a raucous laugh. She was losing control of herself quickly and she didn’t seem to care.

Before she realized what was happening, she had her hand open and palm-down over the bowl, dragging the half-dull blade across her palm and watching as the blood dripped downward and landed in the bowl. It greedily sucked up her offering through its pores as he laughter became a maddening cackle.

The pores inside the bowl began to bubble and ooze a dark red liquid. It filled the bowl with remarkable speed and, as she wondered what she found so funny, she realized the wound on her hand was no longer bleeding. It looked as if it had been cauterized.

The liquid inside the bowl began to spill out and roll down its side, pooling on the floor at her feet. She dropped the dagger and took a step back. The overflow began to bubble as if on a fire and, suddenly, erupted into a geyser. Now that there was so much of it she realized what she was looking at.

Blood. The geyser shot all the way up to the ceiling and droplets of blood began to rain down on her. Her cackle was unending, though she was still aware of what was going on in the back of her mind. She no longer had control of herself. She was screaming to regain that control but whatever had taken her over would not relent. The droplets of blood became a deluge so fierce she couldn’t see more than a few inches in front of her.

Then, with all the fierceness it had begun, the blood torrent ceased. The room was coated in the viscous fluid and there, floating in front of her, floated a gleaming war axe. Her cackle subsided, finally, to a chuckle and eventually a happy sigh as she regained herself. She reached out for the War Axe. It was the only thing in the room somehow untouched by all the blood.

As she pulled it toward her she heard the sound of Great Wings behind her. For the first time in her life, she instinctively tensed up and brought the War Axe back, turning as she began to yell a fierce warcry and bring the blade down upon her newly-arrived foe, but as she turned she was met with only blackness.

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Session 1 - The Farmboy War Hero

The Farmboy wiped the grogginess from his eyes and blinked in the light of the brightly lit audtiorium. It was barren. The same cold, rough stone walls he had experienced thus far. This place wouldn’t be so bad if there was a girl or two, he thought. There, in the middle of the enormous room, stood what looked like a rather elegant pedestal with something atop it. He absent-mindedly fixed his hat.

He’d been through a lot. Lots of battle, mostly, and he was never one to pretend that his many victories hadn’t been at least partly due to his incomparable luck. One thing he was not a fan of was Magic and its many manifestations. This was magic. He knew it was Magic because his skin was tingling and he wanted to sneeze. That second one could also be the dust that seemed to be everywhere, but for now he was chalking it up to the Magic.

Seeing no other way, he strode reluctantly to the pedestal in the center of the room. There, just as he had expected, sat a leather-bound, tattered, dog-eared book. The dust that seemed to permeate everything in this room had certainly settled on this book as well. It was so thick he had to wipe the cover off with one weathered hand to look for a title. There was none.

Unexpectedly, the wind in the room started to pick up. It was a concerning breeze at first, concerning because he was in a completely sealed room with no windows and only the door he’d come through, but it quickly grew to gusts he had to brace himself against. Soon it became to much and he tumbled off to the side, head over foot, and landed on his ass. His hat skittered past him a ways having been blown off in the wind, but the gale ceases as quickly as it arrived.

He stands and pats his pants and shirt, sending puffs of dust into the air around him, making him couch and sneeze violently for a moment. After composing himself he realizes that his hat is missing and, for a moment, panics. He feverishly looks around his immediate area and luckily finds it not far away. He retrieves it before approaching the pedestal again.

The book now stood open to one of the opening pages. The pages are yellowed and dry, almost parchment-like and cracking at the edges. He finds himself impressed that it, too, did not become dust in the wind. Written on the page in handsome script were four lines of unpunctuated prose.

Tested Thrice, now you shall be
Prepare thine self that we may see
The knowledge and skill you will acquire
So days old prophesies may transpire

Having dealt with prophesies before, he waited for something to happen. With these things he found it was best to let it come to you rather than seek it out. When nothing happened for a few minutes, he decided to turn the page.

There’s a land you hail from
A sort of hearthstone
So tell us now
Where you call home?

He looked around expectantly. No armed men were advancing upon him, no strangeness abounded around him and he found that this was oddly concerning. Still, he saw no way to get back home other than to, at least temporarily, play the game. Seeing no writing utensil, he cleared his throat and said, “Uh, Andor?” Nothing happens yet again and he turns the page only to find more verse.

Your skills unmatched
Your heart so pure
Let us see now
What you’ll endure

Finally something happened and it still, somehow, managed to catch him unawares. The floor beneath him cracked asunder and began to drift. He looked around quickly and realized the entire room was getting bigger. The walls were drifting slowly away from him and the floor had turned into small islands of stone separated by inky black gaps of unknown depths. The piece of floor he stood on moved backward, away from the pedestal and book.

Ever quick on his feet, he leapt from the stone he was on to the one next-closest to the pedestals stone. After two more jumps, one of which he almost lost his balance and fell into oblivion on, he successfully made it back to the pedestal-island. As his feet landed, a bright light shone from the base of the pedestal and a tiny door swung outward revealing a hidden compartment within. Inside this compartment an extravagant mace made of material he had never seen before leaned against one wall.

He approached warily and reached in, grabbing the mace and removing it. His skin was tingling again and he had to sneeze. This place, as far as he was concerned, was absolutely horrible. Nothing good had happened to him here, and he had yet to meet a single woman. Still, if he came out of it with a shiny weapon it might all be worth it.

He suddenly felt very proud of himself. He had earned this mace through his intelligence and physical skill. Few could best him in these traits, if any, and he was prouder to be holding this mace than he could remember ever being. He spoke to himself, grinning, “Mat, you glorious son of a bitch, you did it.”

Suddenly Mat heard the beating of Great Wings from behind him and, as he turned, his world went black.

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Session 1 - The Demon

The Demon opened the door to find a vast auditorium full of wheat stalks, waiting to be harvested. The dim light from the hallways permeated this room just as it had the hallway, though it was perhaps brighter here; not quite as bright as the noon-day sun. A wind from nowhere rustled the tops of the stalks with a warm, refreshing breeze. No longer did she shiver from the cold stone, now she felt at home.

She clutched the triangle pendant hanging from her neck, whispering a soft prayer to the Goddess. She had learned, perhaps the hard way sometimes, that Joy could be found even in the most dire of circumstances. She felt at ease for now, but her studies and experience had volumes to speak about what she could expect. Cautiously she pressed forward into the field of grain.

The plants were tall and thick, yielding to her touch as if they were mere saplings. They grew from the same rough, stone floor in the hallway and presumably the room in which she had began her journey. It felt like late summer in the town near her temple.

She stopped, something pulling at her mind from the side. A memory from before she blacked out. There was some sort of…turmoil, but not in the town. It was at the Temple. Her sisters were rushing her somewhere, and the small group of Scarlet Mummers had been rallied.

Her breath hitched and she clutched her pendant tighter. Those women were only brought to bear in times of war, rare though it may be in Temples of Joy. They had always kept to themselves but the clergy had always been assured that should need arise the Mummers would be ready. She didn’t like this, and she couldn’t remember much else to quell her worry. It wasn’t that she thought there was need to worry (she had complete faith in the Mummer’s combat abilities), but more than she knew now that she was missing out on a perfect opportunity to prove her faith to her Goddess. She had been trying for so long, relentlessly, and the opportunity had been ripped from her hands.

The Demon shook her head to clear her thoughts. To find Joy one must remember to live in the moment. Joy cannot be had in reflection, only in understanding and caring. Right now she had to understand her situation and care for herself. Even the Goddess of Joy understood self-preservation.

As she moved further into the wheat she began to see a clearing. By her reckoning she should be about in the center of the room, and she was met with only more questions upon clearing away the final stalks of wheat. In front of her, in a clearing atop a bed of bend wheat stalks, stood a raggedy scarecrow on a pole with one arm wrapped around a scythe.

Upon further investigation the scarecrow remains unworthy of note, except perhaps for how it and the wheat had found themselves in this stone auditorium, but the Scythe is certainly attention-grabbing. It wasn’t notable for any markings or patterns or apparent magical imbuements, but in fact the complete lack of all three and its immaculate state. The handle a smooth, dark wood and the blade still shining and sharp as a newly forged blade could be. Intrigued, she took the scythe and pulled it from the scarecrow’s grasp.

As she pulled the scarecrow came down off the pole with the instrument. She side-stepped the falling bag of straw and, with a strange fascination, admired the scythe. Suddenly a calm, raspy, soothing voice chimes in from behind her.

“You claim the Scythe as if it were your own but you’ve given nothing to deserve it. The Goddess demand sacrifice. What will you give?” She looked at the now standing and talking Scarecrow in apparent befuddlement, not sure how to answer as first. Eventually the straw-man’s meaning came through and she handed the Scythe back.

“I cannot take the weapon of another Goddess. I claim fealty only to Lliira. Please, forgive me.” She hands the Scythe back to the Scarecrow humbly. He returns her gesture with a warm, stitched smile.

“The gift of Loyalty is an old gift indeed. The drive and dedication one must possess to truly adhere to the values of those you hold most dear is a trait most rare among the many. You have earned great favor with the Goddess and the Scythe will be yours forever more.” The Scarecrow hands the Scythe back to her and turns as if to leave, then stops and turns back to her. “Be warned, heroine: Darkness is ahead. Evil, vile manipulation. You will meet others, all more power than you and I, or even our Goddess’, but with loyalty in your heard and a morality that points true you will overcome, with your companions, and take your rightful place amongst the Hall of Heroes. Tread carefully, Reverence, for not all are who they seem to be.”

The Scarecrow turns again and disappears in a puff of smoke, along with all the wheat. Reverence looks down at her new weapons and the blade gleams. Her hands warm as she holds it and an overwhelming sense of ease flows upward from the tips of her toes and washes over her shoulders with a sigh.

Then, once more, the beating of Great Wings. A moment of panic. Blackness.

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Prologue

They all awoke in the dark stillness of a stone room taking a harsh, cold breath; their first in who knew how long. Confusion set upon all and for one, panic, but their steely resolve quickly compensated. They had each been taken, though none were sure from where. The beating of Great Wings, the general grogginess as if having been drinking, but none of the other side effects of such.

The air was still and chilled. One by one they sat or stood, trying to get their bearings. Even with eyes perfectly sculpted for such a situation, no sight could pierce this veil. That alone was worrisome. They each called out and got no response but the quick echo off the walls. They had been stripped down to nothing but their underwear, armor and weapons taken but personal effects left in their place.

For one, an emblematic necklace. A prize from her God to guide her through her many trials. Contrary to her nature though her beliefs may be, her earnest caring and dutiful obedience had blessed her with a godly praise the likes of which had not been seen for eons.

For another, a hat. Simple, affordable, worn. It had seen battle, tide, romance, and blood. The brim was flimsy and seemed to be covered in a very thin film of dust and dirt, but it was his. They’d been together for so long it was as much as part of him as his scars.

For a third, a journal. A tome tattered as much as the hat, though perhaps more ink spilled upon it than blood. Filled to bursting with notes, sketches, thoughts and stories, all earned or researched and stored for future use. Almost hoarded with a draconic greed.

For the remaining two, nothing. One by purpose and the other by his own virtue. The Nature-Walker, ever prudent and immaterial, left without even clothes upon his back. The Wielder and Captain of Law and Order, dressed in his skivvies in pious homage to his Lord.

The adventurous of the Five stood first, feeling around for guidance. Some found a simple wooden door rocking in its frame upon its hinges and pressed forward blindly. Others created a mental map of their surroundings: A 10×10 foot room with rough stone floor, ceiling, and walls broken only by the simple wooden door.

The hallway beyond the door served perhaps one purpose. It bore light from an unseen source. Despite the many incantations and examinations attempted by the Five the source remained unfound, though the Nature-Walker, the Demon, and the Captain knew magic when they saw it.

They were each alone, oblivious to the others parallel and almost identical existence. Their felt alone, unaware of how closely wound they were into the Cosmic Tapestry. They shivered and sniffed, worried but unfearful as they pressed to the end of the hallway only to find another wooden door, this one so old it had begun to rot.

In tandem each reached out and unwittingly fulfilled their destiny. Long though the plan had been in motioned, each of the Five completed a millennia-long search for heroes who could etch new history and retell what had been lost. These Five would speak to beings of ancient timbre and dwell in places crumbling with history. Their swords would flash with light newly born and flay the meat of beast blinded by eternity.

Each Hero pushed open the door to begin the Final Act, to take part in a Cosmic Epoch, and was greeted by a most confusion sight.

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