A Harrowing Saga

The Blood Spilled for the Good of Many, over the Good of Few
Larissa and Alder: The Choice of a Lesser of Two Evils

The four heroes rode out through the Heartlands, and met with Larissa, the former professor of the University of Magi, rumored to be a witch. They learned that mercenaries sent here were slain, and she had created a small enclave, a camp – where she was training boys and girls the art of magic.

Labeled a witch by Unghausen, the heroes learned Lord Alder, had Thorn Unger’s mother, and he family slain, and after finding out the University was destroyed, and the order of magic in the realm thrown upside down, wanted to create a new University, that he would control and direct with the help of the Salamanders.

The heroes had a big choice to make. Larissa, in order to bring back Skysong, the Silver Dragon, had to realize eight souls of cultists would be destroyed so he could be released into the mortal realm, and unbound from the abyss and void.

Each hero had their futures read, mysteriously by Larissa, and decided it would be best to help Thorn throw a coup – with assassinating Alder, and installing Thorn as the new Lord of Unghausen. When Thorn would overtake holding of the fiefdom, he would set out to hold a tribunal, for the actions of his father, and ask for aid from Reikland to build a new University of Magi, which would undoubtedly, take years to build.

The heroes then set forth, with Thorn, and Hugo to sculpt a path that resurrect the university among the magi, wizards, and sorcerers left without any support, and bring a new sense of order to the realm.

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The Web and the Journey to Install a True Ruler
Bringing revenge upon a Chancellor, and regaining a holdfast.

Heading to the Library of Time, and meeting with the Arch Meister Cuiffon, he explained to the Wardens the meaning of the Taint, and the cycle, and web of time. He explained to them the meaning of their endeavor, that regardless of the choice they would make that the taint would find itself in the hands of the children of Aren, no matter their choice.

They left the Library, and outside of the Library was a massive fist of Golden Hands, led by Vinard, who threatened the Wardens with arrest to bring the Taint to Cintra. They plane shifted to the Abyss, and found themselves in the Abyssal plane of the Peaks of Solus in Reikland. They found themselves in a cave, where a massive demonic drake, advised them he was the keeper of dead Drow souls, and they headed inward, to the domain, and city of Drow who worshipped Calinth, a succubus who had taken hold of their city.

Meeting with the captain of Calinth’s army, they met with the Succubus Queen of the Drow, who asked the Wardens to undertake something, to get revenge on her dead husband – to kill the Chancellor of Aedirn – a vampire who had him murdered to keep her from stopping Vampirism spread in the City-State. With hesitance, and driving Owain to rage, Orden was convinced by Bilgrum this would benefit them as Calinth would offer them her army of Drow to the Warden’s aid during a time of strife and war.

They learned an old Warden keep lay in waiting in Aedirn, most likely now occupied by undead, and went on a new journey to install Owain’s brother as the new leader of Aedirn, and destroy the undead plight that was ravaging the City-State.

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The Pull of the Cycle
Leaving Shrike, and the Taint

The heroes awakened in Malcanther’s temple, where they met the succubus who explained to them they were the patrons of Shrike. Todd, an old friend guided them out of the city, where they saw demons and devils of all sorts cheering and shouting that they had gotten the taint.

Being advised they were granted leave by the Counsel of Shrike, Malcanther bestowed Bilgrum with a pendant of Shrike, which could teleport them all back to Shrike once in a time of need.

They exited Shrike, to a black cloud over Tho-Siggot, where they met a planetar angel who wanted them to give her the Taint.

She asked them to give her the Taint, and after arguing, she called upon the city an earthquake, where they fought her. Nearly killing Bilgrum, and taking control of Orden’s fire elementals, Taryn netherblasted her and made her explode into a cloud of golden blood.

The black cloud faded, and the taint on Tho-Siggot was cleansed. The heroes ventured south to Dagon’s Rock, where they found the Warden’s slaughtered horses. They saw the corpses of wardens and pit fiends lying in the snow of the fortress. Entering the chambers of the fortress, they found more dead wardens, and heard labored breathing down the hall.

There, slumped against the wall, with his intestines hanging out, Ariakas sat, clenching the Rituals of the Wardens – a tome that he fought to keep from being stolen.

He explained to them the true purpose of resurrecting Salaren, and bringing suffering to Saren, so that the Wardens may regroup, and destroy Salaren. By destroying the mortal god, they would put an end to having the abyss and void, and have a single plane of existence so that the cycle may continue as it had once begun.

Orden argued that Ariakas had lied to them – which he did, otherwise they would not join the Wardens. He asked if there was another way to destroy the Taint other than using it to bring suffering. Ariakas explained the place to start would be the Library of Time, though it was foretold that no matter where they go, the web, the cycle would go on, as they are but threads in the cycle that would keep weaving with – or without them.

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The sacrifice and the underbelly of Shrike
Pacts, taint, and promises to devil gods.

The wardens met Sekolah, where they accepted her offer. Being branded as her champions, they agreed to find the ancient sea elf city beneath the crags by cutter’s neck in the south of the realm. They are tasked to convincing their queen to bring back their beliefs in Sekolah, to where she would assist them in a time of need. Bestowed as her champions, the devil goddess threw them from the sea to the shores of Tho-Siggot where they met Taryn and her companion Vlad, a pair of thieves who said they were there to escort the wardens to Tho-Siggot.

Upon reaching Tho-siggot, they noticed the city itself was mostly rubble. Many citizens were paralyzed in stone, their faces twisted in agonizing horror. They reached the great hall of the castle keep, and encountered the hell hound – Drak Al’Than, a liche, and traitor of Karn, who waited for them at the dusted throne, with his three death knights.

He explained to them he would let them get to the undercity, under the condition they fought one of his death knights as a group as a source of entertainment. Zed took it upon himself to fight the death knight one-on-one, where he was defeated mercilessly. Losing the bet with Drak, the wardens and their companions headed down a slide, that dumped them on a pile of rotted corpses.

Climbing down the pile, they reached a massive room, with a demonic butcher cutting up dead demons, and boiling them in a pair of pots. Meat hooks hung from the ceilings, with chunks of dried demon meat. He attacked the wardens, and Vlad the Vandal slew the creature in a pair of strikes.

After searching the butcher’s room, they came into a worker demon hauling a pushcart of corpses, who Zed followed into the room of corpses. As the others headed down a rope bridge, past a bubbling dead lake, to the squalor of the slums below. They heard a thunderous bang, and saw the demon worker heading back with Zed’s decapitated, nude corpse in the cart with his belongings. “He drew his sword,” the demon worker said, as he unloaded Zed’s corpse. “Dinner time!” Zed’s companions divided his gear amongst themselves and headed along to another rope bridge, where they waited in line to board a ferry to cross to the main part of Shrike.

An officious imp informed them they needed to sign waivers, and they entered a building for “Living” where three armored demons heckled them for their luck to survive Shrike. A demonic, hook nosed clerk behind a desk gave them waivers prior to boarding a freighter for mortals. Smiley Tom, the ferryman informed them they could find the spear Taint in the temple district.

After getting off the docks, and unloading their loot with a merchant who they almost drove to violence, they headed to the Horn, a tavern where they met a former golden hand, tainted, and turned into a devil priest. He led them to the temple of Vinard, where he explained that Malcanther, the Queen of Succubi, and keeper of the Taint would deal with them to get hold of the spear.

Bilgrum prayed to Salaren, who said to get the spear, they would need to make a sacrifice.

Malcanther asked if they would offer Vlad as a sacrifice, so he could be tortured and publicly executed. After examining Taryn, she said Taryn’s pact to her would suffice. Taryn abided, and became bound to the Succubi Queen.

She led the group down to the chambers below the temple, where she led them to the tomb of King Jarmun, the betrayer of Salun, where his mummified corpse gripped the taint, the spear giving off such a dark aura that faces of horror and pain swirled within his tomb. Orden approached, and gripped the spear, and Jarmun awoke for a brief moment, releasing a death rattle. They placed the spear in their bag of holding, and accepted Malcanther’s offering of them to rest within her temple before working on leaving the accursed city on the lower level of the abyss.

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Deathwish
Facing Sekolah in his domain

The small band of wardens had swam, with Orden shifting into an octopus to hurry their way into a forgotten acquatic elf, and sahuagin city now in ruins, searching for a way to reach the surface of the sea. They assaulted the remnants of the city, which were sahuagin that worshiped Sekolah, an ancient devil shark, the patron of sahuagin society. Instead of searching for a way out, the wardens went deeper in.

They ravaged the small barracks, and set off an alarm, and unbeknownst to the heroes, was an alarm for the nearby settlement of sahuagin to come to their aid to protect the temple. Not waiting, the wardens pushed forward, ransacking the quarters of Sekolah’s priestesses, finding the head priestess was in the small temple, sacrificing herself to become a host for the aspect of Sekolah.

With blood, and butchering left in their wake, the wardens found the head priestess, who soon turned into a massive, bloated, slug-like colossal shark, covered with many tentacles, and tendrils above them, with nowhere left to turn, but to face an evil so ancient, death would stare them in the face.

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Drowning Together

Orden and Gavin agreed to become wardens, and traveled together through the abyss, awakening to find they had gotten the implanted eyes of demons, and their index fingers removed.

When they returned to the physical realm, they were greeted by Ariakas, and two wardens – Bilgrum, and Zed, polar opposites of one another. Bilgrum, a scholar, and warrior priest working towards creating a connection between the Arenite and Salunite religions, and Zed, a dark figure, yet a necessary evil the wardens need to overturn Aedirn’s undead monarchy.

Orden and Gavin were given details that Bilgrum and Zed would accompany them to increase the likelihood of extracting the Taint – the one spear that killed Salun himself from Tho-Siggot, but that they would be going by boat across the sea.

They met with a corsair captain – Timora and her first mate, Deckard, and boarded their ship. Soon after leaving, Zed was offended by Timora’s behavior towards Deckard, who was of orcish blood. A brief scuffle shortly ended when the vessel was attacked by a pair of dire sharks, that were butchered by the crew and heroes.

The deaths of the dire sharks was merely a ploy, as Deckard’s muttered conversation with Zed about Sekolah – the devil shark that controlled the abyss in this part of the sea was real – when Sekolah’s brood – a megalodon swallowed the vessel whole. The heroes thought they would have to cut their way out, but instead, the megalodon brought them down to the depths of the ocean, where they were spit out, into the ruins of an ancient acquatic elf city, now the home of sahuagin that worship the devil shark Sekolah.

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Reunited

Gavin and Orden did not stay awake long – they awoke in a small room, with their equipment gone, and wounds wrapped.

Confused, and disoriented, they opened the locked door to the room, finding themselves in the ruins of an old crypt. Candles and torches were half-hazardly lit, and found themselves greeted by Ariakas – a warden whom they met long ago, and though to be dead.

He led them to Silas, the Alpha of the Wardens, who gave them the choice to become wardens, and to lead the way to reuniting the realm.

They would have to traverse the abyss in Dagon’s Rock, before they would reawaken from their first test. They learned that the abyss itself was tied to the physical plane, and was a twisted, rusted, ichor covered hell that was parallel to their own.

They drank the blood of a pair of demons, and Ariakas sent them into a trance, and they awoke in the hell they had encountered only once before at the desecrated remnants of the University of Magi.

They came to the throne room, and found Archien, who offered them the choice that if they entertain him by helping him get control over the abyssal domain of Dagon’s Rock, they would gain his favor.

Instead, the heroes angered him, and Archien left them alone, in a hallway of seven doors, each with a face, and only one with the key to the next part of the keep.

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Nightmares

After taking the dream mist, Orden and Gavin awoke as a pair of wolves, led by an alpha frost wolf they encountered early in their adventures.
They were led to a burning village, one from nearly a thousand years ago – that Orden had destroyed, along with his wife who sacrificed his son for Aren.
They watched Orden’s past self amongst the rubble, weeping, holding his dead son, while being confronted by the remaining tribal leaders who took him to a cave far in the mountains.
In this cave, Orden and Gavin watched as the leaders of the tribe commenced a ritual that would trap Orden in the ice, a tradition of cruel punishment for other tribesman that suffered similar fates. In this ritual, they witnessed the creation of Sif – the physical form of Orden’s darkness, who managed to escape as he murdered one of the tribal elders.
They awoke after chasing him through the trees, naked, and crucified, to the smell of burning wood. The village that they were once in was ablaze.

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Shared Visions

After emerging from the illithid, drow, and duergar ridden underground dungeon, the heroes escaped after Loz had set dynamite, collapsing the dungeon into itself. Narrowly escaping death, they were forced to resurrect Soren – who returned to life as a high elf. With little known about the werewolf warlord, it can only be expected that he survived, using a portal to get into the abandoned ruins of the duergar city, perhaps to be seen again later…

The heroes found themselves at the base of a mountain, where a tribe of barbarians has set the cursed one to right the wrongs of his past. The tribal shaman has made them take dream mist, where they will travel together into another plane and look into Sif and the cursed one whose memories are shrouded in the wake of death he left before he was frozen in ice.

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Into the Darkness

The men that charged the Golden Hands were savages from the Eye of the World Mountains – barbarian clans that had heard of Orden being alive, and came to capture him, and punish him for his wrongdoings.

The barbarian clansmen charged the Golden Hands, and butchered many of them in a ferocious rage. The Golden Hands, although outnumbering the savages from the North, were unprepared, as they were attacked by the rear, and overwhelmed.

Orden and his companions were captured, and herded along in chains, awaiting a trial by the chiefs who wanted justice.

A pair of former Black Thorn mercenaries ambushed the caravan of barbarians, wanting to get their mark on the adventurers. With many attempts on their lives still yet unanswered, Soren took up his oath to Orden and Gavin, and hijacked the cart that held them. Amidst the chaos, Soren fled from his pursuers, with Orden and Gavin clinging on for dear life.

The riders chased the fleeing cart. In a last stand to escape, and judging the environment, Soren slew one of the horses, causing the cart to topple alongside the small mountainside… and caused an avalanche in the process.

Covered in snow, in the midst of a wreckage, Orden and his companions were thrown into an underground cavern, where they met a mercenary the barbarians had hired – a Half-Orc, undead figure Loz, who advised them he needed to escape as well as them.

Heading through the cavern together, and noticing the many missing dead corpses, Loz and the adventurers headed into the unknown once again, regaining the lost time on their goal of obtaining the spear that had slewn Salun.

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