A Harrowing Saga

Usual Suspects
The Exorcism of Iaren Duran

The Wardens were given a letter of urgency, requesting their aid in an exorcism of the Countess Duran’s plea from Rinde, derailing their plans to seek voyage to the sea elven city of Quelos’nira.

The Countess’ daughter, had been stricken with possession from a devil known as Ehrain, unknowingly the fault of her butler, Galen Medici, a necromancer of Slaanar, an elder evil from the Abyss.

Seeking to gain control over Rinde, Galen had preemptively summoned Ehrain to take hold over the Countess’ daughter as a ploy for priests, and exorcists to attempt getting rid of the powerful devil, and in turn, killing them on their way out of the town, and stealing them of any coffers for his own use.

The Wardens, with the knowledge of Bilgrum, prepared for the exorcism, where Ehrain was banished back to the Abyss. He prepped his fellow companions on what to expect at the town library.

Coming in contact with an ancient Arenite summoning relic, they still know not what it summons, but kept the idol anyway, however, instead using a Salunite talisman that once belonged to the town alchemist’s late wife.

With the devil banished, and the necromancer Galen magically imprisoned, Bilgrum struck the man’s foot with his khopesh, and made sure he could not flee (though he was also blind).

Hearing the cries of the townsfolk, the Wardens and Nash went downstairs after saving the Countess from nearly being murdered, they found a mob lead by the town Alderman, who sought vengeance for the plague that they felt the Countess’ family was to blame.

Armed with weapons, farm tools, and torches, the town wants a lynching, but they know little of how long Galen’s magic has been at work.

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The Deal

The Wardens have been established. Many consider them a mercenary company, or an independent military.

After assisting Loz with slaughtering the Sons of Aren, or beastmen as they are more commonly known, they found the fortress that was being used by the beastmen, formerly Loz’s fortress, assaulted, and set to flames.

Elector Count Leopold of Stormhold breached the fortress when he heard word that a band of mercenaries was fighting the beastmen, and took advantage of the timing and destroyed what was left of the beastman scourge.

Loz and the Warden heroes found the fortress was in ruin. Leopold took the remaining were-barbarian women who were left as captives, against Loz’s wishes.

The Wardens would travel with Leopold to St. Cinnard, where they were informed that the Emperor wanted to meet with them.

They would stay at the Crested Duck, where they met with Ariakas at the Hooked Scabbard, and find out the Cabal was going to attack them, as they were still being hunted.

Nash Meltzer of the Sparrows, a mercenary company requested that he set up a long term contract with the Wardens for the benefit of both organizations. He admitted he was formerly a Cabal member, but wanted the Cabal dead.

Meeting with Emperor Vilmos Cinnard, the Warden heroes and Nash negotiated they would assist Cintra in diplomatic relations with the sea elves, who were attacking Cintran trade ships.

Currently the heroes are waiting to hear from Ariakas about the coup to where Silas’ commanders are attempting to overthrow him.

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The Aegis, and The New Age of Strife

A year and a half has passed, and the wardens and the heroes have vanquished the undead threat that plagued Aedirn for over a century.

Prince Tiberius was recognized as the true ruler of Aedirn, and regained his people’s faith when he announced that Aedirn would ally itself with the Wardens.

A small group of peace keepers, traveling through the city states in secret, the Wardens no longer had to hide, as they cleared out an old fortress at the base of the Wyvern’s Crown Mountains.

The Aegis Fortress has become formidable, but the Wardens now must regroup, and create a new identity that they must embrace. Known as the “Aegis” in the elder tongue, they are now protectors of the realm, however still unrecognized as more than just Salunite mercenaries, or militarized zealots.

The Primarch Silas has plans for the Wardens, who now with a fortress, must begin to break the city-states in the realm to form an allied nation against Yokuda, which has promised war against Saren.

After Helmgard being destroyed by Skysong, the great dragon haunts Reikland, Redania and Aedirn, while his cult grows.

Sekolah awaits the heroes to go to Quelos’nira, an ancient acquatic sea elf city, to begin worshipping her again.

King Vilmos Cinnard, has renamed Erusmea, his father’s old capital in his name to St. Cinnard, proclaiming his father of sainthood, after it is now known that he plotted a coup to overthrow his father’s rule – where now the tension between Reikland and Cintra have risen, as Vilmos sees much of Reikland territory open for taking.

Maribor is recovering from the death of their Emperor, now with the Empress Siggot in power, the country is in shambles, being run by Aren’s three children, who still seek the Taint, the spear that killed Salun.

Redania, having stayed neutral throughout the issues of other city states, is one of few that now is looking to have an alliance be made, though reaching it will be hard, as the elder races have segregated themselves from older cities, and Redania still lacks a true ruler.

The Sons of Aren, the unrecognized bastard children spawned from orgies that Aren had, still plague the countryside, and are a threat to all city states. Their location is still unknown, though reports have claimed they have a hidden fortress somewhere at the Belt of Aren.

King Vilmos is known to be working with the Children of Aren to have the ritual to summon Salaren occur, but when, it is unknown, only when the Taint can be claimed, will the ritual be able to take place, and allow Salaren to take physical shape.

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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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