After a few moments’ celebratory hobnobbing with the multiverse’s greatest archmages at the Conclave of the Planes, Seth, Morden, and Rilla returned to Ansalon with Raptorr. Raptorr used his orb to teleport the comrades back to Goodbay, which they promptly discovered had been sacked by demons; not one human being was in sight. They high-tailed it back to Zaradene, which, it did not take long to discover, had been occupied by the angels of Sargonnas. These cruel taskmasters planned to force the townsfolk to work in the mines, using force of arms, their pet destrachan, and the mercenary foulspawn.
Fortunately, not all the people of Zaradene had given in to their overlords. The nascent resistance was led by one Aspic Palmeri, an alderman from the docks district with initiative but no great charisma. Under him served Rhody, a young ranger and Seth’s fangirl, as well as a number of hedge mages and a few other of Mayor Chance’s loyalists. They hid from the angels in a network of tunnels beneath Zaradene – some dug long ago by smugglers, others by Chance’s own administration, others by the resistance itself, and still others of unknown provenance. It was Rhody who found Seth’s party wandering around in the tall grass east of town, and she spirited them away to the safe house. From here Seth made his way back to his home, where he equipped himself with old tomes and a strange new familiar, Akuma, whose nature Seth has quite deliberately not explored in depth.
While Aspic and Seth agreed that rescuing the mayor was of the utmost importance, two formidable foes threatened to thwart this rescue. The first was the Metatron of Zaradene – Sargonnas’s regional lieutenant, an angel far too powerful for Seth to overcome. And the second was a manticore, a beast so terrible even the angels could scarcely control it and kept it penned in the aviary for use as a semisecret weapon. At great personal risk, Seth and his party used the tunnels to break into the aviary, putting down the manticore in its own pen rather than the beast’s preferred open skies. They then beat a hasty retreat, overcoming some foulspawn on the way.
But how to neutralize the Metatron, who occupied the very building in which Chance was captive? The problem seemed insoluble, until Seth had a strange dream. In the dream, Seth stood in a house he did not recognize, though through the window he could see a strangely warped version of Zaradene. In the room, lit only by candlelight, sat an old woman. The woman introduced herself as Aka and made a deal with Seth: she would put the Metatron into a deep sleep for a few hours in exchange for an unspecified favor later. Seth accepted the deal, and soon after, he and his companions were fighting through waves of angels and foulspawn to break Chance out of prison. The Metatron did not appear, and Chance was freed safely.
But the battle was still only half fought: Seth felt duty-bound to rescue the ablest of Zaradene’s citizens from the clutches of the angels. His party, Chance, Aspic, and Rhody tore around the city, exploiting the ebb and flow of the angels’ panic over their hall’s invasion. They rescued a number of militiamen, manual workers, farmers, and tradesmen. Most prominent among the roughly 120 refugees was the midwife Bratha, the unofficial matriarch of the city, with a crisp manner and an astonishing efficiency. Seth spirited these refugees to the buried tomb of Clement I, which he had helped discover just before the Puncture, and it was here that he established a colony of survivors, perhaps the first outpost of the free world. This colony they called Adastra.