Seth's Ansalon

Stories in the Dark

A conspiracy of ravens

Though the Zaradene refugees had found sanctuary in birthling Adastra, Seth knew the new town would soon fall without aid. To seek help for Adastra – and glean the fate of the rest of the civilized world – Seth, Morden, and Rilla ventured southward in the direction of Goodbay, hoping to find any trace of the survivors.

The heroes’ hopes were not in vain as they stumbled upon a cell of some ten survivalists calling themselves the Resurgents, hardy men and women trying to eke out existence while dodging demons in ruined Goodbay. These Resurgents led Seth and his party into an ambush, which soon turned into a fight for survival when a cadre of demons stumbled upon the quarreling humans. Working as a team, the Resurgents and Seth’s party cleaned up the demons. Hearing that there were two Resurgents unaccounted for, though, Seth’s party broke off to search for them – and found them amidst a teeming mass of demons led by a translucent-skinned draconid, whose poisonous blood made the very air a hazard. The fight was close to even when suddenly, the long-unaccounted-for Lutesinger fen Branchala arrived astride a horse, driving more demons before her and swinging a terrible spiked hammer with inexorable accuracy. The four heroes, with some help from the brave Resurgent stavebows, eviscerated their noxious enemies, leaving Goodbay empty of demons but still in shambles. The exhausted Resurgents gladly accepted Seth’s offer of lodging in Adastra and set out north to bolster his forces there.

After the battle, Lutesinger revealed the fate of Qualinost. Immediately after the Puncture, the forest of Qualinesti had apparently become caught between the Material Plane and the Feywild, except for small pockets in the locations of cities that remained in the Material Plane. Eladrin wearing purple garb exploited this planar suspension to besiege the elven civilization. Though Qualinost for now remains under elvish control, the eladrin have assassinated the Speaker of the Sun and now send skirmishers to kill the elves, demoralize their armies, and probe their defenses in preparation for taking the city. Lutesinger came north to seek Seth’s aid, even as he came south to seek hers.

Lutesinger agreed to accompany Seth’s party to the Hollow Temple – an ancient ruin so called because no one worships there and no one knows what god it’s supposed to be sacred to. The heroes were following rumors that long ago a hero learned how to harness the power of dragons there, and hoped to win that power for themselves to defend Zaradene and Qualinost. All they found, though, was a long-decayed stone colosseum. Troubled, they slept in the ruins, and in a dream, Seth once again visited the Shadowfell. In this dark place the temple still looked as it did thousands of years ago: a great pyramid, a glowing yellow Draconic inscription running the length of its vast atrium: “The price of eternal vigilance is freedom.” Seth awoke, gathered his allies, and recited this inscription in the waking world.

No sooner had the last sibilants escaped Seth’s lips than each of the four was transported bodily to his or her own dream or nightmare within the dark pyramid. The strange dreams – if the reality of the Shadowfell can be called a dream – seemed to reflect each character’s inner goals and conflicts. Seth found himself in a labyrinth, following his old familiar Coridosia down hallways and tunnels while gathering jade figurines symbolizing his allies. The recovered lupine Rilla directed a battle between men and wolves, with a twist: unbeknownst to her, she commanded both sides. Morden found himself superintendent and only medic in a triage hospital full of dying humans, menaced by wolves. And Lutesinger chased the shadowy eladrin Taelthas the Twilit, assassin of the Speaker of the Sun, through a veritable obstacle course of pits, walls, and cliffs. When all the heroes had finally navigated their dream worlds, they awoke to find themselves in the pyramid of old. Here, a raven the size of a man, with the ability to duplicate itself and fill the ground with ichorous shadows, tested their collective mettle in combat. And when after great hardship the heroes triumphed, they ascended to the top of the pyramid to bathe in pillars of light which imbued them with a consciousness of higher purpose that will accompany them for the rest of their story. Only then did they return in truth to the Material Plane, where they left the temple as a wiser team, determined to protect their homelands with their own might and magic.

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