Tale of the Twins

The Tale of the Twins

Act I

The Forsaken elves arrive upon the foreign continent of Ghelspad, making port at the infamous trading city of Shelzar, known for it's embrace of carnal pursuits, exotic pleasures, & rampant villainy.

Drawing into the harbor, the twins approach make dock on an illustrious structure, hewn of Darkwood & embedded with pearls. A magnificent Djinn swirls to life, bellowing inhuman laughter & welcoming them to the greatest of the cities of Elz…moments prove the creature an illusion; the Djinn were lost in the Titanswar, another casualty masked with the appearance of greatness.

They would find this true in Ghelspad as much as their own homeland.

Arriving with little more than their clothing, the Twins must sell their faithful Areandir ship. Armed with a fraction of coins due it's true worth, they descend into the Souk to gather information. A dwarven shopkeeper, his ancestors brought as slaves ages ago & still wearing manacles in remembrance, is the first of many to provide useful data:

“Shards you say? Yes, I've heard these legends. It is said House Asuras purchased 3, though they may have been lost to Titanspawn, or perhaps Pirates. Mayhap this too is a ruse, & they lie in the well protected vaults of that mighty Trading Company.”

Weary, the sisters retire to one of the great public bath houses built in the days of the great Ledean empire…there, they catch the eye of a Half-Human attendant, Caismir, who longs for elven songs & culture. They are also set upon, naked & unarmed, by an assassin: The battle sisters prove far more formidable than their slight frames might suggest, & they easily dispatch there would-be assailant.

Caismir leads them to the poor quarter, where they find housing with the benevolent Temple of Madriel. There, with the eager help of Caismir, they purchase more information, ultimately trading with the Halfling cut-purse guild, various merchants & madmen, & the thief master Abu Jafar, a leprous, wicked old rogue with a finger on the city's pulse. From here, they learn of the only other Forsaken Elf in Shelzar, the Loremaster Sarion.

Calling upon the elf wizard proves disconcerting, as Sarion clearly wallows in decadence, spending his magics to entertain his human pets. Still, something about the languid wizard strikes the twins as sinister. Intrigued by the arrival of the twins, Sarion bestirs himself to show them around the city of Shelzar.

Attending a Shelzari gala, the twins are treated to an audience with High Minister Fratrelli, Merchant Lord of Shelzar. Intrigued by the twins exotic appeal, he shows them about the palace, then shows them the mighty phallus gifted to him by his Djinn-binding ancestors; Only his flower-fey slaves prevent the twins being impaled by his spear. They come away with a useful tidbit: The Menagerie of Shelzar, famed throughout the land, is missing a sand wyvern…so tantalizingly close in the Ukrudan desert.

Descending to the outskirts beyond the walls, Arafael engages in “dancing circles” lethal battles against seasoned warriors looking to win a purse from onlooking merchants. Defeating the Ukrudan trader Khalid, Arafael is welcomed to travel the desert with his Caravan should she wish. Aleith wins her gold by preying on travelers of the Broadreach river.

The Twins purchase themselves better quarters, & further enlist Casimir as a go-between for the humans. While searching for information on the shards, plotting a trip to the desert to capture a wyvern, & assisting Caismir win a competition at the bardic college, the twins are surreptitiously watched by many forces in the city. This comes to a head when Casimir is kidnapped & a ransom is delivered; with the aid of Sarion, the twins rescue the half-human, slaying his captors. They are surprised to find the very dwarf they first met behind the attempt.

Act II

Leaving with Khalid, a star-wrought prophecy from Sarion promising ill-fortune, the twins head down the Ukrudan trade path, passing through the sweltering plains through the Scar, a vast chasm supposedly wrought by a stray blow from a divine blade. From there they will skirt the edge of the Festering Fields, pass through the Broadreach Horizon, hug the mountains to the Necromantic city of Hollowfaust, then proceed through the Ukrudan to Akrud, the trading city of the nomadic desert people.

The punishing heat of the Plains abates somewhat within the Scar, & the Twins find a population of “Wood Dwarves,” refugees from the Hornsaw forest, as well as a variety of mysterious arched gateway within the canyon walls. Inscribed on the arch are the Ledean words, “Abandon Hope ye who enter, for the outcome is foretold.” They are warned by their guides of particularly dangerous Titanspawn, the Braxxat, that attack travelers in the cliffs. Proceeding on, this attack does come to pass: the hulking, beetle-like creatures literally popping into existence through some kind of innate magic. As battle is engaged, a Braxxat “blinks” into attack range of Aleith, swinging a tree trunk like a club. Caismir leaps in the creatures path, taking a crushing blow that hurdles him off the cliff. Arafael leaps after him, while Aleith fires an arrow & line to save them both. The creatures are swiftly beaten off by the desert warriors, with losses. As Arafael breaches the cliff, it is clear Caismir is among the fallen, having been killed by the titanic blow.

The leader of the Wood Dwarves, a crone named Gretta, offers aid to the travelers, but cannot aid the departed: none of her clan have such power as to raise the dead. Shelzar is far off, & resurrection magic is beyond the meager resources of the pair. Khalid suggests a terrible alternative: Legend states that, if the need is great, a demon known as the “Dweller at the Crossroads” can be found beneath the light of the Nameless Moon. This creature can grant a wish, though the price is always high. The Twins set out into the gray moonlight without delay.

Under the spectral light of the Last Watchtower, the Twins do indeed find a mysterious cloaked individual at an ancient Elzan crossing. Greeting it with their plight, the Dweller has a novel solution: The Half Human can be saved, with a cost of the Twin Elves souls, to be collected after death. Arafael laughs cynically & accepts the bargain without hesitation, a nodded consent from grim Aleith; with their nameless God dead, they can expect no afterlife worth mentioning should they fail in their quest. Casimir is indeed returned to life, & in fact will live as long as the elves remain alive, his essence bound to their own…with complications.

Rejoining the caravan, the party traveled to the Necromancer city of Hollowfaust. Finding the Nomads unwilling to enter the haunted city, the Twins entered, briefly treating with the city. Approached by representatives of the Anatomist Guild for the unique rarity High Elven twins represent, the elves agreed to sell their corporeal forms to the Guild for a small fortune, once they we're done using them, of course.
Heading onward into the foothills of the Gascar mountains, it was here the prophecy of Sarion would come to pass. A cunning trap wrought by the desert dwelling Sutak ambushed the caravan. While the party proved to be no easy prey, the commotion & spilled blood awoke a sleeping giant: A centipede of truly monstrous proportions, a creation of fallen Chern, which set upon both sides of the battle with mindless hunger. Khalid & Arafael challenged the beast, while Aleith sought a weak spot on the creatures nigh-impenetrable carapace. Khalid was struck by the monsters venom, & fell dead. Arafael weaved through it's flailing claws, but her sword found little purchase. Aleith, brandishing a set of Arrows of Truth, was able to bring down the monster while Arafael held it at bay. Victory came at a high cost, as the decimated caravan gathered it's dead & limped to Akrud, the trading post of the Ukrudan Nomads.

The dead wrapped in shrouds, the Twins perused the village for information on the habits of Sand Wyverns. An elderly matron assisted them with some information, all the while preparing the honored dead. A masked cleric whirled a whistling fail as he entreated Enkili to claim his faithful. In the distance, a mighty storm could be seen brewing in the depths of the Ukrudan…a storm coming this way. Nomads quickly shuttered tents & wares as the winds began to rise, & the elves were left to watch the funeral alone…it was then they received a strange vision.

For a moment, the world was muted & dim, when a single word rang in their minds like a bell, “OBSERVE.” The world was washed in Cerulean-Blue, & the elves saw the world as it truly was; the cleric wove his prayers & spells over the lingering souls of the dead men, & a phantasmal spirit descended from the heavens to claim them. Deep in the desert they saw fast approaching no mere storm, but a tidal wave of furious elementals, & at the tempest's heart, the nebulous form of the demi-god D'shan, whom Khalid & his men paid reverence.

As the angel of Enkili reached down to pluck the souls of these men, the elves leapt into the fray, Aleith firing a spectral arrow as Arafael struck the Cleric down with the hilt of her blade. The angel questioned the actions of these mortals, perhaps a bit surprised at there temerity, & Arafael argued that these souls were the province of the Desert God, & the angel was not welcome to claim them. This conversation was cut off abruptly by a titanic bolt of lightning, shattering the errant angel: D'Shan had arrived.

Having mastered Lodoria'nee, the elves we're able to weather the divine storm that tore over them, & work their way to the Eye, into the presence of D'shan himself. Finding the savage deity furious over the souls that we're almost denied it, Arafael gave a passionate plea for Khalid, a most devout mortal who brought glory to the demi-god's name. Speaking in the elemental language of wind itself, Arafael urged the deity to restore his lost follower. The God, more primal force than not, seemed to consider this entreaty…certainly, more mortal worshipers would be a boon…if it had a proper vessel to reach them. Seizing one of the mighty wind spirits that formed it's entourage, D'shan forced the creature into the dead man's lungs, fusing the two & creating a Herald for itself.

While perhaps not what they intended, the elves stood back to watch this awesome display of divine might. It was then that the Old Matron from before, suddenly standing by their side, mildly questioned the wisdom of cheating the God/ess of Fortune in such a manner. Arafael retorted that Enkili was the thief here, as the souls clearly we're not hers to claim. Aleith sensed something out of place, as no old woman could possibly approach her unaware. This proved true as the Matron, once toothless, smiled a wide grin of pearly teeth. She threw back her worn robe & half drew a rapier of such exquisite craftsmanship & magical power the Twins knew it at once: The Autumn Blade, last seen in their lost God's hands. The “matron” then spoke:
“Right you are to call the Trickster a Thief; why I found this fine blade lying in a dead man's hand. Mine now, as many other precious things besides.”

With that, the crone vanished. Khalid, now fully empowered by D'shan, eyes glowing with the might of suppressed storms, thanked the Twins for their intervention, & proclaimed himself & his followers forever indebted. Still a bit stunned by the encounter with Divine forces, the elves returned to the business at hand…


Returning to Shelzar with a restrained breeding pair of Sand Wyverns, courtesy of Khalid, the elves we're treated to a princely welcome by Minister Fratrelli. Showered with gifts, they we're also ceded the rights to the Elzan outpost of Sandoval, some distance west of the city. Currently a lawless pirate haven, but that should prove no trouble, yes?

Taking the better part of a year to gain the measure of the place, the twins attempted negotiations with the Harbor Master, Finn Theyn, but were met with hostility. Upping the ante, the elves brough in a small army of Ukrudan Nomads & seized the town by force. While certain sleeper agents left behind would cause trouble in the years to come, including a Darakeene college trained assassin “killing” Casimir, & an assassination attempt on the twins themselves by the infamous Cult of the Ancients, overall the domination of the town of Sandoval was complete.

Seeing that the long term plan will require more wealth than the pirate city can provide, Arafael drafts Casimir with the Harp of Building to build border towers along the edge of the Swamps of Kan-Thet, through the Ukrudan to both Lokil & Darakeene. These towers would provide a safe merchant route bypassing Calastia for the Western nations. Manned by the desert folk, building begins. Eventually, they draw the notice of the nascent Assathi Empire; a midnight meeting brings an uneasy truce: The serpents will refrain from attacking the convoys, the elves agree not to interfere with the Assathi business abroad, including their designs on Ghelspad's only known Dragon, kept in the Shelzari menagerie. Arafael busies herself with running a merchant empire & researching the lost shards, Aleith explores the depths of Kan-Thet, the Ukrudan, & the Hornsaw Forest, finding a hotbed of Titan Cults & intrigue therein. Most disturbingly, a Cult of Chern seems to be growing on the edge of the Kan Thet swamp, a cult being fed dried pieces of the Titan himself by wandering Leper colonies.

The Twins set their house in order, hiring servants, expanding the town, & establishing a trading house for themselves, House Mirth; a grim play on their names. Purchasing the ship they sold upon arriving in Shelzar, the twins begin an operation shipping Darkwood from the Hornsaw Forest across the sea to Eihitovael, formerly the home of the elven navy. For these goods & others, the elves load shipments of Naradehl, or “Elven Fire,” which they in turn sell to the new Island Kingdom of Karria, generating friction from nearby Darakeene & Dunahane, but making a princely fortune in the process. Years pass in this manner, forcing the Twins to recognize another issue; Casimir, while apparently Undying, still ages as normal. Significant gold is spent on Longevity potions & rare Chronomancy spells. While business is good, House Mirth seems to spend as much as it brings in.

Breaking the monotony of these mercantile pursuits, strangers from Hollowfaust arrive, wearing the signature garb of the haunted place. Intrigued, the Twins meet the riders, finding them to in fact be Barbaric warriors from frozen Albabia. Leading this group of men & dwarves is a legend in flesh, Magnus Whitemane, first sword to the Albadian High King. Attended by his boon companions & attendant Heliann witch Zorah, the boisterous Magnus claims he left his service to the throne on a whim; one of many. In this case, he would find a woman. This “woman” would turn out to be a nigh-mythical sword owned by his Great, Great Grand Father: Askatha, the Demon-Slaked blade. Last seen in the hands of an Elzan Adventurer, Magnus has a line on the blade, believing it to be in Velanon, one of the Seven Cities of Elz now more commonly called the Mounds of Man.

Casimir & the twins accompany the barbarians on their odd quest, acting as local guides, both for a significant sum of Albadian Gold, & to keep the whimsical Magnus from laying waste to all around him. Finding the wastes of Velanon overrun by diseased undead, they make there way while Zorah casts her spells locating the sword. At one point Magnus, kicking downa plain cellar door, is struck by a series of magical wards & left apparently dead…for a moment. Recovering with unearthly vigor, the Twins suspect the Warlord is more than he seems. Divination spells find two things of interest: the cellar room, apparently an arcane laboratory, so heavily warded it cannot be entered, & the sword itself. Buried in one of the great mounds that give the region it's name. Setting about the task of retrieving the blade awakens one of the last, great horrors of the Divine War. While it is known that the mounds consist of the entire population of Velanon, transformed to Undead in a single night by dark magic, what is not known is the victims of this atrocity still function, animating as colossal monstrosities composed of thousands of clinging, undead corpses.

In the chaos that follows, several Albadians are swept up by the grasping hands of the abominations, being pulled into the depths to join them in Undeath. Magnus, despite all odds, does manage to find & pull the sword Askatha from one of the creatures, a ragged, half-finished Greatsword. With no means apparent of even slowing down much less harming the creatures, the survivors quit the field returning to Sandoval. Magnus thanks them for their aid, his mind having already moved on to his next quest: sail to Termana & wrestle a Mountain troll. The Twins arrange passage, & are perhaps glad to see the barbarians sail away.

Act IV

Finally, a break in the search. Obtaining scraps of a mysterious journal from the fabled Skykeep, they have a lead on the shard. The mysterious wizards of the crashed castle hailed from Termana it would seem, & obtained “a fragment of lost Eldura-Tre” to complete their chapel to the Gods. It is known that the flying castle crashed in the Kelder Mountains in 113 AV…employing the Wayfarers Guild, magical teleportation is utilized to cross the vast distance, depositing the sisters in the Bridged City. Casimir is left behind to minister the operation of House Mirth.

The mountain path is treacherous, & no expedition has ever returned from fallen Skykeep. Needing a guide, they find few enough willing to brave the haunted ruins; they ultimately settle on Gholin Stonehearth, a mountain dwarf willing to lead them into the bowels of the castle, on the condition that he has his choice of any treasure. With this agreement, the group proceeds over the mountains. Evading titanspawn, including a mutated troll of gargantuan size, the elves arrive at the fallen castle. Preliminary investigation shows evidence of several prior expeditions. Finding a passage cleared by a creature with slender hands but inhuman strength, the trio enters the ruin.

Strange creatures & magical distortions abound within the crumbling castle, with many passages wholly blocked. A party of dead Calastian Rangers is found hanging from the ceiling in one room, another is infested with six-legged rat like creatures. Making their way to a library, the elves find a magical system of gates that connects various levels of the castle. It is then Aleith hears a faint scrabbling; looking up into the darkness shrouded ceiling of the library, she sees the “dead” Calastians scrabbling about like spiders, faces twisted into bestial undead masks; vampires. A short battle ensues, with the group retreating deeper into the castle. Locating the chapel, the vapire spawn are reinforced by their master; A Dark Elf Sorcerer named Dar-Gotal. A Vampire himself, the “Low Elf” mocks the party, promising them all the secrets of the ruins & life everlasting as his concubines. The chapel being hallowed ground, the Undead are unable to pursue them farther. No matter: they are inclined to wait.

Inside the chapel, they find detailed statues to all of the known Gods, & several more besides dedicated to Gods they have never heard of…finding there own is easy enough, as the face of the statue has eroded away. Crushing the marble altar before the fallen God, Arafael sifts through the pieces to find…a shard! Just as she recalls it, the small crystal holds an image of a wave within it's depths. However, out of the corner of her eye, she sees another shard in the rubble! Then another…& another. Soon all the fragments seem to be shards, hundreds of them. After desperately searching through the rubble for the “true” shard (if one even exists), Arafael begins to crack, madness seeping through her composure. Aleith kneels before the Altar of Tanil & asks the Goddess's aid. The statue speaks, saying:

“This jest my sister plays is far to cruel. Let the truth shine forth.”

One of the pieces shines with an inner light; the true Wave Shard. As Arafael grasps it, a rumble like thunder fills the chapel, & the statue of Enkili explodes. In an instant, the hallowed ground of the temple is unmade, & the vampires are at the gate. Taking up their weapons, the elves fight through the ranks; Arafael's strikes, once ineffectual, now bite true. Seeing this, Dar-Gotal melts into shadow, allowing his creatures to fight. Battling to the gate, the Twins select a portal at random, leaving the chapel chamber behind.

The room they arrive in is stranger still; marked with sigils, maps, & bizarre apparatus, the center of the room holds a stone plinth, which, hovering above & orbited by Wyrd-Stones, is a truly massive uncut ruby. Though of odd shape & dimensions, the gem is clearly invaluable, & it is then that Gholin speaks up, “That, I'll be having THAT as my cut!” Uncaring, the Twins seek an exit, knowing the hunt is on. Taking the gate to the lowest level, dwarf & ruby in tow, the elves note that the ruins have been repaired somewhat here…what's more, the seams & cracks have been Shaped by magic, rather than patched by normal tools. Gholin identifies a passage ahead, & the elves enter a vast chamber. Uncoiling from the darkness, a vast worm-like creature rears before them, seemingly formed of liquid darkness. As the party assesses this new threat, a voice calls to them from the shadows, again in Low Elven:

“Travelers, do you know where you are?”

Thinking quickly, Arafael replies, “We are in the home of darkness.”

This seems to amuse the observer, even as more shadow creatures fill the cavern. The watcher in shadow replies that they are indeed correct, & that knowledge should cost them their lives; however, in this singular case fate seems to be on their side. For events they set in motion now can only further the ends of the shadow. As such, they are free to go on there way, even assisted in such, provided that news of the Shadow Fortress never reaches another.

The party finds these terms quite reasonable.

Opening two portals of darkness for his guests, the Lord of Shadow bids them leave peaceably. Seeing the sea tunnels below their city through the portal, the elves note that the means of these Shadow Lords must be quite extraordinary. Arafael spares a glance at Gholin's portal, expecting to see the mighty halls of Burok Torn, home of the Mountain Dwarves. She is somewhat taken aback to instead see a dungeon passage bearing the unmistakable heraldry of the Black Dragon. Virduk, Monarch of Calastia & bitter enemy of the dwarves. Noting her discomfiture, Gholin shrugs sheepishly & passes through the portal. The elves find themselves home at last, with a shard in hand. E'en so, they have an ominous sense of dire events to come.

Act V

A cascade of events fall quickly after; one of the border towers in scoured of life, all desert warriors reduced to bones, despite the gates remaining locked. House Finn, long an ally & valuable connection in Shelzar, tasks Arafael to retrieve a stolen ship & the head of the notorious pirate who stole it. Offering a sizable ransom, Arafael takes on the task. Acquiring the ship through House Mirth contacts in Mithral, only to have it stolen back again from the same pirate. Incensed, Arafael & Aleith travel to Mithral immediately to settle the score.

Finding the pirate at sea requires more resources still. A Forsake Battleship, the Ghost Maid, is retained for the pursuit, the Elven Captain Khymitis leading the ship in pursuit. Catching the pirate-turned privateer crew of the Storm Hook unaware & with overwhelming force, the Smidgen crew still proves resilient; Captain Appleblossom is happy to see her ship scuttled rather than surrender. A parley is made, & with promises of possible work with House Mirth as well as possibly engaging the liberation of Dragons Port as a Smidgen homeland, Appleblossom reveals the treachery of her former First Mate, Franscisco Phagiano, The Purple Marauder; he stole the ship after it was lawfully sold, & now seeks to join with the Toe Island pirates.

Allowing the Storm Hook to continue on, the Elven vessel patrols the waters between Hedrad & Blood Port, suspecting that the Marauder will flee after engaging the forces of House Asuras in a climactic battle. This proves to be correct, as the Pride of Elz is sighted making exactly that course. In dead of night, the Ghost Maid emerges form the Plane of Shadow, assaulting the smaller vessel with chained ballista bolts, anchoring it in place. The Twins run across the chains, boarding the ship in a heartbeat, & cowing the rag tag pirate crew into submission. There they encounter the Marauder, & with whom Arafael exchanges blows, heedless of the Calastian's broken cry for parley…the man is skilled, & even has learned basics of the Elven technique Guiding the Tempest. Even so, his blood soon paints the deck in the first exchange. It in the counter strike, wielding a finely crafted saber that yet swings like a block of wood, that Arafael suspects something is amiss.

Taking the offered parley for a moment, some words are exchanged, yet when the pirate calls for his mistress, a slim Shelzari girl, to explain why he has stolen what he did, Arafael sees hanging from her throat nothing less than the Rose Shard. Hostilities clearly about to engage again, Francisco's face seems to take an alien countenance, & in flawless Elven proclaims, “Come now Arafael; do you not see my grand jest?” Arafael is struck by the Trickster Goddess's Prank, falling to her knees in fits of mad laughter. Aleith, hanging above like a bat in the rigging, responds instantly, impaling Francisco to the deck. For his part, Francisco sees that he has been played by Enkili, attempts to turn the tables. His service, without question, if the girl is allowed to live. Surprisingly, the Twins accept this agreement, if only to spite the Trickster. If that was their wish, they seem to succeed, as the self-same being appears to them all to criticize a “poor showing” to their elaborate prank. With that retort they are reminded, with Enkili taking the form of the very Crossroads Spirit that they bargained their souls to, that there would be another time. A crew man is killed to appear to be the Purple Marauder, who is now proclaimed dead to appease House Finn.

Act VI

Returning to Sandoval, quarters are made for the Francisco & Nuir within Mirth Manor itself. Franciso
swiftly makes himself useful, both foiling an attempt to fell the great Lighthouse for the 6th time, as well as advising the House Mirth on matters nautical. Changing his name & look, he sets out with Mirth's sole trading ship, the small yet swift Aerandir, to deliver the last shipment of Elven Fire Mirth possesses, & to look for Jax & Tarstis, the better to build a new merchant empire. Nuir during this time is kept close to the manor, heavy with child & occasionally unsettled to find Arafael in her quarters staring at her as she sleeps.

The voyage to Hedrad proves almost impossibly swift. Francisco still bears the gifts of the Storm Goddess, is an able sailor, & the Elven vessel slices through waves like a blade. A man is lost to a Calastian dreadnought while exploring islands off the coast, yet otherwise the trip is without event. The goods are sold to Hedrad at good price, as they gear for both war on the rat Folk & the Toe Island Pirate Clans. On the return voyage, they are trailed by a strange ship, seemingly of ancient Ledean origins. What's more, this ship slowly gains on them as they sail past Corean's Cleft. Attempting to lose them in the same Calastian Archipelago as before, Francisco is unexpectedly reunited with Jax & Tarstis. Battle ensues with the pursuing ship, the Bloody Yard-Arm, something of a legendary ghost ship. While the pirates acquit themselves well, the Captain of the ship proves formidable beyond their means, leading both who faced him in close quarters to a dreadful realization. Fortunately, before the battle can conclude, Francisco manages to maneuver the pursuing vessel to collide with the same Calastian ship he had evaded earlier, sailing free in the chaos.

Not all is good tidings in the reunion however. The pair of Titan tainted pirates bring with them the a stranger, the Blood Alchemist Sangus. They also, perhaps unknowingly, bear a dire disease. Crew become infected with the Scarlet Shaking Pox, & after much discussion, are put to death. Sailing into Sandoval, the crew signals losses, “1 to violence, 3 to sickness.” Wary of plague in a way only those who fought & killed Chern can be, the Twins mull what to do next. The closest they have to a “healer” is a blind Midwife & the mad “Redeemer's of Golthain” neither of which is adequate…

An answer arrives in the form of three travelers from Lokil, the Kellinor, a priest of the Order of the Morning Sky, Journeyman Althum, a member of Hollowfaust's Anatomist Guild, & Sir Richard De'Bronis, a knight of the Order of Gold. All three men are capable healers & veterans of the Rat Wars. A deal is struck; the healers will cure the Pirates, & Mirth will assist in finding a certain missing Necromancer. Ultimately, Casimir of Mirth is successful in doing so. Mission completed, the lot lingers in Sandoval, becoming aware of major political forces moving in the region, not the least of which is the suspected Charduni Flying Fortress. Through spies, investigation, & prophecy, a picture become clear: Calastia & Dunuhahn will soon combine forces to bring all of Southern Ghelspad to heel. Elaborate plans are hatched to avert or at least slow this cataclysmic event.

Plans the Twins have wrought for decades are coming to fruition, with allies in place to seize a seat on the Shelzari council & simultaneously strike a daring caper into the heart of House Asuras, the wealthiest merchant house on Scarn. This too, is merely a diversion; the legendary wealth in the Asuras vaults is a ruse for raiding their records. It is said that House Asuras held two of the Shards for a time. Once again, however, plans are set aside as powerful forces move on without regard to the Twins plans. An aurora of magic & booming thunder in the nearby Swamp of Kan-Thet speaks of a Titanic battle. The group rallies to enter Assathi territory, taking them to the edge of the fabled city of the Snakefolk, Ithiss Iilnaseeth, "The Jewel of the Serpentmother." An ancient city that has never fallen to Divine forces, even when directly aided by Gods.

This time, the city was assaulted by other Titanspawn. A gargantuan insectoid creature, perpetually obscured by a swarm of flesh-stripping insects, hammered the magical barriers of the city. The Twins & the veterans of the Rat Wars present immediately identified this creature for what it was; an Avatar for the fallen Chern. Bringing desperate magics to bear, the Journeyman Necromancer produced a field of death energy, providing a window through the swarm. Like biting insects themselves, the party fell upon the creature, & at length, combined with the Assathi counter attack, managed to drive it off. The presence of such a creature at their door step was sobering; if it turned East, Sandoval & even Shelzar would surely fall before it.


To secure a seat on the Shelzari council, Mirth requires at least 20 acres of arable land, a difficult hurdle indeed as Sandoval is situated on the border of swamp & wasteland. Exploiting a technicality, it is decided to seize the canyon called "The Scar," as it does lie within the domain of the former Elzan Empire, & is verdant despite the heat of the Sweltering Planes. A party is formed for this mission, including the Twins, the Pirates Jax & Tarstis, Richard of Mithral, & the Journeyman Necromancer Althum, who has a secondary purpose for seeing it through. Entering the Scar, the group is beset by the fierce Braxat; despite being greatly outnumbered, they prevail, seizing the Scar for themselves.

Pushing on through the Mounds of Man, the party presses on, for spies & prophecy have revealed a great Sutak gathering in the Ukrudan, one that Althum must bear witness to. Harried by the abominations of that forsaken land, they nonetheless do manage to witness a bargain between the Sutak & the forces of Dunuhane; a bargain that turns into a ruse, as powerful priests of Chardun channel the Overlord's might to convert the Godless Sutak to his worship. Jerol, the Herald of Chardun, speaks to the new converts as the party makes a desperate escape. Opposed by Tasson the Black, a fearsome Necromancer apparently contracted to see the conversion through, Richard is captured & Althum is killed as the rest escape.

Taking Richard prisoner & bringing along Althum's corpse for later interrogation, a miracle occurs in the desert; a fiery spirit in the shape of a great swan erupts from Althum's body, resurrecting him in the process. Mystified by these events, Tasson insists the young Necromancer visit him in the Gilvid-Autel to explain this phenomena. Richard & Althum rejoin the party, eventually making their way back to Sandoval to plan the next step.