The party had disrupted a meeting between the agents of Netheril and the Illithid. The Mindflayer, for reasons unknown, had tried to feast upon the brains of Sora. It is no surprise that he had gone hungry. With such scant information as they had found, they were left to wonder the meaning of the words Xaranax and Shadowdale. Husam had found a treasure of the sands, a scimitar enchanted like none the party had seen before, and his erstwhile leader guided them deeper towards the meeting of the tribes.
Hyalety yem Shai M’hedn donned her worn and frankly disgusting boots, and roused this rabble from sleep, though Kaltharin seemed pale and sickly. In his stupor he wandered, lost as a child, aimless in the desert. He mumbled to himself, ‘my love. Treona.’
The enclave of the Sand Kings was dour, its words direct. Shadowdale was indeed seized by Netheril, and though the south had fallen to the might of Sakkors, some hope might right remain in the North. The Great Library must be searched. The greatest skald of the tribes, the Historian-Bard Maqil would lead them. Whilst Zim and Kaltharin faced the consequences of the Rod of Ruin, Sora was enamoured by a young priestess of Pelor Amaunator, tending to the refugees. Their reverie would be short lived, however, as before the desert vaults could be reached, they learnt the meaning of Xaranax.
Fortunately the bard stood beside them, and though the fighting was fierce, they prevailed. The reckless Husam was exiled from the Library forevermore, and the people rejoiced.
Elder and student were bound by ritual, their hearts ever entwined. The tribes disbanded, forming a staggered series of strikeforces. The emboldened adventurers left, to Shadowdale. They spent their first night in a circle of protection, only to awake in the Feywild; Before them lay the corpses of slaughtered fey, noble Eladrin in shining amour caught between the twisted Unseelie and the dark mages of the Shadovar. The party, maddened by the Bright Beauty, their emotions unchecked, hesitated only for Zim—tortured by visions of the Rod of Ruin—to slit the throat of Netheril’s one survivor, what information he may have had bleeding from his smiling throat to nourish the tortured earth. For now, a dark swamp lay before them, and other survivors were close.
Soon things descedend into chaos, as Spriggan Gnomes made butchery with their sickles. As the grass became slick with blood, envoys of the Unseelie descended upon the party, their meetings with Netheril gone awry once before. Minotaurs and Werwolves feasted with slaughter and Husam was stricken with the blood curse of the Lycanthrope. Yet all soon fell under the spells of the Night Hags.
Allied with the Fomorians, these witches debated on their next path, each seeking the power Netheril and the Blood Lord promised. Yet the Hags were fickle, and their love of trickery brought the blade of their guardian upon themselves, allowing the beleaguerd party to rob them of their treasured keepsakes, andsurvive.
It was then they met their first ally in the Feywild, a noble of the court of the Gloaming Fey, the servants of Sehanine. It was he who first gifted to the party what Kaltharin and Zim recognised as a fragment from a fabled artifact, a Card of The Deck of Many Things, a single word etched upon it’s surface. Moon. It was also he who directed the party towards where Shadowdale would lie, here in the Feywild, and the heart of corruption, the seat of Netheril’s power in these struggles.
Husam lifted his heart-mate, and carried her down the cliffs slick with moss, slipping falling, yet somehow managing to grasp hold yet again, burdened with the elder who had come to lead him. All whilst Zim enacted the ritual of mounting, riding his eyeball familiar to safety.
It was perhaps due to this that Zim had the time to practice aim with his crossbow. Needing practice however, he struggled to avoid the bulk of Sora, who somehow got in the way, plummeting to the marshes below. Sora’s fall was caught by the swampy ground, though he lay, stinking and broken, until the party dragged themselves into a nearby cave. They stumbled over the corpse of a fallen elf, his climbing rope wound tightly about his torso.
The marsh itself was not empty, and the defenseless myconids tried in vain to defend their home from these invading barbarians of the prime-material. Before the bloodlust of these trespassers was sated, the myconid spores had infused the party, serving as-yet unrealised nefarious ends.
In outrage, the land itself rose against the party, and soon they faced their own simulacrums, born of Oblivion Moss.
Sora, in the valiant service of peace, blessed the remains the Myconid Sovereign, and strove to reconciliation. He was not deterred by failure, and, perhaps maddened by his submersion in the fetid swamp, helmed himself with the dying fungus, commited to unity, to an end to the bloodshed he flaunted.
Sora’s efforts rewarded the party with the friendly intercession of the Dryads and Nymphs who whispered calming words to the treants that might otherwise have removed these interlopers, their gifts of living wood spurring the party onwards. A flute of marvelous construction, and a wooden box that contained a single leaf.
The corruption they were seeking was close upon them. It was in the heart of this darkness, besieged by vine horrors and shadow trolls, that Husam first awakened to his new nature.
It was not long before all awakened to a greater horror. The Baron of Netheril.
Torn from the feywild into a twisted subplane of his own devising, the party was besieged by shadow, tearing at the very force of their life, draining away their blood and spirit. This baron would heed no calls for mercy, yet he offered some in secret, should one turn against another. Though some wills may have faltered, in the end they remained true. There could be no outcome here but death.
And yet, on either side it was denied. Though the party was able to fill the gloom with their last sunrods, they were not strong enough to defeat the Baron, who left the former safety of his besieged plane, leaving it tearing itself apart. Pain and madness filled the survivors with despair, driven to their knees in supplication for this sufferiing to end. In a moment of heroic martyrdom Sora thrust himself into the heart of the nexus, annihilating it. And himself.
In the wake of his sacrifice the party regrouped. All save Jarr, whose torment and mourning overcame what semblance of hope he could muster. Yet it would not be long before this place collapsed. In their fear and hurry they searched the belongings left behind and discovered a half-penned letter, the ink still fresh. This mage was not only an agent of the Ashen Covenant, but of the Goddess Shar, an infiltrator who neverthless served dark purposes.
As these revelations settled, further remnants of the incredible artifact they had encountered were found. It seems this Baron was searching to reassemble the Deck.
Husam, in his folly, too quickly reached for the Baron’s chest, and was engulfed by a slumbering, ravenous mimic. Many treasures lay within, gold, gemstones, an elven statuette of finest silver, and items of mysterious enchantment that the adventurers would soon come to curse.
Though the party was able to free him, and the gold he had grasped, they had time for naught else. Rushing to the portals to escape, they were lost in a silvery void. …
Hussam is the greatest. That is all