The Edge of Empire

An Official Request

I fear we travel in the wake of chaos. The gentle murmuring of the steam flowing thru the market square slowly broke the sudden silence with its incessant gurgle. Awed eyes refocused on the scene before them as The Irregulars recovered from the pitched battle, sheathing their weapons and turning towards the silver-clad Eladrin whom they had fought to protect. Kneeling to recover one of his steel-tipped arrows, Arakos thanked the spirits of the earth even as the binding vines began to dissipate into green floating motes of light before winking out of existence.

About the square, Eladrin regained their composure at having seen the strange party appear from nothingness and spring into battle. As the group moved to speak with the accosted target, the eyes of the Wild Elf scanned the sculpted tree-like towers surrounding the area, seeking any evidence of where the black-clad attackers may have suddenly disappeared to.

The female Eladrin turned to the group, her calm countenance showing no concern over the previous attack. “Thank you, my friends, for your assistance. What are your names?”

Faegin, weapons hidden once more within the secret folds of his cloak, stepped forward and bowed respectfully. “Our group is known as The Irregulars and our journey to Evereska seems to have brought us here. Rightly so, it would seem, given the nature of events. Why do your people not fight,” he asked, indicating the other Eladrin dotting the square.

“These people are not fighters, but it is obvious that you are all accomplished. Accompany me, if you would, to my tower and I would be more than happy to explain the events of this day. Your arrival is timely and if you are of a mind to help further, I may have a task which could certainly utilize your accomplished abilities.” Smiling, the Eladrin motioned the group to follow as she turned to lead the way beneath the shadowing boughs of the soaring towers.

Shortly the group found themselves standing before an enormous structure, the bark-etched wall rising hundreds of feet into the air. “Come,” the female Eladrin motioned as she stepped into the surface of the tree and disappeared from view. A large, opaque disk suddenly appeared in front of the group, hovering patiently as each person took stock of what this meant.

“Oh no ye don’t…” grumbled Thurgoth.

“I believe this is our means to ascend the tower,” said Kirshakru. “Simply step on and its magic will bring us to our destination.”

The group looked at each other and shuffled onto the platform slowly, leaving Augustus’ horse, Blackberry, tethered to a post nearby. The disk continued to hover, indifferent to the weight as each person stepped upon it. As Thurgoth stepped gingerly onto the platform and joined his waiting party, the disk smoothly began to rise into the air. A stream of Dwarven words could be quietly heard emanating from the dwarf as the disk continued to pick up speed during the ascent.

“My name is Saffrenia.”

The group entered the room from the open air balcony, pushing aside the curtains which draped over the wall-less entryway. Within, the space opened into a large room, minimally furnished and exuding a sense of function. A slight glow emanated from the walls and in the corner of the room a small waterfall tumbled into a mossy rock-filled basin. A gray-haired gnome entered the room from one of the doorways, carrying a tray of refreshments for the group. “This is Darlis,” Saffrenia stated. “If you should require anything, please let him know.”

Saffrenia moved towards one of the white chairs as the group spoke to Darlis. As she settled her cape over the back of the chair, a weighted clasp with an exquisitely carved seal set into it reflected the light of the room. Augustus, curiosity overcoming propriety, moved towards the cloak as Saffrenia addressed the room.

“Thank you once again for your help this afternoon, my friends. I appreciate that you have come this far and hope that perhaps, given the nature of your actions today, you might be open to a task I have. I fear for the safety of Scornabell. As one of the seven appointed Council members, it falls upon my shoulders to protect the best interests of our people. I believe that a corruption threatens this city. I’m hoping that perhaps you might be able to assist me in this task.”

Looking at Faegin, Saffrenia continued, “As some of you may know, the city is rumored to sit upon a portal to the Shadowfel. As you journeyed on the disk, the dome you saw in the center of the city is actually a fort which encompasses the sealed portal I speak of. Of course, the public purpose of the dome is as our administrative offices and over time our citizenry have all but forgotten the true nature of the dome.

Recently certain modifications have been made in secret to the tunnels beneath the city. I do not know the reason behind these changes, but my queries fall on deaf ears. As outsiders you have the unique distinction of holding no affiliation and I wish you to attend a dinner at the Tower of Souls tomorrow evening. Perhaps you may find something which I cannot, and should you discover that I am the source of the corruption then I shall expect you to bring that information forth.”

Startled, the Irregulars pondered the strange statement, assessing the voracity and intent of Saffrenia’s words. Augustus stood there, turning the clasped seal over in his hands, studying the etching within the faceted crystal. Beckoning Kirshakru over, he looked to Saffrenia and asked, “And this? What is so special about this?”

“Oh, that is simply a symbol of office. All Council members wear one to designate their position, just as all administrative staff wear a ring denoting their official status.”

Despite the calm demeanor and smooth cadence of her words, something in the way Saffrenia spoke didn’t sit right with the inquisitive Augustus. As the group continued to discuss the Council members with Saffrenia, Kirshakru turned his attention towards the crystal, gently prodding to see if any secrets hid beneath view. Slowly the veil which obfuscated the true nature of the crystal was lifted and the hidden magic within the gem showed itself. Making note of the discovery, he returned the clasp to it’s place and rejoined the group.

“Before you go, I feel that this may help in your investigations. As it came from one of the men you defeated, please take this as a gift.” Pulling a slightly curved longsword from her waist, Saffrenia offered the weapon to Augustus. “For now, I must attend to matters. When you are ready to leave, simply step out to the balcony and the disk shall appear when needed.”

As each member approached the edge of the balcony, they looked out at the surrounding cityscape. The majestic towers numbered in what could only be the hundreds, their heights slowly tapering as they moved away from the center of the city. “Well where’s the damned disk,” grumbled Thurgoth. Emptiness Thurgoth’s only reply, Kirshakru stepped out into nothingness….and the disk appeared. “It appears as needed.”

With an exasperated look beneath his furrowed brow, Thurgoth stepped onto the platform once more. “Well, let’s just get us to the ground then,” he grunted and the disk began to descend.

It was fortuitous that the Dark Elf, Kaegin Blackknife, was willing to offer the services of a guide to show us an entrance to the undercity, but I fear we arrived too late. The effects of the portal weakening can already be seen as our battle with the Quicklings beneath the city streets showed. The taint of the Shadowfel reanimated the fallen body of our guide before my eyes, even as the grey-toothed minions we fought offered further proof that time was running short.

The residents of Scornabell have lost their minds! In the past few hours I have watched as the behavior of individuals has altered before my eyes. With great effort we were able to stop Darlis from cutting himself, and even now I can see the tension forming between Thurgoth and Kirshakru.

At the summons of Saffrenia, we had hurried to a party at the Tower of Souls. As we ascended the disk, I was shocked to see the coupling of two Eladrin before me on the balcony. During our conversation with Saffrenia she could barely keep control and it appeared Augustus was having difficulty keeping his eyes from her as well. Thankfully we were able to take possession of her Sigil.

On this twilight eve, the city of Scornabell is balanced on the edge of a blade. The armies of Zithiruun are flooding thru the broken Seal once maintained by Councilor Gelvistra. I fear that we may be too late to undo the damage that has been done. Even now the main chamber of the Fort is overrun with Shadar-Kai and the legions of undead from those Eladrin who have fallen. My fears that the city may become overridden by the reanimated souls of our fallen allies would seem all too true.

I must keep focused on the matter at hand, even though the thought of charging back into the tower to confront General Zithiruun pulls at me constantly. I lost myself for a moment while within the fort, and I truly believe I would have leapt into the midst of the attacking force had a brief period of clarity saved me from myself.

We must hurry to the library and inform Saffrenia of all we’ve found. Hopefully the other councilors and she are still safely secluded there as they await our return. It would appear that the plans of the Netheril Empire are far more long-planned than previously thought. I can’t fathom when Councilor Gelvistra was replaced by one of those Shifters, nor her Sigil counterfeited, but the part was played well for some time.

If only we could find the seventh Sigil!

“Open the door!” shouted the hurried voice of Faegin from outside the library. “They’re coming! Hurry!”

The companions rushed to the front of the building to see what the shouting was about. The wooden door was pulled back allowing Faegin to slip thru the opening, before quickly being pushed back into place. “Next time I ask you to save me from a party, I mean it!”

Seconds later the door rattled against the force of a heavy impact, followed quickly by another and another. The sickening crack of bone and slap of flesh continued to assault the senses amidst the moaning cacophony outside the door. A layer of blood began to pool around the bottom of the door, slowly seeping beneath the crack.

“Barricade the doors,” bellowed Augustus, quickly moving to grab the end of a stone statue. Thurgoth and Arakos moved to the stem the tide of undead as the doorway began to splinter under the continued assault. A small opening had formed in the center of the door, pummeled beyond its intended wear. Each arrow which found its mark dropped its target but the tide was too much. Thurgoth pulled forth his holy symbol from his side and rushed to the opening, the steamy breath of the undead Eladrin inches from his face. With a mighty thrust, Thurgoth pushed the holy implement against the forehead of the abomination before him and shouted, “MORADIN! Hear my call! Cast these foul creatures back where they belong!”

A golden-white light began to form around the holy symbol, growing in intensity before ripping forward thru the ranks of undead surrounding the building with brilliant force. As the light subsided, so too did the sounds of struggle from without, the remnants of ash all that remained of the unfortunate Eladrin souls caught up in the madness of Scornabell.

“You must get the final Seal! It’s the only way!” Saffrenia hurried forward, a look of intense concentration marring her normally unconcerned expression. “Long ago, the Eladrin of that time sought to seal the portal which allowed the tainted nature of the Shadowfel to flow into our world. Seven mages of considerable skill were summoned from all corners of the multiverse, and thru a combined ritual were able to close the rift between worlds. From this power sprang forth the towers you see around you.

Seven main towers, seven sigils. It is thru these that the rift is contained. If you can recover the stolen Sigil, than we can use them to reseal the portal once again. If the armies of Zithiruun are able to enter the city, then it must still be within one of the insets below the city. Bring the final Sigil to the Tower of Souls. Go now, while our minds are still ours!”



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