Lost in Shadow

Backstory of the World

Ten years have passed since the War of the Usurper between Orcus and the Raven Queen. Orcus sent his legions of demons and undead to take over the Raven Queen’s domains. He was almost successful, before a group of heroes intervened and stopped him. With their help, the Raven Queen was able to barely beat back Orcus and his hordes. Just as victory was assured, Vecna appeared and struck out at the Raven Queen. He had been manipulating Orcus and was planning to betray him all along, taking the power for himself. However, Sehanine, hearing the prayers of her most devoted follower Etheah, intervened, taking the blast herself and dying.

Dying at Etheah’s side, she transfered her domains to Etheah, making her the new goddess of the Moon. Vecna immediately fled to his domain, knowing his defeat. Balance had been kept, but the new balance was precarious. Orcus may have been destroyed, but the Raven Queen was gravely injured and retreated to restore her power. Knowing that her realm would need protection, she began recruiting followers to move to the Shadowfell and protect the balance and stability of the Shadowfell.

Death of Jeremy Walters

Swain remembers seeing that Shadar-kai are the ones who attacked their family, so he convinces Jack to follow him to the Shadowfell. They travel to the Shadowfell to find this group, who they believe are members of a cult to Vecna. They bring with them their Man-at-arms and trainer Jeremy Walters. Upon arriving at the Shadowfell, they head to a temple of the Raven Queen to seek help and a guide. They meet Adrian, who brings them to Lucyan.

They learn that they have lost contact with an outpost out in the Shadowfell. The guard who gives them this tip has a brother who is stationed at this outpost. He has not received a message in some time and wants to know the fate of his brother, and if he was killed, to bring him his personal effects.

The group goes to the outpost to investigate what is going on. They arrive to find everything seems to be normal, but they have suspicions of something being wrong. They spend the night there, and upon waking, find Jeremy Walters to be missing. They confront their hosts about his disappearance while also asking for the personal effects of the family member. Knowing their ruse is up, the false guards at the outpost attack our party, summoning a zombified Jeremy Walters. The party manages to overcome the assault, destroying Walters in the process. They also find that one of the false guards has a Lok-Ti tattoo.

They then find a magic audio communicator that is used to talk to the leader of this cult. They trick him into thinking that they are members of the cult and glean some information from him before the leader catches on and disconnects the device. The party learns where the next attack will take place and rush out to prevent the destruction, while hoping to capture a member of the cult to learn more about their operations.

The Swamp Tower

The group hurry off to the next target of the Necromancers, a small outpost near a swamp. However, they arrive too late to help. Everyone in the tower had already been killed. Upon further investigation, they find out that the guards had been killed by three necromancers leading a pack of wraiths. They had been looking for something; some gems stored in a chest upstairs. However, their motives are still unknown.

Upon discovering this information, the party is attacked by wraiths and zombies left behind to deal with prying eyes. Once slain, the party resumes their investigation.

Outside the tower, they find the tracks of the of the Necromancers leading deeper into the swamp. The party slogs through the swamp, dispatching a few bog hags along the way, before they reach the Necromancer’s camp.

At the camp, they find the Necromancers are attempting to open a portal. Another fight ensues, with our group victorious. They search the camp for any clues, and only manage to find the gems stolen. Swain can tell they are full of fey energy, but their purpose remains unknown.

Now our group is faced with a portal to an unknown destination and a decision to make.

The Garden of Graves

The party, in an attempt to discern where the portal goes, find themselves sucked through instead. On the other side, they find themselves in a forest clearing with no way home and under attack by harpies and dryads.

These dryads posses a very strange ability, however. When struck down, they rise again brimming with necrotic energy for a short time before falling lifeless. Swain was incredibly confused as to how these fey creatures became possessed by such strong necrotic energy, and wanted to investigate further.

They follow a faint energy trail up the hill to a nearby ridge. A trail leads into a cave going through the ridge. Before entering the cave, the party finds a poem inscribed in Elven upon the rock face. It reads:

The wise know where they stand;
While knowing not the time to shun,
The fools must find themselves undone.

Like lustful swain or panicked child,
Who beg another’s gentle hand,
The fool delves heedless through the wild,
The wise are not so soon beguiled.

When darkness falls and dreams portend,
The risking of a fearsome foe,
The fool, swift-striking, meets his end,
The wise know foe from friend.

Let art and image point the way,
Abandon all you think you know,
For common sense leads fool astray,
The key is simple: obey.

The wise must ever strategize;
They never play, unless to win.
They see the harm in comfort’s lies,
And seek to open weary eyes.

You’ve fought your way, you’ve risked demise,
To view the ivy heart within.
Now as the soul within you dies,
This knowledge is your only prize:
You’d never have come, were you truly wise.

Inside the cave, they are faced with three statues of a young woman, mother, and old crone. Swain recklessly put a coin into the hand the young woman, which caused the crone to spring to life and attack. Upon defeating her, she returned to her place next to the other two statues. Adrian gave the crone a gift this time, which caused all the statues to move out of their way, allowing the party to progress.

On the other side of the cave, they find an abandoned campsite with a strange obelisk in the center. When they move to inspect the obelisk, they are hit with an overwhelming sense of lethargy as the campsite itself springs to life and attacks them. They manage to destroy the animated tools and tents just in time to shut down the obelisk for good.

They then decide that this site is as good as any, and make their own camp, resting for the night.

The Garden of Graves Part 2

The party continues their exploration of the strange site. They discover a killer pretending to be a captive prisoner, a water serpent guarding a key, a strange lock built into a tapestry, and game tables waiting to possess intruders. They prove to be more than a match for these obstacles, and now find themselves at the very heart of the garden.

The Garden of Graves Finale

The party finally finds the center of the Garden, guarded by The Ivy Heart. A climactic and brutal battle ensues as they struggle to bring the beast down. With the guardian destroyed, they find the strange Fey Engine preventing their return home. Adrian is visited by a vision of her husband, Turos, that only she can see. He implores her to destroy the machine quickly and she obliges.

With the machine destroyed, Swain attempts to discover it’s true purpose. However, all he can discern is that it was a method of channeling energy, but the goal still remains unknown. They recover a few gems from the machine, similar to what was stolen from the swamp outpost, that were key in the machines function.

With their only lead gone cold, they return to the City of Midnight to begin a new investigation. However, they first find a priest of Pelor, Kalus Sunbearer, under attack by Ghost Talon thugs. They rush to his aid and defeat the attackers handily. Adrian escorts Kalus back to his temple and Swain finds a strange encoded scroll on the body of a dead Pelor priest.

The von Graff brothers head to Raven’s Eyrie for their goddess, and Lucyan returns the bodies to the church of Pelor for interment.

To Gardmore Abbey

On the trail of the Deck of Many Things, the party returns to the Material Plane and heads to Winterfell, the nearest settlement to Gardmore Abbey. Once there, they visit the local lord, Lord Padraig for any news of the area. They find that Duke Stendahl has recently expanded his holdings to encompass Winterhaven, though beyond sending a small contingent of troops, he has not exerted any other control over the land.

Lord Padraig entreats the group to investigate and clear out the Orcs from Gardmore Abbey, as they have been a constant problem for Winterhaven who lacks the troops to take care of the problem themselves. Wolfram readily accepts the task, and freshly supplied, they journey to the Abbey.

Outside the Abbey, they meet Sir Oakley, a paladin of Bahamut who wishes to cleanse the Abbey of all the unnaturals who have taken up residence. He offers to help the group with any other task they may have in the Abbey and joins the party.

Approaching the main gate and finding it wide open, Lucyan creeps closer to see what awaits in the gatehouse while Swain lays down a cover of darkness so the rest can approach. Inside, they find a group of orcs with an ogre who they readily dispatch.

Now inside the Abbey, the group heads to the village at the base of the hill. Oakley warns that it is full of orcs who have settled in the ruins. Deciding to use guile over force, Lucyan disguises himself as an avatar of death, and with the aid of Swain’s magic, manages to scare away the vast majority of the orcs. Those that run for the gate meet a swift end courtesy of the von Graff brothers, while those that run up to the Abbey grounds disappear into the buildings there, never to be seen again.

When the party reunites in the town square, they are greeted by a group of rival adventurers. Lead by a female warrior, they engage in a verbal sparring match. The rivals are at the Abbey to clean out the orcs and deny their employer of being Duke Stendhal. Swain sends his familiar to watch the other group as the party climbs the hill up to the Abbey grounds.

At the Heroes’ Gate, they are beset by two rust monsters and a rage drake. When Lucyan attempts to destroy one, he finds his spiked chain completely destroyed. Lacking a weapon, he manages to launch himself atop the rage drake and calm the mad beast. As his friends destroy the monsters left, he brings the rage drake to heel, gaining a new mount and ally.

The Watchtower

Lucyan regrouped with his friends in Winterhaven, introducing them to Analastra and explaining the deal he made with the fey. The party returns to the Abbey and investigate the Watchtower for Analastra. Using one of the cards from the Deck, they are able to create a door in the side of the smooth stone tower

Once inside, they find themselves trapped in a horrific place. The first floor finds them in a room with oozing walls and black goo attacking them. Pushing through, they find themselves in a tall, narrow shaft with globules of black goo floating slowly upward. Touching one of these globes sucks the person inside as the goo seeps inside, filling the throats and stomachs of the party, attacking their sanity.

The next floor finds them stranded in a shallow ocean of more black goo. It extends as far as the eye can see in every direction, seemingly endless. However, Lucyan is able to detect a slight current, and they follow that to another door. Entering this door leads them to another goo ocean, this time with hundreds of doors in the sky. Out of each of these doors stretches a tentacle, attempting to draw the party into the abyss. Wolfram is grabbed first, but manages to break his way free at the last second.

However, the tentacle leaves it’s mark. The skin and flesh on Wolfram’s head melts away, leaving him a bony skull atop his body. Finding himself otherwise unhurt, the party rushes forward, hoping to find an escape from the madness before they all succumb.

At the top of the tower, they find the source of the Far Realm intrusion. A beholder waits for them, ready to destroy any who enter. The fight is long and bloody, Wolfram and Lucyan managing to slowly slice away the eye stalks on the Beholder. The Beholder responds with a deadly ray of it’s own, slaying Lucyan outright. Galvanized at the death of their friend, the party rallies and destroys the Beholder. Wolfram beseeches his god to revive Adrain, saving him once again from eternity.

As the world around them returns to normal, they find three more cards from the Deck and add them to their current two. Analastra finds the corpse of her father in the remains here along with two knights. It appears that he died fighting in the climactic battle years ago when the Deck was last used.

Purify the Temple

The party resumes their search for the artifacts Sir Oakley needs to cleanse the temple. They find the last one in the ruined garrison near the village, and return to the summit to begin the ritual. However, Sir Oakley is blocked by a strong, dark presence from below the temple. He sends the party down to destroy what evil lurks below so he may complete the ritual.

The catacombs below are full to bursting with undead, some disguised in human forms, other little more than shambling skeletons. The party slowly but surely makes its way to the source of darkness, an evil cleric named Vadin. Vadin is stark raving mad, apparently a condition of a plague he has contracted. During the battle, Lucyan is similarly infected with the abyssal plague, finding his strength slowly draining away.

With Vadin killed, Turos appears again to Adrian, explaining more of his situation. Vadin was a priest of the Elder Elemental Eye, a cult trying to revive a dead god. They have been capturing souls needed for the ritual, Turos being one of these victims. However, someone else has loosened the bonds on his prison, saying they wish to stop the cult from succeeding. Turos’ soul can only communicate with those he knew deeply, which is why the rest of the party cannot see him. He says the party should return to Gloomwrought where a messenger will be waiting to help further.

The group returns to the temple to help Sir Oakley complete his ritual. The remaining evil energy still infesting the area rises up in a final attempt to stop him, but they successfully drive it back, purifying the temple. As a reward for his loyal service and devout behavior, Luycan is visited by an Avatar of Etheah, who rewards him with a new holy weapon.

Escape the Abbey

With barely enough time to catch their breath, the party is beset by their next challenge. The Rival Adventurers storm the Temple in an attempt to strike down the party while they’re weak. Lead by Tam, the Rivals fight without mercy, striking down Sir Oakley and pushing the group to their very limits. However, our heroes manage to pull through, avenging Sir Oakley. After killing all but the young mage Lenna, they decide grant her mercy and let her run.

Wolfram attempts to revive Sir Oakley, but with his quest complete and his soul finally at rest, the ritual fails. Lucyan inters his body beneath the temple.

The party, with Analastra Velfarren as their guide, attempt to escape the Abbey through the forest path used previously. However, they find it now well guarded by the Duke’s men who have completely surrounded the grounds. They again disguise Lucyan as an Avatar of Death to scare off the soldiers, but this time the enemies resolution holds, and they stand their ground.

Plan B has the group smash through the enemy lines, trying to break out before they can be surrounded. However, Swain lags behind and is captured by a dozen of the Duke’s men. Adrian flings herself back into the fray to save Swain, battling back through the men she had just escaped. She manages to reach Swain and hurls him clear where Lady Tabitha can reach him, before the enemy can recover and she is captured herself.

The rest of the party makes good on their retreat, heading to Winterhaven to regroup. Now Duke Stendhal holds the vast majority of the deck along with Adrian, and the group must find a way to protect the last few cards while rescuing their friend from the thousands of soldiers under the Duke’s command.


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