The Realms / Exotic Items, Creatures, and Wares
shall I begin? While the day itself started at the crack of noon, the
work for this gathering started weeks earlier, to say nothing of the
years of history. I myself found out what a big deal it was to Magus
James Swift when he personally asked me to aid him, calling in a favor
owed to him from the days of the Bedlam War.
Article written by Eric "Rosetta" Willisson
Source: View from Valehaven
I do want to mention that while a few names show up repeatedly in my telling, that is only because of the places I was focused throughout the day. Every single person who came to this quest was essential. I saw so many acts of heroism, large and small, from quick thinking to keep a line together, to acts of sacrifice, to running to defend when heedless of danger. There are long stretches where I do not discuss the fighting, but make no mistake, it was nearly constant, and we could not have accomplished what we did had we not been well-defended.
of the history, recent and not, we had documentation, newly-crafted
items, old artifacts, and magical power gifted to us by everyone from
fellow adventurers to the Stonewood Fae, there to support us on our
quest. We would need everything that was brought to bear.
after arriving, and confirming to James that I was there as a
representative of the Fae answering his summons, we gathered in a cozy
tavern outside the town of Wartham. I could already hear those present
discussing their own preparations: yes, the graveyard was "locked down"
to prevent its dead from being used against us. Yes, the knightly
gauntlets were charged. Yes, the Blood Brothers item was active. Soon,
James addressed the crowd.
reminded us why we had come, and the expected tasks ahead of us. We
were there to reforge the evil sword Shadow Fang to make it into a force
for good. First, we would have to reach Wartham. Second, we would fight
the demon called The Smith and take its hammers, the Horadric Malus.
Third, we would gather Runestones from our enemies until we could
assemble the required Runewords to empower Shadow Fang and activate
necessary magical tools. Fourth, we would actually reforge Shadow Fang
and kill the fallen archangel within it. Just four things. Along the
way, we would find the Black Soul Stone, a prison with which to keep
Izual, the archangel, from simply returning to fight us later through
the demonic Cycle once we had slain him.
Tempest moved around the room, handing out actual trifold pamphlets
introducing us to the lands of Stonewood. If mine did not get too dirty,
I will be submitting it to the Library of Ivory. It covered key things
we needed to know about the types of dangers in Stonewood, whether to do
things on impulse without checking first (no), and current members of
Soon, James and Tempest enchanted the armor of all ten or so fighters who were present, and we set out for Wartham. We had hoped to find multiple survivors of the recent weeks' attacks, but when we arrived we sadly found only one, a man named, if I caught it right, Voloris. Wartham itself had a small graveyard, the anvil we would need, and a border of a few dilapidated buildings and some trees. Outside, the red portal we had been warned of glowed faintly. We also found a box with blanks that would fit the Runeword needed to re-enchant Shadow Fang.
portal began to disgorge demons. Undead, mostly, with fairly tough
armor. As predicted by my divinations, we quickly started to find
Runestones carried through the portal. While some assumed they belonged
with me because of my own association with Runes, it was Rowan of
Stonewood and a newer adventurer, Astaria, who were able to make the
most sense of them. cross-referencing them against a book of runic lore
and keeping track of which of the 84 Runestones we had collected. Their
work proved vital throughout the day.
on, a greater undead being came through the portal. Most of us were
unable to affect it, and on the rare occasion we did drop it, we had
little understanding of how it had happened. It helped set the tone for
the day, in that it took us a very long time and some noteworthy costs
to figure out how to finally destroy it. Ser Kovaks' use of Fighter's
Intuition, Apprentice Thoril's use of a Sleep regional, and Astaria's
Magic Missiles all proved vital, as well as several people's keen
this, there was a lull, and Kovaks brought truly essential supplies
from their cart. There were water, grapes, cheese, pepperoni, animal
crackers and pretzels. They had reminded us in the meetings leading up
to this quest that an army marches on its stomach, and thus came
prepared. We relied on these greatly throughout the day, and I cannot
imagine how hard it would have been to continue on without these snacks.
we expected, soon after this, more undead emerged from the portal, and
they were clearly accompanied by the Smith. Two hammers, and a loud
voice told us all we needed to know. In addition, it was accompanied by
what appeared to be Lord Elwin of Stonewood, fighting on its side and
very difficult to harm. By this point I had noticed that the majority of
our enemies were enchanted beings, and frequently used my Circle of
Protection to avoid fights and get kills where I could. The fight went
poorly for us, and at one point we nearly all were felled, but Thoril
saved the day with a magic item that, for some reason, is activated by
shouting "Attention Campers, all in the sound of my voice, rise and
believe the Smith was finally defeated when enough different people had
attacked it, though I may be confusing that with another fight.
Similarly, I am unsure how Lord Elwin was defeated. See what I meant
about the greater undead setting the tone for the day? I do know that we
attempted to destroy the body afterwards. It dissipated, and we agreed
to work on fixing it another day. We were too far in our current mess to
take on anything else. A current theory is that it was a simulacrum of
the Horadric Malus in our hands, and the majority of the Runestones
collected, only a scant couple of hours in, it seemed that time was on
our side. This was about to change.
had noticed a locked door that would normally have lead to the basement
beneath the tavern, with a curious inscription on it, a long series of
standard spells separated by three symbols: ~, +, and |. It seemed
likely that the spells indicated some kind of password, and over time we
put increasing amounts of work into solving it. Tempest, Astaria, and
Rowan did much of the painstaking work, but it eventually took several
divinations and spending favors granted by the Stonewood Fae to finally
solve it. Before I understood how the Fae preferred to be spoken to, it
expressed its displeasure first by blinding everyone for several
minutes, and then by killing the entire questing party. Thankfully, we
had diligent healers and a magical Group Healing pool belonging to James
to help us recover, and the door unlocked when I spoke the password.
sent a scouting party inside, and they reported that there was a
terrible miasma, making them feel incredibly ill. There was also, some
distance down, an altar with skulls and an item that could only be the
Black Soul Stone. The stone was surrounded by a magical field and could
not be touched. When James and I went to investigate the stone
ourselves, he noticed that there were tiny images of Runestones etched
around the metal casing for the stone, likely fitting the twelve circles
surrounding the stone. He began to record them, though almost succumbed
to the miasma.
planned to send different people down, each to stay as long as they
could to record Runestones. Sir Avendar went first, and was able to get
several before he felt his magical protections being burned through.
Tempest chose to go next. However, we noticed she was remaining there
for a dangerously long time, and when we sent someone to investigate,
they found no sign of her, only the notebook she had been writing in. A
Guidance did not answer me as to whether she had been absorbed into the
stone herself, but it seemed the most likely bet. It also seemed likely
that we would need to be able to bring it out to rescue her. Rowan
volunteered to continue the work, and had me tie a rope around her waist
so I could pull her back if she fainted. I waited for the longest time I
thought could be safe, called to her and got only a cough in return,
pulled the rope back in, and to my horror found the empty end. She, too,
sun was setting and we had lost two of our people, and still were far
from activating the Black Soul Stone, or even solving what was wrong. I
composed a ritual of Fae power to Intervene for help, and suddenly found
myself holding a pile of twelve Runestones, empowered to deactivate the
shield. I ran down, followed closely by Kovaks, and inserted the
Runestones as quickly as possible. With the last one, I saw the shield
flicker and vanish, and seven demonic spirits in the room became visible
as they were sucked inside. To my relief, the bodies of Tempest and
Rowan materialized in front of us.
tried to take the Black Soul Stone, but quickly found it had a
compulsion to return it to the spot. It would need a Protect the Soul or
similar magic to remove it. We grabbed the two bodies and hurried back
into the fresh air.
arranging for the two of them to be raised, we found Talia, a new
adventurer who had been given a Protect the Soul sash. She was able to
bring the stone up from its holding place. Unfortunately, when I took it
as she handed it to me, its power overcame me and I was compelled to
slay everyone around me, while being protected from their weapons
myself. Eventually I was stopped when Kovaks grabbed me from behind
while others pinned my arms, until the magic left me in a huge
explosion. The stone began to drift back to its spot on the altar. Later
experiments confirmed it could only be kept inside a Circle of
Protection for a short time, and we concluded it would need to be left
in place until it was needed. I made sure Talia knew that she was one of
the only people who could take it, and that when Izual was brought low
after Shadow Fang was reforged, she would need to retrieve it so he
could be imprisoned.
was much later in the day than we had hoped, and we knew it would soon
be time to begin the reforging process. Sir Sean called to the god Thane
to restore our magics, though like all things divine in Stonewood this
came at a cost. Jericho performed an Augury to determine that, contrary
to some earlier beliefs, it would be a good idea to close the red portal
then, not wait until after fighting Izual. Blackwood headed to the
portal with a plan. It wasn't long, however, before someone came running
back, saying that the portal had closed, with everyone else still
inside. I rushed over to attempt a summoning ritual to pull them back
out of the Hell they were now trapped in. At first it seemed like I was
successful, as bodies appeared, but at last, when my power reached Sir
Mathias, I felt him Resist Magic and the ritual ended. The other members
of Blackwood were understandably extremely upset that I had left their
lord behind, though I tried to explain that he had resisted me. I would
have been upset and confused, too. At the very end of the night, I made
one last attempt, supported by the rest of Blackwood other friends of
Mathias, to summon him back to us, but once again he outright refused. I
believe Squire Pilpus, Sir Nos, and Sir Elizah have worked on learning
more since then.
was nothing else for it but to begin reforging Shadow Fang. James had
summoned an "automation crystal" that would work the anvil. After
confirming we had the Runeword we needed, thanks to the hard work of
Astaria and Rowan, we brought the Runestones, the Horadric Malus, and
Shadow Fang to the anvil, and began.
expected, the fallen archangel Izual emerged swiftly. Thanks to a
blessing by Lady Natira, we knew he would be unable to escape Wartham,
and with the portal closed he would have no way to reach the demonic
realms. However, we expected to have to defend against him and the
minions he summoned for over an hour and a half. Thankfully, magic from
Sir Sean and others seemed to lessen this greatly.
Still, the battle was hard. Night had fully fallen, and his minions were plentiful. I spent most of the battle using my Circle to help prevent one side of the line from being wrapped, but unable to harm very many of the heavily-armored undead. Behind me, it was clear that the battle against Izual was raging. Thoril used all of his Sleep abilities to prevent Izual from reaching the anvil and interrupting the forging, but there still were many close calls.
I believe that I missed when Shadow Fang was actually finished, but when it was, the tenor of the battle changed from simple survival on our part to seeking victory. Around this time, one of the undead managed to break through my Circle, raise me as undead, and sent me to kill James. However, this was at the exact moment that James had invoked all of his power and was fighting Izual hand-to-hand. I came in to try to kill James from behind, but my dagger bounced off him as easily as if he had been an Archangel himself. Eventually the people around me caught on that I was probably being compelled, not trying to stop James for some inscrutable Fae reason, and so killed me.
next thing I knew, I was alive and no fighting was occurring. Instead,
there was a discussion taking place. I ascertained that there had been a
fatal mistake, and Izual now had dominion of the Black Soul Stone
himself, and to make matters worse he contained the three Prime Evils
that had been trapped inside it. So confident was he of his victory,
that he had agreed to let us regroup and discuss his offer to let us
were indeed bleak, but it is never wise when fighting the Realms to
give us time to think and pool resources. Thoril revealed that he had a
scroll of Wish he had been hoping to use otherwise, but he could
sacrifice for this cause. Not wanting to waste time, and knowing the
ways wishes have a tendency to backfire, we decided on a simple one
quickly: to make it so that the Prime Evils were back in the stone.
Obviously, when this wish was made, the truce was over.
it turned out the stone was still embedded in Izual's chest. Still,
this had made him significantly more vulnerable. Avendar used a scroll
to reach Vandor and rip the stone out from his chest, at which point
everyone descended on Izual, and soon he was dead and his body
dissipated. His spirit seemed to float away, possibly to the Black Soul
In the end, we were battered, bloodied, and weakened, but we had accomplished what we set out to do. Shadow Fang is no longer an angel-slaying sword of evil, but rather a force for good. Its powers are of Peace and War, such that James may better serve his goddess.
one snag was that the Black Soul Stone itself went missing, with
nothing but a small pool of mysterious liquid to mark where it had once
been. It seems it may have been acquired by an even bigger threat, one
which may have orchestrated some or all of this for its own plans. But,
such is the way of dealing with gods and angels, and perhaps we will
confront this foe another day...
Posted by Crown Prince Saeganof Blackwood