The party rejoins after spending about a year tying up personal loose ends and searching out new party members who were both willing and able to join in the quest for the Pillars of creation. While the memories of Kal and Ramas will remain forever, their loss was a grievous blow to the party and one they needed to recover from if they ever wished to complete their quest and save the Empire. Obi decided to retire from adventuring life to pursue the study of the Rings of the Master and with his new estates near Saumya, it was easier to make that decision.
Ineis roamed the land, interviewing possible candidate while also beginning her role as ambassador of the Empire to the elves. It took a while, but they finally tracked down some suitable members. A dashing swashbuckler from the high seas (and friend to a certain high elven paladin) named Sarric joined the group; Lucien, a bookish bard whose instrument choices were… eclectic… joined the group; and the great fighter Uroz, a half orc from old orc bloodlines of the Old Kingdom answered the call to adventure with a bold plan to gain the favor of the orcs of the North.
The party then teleported to an icy glacier where they planned to defeat the hideous ice troll, Gwerhig and his enormous white dragon companion–a true beast of an animal called Icefang–in order to impress the embattled orcs of the North and hopefully convince them that they were worthy bearers of the Chalice of the Mother. The glacier was fraught with dangers, but the party managed to pierce to the heart of the dungeon and defeat Gwerhig and Icefang, looting the massive hoard of treasure the white dragon had accumulated over the years. In addition, Uroz found a young white dragon that he ensorcelled with a sapphire pendant to become his mount and companion.
So armed, the party departed from the glacier and pressed into the Old Kingdom (a frigid, but nonetheless heavily wooded taiga), hoping to reach the orcs before Rygar’s army of gnolls found them. In this respect, they were not so lucky. Rygar’s army was widespread and the party ran afoul of a few scouting parties. Though they defeated these scouts with relative ease, the ferocity of the gnolls and their demonic powers were a bad sign of the kind of power Rygar could bring to bear.
During their scouting mission, they also began to feel resonances of necromancy magic in the area. While Uroz scouted ahead, the rest of the party tracked down the source of the necromancy and found a massive grave titan–a horrific undead beast that could throw zombies at them. The grave titan proved no match for the party, though it led the group to a hidden ruin in the depths of the forest. This ruin stank of necromancy and exuded a palpable sense of menace.
Within the walls of the keep, the party faced their most challenging foe yet! The interior of the keep was a scene of desperate battle, though one from long ago. And in the midst of this scene was a throne raised on the dais. Sitting in the throne was a decrepit skeleton clothed in the tattered remains of once-fine robes. As the party neared this long-dead ruler, its skull came alive and began cackling madly. The party had stumbled onto the remains of the once-powerful lich lord, Borcus! Though reduced in power now as a demi-lich, Borcus nonetheless nearly proved to be more than a match for the party.
Through fierce battle, the party managed to defeat the vile creature and took away a small haul of treasure from the demi-lich’s unplundered vault. Included in that haul was an artifact of disturbing power. This artifact was a suit of tortured wooden armor that Borcus once wore when he was a full lich. Lucien decided to attune himself to this artifact and the evil influences within this powerful magic item were immediately apparent as the armor seemed to try to kill him as it constricted against his body.
Fortunately, Lucien did not die from the effects of the artifact, but Ineis Ironleaf did not feel like this was a good development. She demanded that he take the suit of armor off (Lucien’s face had begun to rot away alread from the evil magics trapped within the armor) and reluctantly, Lucien complied. They stowed the armor away and prepared to depart from the crumbling ruin of Borcus’ keep.
They were intercepted, however, by a party of gnoll death knights and their death mage companions. Rygar was closing in. Though the party defeated the gnolls, they left one of the death mages alive as she provided them with key information about Rygar’s movements. This idea may have been a bad one.
It was not even a day later when Rygar himself showed up, hearing of the party’s battle prowess and their quest for the Pillars. As the current possessor of the Sword Retribution, Rygar had more than a passing interest in their quest himself. Rygar was drawn into a duel of sorts, fighitng the entire party (save for Uroz, who had gone ahead to the orcs to prepare the way). The terrible power of Retribution was revealed as the party battled for their lives. With blasts of intense fire, the humming buzz of high-powered magic, and the terrible sound of sharp metal cleaving through flesh, the party fought the demonic leader of the gnolls. Finally, Rygar was disarmed! Though disarmed, the gnoll was no less dangerous. He had the bard, Lucien, at his mercy. He demanded the party return Retribution to him or he would kill their friend.
Sarric and Ineis decided that their mission was more important than any one member’s life and ignored their unconscious friend’s plight as they took Retribution for their own. Rygar mercilessly bit the head off of the unconscious bard, killing him instantly. Then Rygar decided that enough was enough and commanded his army to attack. Taking the better part of valor, Ineis teleported herself and Sarric to Sarric’s family’s inn, the Starflower Inn located on the southern coast of the Summer Kingdom.
The party rested there for a short time and Uroz was teleported to them by Obi (rather unexpectedly). He learned that they were in the possession of the Sword and began lobbying Sarric for possession of the great weapon. As Sarric pondered the wisdom of this course of action, his parents pondered his sanity for travelling with a wood elf. In addition, Obi teleported another new adventurer to the party–a tiefling warlock named Amon. Amon seemed to be a good fit for the party, though he was a bit lost on the Then Rygar and a bunch of his buddies teleported in looking to finish the job he started and take back his precious Sword.
They battled the demonic gnoll and his cronies for a long time. Ineis was stricken with a terrible disease by a cleric of death that Rygar brought and this sickness rendered her unable to cast spells effectively. Amon showed his effectiveness to the party by thinking quickly and entrapping the death knights in a force cage, but the wily cleric and death mages were able to get out of it. Rygar himself had no trouble with this barrier.
Rygar and his allies, however, proved to be no match for the full power of the party. Without his sword, Rygar was just another scary monster–one that the party rather gleefully chopped into teeny tiny pieces, then blasted those pieces into greasy ash. With Rygar defeated, the Starflower Inn badly damaged, and half of the party sickened by Rygar’s hideous presence, the party tried to rest and recuperate, but they were interrupted yet again by more teleporting creatures.
This time, the teleporting creatures were high elf arch wizards. They had come to investigate the demonic magic they had felt from their wizards’ towers. Once the elves found out that the demonic influence had been defeated, they parleyed with the party. Sympathetic to their cause, the archwizards gave to the party some powerful gifts of magic items and a warning that all was not well in the Verdant Kingdom.
Their warning was that the Verdant Kingdom had gone silent. A powerful enchantment had been laid on the forest that prevented teleportation or scrying. Whatever was in there did not want anyone prying into what they were doing. Furthermore, no contact with the wood elves had been made and any who went into the Verdant Kingdom did not return. The party promised to look into the problem as soon as they had met with the orcs.
Ineis teleported the party via tree (a terrifying and maddening experience for non-druids) to Dreadfort, the main stronghold of the orcs. There, the party proclaimed their victory over Rygar, Gwerhig, and Icefang. The orcs hailed them (well, Uroz really) as heroes and invited them to council. In the council of the orc elders, the group explained their quest and their need for the Chalice. The orcs agreed to aid them when the time came, and the party was left to their own devices.
Uroz had some family stuff to take care of, so the rest of the party decided to venture into the Verdant Kingdom and find out what was wrong there. Ineis tree-teleported them to a copse of trees outside of the Verdant Kingdom and the party entered into the Little Blackleaf. They quickly found that all was not well in the Verdant Kingdom as the magic that blanketed the forest dimmed the light of the sun and caused strange magical effects to manifest.
The group made their way to the village of Tirion and found that the village had been depopulated, perhaps violently. There was the evidence of some kind of brutal struggle, but no bodies. With deepening suspicious, the party made their way deeper into the forest, trying to make their way to the blessed Glad of Asari. On the way, the party was assaulted by a small group of vampire spawn, giving the group a good clue as to what had happened in the Verdant Kingdom. Though the party defeated the vampire spawn and made their way to the Glade of Asari, with vampire spawn, there will somewhere be a vampire master…