The adventurers decided to wait until evening to steal the traveller’s papers. They stayed in their room in the inn until the sun had long been set. It was two hours past midnight, and they tiptoed down the stairs into the foyer to sneak out the main door, only to find the body of a large armored guard blocking their path.
Oy! Where do you think you’re going this late in the night?
The adventurers were, unfortunately, not able to allay his suspicions (despite Maelokh’s best efforts to convince the guard that they were taking him to meet his lover). The man informed them that Darian’s guard had declared a curfew after the events of the previous morning: Some ruffians (or terrorists!) had broken into the barracks and attempted to set the entire building on fire. As such, the entire district was under a curfew until the troublemakers were caught. This particular guard had been hired by the innkeeper to protect her establishment, and clearly was not going to let anyone leave it in the middle of the night.
Their way barred, the trio returned to their room and weighed their options: They had no other choice but to escape through the back window onto the roof and sneak through the alleys toward the gatehouse. Sneaking through the window, luck once again revealed that it was not on their side that night. The guard beneath them heard the commotion, but thankfully Absolom was able to leap from the window and silence him before any alarm was raised.
Needing to deal with the incapcitated guard, Absolom split off from the rest of the party, who continued on through the city streets toward the gatehouse. The alleys were dark and the moon was shrouded by the cover of clouds, allowing the adventurers to easily sneak past patrolling watchmen. Before long, they found themselves hiding in the shadows beneath the grand entrance to the Elven Gardens. The gatehouse—and their golden ticket—was right before them, but it was across an open street containing four soldiers on watch. Oakson, taking the form of a giant spider, made an attempt to scamper across the shadowy street, but was spotted by the guards, who followed him on a chase down the street leaving only one guard left for Maelokh. The halfl-ef cleverly threw his remaining bottle of Alchemists Fire down the street to distract the guard, who raced to put it out. The street was now clear, and Maelokh quickly dashed to the gatehouse and, easily picked the locked door, and hid inside. Wanting to work quickly before the guards returned, he examined the room. Unfiled request forms, parchment, ink, blank traveller’s documents, and—his keen eyes noticed in the darkness—the official seal of Fallreach. Not wanting to leave any evidence of his presence, Maelokh grabbed some blank documents, gave them the appropriate seal, and left without a trace.
By now, Oakson the Spider had elluded the nightwatch and Absolom had staged the death of the Inn’s guard. The trio returned to the inn, documents in hand, and began fabricating their story:
Absolom was a foreign aristocrat and traveler who had come upon an ancient warforged from a long-forgotten war. This warforged, though beaten and battered, was perfectly operational (save for a broken voicebox). He had heard of Darian’s exploits in the city and wished to reveal the secrets of this unique creature to the king. Maelokh was his bodyguard and assistant who had accompanied him on this journey.
Papers properly prepared, the party progressed along the path before them.
The Elven Gardens
Entrance into The Elven Gardens district was swift and uneventful. Before they knew it, they were surrounded by the affluent homes and broad streets of the upper terrace. It was immediately clear that the guard’s presence was much weaker here, though large, passive Warforged wearing the silver and blue colors of Darian’s army patrolled through the streets.
The adventurers made their way for the Paladin’s Keep, but first they passed the Great Library of Gilean and Darian’s Art Gallery. Maelokh went towards the library, while the human and warforged explored the gallery.
The gallery had recently renovated and was displaying all new artwork. It was almost entirely filled with great scenes of war: Honorable soldiers, brutal battles, and glorified death. Near the back of the gallery they spotted Jackson enjoying the artwork. They warned him of the wanted poster they had seen with his information, and suggested that he take care of himself. On their way out the noticed a large mural depicting a heavenly battle: A war of light and dark. Leading the fiends from the abyss was a creature, monstruous and red, with horns sprouting from its forehead. Absolom immediately recognized the it as the figure from his dream. The inscription beneath the painting red: “The Army of Asmodeus.”
The duo promptly left the art gallery and joined Maelokh in the Library, where he was examining a book oh Ha’Shem. Just before leaving, they heard a large commotion come from the entrance, and a youthful wizard wearing a pointed hat and robes two sizes too large came barreling through the front door, rushing towards the restricted section of library books. Using a key, he opens the locked cabinet and finds an old tome, and begins to read.
Curious, Maelokh approached the young man and asked him what he was reading. After being somewhat scorned, the Ranger assured him that he was, in fact, desiring to seek the truth. The Mage proceeded to tell them that he had heard accounts of a strange green light bursting from the woods near Evansdale. At first he thought nothing of it, but then he remembered something from his studies as a child:
Similar lights had been seen in the past . . . Stories tell of a similar light coming from the eastern edge of the The Yellow Forest, many years ago . . . legend spoke of a light errupting from the mountain range to the south of The Silver Lake. And one report claims that one of the Fates in the Wasteland similarly erupted with a green, toxic light (but who can trust anyone from the Wasteland, anyway?).
The adventurers, trusting Ronold due to his hunger for truth, chose to tell them their story, and their future plans. After promising to not share their secrets, Ronold returned to his studies and the party continued on to the Paladin’s Keep.
The Paladin’s Keep is an enormous temple with several robed figures walking throughout its outer courtyard and gardens, as well as several large, armored men. Paladins!
Entering the main sanctuary felt like stepping into holy ground. A sacred reverence and beauty filled the air. At the end of the chamber stood a pedestal with Pelor’s sacred scriptures, and behind it was woman, praying, basking in the sunlight.
The woman was Lady Catherine Lightheart, a High Paladin of Pelor. Sensing her good will, the adventurers chose to reveal everything to her that had occurred in the past few weeks, hoping to learn more information about what was going on.
Many years ago there was a great war. The prince of the Nine Hells, Asmodeus, had risen to power over the other demons and devils. He found that as his power grew his reach into the veil extended. Over time, he learned that though he could not travel across the veil directly, he could subtly influence already dark minds on the other side. Over time, his forces grew, and their evil spread across the land until the light was lost and the veil vanished beneath the darkness. The forces of Asmodeus began to spill through the veil across the land. Thankfully, all was not lost. The elves had not completely abandoned Fallreach, and the followers of Pelor had not yet lost their way. The armies of good were able to band together and banish the fiends back into the abyss. Good Wizards bound to truth and not power gathered to construct powerful portals across the realms, and the fiends were cast back into the Plane of Fire. The portals were sealed, and for the next generation the Paladins of Pelor spread across the land to create sites of worship and goodness where there had once been evil and chaos. Temples, memorials, altars, shrines . . .places to hold the evil at bay and repair the veil.
Their conversation lasted for quite some time. Catherine told them of the followers of Pelor, and how they had created these portals all over the land . . . at least some were in other nations, but many were here in the region of Fallreach.
I’ve heard it said that one was in the wastelands, and another in the great mountain to the west. There is at least one in the Yellow Woods and beyond the mountains north of it, near the coast. And, of course, there is a gate here, in the city! Fallreach is one of the most carefully guarded cities in the world. We have our own safeguards to keep the door from being opened.
After creating these portals, many followers of Pelor, over the generations, began to lose their way. They began pursuing good deeds rather than THE good. They followed their law rather than Pelor himself, believing that they could perform so many good acts that evil would no longer have room to exist.
After their discussion, Maelokh and Oakson convinced her to try and call an emergency meeting with all of the high Paladins to inform them of these recent developments—specifically the horrors that Darian and Rexan have been creating. They now fear that these abominations could be so evil, that the very fabric of the veil around Fallreach is starting to wear thin.
During this conversation, something interesting had happened to Absolom. While Maelokh and Oakson spoke with the Paladin, he collapsed in front of the altar, overtaken by the peace and the beauty that accompanied filled the Cathedral. It made him question himself, his actions, his law, and his sins. Some while later, he came to his feet, and approached Lady Catherine. To the surprise of everyone present, he said that he wanted to follow Pelor, and learn his ways. The Lady was moved by his sincerity, and gave him a small tome: The Light of Pelor. He thanked her, his companions urged her to call the council as soon as possible, and then they left the cathedral, devising a plan on their way out.
It had become clear that the evil of Darian and Rexan had to be stopped. Rexan had clearly broken the natural law and brought great evil and corruption into this city, but even if Darian had no knowledge of how the Warforged were created, he was still perpetuating a crippling system of evil and tyranny. They had to be removed. It would be very difficult to assault Darian’s Palace. Perhaps a small assassination attempt or kidnapping could be effective, but it seemed more manageable to go after Rexan before attempting to overthrow Darian himself. Furthermore, Rexan would be able to provide insight into how the warforged work and how they are controlled. Perhaps—just maybe—our adventurers could use the warforged army as a first line of defense against attacking fiends.
Thus, the adventurers continued on, leaving The Elven Gardens and returning to The Silver District. Getting through the gate was no trouble, and they continued onward toward the barracks. The guard outside of the barrack’s front door proved someone troublesome, however. As they approached he immediately recognized the group from a few days prior when they had ran away from the burning building. A quick charm spell from Oakson calmed his suspicion, however, and he willingly went and retrieved Rexan for them.
The Fiendish Plot
Rexan seemed slightly bothered by the disturbance, but upon hearing Absolom’s story he willingly brought the group down to his laboratory. Absolom intended to slowly reveal Oakson’s unique traits as a magic user, hoping to draw out information regarding Rexan’s own warforged, but distrust and tension filled the air only moments after the conversation began. The facade was dropped, and the alchemist lashed out at the trio with pillars of flame. Blows were exchanged, and the battle was not going well for the adventurers. Absolom’s keen skill was not enough to land a blow, and the ranger found similar trouble. Oakson, rearing back and transforming into a lion, pounced upon the man, and to everyone’s surprise, his figure changed before their eyes. His skin crawled and his wild mane of hair shrunk to reveal a red-skinned man with black hair, twin horns, and enormous, scaly wings. Not quite human, yet not fully fiend, the creature let out a laugh and vanished before their very eyes . . .