We hear screams outside – in the distance at first, and then coming closer. The bartender: “Not again!” Tavros: “This happens often? What is it?”
“Ir’s a dream vestige! A horrible mist composed of fallen souls, that rolls through town and eats everyone it can find.”
“Oh, dear,” says Tavros, watching the mist roll through and form faces which are disrupted by other faces. “We must help!”
Clovis goes out the front door, and Tavros follows.
Leira climbs out of the bath and dries herself off.
Marshall watches the cloud roll through a house and the screams from inside suddenly stop; the cloud-monster comes out the other side. Tavros strides up to one of the clouds and cuts into it, which shouldn’t work at all… but he’s wielding a holy avenger, and that cuts into it as if it were solid, doing a ferocious amount of damage.
Marshall considers a plan, and holds back; Leira is getting dressed. The cloud rolls over us, coming into Leira’s room and grasps her with foggy tendrils; she takes some damage, and also suffers an intelligence drain. It attacks Marshall, Clovis, and Tavros as well, and we all take damage; in addition, a woman in the inn is struck down and becomes a zombie.
Marshall promptly drops a Mass Heal on everybody, including the cloud. Unfortunately, he fails to get past the undead cloud’s spell resistance, but he does heal everybody except Clovis. He follows up by restoring himself and Clovis. Tavros attacks, and finishes one of the clouds. Leira attempts to disintegrate the thing, but misses and disintegrates part of the wall. She adds a quickened False Life. Marshall casts Searing Light three times, and gets past spell resistance, but has trouble tagging it because it’s partly incorporeal. Only one connects, but it does do some damage. Clovis tries to cast Harm and accidentally casts Heal, but misses.
Tavros takes more damage, and attacks again. His intelligence has been severely drained. Leira has also been damaged, and just starts throwing fireballs out the window at this thing. Marshall moves up and drops a Restoration on Tavros, then tries two searing lights.
The cloud attacks Tavros, and takes him down with intelligence drain; he is literally too stupid to stay on his feet. Clovis moves up and adds Disruption to Marshall’s scythe, then casts Searing Light and actually does some damage. Leira throws fireballs around, and does some damage.
Marshall picks up Tavros’s sword, taking a bit of damage from the offended weapon. He swing at the cloud, making use of divine power and divine favor. The cloud attacks Leira this time; she collapses. Clovis attacks with two more Searing Lights, but misses. Marshall drops a Mass Heal, then restores Tavros.
The cloud promptly attacks Tavros again, but Clovis races over and Restores him again. Tavros attacks from the ground, and finishes the thing. Meanwhile the villagers move in and beat down the husks. The bartender rewards us with his lucky stone, which Leira promptly claims for her own.
We depart Brightland as heroes, heading northeast. We pass through battlefields and burned-out villages; as we near Caristhium, we emerge from the maelstrom around the capital to find ourselves in what feel like late spring weather. (It’s actually June.)
With that, we return to the Elf party.
Elderly Geddy reappears with the now-adult dragon Eva. We head north, and arrive at an elven-run inn. The barkeep looks at Ruin: “Darvinin?”
Ruin: “His brother.”
Ruin: “We’re twins.”
So apparently Darvinin is away and isn’t due back for a couple of days. We get about that far when we hear a crash outside. A cart has tipped over outside, and four half-orcs are standing around menacing the owners, while four wizardly-looking types stand beside them looking on.
The barkeep says, “Oh no. Not them again. Just let them do their thing and pass on.” They’re apparently pretty tough; Darvinin tried to confront them and got his ass handed to him.
Ruin and Martini notice that the wizardly-types are wearing Vecna medallions around their necks, and the orcs are part of the elite guard of Vecna. Ruin immediately Dimension Doors over behind the robed figures. He cuts down one, and damages another. Geddy casts Haste, which hits everybody except Ruin.
Eva steps outside and turns into a dragon.
Ruin steps up and wipes out two more of the wizards. Leira steps up behind one of the orcs and stabs him from behind; she is currently invisible, using Greater Invisibility. Geddy shuffles out of the inn and casts Hold Person on the remaining wizard, who resists. Eva kills the last wizard.
Ruin uses Dimension Door to move in front of the injured orc. He is wearing a mithril chain shirt. Ruin exchanges a couple of blows with him, then takes his head off.
Eva returns and the villagers erupt into cheers. The barkeep is Narissa; whatever we want is on the house. Ruin asks for whiskey. Ruin asks after Darvinin, and finds out that he’s off… burying their mother. Baethira was a prominent leader of the resistance, and she was caught by a group of the former duke’s Solari and killed. Darvinin went to bury her in a sacred place. Ruin remembers an old druid’s grove near here, and decides that that’s where we ought to head next.
Mithandril has disappeared; the High Provost has also disappeared. These Vecna groups come into town every so often; they probably have a base of operations somewhere around here. Duke Lamont took over the whole western army of Sol Povos along with a bunch of Solari, and declared himself King of the North and took over Annun. Apparently the south is a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Supposedly a bear sits on the throne of Sol Povos.
Perhaps more importantly, the half-orc had a belt of giant strength, which we give to Geddy to help reinforce him in his old age. Ruin suggests that we go find the old grove; Eva carries us, so the journey takes half a day at most.
Sure enough, the clearing and the grove are there. Darvinin is in the clearing, kneeling beside the grave. Ruin strides over and re-acquaints himself with his twin brother. We bring Darvinin up to speed on what we’ve been doing; he brings us up to speed on everything…
…including the fact that Ruin has two-year-old children. Ruin: “What?”
He doesn’t know what’s become of Shanna and her friends; he lost track of them when Lamont rolled in. He has stories of rape and torture; most of the true elves are sheltering the forest, since Annun and the other cities are under human control. The high provost and cronies are gone; so is Mithandril. The Vecna priests are around, but they never show up in force and nobody is sure what they’re doing at present.
Darvinin’s advice is that we should head for Caristhium. Ruin suggests that he should find Mistra and Shanna and the others, and follow them to Caristium.
Traveling by dragon, we head to Caristhium. We land outside of town, and walk into town… and promptly run into the guards. They’re elves, but they’re also clearly the guards you shouldn’t trust. They’re going to be abusing their authority.
The guards looks us over, then focus on Eva: “Whoooah.” She’s an attractive woman.
Martini steps in when the guards start trying to extort Geddy and Eva. She intimidates the hell out of them, and we pass by into town. Caristhium itself is a walled town, and it’s in a lot worse shape than it was. Also, there’s a bunch of tarred heads on spikes along the walls. One occupies a place of honor above the gates.
“That’s Amelia Fontaine,” one of the passers-by tells us. “She was one of the traitorous humans who ruled us before our new masters came.”
Ruin recognizes that it must be Tavros’s mom. The banners are crude, but indicate some sort of elvish resistance. They’ve definitely got control of the town, and they’re squeezing it dry. Eva disguises herself as an elf.
The temple of Amun is shut up tight, so we knock. Brother Birno greets us at the gate. Ruin introduces us (again) and he lets us in after giving Ruin some grief about faking his death to avoid taking care of his children. The place is in disrepair, and Birno is a lot thinner than he used to be.
Birno takes us to the Abbess, who is perfectly appalled by Geddy being so vastly much older. She’s actually a bit disappointed, but she’s also very interested. Ruin gives her the story, and she leads us off behind the shrine, where she opens a wood panel to reveal a staircase leading down. She leads us down into a secret area, where two people are sitting.
It takes us a minute because they’re in very plain clothes, but it’s Vigo the Whisperer and Dante Alighieri.
Vigo is very excited to see us – for an inveterate schemer, anyway – and brings up to speed a bit more. He’s got a whole tactical map on the wall, He starts pointing out things that we need toi know. The druids retreated deep into the forest, and their whereabouts are unknown; the same for the centaurs.
The demons are centered in Springmage, at the old mage’s college. The storm is centered on the elemental temple, and teleportation effects are basically impossible within that. There are Solari still holding some of the cities. The General Giselle retreated to the west and has some forces there, along with some allied Solari. Meanwhile, the Tarrasque is still roaming around, and may eventually break through at Summerwynne, at which point it can go anywhere. There’s a group of refugee mages. Flowerhedge, on the other hand, is overrun with vampires. The capital has some remnants of Meowdeus’ army.
When the priests of Vecna reached the capital, they broke into the vault. The king is likely dead, because the vault is marked with a curse that says “Only with the blood of kings mayst thou enter.” The biggest problem with trying to retake the capital is the three horsemen themselves; two of them remain in the capital, and the vampire Chuck has taken over the small island of Jardin. They’ve also heard stories of the former captain of Fort Dido, Sacha, somewhere in the southeast. The other Grand Marshall Giles took the eastern army and established himself as the new Duke of Welfort.
In the north, the old great western army now belongs to “King” Lamont; there’s still a force of Solari in Janbridge; there’s also a bunch of followers of Apollyon, who have allied with Lamont. Mithandril mysteriously vanished, and even Vigo has no idea what happened.
We hang out there for a couple of days, and sure enough Tavros and Leira and Marshall show up. Meanwhile, the Vecna priests are hiding out somewhere, probably in Duendewood. So: Demons, Lamont, and the Capital – and then the Vecna priests, the Tarrasque, and various other things.