The Second Darkness

The Armageddon Echo

Eviana, clan leader of Anonim-adahl (Crying Leaf), has decided that it is time for the Elven troupes to strike against the Drow stronghold, the Academy of Arts. Alas, three groups have to strike simultaneously and one of these groups is short of a leader as Kaerishiel was grievously hurt during his last mission.

Eviana
Eviana

Benevolently, Arwaitheon volunteers to lead the third group. This leaves Amarand, Ferris, Naurion and Celebithil as the smallest group, however, they are also to take the most easily accessible entrance to the academy, namely a hole in the structure’s walls. Meanwhile Arwaitheon will lead his troups through a hole in one of academy’s towers and, and yet another group, led by Shalelu, will take the hazadrous main entrance with the golem guard.

On their way to the academy, the small group experiences two rather mysterious sights. Firstly, an elf wanders around in one of the abandoned buildings, a smithy, apparently working through his daily routines as if nothing were wrong. The group investigates and finds out that the man is some kind of apparition – he cannot interact with the surroundings and he is utterly unaware of his spectators. Secondly, they see another crushed drow like the one before the library the night before, but this time they also catch a glimpse of the creature that has caused the destruction – a giant, walking tree.

Kaerishiel
Kaerishiel

After spectacular sights the group is in position and ready to strike. On the agreed signal they rush the drows and their troglodyte slaves. The assault appears at first glance to be swift and effortless, yet, one of the troglodytes disturb a finely powdered circle of silver on the floor and immediately a demon bursts out of this fragile prison. The battle is long and exhaustes most of the party’s resources as no weapon seems to bite properly into the demon’s flesh.

When the companions finally proceed to the rest of the academy’s towers, they find it completely empty apart from dead bodies. Moreover, blood traces cover the rooms and halls all leading to a specific part of the building. Missing many allies and one friend in particular, they follow the trail and arrives at a door which they open and – of course – release the trap on. After having revived Istwen she and Ferris begin healing all of them – but to much concerns the healing resources are running low at a rapid pace. Since the door’s trap is now disabled they continue to the next room where a beautiful elf woman greets them from her place on a leaf floating around in a basin filled with the liveliest clear water. And behind the basin is the sealed iodara. She explains that she is bound and would dearly like to be taken out of the basin that she may become free. Something seems awry however, and Amarand soon sees through the illusion. The lustrous maiden in distress is a wile fish-like monster with three red eyes in a vertical row. Resolutely he attacks the creature, and without too much effort the thing is slain. Unfortunately, it has touched and poisoned the skin of Amarand and within seconds he turns white, almost transparent and very soft. Likewise, he gets an insatiable need for water. Despite skin problems the party has to push on before the drows get too far away with their friends.

Behind the next door is another portal, and this one is active. Part of it is a rune from the Riddleport arch. In front of the gate is a drow warrior with a finely crafted and viciously sharp Elven curve blade. He apologises from his master, wizard soandso, that he cannot be there to witness the death of the four companions. Then he charges, but Naurion is by his side before he even takes a step and executes a skillful flurry of stabs. Amarand and a transmuted Ferris is soon flanking the fierce drow warrior, and even though the latter almost cuts Ferris in two halves, he must eventually yield to the superior numbers. After Istwen has patched up Ferris all healing is completely depleted.

The blood trail is clear and there are no other exists, hence the party proceeds through the portal.

On the other side is an older, more marvellous and truly tantalising version of Celwynvian. Yet, despite all of its splendour the sun in the sky is blotted out by an enourmous black cloud. Few seem to be in the city and those who are seem distant, unaware and forgetful. Nor is it possible to physically interact with the citizens. The companions deduct that they have probably landed in the Armageddon Echo. They move through the city, partly to get a lead on where the drow and their friends may be, partly to find a cure for Amarand. At the Academy of Arts they learn that the city is being abandoned and that the iodara will soon be closed. One of the mages advice the group to go and see the human inhabitants of Celwynvian about these darkskinned elves and where they might be. One of the humans is a representative of one of the Rune Lords while the other is an atlantian. The start with visiting the latter who explains that he is convinced that the blot and the fluctations in especially healing magic are simply branches of a dispute between the aboloths and atlantians. Furthermore, he thinks the drows may be found near the city’s observatory.

They start walking towards the observatory, but on their way they pass the Garden of Eternal Rest and Naurion notices a pack of undeads that are about to attack a young elf girl. Promptly he attacks the monsters, but are surprised by their burning hot radiance and apparent perseverance. Without healing available the fight has a fatal outcome for Amarand who succumb to the burning undeads (drows and troglodytes, half part burnt flesh, half part skeleton).

After the fight the remaining companions leave for the library in order to find information about what they have just encountered. They find out that it is probably creatures from the Plane of Shadows, and since these undeads are not fully real, some of the damage inflicted by them might also be partly unreal. Thus they spend the night taking turns pouring water over Amarand and praying that he will wake up after a night’s rest. Luckily, he does.

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Leutha

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