The Blades took a much-needed rest in Loudwater. Kriv clutched the Blade close while he slept, dreaming of leading a massive army straight to the Shadowfell, destroying all the undead and evil he could see. When they awoke, they found a scroll from the ranger Raven, an elf who joined them in Spellgard and remained until the recovery of the Blade. During his travels Raven became wary of the Blade’s actions, certain they were traveling down an evil path in their pursuit of war.
You are touched by darkness, Blades. I see it as a blemish that will grow with time. I could warn you of course, but you would not listen. I could kill you, but someone would take your place. So I do the only thing I can – I go.
No longer a Sacred Blade
Raven was not seen again.
For the most part, the ranks of the Blades had grown, with the newly freed from stone sorcerer Akirma and the assassin Drali joining the group of Fibbit, Kriv and Rolan. Griegor continued to defend Loudwater and remain in touch. Of those no longer with the Blades, the tiefling ranger Yarnon was presumably traveling the High Forest on her own quest. The human mage Operious Benadar, a great friend of Kriv and longtime Blade, had not been seen since the strange events in Spellgard Tower. There was no telling what Operious was forced into doing under the geas magic of Lady Saharel. Attempts to scry his fate were blocked by a powerful force, which Saharel certainly qualified as.
Two weeks remained until the arrival of the Lords’ Alliance army to Loudwater. Advance scouts had already arrived and prepared for the coming forces, the bulk of which were stopped over in recently-liberated Secomber, bringing much-needed trade to that fortified town.
The recovery of Selune’s artifact had changed everything. The Blade had taken the form desired by its wielder, the dragonborn paladin Kriv, and changed into a silver waraxe. It radiated a powerful sense of Good to any nearby and quickly convinced Captain Harrowleaf and others of its authenticity. If the Sacred Blades were already heroes for saving Loudwater numerous times, now they had become paragons of good. News of the Blade’s recovery would soon spread through the land, rousing hopes in all good folk throughout the North. Enemies too would be made by the Blade’s reappearance, cultists eager to destroy or corrupt it. For better or worse, the Sacred Blades were now known by all.
So awed by the mark of Selune’s grace were the high elven emissaries that they met immediately with the Sacred Blades. Previously reluctant to speak at all, the high elven representatives were now eager to escort the divinely-touched heroes to their realm for an audience with their leaders. Their ancient city of Mithrendain lay on the Fey side of the High Forest, with magical might that could be a huge boon to the conventional forces of the Lords’ Alliance army and a counter to the magic of Netheril. In short, it was crucial that Mithrendain agree to assist.
Mithrendain, an ancient eladrin city located on the Feywild, had only recently come back into contact with the natural world. The Spellplague one hundred years ago weakened the bonds between the planes. Enabling the high elves to once again travel the High Forest, it also let evils from this world into theirs. Now the concerns of Loudwater were shared with Mithrendain, as the Netherese could reach into either realm.
The closeness of the cities was already keenly felt once, when out-of-control fey magic blasted Loudwater with frigid cold. An unfortunate consequence of imprisoning the warlock Draigdurroch, magic tampered with by a wayward group of adventurers...
In the deadly blizzard’s aftermath, Mithrendain’s leaders were now convinced to be more careful of their effects on the natural world and eager to repay their mistakes.
With time to kill, the Blades accepted the offer and left with an elven guide to travel into the High Forest. Their destination was the misty boundary between the worlds, a location known only to the high elves of Mithrendain, who called themselves eladrin.
As they traveled into the mists the two worlds began to merge. An eladrin pushing a merchant’s cart walked right past them, oblivious to their presence before fading again into the mists. Trees of the High Forest shared space with cobble-stoned roads and elaborate white buildings. Chatter of a marketplace filled the air.
“We are almost there,” said the guide. He rode the lead horse, carefully guiding the misty path using unknown senses. Without him the Blades would surely be lost, emerging in some remote and dangerous area of the Feywild. Just as that thought entered their minds, a gnoll spear flew from the mists, killing the guide. He slumped off the horse into the mist and the Blades dismounted. The mounts were tied together, forming a straight line in the direction to go. As long as they didn’t bolt…
Gnolls rushed out of the mists, clearly a part of the High Forest. Combat was vicious as the Blades defended themselves. The beasts quickly fled but the damage had already been done.
Wary of another attack, the Blades attempted to continue in a straight direction in the mists. Sounds of a different battle soon greeted them, and the mists parted to reveal the marketplace of Mithrendain. Before them a battle raged, eladrin assassins attacking a noblewoman of some sort, with civilians fleeing the scene. The Blades assisted her in driving off the foes, only to discover she was one of the councilors of Mithrendain they had come to see.
All was not well in the Feywild city. Some councilors had been corrupted, paying off the city guard and sending assassins to kill their rivals. The Blades felt like fish out of water; a handful of dragonborn, half-elves and a halfling in an alien city. They were greeted by stares wherever they went. To get their army the Blades would first have to solve whatever crisis plagued a city they barely understood.
After meeting with the various councilors, the Blades had an idea as to which were corrupt. The cities leaders were a strange bunch, including a madman, a power-hungry warrior and a greedy tradesman. Each wore a symbol of office and the Blades realized one wore a fake. With this knowledge they returned to their contact, who sought out allies of a different sort. If the city guard were corrupted, she would turn to the thieves. Their guild had already been negatively impacted by the decision of various councilors to close the Catacombs, but she had voted against it.
She led the Blades into a meeting with the Crimson Outcasts at their warehouse base. Discussions barely got started when the windows burst in, dark forms rushing the warehouse. Battle broke out as their attackers, evil fey known as quicklings, sliced at thieves and Blades alike. In the chaos the Blades escaped to a passage beneath the warehouse, leading down into the sealed catacombs of Mithrendain.
Not so sealed, as it turned out. New construction was evident, and clearly whoever ordered the catacombs sealed did it only to hide their underground schemes. The councilwoman led them along a clear path through the winding tunnels, obviously knowing where she was going. Soon they came upon a hidden passage, opening into a large room with an elaborate magical seal inscribed on the floor. The seal was damaged, slowly dimming in brightness, and five eladrin bodies surrounded it – city guards. The guards had been dead for weeks, apparently killed by some sort of insect swarm, tiny bites all over. Odd plantlife grew from their decaying bodies. Near the seal a tunnel had been carved from below, seemingly chewed out of the earth by whatever had killed the guards.
“This seal is keyed to the false symbol of office, and is one of many seals protecting the city from the Feydark beneath,” she said. “Were it to fail, our enemies beneath the city could assault us at all! We must find the true symbol and seal it at once!”
Into the tunnel they went, battling Shambling Mounds, immense fey snakes and a briar witch dryad along the way. The evil dryad was raising an army of eggs, inside each an insectoid banshrae grew. Her plant minions and thorny body nearly slew the Blades, and in her joy she shouted, “Soon Draigdurroch will have his revenge!” Finally, a name attached to the plot. The warlock Draigdurroch now plotted against the elves who had imprisoned him for so long.
The briar witch did not prevail and soon the eggs were smashed to pieces. Further inside the tunnels a camp of a dozen cyclops warriors waited, also clearly preparing for war. They guarded a slick bridge across a raging underground river, throwing spears at the Blades as they rushed forward. In moments the cyclops were slain as well, with the exhausted Blades ready to see the leader of this plot. Quicklings, dryads, banshrae, cyclops, corrupted city councilors…and whatever unthinkable insect monstrosity had carved the tunnel and eaten the guards. Draigdurroch had assembled an impressive force against the eladrin, indicating he had much influence and wealth, not to mention the ability to travel the planes. If Draigdurroch waited below they would be able to eliminate a dangerous threat to the region and secure the aid of an eladrin army.
Wary of danger, the Blades continued down into the Feydark.