Arcaelus, Rainer, and Brightiron with their new companions journey through the Elemental Plane of Fire, they find the portal to the enigmatic Vault that wanders through planes of existence in the hopes of finding a way home to the Material Plane. Meanwhile, Aydan and Jimmy Moon with their ghostly friends come face to face with a foreboding skeletal entity that emerged out of a golden sarcophagus.
After suffering dozens of horrors and deadly shades, Aydan and Jimmy Moon followed the ire of a mysterious voice deeper and deeper into the mysterious makeshift tomb only to find a large and foreboding entity at the end. It resembled a large skeletal figure with a crown adorned crookedly on its head, a single bead of red for an eye on his right with a missing left arm. The dragonborn Proax and tiefling Quest stood firm against the creature while the half-drow Kelmaris stood seemingly unphased by the recent revelation.
“At last you have arrived,” the skeletal creature bellowed in their minds.
“Why did you call us here?” Aydan asked. Jimmy Moon had become defensive once the entity emerged from the sarcophagus, his druidic instincts revolted against the creature before them.
“I felt something, powerful. Something I had felt since…” the entity trailed off, its shadowy form shrunk and encircled the sorceress and pointed to the Animus Gem in her gauntlet. “Yes, this was what I felt, I recall this power. I imagine that you wish to be set free from this realm? I can do that, but it will require some mutual cooperation and that gem you possess.”
Aydan quickly recoiled and shielded the gauntlet from the entity’s wispy grasp. The rest of the group took defensive postures uncertain of the trickery the creature imposed but also knew they were outmatched if this creature was a semblance of a powerful undead like a lich.
“I can tell you how and what you need to empower that gem to vacate from this realm. In exchange, I ask that I use its power to do it.” The shadowy figure offered.
“Why would you need the gem if you’re so powerful?” Jimmy challenged.
“I am bound by this place, limited here. But I possess knowledge that will allow for you to return to the mortal coil or wherever you wish to go.” The skeletal figure replied. “I can show you power and knowledge that would make you revel, teach you how to properly use what you possess.” The figure whispered into Aydan’s mind.
Proax and Quest knew that the figure was earnest with his claims but could not trust it due to its very nature. Especially once the two pieced together who this entity resembled which gave them a moment of pause and serious caution. Proax had read in ancient texts of a former mage king who rose to power, commanding a nation of darkness and undeath. The mad mage king took the form of undeath himself, eventually seeking the great secrets to divinity, only to be betrayed by his vampiric lieutenant. Legends proport that the malevolent lich was not destroyed but maimed in his quest for divinity, spiteful to all who dared mock or utter his name. He became known as the Whispered One, but his former name was the lich Vecna.
“I will need a special item from a coven of hags who reside out within the Marshes of the Forgotten. A stone infused with the fallen souls. Retrieve it and return it to me, and I will grant you your desire to return back to the world of the living.” The lich promised.
The group relented for a while before agreeing amongst themselves that the lich was probably their only way back and agreed to work together.
“To show I bear no ill will and to solidify our partnership, I shall bestow upon you gifts, trinkets that you may find useful in your endeavors to the marsh.” Vecna sneered and wave his one ghostly skeletal arm. Several items appeared before the party, a circlet for Aydan, an amulet for Jimmy, a golden sash for Quest, Proax abstained from the shield offered to him, and while Kelmaris received nothing.
“You already received much in our pact, if you wish to gain your revenge on those that betrayed you, then keep them our newfound allies in line.” Vecna whispered into Kelmaris’ mind.
Upon donning the items, the party realized that the items possessed a fell curse on those who wore them. A safety measure by the dark lich no doubt.
“Now go, find the heartstone from the Sorority of Crows and return once you have acquired it from them. Use whatever means are necessary, and I promise that I will fulfill our bargain.” Vecna swore.
The group left the tomb shortly with a heavy heart and somewhat unsure what dark fate would fall upon them, or the gravity of their decision should be truly receive Vecna’s aid. Kelmaris confronts the group and informs them of his involvement with the elder lich but promised them that he did not know what sort of creature he had made his warlock pact upon his arrival to the realm. Proax came to the conclusion that this dark and gray existence most likely was the fabled Shadowfell, a land where darkness dwelled and the dead resided. Jimmy Moon continued to be unsettled with the news and information, his divine connection to Lystrata seemed to be clouded and hidden from him. There was very little life in this plane, and he was unsure how much longer before he could no longer channel his spells to aid everyone. Aydan rested and tried to focus all of her concentration to attune with the Animus Gem, hoping to gain some semblance of control of its chaotic energies. A sharp pain took the female tiefling as the gem took its payment for mutual cooperation, for the moment Aydan had control of the gem’s power.
After taking a good rest, use what little information Vecna provided to journey out of the mountain valley and walked towards the so-called Marshes of the Forgotten, unsure what they would find there.
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