THE STONECAPE PROPHECY
The first gave in to bloodlust, which consumed his drive to spare.
The second fled in fear, forgetting himself in isolation.
The third was plagued by grief, losing his will to live.
The last drowned in despair, cursing his kin to suffer ill.
They can all be redeemed, each confronted by the truth –
For no matter how crooked their shadows, these heroes can still stand in the Light.
These were the words, spoken in four voices, which Tam heard upon putting on the prophetic cloak. Shaken by the cryptic prediction, the group relied upon Rhoskan to map them a risk-minimizing route through the fortress, to the elevator, and then left the Forge.
Immediately they were met by a scene of destruction – an injured troll crouched in a corner of the next room, jealously clutching a treasure chest, while hobgoblin guards approached. The guards attacked the troll for not giving up its treasure; the Night Guard stealthily watched the ensuing battle until all combatants were weakened, then stepped in to finish the job. The troll was slain by a vicious blow from Alfo’s diamond maul; the hobgoblins, after recognizing the party, were eliminated before they could warn their commander of the Night Guard’s betrayal.
After looting the room, Val scouted ahead – and stepped right into the path of a Gelatinous Cube! He barely evaded its grasp, but Alfo was so disturbed by the sight he couldn’t move. The party fled, pulling Alfo with them, as the cube doggedly pursued. Val insulted Alfo severely enough to snap him out of his panic and the party proceeded to the relative safety of the next room.
After (mostly) evading a trapped floor, tripwires, and a warding glyph, the party found themselves in the entryway to the fortress. Adjacent, in the entrance of the receiving hall, were two hobgoblin guards – dead, by drow daggers. The party entered the receiving room only to find themselves face-to-face with the Queen of the drow – and Talila, who revealed herself and her twin brother to be the Queen’s children and trusted aides.
The drow queen explained that the Night Guard were spared at Talila’s grateful intercession, and that the crimes – the murder of other drow in the Underdark – that had so far marked them for death would be forgiven, if the Night Guard helped defend the Glutton’s Teeth from the hobgoblin onslaught. The party swiftly agreed, and leaving the Queen to strengthen the fortress defenses with ritual magic, they headed back out into the hallways to set up traps.
Val investigated the library and discovered two skeletons sprawled next to an ornate scroll case. While grabbing the scroll case he stepped on a Rug of Aging, which aged him 16 years in a few terrifying moments. The case was worth it, though – inside was a scroll written by his uncle Draxus, naming him the new Baron of Tila Estate:
Deed of Entitlement
for the Barony and Estate of Tila
I (undersigned) Bequeath the aforementioned title and lands unto this servant, for services rendered. As to the taxes gathered, this Baron shall owe 1/3 of the Estate’s income to the Crown’s Authority. As to levies, he shall provide no less, and no more than 1/3 his finest troops, your country commends you.
Furthermore, I grant permission to the entitled Party to gather tolls for the upkeep of roads and bridges, given it doth not exceed 1/3 the property income.
Meanwhile, Alfo helped Rhoskan work on the elevator. When Val returned from finding Deed of Entitlement, Alfo was shocked and disturbed by Val’s change in age. Redrick, however, was unfazed, and verified the deed as legitimate – truly Val was now a Baron. Redrick immediately offered his service as Steward of Val’s new estate, and Val accepted.
Manny, after discovering a book of fire spells, decided to help out the party by killing all the hobgoblin guards asleep in a common room in the fortress with a fireball. After this he felt lucky enough to creep up on the Hobgoblin commander himself – but failed to reproduce his convincing Deva impersonation. The commander immediately ordered his army to attack the fortress.
Chaos ensued. Val, some of the Rangers, and a drow fire team sprinted to the rooftop to secure defenses there. Tam and Talila joined forces to set up an ambush and sent a squad of mercenaries to help Rhoskan. Alfo and Shadow, along with Alfo’s golem, guarded the entryway, which had been trapped with the Rug of Aging. Manny, meanwhile, fought fiercely to incapacitate the Hobgoblin commander, and finally petrified him with a cursed gaze.
While the rest of the party battled to keep the hobgoblins from advancing into the fortress, Manny impersonated the hobgoblin commander and ordered the army to cease their attack. In the subsequent disarray, Val’s fire team and Manny’s destructive casting created discord in the ranks. Meanwhile, within the fortress, Alfo decimated an infiltration team of goblins and was heartened by his success. Victory for the Night Guard and their allies finally seemed within reach!
Suddenly, the blood-chilling roar of a dragon echoed across the battlefield. From his rooftop perch Val glimpsed the skeletal silhouette of a dracolich as it soared down over the fortress. This enemy was familiar – Ewlbkhan the black dragon had returned. Val and Tam sprinted to warn the drow Queen as the dracolich landed in the midst of the battlefield.
But when Val pushed open the door, he saw the Queen lying dead – the murderer, her own son, standing over her with a cursed, ceremonial dagger in his hand. He and Talila had summoned the dragon themselves, he hissed – “for entropy!” The drow twins attacked Val and Tam, but luckily the cousins were able to evade them and take their daggers.
Meanwhile, the battle with the dracolich took a turn for the better when Manny, impersonating the commander, convinced the hobgoblin arm to “attack the dragon!” Despite the army’s best efforts, the dracolich was not deterred – and with a single breath, it killed over half the remaining troops. Alfo sent out his golem to attack the dracolich too, but it was not restrained.
The Night Guard and their allies fiercely attacked their betrayers, the drow twins, and killed them – but not before another bladed creature, identical to those the Harvester summoned in the chapel, burst from her dying body. With a resolute attack from Alfo and quick bladework by Val the monster was dispatched. From outside the fortress, the deep boom of moving earth and the cries of a Purple Worm alerted the party to even more urgent danger.
Racing through the fortress, dragging their wounded with them, the Night Guard and their allies crammed into the elevator and Rhoskan pressed the switch. The battle cries of the dracolich and purple worm faded down into the earth as the party were carried upward, rising into the beautiful city of Emberhearth.
As they arrived, the party were greeted by their old ally Syl, who immediately restored Val’s proper age (but couldn’t fix his hair color, to Val’s delight) and updated them on Pat, who slayed a red dragon after leaving the Night Guard. Syl also identified the ceremonial daggers Tam and Val retrieved from the drow as relevant to Myrkul, the god of entropy, death, and decay, but couldn’t offer any insight on the Harvester or its monster minions. To help the Night Guard investigate the many mysteries they encountered in the Underdark, Syl teleported them to Elder Vale to explore its libraries.
But upon their arrival the party received some harrowing news. Somewhere, somehow, time went wrong. The party now stood fifteen years in the “future,” and a group calling themselves the Night Guard had supposedly already placed the Eye in Ashewood Redoubt – an entire year past. Val discovered that “his” debt had been paid over seven years ago, and eavesdropping in public venues revealed that the party had no particular reputation.
The Night Guard proceeded to Ashewood Redoubt to restore the Eye of the Sun Watchers. Upon arrival, they found that the Eye is just one of a set of two – and its counterpart, the Eye of the Dusk Watchers, had already been placed in the tower. As Tam reached out to restore the Eye to its rightful place, he was overwhelmed by a flickering succession of mental images – ice, fire, glass, murky earth, dragons, elementals, artefacts, undead, potions, caverns, and more flashed through his mind, and again he heard the words of the Stonecape Prophecy.
With that, the Eye was in place, and magic was ostensibly restored to Mythweald. Val and the Night Guard traveled to his mansion, and Val, aided in his task by the expertise and hard work of Redrick, organized his estate by hiring staff and setting up taxes and tolls. After a long day of working on the estate, the Night Guard retired to their new quarters and settled in for a well-earned rest.
But they woke to a horribly different world. The grounds were blanketed in pale mist, as though an autumn chill had swept over the estate. In the mansion, Val heard a piano playing a familiar, sorrowful melody. And Tam was again inundated with images: undead soldiers, a misty swamp, the stench of death, and a dark, terrible figure.
Steely-armored, pale-haired, with a vicious gleam in his eyes and Windsinger in his right hand – the figure was unmistakably Val…
Best Line goes to Alfo:
(When the dracolich enters the battlefield and casually destroys the hobgoblin army)
Rest of the party, panicking: What do we do! What do we do!
Alfo: Well… we get on the elevator!
Best RP is shared between Val, for taking his new age, barony, and esteem in stride; and Manny, for enthusiastically embracing his chaotic nature.
08:00 – At the touch of the Mantle of the Weald, Tam hears the STONECAPE PROPHECY.
08:30 – The party battles hobgoblins and a troll.
10:00 – The party allies with the Drow queen and her warriors.
11:00 – Val discovers his title and estate. Redrick verifies the title and Val accepts his Stewardship.
11:30 – Manny accidentally triggers the Hobgoblin attack on Glutton’s Teeth.
11:45 – The drow twins betray the Night Guard and their own Queen by summoning a dracolich to the battle.
12:00 – The Night Guard and their allies flee the battle in the restored elevator.
00:00 – The Night Guard and their allies arrive in Emberhearth.
[At this point accurate timekeeping was lost.]
? – The party is teleported to Elder Vale to search for answers in the libraries there, but discovers instead that they have somehow experienced a rift in time.
? – The party travels to Ashewood Redoubt and restores the Eye of the Sun Watchers.
? – The party returns to Val’s estate to rest, recuperate, and discuss their plans.
? – The party wakes in a different world. Tam has a vision: death, undeath, dread, darkness, and a familiar figure: Steely-armored, pale-haired, with a vicious gleam in his eyes and Windsinger in his right hand – the figure is unmistakably Val …