So, we’re going to have to rewind a little from last adventure, because, since so much time has passed since we got in a real session, I juiced up what you are heading into.
If you recall (don’t worry, I know you don’t), the last post ended with this…
“In the morning, you are given a heroes’ feast. Gifts of food, fresh clothes, and equipment are given to you. Noddyl is presented with heirloom (read “legacy”) items from his people. You can sense the divide in the people’s belief in your ability to succeed in helping their situation or their king’s situation in any way. It is up to you whether you take heart in those who believe in the prophecy and see Varis (and, by association, you) as a savior type, or whether you are more pragmatic and think, even though you don’t like the way some of those elves are looking at you, they’re right, you guys are just a bunch of adventurers lookin’ for loot to collect and asses to kick, but you wouldn’t want it any other way.”
Two things need to be added: 1) Important information from the Record of Hate that Tenebron chanted to you that evening you were partying with hot elven chicks, and 2) a pre-mission meeting that is convened by the regent, Coranil, before the party leaves for the city.
1) As a reminder, The Record of Hate is the book of the wrongs committed against the Ihniko people, which provides details of their history from their arrival in Ursa Major to now. What Tenebron chants is an abbreviate version, but he gladly sits down with any and all who desire to know a richer version of the history of the land as he knows it. Where the narrative veers from perceived wrongs committed against the Ihniko, this is Tenebron filling in with anticipated follow up from the party. If you want to know more, ask.
The Record begins with the establishment of the Elves in Ursa Major through the wars they fought with the giant folk, the gnolls, and the orcs, while acting as a guardian civilization for the humans and Halflings and helping these races develop more advanced cultures.
Then there was the Call to Return Home by Lord Eladrin and the Great Schism between those who stayed (and were thereafter called Elves) and those who heeded the call (and were thereafter called Eladrin). [I encourage you guys to revisit (or visit) the wiki page and check out some of the history of the world (the top three links) to gain some clarity about all this stuff].
Fast forward about a thousand years – the Eladrin returned to Ursa Major and, over time, established an empire, the Aeristhyde Empire, under the rule of one High Lordess Ultenna. Their reign was rather shortlived, from an Elf’s perspective, that is. It ran for about 300 years but ended due to a combination of a transition of ruler’s, with Ultenna’s nephew, Aliszar, taking the throne, and the general rejection of the empire by so many.
Wars broke out at the collapse of the empire. The most notable of these, in the Record of Hate and from the perspective of the Ihniko atleast, is the War of Three Forests. This war lasted for over 100 years and included the Ihniko, the Shallanwode, and the Aeristhyde Eladrin (whose forest is the Hiverlynds of the Feywild, home to the Winter Court Eladrin, from whence they originated). Those from the Shallanwode sided with their Ihniko brothers for a long time, until their allegiance was somehow won over to the Aeristhyde and the Ihniko were confined to their tree-walled city.
The War of the Three Forests lasted over 100 years and culminated in the World Storm and the disappearance of the Aeristhyde Empire from Ursa Major for good. (However, Varis knows that noble winterkin eladrin dressed all in white, the color of the Aeristhyde empire, do infrequently visit the leaders of the Wode. While these visits aren’t official, they have the feeling of being so and for the purpose of state business. Those clad in the white of the Aeristhyde don’t bear the crest of the Empire, but that of The Winter Court. Below are pictures of the crest of The Winter Court and a signet ring bearing the symbol of the Aeristhyde Empire.)
The destruction that caused the World Storm is believed to have started at Ihniko in a singular cataclysmic event that spread globally. The Ihniko believe the Aeristhyde are responsible for it, and they harbor a deep enmity toward the Shallanwode for their betrayal. If asked about how the World Storm was generated, they offer nothing but guesses about the kinds of magic involved as ultimately the power of it was easily beyond any of their understandings. Perhaps those in the King’s court know, as some of them are more knowledgable about such things. All the Ihniko you are with know is that the cataclysmic event devastated their city, killing 80% of their people instantly, and threw it into the Shadowfell. Another 15% of their people died in the storm and suffering after. Somehow their king and his palace survived, though it was sucked into the Feywild, where it was surrounded by a battalion of Aeristhyde who sit there to this day. It is believed that the protective magics that were placed around the city were somehow condensed, shrunken, or pushed in by the cataclysm and made stronger, in fact completely impenetrable. Weirdly, the
Palace and the hill on which it sits returns by the light of each full moon. It was only through divination magic of the Ihniko skadi (who, thankfully, was among the 5% to survive) that they knew what had happened to their king and his situation in the Fey.
The Ihniko who survived created a new camp for themselves outside of the city, just as the Shadarkai began to inhabit this place that had fallen into their realm. They came in great numbers and it did not take too long for them to become organize and begin building.
The Ihniko were two small in number to help what was happening. They were grateful when they realized the Shadarkai had no intention of spilling into the Prime Realm. Decades passed with the Ihniko keeping a sharp eye on the Shadarkai in their ruined home and helplessly watching the reappearance of their Lord’s palace every full moon. The Shadarkai renamed the city Wedburgh, rebuilt the city in typical urban fashion and gave their streets names that ironically mocked the relationship with the natural world the elves who used to live there had.
Roughly 100 years after the great cataclysm of the World Storm, a Lich Lord known as Thizeroth marched on the Shadarkai city with his legion of undead. He drove the Shadarkai out in a matter of a few years and established himself in the southeastern keep on the hill, which he had magically transplanted there from some other place. He took to calling himself the Eternal King, though the Shadarkai call him the Whispering Death, because of the whispered commands he gave his undead soldiers that were heard everywhere upon the battle field.
It has been almost 400 years since the Lich king, Thizeroth, took up residence in the city ruins, but he still resides there, according to the Ihniko. Thizeroth’s undead still roam the city, which is now a second ruin, freely. The Shadarkai had not been seen in the city for hundreds of years, but have been seen recently scurrying around the northern edges of the city. That’s the situation as it stand today.
Your party is now charged with the following mission. Try to enter the palace for two reasons: 1) to save the king, who is surrounded by a battalion of eladrin soldiers (They most certainly are winterkin eladrin, but are they Aeristhyde, meaning the empire still exists? If they are not Aeristhyde, are they part of the Winter Court of the fey?), and 2) to discover what else you can about what caused the World Storm with the hope that you may figure out enough about it to someday take down the storm walls and restore the natural order to Ursa Major. Of course, some of you are just in it to explore, kill undead, loot some treasure, and generally find adventure within the wooded walls of the once great city of Ihniko.
2) The Pre-mission meeting: Noddyl, as pilindor, or lead arrow of the tribe’s warriors is there, of course, as is Coranil, the regent, and Tenebron, the Keeper of the Record of Hate. A few other of Noddyl’s best are there, including his sister, Hillowyn, who is kind of staring at Varis, but not in a bloodlusty hatefilled glaring way like that other chic. (For a reminder of what Hillowyn looks like, see below.) These elves with Noddyl are the ones who will accompany you into what was the city of Ihniko.
They show you the following map:
To view this close up, right click on the picture and save it to your desktop.
Bell and Market Gates are still usable. Old gate is fallen in. You could also enter the city from the far east where there is a break in the wall. Remember, some Shadarkai have been seen in the northern sections of the city. The lich king, Thizeroth, resides in the keep in the southeastern corner (it is labeled “old church”). His loyal “subjects” roam the city freely. A hag is known to wander the eastern part of the city and even to escape into the forest now and then. Her cries can sometimes be heard for miles away, sending a chill in the spine of all who hear it.
This is where you guys ask questions and/formulate a plan.