The treachery of the ruins has made its first mark on our group of Adventurers.
As they enter into Fenrir’s Fortress to rest, weakened from their battle against the Undead Green Dragon, Basc left to scout the ruins but returned to report that he has found a body within the cathedral: Cadmus’ body, impaled upon by all too familiar quills.
Having found a library in his scouting, the Ranger departs again to search for additional information while Hathonier peruses the Draconomicon again.
He reads of the ancient history of the Dragonborn, how their precursors (known as The Dragon Apostles) were born from Cursed Dragon eggs during the fall of the Dragon Empire, nearly wiping them out. However, Hathonier stumbles across a name, a name so ancient and magical that it evaporates from his memory the moment he looks away from it.
Just then, a darkness attempted to, again, wean itself into the young Paladin’s mind. But with thoughts of his son and friends, he was able to once again dispel the dark thoughts.
When Basc returns to the party, he eagerly reports his findings to the party; to Hathonier’s surprise and horror, the Dwarf speaks of an ancient Elder Dragon, trapped in a different plane by a seal set in place by the Primordial Titans. To avenge his brethren, killed by the murderous hands of the Dragon Apostles, he plans to break his seal by spreading his influence across the land and turning all into Dragons.
As the party questions the intentions of their Elder Dragon foe, Basc, Dilista, and Hathonier sense a powerful and ominous presence coming from the cathedral. Though unconscious, Luna’s spirit of adventure and love of treasure overtook the three remaining adventurers at Basc’s report of treasure in the library, sparking a momentary detour from their cause. Due to Luna’s unconscious condition, they are forced to leave her in the fortress.
However, upon learning of its fiendish librarian and its distaste towards Paladins (looking towards Hathonier), Dilista comes up with a plan and uses her Polymorph spell to transform her Half-Elven compatriot into a Dire-Crow, much to the latter’s annoyance.
They venture into the library to meet its mysterious librarian: a Fallen Angel, named: Aeriel. She warns the party of greed and the repercussions of removing treasure from the room but is persuaded to allow them so from the combined efforts of Fenrir and Hathonier. Dilista immediately infatuated by the Celestial Creature’s beauty, seduces her and the two leave for a more…intimate atmosphere.
While the others investigate the library further, Fenrir busily looted the place, stealing Gold, Gems, and Platinum, storing it within his trusty fortress. However, as Fenrir prepares to leave and hide his new fortune, he is spotted by an old foe: a Colossus of de Rolo machination; the large automaton, upon learning of Fenrir’s cursed status, immediately attacks.
Surprising the party with its ability to create other Colossi from various raw materials, the Colossus creates one made from nearby treasure; to the Tiefling Bard’s horror: a memory comes to her mind of the cursed Elven village and their Queen’s warning of Cadmus deal with a creature called: The Father of Machines…a creature she realizes stands before them now.
As Fenrir, Dilista, and Aeriel fight the Creature from the outside, Basc and Hathonier make a daring attempt to fight it from within, successfully incapacitating it by blowing off its head with one of Basc’s own bombs.
However, as the creature fell defeated, Basc was thrown into the fires of its internal engines and became trapped in its gears. At great risk to his own life, Hathonier fought the fire in an attempt to save his compatriot, but could do little more than spare the Dwarf more pain and humiliation by placing a crossbow bolt into his head.
The Paladin escaped the Colossus, horribly burned and near death, and the party was left to grieve the sudden and unexpected death of Basc. However, unbeknownst to the party, a smaller Colossus grabs the Fathers head and escapes into the forest.
Aeriel turns to the Tiefling and the Paladin, but Fenrir screams in horror as he watches his two companions are cleaved asunder. His screams are silenced, however, as the Fallen Angel uses her magic to not only revive the pair, but completely heal them of all wounds, admonishing Fenrir again for his greed.
Before another squabble can break out, the entire group is silenced by the sound of chanting coming from various infected creatures as they march towards the site of the cathedral. As the party follows after, they enter into the cathedral to find a horrific sight: the various creatures and cultists without their arms and eyes, blood flowing from their faces, and Cadmus body alight as if burning at the stake.
There was a great flash as the seal broke and the Elder Dragon emerged in Exandria at long last. The sight of their foe awakens the name that Hathonier learned in the Draconomicon, the very same that eluded him despite his best efforts:
Umbrygal, the Essence of Death.
The midday sun turned jet black, and the warmth of the day turned bitter cold. Pandemonium had broken loose and the end of days was upon them.
The dragon spoke an ominous spell before vanishing, distorting space and time around him. Fenrir and Dilista braced themselves for the end, but soon found themselves back in Settlement 19…and Hathonier nowhere to be found. However, before either could fully question their situation, the town was set upon by a great beast, covered in Umbrygal’s quills; a creature that Tikki identifies as Luna’s anticipated curse: a Tarrasque.
Hathonier had been unaffected by Umbrygal’s spell, finding himself alone in Raishan’s Lair and standing face-to-face with Cadmus.
Anger and hate welled up in the Half-Elves stomach, striking the Dragonborn Paladin and engaging in a short but fierce duel. Having learned that Arkaam and the remaining Pieces of the Board would not take Cadmus’ warnings of Umbrygal’s return seriously, Cadmus reveals that he killed them, as they would have let the world burn than do anything. Tears flow from Cadmus and Hathonier as the former repents his reprehensible actions, having to betray everything he knew and loved to prevent the apocalypse…something that, despite his greatest efforts, he failed to do.
Hathonier, driven by anger and guilt, chose to put aside his personal desires and offered a hand to his one-time brother-in-arms, saying that the Black Rook and the Black Knight should stand together one final time to combat this evil. Cadmus accepted and the two Paladins offered prayers to their Patron Gods: Pelor, the Dawn Father and Kord, the Stormlord, who bless their champions one final time for their battle against the Elder Dragon.
The two Paladins of the Pieces of the Board fight valiantly against Umbrygal and his might; channeling his love, his anger, and all of his sorrow into his divinely charged blade, Hathonier felled the mighty beast, saving the world. However, in the subsequent release of energy from the dragon’s death, neither Paladin had enough strength left to protect them and were both consumed.
However, Hathonier was never in pain; in his final moments, he knew only peace: the faces of his son and lover awaiting him. Discarding his armor and weapons for the final time, Hathonier took each of them in hand and knew that he had been called home at last.
And so ends the tragic tale of Hathonier, the Half-Elven Paladin of the Stormlord…a hero of Exandria.
Meanwhile, as Fenrir and Dilista prepared to face their deadly new foe: a colossal explosion drew their attention. In the direction of the Lair of Raishan, two beams of azure and crimson light rained down on the ruins and engulfed it in a titanic wave of destruction. All of the remaining creatures, cursed by Umbrygal’s hatred, fled in fear and confusion and the Tarrasque fell dead at their feet.
Aeriel’s omniscience informed the party of Hathonier’s extraordinary deed…and also of his inexorable fate. While saddened by their comrade’s passing, Dilista and Fenrir are delighted to find that the kidnapped children return home and Luna (though greatly disfigured from her near transformation), has awoken and is now back in possession of her soul.
As Fenrir goes to tell Luna of all that she missed, while counting their new riches; Dilista, however, had a meeting to attend to with Tikki, Aeriel, and (surprisingly) a polymorphed Susan resulting in a night of drunken debauchery.
As the first chapter of our intrepid adventurers comes to a close, those whose lives they touched raise their goblets in hushed voices, reverently honoring: Brazen Storm.