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Friday, August 3, 2018

Heroes of Silvermoon, Chapter 3: Phoenix Sorcery

Contents:

  1. The Cultist
  2. Arena Games
  3. Phoenix Sorcery

The Tale of the Heroes of Silvermoon

Chapter 3: Phoenix Sorcery

After a couple of days of travel, Gorthuk, Nysae, Ari, and Cristoff reached Vandermar Village, eager for rest. As they were entering the town, they heard the sounds of chase and ruckus from one of the streets. A human man dressed in green clothing, whom the party identified as the street performer who had been playing shell games, ran into them and begged them to hide him, promising a reward. The group took the man into the inn, where he shed his magical disguise and revealed himself to be a handsome high elf with burn scars along his arms and neck. He revealed that his real name was Xilmar Dawnheart, but that he had been masquerading as a street performer to earn money in town. To some of the group members more familiar with Julian, Xilmar's name rang a bell—soon, they realized that Xilmar and Julian knew each other quite well, and had gone to school together at the Dalaran Academy of Magic. Julian had worked hard to get good marks, but Xilmar had been empowered by a phoenix in his youth and found magic effortless, so he had spent most of his time pranking Julian and other hard workers. He was now an expert forger in Silvermoon with the nickname "Xil the Quill."

The town guard was searching frantically for Xilmar, who admitted that he had stolen a wand from a visiting wizard in town named Wealis. He acknowledged that the group was weary for travel, but asked if they wouldn't mind escorting him out of town northward, toward his hometown of Silvermoon City, in the county of Quel'thalas. He himself wanted to go there to have his wand identified, hoping that it held power to protect him from his own flames, but after listening to his charismatic descriptions of fame and wealth available in the city, the group agreed to accompany him. Gorthuk tried to get more information about how much of a bounty was placed on Xilmar's head, but in doing so, because of his orcish appearance, he stood out and shed suspicion on the party.

The party hiked a few miles north of town and set up camp off the side of the road. Xilmar got to know the group more and talked about his history with fire magic, infused into his body by a phoenix. He had stolen Wealis's wand after hearing that it held the secret of burn immunity, something that he often suffered from because of his fascination with fire magic. In the middle of the night, a group of thugs seeking the bounty of Xilmar discovered them and ambushed the camp. The group fought most of them, but soon, Wealis himself appeared and confronted the group. The combination of Gorthuk's suspicious investigation and a spell to track down the wand had rendered Xilmar's disguises useless. In anger, Wealis cast a powerful spell against the party. As the night sky lit up with a raging fire storm, Xilmar pulled out Wealis's wand and waved it, hoping it would save him from the flames. Instead, he and the group felt a ripping sensation as the world swirled before them...

*  *  *

The group awoke in darkness. Along with two of the surviving thugs who had been transported with them, they began to look around for some kind of direction as to where they were. One by one, the thugs were pulled into the darkness and devoured. Eventually, by the light of Xilmar's fire, they discovered shadowy creatures lurking in the darkness, as well as displacer beasts. They fought the creatures, then in desperation wandered into a dark forest. Soon, they came upon a splendid mansion. Hearing the howls of creatures in the darkness, they entered for shelter.

They met a vampire named Sergei, who explained that they had somehow come through a dimensional gate into a plane called the Shadowfell. Familiar with Wealis's name, he offered to help them, and even to identify Xilmar's wand, if they made a deal to help him in return to retrieve a "special" vampire spawn from a rival vampire named Drakul. After resting uneasily in the dark mansion, the group set off east toward a town Sergei had directed them to. Eventually they found the dark town of Ruka Gibeli, where they found a bustling slave trade and many different dark races, including drow and doppelgangers. They also saw races of their own kin, though they noticed that everyone around them seemed to be drained of all their color from being exposed to the Shadowfell's energies for so long.

They disguised themselves as best as they could and tried to gather information. They learned that Drakul, whom the citizens of the town called Drake, was the richest and most powerful political leader of the city. They also learned that vampires command vampire spawn that they themselves have taken control of. Eventually, they met Drake in his estate, where he made a living trading slaves from among the other planes. They tried to learn more about the so-called "special" vampire spawn, and discovered that it was a demon that Drake was proud to say he had infected with vampirism and claimed as one of his spawn—the first to do so. Even he was unsure of the demon vampire's power. What was most interesting to the group was that the spawn was a child.

The group snuck around the estate, trying to find Drake's weakness, or perhaps his coffin so that they could plan a way to kill him in his sleep. Eventually, they discovered in Drake's basement an imprisoned phoenix that still had its color. Xilmar, with his love of phoenixes as the source of his sorcerous power, was furious and returned later to free the phoenix. Unfortunately, Drake caught them and attacked. Rejuvenated by the adventurers, the phoenix helped them destroy Drake, and they escaped through a tunnel back to Sergei's mansion with the demon vampire child, removing a necklace around his neck that seemed to be controlling him. They also managed to loot some of Drake's personal magic items for their own use.

Its leader now vanquished and his power seat up for grabs, Sergei immediately gathered his forces to assault and take over Ruka Gibeli. Sergei revealed that Drake/Drakul had been Sergei's spawn once, and he had regretfully let him free only to be betrayed. With his vengeance now taken, he could take the city back. He informed Xilmar that the wand held no power against fire, despite rumors—it was merely a wand that opened portals to the Shadowfell. He kept the wand, but gifted the party some gold for their trouble.

The portal was only powerful enough to allow five passage to the Material Plane, so Gorthuk decided to stay for now, as he himself had been resistant to the Shadowfell's dark energies because of his dark divine powers and wanted the phoenix, now in its human form, to pass back to its home plane. The group bid their half-orc friend goodbye, and stepped through the portal back home...

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