Rites Of Passage

Episode 14, 15, 16....17?: All things come to an end!

Much has happened in the past few days that would make a weaker man run in terror.

As the group recovers in Waukeen’s favor, they receive another message from the Eccentric Malzour. However, as they gather, they realize that Boris is missing. The group still agrees to meet Malzour once again in his office. Except this time, Malzour is not alone…. a studious half elf named Pavo is with him. Malzour tells the group that Pavo would like accompany them but he was secretive as to why. All the Quartet can get from Malzour is that they have a mutual interest in finding this creature they are looking for. The group agrees.

The new Quartet decide to travel into the grove outside Luskan and meet one of the Gold Elves. They travel for a bit and encounter quite a sight when they arrive. Boris and one of the Gold Elves is tied up and is barely conscious! The other Gold Elf was making his way back to camp when the Quartet arrives. After some questions to the gold elf, the trap is sprung and swords were drawn by elves. A battle ensues, and as the Gold Elves fall one after another……. strange creatures erupt from their skulls to attack the group! These fierce monsters attacked with both claw and psychic attacks. Even poor Boris fell to such a fate. These strange creatures seem to be controlling the gold elves and Boris….. but the question is… how long were they controlling Boris?

After this jarring encounter, the Quartet returned to Waukeen’s favor to process what happened. Many questions raced through their heads. Undettered, the next day, they FINALLY set out to Host Tower of the Arcane Brotherhood. With trepidation they entered and faced many challenges. They were first met by a disdainful ghost who took his caretaker abilities into the afterlife. As they ascended the multiple floors of the tower , they battled gelatinous cubes, jacklewares, and a crafty Lamia.

Eventually they reached the top floor and discovered a lavish bedroom and laboratory. The Quartet discovered a portal behind a full length mirror and managed to activate it. One by one the adventurers jump through the portal and find themselves in the dark nightmare known as the Shadowfell. A dark reflection of the Prime Material Plane, shadows permeate every aspect of this demi-plane. The group looks forward and sees 300 ft. cliff standing stubbornly ahead of them. There seems to be a path up the other side of the cliff and so the Quartet sets forth toward the ominous light souce.

They navigated through the Shadowfell battling denizens all along the way and even making a temporary alliance with a group of crafty drow. They cut through a dark forest, following the cliff face until they were confronted with a city made of bone and flesh. The madness of the plane began to take its toll on the group, and they were faced with the terrors of their own mind. Luckily, Velnaar’s powers of light help guide them through safely.

As they exit the walls of the dead city, they see the other side of the cliff is actually a large slope with a ancient stone staircase that leads to a large plateau. The pulsing light ebbs atop the plateau, almost beckoning them to come forth. After a short rest, the group begins to cautiously ascend the staircase….. but slowly a pair of shadows begin to emerge from the ground. They stare with a dark glee on both sides of the Quartet, but do not attack. The adventurers draw their weapons, but before they can react…… Bud attacks the Illythian! In shock, the group retaliates….. matching sword for sword. Luckily the remaining group members managed to destroy the shadows and finally put Bud down.

The remaining Trio bring Bud back from the brink of death and question him. After a lengthy interrogation, they realize Bud has been under the enchantment of a powerful geas since their time at Icebone Peaks. Since the beginning, the way The Well Dressed Man was always one step ahead of them…. and now they realized why. Bud had been used as a tool this whole time against his will. The rest of the group (except Illythian) seems to believe Bud and they agree to heal him to fighting strength and press forward.

They finally reach the top and their awaited a most strange sight. “Emily”…. or accurately, the creature that was once Emily stood entranced in front of a wavering portal. Feeding the portal are 5 tendrils that end in mysterious pods. Swirling within the pods are spinning mass of magical energies, but the Quartet can not make out what they are or what purpose they serve. But there is also one more person here that is waiting for them….. The Well Dressed Man! Soon a battle ensues. Magic flares, psionic spears fly, and swords swing….. the most epic of battles takes place lighting up the eternal night sky of the Shadowfell. Ultimately, the Well Dressed Man falls…. quite literally, as he is blown off the edge of the cliff by one of Pavo’s eldritch blasts.

By this time, “Emily” had entered the portal and the group persues. They exit through a tear in reality that drops them off on the outskirts of Luskan, overlooking the city from far away. Out in the far distance….. the undead armies of The Red Wizards march toward Luskan. Meeting them head on are the armies of the Pirate Kings made up of pirates, militia, and air ships. They have created a defensive line outside the city and march toward the undead army in return.

But a more immediate danger presented itself. Some of the undead had broken off from the armies and began charging up the hill. “Emily”, in full rage mode, dived into the skeletons and zombies, rending them like a dagger through paper.

When she was done, she turned her sights on the Quartet. One last battle awaited them.

She charged with reckless abandon, throwing caution to the wind. The Quartet outlasted the onslaught and managed to turn the tide in their favor, with Bud landing the killing blow on his Emily. From her the inside of Emily, emerged another young women, one certainly used in the ritual that created Emily. She falls to the ground, barely conscious.

A glorious victory ends in tragic fashion, as Bud holds everything that gave his life meaning in his arms. Her monstrous form a sick and perverse memory of her beauty. The rest of the group slumps to the ground, exhausted both physically and in spirit. Beyond them, 2 great armies march on each other with the possible fate of the Sword Coast at stake.

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