Flames of Madness

The Story Thus Far

One hundred years ago, the mad god Cyric slew Mystra, the god of magic. Her death destroyed the field of energy which sustained all magic, the Weave. In its unquiet death, the Weave caused the Spellplague, which ravaged the world of Tormil with magical blue fire. Wizards could no longer cast their spells, magical items worked differently or stopped working altogether, people and the land were horrifically mutated, driven mad, or died outright. Natural disasters wracked the land, changing the shape of the continents. And the long lost world of Abeir appeared in the sky for a while, where it switched lands and people with its twin. Chaos reigned as those who lost their power sought ways to recover it, the workings of the universe were brought under question, and Cyric was caught and punished for his crime. He was sealed in his home plane, the so-called Supreme Throne, to be isolated for 1,000 years. And with his defeat, the world of Tormil returned to some semblance of sanity.

Now things are unraveling once again, as the prince of strife enacts his retribution upon the world. This is the story of those who attempt to stem the tide of madness…

The story begins at the ruined keep of Spellgard. A band of adventurers united to scour the ruins, seeking adventure, treasure, and things more esoteric. It was said that a powerful oracle dwelt within the untouched Scepter Tower, and that she would answer any question put forth to her if one was worthy of an audience. Some of the adventurers came to her seeking an answer to their questions. What they found was a quest greater than anything they had ever imagined.

Lady Saharel, the Oracle, had been bound within her tower by a conniving Shadar-Kai and cronies, a group of darklings and ettercaps, and a band of mercenary gnomes. The Shadar-Kai intended to use a foul spell to force Lady Saharel to reveal to him the secrets of the future. His ritual was interrupted as the adventurers broke into the tower, slew him and the mercenaries, and freed Lady Saharel.

Lady Saharel thanked them and revealed to them the real reason for her imprisonment. Cyric was plotting to intentionally unleash a new Spellplague across the world. His agents had clouded her vision, and one of his agents, a mighty Fomorian, had sent his gnome servants to see to Lady Saharel’s downfall. If the adventurers had not arrived, the gnomes would have perverted the Shadar-Kai’s ritual and used Lady Saharel herself as a focus for a Spellplague Bomb which would have wracked these lands. Even without her downfall, this Fomorian was proving to be a significant threat, as he had been entrusted with spreading the Spellplague, and had some means by which he could carry it out with ease. Lady Saharel urged the party to find the College of Fey, whom could tell them more.

Lady Saharel had been weakened by their partial efforts and would not last long. She sent the adventurers on their way, pleading them to further investigate. And then she left the material plane, so that she could not be further manipulated so easily, and her tower crumbled.

The adventurers left the ruined keep and went to the nearby town of Loudwater. The town was in a panic to the news of the spread of the Spellplague, and, more specifically, word that the nation of Cormyr had fallen to it. Amidst the chaos, the town mayor revealed herself to be a secret worshipper of a Far Realm entity. The party slew her, preventing her from putting the townsfolk under her sway.

From there, the party rode south to Baldur’s Gate – to learn more about the state of the world, and to learn how the Fomorians were involved. Along the way, they encountered a hamlet of benevolent former bandits, all of whom shared Spellscars; they fought a tribe of orcs; they killed a tiefling who tried to poison them; and they stopped the undead from invading Baldur’s Gate.

Baldur’s Gate had expanded beyond its borders to become a refuge for people fleeing the Spellplague. The city had not suffered a hit, but the demands of the people were beginning to strain the populace. In all the hustle and confusion, the public was unaware of an insidious threat facing the city: the Keeper of Tomes at Candlekeep and the High Priest of Oghma had both gone missing.

The party investigated and soon learned that the Keeper and the High Priest had themselves gone to investigate something called the “Wizard’s Tower” beneath Baldur’s Gate. The party traveled after them, through the local Underdark, and wound up at the cavern with the Wizard’s Tower at last. They discovered it was, in fact, a Tower of Strife – a horrific structure built in honor of Cyric, anyone unwelcome who entered would find their minds under constant attack. The party braved the Tower of Strife, where they fought reflections of the weaknesses within their hearts and minds, and came out victorious. They confronted the master of the tower, who was draining the power of the Keeper and High Priest to power a foul ritual. The party slew him, but not before he revealed a blasphemous truth: Cyric, in killing Mystra, had absorbed her essence and with it her portfolio of magic. Cyric was now himself the god of magic.

The party fled the crumbling tower with the Keeper and the High Priest in tow. Also with them was a strange chest which they could not open. While the party sorted out the matter of the world’s affairs, and the Fomorian issue, they learned that the chest contained something of a Cyricist artifact, and that it would open when it was ready. The party decided to take the chest with them until it opened, hoping to use or destroy whatever was contained within.

With the help of the Keeper and the High Priest, the party learned that Cyric’s followers had been enacting their plan to spread the Spellplague for some time, and that new pockets of it were to be found in various places across the world, while old ones were growing once more. A supernatural veil of secrecy was spread over the world, further obscuring Cyric’s activities. One could only assume that he was spreading the Spellplague as a manner of mad vengeance. If it were anything more than that, the intentions were inscrutible.

The party also learned that if they wanted to find the College of Fae, they would need to visit the Moonshae Islands and inquire with the locals. Chest in tow, the party took a teleportation circle to the Isle of Gwenneth, to the capital city of Kalindor, and were greeted by the ruinous effects of the Spellplague. Upon investigating, they discovered that the ruling council of the city had been kidnapped by a group called the Order of Blue Fire, in collusion with a rogue member of the ruling council. Vilram, the rogue sage and Minister of War, had been a secret worshiper of Cyric. He had lied to his fellow council-sages about a new super weapon which would lay waste to Gwenneth’s enemies. With the aid of the Order of Blue Fire (fanatical Spellplague worshippers), he had built a weapon that would spread the Spellplague, creating horrific monstrosities under his control. The party confronted Vilram, slew him, and destroyed the super weapon. The city returned to some state of normalcy and the surviving sages promised to help the party in gratitude. They provided the party with a teleportation sequence leading to the College of Fae.

The College of Fae was an institution for the collection and dissemination of knowledge about the the Feywild. A conversation with one of the professors revealed the culprit the party sought. A Fomorian named Thrumbolg had recently united many of the Fomorian kings under his banner and was launching increasingly massive assaults on eladrin settlements. Thrumbolg had seized Mag Tureah, the long-abandoned and thought-impregnable iron fortress of the Fey Dark. Mag Tureah was now known to possess many portals leading to countless locations across the Material Plane. If Thrumbolg had made a deal with Cyric, he might have had the madness that afflicts all Fomorians cured so that he could unite the Fomorians, and in exchange, agreed to spread the Spellplague through the portals. The professor recommended the party travel to Mag Tureah to confront Thrumbolg, and stop in the nearest Eladrin city along the way, Silvanestri. However, to get there, they would need to find the closest Fey Gate. Silvanestri was a worldfall, yet no longer shifted between the Feywild and the Material Plane. To get there, they needed to seek information at the town of Athens in Thay, the land of undead.

The party took a teleportation circle to a Thayan city, where they saw firsthand the horrors of Szazz Tam’s empire. The undead were everywhere, and no mortals could be found. The undead guards guided the party out of the city and set them on their way, while hungry eyes looked on.

The group traveled eastward until they came to Athens. They found the town a curious sight: here, there were no undead. The high walls were patrolled by the living, and they seemed to have successfully, impossibly, kept the undead from breaching their walls. The party soon learned the success was due to the Town Council, a group of former adventurers whom had rescued the town from the undead and then gone about fortifying it from further intrusion.

The party met with Father Porter, a member of the Town Council, and head of their local faith, the worship of Amauntor. It was there that they realized a disturbing truth: all members of the Town Council were vampires. The party nearly attacked, but held back their wrath. As Father Porter explained, he and the other four members of the Town Council led a quiet, hidden life here, pretending to be mortals. They kept the town safe from other undead and kept their feedings a secret. If the party slew them, the town would quickly fall to ruin as less scrupulous undead climbed the walls and enslaved or ate the townspeople. The party agreed to negotiate instead: they made a deal; Father Porter would tell them where the passage they sought was located, but only if they would first slay a local vampire who was trying to take over their area. They themselves could not leave without taking a big risk. The party agreed and so went to find the vampire, who laired at a fortress called a Dread Ring. Before they left, one of the other members of the Town Council, a vampire named Marceil, asked that they bring him a shard from a crystal he heard was trapped deep within the Dread Ring.

They broke through the fortress’ defenses and confronted the vampire in her lair. She unleashed the power she had been collecting for herself and assumed the form of a vampiric dragon. They slew her and grabbed a couple shards of the crystal, an evil black thing glowing with arcane power and the energy of undeath. One member kept a shard for himself. Another gave a shard to Marceil, whom promised it would bring favor from the Church of Shar and help the party avoid making enemies.

With the deal done, the party prepared to travel through the fey passage. They were stopped as a host of angels, led by the enigmatic Oyen, descended upon them. Oyen begged them to cease their journeys, as Cyric would destroy them if they continued. When the party refused his offer, he unleashed the angels upon them. In a brutal conflict, the party, aided by the local vampires, slew the host and carried on quickly to the Feywild.

There, they were immediately assaulted by a mighty storm. They took cover inside a cave, within which they discovered was a crystal forest. The party soon found themselves trapped within the cave, some strange pocket dimension. They explored and discovered the cave was home to a number of bizarre beings, some benign, many insane and dangerous. As one explained to the party, this was the Crystal Asylum: the greatest and most worthy fae scholars and heroes were brought here if they ever descended into madness, so that they might live lives of comfort away from society, away from possible shame. However, the place had become warped, and now had become as much a prison as an asylum, and with a malign sentience, drew more victims in to its eternal torment. The party decided to confront the malign intelligence which lurked at the bottom of the asylum. They learned the asylum was powered by, literally, the heart of an entity called the Archfey of Light. Once it had been nigh all-powerful, but a conflict with its brother, the Archfey of Darkness, the former ruler of Mag Tureah, had brought both of them low. it had retreated to its Palace of Light, where it tried to regain its strength, but the other beings of the Feywild put a stop to it, and consigned him to the bowels of the earth. There he lay, prone and undead, forgotten until his palace became an asylum, and he found he could feed on the strength of its inhabitants to regain his power. The Archfey of Light manifested and tried to slay the party to gather their power for himself. He failed, and instead the party took his heart with them. The vengeful Archfey had decided he would aid them, as his body was useless, yet he still had the power to help confront his brother, and perhaps see that they truly shared the same fate.

The party left the Crystal Asylum, along with many of its former inhabitants. They traveled to Silvanestri, the city on the border between Eladrin lands and the Fomorians. The city was in a state of turmoil, as the war raged on its doorstep and in the city itself. The party aided the Eladrin in pushing back the Fomorian forces and broke through their lines to get to the Feydark. From there, they bluffed their way through the twisting caverns of the Feydark, through a town, an encounter with some goblins, mercenaries, and an extremely lazy Fomorian smith, to get passage to Mag Tureah itself.

Mag Tureah was a horrible place, full of shadowy mocking creatures. The party sought out the heart of the fortress, using the insight of the Archfey of Light’s heart combined with a mapping eye they stole from the head of Vorgimund, a Cyclops and Thrumbolg’s lieutenant. They found the Temple of Darkness, where the Archfey of Darkness’ heart (now consumed by Thrumbolg to make him practically invincible) had once resided. They beat back the temple’s guardians and ensconced the Archfey of Light’s heart where the Archfey of Darkness’ once was. Then they enacted a plan to lure Thrumbolg to the temple, where he would be weakened by the heart’s presence.

They confronted Thrumbolg in his throne room and the chase was on. He and his servants pursued the party through a variety of chambers, the party fighting a strategic battle of withdrawal. By the end, only Thrumbolg and a few of his servants survived. They came upon the temple, and the party trapped them within. The Archfey of Light activated his power and Thrumbolg was on his own, fighting the party while the two Archfey looked on. In the end, Thrumbolg fell against the party’s combined might.

The Archfey of Light and Darkness, now without hosts, and with only fragments of their former power, agreed to bequeath their might to one of the party members. The mysterious chest that the party had carted around finally opened, revealing its contents. A strange woman with a sword had been trapped inside. She revealed herself to be Mask, a god whom Cyric had thought long dead; she was, rather, an aspect of that thought-slain god, trapped in the form of a soul-drinking sword, Godsbane. The form the party saw was only a manifestation of the blade. The party agreed to take her along, and even to enhance her power, so that the sword could become a weapon that would bite through Cyric himself.

With Mag Tureah claimed, the party made quick work of the rest of Thrumbolg’s scattered forces. They joined the fight with the Eladrin once more, defeated the remaining Fomorian forces, and joined in celebration with their new allies. The Feywild was now safe from the Fomorian threat, the party had claimed Mag Tureah and powerful artifacts, and they were one step closer to stopping Cyric entirely.

From their new home, they traveled to Candlekeep of Baldur’s Gate, where they could learn what had been happening while they were gone, and what other information had been revealed. The party learned the going-ons of many lands, of the existence of the Black Network that served Cyric, the spread of his cults and the Spellplague, and a way to stop him. With a world to explore, they now had several objectives…

1) Bring Godsbane (Mask) back to full strength, to craft it into a sword which could hurt Cyric 2) Find and read or destroy the Cyrinishad, a mad tome that Cyric had penned, and within which he had invested much of his power. 3) Stop any number of Cyricist plots that were manifesting across this plane and perhaps others.

The party decided to investigate the Cyrinishad first. They consulted with a Divine Oracle of Oghma and learned the following: “Waterdeep… Lens of Lies…”. They traveled to Waterdeep, where the people had seemingly forgotten the torments that Cyric was visiting upon the rest of the world. They investigated and learned that the town was enthralled by the Lens of Lies: it had infected their minds and their bodies, giving the cityfolk Spellscars and turning them to the worship of Cyric. The party confronted Vajra, the head of Blackstaff Tower, whom was controlling the Lens of Lies. They slew her, destroyed the lens, and discovered that she had used a Shard of Truth to power it. The party reconvened at Candlekeep with the Shard of Truth, and some of Vajra’s private notes.

The Shard of Truth, they learned, was capable of dispelling illusions if placed in a proper focus. The Keeper of Tomes at Candlekeep promised to research where they might find such a focus, which could be used to safely read the Cyrinishad.

More pressingly, the party learned that the nation of Amn was involved in something called the Avatar Project. If completed, an avatar of Cyric would arise; an unstoppable monstrosity. The party decided to travel to meet a messenger of Amn, who was awaiting word from Waterdeep, thinking the city might provide help with the power of its Lens of Lies.

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