Chains of Fate Vol. III

Chapter 1

Following the devastating defeat in the Battle of the Shard, Argos’s fell betrayal, and the crushing loss of Cavalonia the remnants of the party fled to the City of Sigil aboard a fleet of Githyanki airships, gathered up by Gish and Davros. All that remains of the band of heroes are the Dread Pirate Roberts, Z, the indomitable Kat, and a severely wounded Vantrag. The rest met their end either amid the passes of northern Cavalonia or deep within the heart of the Abyss.

While in Sigil Davros takes them to see the Lady of Pain, and a halfling vampire by the name of Kheldor. The same Kheldor with whom Roberts had once adventured. They find that Kheldor has made quite a name for himself throughout more or less every realm. They all encountered a Githyanki swordmage and a sorcerer known as Prometheus who joined their cause.

But the most surprising encounter was with a fearsome black rakshasa named Wethrinshael, or rather, Oris of Wethrinshael.

After helping Oris track down and eliminate the crime lord he had been hunting (in return for his intervention when they were ambushed), the party set off for the Shadowfell, realm of the dead and of the Raven Queen, in an effort to seek out the soul of Dante Calviadi and return him to the mortal world.

(it should be noted that while in Sigil they also encountered a woman by the name of Marion, and a member of the army of Bahamut, one Grevik Longstab, who had been sent to find Brom Smith)

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Chapter 2

The Lady of Pain had given the party a key that would unlock a door to the Shadowfell, on the condition that they return Dante to her once they recovered him. Behind the door was a realm of darkness, extending infinitely in every direction, with a great chasm dividing the nothingness, and a single long, narrow bridge spanning its width. Upon the bridge stood a heavily armored black knight, who seemed loathe to let them pass.

They fought the knight, yet they could not kill him. It was not until Kat got behind him and drove a sword through his back that he finally yielded. He removed his helm and they found him to be none other than Brom Smith the Godslayer, reborn as a deathknight. He joined them as they proceeded through a second door on the far side of the chasm, and into the Shadowfell.

They emerged just outside the city of Gloomwrought, and were set upon by a band of fearsome Tannaruk. The timely intervention of Valrec Praeveron, thought to have perished within the Abyss, helped them to fend off their foes and make it into the city.

There they met up with a gaudily dressed bard called Dodric Sapwood, another of Roberts’ old companions. Dodric had spent his time since their last meeting wooing women and singing songs throughout the courts of Akaron, and even among the realms of the gods.

After spending some less than comfortable time there, they were able to find a guide who offered to take them to the Raven Queen’s palace.

They set out shortly thereafter, glad to leave the intrigue of Gloomwrought behind them.

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Chapter 3

The journey to the Raven Queen’s citadel was neither pleasant nor easy. Along their way they rested for a short time at a Shadar-Kai city within the mountains north of Gloomwrought. While there they acquired a pair of Shadar-Kai companions. Two young warriors who were either lovers or brother and sister…or perhaps even both.

Regardless, they eventually made it to the Raven Queen’s domain. They were hoping to skirt her citadel and travel to the Palace of Fate, but Kat went mad and led them directly to the tower, since the party was unwilling to abandon her to face it alone. Within they witnessed the Raven Queen’s sentencing of Dante’s soul, and they witnessed Kat attempting to attack the goddess, following which they were forced to fight their way out.

They emerged and traveled to the Palace of Fate, where Dante’s soul had been sent. They won past a series of mysterious puzzles and riddles, and finally came face to face with Vorkheisis, the exarch of fate. After failing to negotiate an arrangement with either him or Dante, Valrec nobly offered to trade his soul for Calviadi’s. Vorkheisis agreed, Dante was released, and Valrec remained behind to become a part of the Shadowfell.

They returned to the city of Sigil, gave Dante to Davros, and departed shortly thereafter for the region of Venetia within Akaron. For the Army of Bahamut found itself hard pressed and in need of heroes.

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Chapter 4

The party arrived in Venetia to find the situation most dire. The Army of Bahamut and the remnants of the army of Thacien had abandoned most of Venetia, including the city of Scion, which was sacked and taken by Yeenoghu himself.

The heroes set off to gather an alliance in an effort to build up a strong enough force to defeat the Gnollic army.

They traveled to the remnants of Ka’Thamon, in the northern reaches of the Carahadarac Desert. There they nearly destroyed one of the ancient God-Kings of the Yuan-Ti, an Anathema, by convincing it to eat itself (which reduced it to a single tiny snake, and restored a small measure of its sanity). Thus they convinced the Yuan-Ti to come to their aid.

They then traveled west to the even older ruins of the empire of Maru-Qhet. There they met the ancient brown dragon Nefermandias. He agreed to come to their aid in exchange for control of Venetia when the fighting was done. Without anywhere else to turn, they consented.

Thacien and the Army of Bahamut marched north to meet the Gnolls in open battle. The Gnollic horde was then pincered between the heroes’ host and the Yuan-Ti attacking from the north. During the battle the party found Yeenoghu, but he escaped before they could finish him. Unfortunately, the Gnolls proved too numerous. Their reinforcements (bolstered by men of the Northern Kingdoms) smashed into the flank of the Yuan-Ti army, breaking their lines and sending them scattering. Nefermandias never arrived, and the heroes were forced to make a hasty fighting retreat. Luckily the Gnolls were too busy rounding up the Yuan-Ti to bother harassing the party’s army all the way back to Thacien Keep.

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Chapter 5

Things in Venetia had gone from bad to worse. The heroes’ armies were beginning to run low on supplies. Morale was virtually extinguished; with the Thacien soldiers believing their cause lost with the city of Scion, and the men of the Army of Bahamut wanting nothing more than to leave the desert behind and press on toward Cavalonia. Meanwhile, the Gnolls had acquired a fleet and cut off the supply lines to Corinth; and they had several portals to the Abyss active in Scion and the Northern Kingdoms, and they were bringing in reinforcements constantly. Additionally, they had lost contact with their Yuan-Ti allies, if any of them even remained.

After some deliberation, the party elected to return to Sigil with the remaining Venetians and the Army of Bahamut.

Thus they did so, abandoning the ancient castle of Thacien Keep and flooding the Lowtown of Sigil with refugees. Much to the ire of the Lady of Pain, who demanded that they leave immediately.

The party went to speak with the leaders of Thacien and the Ring of Commanders. The Venetians agreed to travel to Llanowar, which was beset by hordes of orcs descending out of the Wilds. The Ring of Commanders however, refused. They didn’t want the Army of Bahamut to become bogged down fighting another hopeless war so far from their ultimate goal: Cavalonia.

But the party didn’t have time to waste deliberating with the Ring of Commanders. They needed to get back to Venetia to slay Yeenoghu. They knew he was holed up in the remains of the Tower of Scion. They negotiated with the Lady of Pain for the key that would unlock the door to his throne room, and in exchange promised that the refugees would be on their way.

The party then traveled to Scion. They planned to summon Nefermandias as they infiltrated the tower, so that the Gnollic horde inhabiting the city would be preoccupied while they battle Yeenoghu. Unfortunately, they forgot to summon Nefermandias until halfway through the battle, though he did eventually fall upon the city.

The door they left through in Sigil happened to belong to a city native, who unfortunately followed them through and into the new palace of the Prince of Gnolls.

After an intense battle, the heroes finally slew Yeenoghu, and then nearly lost a number of their own to Nefermandias. Instead of sticking around to fight the dragon or the remaining Gnolls, they collected their own and beat a hasty retreat to Sigil.

There arrived to find the city embroiled in conflict. The Sons of Mercy and the Army of Bahamut had gone to war. Apparently, the Lady of Pain had attempted to kill Dante and Davros (and in the process actually succeeded in killing a number of skilled warriors) after a rise in tensions caused by the continuing presence of the Army of Bahamut.

The heroes made their way to Dante and Davros (tricking a group of the Sons of Mercy in the process) and learned that the Army of Bahamut was hard-pressed. As such, they concocted a plan to infiltrate the palace of the Lady of Pain, and steal the Ring of Keys that allowed teleportation to any realm. They snuck in, disguised as supplies brought by one of Kheldor’s front companies, and gained access to the servants’ passages. Though the guards that they left with the wagons they had brought in ran into some trouble in attempting to keep the Sons of Mercy from finding out what they were up to (only the quick-witted smooth talking of one of the guardsmen kept them from being found out).

The heroes emerged into the Lady of Pain’s throne room. While Kheldor attempted to distract her by offering terms of negotiation the others dispatched the Sons of Mercy who were posted as guards, and Oris made a dash to steal the keys.

In the end it was Kat who, while invisible, took the keys. The party then escaped by using their old Key to the Shadowfell. Somehow however, Oris missed the door and wound up trapped in the palace. He then escaped the way he had come in, taking Kheldor’s guardsmen with him. They retreated to Kheldor’s mansion, and were forced to use the escape exit when the manse was besieged by the Sons of Mercy, taking Kheldor’s butler with them. The mansion was burned to the ground and Kheldor lost all standing with the Lady of Pain. Yet Oris and the other three returned to the Army of Bahamut.

Meanwhile, the others spent some time plane-hopping, trying to figure out the keys that they had, where they led, and which one would lead them back to the Army of Bahamut.

They finally returned to Dante, and surrendered the keys to the Army of Bahamut, who used them to open a door to the realm of Bahamut and bring in reinforcements. Hopefully turning the tide of the battle for Sigil.

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Chapter 6

The Army of Bahamut connects with Celestia, only to learn that the realm is under siege by Tharizdun, and Bahamut can offer them neither shelter nor reinforcement. Hard-pressed, the heroes travel to the Feywild in a final effort to find a refuge for their army.

Their primary goal is to convince the Eldari to agree to an alliance. When they arrive at Mithrendain, the de facto “capital” of the Eldari “nation”, they encounter an interesting twist. The head of the Eldari council is none other than Velaianni, Dante’s lover, whom he had rescued from the Raven Queen whoever even knows how long ago. She says that she would like to help them, but the Eldari are keen on maintaining their tentative truce with the Fomorians and are desperate to avoid stirring up their carefully negotiated peace. She says that she can convince and coerce the council otherwise, but she’ll need more proof and reason than their word alone.

Running out of time and options (and at the prompting of Dante), they take off in search of the Tower of Aurelin, which they believe to be the subject of the visions that Prometheus had been having, and home to the sole remaining copy of Vol. 3 of the Chronicles of the Dawn War.

They arrive at Aurelin, and after an encounter with a particularly mischievous door and an irate Librarian, they recover the Book. And the Librarian drops some hints to Z about his potential future.

The Chronicles in tow, they return to Velaianni and convince her to arrange an alliance. They’re then finally able to bring the Army of Bahamut through from Sigil to rest, and even bolster their ranks with Eldari knights and warriors.

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Chapter 7

The Army of Bahamut is battered, but in tact and, for the time being, safe. But the heroes’ work is far from finished.

They had been on their heels since the Battle for the Shard, and now that they finally had a chance to regain their feet, it was time to go on the offensive.

Their first goal was Cavalonia, and the head of King Argos the Traitor.

After some deliberation, the party used one of their dwindling supply of keys (the rules to which seemed constantly to be changing) to teleport to a small abandoned shack within the Fang of Eritrea. From there, they journeyed on foot into Cavalonia (stopping briefly, and inadvertently, in a halfling village to resupply). They made their way to the port city of Tristeran, looking to gain some intel before they made their move on Argos. They wound up in the Wet Cells, Tristeran’s local dungeon; and learned they were to be taken to the Golden City for torture and execution.

While in the Wet Cells they met a man by the name of Ed, whom they learned was an ex-Cavalier. Ed had abandoned the order shortly after the Battle of the Three Passes (where the Cavalonians had betrayed the heroes) for he had been able to see past Argos’ facade. He had been imprisoned for disorderly conduct, and was likely to be executed for treason and desertion.

With the help of the piteous Ed, the party infiltrated the Golden City through two alternate routes. While some of them scaled the side of the mountain, up the Griffon’s Stair; the others remained in the Wet Cells (choosing not to escape) and infiltrating as prisoners.

Once the free group was inside they had to work quickly to save the others from torture and execution. Luckily, everyone survived, and while Brom suffered some unpleasant time in the torture chamber, Sir Ed began to prove that he was not so useless as it might have seemed.

The party encountered for the first time Stygian Jannisaries (human soldiers, taken as infants and trained to fight by the devils of the Nine Hells) and learned that Hellsteel has quite a bite.

But they finally cornered Argos (after convincing the Grey Knight, head of the Order of Cavaliers, that the King-Regent was a traitor) in his chambers.

We last left off as some of his Jannisaries were trying to drag his unconscious form through the shrinking portal, while the heroes came at them with everything they had.

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Chapter 8

The party managed to defeat the Jannisaries who were attempting to haul Argos back to Stygia. They captured the Traitor and interrogated him briefly before killing him. They learned that Argos had made a deal with Asmodeus shortly before the Battle of the Shard. After Argos became King of Cavalonia (a coincidence which Asmodeus himself had coordinated) Asmodeus offered him a deal in which Argos would become his servant and Straad would cease their war and become a part of Argos’ domain. Argos agreed, thinking it to be the only way to win the war with Straad. However, Argos betrayed Asmodeus at the same time. Asmodeus had wanted to destroy the Shard, and had arranged for Argos to assist the heroes. But Argos instead sided with Nagil, who had promised to keep Cavalonia safe from Tharizdun’s impending wrath. Thus Argos gathered the Stygian Jannisaries and mounted a rebellion against Asmodeus.
With the truth about Argos coming out, Cavalonia sided with the heroes, and they marched their armies north, to defeat the last stronghold of Argos’ rebel forces, based in a city in Krios. The heroes won the battle, but at terrible cost.
Now, their army is battered. Vantrag, the drow blade-master that Roberts had befriended, is missing in action, and their war with Tharizdun himself and his puppets, is just beginning.

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Chapter 9

Following the battle in Krios, where the party had defeated the final holdouts of Argos’ army, the situation was tense. Kheldor’s agents had been busy since before the Battle of the Shard, gathering information on the developments in the war for Akaron. As it stood at the close of the battle the party had nominally united the Lands of Dawn, however, their control of Straad was tenuous at best. Following the fighting and the final mop-up efforts to secure the city, the party separated somewhat, with plans to regroup in Cavalonia.

Oris elected to return with a party of Cavaliers. Brom, Roberts, Dodric, and Infinity left ahead of him on foot. On their way through the Kriosan countryside they came upon an apparently abandoned village. Upon inspection they learned that some Straadian soldiers had sacked the village. They had taken its inhabitants prisoner and were attempting a ritual in the basement of the large windmill in the center of the town. Things escalated out of control before the party had a chance to properly identify themselves or the Straadians, and as such a fight ensued. They slew those soldiers who were guarding the street rather easily. Brom noticed the windmill and blundered in alone. He was met by a large party of angry men and devils of Straad. In the following battle Brom was nearly killed, Oris noticed the goings on from above and landed to lend aid (losing all of his Cavaliers in the process) and the windmill exploded (twice) completing the dark ritual by obliterating all of the townspeople and sending pieces of them raining down for miles around. The completion of the ritual brought forth an army of hell-spawn. And at their head rode none other than the ranger Zatara, and a disturbingly transformed Cailen Theras. Zatara informed them that Asmodeus was as much an enemy of Tharizdun as they were, and he wanted to aide their efforts in whatever way possible. The party marched their army south to Cavalonia, and the encampment of roughly two million devils outside the Golden City did not sit well with the Cavalonian people.

The party finally regrouped in the Golden City. There Kheldor relayed to them much of what his agents had discovered. He told them of Tehla the Snow White Queen and her multi-racial army. Of the war in the fabled lands which had seen Golnir conquered by Sokarra and the Baroness of Ravayne slain dead. Of the valiant efforts of the Corinthians, with the aid of their old crewmate Gale Dead-Eye. Of Edwin’s crowning as King of Old Harkuna. Of the Yuan-Ti and their alliance with the Gnolls in Venetia (as well as Zaiden rising to take the place of Yeenoghu with Tharizdun’s blessing). And of Nagil’s almost total control of the lands north of the Great Rim. Thus the party realized that they had a number of potential allies with which to combat their ever-growing foes, but they still lacked any real way to coordinate or communicate with would-be friends.

To make a long story short, Dodric volunteered to go to Sigil and attempt to convince the Lady of Pain to grant them safe passage. In the end, Dodric was successful, though the effort nearly cost him both his manhood and his life (it’s hard to say which he would rather lose).

Thus, the party had a way to coordinate the efforts of the resistance. They dispatched their army of Devils to Hammerfast, hoping to retake the Nentir Vale and unite their holdings with those of Tehla, as well as providing them a route by which they could strike the Gnolls from behind and force Nagil to open up a war on two fronts.

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Chapter 10

In the Nentir Vale: The city of Hammerfast was the last stronghold of living beings, the rest of the Vale having fallen to the hordes of the undead. The commander of the city’s garrison, the Anvil Brigade, was a dwarf by the name of Omrik Skullcrusher. He was a fearsome warrior and a respected leader, if a bit of a hot-headed fool. His most trusted advisor (and the real brains behind the Anvil Brigade) was a Drow woman by the name of Zaermina. The party had already dispatched its army of Hellspawn (led by Zatara and Cailen the Colossus) to aid the city, but decided that they needed some way to convince the city’s defenders that the devils meant them no harm. Thus, they also dispatched Davros the Elder and Vantrag to do some negotiating. While Davros distracted Omrik with Barovian whiskey and tales of battle, Vantrag met secretly with Zaermina and was able to convince her that the approaching legions of Hellspawn meant them no harm. Ultimately, the devils were able to aid the Anvil Brigade and rid the Nentir Vale of its undead infestation.

In Valeria: The situation in Alden (the lands north of the Great Rim) was dire. Nagil and his agents had successfully infiltrated the upper-echelons of Aldenian society in nearly every nation. In effect, Nagil had (after years spent biding his time and building his influence) swiftly seized power throughout the region. His main base of operations is within the nation of Armallia. Armallia itself serves as his puppet in the region. He exerts his power over the other nations of Alden through use of the Armallian Inquisition. In Valeria some of the Legions remained loyal to the old order and began a civil war of sorts. However, they were widely dispersed, with no central command or means of communicating or coordinating with one another, and as such they were fighting a continuous, costly, losing battle. Enter Dodric Sapwood. Dodric went to the Valerians, convinced them to cast their lot in with the party’s efforts to defeat Tharizdun, gave them means to communicate and coordinate between themselves, and began a propaganda war to aide them. For the time being, Dodric effectively turned the tide of the war in Valeria.

In Andar and Nerath: In Andar, the Rangers were in more-or-less the same condition as the Valerians. However, the Andar Rangers being adept at guerrilla warfare, they were having a much better time than their Valerian brethren. In Nerath the NLF (or Nerathan Liberation Front) sought to oust the Armallian Inquisitors and reestablish the Empire of Nerath (which once spanned all of Alden). The Andarrans want to remove the Inquisitors, but they don’t want to replace them with a Nerathan empire. One of the heroes (perhaps Kheldor? Or Oris?) managed to convince the two factions to set aside their differences and work towards a common goal. At least for the time being…

In the Fabled Lands: Sokarra’s conquest of Golnir had been the beginnings of Grieve Marlock’s ambition, not the end. His greatest general, the Dread Colonel Grazka, had defeated Golnir, Old Harkuna, Uttaku, the Isle of Dwemer, and even the Goliath Hordes of the north. He had amassed himself a collection of the tarred heads of his greatest foes and a force of shock-troopers composed of his best men alongside the Goliaths, Shadar-Kai, and even Tanaruuk and old members of the Red-Guard whom he had defeated. Cordoba had surrendered as a vassal of Sokarra without even a fight. The Island of Brazen was ignored. All that stood between Grieve Marlock and total domination of the Fabled Lands was the Free Republic of Atticala (Oh, and Akat-Surai, but who cares about them?). Grazka was preparing his forces for battle with the Templars of the Fifth Wind, when Kheldor arrived in the region, alongside Ming-Wa. First they spoke with Grieve Marlock, who pledged them his aide, in exchange for control of Venetia when the war was over. Following that they met with the Dread Colonel Grazka himself. He proved much less savage in person than they had anticipated. In fact, he seemed utterly rational, urbane, sophisticated even. And highly intelligent. His army, it seemed, was entirely devoted to him. He offered them an alternative deal to that proposed by Marlock. Grazka promised that if they aided him in defeating the Templars, he would depose Grieve and establish a new government within Sokarra and that he would unite the Fabled Lands and then pursue no further conquest. The party has yet to decide how to proceed with this decision, but time is running short as Grazka’s war with the Templars draws near…

In Venetia: Tehla, the Snow-White Queen and her Many-Colored Army, had defeated the threats to Llanowar. She had emerged from the isle of Eileen’a Ceedich, once the seat of the Arkhosian Empire, with an army of Dragonborn warriors. With them at her side she had united the men of Llanowar (with them the old army of Thacien from Venetia) the men of Corinth (led by the Lady Aphelia) the elves of Lorien, and the Tieflings of Telatium. Roberts travelled to Enoch (the capitol of Llanowar) to convince her to join their cause. In this, he was successful. The next order of business would be putting their newfound ally to use. In the city of Scion, Z, Kat, and Belaren (commander of the Red Sashes, who had seen devastating loses in the battle of Krios) led a mission, along with a contingent of Red Sashes mercenaries, to destroy the portals which were constantly bringing Gnollic reinforcements and supplies forth from the Abyss. There were three portals in the city. Z and Kat set off to destroy one, while Belaren took his men after another. They would then meet up at the third and destroy it together. Z and Kat had little trouble with the first portal, proceeding quickly toward their second objective. They reached it, yet there was no sign of Belaren or his men. Not looking to waste time, they destroyed that portal as well, and moved on toward Belaren’s original objective. Belaren and his men had never made it their, they were not as stealthy as Z and Kat had been and were discovered as they tried to move through the city. The had taken losses in their initial skirmish with the gnollic patrol that had discovered them and retreated into a nearby building to establish a defensive position and plan their next move. But by this point the gnolls knew where they were and were responding en force. Belaren knew that he and his few Sashes couldn’t hold out for long. As such, he decided to attempt to move to another building via some second story windows. If he could remain undetected, then there was a chance that his unit could slip away before the gnolls knew they were gone. However, while crossing between the buildings, the last man in the line, a young Sash by the name of Ted (or something like that) was spotted. Not wanting to betray the position of his comrades Ted tossed himself to the street below where he met a grisly, though noble, end. Belaren never reached the last portal. Kat and Z destroyed it as well, then met up with Belaren’s force and beat a retreat to Sigil. Hard Cut to Roberts and Tehla. Roberts was able to convince the Snow-White Queen to send her forces against the city of Scion. With Roberts commanding the army they were able to take the city, though it proved more costly than they had anticipated. Regardless of the casualties, they finally had regained a foothold within Venetia…

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