Deciding upon an investment in both time and gold to make ready for the looming confrontation against the dark Aspects of Manfred Blackmourn, the Aspect Agents had journeyed to P’Bapar, seeking additional items of power. The trip also placed the Group in prime territory for the hiring of mercenaries, a fact not overlooked by Prince Sevlen – who quickly tasked his Agents with supplementing Cosdol’s war effort with hired swords. Of those acquired, the most noteworthy were Sedeel the foreign wizard and her servant Urohn, Balamir, the swordsman turned wizard, and Folemir Gola – Captain of the “Dark Blades” mercenary company.
Sufficiently equipped and with mercenaries en route to Sevlen in the capital, the Party traveled next toward the Voldorwoods, teleporting to the town of Lnonven and moving by horse up the coast and into the woodlands proper. Vouched for by the phoenix Talacir on one side and the druid Nilu on the other, the Aspects faced little difficulty in achieving a temporary cessation of hostilities, speaking with both Granite of the Earth faction and Inferno of the Fire faction. With the leaders of both sides appeased, it seemed as though the Battle of the Elementals had come to a peaceful end…
Pelsday, Second of Reaping, 1044 Y.K.
Rising in the earliest hours of the morning to plan the next move following their success in resolving the stalemate conflict amongst the earth and fire elementals in the Voldorwoods, the Aspect Agents discussed various possibilities as they began to break camp and pack up; Refined coordination with tracker Holcrel in the hunt for Guldella Olmlor and the Aspect of Undeath, a teleportation detour to Cosolen perhaps, collection of the gold owed them by the Golden Alliance maybe…
Any of the above would have been a worthwhile expenditure of time, as each had its merits. Unfortunately, the immediate need to dive for cover in light of a rain of fireballs targeting the earth faction base camp took precedence. Hordes of fire elementals and their ally salamanders assaulted the area, with a detachment breaking off to charge the Party’s campsite immediately upon seeing it. The nightly casting of Hilg’s spike stones had yet to be dispelled, but it would surely take far more than a few sharp rocks to deter this attack.
The creatures raced into the camp, only lightly injured by the magically jagged landscape beneath their snake-like lower bodies. They shouted to one another in the Ignan tongue, language of the elemental plane of fire – words understood by Maldus in light of his permanent tongues spell. It was the newly acquired portal stones to the elemental plane of fire the beasts sought, intending to activate them to open a gateway for further beings of flame.
Shouting warning to his allies of the salamanders’ plan, the Aspect cleric of Selandi created a powerful Blade Barrier, forcing further enemies to divert from their chosen targets to avoid being butchered by the whirling blades. With the stones having been divided up amongst the Group’s members, each would need to be cautious, as the opening of a portal to the attackers’ native plane would make a bad situation much worse indeed.
A hastily cast Sending spell was targeted to Inferno as the other Aspects powered themselves and continued the battle. Had the elder elemental betrayed the truce, or was something else at play? In the meantime, the Party had no choice but to neutralize their aggressors. Hilg summoned his own elemental, as Rarnok and Alamir enhanced the Group with augmentation spells. Stoat meanwhile leveled his bow from concealment and fired at will.
With the response from Inferno indicating his belief that the earth faction had betrayed the accord, the Party was forced to avoid multiple Walls of Fire and persevere through volleys of Fireballs while they attempted to determine what had transpired over the course of the evening. A survey of the battlefield to ascertain the status of the overall combat offered an unexpected answer when a blackened shape caught the Group’s notice.
Granite’s second, the behemoth elemental Boulder, had abandoned his position at his leader’s side and pressed forward into the oncoming fire forces. This advance in effect had opened a hole in the defensive line, leaving the eldest of earth open to possible attack. Additionally, and likely unintentionally, it exposed the deepness of the massive warrior’s shadow, pitch black even amongst the light generated by the beings of fire. He was the link to the Nightwalker and the forces of shadow!
Moving with the superhuman speed of his Aspect abilities, Rarnok placed a hand upon Alamir and teleported the pair to the feet of the colossal life-form. Hilg took the form of a bird with his wild shape and flew to the side of Granite, to both warn him of Boulder’s allegiance to shadow and serve as protector if needed. Maldus raced across the field, leaving Stoat and Cosdrelita to finish off the few remaining salamanders in the immediate vicinity.
The Party’s accusation was immediately confirmed, as Boulder attacked the freshly arrived Alamir and Rarnok, and the blackened shadow at his feet morphed to take the shape of an equally large shadow elemental. The duplicity of his second enraged the mountainous Granite, who shook the whole of the battlefield as he stirred beneath the ground, splitting the earth in numerous places and opening chasms into the deep.
Still racing across the field to aid his allies, Maldus nearly became the victim of one such opening, having been shaken into the massive crack by the rumbling of the ground. Clinging to the surface by his fingertips, the Aspect cleric activated his Dimension Stride Boots, teleporting himself from his position on the ledge to the other side and running for his companions once more. Alamir also became the victim of friendly fire, as large rocks given flight by the movements of the giant Granite struck him mightily.
The shadow elemental meanwhile, had deployed its own portal stone, opening up a doorway to the plane of shadows, and allowing a host of its allies to enter the fight. This newly arrived enemy surged toward the emerging Granite, revealing the prize offered to Boulder by the Nightwalker and the forces of shadow: the death of Granite and his own ascension to the position of eldest of earth.
Still positioned nearest Granite’s side from before, Hilg commenced summoning elementals empowered by both his talents as the Aspect of Nature and the magic of his Summoner’s Totem. He directed these minions to attack the shadow portal, and the onslaught of shadow creatures emerging from it. The rest of the Aspects battled Boulder and the colossal shadow elemental Shroud.
No longer hindered by the continual assault of elementals from the shadow plane, Granite reached a sufficient state to attack his treacherous second. Slamming his fully surfaced arms onto the smaller Boulder, the eldest of earth destroyed his former bodyguard with a single blow – sending a shower of rock and earth into the air and wounding everyone near the behemoth’s previous position, including Rarnok and Alamir.
With Boulder destroyed, the Aspects regrouped and focused their attack on the shadow elemental Shroud, forgoing the rest of the battle and maneuvering to cut off any possible escape. Rarnok took to the sky with his Fly spell as Alamir and Stoat used Searing Light and a hail of arrows to chip away at their enemy. Hilg continued to press his summons against the shadowy portal until finally both it and the elemental Shroud were no more.
A subsequent Sending conversation with Inferno revealed that Boulder had in fact been the aggressor in a late night attack against minions of fire, and with him gone, the truce could go back into effect… albeit in a more precarious state than before. The forces of flame rapidly withdrew from the base camp and as suddenly as it had begun, the battle was over.
Free from the attack that had placed their plans on hold, the Party again discussed its agenda. In the interim, Rarnok used his Teleport to travel to Cosolen to inform Prince Sevlen of the outcome regarding the elementals in the Voldorwoods and to conduct brief business on behalf of Stoat. News from Forberon that the Vampiric Sword of Glormul had finally been purchased was both happy and suspicious. The sword’s buyer, Duke Marren Ilthan had also been the owner of the strange statue which had prompted Stoat’s first vision of the Aspect of Undeath…