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ELVES BATTLE THE DARK ALLIANCE
21st of Eantos, 5102

To Whom It May Concern,

In the interests of informing the public of current events, I've begun taking notes upon the general happenings of the rather odd situations that are currently afoot in the Shining City of Ta'Illistim. My findings may be freely distributed to whoever has an interest in such matters.

In a former age, great smiths crafted THE GRIFFIN SWORD:

  • Forged with ancient, mysterious techniques into a flawless vision of beauty.
  • A jeweled hilt invoking the image of the fearsome griffin.
  • Blessed by LORMINSTRA, goddess of winter and rebirth, for use against the undead.

Lorminstra's servant betrayed her trust, breaking the artifact into four parts and giving them to servants of dark gods. Many years later, dark forces invaded the city of Wehnimer's Landing intent on the destruction of Lorminstra's temple. After many epic battles, the brave defenders saved the temple and recovered the pieces of the sword. Four adventurers embarked on a perilous quest that ended with the Griffin Sword re-forged, re-consecrated, and set outside the temple as a memorial to heroism and sacrifice and a conduit of Lorminstra's power of blessing.

And so it remained for several years, until Lorminstra's prophet discovered a flaw in the sword, a taint of darkness left over from its ancient betrayal. An agent of darkness again shattered the sword, scattering the pieces into places of hiding across the cities of Elanthia. And once again, the forces of the Dark Alliance,

  • V'TULL, the Dark Champion, god of warfare and domination
  • SHERU, the Jackal, god of nightmares and insanity
  • MULAROS, the Sorrow of the World, god of sacrifice and suffering
  • LUUKOS, the Serpent, god of unending death and master of the undead,

sow discord throughout the lands, as adventurers take sides in a terrible struggle of light versus darkness, good versus evil, life versus death. On which side will you cast your lot?

The Dark Alliance invaded Wehnimer's Landing, burning the city to the ground in revenge for their earlier defeat. While the Landing was rebuilt, the forces of V'tull attacked the dwarven city of Kharam-Dzu on Teras Isle. After a desperate battle in which adventurers managed to board a V'tullian warship to gather intelligence, one piece of the sword was recovered. In the past week, the action turned to the human empire, where agents of Sheru waged terrible battle against the city of Solhaven and its followers of the light.

Where will the action turn next? Will it come in the form of an invasion, a puzzle, or a quest? Join us in GemStone IV and LIVE THE ADVENTURE.

I suppose it all truly began on the 6th of Eoantos for our people - while I did not directly witness it, I am no stranger to researching the obscure. Apparently a relatively large force of undead and other various creatures were detected near the borders of ShadowGuard. Examining the situation, I personally find that it occurred at one of the worst times possible in a political sense - in the recent months a faction of nobles and other empowered individuals were pushing for a more disciplined and stronger force in arms for the Shining City. Quite inexplicable, really, they just seemed to pop up with these suggestions when things had been utterly calm on such fronts before.

Regardless, as it was our scryers who discovered this band of creatures, it was petitioned that the bolstered forces of Ta'Illistim meet this small threat as a test of their new policies and training. Political chest thumping, in its barest essence. Not wanting to appear desperate, they sent a quarter of Ta'Illistim's total forces to meet the threat near ShadowGuard.

Apparently, they stood no chance, as it was an ambush by what is now known as The Dark Alliance. They were utterly decimated, along with a small Vaalorian Keep that they had taken rest in the nights before the battle. The lot of us in Ta'Illistim knew something had gone wrong, the power of the necromancy wielded upon that battlefield was so strong that it literally sent ripples of essence that could be felt quite a distance away. Our brothers in Ta'Vaalor were more aware of the situation - they had been watching from the beginning.

The militant faction that had been surging in popularity rightly plummeted that night, and I've barely heard mention of it among the nobility since. The Vaalorian Guard informed us that they would be taking care of the situation, and of course, would welcome the talents of our mages and other scholars for use in strategic planning. The remainder of Ta'Illistim's forces are either stationed in the city itself or have been used to bolster the ranks of our borderguard should the Dark Alliance make a move toward us. Either way, they are stretched rather thin at the moment, and a tad red-faced to boot. To my knowledge, there have been some rather brief discussions with the Ardenai for reinforcements should the need for such arise.

However, I doubt any aid will be required - once the Vaalor mobilized their forces, they halted the Dark Alliance's movement completely. At the time of this writing, they are currently fighting the enemy about a week's ride south of of the city itself and neither force shows any sign of retreating. Good news, at the least, though there have been reports of raids and small battles on their northern borders by undead and other creatures. I've heard they began recruiting again to deal with this threat, but have not heard of any progress, publically announced or privately.

Curiously, there are even more pieces to this puzzle, namely the reason why this Dark Alliance is even here in the first place. It appears they search for a remnant of a rather important religious artifact - The Griffin Sword. Having not really studied Western mythology, I cannot profess to know the intricacies of the artifact, save that it is powerful enough to warrant stirring the tempers of the Vaalor - a dangerous game, indeed, and certainly not something to pursue on a whim.

There are also other points of conflict beyond the physical battles being waged on elven-held soil - mainly, the clashing of idealogies between traditionalist elves and the sudden influx of helpful Westerners into our lands. Before the appearance of the Dark Alliance, most of our people were content to ignore them as they brought increased trade and other goods. Personally, I find them an interesting lot, but my nature as a scholar lends itself to such friendliness, I never close off a new avenue of information, be it an ancient grimoire or a chipper little human child. But I am not in the majority of my people, I'm afraid - most of the nobility often bring up the Westerners in light conversation, and they joke of their militiaries and other organized efforts, deeming them little more than glorified mercenary bands here to seek the spoils of war. This attitude obviously grates on otherwise amiable Westerners.

The Vaalor, however, are a more stubborn and active lot than the lords and ladies of Ta'Illistim. They reacted to the Westerners far more harshly, believing that they actually thought themselves better than the elite Vaalorian Guard. Several arrests have been made on charges of inciting mobs and other acts of "vigilante justice".

Justice is another point of conflict, as well - I came to be deeply involved in this whole matter through that very issue. Apparently the Westerners among Ta'Illistim have become fed up with the open supporters of the Dark Alliance that came along with them and the apparent lack of punishment from Ta'Illistim. The Vaalor have dealt with this issue in their own usual direct approach already - they have since executed one supporter publically, and have exiled any others they find on their streets as a warning. I have yet to hear of any other suffering stiffer punishment or going against the order of exile.

Regardless, I've been in contact with a few of these visitors from the West and find them a pleasant bunch. As Ta'Illistim's Guard really does not want to bother with them - they dread another embarassment should they, I fear - I spoke to them of the current situation. Ideally, I would be pleased should these supporters to ousted from the city, but politically, it is a messy issue. Ta'Vaalor has it rather easy in this regard - they are usually of one mind on such trivial matters as religion, which is why they were so quick to act on execution and exile.

Our shining city of Ta'Illistim, however, is far different, we have many different factions among the nobility and scholars, and each has an ample amount of political power at their disposal. Such a widespread outlawing of certain religious affiliations could well rustle the feathers of several organizations currently taking up residence in Ta'Illistim. Not because they have ties to them, mind you, but their ideals and beliefs are rather unorthodox and such a law is reminiscent of the Rysus Codex and other nonsense they enact in the Turamzzyrian Empire. These sort binding practices are frowned upon in a city where the free exchange of knowledge has been fostered for thousands of years.

Beyond all the social issues, however, things seem to progress well for our people in the battle against this Dark Alliance. Recently a new threat has reared its head, a psionic by the name of Harith. She apparently - with quite a bit of zeal, I imagine - has declared Ta'Illistim conquered and under the law of the Dark Alliance. While a majority of Ta'Illistim's scholars are unconcerned with her wild claims and the nobility simply finds it another matter to joke about over their meals, a small contingent of researchers in the field of mind magic have been severely disturbed by her presence. They are slowly organizing their efforts into studying ways to combat her, though they are provided with little support, after all, most of Ta'Illistim has no use for mind-magic. Ironically, the ones who most utilize it commonly are the Westerners that have come to the city.

Ta'Illistim's Guard, however, has asked the scryers in the city to divine her location, I imagine they wish to prove themselves worthy to defend the Shining City's people from any threat. However, the search has thus far proved fruitless, as Harith appears to be far, far away from Ta'Illistim's physical borders. Her power must be rather exceptional to have reached the thoughts of our city from that great a distance. But, on the other hand, I'm rather positive they are quite limited as well due to being stretched so thin.

The various battles against the Dark Alliance look bright at the time of this writing. While we are not wholly victorious, they are not victorious in the slightest, and each of their attempts to gain an advantage are met with stalwart resistance from elf and Westerner alike.

Maluverre Sil'Andruthile,
Scholar of the Grey Obelisk

SECOND PIECE FOUND!
5th of Eantos, 5102

Mere days after the Sheruvian forces were driven from Solhaven, the resistance against the Dark Alliance mobilized their collective power to make a final, decisive assault upon their would-be conquerors. As the Prophet Ulstram rested, plans were laid to make an offensive move upon Draezir's encampment - rumours were that his search had proved extremely fruitful, and that he had narrowed down a small section in the Cairnfang where the piece of the sword might be found.

Realizing their forces were in a state of mild chaos from the unexpected victory of the resistance, the residents of Solhaven planned a daring attack upon Draezir's encampment. Working with the Prophet Ulstram once he regained his strength, the adventurers pierced the veil of illusion that previously shrouded his location from others. Fighting through the gates and the troops that were fortifying the base, they succeeded in hampering his forces severely.

At the same time, however, the spies of the Dark Alliance were taken to Lord Kendryth's battered encampment and told to destroy any remaining survivors from the previous conflict with Draezir's army. As one side fought, so did the other, and as both groups retreated from their accomplished missions, they came unwittingly upon the very area the Dark Alliance had narrowed their search down to. In the chaos of battle, however, any organized search effort had been abandoned in the interests of defense.

The adventurers stumbled upon a cave nearly at the exact moment, and there they discovered the second piece of the Griffin Sword - its golden quillions. They are held safely, for now, but rumours persist to the true allegiances of the one who holds them.

Time will surely tell where their heart lies.

In the meantime, whispers of foul things afoot in the east reach me by missive, yet they are unclear and unspecific in their descriptions.

Sendarel Akruthos,
Scholar of Nydds

SOLHAVEN IS FREE!
30th of Jastatos, 5102

Once in a state of occupation by the forces of Draezir the High Priest of Sheru, the forces of darkness have been driven from the Freeport of Solhaven by the cunning and cleverness of the local resistance movement. Lord Kendryth returned from his encampment, apparently severely wounded by an attack that was sprung on them at the same time Solhaven was being overrun. Barely escaping with his life, he brought both dire and good news - his encampment had been nearly destroyed and his men scattered, but he also had vital information to share.

He spoke of one of his scouts returning while being chased by frenzied Sheruvians. The scout spoke of a high-ranking Sheruvian on his way there, and that this individual would arrive on the 29th of Jastatos. The attack was then sprung, and Kendryth escaped with little but his life and that piece of information. It proved to be key when a group of adventurers brought him in and revealed the true extent of what had occured in his absence. They quickly mustered a force and headed out to Cairnfang forest to lie in wait.

All was not to go as planned, however, as just before the carriage approached, local Sheruvians attempted to thwart their attempts. Some defenders fell, just before the carriage approached, but the Sheruvians were quickly dispatched, and the band of adventurers slaughtered their guards and broke into the carriage. There they found a Sheruvian Inquisitor, apparently given orders by Draezir to oversee Solhaven in his stead while he focused his search for the shard of the Griffin Sword. He was killed after becoming hostile when being interrogated, and hidden within the carriage they found a chest - trapped with vile magic.

Fleeing at the behest of Kendryth, they quickly hid the chest away in a safe place. When Draezir discovered that this ambush had occurred, his rage was so great that he descended with thousands upon thousands of his troops, setting flame to building after building in an attempt to rout out the adventurers who held the chest. After Draezir thoroughly wrought destruction, he sought the chest northward, thinking they had fled into the Cairnfang forest itself and beyond. He was wrong - they had taken shelter in one of the many caves along the beach, safe from his invaders and his raging fires.

Finally wresting control over the dark magics of the chest, it was opened - revealing both an orb and several onyx shards. A note inside read that the orb was dormant, and apparently had a connection to Ulstram. The shards, the note read, were to be used in dealing with the many guardian statues that patrolled the streets of Solhaven. Clearly, this was why Draezir had wanted the chest back so desperately. The adventurers passed out the shards to defenders of the town, and while Draezir and his forces scoured north, the adventurers destroyed the foundations of his occupation in one swift, decisive blow.

But the evening was far from over, the orb was presented to Kendryth, and a group of those loyal to the light gathered at Lorminstra's altar to pray for guidance. Kendryth became aware of what the orb's purpose was, and deciphered how to unlock it... in doing so, he sent the adventurer's gathered hurtling off into another realm, one of twisted dreams and shadows. Ulstram was there, frozen in an icy crystal and severely tortured and wounded. Fighting bravely against the horrors that relentlessly harried them, the stalwart adventurer's managed to destroy the power source that kept the realm maintaining its wicked existence, and thus freed Ulstram from his plight.

Summoning their magics, they returned safely from the darkness just as it began to shatter into nonexistence itself, and all celebrated. For when they returned, the rule of Sheru's minions had been utterly crumbled. The banners of the jackal were being burned, and their own banners of the Freeport being raised in their stead. The gates of Vornavis burst open, leading to heartfelt reunions between the refugees and those who were caught outside the gates when the catastrophe happened.

Solhaven is free once again. Thanks to the resistance.

Sendarel Akruthos,
Scholar of Nydds

Solhaven Has Fallen!
23rd of Jastatos, 5102

Draezir has made a bold move on the part of the Dark Alliance - near the hour of midnight, all felt what he had planned. A massive explosion to the north of Solhaven sent half a mountain tumbling down into a pass, cutting off the Freeport from both aid and any possible escape. Many held their breath for what was to come.

And then they heard the chantings of the Sheruvian forces, gaining ground as they marched into the city. Their foul voices carried on the wind, overtaking the sound of their wardrums, drowning all in their cacophony as the battle waged on. Their forces took the Hangman's Bridge, overwhelming it with their numbers and their now fiercely zealous ranks. From there it was only a short way to Tumbledown Lane, the beginnings of Solhaven. They overwhelmed those they found there easily, and made their way into the heart of town.

If there is one thing to be thankful for in such a grim situation, it is that innocent lives were not wasted - as the Sheruvians broke past the defenses, Vornavis' Gates opened briefly, allowing peasants and other innocents to flee into the inner city while they still could. If it were not for this, the streets would be clogged with the corpses of the dead and the dying.

As of the last missive I have received from the locals who are now beleaguered by the forces of darkness, the Sheruvians are still there. They are now occupying the Freeport, and they do not intend on leaving it. For what purpose they may be doing this, I do not know. I only keep hope that they may still yet be driven off.

Sendarel Akruthos
Scholar of Nydds

Whispers of Darkness
18th of Jastatos, 5102

At first, the incursions of the Dark Alliance were but mild... whispers of a darkness behind the storms that brewed nightly for weeks. They whispered of shadows rising, gathering and lying in wait for a sign that would come. It was then, that a voice spoke from the blackened skies.

In its hissing tones, it would deliver its message from above as the lightning raged across the countryside and the rain drowned the land. It spoke of that which was lost and would soon be reclaimed... and that which was pure that would soon be tainted. Those who heard this message puzzled over its meaning. Clearly, it was one of dire portent, but vague, and possibly misleading. Those who would stand in the light gathered, and pondered on what to make of these warnings.

It was then that evil struck, and the darkness behind these warnings was given a face, a name. Morvule was that name. A Luukosian of unsurpassed power rose from the shadow and culled a great army of the undead from the cursed lands that surrounded the small town of Wehnimer's Landing. His goal had been made clear - the Griffin Sword, a holy sword that had fallen into shadow once before, but was recovered by the servants of the light in a great battle and reforged into its former glory. It had stood safely in the square of Erebor, underneath the watchful gaze of Lorminstra's temple, its blade sheathed within a massive stone. This was Morvule's aim, and for a time, it seemed an inevitable triumph.

Ultram, Prophet of Lorminstra, who had also recently arrived in Wehnimer's Landing, warned those who would stand against Morvule. The prophet had reasons for journeying to the Landing. He revealed that the sword had within the very core of its existence... a flaw. A taint. He proposed a plan, then, to cleanse the sword of this minute flaw... the flaw that would allow the shadow to consume it once again.

So plans were made, on sides of both light and dark. Days waned into nights and nights into days... but finally, those of the light were ready. Ulstram withdrew the sword from its stony sheath on that night, and began preparations for the cleansing. The power of his magic was enough as to illuminate the entire settlement as if it were the brightest of noons... all proceeded well, until those of of the dark lept from their hiding places.

Morvule appeared at the crucial moment of the ceremony, disrupting the carefully-laid plans of the light. Darkness and light clashed on that hour, and titanic energies raged across the sky as both Prophet and Luukosian fought with all their might, and the Griffin Sword shone through with its power against evil. But the shadow decieves... and the shadow hides... and the shadow is never seen, until it is too late. As the battle turned in Ulstram's favor, and as he swung to deal the finishing blow... Morvule reached into the flaw, the scar that had been left into the existence of the blade so long ago, and exploited it... fueled it with his own ruthless ambition and cruelty.

The sword was split asunder once again. Its pieces flew off into the horizons in a brilliant explosion of cataclysmic energy. Neither light nor darkness won the night, but the previous struggle was but a taste of what would come.

For Morvule, bitter and angered that he had not recovered the sword, revealed the true extent of the shadow's grasp. That night, the Dark Alliance showed itself as reforged once again. Draezir, Eryael and Zerroth each represented the leaders of their dark gods' faction. They gathered their forces and nearly razed Wehnimer's Landing to the ground. But for the brave citizens who fought the fires and repaired the damage, the outpost may not have survived.

Both sides of the conflict searched desperately for the shattered pieces of the sword. the task proven even more difficult since the relic was drained of its immense power. The first fragment was found near the small dwarven settlement of Kharam-Dzu, upon the remote island of Teras. Here, V'tull's forces were mustered by the Berserker Zerroth. A fleet of black ships surrounded the small island, launching attacks by its troops nearly every night. Their armies hit hard and fierce, and their bloodlust knew no bounds - each defender was hard-pressed to keep their own on the island. But for a time, they did hold them back.

The tide of the battle turned when those of the light smuggled themselves aboard one of the ships of the Dark Fleet. Learning secrets from the information aboard, they used it to their advantage, and soon learned the location of the hilt of the Griffin Sword, and sought it out. But here, again, darkness would show its excellence at deception - for a servant of Mularos recovered the blade first. Even though Zerroth's forces lost one small battle, their work had been accomplished on the island.

Rumours began to filter up from the south, of a great thing falling from the sky... and so the conflict moved to Solhaven, where the Sheruvian Draezir gathered his forces and his trickery. Summoning creatures of utter unworldliness, he set them to plague the citizens of Solhaven while his forces built up unseen around them. The beasts of shadow killed many innocent citizens in their unnatural lust for life, but Ulstram again arrived to aid in the struggle. Through the resourcefulness of the citizens, the creatures were banished to the darkness from which they were spawned, but it was too late. Draezir's forces had been bolstered, and were ready to attack.

They came in droves, pushing past the defenses of Solhaven and onto the streets within days. Their advance did not stop, and Draezir revelled in each position overwhelmed. What he planned, no one knew. Whispers of things being plotted filtered through the streets, and one follower of Sheru was selected by Draezir to bring forth the ruse he had so carefully laid.

Masked as a frightened, repenting follower of the dark, this servant deceived Ulstram into taking an orb into his hands. Within moments, the trap was sprung, and Ulstram was simply frozen and immediately drawn into the depths of the device, which then vanished itself.

With only Kendryth's shaken aid, Solhaven now stands against the threat of the darkness. Draezir's army grows daily, and incursions into the town go farther. The murder of innocents continues, and hope is dwindling away.

Sendarel Akruthos
Scholar of Nydds

 

 

 



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