—The party steels itself, and begin to ask their questions, the first from Taksum, “where can we reliably find Garam after we leave Spellguard?” Lady Saharel looks through Taksum and responds with an ethereal voice, “you can most reliably find Garam, in 10 days hence at the Breath of Io.”
The Breath of Io, previously only mentioned in whispered drunken tavern conversations now looms up towards our heroes. A destination that they will have to face soon, despite their inexperience.
The party follows with the practical question, “where is the Breath of Io?” A moment’s hesitation as Lady Saharel grows bored and floats further aloof, yet she responds, “it’s in the mountain of glass, through the ruins and catacombs and into the mountain itself.”
The destination is now known, and the path marked for the party, but there is still one small voice yet to speak. Too shy to face the haunting visage of Lady Saharel alone, Sariel asks Vicroar to put forth her query, but Lady Saharel ignores Vicroar’s awkward and ill-formed attempt at common tongue. Sariel has no choice, she musters her courage and steps forth to ask, “when will I go back home to the Feywild?”.
Suddenly and swiftly, Lady Saharel swings back towards the party and swoops down to Sariel. Frozen in place, Sariel has no choice but to face the apparition and hear her prophetic response, “if you stay here, Calavere will find you sooner rather than later… he’s hunting you right now.” Sariel shivers with a tinge of fear, far from home and without her old friends, she realises now that she is being relentlessly pursued by an invisible enemy, “what does Calavere want with me?”, she thinks, “and why is he so driven to find me?”
Lady Saharel continues, “little one, there is hope for your return to the Feywild, there are gates that will let you pass through the planes, but the fastest way is to pursue the Breath of IO.” A feeling of destiny and fate settles upon the group, Sariel asks, “what is the breath of IO?”
Lady Saharel looks up through the grey clouds and says, “it’s a place where the world is thin, where great power and great madness stem from. A place, far far away, beyond the Feywild, and it has immense power, it influences the world, chaotic energy, people can taste it, sense it, and if you go to the Breath of IO, then you too will feel it.” Stricken with awe and fear, Sariel mutters under her breath, “how do we make sure WE don’t go mad?” Lady Saharel continues, “the breath itself wont cause madness, unless we go over through it, but if you open the portal, and control it, then immense power is yours.”
Clearly this is the power that Garam seeks, and with that knowledge Taksum’s rage starts to take hold and his ever-steadfast resolve to stop Garam grows. Thinking about the loss of his brother, and the perversion of Dragonkind’s ancient culture that Garam is grotesquely abusing, Taksum holds back his anger and with a deep guttural growl pointedly asks, “can we beat Garam?”
A dialogue ensues, and the heros learn that although reality can indeed be broken by Garam, no special weapons are needed to defeat him – only skill and relentless courage. More importantly the party learns that they have 11 days to reach the Mountain of Glass and the Breath of IO, or face an unstoppable evil.
Unable to shake the thought of Caliver’s tireless pursuit, Sariel asks, “how far away is he? And is my family okay?” At the mention of family, Lady Saharel’s face is twisted by grief, and she shrieks, “at least you have a family!” Darkness immediately descends, and the heros are suddenly left alone amid a blustering and unholy storm. Emerging from shadows, figures cloaked in whispy black appear. Dark apparitions whose humanity had abandoned them ages ago. Ghoulish archers, undead soldiers, and their general, a wicked wight close in on the party.
Surrounded and out-armed, the party are left bewildered at the sudden change of events. Where there was once a ray of light breaking through the clouds, now only an abyss of jet black ink. Managing to stay their panic, Taksum calls for a coordinate retreat, “there’s too many of them, we have to escape! Make a run for the monastery.” And with that, Sariel and Taksum run for shelter.
Despite the stench of death and rot, Vicroar stays his ground. Alone now, he grips the handle of his mighty battle axe and naively makes his way for the first ghoul. “Fools, there’s no such things as ghosts… now get prepared to be VICROAAAARED.” The crushing sounds of metal on bashed undead bones fill the air.
“Idiot”, hisses Taksum under his breath, “Sariel, run to the monastery and bring back the monk – he may be our only hope. Vicroar won’t last long alone, I’m going back to help”. Agreeing without words, Sariel continues onwards to the outline of the monastery, while Taksum turns on his heels and rushes back to fight by Vicroar’s side; the party are now isolated and vulnerable.
Screams pierce the air, and the worst has come to pass, amid the chaos and isolation, the heros have been unnaturally immobalised by dread, and now have to face the nightmarish abominations alone. Despite his valiant stand, the young fighter Vicroar is knocked down and out. The wight points with his skeletal finger towards the fallen hero, and a group of undead slowly lumber to feast on his flesh. Quickly finding his side, Taksum is able to heal Vicroar back to his feet before the ghouls reach them, but they are then left to battle the undead fiends in a weakened desperate state.
Impossibly the night seems to grow darker, bolts of evil necromatic energy shoot from the wight’s fingers, and the party are now not just fighting to escape, they’re fighting for their souls. Although fear pulses through Sariel’s veins, a deeper and more powerful instinct responds, a yet untapped ardent instinct to fight back. To fight off this evil with strength and leadership. “For all that is good in the Feywild!” Sariel lunges towards her attacking ghoul.
Despite their exhaustion, Taksum and Vicroar are inspired to push on by Sariel’s valiant stand alone. “Come on, let’s do this together” Taksum says through a brave grin. Vicroar responds confidently “thanks for the earlier save, and that’s more like it! Now let’s cut these enemies down.” Finally fighting together, the heros are just turning the tide of undead, when all of a sudden they hear the shrill cry of a young girl. “It’s Sariel! She’s down!” shout both Vicroar and Taksum.
The wight silently stands over Sariel’s crumpled body in the howling winds, like a motionless dark wolf over a broken hare. Drawing on ancient evil, the wight spreads his skeletal arms and prepares to cast a necromatic spell to capture her soul for all time – when suddenly he let’s out a piercing undead shriek! The yell momentarily stops cold the blood of all living creatures unfortunate enough to hear it, but the wight slowly dissolves into ash around Vicroar’s battle axe and Taksum’s dagger. An unexpected attack that saved Sariel’s life from dark eternity. With the wight defeated, the tide of darkness begins to withdraw, and despite being brought to their furthest limits yet, the heros are able to push back the ghouls and undead archers.
Badly bloodied, weak and exhausted, the heros finally manage to vanquish the final ghoul, and the darkness lifts. Sariel is revived and the party are left once again along among the ruins of Spellguard. “You were brave little one”, Vicroar says proudly. Taksum adds, “we wouldn’t have been able to do it without your courage”. Together the party search the remains and hobble back to the monastery.
Scattered among the bodies they find:
- 2 potions of healing (1 to Vicroar and 1 to Taksum)
- A flask (2 charges) – filled with chemical silver (use a nature, religion, or thievery check, and apply silver ointment to weapon to make weapon like a silvered weapon) (given to Sarial)
Reaching the safety of the monastery, the party collapse and the full gravity of their fight starts to sink in. The battle shook each hero differently, but what is certain is that each member stared in the cavernous hollow eyes of evil undead, and nearly tasted death at their hands. Withdrawing from the overt gazes of the other travelers in the monastery, Sariel, Taksum, and Vicroar tend individually to their wounds. Not a single word was said, but they each know that nightmares from the battle will haunt them in their sleep for many nights to come.
Solemnly, the heros gather their equipment. All there is to do now, is prepare for the upcoming journey and depart towards the Mountain of Glass and the Breath of IO. Only 10 days remain before Garam reaches it first.