Sir Aaron Connel, a minor knight and a vassal to the Blackfyre family, was at his wits end. No one had heard from the outlying settlement of [[Lily-End]] for weeks. The only sign of life at all was when a half-mad and taciturn druid by the name of Yvanet Silvertreeemerged from the woods. But on the subject of what happened in Lily-End, Yvanet would not – or could not – speak. His father away quelling Orc incursions to the south, Connel was forced to put out a call for aid.
Four answered it. Perin Jettars, a young brother of the Ordo Lux Aeterna, and no stranger to peril. Celandine Wright A shy, seemingly timid young woman with greater powers than her slender frame might otherwise seem. Clock, a brash young woman carrying weaponry not seen outside of the Free Cities, and Bertram, a wily ranger on a mission of revenge.
The unlikely foursome, with Yvanet in tow, made their way through the treacherous Hob’s Wood towards Lily-End. On the way, they were accosted by goblin bandits, but the able team made short work of them – Yvanet revealing her power, trapped the goblins in the very undergrowth around them, and the villains were soon dispatched. But the true peril lay ahead.
The team found Lily-End deserted. Not a soul remained in the empty farmhouses. The parish church, it seemed, had been the sight of some bloody violence. And the tracks from it all led to one place – the cemetary. Dusk was setting in as the adventurers stepped into the boneyard. Hidden within were a pack of rotting skeletons! Their sheer number threatened to overwhelm the party, until Perin called upon his faith to drive the abominations back. The dead fled, but not for long, and the party, badly wounded, beat a hasty retreat back to the safety of the church. The undead, prevented from setting foot on hallowed ground, were forced to wait until the party, fresh and rested, emerged, and made short work of them. But if the undead couldn’t have attacked the church? Than who had? Answers, it seemed, were only to be found in the old Connel Crypt, at the centre of the boneyard.
The party discovered a secret passage under the crypt, and soon came face to face with horrors incomprehensible. The crypt had clearly been used for some kind of ritual sacrifice – the population of Lily’s end lay in a heap of corpses. Black magic must have been at work, for not all of these corpses were entirely dead – the party elected to set the whole thing on fire, rather than risk Castle Connel being attacked by a zombie horde.
In a second burial chamber, the party came face to face with a mighty skeletal troll – probably placed there to guard a single key. Doom was near, until Yvanet, her trusty shilleghlah in hand, delivered a brutal blow to the unholy creature’s skull, sending it crumbling to the ground.
Behind door number three, only foiled hopes. The party found plenty of evidence of black magic, but nothing to explain the senseless death. Except a mysterious cloaked figure, who Celandine identified as an illusion, who warned our heroes that their efforts were for naught.
“Greeting to whoever happens to be in this room. You must be champions of no small skill to have made it into this chamber. By now you must know that the sheep who populated this shit-stain of a village have been slain. They serve a far greater purpose in death than they ever could have in life.
My advice to you is to quit while you’re ahead. I had intended that this crypt might serve as an invasion point, but it’s loss is one I cn gladly bear. In truth, your heroics were for naught. Soon, my master will awaken. Soon the Unforgiving King will be dead. Soon the Dead Kingdoms will awaken, and come seeking out the living. Soon your precious Kingdom of Light, a kingdom built on hypocrisy and lies, will be ashes and dust.
Tremble, mortals, for the time of the Old Ways is coming round once again.”
With those ominous words, the sorcerous image departed, leaving our heroes to return to Castle Connel more-or-less unmolested. (There was a giant spider, swiftly dispatched). There, they recounted the dire news to Sir Connel, who begged the heroes to warn Lord Blackfyre that the Kingdom might be in deadly peril. As the foremost defender of the kingdom, what with his lands bordering Scarr, he stood the best chance of repelling an attack.
So, more-or-less willingly, our heroes set off for the Castle of Blackfyre.