Prologue

A divinely conceived child raised in an ancient clerical tradition dedicated to an almost forgotten sun-god and his warrior guardian fled their endangered island homeland on the Eastern edge of the world. They met many other interesting characters in their travels (defeating a Kraken and a barbarian horde among other things along the way) and joined with a few especially talented individuals to form an adventuring company.

Almost a year ago, they stumbled into the ruins of an ancient Elven city long overtaken by the surrounding jungle. A ghostly figure pleaded with them to retrieve an artifact buried deep under the city. After navigating the labyrinthine subterranean stronghold, defeating the ancient guardians, and overcoming an arduous test of their patience and cunning, they seized the artifact; a scintillating crystalline orb which hums with unspeakable power. Upon returning to the surface, they are attacked by the half-dragon Ascheron, who had tracked his target, the divine child, to the ruins. Ascheron slew all but three of the band before he fell to the blade of (Dustin’s character). The third survivor, a mysterious and deadly fighter known to them only as Raven, stole the artifact for himself and disappeared in a blinding flash of light. With the help of the Archdruid Celebrion, the duo tracks Raven across the wastes and into the land of Thay. They finally come to a stronghold made entirely of Shadow conjured from another plane, of which they had learned the powerful Thayan lich, Szass Tam, and his forces had momentarily allied with Shadovar mages to harness the power of the crystal.

When the heroes stormed the tower, only corpses remained inside. Red Wizards, Shadovar, and black armored mercenaries alike all lay dead and mutilated. At the top of the tower, where the crystal should have been, there was only a gruesome collage of body parts covering the floor and a lone knight, the devoted bodyguard of Szass Tam, who after calmly reattaching his own head attacked the heroes. The heroes defeated the knight, but the knight’s blood spilled out in a flood and rose up like thousands of serpents, entangling the heroes and binding them to the service of the necromancer, Szass Tam. The conditions of the geas curse were spelled out by the voice of the supposedly fallen knight:

“You must kill the vile traitor and return the orb to my lord if you want to live. Each day that passes will bring a part of your soul under my lord’s control. In one month, only suffering will remain, a torture from which no god can deliver you.”

The knight’s corpse rose to its feet once again. His eyes and the tattoos on his shaved head erupted with crackling green light and a bright flash envelops the heroes.

Prologue

The End of Madness Krishnajai