Part V: The Manse of Shadows (DM: Mike; Players: Aaron (Gelmyr), Amy (Fox & Dawn) & Josh (Arthedain); NPC: Ice)
The party awakes face down in the mud. It’s raining, and they have no idea where they are. Fox is the first to awaken, and she hears the sounds of combat from nearby. She awakes the others and they investigate to find a lone female Knight of Erathis being surrounded by a horde of devils. Arthedain recognizes her fallen horse’s livery as belonging to House Stauffen, a minor noble family that rules the Kirsvald, a region to the south of his homeland, and one friendly to his family.
Still he is reluctant to intervene, but lured by the potential rewards, the party steps in and destroys the legion of devils besetting her. Introductions are made, the woman is Rhiannon Stauffen, the youngest daughter of the house who has recently returned to the Kirsvald to visit her family before being deployed by the Knights of Erathis to the Northlands to aid those beset by the brewing war between Carasthorn and Vadera. She recognizes Arthedain as a Hollin, and invites the party to come to her family’s manor house to seek shelter from the storm and to receive their due reward.
All is not well at the manor, but what ails the place is not apparent, and the party accepts the hospitality offered. Something seems off about Rhiannon’s family, but the party cannot quite place it. They discover that her six siblings have fallen under the influence of six minor artifacts known as the Sin Totems, and they plan to bring Rhiannon under the sway of the seventh, allowing all of them to become Exarches of Sin under the influence of the arch-devil Mammon.
The party is suspicious, but not careful enough, and they are drugged at dinner, as is Rhiannon. They are given the narcotic “Morpheus” a drug that shifts their consciousness into the Dreamscape, rendering the bodies inert and unconscious. Here the party experiences three very vivid dream vignettes.
In the first, the party relives the attack on Dawn’s tribe when she is a child, witnesses the death of Dawn’s father, and learns of Dawn’s true connection to “Mother” and why she has an affinity for lupine creatures.
In the second, Ice’s mother (Erasthena Crystalleaf) arrives at the Hollin family estate with a baby in swaddling. It is her half-elf bastard fathered by Astaroth Hollin 7 years before Ice was born (i.e. exactly 100 years ago). Erasthena has come to dispose of the child before her husband learns of it. Amarant, Arthedain’s grandfather and heir to the ducal throne, agrees to take the babe Garralon into fosterage, but tells Erasthena that she, or one of her line, will owe a debt to his line that must be repaid. He has only to present a crystal eye amulet she gives him to one who bears the symbol to collect on his debt.
In the third, they see Erasthena again, this time slightly older (it is several decades later, but Eladrin age very slowly), and seated in a circus tent. She meets with a heavily cloaked figure, the heavy clothes make the figure androgynous, and the face is veiled making the figure anonymous. This is the infamous assassin Blackthorn. Erasthena wants to hire the assassin to eliminate Sylvar Nightstar because Nightstar has left for Tantalus to locate Garralon and the clues to the location of Tal Neccar and the tomb of King Saerval Talesspur. She hands a payment to the figure, and tells him/her to find and eliminate Nightstar and recover any clues before Garralon is discovered and revealed to her husband and other son.
The party then has a vision of the Lord of Dreams (they think) telling them to awake. They awake on the floor of the dining hall to find all of the Stauffen siblings gone. They trail Rhiannon’s captures to a hidden shrine to Mammon beneath the abandoned temple of Ioun and defeat the six sin thralls, their minions, and the warlock who initiated the scheme, rescuing Rhiannon in the process. While this occurs, the local townsfolk have risen up against the evil of the Stauffens, killing Rhiannon’s parents. Rhiannon manages to rally the crowd to her banner and regain control. She is now the lord of the Kirsvald, and seeks to make amends for the cruelty of her family.
The party rests, and then prepares to travel north to Tantalus, Arthedain’s home, where they can book passage to another place of their choosing.