The player characters thwart an attempted assassination attempt against the head of the Church of At’ar (Father Keagan) and subsequent framing of that assassination on the Church of Desna. While doing so, they capture the remaining Doppelganger conspirator, whom the question to get details of the plot. They learn that the Doppelgangers were sent via visions to Illian’s Crossing to help secure the town, while other conspirators (followers of Myrkull) uncover and operate the gate to bring Myrkull’s underlings (demons) to Earos.
After the interrogation, the PCs are summoned to the King’s audience chamber to discuss what they have learned. Talk is ongoing with King Lothar, Lord Captain Commander Prince Labraid, Lord Captain Ulster of the Militia, Lord Captain Ludolf of the Guard, Lord Vicar Titus, Court Magician Kristoph, and Edrahil the Calaquendi. As the PC’s enter, Kristoph is just finishing his story.
“From my research, the creatures are called Quasits. They are a type of small flying demon that specializes in working against those who use magic. They are not visible to the unassisted eye.
From what I can gather, at least one was in the Tower of Sophos for at least a year, when he began to haunt Henry Foliar. By the time Nomead came to the tower three months ago from Bistrietz, there were at least four.
Nomead, or Balasar I assume is his real name, is of an ancient race that we spellcasters call Doppelgangers. They are shapeshifters that can assume the form of anyone they’ve been in close contact with. We think that Nomead was killed and his form taken by Balasar either before he left Bistrietz or during his journey here.
If it wasn’t for the rescue by Adelaide and the Militia (or are you guys guards?) we would have all surely perished, or worse.”
When he is done, then the PC’s are asked to report on what they have found. Near the end of their story, the assembled group is interrupted by a messenger bringing reports that the Outpost at the north end of the Crimsontals (the valley with the town of HermanStadt within it) was attacked by a large contingent or orcs. The outpost held, but losses were high.
The conversation quickly switches over to what to do about the growing orc situation. It is clear that not enough is know about the threat and a discussion of sending a well equipped scouting party ensues. Lord Vicar Titus, who is representing the Church of At’ar while Father Keagan recovers, offers to lead the party.
Edrahil, who was silent the whole time, steps forward and begins to talk.
“There is a natural balance to the world. A balance between goodness and evil, a balance between order and chaos. In much the same way as the balance between night and day is equal in the fall, the darkness grows longer as the days get colder. Much is the same between the chaotic orc and the lawful man. Humanities summer is at an end, growth has led to an equal response for the opposing forces around it. The orcs numbers have swelled, and their land is unable to support them. They will unify now, and as they have done countless times in the past, they will come south into your lands.
They will slaughter humanity, and you will fight back in turn. Humanity will have its winter while the orc has it’s summer. But eventually man will hold its ground and push back. Winter will end and the days will become longer. Ancient lines will be redrawn, and stability will be restored. Life will be lost so life can flourish again. This is the natural cycle of things, and this is what will pass.
But there is an evil penetrating our world, an evil from beyond, that threatens to destroy this balance. We of the Calaquendi call him Melkor the Unliving, Destroyer of Life, and the Lord of Bones. Melkor cares not for the spheres of the prime material, but only for his unending conflicts of power with the other gods, a conflict for which he is quite successful. To fuel his armies, he needs the souls of sentient beings, the more he gains the more powerful he becomes. To this end he seeks to send his avatars into our realm, to harvest souls, and fuel his ambition. Behind his avatars is left nothing but desolate lifeless worlds.
Melkor’s avatars and minions are not free to travel into this sphere. But it appears they have discovered ancient portal’s, gates older than man that once connected to a long gone world, that they are now using to travel to Earos. How these gates have become reconnected is not yet known, but that there are now connections to his plane, known as the Abyss, is not in doubt.
The locations of many of these gates are known to us, but some have been lost, such as the one discovered in Illian’s Crossing. These gates must be found and secured. There are agents of Melkor already in this world who are seeking to find and open these gates. We do not know how many demons have already come through, and they will seek to bring over more, but there are other agents. Man worships a typically benign aspect of Melkor, named Myrkul, whom you use to ease the transition from life to death. It appears that some of the followers of Myrkul have made direct connection with Melkor and are now doing his bidding. Be wary of them.”
When he is done, the room erupts in conversation. There is general agreement that ignoring the orc threat is unacceptable. Edrahil once again speaks, but this time his conversation is very clearly directed towards the PCs.
“The battle against Melkor is a greater threat than that of the orc, for it is a battle for the very survival of all life. Balance will be restored. The orcs will come and Illian’s Crossing may be no more. That is the natural cycle. Spend your time left by fighting a greater threat, by finding these gates.”
With that, Edrahil steps back and speaks no more. Conversation continues and plans are firmed up to send two squads of heavily armored militia north, led by Lord Vicar Titus, along with lighter units pick up along the way. Prince Labraid asks Adelaide and the rest of the “special” royal militia unit to join in the expedition to ensure its success and to watch/assist/evaluate Lord Vicar Titus.