The Archmages Saga: Evocation

Also see the cast of characters in Evocation

The Archmage's Saga: Evocation is a saga that takes place in Brehr, Ilefain during the spring of 1372 NS. It chronicles the beginning of Maximilian Colwynn's career, as he and several companions chase down vastania-darkheart of the Shadowcults down Wonderluck Road to retrieve a dangerous book.

Yorik


Prince Harold's Final Lecture

Nikki Floren rode her wagon into Yorik town and stables it at the Hunter's Inn. The stable boy asked her if she is the inquisitive that was asked to come to the Academy. She responds she is and the boy points out the academy and warns her not to be worried about the headmaster's appearance. She stops by at the church first and finds it is one of the last remaining church to have a shrine to Kira, and not Solea Splendis.

She goes to the academy and notices the runes on the ground marking that she has active magic, stops and speaks with an eladrin student and asks where the headmaster's office is.

In the headmaster's office, Shamil Smoothhands is speaking with Maximilian Colwynn. Maximilian speaks of joining the military, but Smoothhands replies that the military would undersell his abilities. Nikki knocks on the door and Smoothhands welcomes her in and asks Maximilian to be her guide around campus. He informs then there have been disappearances.

Outside the town, a stranger with a wide brimmed hat walks into town and asks the guard the location of the church and an inn. The guard, taking a break from his book, obliges him. The stranger walks into the Hunter's Inn and signs in under the name O'Hara. O'Hara prays at the church and goes to the Black Mountain Tavern next to the Inn. Inside, O'Hara sees a minstrel on a bard rise singing a ballad of a poor thief. After the tale, Grigor O'Cuul, the minstrel, speaks with his old friend (and student of the Academy), Clovers-Luc Hawthorne. They share a bottle of Allurian wine. Soon, O'Hara approaches them asking about information of airship trade. Clovers-Luc knows people who can help. Clovers-Luc decides to blow off the rest of the day's classes.

Back at the Academy, Smoothhands explains to Maximilian and Nikki that four students have gone missing, James-Ferry Fethora, Laudine-Gabrielle Galian, Creedmac Rhode and Weise Bennet. All within the past two weeks. The headmaster has been covering up the disappearances by saying these students have been taking special lessons with him, but the stories won't hold forever. Nikki and Maximilian search the missing student's dormrooms, but find no major clues.

That night, Maximilian stakes out the Academy by sitting on top of Prince Harold Tower. It is a foggy night, but he hears tinkling bells and sees a figure in the mist, but it disappears before he can approach it. He contacts Nikki and they do a bed check and find that Clovers-Luc is missing

Nikki notices some sound from beneath the bed and pulls out the halfling student Baira Elderscroll, holds a half empty bottle of Allurian wine. Nikki asks him what hes doing in here, to which Elderscroll merely tries to lie his way out, but dragging him to the Headmaster's office get him to admit that he was trying to take Hawthorne's wine.

Nikki and Maximilian speak with Smoothhands and the headmaster tells them Elderscroll will be punished and that the continuing disappearances are most disturbing and encourages them to continue their investigations. Nikki goes to the library to look up ghosts and local legends, but does not find many leads.

The next morning, Maximilian is awoken by his teacher, Prof. Nevin, and told to come outside. There, a carriage is pulling up and when it stops, the driver opens the door and two blonde maidens walk out and behind them is the archmage Otiluke. The archmage was met by Smoothhands, Nevin, Maximilian and Prof. Willowtree. A small tour of the newer facilities came. As Smoothhands and Otiluke spoke, Maximilian asked Nevin about the two women who came with him, to which she replied that they were the archmage's assistants and there was a rumor he had a debilitating condition.

Meanwhile, the minstrel Grigor, noticed that Hawthorn wasn't meeting him at the appointed time and heard rumors that he was missing. He teamed with his yesterday drinking partner, O'Hara, and went to the Academy. There they saw Otiluke's carriage and the young monk, Nai-shi, stepping from the back, having hitched a ride while traveling towards the abby to the west. The two ask around about the disappearances and are approached by Nikki and explained the situation. Maximilian soon approaches and also Prof. Willowtree, who offers gil for any who wish to join the investigation.

Nai-shi and Maximilian researched the library for plans of old buildings that were once in the location of the Academy. Nai-shi discovered the existence of an old tomb to Prince Harold, the founder of the Academy, in the same location as the new tower being built in the north-east corner of the grounds. The new construction was investigated but no clues were found. Nikki suggested waiting until night and the group retired to the Black Mountain Taproom.

Evening came and the fog rolled in thick. They hurried to the Academy and heard the sound of tinkling bells. They saw the ghostly apperition carrying the still form of Prof. Annave Nevin and carried her away to the north. The group hurried along and found a glowing staircase in the floor of the construction. The journied down and Nai-Shi saw that this new area is the same as the Old Yorik Academy.

The traveled down the corridors, looking for the headmaster's room. They encountered a small nest of portal drakes, but they were easily taken care of. However, Nikki heard some movement behind them and investigated to find Elderscroll following them, wanting to take part in the post battle looting. Nikki attempted to get him to leave and ended up physically depositing him outside the tomb.

After Nikki returned, the group went on and found in the next corridor, several lifesized hanging marrionettes. When Grigor threw his shivring at them, they animated and attacked. Nai-shi was hit by an acid arrow trap, but the headmaster's office was now accessable.

Nikki looked inside and saw several gargoyles inside. She reluctantly announced her full name and her relationship with the church and went inside. The office was not an office at all, but rather a tomb for Prince Harold. She looked at the plaque and then saw the portrait hanging over it, showing a young Prince Harold. She saw that it looked identical to Nai-shi. Nikki had the monk look at the portrait and Nai-shi denied any knowledge. They found the location of the Grand Lecture Hall and traveled there, through rooms of rotting outsider flesh.

They entered the lit Lecture Hall and saw all the misisng students immobile, listening to the lecture of the ghostly Prince Harold. The group demanded that the ghost let the students go and the spirit grew in malevolence and attacked them. In the battle, Elderscroll appeared once more and assisted in the battle against the spirit. After its angered form was damaged, the ghost calmed down and saw the mistake it made. The Prince apologized, but it was awokened by the construction above his tomb and saw that several students were being truant and so he wished to make sure his legacy remained intact. Maximilian assured him it was and Prince Harold was glad, giving Maximilian a blue tome with Harold's arcane mark on the cover. The ghost then faded away.

The group help the now freed students to their feet, but a sudden shaking of the room interrupted their feelings of victory. An explosion had rocked the ground from up above and the ceiling was close to caving in. This was quickly followed by the students and Nevin falling over in pain. Nikki heard Elderscroll say "I didn't know it would hurt this much." The inquisitor picked him up and slammed him against the wall demanding to know what he has done. Elderscroll admitted he stole and sold the student registry to a woman in black for 50 gil.

Maximilian quickly looked in the book for a teleportation spell and cast it to his great physical harm, allowing all to escape.

The Raid on the Academy

They appeared in the teleportation circle in the Academy above and saw that the school was under attack. One of the walls of the room had fallen and there was a magical fight between the black cloaked invaders and the faculty. Some of the group helped the pain-wracked students out of the building, while other helped fight. Nikki found Otiluke hiding in a room with two invaders, and she dispatched them. Otiluke, cowering, wished only to leave. Nikki asked him about the rest of the faculty, and the archmage admitted that most have held up in the Headmaster's office.

As Otiluke went to leave, an explosion cut through the wall and through the flaming hole stepped through a large fey'ri with black armor. He pointed to Otiluke and told him he was to die. A cloaked woman carrying a leather package walked behind him and admonished him, revealing his name as Fieriel. She told the demon that the others would hand him over, or die. Maximilian had no patience for their demands and attempted to attack them, but was stopped by a magical barrier, one which confused even the demon before him. Maximilian could tell this was no ordinary wall of force, but rather the edge of a large Superior Resilient Sphere.

To the side stood Otiluke's two blonde assistants. One reached to her hand and removed a ring, which revealed the wearer's true form, that of the elderly form of the true Archmage of Evocation; Otiluke! Fieriel turned to face the frail old man and brandished a flaming whip and a sword that crackled with electricity.

The cloaked woman behind the demon took the opportunity to slip away, but Niki saw her escaping and Nai-shi ran after her, catching up with his fleetness. The dark maiden turned to the monk. "You are fast, but are you faster than the day when it runs from the night?" With these enigmatic words, shadowy black ribbons lifted off her skin and settled all around them, forming into wolves made of shadowstuff. The darkwolves attacked, and the group defeated them, but the maiden was already gone beyond sight.

As the group turned back to the fight with the demon, they saw Otiluke well on his way to victory, with the demon being beaten back by an onslaught of destructive spells. However, behind the archmage rose the figure of Elderscroll, dagger in hand. The blade was plunged into the leg of Otiluke, causing his spell to fizzle and allowing the demon to escape. Elderscroll, frightened, ran off northward into the Night Forest.

As the night calmed down Headmaster Smoothhands explained that several things were taken from the Academy. One was taken by the hands of the cloaked woman, who ran off to the west, a book with no name but much significance. It is an Agares Grimoire, a book with much magical knowledge and also the location of the Hidden Library. If fallen into the wrong hands, the Hidden Library could be in danger, and with it, all of magic itself. Smoothhands asks that the group follow the dark maiden and retrieve it, to which they agree. They decided to rest for the night and leave in the morning.

Wonderluck Road


Early the next morning, Maximilian began prepping Nikki's wagon for travel and a small child approached him and asked if he could join. Maximilian tried to shoo the child away, but was soon shocked to discover that the child was, in fact, the Archmage Otiluke. Upon this revelation, he agreed to the company and set out with Nikki, O'Hara, O'Cuul and the monk Nai-shi down Wonderluck Road.

They came to the Taksrubriek River and found the Westbridge had been destroyed. They decide to ford the river, with Nikki taking the reins while Maximilian took flight. Nai-shi jumped towards the western shore and saw several shapes in the tall grass. He alerted his allies before the shadowcultists could attack and they were summarily defeated.

Nikki attempted to interrogate them, but before she was able to do so, a menacing disembodied laugh rang out and all the unconscious cultists rose, as if being pulled up by string, unsheathed daggers and killed themselves. The laugh faded away and the bodies dropped from the air.

Colin's Inn

Near mid afternoon, the wagon arrived at Colin's Inn, a wayside inn along the road, though it was unusually dark for the time of day. They were waived down by an innwench and she asked if they wished for a meal and ale. They accepted and went inside while the girl stabled the wagon.

However, once they went inside, the door slammed shut behind them and a darkness spell dropped. Several shadetouched came out to attack them, as well as the innwench, who was actually a disguised shadow priestess. Maximilian conjured an orb of force that knocked the priestess through the wall and outside. The rest of the creatures were defeated, but not without great injury. O'Cuul investigated the fruit cellar to discover hostages kept by a young acolyte, whom was easily dispatched.

One of the hostages introduced herself as Mandy Valin, the traveling apprentice to a Coranthian alchemist. She used her potions to help heal the party. That night, Maximilian had terrible nightmares about hands reaching towards him.

The next morning, Mandy offered her services and her potions to their mission, which the party accepted. Maximilian brought her up onto his horse, and they traveled on. Maximilian, however, noticed that Mandy's haversack held what appeared to be a human hand.

Four Winds Abby

Later, they arrived within sight of the Four Winds Abby and Nai-shi was shocked to see the bodies of several monks off the side of the road. Nai-shi ran off with astonishing speed toward the monastery with Maximilian and Mandy following on their horse.

When the monk reached the doors of the monastery, he knocked and the door answered as normal by a brother. Maximilian took flight above the abby to see any irregularities, but all seemed normal. The monk brother motioned for Nai-shi to enter and walk around. After some investigation, Nai-shi and Maximilian spoke in the Chamber of Whispers, during which time the rest of the party arrived at the abby. Nai-shi took his companions and headed down the corridor toward the massive iron door that lead into the Inner Sanctum, accompanied by several abby brothers.

Inside, Nai-shi saw Master Hummingbird, but unmoving. Then a dark laugh rang out through the room, the same laugh they heard by the riverside. Then a heavily cloaked figure stepped out of the darkness and introduced himself as the Shadow Puppeteer. Nai-shi stepped forward to attack, but was warned off by the Puppeteer as he directed their attention to the shadow-strands from his hands to the limp, but still living, Master Hummingbird.

The Shadow Puppeteer congratulated them on their skills and tenacity. He offered them lucrative positions within the Shadowcults with more power and influence then they could imagine. They refused, and the abby brothers suddenly attacked them. It was soon seen that the other monks were all being controlled, puppeted by shadow strings. The Shadow Puppeteer was soon defeated and Nai-shi went to help Master Hummingbird.

The gnome master of the abby was dying. Mandy told them she needed her bags to heal him and she ran off. Hummingbird told Nai-shi of his true identity, that of the last living scion of House d'Falaven. There was no other living descendant and he had to make the choice of whether the royal line was to return to Ilefain, or to allow the Stewardship become the new royal Fainish dynasty. Hummingbird also named Nai-shi as the new Master of Four Winds Abby. The master then passed before Mandy could reach him with her poultices and potions.

Afterwards, the Shadow Puppeteer was interrogated and the destination of the cloaked woman was confirmed: Luendig. Nai-shi told O'Cuul to take him out of the abby. When O'Cuul returned, he returned alone.

As the group began to prepare places to sleep for the night, Nikki Floren searched the area for magic items and inadvertently noticed a massive magical aura coming from the leather haversack around Mandy's shoulder. Nikki took Maximilian aside and told him about it. Together, they determined a strong aura of evocation and conjuration magic combined with evil energies.

They approached Mandy and asked her about what she was carrying. She decided to tell them and pulled out a strange and ghastly book, the cover of which was made from animate human hands. Mandy told them the item was called the Book of Hands and was an item of interest to her master. She was taking the book to Luendig so Archmage Highwind could analyze it.

That night, Nai-shi stood watch as the rest of the group rested for a few hours. Nai-shi noticed a shadow flit by and enter the abby. She attempted to follow it and managed to grapple the figure to the ground. Nikki and Maximilian awoke during the struggle. With the light of a sunrod, Nikki recognized the face of the intruder - it was the thief who stole St. Annabelle's Bracelet. The thief begged Nikki for forgiveness and told her that ever since the bracelet had entered his life, he has repented his ways and wishes to be a force of good in the world to make up for his sins.

He could tell a force of great evil was in the abby and came to destroy it. Nikki, knowing this evil was within Mandy's haversack, told him to ignore the evil and that she would take him on as a page, to his great joy.

Upon the next morning, the group was packing up when they noticed Mandy had not appeared. Nikki went to search for her and found her in the room she slept in, reading the Book of Hands. Mandy apologized for her tardiness, but explained the fascinating prospects of the book, previously unopenable before Maximilian came near it. She told Nikki of the explanation of the sin runes and the creation of an artifact called the Black Stone Altar. Nikki was put off by the topic and they both decided to get going.

Countess d'Zalen

  • As they travel on, they come to a procession waving the banners of the noble House d’Zalen.
  • They are greeted by the Countess Angelique d’Zalen who is happy to notice that Otiluke is in the party, but does not reveal her reasons why.
  • When Maximilian gets within fifteen feet of Countess d’Zalen, his skin begins to show black runes on it. These are sin-runes in the exact order they would be found on the altar. She is a fire genasi, a fire-touched and Max’s body is reacting to her presence.
  • Countess d’Zalen wishes to listen to their story and will scry the location of the cloaked woman for them. She is running still, on her way to Luendig and will arrive soon. The divination is cut short and d’Zalen tells them there is someone blocking her. A master of shadow magic.
  • At this time, eight armed intruders dimension door just outside the camp. They are lead by Francois d’Roux. He is not here for his heretical sister, but for Maximilian! He has graduated from the academy and left its grounds, therefore they may now legally apprehend him. He has been declared by the Church as a non-entity and instead has been classified as an unholy major artifact.
  • Otiluke asks how they found the group, when he spoofed their trail from Yorik. To which Francois replies that they didn’t divine the trail of the group, but rather the horse (he holds up horse hair from the stables). Otiluke is apologizes to Maximilian and admits that this is why he doesn’t make decisions. The archmage knew about the Church’s desire for Max and came along to ensure they couldn’t get to him.
  • Countess d’Zalen offers her forces to help defend Max, but she asks in exchange they leave Otiluke with her when they leave. Otiluke leaves the decision to the party. If the countess’s forces join, Francois merely backs away and promises to return. If not, then the countess watches as they fight.
  • Either way, during the face off, Mandy screams from way off to the side and it is revealed that a mysterious woman, not the same as the original, has Mandy captured and she tells them if they want her back, Maximilian must come alone to Hope Island, a small island off the coast of Luendig. d’Zalen offers to teleport them to Luendig.

Luendig


Skirmish on Hope Island

  • On the island, there is an old shi’imtish stepgate. The mysterious woman is Kyrstan Bellenar and the cloaked woman, vastania-darkheart is with her. Their plan is to use the agares grimoire to open the gate to the Hidden Library and kill the witchwyrds, while their souls are absorbed by Maximilian’s runes.
  • If Max reaches half HP at any moment, as a free action, Mandy transforms into her possessed form; Coldheart. In which case she is treated as an Osyluth mechanically.
  • If the fight goes bad, have Francois and the Silver Stars come in.
  • If the portal to the Hidden Library was opened, the witchwyrds request the return of their grimoire.
  • At the end, Francois and his boys show up to restrain Maximilian. However, the timely arrival of a squad of the Shields of Red Waters tell Francois to stand down. Leon Chevalier shows Francois a warrant from the Heirophant that Max needs to be escorted to the House of Grey Veils. Francois doesn’t like it, but he concedes and leaves.
  • Leon, however does not take Max and instead introduces himself as the person who brought him into this world. He says they all can go free, but they should take care. The forged warrant won’t hold for long. Leon then takes his subordinate, Sin, and congratulates him on his job. They leave.
  • Mandy wants to understand the mystery of her strange transformation and the spirit of Coldheart living inside her, she asks to travel with Max.
  • The thief wishes to stay with Nikki as her valet.
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