Salutations and good tidings, my loyal readers! When last I left you, we had just entered the Armageddon Echo, the shadowy realm retreat of the drow invaders of Celwynvian. It turned out that the Armageddon Echo is just that, an echo of the past city, specifically at a point in time somewhere around a week before Earthfall. The city appeared to be in pristine condition, but the entire landscape was muted in color, likely due to this realm being a part of the Plane of Shadow. A blot was present in the sky, similar to the one that we had seen above Riddleport some weeks back, but much larger and more menacing. This bodes ill for the world, as it seems the drow are indeed on the way to being able to reproduce Earthfall itself!
We had little time to ponder those thoughts, as a group of Blast Shadows began to emerge from the tree line at the entrance to the city, and we soon found ourselves in a battle for our lives. The creatures were not fearsome in combat, but upon their deaths, the creatures exploded into flaming death traps, and even with my demonic resistances, we were all lucky to survive. Once we had, though, we tended our wounds and ventured towards the city, where we began to interact for the first time with the Echo’s inhabitants.
Our first greeter was an elderly elven man, who stood near the gates, staring up at the blot in the sky as if studying it. He also appears to be muted in color, and his voice is almost a bit out of sync with reality. Despite these oddities, Ilamain Silverwind, as we found he was called, was kind enough to answer our questions, revealing the state of the city as being mostly empty, as the population had already fled through the Gate to Iadara, the capital of the Kyonin. They were there preparing to flee to the ancient elven homeland of Sovyrian, and he suggested that we could join them, as the Gate was still open. With the help of the elven librarian in a bottle, as well, this information gave us our first indication that we were in an echo of the past. He asked if we were emissaries, and spoke of two others whom were visiting from their homelands. They were unknown to us, but again reinforced the timeframe of this realm. He was not able to direct us to our missing companions, however, giving us only a vague direction before returning to his study of the heavens, and so we continued to make our way into Celwynvian proper.
As we passed by the Library, a location known to us from present times, Taz mentioned that maybe we could find something of use inside. I thought that maybe a map would be handy, and so we stopped to investigate. I was surprised to find that the librarian on staff was none other than Eloquan, the bottled librarian that I have been carrying around! He was as useful in the Echo as in the real world, and help us to find the before-sought maps, as well as to search the areas of the library in which the drow had been so interested in the real world. Our investigation uncovered their interest in the mutability of the shadow realms, as well as an obsession with the heavens above. Likely this research helped them create the Armageddon Echo, as well as make progress on their Earthfall Doomsday rituals, and we will need to inform the elves of such when we return.
After our stop at the Library, we continued into the city, heading towards what we were told would be the best place to find lodgings for “visitors”, meaning non-elves, the Fluted Goblet. When we arrived, we found the place empty, like much of the city so far. Nevertheless, we availed ourselves of what found remained, and spent the night resting from our battles and gathering a plan to find our people.
We woke the following morning with the plan to search a few portions of the city for signs of the drow, as well as perhaps purchase some scrolls to help locate them, and our first stop was the markets on the southeast side. The market square was devoid of merchants, unfortunately, with a group of doomsayers discussing the pending apocalypse. Note to self – take doomsayers more seriously from now on… Regardless, fortune did smile upon us, as a group of drow had spotted us, and attempted to divert our search efforts in a most permanent fashion. Except for the assassin whom cleverly disguised himself as a muted echo being, and almost ended Zee’s life, the threat was quickly ended, and their leader taken hostage. Using my Charming demeanor, we were able to gain quite a bit of information about the Armageddon Echo, confirming some of our thoughts as well as informing us that Earthfall would indeed occur here in a couple of days. She also let us know that Nolvenis, the realm’s creator, carried a key that controlled access to the realm, and that he was holding our elven allies in the Observatory close by. We thanked her for her cooperation with a quick death, and moved out to rescue Shalelu!
We were able to come up on the Observatory without being spotted, and Chuffy utilized his magical gloves to peer through the walls and locate our missing elves. I used my burglar’s tools to cut an opening in the rear window, and we crept inside quietly. Under the cover of magical silence, we eliminated the guards and our companions were free! Unfortunately, we did not have time for a proper reunion, as Nolvenis was still holding the Shadow Key, and we needed that to be able to escape the Echo.
After stashing Shalelu and Kaerishiel in the shrubbery out back, we took to the sky under a cloak of invisibility to scout the top of the Observatory tower. We discovered that Nolvenis and his guards were indeed present, with Nolvenis himself studying the heavens above. They were all unaware of our presence, and that made it irresistibly easy to attack at once. Nolvenis was down in an instant, and his guards moments later. We gathered his possessions and fled the scene before his reinforcements could arrive, leaving them to wonder at what had occurred. It as masterfully done!
Once we were back at the Fluted Goblet with our companions, Zee finally had the opportunity to examine the Shadow Key. She was able to easily discern its activation and effects, including both exiting the Armageddon Echo and activating the Elfgate to the Darklands. Apparently, activating the gem also resets the Echo and destroys all of the visitors – a happy gift for our drow friends. Healed up, and with Shalelu in tow, we activated the gem and returned to our native plane.
We avoided being shot by our elven allies when we suddenly appeared before the gateway to the Echo, but once they recognized us, they welcome us back with open arms. The army was delighted to learn of the fate of Nolvenis and the end of the drow’s ability to retreat to the shadow realm. We were showered with appreciation, both in the way of fame as well as fortune, and a great feast was held in our honor. The drow threat in Celwynvian was over, and we were to thank. Huzzah!
I made sure to keep checking in on Shalelu as often as I could. It was good to find out that she was not permanently harmed by her time in captivity. She was very grateful that she was not fated to die in that horrible shadow realm, and she made sure to show me just how appreciative she was of our efforts to rescue her.
Of course, celebrations can last only so long, and a couple of days after our return, Evianna requested our presence. Her people were disturbed about what we had uncovered, specifically as to why the drow had such an interest in Earthfall. If they were looking to replicate that cataclysmic event, then the whole world would be in danger. Such a powerful ritual would need to be performed at the heart of the drow’s power, and so someone would need to travel to the Darklands and investigate futher. Evianna asked if we were willing, and we of course agreed. I find the drow fascinating anyway, and would love to get a chance to learn more of them. Plus, I would find the end of the world most disagreeable.
The elves had been hard at work, planning for a way to infiltrate the drow city of Zinakaynin (“Last/true home of the elves”) and discover their secrets, and they believed they had finally perfected a plan to do so. Giseil Voslil, an elven wizard and alchemist, had been studying various techniques in order provide a workable disguise for an infiltration team, and his Recorporeal Incarnation would allow us to appear as drow, using the bodies of our dead enemies as a sort of magical flesh suit. It sounded quite awful, but the effects were such that it would be near impossible to penetrate the disguises. Although I believe my companions might be a bit hesitant to through on a dead drow body suit and enter their city, I find the idea invigorating! We set ourselves to gather the proper provisions, and soon we will use our Shadow Key to enter the Darklands.
Wish us luck, my gentle readers!