Festival of Tunare’s Harvest
The annual festival of Tunare’s Harvest was held at the newly created outpost of Firiona Vie on the continent of Kunark. The year had been a hard one that began with the capture of Tunare’s Chosen, Firiona Vie, by the Iksar Danak Dhorentath. One year before, after Firiona Vie’s capture, Galeth Veredeth over saw the construction of the elven outpost on the shores of Kunark by the command of King Tearis Thex, to find and return the Champion.
Firiona’s companions gathered at the festival and talked of their deeds over the year. Lyirae Oakwynd spoke of her lost brother and the joy she has found in her new friends. Ognit Eznertob and Dabner Drednever matched wits with Al`Kabor in a test of riddles. Afterwards, Ognit spoke of his part in the opening of The Hole while his friend and protector, Dagda Icefury, shared her own memories. Sionachie Heartsinger sang songs for all that were gathered as Sir Jevik Isqual stood solemnly by as the festivities continued, eyeing almost cautiously every motion and movement of all present at the festivities.
Thubr Axebringer challenged all that were gathered to a drinking game, while Dreezil Pocketdip made his own game of collecting rare coins mistakenly left in the pockets of revelers. He didn’t want to bother them about their errors.
Presiding over all was Galeth Veredeth, Firiona’s most faithful protector who felt responsible for her capture and disappearance. He deemed it good to celebrate Tunare’s Harvest, but with the girl he had raised as his own child for several years gone and her conditions unknown, the elder Paladin’s life was without direction, save to investigate clues as to her whereabouts.
A strange voice in the air…
As a soft, cool breeze washed over the shores of the outpost, birds’ songs rose to become a beautiful ballad. An enchanting and almost unearthly soothing voice spoke in the breeze saying, “Galeth Veredeth… the time has come…”
Tunare, the Mother of All, seemed to coalesce from the mist and music, glowing with an inner light as she watched the mortals gather at her feet. Galeth and the others had ran up and bowed low before her. She bid all to rise, and told them that the time had come to rescue her Champion. She had learned that Firiona Vie was being held by the Iksar shaman, Danak Dhorentath, in the ruins of an ancient civilization amidst a verdant jungle. A ward had been placed by Danak’s master, Venril Sathir, that prevented Tunare from doing the deed herself. Tunare told Galeth that he and Firiona’s companions should gather what forces they could and go there as quickly as possible, for when the day ended, so would Firiona’s life.
Galeth apologized for failing to protect Firiona that day and vowed to save her from her dark fate. Tunare forgave him his error, and faded into birdsong and music once again.
The mood of the festival had changed from gaiety to anger at the Iksar who would do this thing. Danak and his followers would feel the true force of Tunare’s anger from the swords and spells of her children. Al`Kabor reasoned from Tunare’s words that Firiona could be found in the Emerald Jungle near the ancient City of Mist. He gave a map to Thubr to plan their assault, and then they were off, grim expressions on their faces but with hope and gladness in their hearts. They braved mosquitoes and goblins as they headed toward Field of Bone through the Swamp of No Hope.
The Iksar capital city of Cabilis was on the horizon as they crossed to the Emerald Jungle. The sinister aura of the place dampened their spirits and more than one brave adventurer lost his nerve and headed back. This only strengthened the resolve of the others.
The Dark Ritual
The ritual spoken of by Tunare had already begun. Vahlai Ka’Izal, a dark elf in league with Danak, had come across a dark ritual that would turn the power of the Lifeguide, the staff Tunare herself had fashioned for her Champion, into a thing fetid of evil. A necromancer sent energy flowing between Firiona and Danak
Vahlai distilled this power into a crystal vial she carried. Danak then drank the potion and channeled the power through the staff, it’s clear gem turned an unearthly shadow of blackened green as he dedicated the power of the staff to The Faceless, Cazic-Thule. Firiona cried out to Tunare to forgive her; but the air turned turgid and stale as the Lifeguide rotted the air around it.
As they entered the jungle, Galeth challenged the dark ones and vowed to stop their ritual, but Danak’s shriek of triumph shattered the tomblike stillness like a hammer through a windowpane.
Galeth swore that Danak would join his master in the plane of fear, and Thubr gathered the ranks and charged through the forest.
The battle will be sung of for ages! All that had given witness and blade to the battle shall speak of it for centuries to come. Each cut of the air, each drop of blood falling to stain the cold jungle floor shall be remembered as if it were not a tale, but of a battle ensuing as they spoke.
Galeth’s sword erupted in fire as he tore into the minions of fear and hate. As Dabner healed them all, Thubr’s axe swung like a machine and Dagda’s sword protected Ognit as his spells picked off enemies. Dreezil’s blade stabbed the evil ones in the back and Al`Kabor’s gaze alone was enough to bring many of the darkened ones down.
They finally won their way through to Firiona’s side. Galeth’s image blurred as the full power of regret and pain gave his sword-arm new strength. Danak was sent reeling until finally his back was against the wall. He surrendered.
The evil ones were taken into custody as Thubr struck the shackles from Firiona’s arms and legs. As Galeth took Danak into custody he lost himself in his rage and it took all the efforts of Firiona’s companions to get him to pause long enough to demand the corrupted staff back from the evil shaman. Danak spit in Galeth’s face and refused. He stated that he would not allow the staff out of his grasp save that it be pried from his stiff, cold fingers. Galeth hissed that wishes like that could be granted, and began beating him once more.
Danak used the power of the staff to defend himself as he shouted to good and evil folk alike to look upon the cowardly actions of a ‘good’ paladin who would cut down a surrendered enemy. Thubr rushed to Galeth’s side, leaving his prisoners unguarded. With her captor’s distracted, Vahlai was able to open her shackles with a spell, then did the same for her assistants Ghargin Bumblok and Rogkasth Vr`I.
Vahlai yelled to Danak that she was free, and the Iksar threw her the staff. She grabbed it in her dark hand and created a portal that her and her two companions fled through to safety, telling Danak to seek her in the place they both know when the time comes.
Firiona hurriedly forgot her own pain as she begged Galeth to put aside his anger. She said that though the staff is gone it could be found once again.
Unnoticed, Danak pulled a talisman from his armor, chanted some words and faded away even as Tunare herself returned to congratulate Firiona on her freedom and Galeth for the great deeds he had done that day.
Firiona’s companions one by one and together gated from the blasted ruins, but there will soon come a day when the Lifeguide will once again make its presence felt in the world. In that day, the companions will again be called to put aside their worldly tasks and once more do Tunare’s will.
Until that day, may the peace and hope of the Mother of All guide your path and ways.