Ties that Bind
Ties that Bind (2017)
Sitting, if one could call it that, at an old desk littered with maps and papers, his thoughts raced. "Fools," he said to no one in particular. Turning to the shadows, he spoke, "Do they not know what's coming? I have waited patiently for years, building my strength, building my army, plotting my revenge." A wet slurping sound, as something shifted in the shadows, was the only response. "The time has come..."
It had been quite some time since any major threat had materialized to challenge the might of the elven nations. Ta’Illistim and Ta’Vaalor, two of the five major city-states, were about to be sorely tested by demonic and undead forces reminiscent of the Undead War.
A lone candle casts shadows across the ivory and gold walls that dance and flicker as a slender elven woman pulls the sash of her dressing gown tight and paces to and fro. She pauses to glance at the sleeping form in the bed before looking out a window, her lips hesitant to give word to her thoughts. “Demons,” she whispers into the dark night. She nods as she hears the watch call out that all is secure on the walls. Tiny motes of light sparkle in the windows of the crystal towers as elemancers renew the spells and strengthen the defenses of the city. Reaching towards a gold cord, she gives it a smart tug. Even at this late hour, a small page scampers in rubbing the sleep from his eyes. “Gasen, you may retire, I will not need your services any longer tonight. I would rather see you home safe with your mother.” “Yes Mirror,” the boy replies as he turns toward the door. Pausing, he glances back and says in a quiet voice, “Mirror?” “Yes, Gasen?” “All will be well. We have pushed the demons back each time they have broken through. Your warriors and elemancers are strong and skilled. Please, do not worry so. Mother says you will look as old as Lady Ardtin if you continue on.” “Thank you for your advice Gasen. One Lady Ardtin is enough in the Keep. I will take your words to heart. Now, please go home and sleep. We have much work to do tomorrow.” Myasara smiles warmly as the boy disappears through the door. “If only I could rest,” she thinks. “What do they want? Why do they attack us?” Looking back out the window, she lets her mind wander. Her hands rub a small vaalin chain link. “If we have a son, I would wish him to be like Gasen.” Slowly, she turns and blows out the candle, leaving the room in darkness.
Late one evening, demonic and undead forces assault Ta'Illistim and Ta’Vaalor in great numbers. Neither city is prepared for the onslaught and the invasion forces gain a foothold into both cities via their main gates. In Ta’Illistim, the invasion forces manage to fight their way to the Hanging Gardens before adventurers can gather. They manage to push them back while suffering heavy losses due to the presence of demonic forces that most defenders are ill equipped to deal with. Ta’Vaalor fares no better and King Qalinor is forced to quit the field, retreating to the Guardian Keep. Adventurers are appalled by the Crimson Legion’s disregard for the general populace as they seal off the Guardian Keep to protect their king. The battles rage on into the night, but the defenders manage to drive back the invaders in the end.
The fierce battle is the talk of both cities the next day and it is learned that a lich was seen to be directing the demonic and undead forces. A few adventurers even heard the demons use the name Vindicto used to address the lich. Auvreaian, a dark elven warrior and one of the Ta’Vaalor defenders, calls out the cowardly actions of Qalinor and the Crimson Legion in sealing off the Guardian Keep during the battle and leaving much of the populace to fend for themselves. Qalinor and Auvreaian already have a checkered past and the king has no patience for the termity of Auvreaian. The king has him stripped of possessions and jailed. After a number of brutal beatings, Auvreaian is found guilty of crimes against the crown and cast out of the city.
That night Vindicto assaults Ta’Vaalor again with undead hordes and the invasion forces manage to break into the city. Adventurers attempt to stop Vindicto, but he is nigh unstoppable until a fatal error is made on his part. The lich summons forth a mass of demons, but expends to much of his magical energies in the process, leaving him vulnerable. The defenders seize upon this opportunity and attack the lich with a renewed fury, winning the day just barely and vanquishing Vindicto. The destruction of the lich releases a magical blast wave that is mostly absorbed by the magical defenses of Ta’Vaalor, but a portion is directed through the natural channel of Fearling Pass. The magical blast wave is amplified as it travels through the pass and exits with great fury, travelling across the Lake of Fear to strike the cliffs beneath Ta’Illistim with tremendous force.