Galadenna Norui 2818 AE
The Heroes of Barrow are advised by the Shadar-kai that the safest way to bring warriors to the Shadowfell is through Karamus to the south, known as ‘the place to reach death’ to the Shadar-kai, and as the city of Deva in Albion where the Dragonborn Emperor Itamar and his army was slaughtered by the legions of the Demon Lord Harmosiel. The priestess Alia explains that on the next new moon (Cerveth Daeor) the veil between the worlds will be open and anyone can pass freely into the Shadowfell from Albion. The Heroes agree that this is the best way to bring military aid from Albion and journey with Kavita and Alia to Karamus. A ritual of passage is made and the Heroes slip into the night of their own world leaving the Shadowfell to discover that the long grassy fields that mark the site of the battle of Deva are awash with an unearthly fiery light. The Heroes witness a great arch of fire twisting beyond a ridge line to the south east which is snuffed out as suddenly as it appears. Near the blackened site of the arch they find the burnt and ravaged bodies of two paragons of Dinas Caradan; Esme, paladin of the Retreat near Whitehaven, who was once mentor to Estarinel and Iminye, an Eladrin master who the Heroes briefly met in Aesica. The site of the arch is tainted with Abyssal power and Freya discovers that Iminye has clutched to her chest a large gem, the centre of which shifts with the immolated souls of the damned. Grieving for the loss of their friends and masters the Heroes decide to journey hastily to Dinas Caradan to return the bodies of the fallen and to bring the Abyssal gem to a safe place of power.
The Heroes of Barrow are warmly welcomed at Dinas Caradan, but the loss of Esme and Iminye is deeply felt by the community; the masters and students of the Academy, the cityfolk and nobles of Dinas Caradan vent their grief in a public ceremony presided over by Alder, high priest of Avandra and a master of the Academy. The bodies of the two paragons are carried through the streets and laid to rest in the hallowed temple of the gods.
Over the next few days the Heroes take counsel with the remaining masters of Dinas Caradan: Morven, Alder, and Saeros, a half elven sage and student of Cirdan the Archmage, one of the founders of the Academy. The masters tell how Esme, Iniminye, and three other paragon companions had travelled south to investigate sightings of fiery lights, seen by sellswords known to Iminye, in the skies south of Deva. The masters assume that the other three paragons accompanying Esme and Iminye are most likely slain too – a great loss to the Academy.
Saeros discovers that the Abyssal gem is a soul gem, a rare item of power not seen since the days when the gods walked Middle Earth, after the defeat of the primordials, and waged war against one another. Saeros warns that the gem can be used by demons to travel from the Abyss and he fears that it’s fell nature will corrupt all who come into contact with it, even the masters of Dinas Caradan. He suggests that a way be found to destroy it. Saeros advises the Heroes to keep secret the existence of the soul gem but he sends word to the Archmage Cirdan, who has not been seen in the world for over half a century, and asks for his aid. In the meantime the Abyssal gem is placed in a warded and closely guarded room within the tower of Cirdan at the centre of the Academy.
The Heroes, with the exception of Freya, decide to travel to Aesica, Sarum, and Aran Tolneder to raise forces for their war in the Shadowfell whilst planning to return to Dinas Caradan and then travel to seek Cirdan’s counsel within a week. Lieryal Maungnaa feywalks the Heroes to Aesica where the Heroes enter the mire of politics when they find two tribes of Heathmen, dislodged from their traditional hunting grounds by encroaching goblin clans, encamped outside the northern walls of the city. Daithi, leader of the tribes, who is known to Edraic, has been in negotiation with the Dragonborn authorities for some months trying to get permission to enter lands claimed by the Dragonborn, but not actually controlled by them, to the east. Edraic visits his kin outside the walls and learns that the Heathmen whilst wishing to remain friends with the Dragonborn are growing increasingly frustrated at the prolonged talks. The Heathmen are deeply concerned by the growth of Orcish power in the north of Albion and tell Edraic that other Heathmen tribes have also clashed with large Orcish raiding parties and goblin tribes who have fled their tribal lands because they refused to swear fealty to powerful Orc chiefs.
Estarinel, who leads the negotiation for the Heroes, is unsuccessful in winning direct aid for the assault against Re Niassa from the Dragonborn Consul Kohath who he accidently insults by suggesting a solution for Aesica’s ‘internal’ Heathmen problem. Jerusha, the Prefect of the City, however, tactfully promises to pay any sellswords the Heroes are able to recruit and directs them to the Shambles in the south of the city. There the Heroes meet with the sellsword Blecca whose headquarters are located in the notorious lodge and brothel, the Tower. He helps the Heroes recruit the mercenary captain Anwell and about a score of his men. Blecca also informs Orwin that slave traders have been recruiting men in the Shambles for a raid across the walls to take slaves from the Heathmen. Edraic is enraged when he learns of this and the Heroes slip out of the main northern gate of Aesica to inform the Heathmen of this threat. The tribal elders are hastily gathered and after a furious debate they decide to break off negotiations with the Dragonborn and lead their people along the Wall to the east away from the treacherous Dragonborn. Estarinal promises to speak to King Athelstan of Deira, who he believes will give the Heathmen permission to enter the northern most unpopulated parts of his kingdom. The tribes quickly and silently uproot their camp and leaving some tents and campfires, within sight of the walls, move off into the night accompanied by Edraic, who agrees to meet up with his friends within a week. Before the Heathmen leave Orwin is able to speak briefly with the shaman Ardan from whom he learns more about his Goliath kin to the the north and the birthmark symbols that caused them to abandon him as a child. The Heroes return to Aesica with the Heathmen elder, Aithe, and her protector, Bridget, and leave the following morning during the commotion caused by the sudden disappearance of the Heathmen, whom they confirm to Jersuha have departed because of the threat of slave traders.
When the Heroes arrive in Sarum they receive a joyful welcome from the Khuzdul Kings Einar and Hama, and King Athelstan of Deira. The lands around the ancient Khuzdul city have been transformed in the Heroes absence by the warriors and frydsmen which has been put to work plowing new fields and constructing a host of buildings for the Khuzdul families that have begun to arrive from Belegost in the east. The great city within the mountain has been made safe and the folk of King Einar are grateful to return home after a hundred years of life as refugees amongst their Khuzdul kin. The halls and streets of Sarum once again resound to the sounds of a thriving and industrious city.
During the feasts that follow Estarinal and his companions are able to persuade the Kings to aid their efforts to defend the soul beacon of Namurra by taking the undead fortress of Re Niassa. The Khuzdul Kings readily promise one hundred and twenty axes to be led by Mena, friend to Ravik of the Five, who fell fighting with the Heroes in Sarum. King Athelstan of Deira, jealous of the exploits and fame of the Heroes of Barrow, and keen to share in their glory, pledges to bring a host of twelve hundred men to vanquish the undead in the Shadowfell. The Heroes are astonished, but grateful for the King’s generosity. Athelstan also grants the Heathmen free access to his lands in exchange for acknowledgement of his lordship over the northern lands. Aithne and Bridget agree to his terms and bear the good news to their people by the Wall.