Citadel Radruundar


Dwarven Citadel; Population 15,000

Location: Citadel Radruundar is hidden beneath the Firward Mountains, and borders a small mountain lake, which is fed by an offshoot of Lake Ashane.

Narfell, Rashemen and the Great Dale could all claim the Firwards, but the mountains rise between the least populous regions of all three countries, so the mountains form an uncontested border between them. Even in the days of ancient Narfell, the Firwards were not heavily populated, although some of that foul land's more powerful archsummoners raised demon-built fortresses in their cold isolation. The most famous of these was the fortress of the rulers of Jastaath, one of the petty Nar kingdoms that existed before the rise of the Empire of Narfell. This massive fortress was positioned high atop the western slopes of Mount Nar, the largest peak of the Firwards bordering Narfell. In those days, the magic of Jastaath's great priest-kings kept their capital warm even in the dead of winter. Today the ruins of the once-great city lie lost beneath the never-melting snow.

Domain: Citadel Radruundar is the capital of a new dwarven realm of northeastern Faerun. High King Cael has accepted the fealty of the other dwarven holds of the Firward Mountains, whose populations now total five thousand, and of the Hammergrym Hold, Gulduvarn, itself now inhabited by five thousand dwarves. A standing army of four thousand dwarven regulars defends High King Cael's realm, half stationed in Citadel Radruundar and the other half guarding the realm's other holds. In addition, at need, High King Cael can quickly muster another four thousand dwarven regulars, while in times of dire threat, every able-bodied dwarf in the realm can take up arms.

Allies: High King Cael has signed a treaty with King Mith Barak of Iltkazar, the Mithral Kingdom, the last surviving sub-kingdom of Deep Shanatar (Dwarven Cavern City; Population 9,000). Citadel Radruundar's realm trades with neighboring Rashemen and the Great Dale and is friendly with both the Witches of Rashemen and the Circle of Leth. Citadel Radruundar assists in the defense of the Golden Tree of Chauntea and can call on the aid of the Tree's guardians, which include faithful of Chauntea and the magicians of the nearby Sigil Hearth.

History: The lost dwarven realm of Dareth is known to have been founded in the Icerim Mountains of the Unapproachable East approximately 4,000 of Faerun's summers ago by the dwarf King Orloebar Snowbeard, who united a disparate realm of linked dwarven caverns under his just rule. The founding dwarves of Dareth were gold dwarves, who had migrated north from worked-out delvings in the mountains south and west of Unther and Mulhorand. Known to few however, is that the Dareth dwarves came north at the invitation of a small hidden nation of shield dwarves which had long since established itself in the Icerim Mountains.

In the ancient days of Toril, the dwarven High King Silvervein Moradinson ruled in the mountains and under the earth of far northeastern Faerun, a land that at that time was rich, fertile and prosperous. So that his people were not split by the clan divisiveness that bedeviled other dwarven nations, High King Silvervein adopted all of his people into his own clan, which he renamed the One Clan.

High King Silvervein was best known for the creation of the five Great Tools: the Earthheart Forge, the Anvil of Songs, the Hammer of Shaping, the Brutal Pick and with Moradin's direct assistance and the use of the other four Great Tools, the Fierce Axe, which would become known in time as the Axe of the Dwarvish Lords.

For generations, the descendants of High King Silvervein ruled the One Clan with wisdom and the strength provided by possession of the Great Tools. The Fierce Axe became the symbol of the High King of the One Clan, and its bearer was understood to carry Moradin's favor.

But the One Clan was never numerous, and over time, Silvervein's heirs realized that their nation would inevitably fall. Not to famine or invasion, but to a declining birthrate and the tendency of their young to strike off to more exciting, expanding and vibrant dwarven realms. By the time of Dareth's founding, the One Clan had all but disappeared, its existence forgotten and its holdings reduced to a few hidden strongholds in the Icerim Mountains. Fearing that the Great Tools and their other treasures would fall into non-dwarven hands, the One Clan invited Dareth's gold dwarf founders to travel to the Icerim Mountains from their own exhausted delvings. The Icerim Mountains held few gems, but were rich in metal bearing ores, so the gold dwarves gladly accepted the One Clan's invitation.

Shortly after the gold dwarf migration was complete, High King Orloebar Snowbeard, whose father was a direct descendant of High King Silvervein and whose mother was a gold dwarf princess, unified the One Clan and the gold dwarf newcomers by renouncing his clan membership to found the ruling house of Dareth.

Dareth, "The Ice Kingdom", flourished in its northern caverns. The dwarves tunneled far into the Icerim Mountains and even cut into the depths of the Great Glacier to reach rich ore veins. It was during Dareth's height that the Axe gained its reputation among non-dwarves, as several High Kings of Dareth ventured forth to put down monstrous invasions that threatened their nearby human trading partners.

Then disaster struck. In the north-most reaches of the Icerim Mountains, Dareth's dwarves encountered a realm of white dragons ruling over a host of servitor creatures. A war began, during which the Mountains of Dareth became known as "the Peaks of Cold Death" to Dareth's human trading partners.

It was while facing its greatest threat that Dareth was brought down by treachery from within. The High King's nephew, Brassbeard the Traitor, slew his uncle and seized the Fierce Axe, triggering a civil war even as Dareth's dwarves struggled to hold back the armies of their white dragon enemies.

Brassbeard, who was secretly a disciple of Abbathor, had been corrupted by an even darker god - Diirinka, lord of the pale and twisted derro. Diirinka had told Brassbeard of the Throne of Diinkarazan - the terrible artifact of imprisonment and insanity which bound Diirinka's brother Diinkarazan. Diirinka revealed that the Throne was known to manifest lesser versions of itself on the Material World, and that these Thrones were drawn to acts of dwarven evil and treachery. Under Diirinka's guidance, Brassbeard slew the High King and anointed Dareth's throne with royal blood. He invoked Diinkarazan and called an aspect of the Throne into being. Then Brassbeard completed his treachery by tricking the elder xorn who led Dareth's xorn allies into sitting on the Throne.

The xorn was twisted by Diirinka's magic into a dwarf-hating, soul-binding monster known as the Abomination of Diirinka. The Throne, to which the Abomination's life-force was bound, was cast into a demi-plane of its own creation. Only in that demi-plane, sealed against entry, could the Abomination be killed. Otherwise, it could only be banished back to its demi-plane for a short time through the destruction of its physical form.

Diirinka gave Brassbeard an amulet to control the Abomination, the ultimate weapon with which, in combination with the Fierce Axe, Brassbeard sought to assume the mantle of Dareth's High King.

But Brassbeard was himself betrayed. As Diirinka had known, Brassbeard lacked the will to control the Abomination, which ran amok slaying Dareth's dwarves. Abbathor turned away from Brassbeard in disgust, as did most of his followers. The traitor Brassbeard was slain by the loyal personal guard of his uncle, the murdered High King Beldas Irontooth of Dareth. Fearing the Fierce Axe, the Abomination of Diirinka fled.

But the damage had been done. Dareth's weakened defenses crumbled before the onslaught of the white dragons and their servants. The dwarves of Dareth were driven into their deepest caverns, where they were trapped and besieged.

The siege of the Mountains of Dareth was broken by unexpected reinforcements. When the dwarven Northkingdom of Delzoun began to crumble, dwarves who lived in its easternmost reaches were cut off from Delzoun's stronger western lands. A number of these, mostly shield dwarves, trekked across frozen Anauroch to the Moonsea North, and then across the Bloodstone Lands to reach the Mountains of Dareth. The expatriate Delzoun dwarves lifted the siege of Dareth with a vicious attack on the white dragons and their servants, and then retreated with Dareth's survivors to found a single new hold, named Mount Sundabar in honor of a city in the western Northkingdom. There, Dareth's dwarves chose a new King, Embryn Shattered-shield, who left his clan to take the name of Dareth.

The dragons followed, however, and destroyed Dareth's last holding with powerful magics of unknown origin, shattering Mount Sundabar in the process. But the dragons suffered greatly themselves, and Mount Sundabar's survivors became skulking attackers who harried the dragons until the last of both dwarf and dragon destroyed each other on a mountaintop later named Heroes' Height.

The caverns and mines of Dareth were left abandoned. They were explored and plundered by the many treasure-seekers drawn to Dareth's corpse, but never reopened, as recurring monster infestations made the mines too dangerous to work.

The fate of the Fierce Axe was a mystery known only to Dareth's high priests of Moradin. After the dwarves of Delzoun lifted the siege of the Mountains of Dareth, the high priests of Moradin carried the Axe south. They realized that Mount Sundabar would not stand, and they sought safety for Dareth's greatest relic.

Concealed in the Firward mountain range immediately south of the Icerims was Citadel Radruundar, the site of Silvervein's original workshop. Over the generations, the small hold had become a secret gathering place of Moradin's clergy, and its existence had been forgotten by the dwarves of the One Clan and later those of Dareth. Prior to the white dragons' siege, while Brassbeard's brief civil war had raged, the watchful clergy of Moradin had secreted in Radruundar the Four Great Tools with which Silvervein had crafted the Fierce Axe. After the siege was broken, the priests completed their work by interring the body of High King Irontooth, Fierce Axe in hand, in the Citadel. There they also buried Brassbeard the Traitor, the last of High King Silvervein's noble line, in an unmarked grave. Then the priests of Moradin sealed Citadel Radruundar and departed, lest their presence draw the attention of Dareth's draconic foes to the hidden fortress.

Throughout Dareth's final, lingering destruction, the high priests of Moradin maintained the secret of Citadel Radruundar and its treasures. They were comforted by a prophesy of their god, the Soul-Forger. For their seers had been promised that many centuries after Dareth's fall, a Chosen of Moradin would recover the Fierce Axe, taken from its tomb into goblin hands. He would then slay the Abomination of Diirinka, and restore the lands around Citadel Radruundar to bountiful lands of plenty. By these acts, the Chosen would reveal himself to be the new King of a re-born dwarven realm which would arise from Dareth's long-forgotten ashes.

The last segment of Moradin's prophesy did not become entirely clear until, a few decades after both Dareth and the white dragons' realm were no more, their human neighbors Narfell and Raumathar obliterated each other in a magical conflagration that devastated Narfell.

As had been prophesied, many centuries passed. Legends of the Fierce Axe continued to spread, both on Toril and in other worlds. The loremasters of the dwarves theorized that the stories of the brief appearances of the Fierce Axe were the hand of Moradin at work. The Soul-Forger, in dwarven eyes, was granting the Axe to dwarven heroes in need at times of dwarven crisis, but always thereafter returning the Axe to its hidden tomb. In this way, the legend of the Axe of the Dwarvish Lords grew, but the true story of the Fierce Axe remained in abeyance, waiting for prophecy's fulfillment.

Fulfillment came at the end of 1373 DR.

The Abomination of Diirinka was seen again on the surface world, openly attacking dwarves. It appeared as part of a plot to set two rival shield dwarven clans of the Bloodstone city of Heliogabalus to war against each other.

The Filwhyr and Morklist clans, in control of important dwarven mines around the city, had a history of feuding. In fact, their feud had been on the verge of resolution when it was fanned back into flame by the Abomination's new amulet-wielding master, Tairdo Swiftshadow, a half-duergar shadow archmage of the Nightcavern clan of duergar.

The Nightcaverns, under different clan names, had once ruled a mighty duergar kingdom under the Valley of Bloodstone in Damara. With the assistance of their Abyssal patron, Orcus, to whose worship they had turned en masse, the duergar had evicted a deep gnome kingdom from its ancestral cavern and established their own community in its place. The duergar kingdom's stolen cavern was located beneath the Valley's priceless bloodstone mines, and the duergar seized those mines for themselves. This blow weakened Damara and was one of the factors that led to Damara's fall to the forces of Orcus' servant, the Witch-King of Vaasa.

During the rise of the Kingdom of Bloodstone and its Lords, the adventurers then known as the Macemers reopened the bloodstone mines. They did so by allying with the rebuilt forces of the evicted deep gnomes.

While the Macemers infiltrated the duergar temple to Orcus, slew its priests and destroyed its gate to the Abyss, the deep gnomes' army invaded their ancestral cavern.

Without their priests and without the direct Abyssal aid which had allowed their original victory over the deep gnomes, the duergar kingdom was crushed. The demon-worshipping duergar were hunted and slain without mercy by the victorious deep gnomes.

The few ragged duergar survivors fled from their fallen kingdom. They abandoned their worship of Orcus, who had failed them. Seeking unity and strength in the face of adversity, the survivors also abandoned their original clan names and formed a new clan, the Nightcavern clan. At first, the Nightcaverns sought only to survive. But soon, the whisper of hatred and the craving for revenge settled in their hearts.

Its ambassador was Tairdo Swiftshadow, who sought out the Nightcaverns for his mistress, the evil goddess Shar. With him, Tairdo brought other duergar worshippers of the night goddess. The Nightcaverns turned to Shar as they had once turned to Orcus. In doing so, they attracted many expatriate duergar Shar- worshippers who were unwelcome in their own communities. The Nightcaverns adopted these expatriates, and the half-duergar Tairdo himself, into their clan. Within two decades after their defeat, the Nightcaverns had rebuilt their strength, if not their old numbers, and were under the guidance of a new dark patron.

From their hidden strongholds in the Underdark beneath the Bloodstone Lands, the Nightcaverns began recruiting humanoid, derro and Underdark mercenary forces. The first sign to the surface world of the Nightcavern clan-nation's power came though these proxies. After the Knights of the Sword Coast attacked and DawnBringer disrupted the Undying Queen, the dracolich avatar of Tiamat lairing in Vaasa, the Vaasan Cult of Tiamat hired the Nightcaverns to wreak vengeance on the Bloodstone Lands. Commanded by duergar leaders, raiding forces of humanoids, derro and Underdark giants assailed the Kingdom of Bloodstone in a period of sudden violence from below. The Nightcaverns also led attacks on those who dared to ally with Bloodstone, striking at the borders of their old enemy, the deep gnome kingdom beneath the Valley of Bloodstone, and even so far as the dwarven hold of Gulduvarn.

It was clear that the Nightcaverns were a force to be reckoned with in the Bloodstone Lands. But the extent of their reach became painfully clear at the end of 1373 DR.

The Nightcaverns, through Tairdo and the Abomination, were encouraging the Filwhyr and Morklist conflict in order to distract Heliogabalus. For, unknown to Bloodstone's defenders, a huge army of thirty thousand goblins, supported by units of bugbears, hobgoblins, trolls, ogres, ogre magi and stone giants was massed in the Underdark beneath Heliogabalus. Meanwhile, the Nightcaverns had forged an alliance with the Storm Lord, a cloud giant ruler in Vaasa who had established control over much of Vaasa's surface-dwelling humanoid and giant population. The Nightcaverns intended to unleash their pet army, along with the Abomination, on Heliogabalus just as the Storm Lord attacked the northern gate of the Valley of Bloodstone with his own army.

Bloodstone's forces, if split, would be in danger of losing both battles. If, however, the Lords of Bloodstone chose the tactically superior option of defending the Valley, Heliogabalus' civilian population would be massacred, a blow the Lords would never recover from.

But in Tairdo's arrogance lay his downfall. Tairdo had found the Abomination of Diirinka's control amulet by tracking down Brassbeard's unmarked tomb in Radruundar. Unable to resist insulting dwarven honor, he moved goblin forces into Radruundar and established his personal stronghold there. From the depths of the Citadel, the shadow archmage seized the Fierce Axe, and gave it into the hands of Qamhuul, the female goblin warrior and rogue who (disguised as a male goblin) led Tairdo's goblin forces.

Thus, the Axe was taken from its tomb into goblin hands, and Moradin's prophecy was primed for fulfillment. A dwarven priest of Marthammor Duin named Cael Orbsmasher was the Soul-Forger's instrument. Cael and the Vigil discovered the Nightcavern plan. With the Vigil's assistance Cael recovered the Fierce Axe and temporarily banished the Abomination of Diirinka on the eve of the battle for Heliogabalus. Then, before the Abomination could return, Cael led a surprise pre-emptive assault into the Underdark beneath Heliogabalus.

The Kingdom of Bloodstone's military was massed in the Valley of Bloodstone to repel the Storm Lord's attack. The severely outnumbered defenders of Heliogabalus were the Lords of Bloodstone themselves, with their personal retainers and skilled allies, numerous Vigilar and Vigil members, most of the agents of Spysong, the dwarven inhabitants of the city, a small group of xorn mercenaries, Underdark-savvy elements of the Purple Lions, and a force of gold dwarves recruited from the Deep Realm by Cael Orbsmasher.

The small attacking force was also armed with the Brutal Pick, another of the Great Tools. Cael Orbsmasher had been given the Pick by its guardians. When Dareth's priests of Moradin sealed Radruundar, they left behind some of their own. Ten dwarven warriors and four warrior-priests had remained in the Citadel as mummified undead guardians of the Great Tools. Tairdo had been unable to destroy the dwarven undead or seize control of the temple area they guarded. He had only managed to steal the Fierce Axe. Once Cael recovered the Axe, the dwarven hero was able to bargain with the dwarven mummies. They informed him of the ancient prophesy, and lent him the Pick in anticipation of his being the Chosen referred to in the prophesy.

The ancient dwarves of Dareth were correct. Cael's pre- emptive surprise attack destroyed the Nightcavern's goblinoid and giantish army beneath Heliogabalus the day before the Storm Lord's attack on the Valley of Bloodstone. That next day, the Lords of Bloodstone led their forces in a successful defense of the Vaasan Gate of the Valley of Bloodstone which turned back the Storm Lord's army.

Shortly thereafter, Cael, wielding the Axe, the Pick, and another borrowed Great Tool, the Shaping Hammer, led a Vigilar assault into the home dimension of the Abomination of Diirinka. There, the Abomination and its Throne were permanently obliterated.

Cael then completed the prophesy of Moradin when he used the magic of the Golden Lake of Chauntea to grow the Golden Tree of Chauntea, whose magic would over time restore the natural bounty of ancient, magic-ravaged Narfell. (See The Demon God's Fane adventure summary.)

With the completion of the prophesy, the fourteen mummified guardians of Radruundar left the five Great Tools in Cael Orbsmasher's keeping and passed on to their final rest. Cael found himself blessed by the hand of the Soul-Forger, and began his own transformation into a Chosen of Moradin.

Cael the Chosen did not remain idle. Using the mantle of Chosen and fated Axe-wielder, Cael recruited thousands of gold dwarf immigrants from the Deep Realm, young dwarves eager for fresh challenges and new opportunities unavailable in the over- crowded, staid Deep Realm. As the re-birth of Citadel Radruundar began, many gold and shield dwarves as well as some few aleithian and urdunnir dwarves were drawn to the re-opened dwarven hold from throughout Faerun.

Citadel Radruundar was however, just the beginning. For King Cael Orbsmasher dreamt of an awakening dwarven kingdom of Faerun's northeast to rival the might of the southern Deep Realm. He dreamt and worked towards the crown of a High King, who would rule a realm of united dwarven peoples risen from Dareth's forgotten ashes.

To this end, Citadel Radruundar allied with both the Kingdom of Bloodstone and the Vigil. The Hammergrym Hold of Gulduvarn, also an ally of Bloodstone and the Vigil in its own right, was the first dwarven hold to officially ally with King Cael. Beneath Gulduvarn was a chamber of ancient dwarven portals. The Hammergryms and Cael discovered that two of these portals lead to Radruundar. The first, a portal operable only from the Gulduvarn side, opened in front of the small body of water which acts as a moat before Radruundar's front gates. The other portal, operable from either side, opened into the temple of Moradin within Radruundar. Because of the outer portal Gulduvarn became the "doorway to Radruundar", and an important trade partner. The second portal, which remained secret, allowed either hold to reinforce or retreat into the other in the event of an overwhelming attack.

King Cael also had success with the handful of shield dwarf clans whose delvings lay within the Firwards. The young of these clans were among the first shield dwarves to join in the re-birth of Citadel Radruundar. Since this first contact, King Cael forged mutual defense pacts with his realm's close dwarven neighbors, and awaited only the correct opportunity to annex these delvings into Citadel Radruundar's greater dwarven realm.

After Radruundar opened trade relations with Rashemen, the Witches of Rashemen pointed King Cael to another ally. The Sigil Hearth was a small community of 'graven one' tattoo mages experimenting with, and attempting the rediscovery of, the tattoo magic of ancient Narfell. An alliance with Radruundar was formed after Vigilar agents acting on King Cael's behalf rescued the Hearth from the demonic Umbral Taint. (See The Demon God's Fane adventure summary.) The Sigil Hearth is located directly north of Radruundar, near the shores of the Golden Lake that surrounds the Golden Tree of Chauntea. The leader of the Sigil Hearth at the time, an elderly half-elf named Erepoth, agreed to place the limited resources of the Hearth (at the time, a dozen graven ones with their apprentices and servants, plus the Hearth's ancient place magics) at the disposal of Citadel Radruundar. In return, King Cael promised the Hearth Citadel Radruundar's protection. In fact King Cael's request of the Hearth was that the graven ones swear to assist the faithful of Chauntea in defending the Golden Tree. Radruundar also maintains a small garrison on Golden Tree Island, which lies at the center of Golden Lake. There, the dwarves assist the faithful of Chauntea who have settled on the island to protect and tend the Golden Tree, while also guarding Golden Lake Village, a community of fishermen from which many of the Hearth's members hailed and with which the Hearth traded protection in return for supplies and maintenance of the Hearth's secrecy from the Nar horse-folk.

A historic dwarven realm allied to Citadel Radruundar is Iltkazar, the Mithral Kingdom, the last surviving sub-kingdom of Deep Shanatar. It was revealed that one of Hammergrym Hold's other portals leads into Iltkazar proper when a band of the Unfurling Movement, a radical group, activated the portal, seeking aid for their realm from Citadel Radruundar's famed heroes. In providing said aid, King Cael and his allies discovered that the sleeping King Mith Barak the Clanless, the lord of Iltkazar who had failed to awaken from a seventy-five year sleep to rule for twenty-five years before sleeping again, was actually the great silver wyrm Mithbarakaz, who spent his seventy-five year sleeps planewalking in astral form. King Cael and his allies maintained the king's secret, rescuing Mithbarakaz from imprisonment in the Astral. There, the dragon had been trapped in the githyanki citadel Ruun-Khazai. Karluth, the blackweave warlock master of Ruun-Khazai, had bargained with Ephelomon, red dragon consort of Tiamat, through the gith's lover, the succubus fiend of corruption Le'eska. In return for a psychic storm to shield himself and his citadel from the lich-queen of the githyanki, Karluth provided a place and bait to trap Mithbarakaz. This situation remained unchanged for a century, until the lich-queen's unexpected demise unraveled the bargain and caused the psychic storm to abate, opening the way for King Cael's rescue of Mithbarakaz days later. King Cael and his allies slew Karluth (though Le'eska fled with the warlock's soul) and banished the ghostly great red wyrm guarding Mithbarakaz's prison. What they sought in return was for the silver dragon to return to Iltkazar and repair the damage done by his absence, and then to abdicate, rather than force Iltkazar to stagnate again during another of his sleeps. Mithbarakaz agreed to consider King Cael's request, meanwhile opening trade and an alliance with Citadel Radruundar.

Shortly after the opening of trade with Iltkazar, the Storm Lord of Vaasa moved his own flying citadel into position to threaten Golden Tree Island, after sweeping the massive storm of vengeance his citadel commanded through far northern Damara and Narfell. The Storm Lord's personal guard of cloud giant aerial cavalry, mounted on half white dragon rocs, raided and destroyed as the citadel traveled. King Cael and his fellow citizens of Radruundar Olfeig and the Vigilar Haelwyn and Thurgren, along with their Vigilar ally Quinn, parlayed with the Storm Lord, only to discover threatening the Golden Tree was the evil giant's attempt to seek aid from its defenders.

The Storm Lord's only daughter's soul had been stolen. The giant warned that great and ancient ill would befall should his line end. King Cael agreed to recover the giantess' soul, in return for the Storm Lord's promise to return his citadel peacefully to Vaasa, and to foster his rescued daughter at King Cael's court.

Investigation revealed that Caramina the White Maiden had stolen the giant princess' soul. Caramina and her ally Torexis the Catacomb Dragon, were surviving lieutenants of the fallen necromancer-priest Gar'Udok.

In the years immediately following the magical conflagration which consumed the warring empires of Narfell and Raumathar, Mulhorand and Unther marched armies north to battle the Summoned, and other deadly remnants of the two north-eastern empires' fall. One such remnant was Gar'Udok, a Nar necromancer-priest who sought to rebuild the fallen fiend-summoning empire of Narfell as a realm of necromancer-priests and undead. The battlefields of Narfell's fall were fertile ground for Gar'Udok, who worshipped the ideal of Undeath itself, and paid homage to all its aspects, including a favorite patron of the Nar fiend-summoners, the Demon Prince Orcus. Gar'Udok attracted three mighty lieutenants: Caramina, Torexis and the arcane arch-necromancer Sahinn.

The burgeoning Nar empire of undeath stumbled when Sahinn, who worshipped Orcus above all, attempted a coup and was slain by Gar'Udok (though rumors persisted that Sahinn had become a lich by that time and survived in secret, some stories even implying he fled to Thay and later returned as none other than Zhengyi, the Witch-King of Vaasa). The forces of Mulhorand and Unther then slew Gar'Udok and his followers. Unfortunately, the destruction of Gar'Udok was not as permanent as his enemies would have preferred. A true mummy by the time of his fall at the Old Empires' hands, Gar'Udok could only be permanently slain with the destruction of his three sacred vessels. In addition, Gar'Udok had crafted a mighty enchantment over his sacred vessels, rendering them immune to damage unless all three were present together. As Mulhorand and Unther's armies only captured two of the sacred vessels, they were unable to permanently destroy Gar'Udok. Distracted by their crusade against the Summoned and other dangerous remnants of Narfell and Raumathar's mutual collapse, the Old Empires' armies' commanders judged that with Gar'Udok's imperial ambitions broken and his followers slain, they could safely place their two captured Gar'Udok sacred vessels with local guardians and move on to other threats. The guardian chosen for one of the vessels was an ancestor of the Storm Lord, whose line, despite fortunes that had waxed and waned, had always stood as powerful cloud giant nobility in the northeastern Realms.

Caramina and Torexis, presumably already in possession of the sacred vessel never captured by the Old Empires' armies, desired to trade the Storm Lord his daughter's soul for the sacred vessel his line held in trust against Gar'Udok's return. King Cael and his allies advised the giant to perform the exchange, promising to find the last sacred vessel and to prevent Gar'Udok's return in trade for the Storm Lord's peaceful return to Vaasa. This bargain with King Cael allowed the Storm Lord to preserve the honor of his ancestor's promise to guard the sacred vessel, while still allowing the Storm Lord to trade the item for his daughter's imprisoned soul.

King Cael and his companions then sought the last sacred vessel. Calling upon Vigil contacts in Mulhorand, they tracked it to a set of portals. Long before the rise of the first elf kingdoms of Faerūn, a small but mighty empire of giants ruled all the cold places of Faerūn, from the Sea of Moving Ice in the west to the Great Ice Sea in the east. This nation, known as Jhothūn, may have been a sub-kingdom of the great giantish empire of Ostoria. The giants of Jhothūn ruled in close collaboration with relatives of the djinn known as the qorrash, beings born of ice and snow. Aided by the qorrash, Jhothūn's lords mastered great magic, shaping the weather itself to their liking, and building portals joining the three great provincial cities of their empire to its capital, the city of Jhothūn itself.

These ancient, forgotten portals were the key to finding the sacred vessel of Gar'Udok. But they were not unguarded. Each portal was protected by a guardian drawn to, magically altered by and bound to the portal. The guardian could not die so long as their portal stood, being restored to life each day if slain. On an island in the Sea of Moving Ice, King Cael and his companions fought a gargantuan half-fiend shivhad (w/max HD for its size). In a cavern underneath the High Ice, they fought a half white dragon glacierdrak (w/+1 HD). Bypassing the third portal, Quinn alone entered the ice-buried remnant of the city of Jhothūn itself, where he found a qorrash prince and his court. Faced with all the previous portal guardians, as well as the one they had not faced from the third portal, all summoned to the city by the qorrash to defend the hidden treasures of Jhothūn, Quinn negotiated for Gar'Udok's sacred vessel. The qorrash held Jhothūn in trust for its vanished giants' return. While they had been paid by the Old Empires' commanders to guard Gar'Udok's sacred vessel, they were willing to relinquish it if its presence endangered their guardianship of Jhothūn. Quinn's negotiations were therefore successful, though he was forced to swear oaths to maintain Jhothūn's secrecy before departing.

Once they had obtained the last sacred vessel, King Cael and his companions signaled the Storm Lord to trade his sacred vessel for his daughter's soul, which he did. However, King Cael's companions recognized that it was only a matter of time until Caramina and Torexis turned their attention to Radruundar to force King Cael to turn over the last sacred vessel. Thus, they advised that King Cael take the offensive against Gar'Udok's minions.

Divinations revealed that Gar'Udok's former lieutenants held the sacred vessels of Gar'Udok at the Soul Pillars. Further divination was fruitless. However, research revealed the Soul Pillars to be located in the hidden hold of Karran-Kural. This fortress lay in the Icerim Mountains. Ages before, it had housed a group of spell weavers researching the marriage of evil necromancy and cold magic. The fortress had fallen, mostly buried by rubble. But the spell weavers' greatest successes remained accessible in a small section of ruined Karran-Kural. The Soul Pillars were evil necromantic divinatory artifacts and storehouses of knowledge. Stories claimed that Torexis had found Karran-Kural. According to these legends, the Soul Pillars had taught him many dark and hidden secrets, which Torexis had used to advance Gar'Udok's burgeoning empire and to transform himself into a dracolich. It seemed likely that the Soul Pillars had been responsible for hiding Gar'Udok's last sacred vessel from the Old Empires' divinations, and that Caramina and Torexis likely held their two sacred vessels in Karran-Kural.

The difficulty was finding the hidden ruin. But Radruundar's history was uniquely suited to the quest. Histories of fallen Dareth were linked to Karran-Kural. They spoke of a white dragon ritual caster, one of the smartest of his breed, whose knowledge of secrets and hidden magics had armed the white dragon kingdom which had fought Dareth's dwarves to mutual destruction. This white dragon had survived his brethren's demise by transforming into a dracolich. He was none other than Kryonar, the white dracolich wyrm dwelling on Mount Nar, near Radruundar itself. King Cael and his allies believed that Kryonar had gained his power and knowledge from the Soul Pillars of Karran-Kural.

Quinn transformed himself into a half white dragon with a ring captured from the shivhad portal guardian and parlayed with Kryonar. The dracolich agreed to reveal the location of Karran- Kural in return for the Staff of Winter, a mighty magic item in the possession of the great wyrm white dragon Anoxiel, one of the Ninerazers of the iceberg city of Icerazer in the Great Ice Sea. But Kryonar forbid that Anoxiel be injured in the theft, as she was his blood kin.

King Cael and his companions ambushed an Icerazer coastal raid, slaying several lesser white dragons and their ice devil riders, and capturing Anoxiel. Hesitating to attempt Anoxiel's hoard in Icerazer itself, Quinn convinced Kryonar to accept Anoxiel in trade for the location of Karran-Kural.

King Cael and his companions then used the Brutal Pick to tunnel into Karran-Kural and ambush Caramina and Torexis in the Soul Pillar chamber itself. Gar'Udok's unprepared undead lieutenants were defeated despite the power they gained in the presence of the necromantic Soul Pillars and despite the arrival of a huge winterwight and numerous shadows of the void, the Soul Pillars' own guardians responding to the attack.

Torexis' dracolich body was destroyed, but Caramina escaped with Gar'Udok's sacred vessels. King Cael and his companions tracked her teleportation to a dug-out underground temple infested by undead in the Nar ruin of Val-Murthag. They followed, only to find themselves lured into a quickly formed trap by Caramina, a band of undead Nar priests and a summoned gravewyrm. King Cael and his companions were forced to retreat.

King Cael and his companions recuperated, then returned to Karran-Kural. They destroyed the Soul Pillars and the preserved spell weavers who were projecting the ruin's shadows of the void. They further destroyed a last guardian, a black ice golem, and released numerous souls still imprisoned by the spell weavers' experiments. Then they collapsed the ruined remainder of Karran-Kural with the Brutal Pick.

Deprived of the Soul Pillars' protection, Gar'Udok's sacred vessels were vulnerable to being magically tracked. King Cael forged a mystical shield with the Great Tools which could use the sacred vessel he possessed to find the others.

The trail led back to Val-Murthag and to a one-way portal to a demi-plane therein known as the Blackguard's Tomb. Having no choice, King Cael and his companions entered. In the Tomb, they faced the undead Nar priests, Caramina, Torexis, the summoned gravewyrm, and an aspect of Gar'Udok himself. The sacred vessels had animated the normally magically protected body of the tomb's buried blackguard as a hunefer-like Gar'Udok. He could not leave the blackguard's coffin, but could direct his hunefer magic anywhere within the small, single-room demiplane.

King Cael and his companions were victorious in the ensuing battle, slaying all their foes save the summoned gravewyrm, who they isolated behind walls of force until it vanished whence it came. Once Gar'Udok's hunefer was slain, the Blackguard Tomb's magic reasserted the demi-plane's normal state.

With the destruction of his sacred vessels, Gar'Udok was no more. With him died the threat of a resurgent necromantic Nar empire. Unfortunately, when all was said and done, the Storm Lord refused to foster his daughter in Radruundar.

While Quinn on his own pursued some means of striking back at the Storm Lord for his treachery, King Cael focused his attention not only on attracting individual followers from among the fortune-hunting younger generations of the Deep Realm and the small and scattered shield dwarven communities of northeastern Faerun, but on forging a true kingdom, encompassing multiple dwarven holds. Fearing the existing dwarf-holds of the northeast too few and too unwilling to join in his vision, the King of Radruundar considered founding his own outlying communities. Meanwhile, as the dwarves of Radruundar continued to expand the Citadel and reopen its mines, King Cael and his two Vigilar subjects grew involved in clearing his realm's surrounding Underdark and deep tunnels of monsters, especially the demon-trolls which beset the Underdark beneath the Firward Mountains.

When the Nentyarch of the Circle of Leth of the Great Dale contacted Citadel Radruundar, the ambassador chosen to represent the Citadel was the aleithian dwarf Olfeig. Olfeig joined other ambassadors, namely Laren, a Witch of Rashemen, Ilya, an agent of the Lords of Bloodstone, and the Vigilar Samantha of Hammergrym Hold, from whom the Nentyarch sought aid against the Rotting Man, the Chosen of Talona. The Rotting Man had been dislodged by a divine agent of Lurue from his fortress, the Nentyarch's former capital Dun-Tharos. But the Rotting Man had since rebuilt and expanded his forces. From a now-hidden location or locations, the Rotting Man controlled the majority of the Rawlinswood and was on the verge of launching a full-scale assault against the Circle of Leth.

While the ambassadors met in the Nentyarch's new capital Yeshelmaar, a old wood-elf stronghold in the Forest of Lethyr, the southern Great Dale wood whose majority was controlled by the Circle of Leth, a high druid of the Circle was murdered. Attempts to frame Olfeig failed, and the ambassadors discovered the presence of a rotwood, an epic plant-disease creature. With great difficulty, the rotwood was captured and controlled, and revealed itself to be one of a handful of such creatures spawned and commanded by a colossal legion rotwood, sent by Talona to serve the Rotting Man.

Fearing the consequences of the legion rotwood escaping, or being released by the Rotting Man, to uncontrollably spawn its deadly progeny, the ambassadors enacted a plan to eliminate it and its creations.

The Witch of Rashemen prepared plant-control magics in conjunction with a Circle of her realm's powerful Witches. Using the information provided by their first captive, the ambassadors tracked the legion rotwood, kidnapped and controlled it, and used its control over its surviving spawn, gathering all the rotwoods together and slaying them at once.

The ambassadors next faced a missing one of their number, for the ambassador from Impiltur had never arrived. The ambassadors tracked him first to an ambush by the Rotting Man's forces, and then into an undead-infested hill region in the northeastern Rawlinswood which had recently become known as the Wormlands. After slaying four blighted century worms, a vast necronaut and a corpse gatherer, the ambassadors recovered the body of the triadic knight Haelimbrar, one of the Lords of Imphras II, whose soul the gatherer had bound.

After resurrection by the Nentyarch, Haelimbrar believed his death to be linked with the hidden identity of the young, and as yet uncrowned, king of Impiltur. Fearing to trust any in Impiltur, from whence his betrayal to death he was sure had come, Haelimbrar recruited the ambassadors, except for the temporarily absent Witch of Rashemen, to reach the hidden boy-king, disguised as a simple Knight of Imphras II, and his traveling companions. Arriving to find demonic assassins shadowing the boy-king's party, the ambassadors drove off the demons. Pressed by Haelimbrar, the Lords of Bloodstone's ambassador and the boy-king agreed for the disguised monarch and his companions to be offered, and to accept, sanctuary in the Kingdom of Bloodstone.

The ambassadors then struck out against those who had slain Haelimbrar. In addition to a female blightlord that they could not track, the ambassadors identified that Haelimbrar was ambushed by four blighted thorciasids led by a vermin lord. The ambassadors then magically located, ambushed and captured these insectoid servants of the Rotting Man. The Nentyarch put the thorciasids to death, but spared the vermin lord, instead transforming it into a greenbound vermin lord, and therefore a plant the Nentyarch could magically control. Despite Samantha's objections, the Nentyarch bound the vermin lord into his service and learned several matters of import.

The vermin lord was also a vermin master, having maximum advancement in said epic profession unique to his kind. He was the mightiest of his vermin lord kind in the Underdark of the Unapproachable East, and the Rotting Man was hoping for the vermin master to recruit other vermin lords into his employ. Already, guided by the Nightcavern duergar, the same group which had originally introduced the vermin master to the Rotting Man, the vermin master was making overtures to recruit other vermin lords. In this he was aided by the impressive presence of his thorciasid servants, bought by him as eggs in the planar city of Union. In addition, the vermin master was aware of an epic devastation beetle sleeping in the Rawlinswood, that the Rotting Man was attempting to blight. The vermin master was to command the beetle to serve as the core of the Rotting Man's army of vermin lords and their chattel.

The capture and conversion of the vermin master had shattered this plan. Without the vermin master and his thorciasids, the Rotting Man had little chance of recruiting enough of the notoriously independent vermin lords to command a vermin army. And even with another vermin lord, the Rotting Man dared not awaken the sleeping devastation beetle, as the Nentyarch's vermin master was the strongest of his kind in the region, and likely to seize control of the beetle from a weaker vermin lord.

But most importantly, the ambassadors and the Nentyarch learned of N'vesh-n'kar, an ancient and mighty ulgurstasta master sorcerer and necromancer from Oerth. It was this being who could infect creatures other than plants and animals with blight, and was thus responsible for the blighted thorciasids and century worms. This being was also responsible for the so-far unsuccessful attempts to blight the devastation beetle, and for the undead infesting the Wormlands. Finally, the ulgurstasta was providing the Rotting Man with potions that delayed the undead transformation of those creatures struck with blight, making the disease seem less deadly and more desirable. The vermin master had been en route from N'vesh-n'kar's hidden stronghold in the Wormlands to the nearby sleeping-place of the beetle when the ambassadors had struck.

As the Nentyarch massed his forces, the ambassadors traveled through the Ethereal Plane and attacked N'vesh-n'kar in his lair. At the cost of all of their lives but Olfeig's, who was sorely wounded and temporarily infested with Kyuss worms, the ambassadors slew three nightcrawlers, six gargantuan earthcancer centipedes, two huge mindkiller scorpions, two overworms, an undead female derro warlock, her aerial avenger blighted wyvern mount, and a human lich called through a gate by a colossal blighted wormdrake. About to die at the wormdrake's claws, Olfeig was rescued by Hyalgar's sudden arrival and defeat of the drake. Drained by the battle, the unwounded N'vesh-n'kar collected his unconscious drake and fled, leaving six avolakia priests and an unconscious avolakia sorcerer behind for Hyalgar and Olfeig to slaughter.

Hyalgar and Olfeig looted a vast treasure hoard N'vesh-n'kar had gathered. Meanwhile, the Circle of Leth attacked the Wormlands and cleansed them of N'vesh-n'kar's servitors and creations. The Circle collapsed the caverns and tunnels of N'vesh-n'kar's stronghold, slew the Kyuss worm swarms that infested it, and obliterated the worm-cyst beneath N'vesh-n'kar's ziggurat throne, whose green effluvium had fueled the ulgurstasta’s blight-influencing magics.

The three slain ambassadors were restored to life by their respective organizations. They returned to a changed Great Dale. The Rotting Man had lost his rotwoods, his vermin auxiliary forces and the worm-creatures, undead and blighted monsters gathered in the Wormlands. N'vesh-n'kar had vanished, and with him had vanished the ability to infect creatures other than plants and animals with blight, and the ability to delay the undead transformation of blight.

The Rotting Man was reduced back to his own core forces, and the balance of power in the Great Dale had shifted away from evil.

Shortly thereafter, the ambassadors, again excepting the Witch of Rashemen, but joined by Marsziel, a trumpet archon in the service of Tyr, were contacted by Haelimbrar. He sought their assistance in Impiltur's capital, Lyrabar. For his involvement in as-yet uncrowned King Imbrar II's flight to Bloodstone, as well as for other, undisclosed alleged crimes, Haelimbrar stood accused of treason. His fellow Lord, the puritanical Helimbraun, was successfully turning the Council of Lords against Haelimbrar. After meetings with several Lords, the ambassadors saw that they could not sway the Council in Haelimbrar's favor. However, the elder Lord Rilimbraun offered them a solution. He informed the ambassadors of a former adventurer and minor noble who had retired to an estate in the quiet county of Agmoth near the Earthfast Mountains. According to Rilimbraun, Queen-Regent Sambryl had once promised Lord Samulbrar a boon in reward for great deeds in defense of the realm. He had never claimed it. If Samulbrar could be convinced to ask as his boon a full pardon for Haelimbrar, politics would allow Queen-Regent Sambryl to intervene and end Helimbraun's witchhunt.

Lord Samulbrar Chaseris' estate lay in the small town of Moranay. Upon their arrival, the ambassadors found all was not well. The seemingly immortal Samulbrar, called by some the Man Forever, stood accused in the town of vampirism and extreme oppression of his subjects. The ambassadors' investigations, however, led to an illusion-hidden ruin where Samulbrar's enemies lurked, using planted bodies, mysterious attacks, forged documents, domination, charms and magically modified memories to turn Samulbrar's populace against him.

These enemies were a covey of hags: an annis hag barbarian frenzied berserker, a green hag bard shadow adept, and their leader, a shrieking hag nightcloak shadow adept priestess of Shar. These hags and their followers, which included three hagspawn barbarian frenzied berserker captains leading a dozen hagspawn barbarian frenzied berserker soldiers, and two ettin werebats, had arranged Samulbrar's troubles. They sought revenge for the destruction of a Shar-worshipping circle of durthans by Samulbrar's adventuring party years before. Subtly, they had eliminated Samulbrar's companions, and had now arranged to destroy Samulbrar in the most painful way possible, at the hands of his own people. They had also captured Samulbrar's ward, Danik Grycos, a young man Samulbrar had raised and trained after rescuing him from the durthans as an orphan boy, in order to steal even the victory of Danik's survival away from Samulbrar, and because Danik's recent investigations had grown close to revealing the hags' machinations.

But the ambassadors found the hags before they were ready. The hags were forced to flee to the town, assemble their torch-wielding mobs of townsfolk quickly, and attack Samulbrar's estate. To ensure his downfall, the annis allowed herself to be possessed by a Death spirit, and appeared to Samulbrar to reveal his doom. Samulbrar, strained to the breaking point by the situation and by the paranoia he had been living with, came close to suicide. But the ambassadors intervened. They prevented Samulbrar's death, slew all the hags and their henchmen save only for the shrieking hag, who escaped, and lured the magically influenced mobs of townsfolk into the wilds until the nightcloak's spell faded and it was safe to allow their return to Moranay. The ambassadors failed only to save Samulbrar's estate, which burned to the ground, and Danik, who was carried away by the nightcloak shrieking hag.

Afterwards, Samulbrar revealed to the ambassadors that his long life stemmed from the Arywen Cube, granted to him by the spirit-guardian of a grove of silver trees in the Gray Forest. The trees had once been elves, but long ago become one with their forest. So long as the grove endured, Samulbrar would remain young and strong. It was to the Gray Forest that Samulbrar resolved to retreat for a time, lest Shar's thirst for vengeance further endanger his people. But before his departure, Samulbrar agreed to rescue Haelimbrar, on two conditions. The first was that Haelimbrar use his resources as a Lord of Imphras II to undo the hags' deeds upon the people of Moranay. The second was that the ambassadors swear to use their obviously significant power to rescue Danik. Without a choice, the ambassadors, and later Haelimbrar, agreed.

After Samulbrar's retreat into the Gray Forest, the ambassadors, urged on by the young Imbrar II, Haelimbrar, and his fellow battle-hardened Lord of Imphras II, Simgar, turned to Imbrar's overdue coronation. Fearing for Imbrar's life, the ambassadors, joined by Hyalgar and still including the trumpet archon, enacted a double-bluff wherein they convinced their allies in Impiltur and Bloodstone, and any spies observing said allies, that they meant to hold a secret coronation after spiriting the Crown of Narfell and the officiating priest from the public coronation, at which one of the ambassadors would be disguised as Imbrar. In fact, the ambassadors secretly brought the real Imbrar to the public coronation, and revealed him at the last minute. Imbrar was thus publicly crowned, and any trap set by Impiltur's enemies around the secret coronation was never triggered.

The ambassadors remained in Impiltur to guard the newly crowned king. They continued to suspect that an unknown evil or evils were responsible for Impiltur's recent history of royal disaster, and wished to prevent that history from repeating itself. However, they were soon visited by the Lord of Bloodstone Luven Lightfinger, Bloodstone's Royal Spymaster. Traveling incognito as a messenger, Luven revealed that the Kingdom of Bloodstone was under attack. An army of giants and humanoids was marching from Vaasa under the command of the Storm Lord. Hidden by a mighty storm, the cloud giant king's horde had neared the Vaasan Gate of Bloodstone Valley before being detected. Even as the realm mustered to defend the Gate, it was pressed by further invaders. Underdark mercenaries and the Nightcavern duergar threatened Bloodstone's deep gnomish allies under Bloodstone Valley, while simultaneously Bloodstone's eastern border was breached by the forces of the Rotting Man.

The ambassadors immediately sought aid wherever it could be found. The new king of Impiltur's political position was still too precarious to render aid in time, but Haelimbrar promised to ride north with as many knights and adventurers as he could gather, in unofficial support of Bloodstone.

When beseeching the Nentyarch of the Circle of Leth the ambassadors found the Great Dale under attack as well. Underdark mercenaries were attacking the Dale from below while Nar raiders had scattered throughout the Dale after having been granted safe passage through the Rotting Man's Rawlinswood territories. The Circle of Leth was struggling to contain the sheer number of invaders ravaging the Great Dale. However, the Nentyarch acknowledged his debt to the ambassadors for their past assistance, and that their weakening of the Rotting Man had not only saved the Circle of Leth, but may have driven the Rotting Man into alliance with the Storm Lord, and thus threatened Bloodstone. The Nentyarch thus promised to find a way to provide aid against the Rotting Man. Further taking advice from Bloodstone's ambassador, the Nentyarch also promised to beseech the Witches of Rashemen for assistance due to their prior involvement.

Citadel Radruundar and Gulduvarn were also under attack. A mighty host of mur-zhagul, or demon trolls, was attacking Radruundar from below, while both holds were further threatened by advancing Underdark mercenary armies, and perhaps Nightcavern forces. Citadel Radruundar evacuated the other nearby dwarven holds in the Firward Mountains into its own halls, lest they be individually overrun, and provided troops to reinforce Gulduvarn. It was itself reinforced by money and equipment provided by king Mith Barak of Iltkazar. Unfortunately, the Citadel was in a weakened position and could provide no aid to Bloodstone, as its leaders, King Cael, Haelwyn, Thurgren, and their Vigilar ally Quinn were unreachable on a quest to rescue Lord Samulbrar Chaseris' ward Danik, after divinations had revealed his sale to the Nightcavern duergar by his Shar-worshipping hag captors.

The ambassadors thus engaged in a desperate plan. They would attempt to steal into the Storm Lord's cloud fortress and assassinate him during his army's attack on the Vaasan Gate, hoping that its defenders, led by the Lords of Bloodstone as the Twilight Riders, could hold out until his death critically wounded his invading force. They were warned only not to kill both the Storm Lord and his daughter, for an ancient prophesy hinted at danger from the "Three Burnings" should the Storm Lord's line end. Meanwhile, the four Masters of Spysong and the Gulduvarn ambassador Samantha would attempt to assassinate the Rotting Man in the east.

The ambassadors struck out into the storm as the miles-wide and miles-high thunderhead enveloped the Vaasan Gate and cloud giant castles and airborne giant knights floated forth to pound its defenders from above in support of the vast host below. Successfully evading detection with judicious use of wind walking and time-hopping, among other magics, the ambassadors avoided the gatehouse and stole past the castle that King Cael and his companions had previously visited. Tangling briefly with the storm's native thunder worms, the ambassadors came upon the aerie atop the thundercloud wherein Haelwyn had examined the Storm Lord's daughter's personal chamber. The ambassadors did not enter, for they were diverted by sight of the highest point of the thunderhead, a mighty sealed tower sheathed in mithral.

Breaking into the tower, the ambassadors found a huge prismatic sphere, which they penetrated to find a binding diagram crafted onto a floating slab of stone. At this point, a companion of the ambassadors who had accompanied them, the saint Ruel of Mount Celestia began to glow with holy light. To everyone's surprise, his light consumed both himself and the binding magic as a holy voice spoke of an ancient pact and the freeing - and banishing - of the Burning Wind, the abomination child of Akadi, Queen of Air.

Without the Burning Wind's imprisoned power, the thunderhead dissolved and the physical pieces of the Storm Lord's cloud fortress fell to shatter on the ground below. The light of day, entirely blocked by the storm, was restored. Shocked by the destruction of the Storm Lord's invincible cloud fortress, his army routed.

Meanwhile, in the east, the four Masters of Spysong and Samantha faced the Rotting Man and were entirely out of their league. However, after they lured out a confident Rotting Man to destroy them, they were suddenly joined by unexpected allies. The Nentyarch himself, accompanied by his chief nentyar hunter and by the Witch of Rashemen Laren, came to their aid. The Rotting Man was slain at last.

The Twilight Riders, followed by their army, quickly charged east to crush the Rotting Man's followers and creatures before they could scatter to spread their infection. The ambassadors hurried to Citadel Radruundar and Gulduvarn to turn back the forces moving against both dwarven holds.

Unfortunately, the threat from Vaasa was much more significant than it had first appeared. As the Storm Lord's forces routed, their aerial troops and cloud giant cloud castles withdrew unimpeded, but the earthbound army met another force which had moved up behind it. Legions of hobgoblins had poured forth from the mountains, supported by a vast host of undead. At their head were the Skull Lords of Orcus: General Timoshenko, Archmage Knellict, and High Priest Banak, all in service to Orcus' new Skull King, the returned Grandfather of Assassins. Orcus' host swiftly rallied and absorbed the Storm Lord's defeated earthbound army. It then fell upon and breached the Vaasan Gate and marched into Bloodstone Valley, laying siege to the city of Bloodstone Gate, and thus threatening its most valued resident, the White Tree.

Meanwhile, throughout Impiltur and the Great Dale, demoncysts began to open.

As Bloodstone Valley was invaded, the ambassadors were facing the Underdark threats marshaled by the Nightcavern duergar. A vision sent by Moradin to his Radruundar high priest revealed that one of the portals of Gulduvarn's portal chamber led to the Bloodstone Mines, with easy access to both the dwarven stronghold of Clan Orothiar and the deep gnome kingdom of Deepearth. Using the Gulduvarn portal chamber as their way-port, the dwarves of Radruundar, Gulduvarn and Orothiar and their svirfneblim allies united their defensive efforts, quickly shifting and reinforcing their forces among their various strongholds to meet and repel the assaults of the Nightcavern duergar and their mercenaries. Deprived of their alliance with the Storm Lord and the Rotting Man, and faced with an united defense, the Nightcavern duergar faded back into the shadows.

After their hard-fought victory in the Underdark, the ambassadors learned that Bloodstone Gate was besieged by an army of thirty thousand humanoids, giants and undead. Five thousand more held the Vaasan Gate, and another five thousand bottled up Bloodstone's forces, which held the Damaran Gate. Queen Christine and the Lords Borin Hammerfist and Luven Lightfinger were trapped in Bloodstone Gate with only five thousand troops. A mighty teleportation ward prevented teleportation into a six-mile region around the besieged city.

First, the ambassadors turned to Radruundar for aid. The Brutal Pick dug a tunnel from the Bloodstone Mines into Bloodstone Gate, through which supplies and one thousand elite dwarven and svirfneblim soldiers reinforced the city. Meanwhile, the Lords of Bloodstone hurriedly assembled ten thousand troops at the Damaran Gate.

The Vigilar then approached the Lords of Bloodstone with unexpected aid. In return for three million gold and the promise of three favors from the Twilight Riders for Eldreth, the Vigilar of Eldreth sold to Bloodstone an artifact-purchased army of four thousand ferrumach rilmani cavalry mounted on kuldurath.

Leaving two thousand troops to hold the Damaran Gate, the Lords teleported eight thousand into Bloodstone Valley. There they joined with units of halflings from the Waukeshire and centaurs of the Warrenwood, both of whom had been sheltering in the halflings' underground defensive fortification known as the Warren, as well as with the rilmani, who appeared only when the Lords' army had moved north of Bloodstone Gate and thus cut off the invaders' retreat into Vaasa.

The Lords' combined army moved towards Bloodstone Gate from the north, pinning the besieging force against the walls of the city behind them and against Lake Midai and its tributaries on their either side. As battle was joined, Bloodstone Gate's defenders sortied forth to strike the invaders' rear.

While the Lords of Bloodstone and the Masters of Spysong led Bloodstone's army against the invaders, the ambassadors, including the Vigilar Hyalgar and Samantha, Ilya of Bloodstone, and the dwarf Olfeig, joined by a returned King Cael and one Lady of Bloodstone, Duchess Elizabeth the Bold, chose to guard the White Tree. In anticipation of the unexpected, Elizabeth temporarily grafted a branch of Chauntea's Golden Tree to the White Tree with wish magic. In return for a mutual defense pact for their respective trees with Bloodstone, the Chaunteans of the Golden Tree had promised to lend their tree's power to the White Tree's aid, using the wish-forged link.

At the height of the battle, the Grandfather of Assassins stole into the White Tree's courtyard. Activating demonic sigils previously hidden there, he touched the Tree with an Aspect of the Wand of Orcus, breaching all the Tree's defenses. The Grandfather then vanished, but left behind an Aspect of Orcus holding the Grandfather's Aspect of the Wand against the Tree and its own in its other hand. The Aspect had been summoned with a guard of seven large elite winterwights of maximum strength and four large elite shadows of the void of maximum strength. Well-equipped and prepared with spells, the invaders ravaged the Tree's defenders while a red stain spread from the Wand into the Tree.

However, before the stain could spread far, the Aspect of Orcus was slain by Hyalgar. The Wand was unattended, and its power weakened. The Chaunteans seized their opportunity and flooded the cleansing power of the Golden Tree into the courtyard, banishing the Aspect of the Wand attacking the White Tree, as well as the winterwights, the shadows of the void, and their magic, all back to the Abyss. King Cael then smote the Aspect of the Wand left in the dead Aspect of Orcus' hand with the Fierce Axe, destroying it.

Bloodstone's victory was total. While the Skull King and his Skull Lords escaped, their army of thirty thousand was slaughtered, as were the five thousand invading troops left caught between the city and the Damaran Gate. Only the five thousand hobgoblin troops holding the Vaasan Gate were able to retreat back into Vaasa.

Examination later revealed that the forces of Orcus had modified the courtyard's hidden demonic sigils on-the-fly, hoping to preserve the Tree's warding against demons not sworn to Orcus, while otherwise using the Tree as a channel to call and anchor demons from Orcus' realm. The followers of Orcus had not attempted the sigils' original purpose, the sudden and total destruction of the Tree. The ambassadors surmised that Orcus' overall plan for the region's conquest had been hijacked, and that the threat to Impiltur also threatened the forces of Orcus.

Unfortunately, matters in Impiltur were dire. Originally, armies of hobgoblins bearing Orcus' standard had been spotted marching from the Giantspire Mountains towards eastern Damara. The hobgoblins' invasion would have split Bloodstone's forces and prevented the resounding victory at Bloodstone Gate. But the hobgoblins had never crossed Damara's frontier. Instead, they suddenly abandoned Orcus' standard and turned, invading Impiltur instead.

Impiltur mustered under its new king to face its old enemies. But when battle was joined, the forty thousand hobgoblins, now marching under the standards of the demon lord Eltab and the inverted banner of Impiltur's vanished King Imbrar I, were reinforced by the demon hordes menacing the Great Dale, who teleported onto the field en masse. Impiltur's army was crushed. The hobgoblin horde then withdrew back into the safety of the mountains.

The demons returned to the Great Dale, where since the opening of the demoncysts, they had been herding the population of the Dale before their advance toward the coastal city of Uthmere, in preparation for a vast slaughter.

The Vigilar resurrected Haelimbrar, who had died in Impiltur's defeat, overwhelming dark magic which had prevented his restoration in a prior attempt by his compatriots. Through Haelimbrar they contacted Marsziel. The archon had stayed behind to protect young King Imbrar II when the other ambassadors had rushed to Bloodstone's defense. Marsziel revealed a daring plan hatched by the young king and himself. Realizing that Impiltur's foes had hidden in the shadows for far too long, Marsziel had called a celestial being and hidden its essence in the young king. Should Impiltur's army be defeated, and the king taken, the celestial could observe and discover their true enemies, escaping with that information and the young king's soul.

As they expected, there was treachery at the highest level. Both demons and hobgoblins knew Impiltur's battle plans. In the defeat, Marsziel allowed King Imbrar II to be captured.

Knowing that they faced Eltab, Lord of the Hidden Layer, and his demons, who as "natives" of Faerun through their demoncysts, would not be directly balanced by the Upper Planes, the ambassadors sought the secret of his defeat.

They met in secret with their old compatriot Laren, Witch of Rashemen, on a Tear of Selūne orbiting Toril. Laren revealed the hidden history of Eltab, and tasked them to find Hadryllis, the blade designed by the Witches to defeat Eltab and to sever the Adamantine Binding circle linking his Hidden Layer to Toril.

Hyalgar sought Hadryllis in a vision, seeing it forgotten in a Mulhorandi armory. Samantha, with Olfeig's assistance and significant magic, focused her highly skilled direction senses. Triangulating with teleportation, expensive maps and Hyalgar's vision image, they identified the armory they sought to be in the Blood Fortress of Sultim. Knowing that obtaining the sword openly might alert Eltab and would involve purchasing it from the Mulhorandi, who had only been lent the blade, but had never returned it, the ambassadors turned to the Lords of Bloodstone. Two Lords, Luven and Elina, stole the blade.

The Lords also arrived in Uthmere with another item stolen by the two rogues, the weirdstone Orcus' forces had used to prevent teleportation into Bloodstone Gate, taken by Luven and Elina in the midst of Orcus' defeat. The six-mile ward forced Eltab's demons to approach and attack the city in a mundane fashion, and allowed for warning of said assault. The Lords of Bloodstone themselves came to Uthmere's defense, excepting only Duchess Elizabeth, and brought with them their four thousand rilmani cavalry, whose losses from the battle of Bloodstone Gate the rilmani had replaced up to their agreed-upon four thousand. Seeing this significant aid making victory possible, other allies of the city became willing to assist.

At last, Quinn, Haelwyn and Thurgren returned as well from the time-zone they and King Cael had been lured into by the Nightcavern to rescue Danik's ward, which they had done. With their aid, the ambassadors puzzled out that the probable location of the primary demoncyst, the Hall of the Hidden Throne, and thus the location of the Adamantine Binding, was under Impiltur's Citadel of Conjurers.

Bujak visited the Queen of Mordulkin and begged used of the Colossus of Torm. The Queen agreed, for though she warned the price to her city would be high, she could not refuse the Colossus its proper purpose. The Vigilar then assembled a force including Haelwyn, Thurgren, Hyalgar, Samantha, Roland, Olfeig, Marsziel and Sebastion, plus Kral, Ataiya and the Zalani and Koffu soldiers loyal to them, to join Bujak and the Colossus in attacking the Citadel of Conjurers. They timed their assault to be simultaneous with the demon army's attack on Uthmere.

This was a distraction meant to draw out Eltab and his demons. For King Cael, Quinn, Duchess Elizabeth and Ilya used the Brutal Pick to dig beneath the Citadel, avoiding its dungeons using a sketch of the tunnels provided by Marsziel, who stated he had walked the dungeons of the Citadel in another life. Marsziel himself followed the diggers and joined them moments after they engaged in battle.

The diggers broke into the Hall of the Hidden Throne as the demons attacked Uthmere and as the Colossus and its force attacked the Citadel. The distraction succeeded, and the diggers faced only the Hall's wards and the defenders built into those wards, including a colossal armageddon beast, two colossal goristro and a gargantuan klurichir. The diggers slew the Hall's demonic defenders, first using the klurichir to unintentionally summon two tulani eladrin.

The diggers found King Imbrar II chained in the Hall and released him. The celestial entity possessing him directed them immediately outside the Hall. Before opening its doors, Quinn foolishly used Eltab's name, and the king warned them that the demon lord would be upon them momentarily. He demanded Hadryliss, and received it without discussion.

Outside the Hall, a huge dreadnaught paigoel stood within a prismatic sphere and atop a heavily warded adamantine plate hiding the Adamantine Binding. It parried initial attacks, but fell before Quinn and Elizabeth. The heroes then clove the adamantine plate just in time for Eltab himself to appear.

Imbrar II then shone with holy light as the celestial he played host to manifested fully, also activating contingent magics upon itself to prepare for battle. Imbrar proclaimed, "Behold foul demon, for I am Sarshel, wielder of Hadryliss, einherjar of Tyr, paladin-general of the Triad Crusade and King of Impiltur, and I come to smite thee in the Triad's holy name! Fly from this place my allies, for only death remains, and I to deliver it. Restore the young king when the rocks fall, and beware the Queen of Whispers."

The heroes fled through the tunnel they had dug as Sarshel and the two summoned tulani met Eltab in battle even as the Colossus of Torm tore down the Citadel of Conjurers above and the passageway holding the Adamantine Binding began to collapse.

The Colossus fulfilled its purpose and destroyed the previously invulnerable Citadel, being itself destroyed in the process. Later investigation showed that the Hall of the Hidden Throne had vanished, though the final fates of Eltab and the Adamantine Binding remained a mystery.

Meanwhile, the Lords of Bloodstone defended Uthmere. Luven and Elina found and exterminated the hidden cult of Eltab working within the city to harvest the coming slaughter for the demon lord. The remaining Lords, as the Twilight Riders, led their rilmani cavalry in Uthmere's defense. They were joined by Uthmere's own forces, the refugees of the Great Dale, the Circle of Leth, and every ally Uthmere had been able to call upon. The fighting was vicious, but the demon horde broke and fled when the Nentyarch unleashed his secret weapon - the formerly sleeping devastation beetle that the Rotting Man had sought to awaken and control. With the help of his greenbound vermin lord, the Nentyarch had woken and greenbound the vast beetle, and then given it sentience. The creature trampled demons under its vast claws and tore them with its massive mandibles until even the tanar'ri could take no more and fled.

Throughout the area, demoncysts closed and vanished, as did the hordes of demons, leaving only a few to be hunted down and destroyed. With the war concluded, the rilmani army departed as well.

For a time, there was peace.

The Twilight Riders soon paid their debt to Eldreth, appearing in three battles. First, they assisted a warband of Veldreth dark elves in Shadow to rout a shadow fey army moving to attack Caer Trildane, before the shadow fey could emerge from Shadow and join their Circle of Wrath allies. Then, the Riders fought to defend Caer Trildane from the Circle of Wrath and the Dark Plea, while simulaneously defending the faerie fortress on the other side of the Faerie veil. They did so by temporarily inviting heroes of allied realms, namely Quinn, Hyalgar, Samantha, Thurgren and Haelwyn, to join Bloodstone's heroes, forming two groups of seven Riders.

Shortly after the destruction of the Dark Plea on Eldreth, the Vigilar Quinn, Hyalgar, Samantha, Haelwyn and Thurgren departed Toril to face the grell threat in the Fringe of the Sea of Night.

Years passed. By the will of Moradin, the Fierce Axe passed out of King Cael's possession and into the hands of dwarven heroes in other lands and worlds. So too did the status of Chosen pass from King Cael. While he remained favored of Moradin, King Cael was no longer a Chosen. Yet despite this, hidden in the depths of Radruundar, King Cael retained the four Great Tools which had been used to forge the Fierce Axe.

Then came the Spellplague. Terrible destruction was visited on Toril by Mystra's murder. Protected by ancient blessings imbued into its very stones, and by its fortuitous location underground and far from where the Spellplague unleashed the worst of its wrath, Radruundar escaped virtually unscathed.

Still, dark years followed the Spellplague, and Radruundar was not immune to the Spellplague's impact on surrounding lands. Yet King Cael found opportunity in adversity. Convinced by the disaster of the Spellplague that standing alone was not feasible and that even an alliance was insufficient, the other dwarven holds of the Firward Mountains swore allegiance to Cael, who by their action became High King of a greater realm. The portals of Gulduvarn failed in the Spellplague, and the Thane of the Hammergrym Hold likewise saw that his delving could not long survive alone. The Hammergrym Thane too swore allegiance to High King Cael, and under Radruundar's protection, Gulduvarn endured. Finally, King Mith Barak of Iltkazar and High King Cael forged a treaty, strengthening both of their realms.

Despite the failure of Gulduvarn's portal chamber in the Spellplague, Radruundar maintained contact with Gulduvarn and Iltkazar through lesser transportation magics, while High King Cael and King Mith Barak sought to restore the lost magic of Gulduvarn's portals.

So matters stood until 1479 DR, when the five Vigilar returned at last from the Fringe of the Sea of Night. Quinn and Thurgren were scarred both within and without from their experiences, while Hyalgar and Samantha had begun a family. A rift between Quinn and Hyalgar caused Quinn to join Haelwyn and Thurgren in Radruundar, while Hyalgar and Samantha chose to settle in Gulduvarn.

Shortly thereafter, ambassadors arrived at Citadel Radruundar. They were a druid and a shaman of the Circle of Leth, and the Witch of Rashemen Laren with Jarlsbad, a Rashemi warlord in line for the Iron Lord's seat.

The ambassadors sought the aid of Citadel Radruundar. With the Vigilars' return, Radruundar hosted one of the most powerful groups of individuals in Faerun. The Circle sought aid specifically against the demons of the Dunwood. One of their ambassadors was Alexei Nomorov, great-grandson of Ilya Nomorov, who had represented the Kingdom of Bloodstone years before. With Bloostone's fall, Ilya's descendants had sought refuge with the Nenytarch.

Laren brought the opinion of the Witches of Rashemen; that neither the Circle of Leth, Citadel Radruundar nor Rashemen's western border would be secure without re-establishment of the greater alliance which had stood prior to the Spellplague, and which had included the Kingdom of Bloodstone and a unified Impiltur. The Kingdom of Bloodstone was no more after the fall of Vaasa to the Warlock Knights after the Spellplague. But Damara endured, though it suffered under the rule of Yarin Frostmantle, the usurper who had taken the throne about twenty years before, after the assassination of the last heir of the Tranth dynasty founded by King Theador the Great.

Likewise, Impiltur's throne had remained vacant since the assassination of King Imbrar II during the Spellplague. Its Grand Council was weak and disunified, and the demon cult known as the Fraternity of Tharos was slowly strangling the realm.

But the Witches proposed a strategem to fundamentally change the balance of power in the region unfortunately now known as the Demonlands. Long before, the eldest daughter of Theador the Great had grown enamored of Imbrar II of Impiltur. His time spent sheltered by Theador's court had introduced them, and later diplomatic visits brought them close again. An illegitimate daughter was born. Her bloodline was of the old Bloodfeathers dynasty of Damara through Theador's wife Christine Tranth, who was a descendant of Feldrin Bloodfeathers, founder and first king of Damara, whose family had ruled in an unbroken line for centuries, until the Witch-King of Vaasa's assassin slew Virdin Bloodfeathers. Through Imbrar II, the girl was of the Heltharn dynasty of Impiltur. And she was the granddaughter of the legendary Theador the Great, leader of the Lords of Bloodstone, who had slain the Witch King of Vaasa and founded the Kingdom of Bloodstone.

For political reasons, Bloodstone and Impiltur had hidden the existence of an heir to both their thrones. Wards had been put in place to protect the hidden girl and her family from divinations. But the Witches of Rashemen had learned of the lost heir's existence. Age and the Spellplague had weakened the anti-divination wards. And it was time for the Bloodfeathers, Heltharn and Tranth dynasties to return and save their kingdoms.

Alexei, Jarlsbad, Olfeig and the three Vigilar, Quinn, Haelwyn and Thurgren, set out to find the hidden heir's bloodline. They went first to Bloodstone Valley, where they visited the ruins of Bloodstone Gate. The city was just scattered stones, except for the old baron's keep whose ruin still stood. In the old keep's courtyard, the withered and dead Whie Tree stood. The ambassadors performed a powerful divination before the Tree, and were answered by St. Solars, exarch of Ilmater and patron of the Bloodstone Lands. St. Solars warned that divinations to find the hidden bloodline would further degrade the failing wards, and warn evil forces of the bloodline's existence and location. He informed the ambassadors that if they sought to rescue the Demonlands, that the White Tree would have to be replanted. And he directed them to a ruined mansion outside Damara's capital, Helgabal (the city once known as Heliogabalus) for more answers.

The ambassadors traveled to Kincep Mansion, where they were ambushed by dread wraiths and voidsoul spectres. In the library, they were forwarned of another ambush by a ghostly voice, and found a death knight and four blackstar knights ransacking the shelves. When attacked, the undead tried to burn the library. After the ambassadors slew the score of undead and their death knight commander, they witnessed the death knight and his distinctive equipment vanish into dust.

Thereupon, the manse's ghost revealed himself. He was none other than Mystr the Wise, wizard hero of the Macemers and the Lords of Bloodstone. The ghost revealed that the manse and library had been a secret retreat during his life. He had died after the Spellplague in a final battle against the Archmage Knellict. After destroying the Skull Lord of Orcus' physical lich form, Mystr has expended his own life force to pursue Knellict's soul back to the lich's phylactery, where they battled one last time. Mystr was victorious, shattering the phylactery and casting Knellict beyond the veil of death. He had thought himself lost as well. But he awoke in the manse's library. Much of his soul's strength was expended, and his ghostly self could not leave the manse's grounds, but Mystr realized his work was not yet done.

In the century since, Mystr had turned his unsleeping mind, free of the distractions of life, towards the troubles of the Demonlands. He lured adventurers to his "haunted" mansion, and bargained with them, gifting information in return for more books and knowledge, which he then parlayed into more of the same.

And his search was rewarded. He had unraveled one of the regions greatest secrets. A secret he was sure the ambassadors needed to hear. Mystr the Wise had discovered the secret of Soneillon, the Queen of Whispers. Mystr conveyed the deeds of Soneillon, who had been a scourge upon Damara, for Mystr had discovered that the Queen of Whispers was none other than the Grandfather of Assassins that the Macemers had hunted for many long years. The reason that the Grandfather had always eluded them was that he did not exist; he had always been an identity of Soneillon, with various servants and slaves playing the role as Soneillon required.

Mystr had also discovered Soneillon's long and tragic history with Impiltur and Chondath. He lectured the ambassadors near to tears of boredom, but insisted that they understand the role Soneillon had played in Impiltur's ongoing royal tragedy. But irony had played a role as well. The Spellplague had banished Marsziel from Toril, rendering young Imbrar II vulnerable to Soneillon's assassins, who had seized the opportinuty to eliminate the young monarch. But Soneillon, so close to victory over Impiltur, had found that victory snatched from her grasp again. Unexpectedly, the Spellplague had poured its wild magic into the wards that Soargar, Mage Royal of Old Impiltur and Archmage of Lyrabar, had crafted to banish Soneillon from Impiltur. The ancient wards were suddenly invigorated and enhanced, banishing the Queen of Whispers, and her consort the death knight Imbrar Heltharn, not only from Impiltur, but from Toril entirely.

The Spellplague, the very disaster that had allowed Imbrar II's assassination, had also removed Soneillon so that she could not take advantage of the kingless years that followed. And with Soneillon gone, and unable to take steps to preserve her secrects, Mystr had finally been able to piece together Soneillon's full history.

And how was this ancient history relevant? The wards that banished Soneillon and Imbrar from Toril were still strong. So how was it that Imbrar Heltharn was searching Mystr's library for clues leading to the same hidden royal bloodline that the ambassadors had come searching for? Mystr could only assume that Soneillon had found a way to bypass Soargar's ward. The Queen of Whispers had returned.

Finally, Mystr provided the knowledge the ambassadors has come seeking, which was not in any book in the library, but was known only to the ghost himself. The union of Imbrar II and Theador the Great's daughter had produced an illegitimate daughter. The girl had herself bore twins, a girl and a boy. But these great-grandchildren of Theador the Great had become adventurers. Trained as a priestess and a paladin of Ilmatyr by the Monastery of the Yellow Rose, the two had sought their fortunes and encountered ill luck. Both had been captured and frozen in ice by the minor archfey Koliada, the Winter Witch. They remained prisoners in her Feywild demesne.

Mystr also offered a means of restoring the White Tree which had once guarded Damara and Vaasa from demonic entry. If a true seed of the Tree could be found, the Macemers' original creation of the Tree could be duplicated. The seed would require the heart's-blood of Tiamat, the blessing of Bahamut, and a true ruler dedicated to Good to plant it. Mystr offered that the Macemers had saved some of Tiamat's heart's-blood. Borin Hammerfist had kept a few drops in an enchanted lead vial.

Unfortunately, Mystr was not able to shed any further light on Soneillon, or her breach of Soargar's ward, other than to say that the Queen of Whispers was clearly seeking to eliminate the last heirs of the Bloodfeathers, Heltharn and Tranth houses, and that my his disappearance into dust upon his defeat, Imbrar had somehow become linked to a phylactery, which was unusual but not unknown for a death knight.

The ambassadors then traveled to Lyrabar, where they visited the Grand Cathedral of the Triad, where Soargar was interred. Once more they performed a powerful divination, and as they hoped, were answered by Soargar, now an exalted of Celestia. They presented Mystr's findings to the archmage in the hope that he could explain Soneillon's return. Soargar suggested that his ward had been bypassed by Imbrar. The death knight had obtained a phylactery. Somehow this phylactery had been slipped through the ward. Imbrar had then been able to "die" and reform on Toril. His link to Soneillon had served to draw her to Toril as well. Soargar had no doubt Imbrar's phylactery had to be somewhere meaningful to act as Soneillon and Imbrar's anchor to Toril, and guessed it was in their throne room. Destroy the phylactery and both the Queen of Whispers and her undead consort would be banished again. And the ward, a nearly-living magic, would adapt to prevent this means of bypassing the ward from occuring again.

Nonplussed at the thought of finding and storming Soneillon's throne room, the ambassadors turned back to the re-planting of the White Tree. They returned to the Golden Tree, the White Tree's daughter-tree, and obtained the Golden Tree's agreement to provide a seed to re-plant a new White Tree. They then investigated Borin's fate.

The deep gnomes of Deepearth had vanished during the Spellplague. Without their gnomish allies, when Vaasa fell to the Warlock Knights and Bloodstone Valley became a battleground, most dwarves of Clan Orothiar fled the carnage. But a small group remained, unwilling to abandon their ancestral delving. By this time, Borin had retired from involvement with Damara's human government, and had become an adopted Orothiar elder. He stayed with the holdouts. In the confusion that followed, the Orothiar dwarves scattered to the winds. Many left Damara altogether. With Gulduvarn's portal to the Bloodstone Mines left inoperable by the Spellplague, and with the uncertainty created by the fog of war, the holdouts were forgotten, thought to have been included in one of a number of waves of refugees.

But in their search for Borin, the ambassadors asked questions that led the record-keepers of Citadel Radruundar to realize their mistake. The ambassadors thus traveled to the Bloodstone Mines.

The Mines seemed abandoned and sealed, but the ambassadors dug past the collapsed sections which blocked the Mines from the surface and found that the Mines were not as quiet as they appeared. The old deep gnome cavern of Deepearth was inhabited by thousands of slaves. Most were recent imports, but some were the Orothiar dwarves who had refused to flee the valley. Their leader, Borin, was imprisoned in a dark, low fortress built by the slavemasters who held the cavern; the Warlock Knights of Vaasa.

The Warlock Knights were attempting to sap the Damaran Gate from below. Their slaves both mined for bloodstone and attempted to bring down the wall, while the shadowy defenders of Damara's Underdark killed slaves and fought with the slaves' Vaasan masters.

The ambassadors could not abide their discovery. They magically transported one thousand dwarven soldiers of Citadel Radrundaar, led by High King Cael himself, into the abandoned upper reaches of the Bloodstone Mines. Then, while the dwarves stormed Deepearth cavern and engaged with the orcs, trolls, hobgoblins and other monstrous overseers and military fodder who held the cavern for the Warlock Knights, the ambassadors themselves attacked the Warlock Knights' fortress.

There they faced two shardsoul godforged colossi, two epic Warlock Knight commanders and an epic Warlock Knight Luminary lord. Two hundred Warlock Knight Praetorians, the highest ranking soldier-minions of the Warlock Knights, sworn to lesser Telos-pacts of their own, guarded the fortess and its Warlock Knights.

The ambassadors defeated and slew the inhabitants of the fortress, while King Cael's army defeated and slew the Warlock Knights' other servants. The Warlock Knights' thousands of slaves were rescued and relocated to Citadel Radrundaar. Dwarves, including the Orothiar, were invited to stay, while passage was arranged for rescued non-dwarves to travel to safety.

Borin was successfully rescued. He had been blinded by the Warlock Knights, but was unbowed. He agreed to provide the flask of Tiamat's hearts-blood he had carefully hidden years before, on the condition that the ambassadors help the Orothiar dwarves re-take their ancestral home. The ambassadors had no choice but to agree.

Characters:

High King Cael Orbsmasher of Clan Mastemyr, once of the Firecaverns of the Deep Realm of the Dwarves, now of Citadel Radruundar:
King Cael's late father was a gold dwarven priest of Marthammor Duin from the Deep Realm and his mother is a shield dwarven priestess from Ruathym. King Cael followed in his father's footsteps and became a priest of Marthammor Duin. His lifelong ambition prior to the re-discovery of Radruundar had been to find lost and isolated dwarven groups and to bring them together with the gold dwarves of the Rift. He is respected as the first gold dwarf to make contact with the desert dwarves of Maztica. He is also famed among his fellows as the finder of the Anvil of the Gods, a minor shield dwarf artifact which he delivered to Citadel Adbar, and on which he destroyed the Iron Orb of the Duergar, a very powerful minor duergar artifact. (See Members of the Gathering Storm.)

Haelwyn Runesmith of Clan Vragnir and Thurgren Gloryshield of Clan Brightaxe, of Citadel Radruundar:
Half-sibling planar dwarves, Haelwyn is a half deep and half mountain dwarf who takes after her deep dwarf heritage, while Thurgren is a mountain dwarf with a touch of deep dwarf in his background. Like King Cael himself, the mixed blood and far-off origins of these Vigilar who have adopted Citadel Radruundar as their home reflects King Cael's dream of a dwarven kingdom bringing together dwarves of varied bloods and backgrounds. The Vigilar act both as King Cael's favored agent-ambassadors and as links between Citadel Radruundar and the Vigil. (For more information see individual entries on the Vigil page.)

Olfeig of Clan Ruby-Axe, of Citadel Radruundar, formerly of the Rokehold:
An aleithian dwarf, Olfeig is the leader of, and ambassador for, those of his people who have chosen to join King Cael's new kingdom of dwarves of varied bloods and backgrounds. Olfeig himself has become one of King Cael's most valued retainers, both accompanying Cael and acting on the king's behalf ever since Olfeig and his people's arrival, shortly before the expedition to Iltkazar which awoke Mithbarakaz. While Olfeig's place of honor at his king's side was originally a sign of respect directed at the aleithian dwarf immigrants to Citadel Radruundar, rather than at Olfeig himself, Olfeig has since earned that place of honor with many heroic deeds.

Enemies:

Caramina, the White Maiden:
An alabaster maiden undead and half-fiend medusa, the blackguard and warrior of darkness Caramina was Gar'Udok's lover and most loyal lieutenant. She was away from his side seeking allies when he fell to Mulhorand and Unther's armies. For years, she mourned in undead slumber, no more than a harmless statue. Then she awoke, her eventual goal no less than her lord's return. Caramina came close to restoring Gar'Udok after uniting with Torexis. Defeat in the Blackguard's Tomb led to her destruction, but greater dark solace enchantment sent her soul safely to her evil divine patron's court. What resulted therein remains unknown.

Myrle of Shar:
A human vampire priestess of Shar, Myrle has been another of Tairdo's longtime companions. She was briefly taken prisoner by King Cael, but was traded at the World Serpent Inn back to Tairdo in return for one of the Vigilar, whom Tairdo had captured. Her defeat was a humiliation Myrle can neither forget nor forgive.

Qamhuul Shadowfriend:
A longtime companion of Tairdo's, Qamhuul was born a goblin female. She has also been a dwarven female, transformed while bearing the Fierce Axe, and is often disguised as a goblin male in order to lead Tairdo's goblin forces, many of which would not follow a female, no matter her skills. Qamhuul's skills are significant, as she is a practiced warrior and assassin who makes Tairdo's problems go away - violently. Like Tairdo, Qamhuul nurses strong enmity against King Cael and his allies. She bore the Fierce Axe, a mere goblin woman wielding the Axe of the Dwarvish Lords, and they stole the artifact from her. It is a theft she will neither forget nor forgive.

Shar's Champion of the Nightcavern:
The duergar warrior chosen by the Nightcavern's high priest to be Shar's champion, this skilled killer has forsaken his name in favor of his title. The duergar warrior was defeated in single combat by King Cael, who claimed the Champion's armor. The loss was a dishonor the champion can neither forget nor forgive.

The Storm Lord
Cloud giant sorcerer descended from cloud giant nobility of the ancient giant empire of Ostoria, whose line guarded the imprisonment of the Burning Wind. An ancestor of the Storm Lords' once saved the life of the paladin-lord Sarshel of Impiltur prior to Sarshel's victory in the Triad Crusade, and was promised that his line's curse would be lifted in reward when the time was right. That divine reward caught up to the Storm Lord, banishing the Burning Wind, but as a consequence destroying the Storm Lord's cloud fortress, breaking his power among the region's cloud giants. The Storm Lord's daughter then married the mightiest of the Storm Lord's vassals, who had his own cloud castle, and brought many of the Storm Lord's followers with her, making her husband the region's de facto replacement cloud giant leader. The Storm Lord remains in the shadows, however, plotting the restoration of giant rule in the northeastern Realms.

Soneillon, the Queen of Whispers and Imbrar Heltharn
A vastly powerful rogue succubus in the service of Orcus and her consort, a former king of Impiltur corrupted into a death knight. Soneillon has bedeviled Toril, and most especially Damara and Impiltur, for centuries. Instrumental in the fall of multiple human royal dynasties, Soneillon seeks to become the eternal queen of the Demonlands. Soneillon was banished from Impiltur by a ward crafted by the Royal Mage Soargar. The Spellplague later enhanced Soargar's ward, banishing Soneillon and Imbrar from Toril entirely. Their temporary return was undone by Quinn, Thurgren, Haelwyn, Olfeig, Jarlsbad and Alexei Nomorov, who broke Soneillon and Imbrar's bypass of Soargar's Spellplague-enhanced ward, which then again banished the Queen of Whispers and her consort, and adapted to prevent the same means of bypass from occuring again.

Tairdo Swiftshadow of the Nightcavern:
A half human, half duergar shadow mage adopted by the Nightcavern clan-nation of duergar, as well as a transformed shade and a sworn agent of the evil goddess Shar. Tairdo is one of the Nightcavern leaders, and their chief agent among humanity, due to his mostly human upbringing and appearance. Like many half-bloods, Tairdo is a violent racist, abhorring all dwarves not of duergar extraction and despising most non-dwarves, with the exception of true followers of Shar. Like many shadow mages in Shar's service, Tairdo is a physical coward, preferring to strike from safety and to engage in combat through projections, constructs and servants. Tairdo briefly directed the Abomination of Diirinka through its control amulet, which he still possesses, though the Abomination itself is slain. He and his goblin servants also briefly ruled most of Citadel Radruundar. Finally, it was Tairdo who commanded the goblinoid and giantish army which menaced Heliogabalus. King Cael and the Vigil stole all three honors from Tairdo, a defeat he will neither forget nor forgive.

Torexis, the Catacomb Dragon:
Once an albino purple dragon, Torexis transformed himself into a runescribed dracolich with knowledge gained from the Soul Pillars. Torexis is a death master cleric of Falazure and is said to have originally trained Gar'Udok, before the human necromancer-priest's skill surpassed that of his draconic teacher. Torexis' cowardice betrayed Gar'Udok, as the dragon abandoned his master and former student on the final field of battle as Mulhorand and Unther's armies crushed Gar'Udok's forces. Torexis assisted Caramina's attempt to restore Gar'Udok and expended valuable resources to do so. Torexis, unlike Caramina, survived their failure.