The Lover’s Bind
With a pair of essences in hand, our heroes placed them upon the stone dais. The essences found their right places upon it on their own, securing themselves into a pair of the many different sized and shaped indents. A couple of runes along the edges lit up, but nothing else seemed to happen. They rested for a small time, but they knew they must press on. When they were ready, our heroes once again activated the blue crystal at the dais’s center. As before, whiteness filled their eyes and they were transported.
This time, our heroes found themselves just outside a small village named Duevene. Beyond the town was a small castle, which they decided should be their first destination. They were met with some trepidation, by a man named Tomas Davin, the Master of Coin, and recently, know to most simply as, the Master. During their conversation, they learned many things. The leader of this land was High Lady Saraphine, a named they instantly recognized. However, recently she had fallen gravely ill. Our heroes requested an audience, but were denied as the Master claimed they could not be trusted. When asked how they could gain such trust, the Master offered a deal.
Recently, Duevene was consistently being terrorized by a group of well put together bandits calling themselves, Ash Company. The Master was having trouble keeping his troop stocked as supplies coming from the east were being interrupted before they could reach Duevene. If our heroes could put a stop to these interruptions, or at the very least retrieve some of the supplies, than he would grant them an audience with the High Lady. They agreed and set off toward Linene, the next town over.
It did not take long before Ash Company came upon them. A massive man in advanced armor attacked with his troop. It was not easy, but our heroes emerged victorious. They were beat up badly and made haste to Linene so they could recover, but it would be a fruitless night. Assassins came upon them in their sleep, but these foes too were dispatched. A note on one of the dead assassins finally gave some clue as to what was going on. They were not assassins at all, but instead they had been sent to capture any adventure that looked like they could handle their own. There were instructions on where such adventurers were meant to be delivered. When our heroes tracked down an Ash Company contact, they requested an audience with the leader. They wish was soon granted.
While having breakfast, the very fabric of time seemed to come to a halt. A large, powerful looking woman entered the inn. She introduced herself as Lady Grey, leader of Ash Company. She explained that she was gathering willing and unwilling adventurers to venture into a place called the Rotting Spire to retrieve an item called the Lover’s Bind. Lady Grey believed that this artifact was the true conduit for High Lady Saraphine’s power. If she could retrieve it, she could dethrone the immortal queen and free the people of Duevene from her tyranny.
This seemed odd to our heroes and at first they were hesitant. But after some clever thinking and competent trickery, they came to a deal of an exchange of goods and services with Lady Grey. They would need some time first, however, and decided to return to Duevene and inform the master that the road was now clear. When they did, he agreed to honour their deal and soon, Tater and Piper were standing over a sickly looking High Lady.
She had a few things to say, though it seemed difficult for her to do so. She explained that an object called the Lover’s Bind had appeared in this realm some time ago, though she knew not how or why. When she used it, she found she could feel the power of her beloved, Maximillian. She tracked him for years, though his essence was dim. Then, recently, his essence sparked. She felt his urgency and knew that something was wrong. Using the power of the Lover’s Bind, she sent every piece of herself to him that she could. Saraphine had no idea if the effort was in vain or not, but she kept hope, even as it left her drained and severely weakened. Since that moment, she had been unable to leave her bed and sickness wracks her body. With the arrival of our heroes, she took some happiness as it meant it had all been worth it. Lastly, she told our heroes that if they retrieved the Lover’s Bind and brought it to her, she could use it manifest her physical essence and send them on their way.
With that, our heroes returned to Ash Company. They were shown the way to the Rotting Spire and ascended its floors, navigated its traps, and faced the Lover’s, guardians of the Lover’s Bind. As they lifted the Lover’s Bind from its pedestal, however, the magic holding the spire together was undone. As it crumbled around them, our heroes barely made it out alive, only to find a battle raged before them. Duevene had finally found the Lover’s Bind location and had sent Milly, the resident warlock, and a contingent of guards to attack. Our heroes only had a moment to decide their alliances and they sided with the men and women of Duevene, hoping to return the Lover’s Bind to Saraphine.
But the battle would not be so simple. Soon after our heroes joined, so did the powerful Lady Grey. She tore apart the Duevene ranks with lightning and torrent winds. But, it would not be enough and soon she was on her back, bloodied and broken. She cursed our heroes, claimed they had made a fatal mistake. The realm was in the wrong hands and she promised they would regret their choice. With her last bit of strength, Lady Grey used a teleportation spell to retreat from the field.