The Darkbane Warders

Faol's Lexicon

A number of months have passed since the Warders secured the cursed tower of Karazhan once more for the Kirin Tor, during which the threat of Deathwing has been finally ended and the Cataclysm brought to a close. The Warders were brought together after the break with a meeting at Desmarais manor, in which the party discussed the current climate following the fall of the Twilight and the rising tensions with the Horde since the fall of their common foe. Agreed in doing what they must, even going forward to fight the Horde should it be needed, the group turned to a more immediate problem. A black market contact had been captured by Stormwind attempting to sell an artifact thought destroyed in the chaos of the elemental invasion, a tome penned by Alonsus Faol regarding his philosophies and views about the Light. Where the SI didn’t have the manpower to spend on chasing the artifact the associated Paladins and Priests of the Warders might have a particular interest in recovering the tome for its religious value.

Thus the party met in the foothills of Westfall, where the informant said the book was being held by the remnants of the Defias Brotherhood. The group pressed into the hills with Malere scouting ahead, allowing him to discover an ambush of Defias waiting in the trees from stealth. After convening through the locus with the group they positioned to ambush the ambushers, opening by killing one of the Defias from stealth then openly engaging the remaining numbers as they counterattacked from their sniping perches in the trees. The battle quickly turned one sided however as the combined blades of Malere and Marius cut deep into the fighting force of the bandits, causing their remaining number to flee. Many of the routed men where captured however, and subsequent questioning produced the location of the Defias encampment set into the mountains nearby. After discussing tactics the party sent one of the captured men back to the camp to carry a message that they wished to parley, seeking only the tome.

After an hour of waiting the party was met in the forest by Jonas, the grizzled leader of the Defias, and a group of his men. The parley was short, as Jonas revealed the group had only planned on selling the tome before fleeing to Booty Bay to the South, and was willing to give over the tome if the party would allow his people to pack up and make the journey without further bloodshed. The terms were found acceptable, though Mari and Malere were rather begrudging to deal with the bandits, and as a final favor the slain bandit Tim was returned to life so he could rejoin his fellows. A follow up investigation by Malere a few days later revealed the palisade of the encampment the only evidence of the Defias, who had long gone.

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Karazhan, Part I

Following a series of strange magical disruptions in the Mage’s Tower in Stormwind city the Warders found the Kirin Tor to be in a problematic situation: Their guardian Magi stationed to protect Karazhan had disappeared and the group they had sent in to search was long overdue. With the approval of the Kirin Tor the group made its way to Karazhan, where the remaining magi had created a ward around the entrance to contain unusual energies that were causing disruptions in the surrounding land. After discussing the situation briefly Archmage Hallister, the man in charge of the remaining Kirin Tor, the Warders headed into the cursed tower.

They were greeted at the door by Bertold, the spectral butler of Karazhan. The group questioned him about those who had passed recently and he told them that he had seen two group pass recently, the first group going off to the stables before heading up the tower. The group started their search in the stables based on Bertold’s words, but not before he suggested that they present themselves to the tower’s steward Moroes. Within the stables the party found a variety of spectral horses and their caretakers, and in the open pens three felsteeds who were unhappy to see them. After dispatching the steed their master, a spectral knight garbed in dark armor, sought vengeance for his prized mounts but was also dispatched by the group. With the threats in the stables cleared the group searched through the area, finding an unusual collection of broken wands, staves, books, and other magical implements crudely buried beneath the straw in a corner of the room. Unsure what to make of this discovery, the group returned to the main hall and headed deeper into the tower.

After scaling a large flight of stairs the Warders laid eyes on the grand fest hall, spectral dancers whirling about the dance floor while in a conjoining room many ghostly feast-goers were presided over by an undead man that could only be Moroes. The group decided to pass his attention for the moment to explore further, pressing on into guest halls. Within the guest rooms the party was waylaid by a number of succubi disguising themselves as ghostly courtesans, and though their trickery was frustrating the group took the upper hand and wiped them out. Past the succubi the group found a large wooden door with intricate reliefs and artwork carved upon it, and after politely knocking were met with angry suspicions from a booming female voice within. After cajoling the woman they were allowed entry and met the Maiden of Virtue, a towering woman who after closer inspection appeared to be made of stone rather than flesh, though such a thing would be easy to miss with a glance. The Maiden spoke of how Moroes delighted in the corruption of her halls, with taunts and horrible reminders of how those who were once in her care as the caretaker of the guest’s wing now lay in his grasp. She beseeched the party to slay him and grant her even a temporary relief from her torment, and in return she would explain how to use his key to gain access to the higher reaches of the tower.

The party agreed, having come to like the Maiden, and went immediately to confront Moroes. Upon entering the banquet hall the undead man entered into banter and combat with them, forcing the spirits of previous heroes to fight alongside him. Though the battle nearly claimed Seelie, the group persevered and claimed Moroes’ silver key. Bringing it back to the Maiden she instructed them to use it upon the doors to the west, which would lead them to the Opera Hall, and to seek Barnes the stage manager. He would be capable of letting them into the hallways they needed to follow. From there she told them they would encounter her ‘brother’, the keeper of the museum on the floors above. Before they left she invited them to rest in the small area she could keep protected from the dark magic of the hall, and recover their strength.

After resting the group made their way into the grand Opera Hall, where they skirted around the ghostly attendees to the backstage. There they were quickly accosted by one of the more cognizant ghosts of they’d met, Barnes the stage master. He bustled them onto the stage, telling them his help would come at the cost of a performance to appease his eager audience. The party was made to reenact the ‘Wizard of Oz’, with Mari as Dorothy, Seelie as the Scarecrow, Marius as the Tin Man, Malere as the Lion, Vasque as the Wizard, and Poreen as the Wicked Witch. After wandering about the magically changing scenery a bit they were thrust into an illusory battle versus a storm if giant flying apes to get the water needed to ‘kill’ Poreen’s rendition of the Witch. With the play completed Barnes showed the party to the servant’s wing, where they passed through to the grand staircase up to the higher level of the tower.

After climbing for many minutes the stairway opened up to a vast room of white marble and plush red carpets, within which they could see another towering figure as the Maiden but in the image of an elderly man bearing the robes of a wizard. He greeted them to the master’s museum and invited them to enjoy their time, and after a short conversation revealed that he was not allowed to let anyone pass without them completing the mental ‘games’ in the first wing of the museum. Not wanting to start a conflict with the Curator, the group moved from puzzle to puzzle and completed them with efficiency, and were rewarded with a key to the library. As they passed through the museum however they were stopped by the rasping cries of one of the displays, a grand red drake who implored them to free him. After hearing his plea it came to light that the only manner for him to be free would be for the Curator to be slain, so that the wards holding him to the tower would be released. At Seelie’s insistence the party went back to the Curator and asked him to release the dragon, but the Curator could not do such a thing without a replacement for the display. The group then convinced him that the dragon could be much more useful to the master of the tower if he was allowed to write his knowledge of the dragon flights out to add to the tower, and after some reluctant thought the Curator agreed. After being freed from his bonds however the dragon had other ideas, and with the Curator close he took the opportunity to swipe its head off and free himself. The dragon took his mortal form and introduced himself as ‘Delkanastrasz’, thanking the group for the opportunity to be free, but the party was particularly displeased with the turn of events and dismissed him despite his offer to provide them with assistance. Delkanastrasz took his leave, but left the party a warning that as he’d seen the others pass he’d sensed another dragon amongst them. With Delkanastrasz’s unhappily taken warning, the party passed swiftly through the museum halls to avoid any other still living displays and into the tower library.

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Ihsan's March

After a great deal of searching Maricella’s divinations revealed the location of the last item, the staff of Ihsan which had been hidden from view was moving south from the Undercity into the Silverpine Forest. As it moved reports had come in that the undead on the lines with the Liberation Front had drawn back to amass nearby the village of Ambermill along the south road.

The Warders hurried to Ambermill, where they found the residents gathered in the center of town planning their defense. After speaking with them they learned that their scouts had seen a huge shadowy creature with the undead, and that they’d drawn all the packs but Tobias’ in to defend the village. Soon after Tobias returned with his pack to report that the undead would arrive within the hour, nearly one hundred soldiers and three plague catapults following the advance of the shadow creature. He also described a leader forsaken in black alchemist’s robes, bearing a distinct greatstaff of gnarled black wood which was visible even over the column of soldiers.

After some consideration the Warders decided to go meet the forsaken head on, moving through the woods to the west of the main road while Tobias’ pack went east. After a short jaunt they laid eyes on Ihsan’s shade, a massive humanoid figure of utter blackness, two horns jutting from its head and red eyes maliciously focused on the path ahead. Its silhouette billowed as if wearing a long cape or robe, and in its hands a massive greatsword dripped shadows onto the ground as if constantly stained with dark blood. Marius presented a plan to target the staff in the hopes that destroying the last piece of its soul would slay the creature. Enchanted with flight and invisibility he would fly to the center of the group, smash the staff, then the rest of them could come to his rescue.

With the magic in place Marius made it past the keen senses of both the Shade and High Warlord VanKrakken, appearing above the column to slice his sword clean through the staff. The creature’s unearthly howl joined with the agonized scream of Ihsan’s last remaining soul shard before its shadowy form pooled into final death upon the ground. With the creature slain the rest of the Warders leapt into the fight, using black tentacles, fireballs, and columns of flame to mow down the undead soldiers while Marius ensured their leader would not return to fight another day.

The undead thoroughly decimated, and the menace of Ihsan’s Shade removed from this world, the Warders returned to Ambermill to share the good news and celebrate their flawless victory.

(The party gained level 11.)

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Abandoned Mine

The Warders gathered outside the mine which Maricella’s scrying indicated would contain the diadem of the Shade. On the flight in however a few of them noticed figures lurking about the entrance, and with a bit of scouting they discovered a small contingent of Forsaken soldiers guarding the mouth of the mine, some looking into the darkness uncertainly. The Warders engaged the murder of undead, dispatching them handily before making their way into the mine.

As they walked through the tunnels the darkness began to swirl about them in eery tendrils, concentrating around Mari then dispersing. Further into the mine they began to have the feeling of visions at the corners of their eyes, presences just out of sight. At one juncture they were presented with a trio of apparitions: A gold haired woman in the armor of a Paladin flanked by a bald, muscular man in the same armor and a raven haired woman robed in dark silks. As quickly as the ghostly images came they dispersed. Mari identified the trio as onetime companions of hers, each long dead.

Further down the tunnels another trio appeared: A woman of fair hair with similar features to Mari, a bulky man with thinning brown hair, and a tall, lanky young man with fair hair. Vasque easily identified these as Mari’s family, the sight of which seemed to make Mari’s mood more dour. At a final junction before the main cavern the group was presented with an apparition of a group of Defias bandits, who winked out of existence only to reappear in greater number to ambush the party.

After a battle with the spectral bandits the party marched on into the primary mine cavern, in which they spotted across the space a group of slain Forsaken. As they approached Mari began to feel ill, until she fell to the floor and became sick, spitting up horrid black mass which gathered shadowy tendrils from about the room to form into a large, menacing manifestation of sorrow and frustration. With swift efficiency the party dispatched the life draining monster and hurried over to the end of the cavern, finding a chest radiating evil hidden in a hollow carved behind a large boulder. Marius went to smashing without bothering to open the chest, slaying the malicious spirit within the diadem hidden inside and shattering the aura of darkness about the mine shaft.

Upon the leader of the forsaken they found a note instructing the Forsaken troopers to ‘hurry and find the object’, signed by a ‘High Warlord VK’. The presence of the Forsaken and the obvious orders to retrieve the artifact raise fears that the last object, the staff which has been resistant to attempts to locate, might already be in the Forsaken’s hands.

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Battlefields of Memory

The Warders flew from Ambermill to the Whispering Forest in western Tirisfal, looking for Ihsan’s wand, another shard of the shade’s soul. As they arrived at the edge of the thick forest a mist shrouded the region, growing thicker as they passed through the trees until they found themselves in a different place, indeed a different time entirely. The party looked on from above as a contingent of Scarlet Crusaders fought through hordes of undead in the Plaguewood, trying to escape a pincer attack trapping them in the gorge below. At great loss they opened a hole to the east and began to escape, members of the rear guard being caught left and right by the pressing undead. One in particular stuck out clearly, a boy mutilated then consumed whole by an abomination.

Marius recognized easily the memory for what it was, an event in his own history long past. But a new piece of the battle became clear from his new standpoint: A strangely familiar figure in black armor upon a skeletal steed overlooking the battleground from the far bluff. Having to know if his ominous feeling was true, Marius charged into the undead throng to make it to the other side, the rest of the Warders following to cut through the hordes up to the other side of the gorge. Once arrived they approached the black figure, who drew back its faceplate to reveal the features of the Deathknight Caliginous, Marius’ own father, who attacked the party. After a brief fight above the battlefield the memory faded away into mist, depositing the party at the edge of a faerie circle within a forgotten glade. In the center of the circle they found the wand, and with a slice of his sword Marius destroyed the artifact and with it another shard of Ihsan’s soul.

On the return journey however, the group encountered a large shade which attacked from the forests. The ghostly creature was not near the fight they expected from Ihsan, but its message left even more questions: “You shall not have me. I shall be free. Then you shall all suffer.”

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Of Basements and Dark Faces

The Warders convened on the outskirts of Gilneas city, leaving their mounts behind to make their way into the ruins by foot. They arrived without incident at the location indicated by Mari’s divinations, a dilapidated manor near the edge of the tradesman’s district. Within they found the untended remains of a fine home, which after searching revealed a spacious basement area connecting to the kitchens, where they found a door tucked behind the food stores. When they approached a face appeared on the door, twisting out from the wood into the form of an elderly woman glaring disdainfully at the party, which Vasque recognized as the woman who once served as her nanny. Detecting its evil nature Marius charged forth and smashed the door to splinters, revealing a long passage leading downward.

As they passed through the hidden path they encountered a series of possessed doors: A pair of generically noble faces, the face of Vasque’s father, the face of Mari, and finally the face of the party. Each face passed some kind of judgement, or attempted to before Marius methodically cut each one to shreds with his sword of purified saronite. The final door, however, proved to be more resilient than the others and spawned a pair of hideous beholder creatures to combat the party. These too were cut down in short order, allowing passage to a secret chamber beneath the manor. A pentagram dominated the circular space, in the center of which lay a black robe around which was a near palpable aura of evil. By destroying the robe another piece of Ihsan’s soul was destroyed, but the presence of the secret chamber raises questions about how it got there, and who might be aware of Ihsan himself.

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Magister's Ring

The Warders reconvened at Ambermill, where they began with the unsettling news that Crendal had been murdered just a few days past, found beheaded in his flat with his effects missing. Mari informed everyone that the guard was looking into the matter, and that when she had more information from her own investigations she would let everyone know. She then informed them of the results of her divinations, that the Shade’s apparant immortality was due to a number of objects imbued with pieces of the magister’s soul, one of which was the book they had already destroyed in the crumbled tower. She had located another in the center of Lake Lordamere, and had made arrangements with the Worgen to secure the banks while they searched by boat.

Following a short ride about the lake following the direction of an odd little magical item of the Priestess’ construction the group settled over the location of the ring. Using magical potions of waterbreathing they left Salendra to watch for trouble while the rest went down to retrieve the ring. When they reached the lake bottom wisps of darkness akin to the ones of the tower began to swirl around them, then gather around Seelie. Suddenly the lake bottom seemed very cold and dark, and their minds were filled with crushing despair as they began to search. As they searched the rings they found melted into sand, dummies to further block their path as the magic began to whittle away at them.

Withdrawing away from the area the group considered their options, and eventually sent in Gizbat to search, who was immune to the emotional crushing of the ring. After a long while of trial and error the mechanical squirrel returned with the artifact, which was broken in half to slay the soul shard within it.

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The Crumbled Tower

The Warders returned to Ambermill village, the base of operations for the Gilnean Liberation Front, where the Worgen had cleaned up and repaired the buildings behind the arcane barrier for use. They met with Tobias, the young worgen they’d rescued some time ago, who informed them that a party they sent to scout out a new forward base camp had been decimated, with only one man returning in a state of madness. The Warders interviewed the man, who went on about the shadows and their red eyes.

The group travelled to the site the men were dispatched to, a tower that appeared to have been buried in the earth, now uncovered with an opening along its top torn ajar. After investigating the site they took some time to rest and prepare cautiously before returning and delving into the tower. Inside they found a single room, which appeared to be a sort of ritual chamber. In the center lay a massive table that appeared to be covered in ancient devices and materials, in the center of which was rested a massive tome propped up on a stand of wood. As the group fanned out to investigate Vasque and Maricella took a look at the table, and as Vasque’s eyes crossed over the words their sickly darkness washed across her eyes, making her feel ill as the book sprung to life, rising above the table to swiftly turn its pages of its own accord. Dark power filled the room, tendrils of black corruption swirling about then gathering aroung Gizbat, transforming him into a massive mechanical horror which sprung to battle against the party. Though it dealt massive damage, the beast was dispatched once the shock wore off. Aferword Marius leapt upon the table to impale the book, which released an unearthly scream as a black sillouette of a man rose from the pages to be shattered into nothingness.

With the corruption of the tower cleansed, but no shadowy fiend to be found, the Warders are now concerned that some ancient evil has been unleashed upon the Tirisfal Glades.

The Legend of Ihsan’s Shade

In Dalaran there is told amongst the mages and the cityfolk a cautionary tale of the dangers the fel arts, called the tale of Ihsan’s Shade. The tale itself is shrouded in doubts, most consider it a fantasy tale told to scare young apprentices straight and get naughty children to their beds, lest the Shade come for them in the night. Whatever its authenticity, the tale goes as such:

Many, many years ago in the city of Dalaran there was a powerful Archmage named Ihsan Krohn. Ihsan was a powerful and respected magister, great in knowledge and in arcane potence, and greatly respected amongst the ruling magocracy of the city. However, Ihsan was also a very old man, and was not long for the world of men. Fearing the end of his own life he began a secret, fevered search through every magical resource he could find in the city to try and devise a spell of immortality, so as to never have to face the finality of death. But no such spell exists in the spellbooks of men, so Ihsan soon turned his research to otherworldly methods.

Drawing on dark lore Ihsan conjured many demons through the veil between worlds, and thinking himself above their influence he cajoled and tortured secrets of magic from them. With their fel knowledge he constructed piece by piece a spell to grant him rise above the mortal coil in which he was bound, by creating a great artifact to instill him with life unending. With his formula complete he set to the grisly task of gathering the components he would require for the dark deed, many rare and expensive reagents to be mixed with the blood of a dozen sacrificed peasants gathered from around his estate.

Preparations complete, Ihsan rose to the top of his tower in the dead of night to complete the spell. When the last words escaped his lips his soul was drawn from his body to the artifact, and into the demon’s trap. From the chant of his own spell they rose, seizing upon his soul and tearing it into shreds. At that moment Ihsan Krohn became the Shade of Ihsan, a soulless creature of dark power which laid waste to the workers of his estate before beginning to roam the countryside, coming in the night to wipe entire villages off the map. Many brave souls tried to stop the monstrosity that was once the respected Archmage, but the Shade was both powerful and wily, and those heroes simply added to the carnage of its rampage.

Eventually the situation demanded the power of the Guardian of Tirisfal, who did battle with the creature within the woodlands. The combat was fierce, the power of both combatants great. They fought, and fought, and fought but the Guardian soon came to realize that no matter how often he struck the creature down it would rise up again to strike him. Finally the Shade lead the Guardian back to his tower, where he thought to use his place of power against his enemy. Knowing he could not defeat the Shade in his home the Guardian instead drew upon mighty spells to trap Ihsan within the walls of his own tower. Then, with the last of his reserves, the Guardian buried the tower deep within the earth to entomb the shade for all eternity.

Such is the tale of Ihsan Krohn, the man who sought immortality from the dark arts, and found it. An eternity of maddened, tortured hell alone beneath the earth.

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The Arathi Crypt

Scouts from Refuge Pointe made notice of a surge in undead activity around a cemetary to the north of the region. Fearing a potential push from the the Forsaken, the Warders were asked to investigate and deal with the problem if possible. Arriving at the site the group found the graveyard filled with milling undead minions, which they handilly dispatched before heading down into the crypt. After carefully making their way past magical traps laid upon the floor, they entered the interior of the crypt by using a spell to melt away the stone wall and create a second doorway unexpectedly. Inside they found the family crypts of the region being desecrated by a Forsaken necromancer, who immediately engaged them in battle by animating all of the bodies from the crypts in an explosion of bone and stone. The Warders used superior firepower to mow down a path to the necromancer and slay him while trading spells with the powerful undead, but once the Paladins got up to him it was writing on the wall. With the crypts cleared they re-consecrated the dead, placed what they could back within the tombs and earth before leaving to inform the locals of the events.

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