Part I: Mag'Khardan, Rhaz'Madan, and the Merry Dwarves
The six adventurers were saved by Mag'Khardan and his crew.
They were welcomed aboard the ship, Rhaz'Madan, which can be considered a little dwarven town in itself with its own tavern, novelty stores, and blacksmithing forge.
After talking briefly with Mag'Khardan, they all explored the ship. Darkhan and Kevlar went to the tavern. Elana followed and noticed that Darkhan looked preoccupied after a brief talk with Mag'Khardan and attempted to talk to him but he kept mum. Fifi and Aurelia arrived while Kevlar was being forced to drink his ale for the first time after a glass of his usual milk. It entertained the dwarves and started doing the jig. Aurelia bugged Darkhan about his moodiness and he chased her away by treating her to her favorite apple cider. It was a dwarven concoction and it unexpectedly made her drunk. Mag'Khardan asked them where the adventurers where planning to go: Port Eirlicht, River Maine, or go with them to their hometown of Brightrock Forge. The group, even after noticing that Sam Lantern was still missing the meeting, decided to head to River Maine to check out Aurelia's old town for clues.
During the merry interlude, the adventurers felt darkness intrude upon their wakefulness and they saw an image of the dragon's eye inside their minds. Everyone's corruption level went up by one.
Darkhan went out and asked the forge master Bran to create a weapon out of his fishwyrm scale and then left. Fifi noticed Darkhan going out of the tavern and used his Cloak of Invisibility to follow him to the forge. Aurelia was aware of Fifi's actions and decided to follow him too. After Darkhan left, Fifi and Aurelia asked the blacksmith to craft them something but the quote was too expensive. Aurelia praised the blacksmith's talent and managed to persuade Bran to create her a Felstaff for a much lower price. The blacksmith happily sang "Pound the steel until it fits, if it's broken smash to bits" while he worked.
Kevlar arrived with Elana and offered to give the dwarf a good deal: 3 fishwyrm scales for 3 weapons, but Bran gets to keep the last one. The cleric received a High Mythrite shield and Fifi received his own Felstaff. Darkhan went back and was given a Fel Dagger and some Forge Dust. Bran told him that he might find use for it in the future. Fifi gave one gold to Bran as a token of gratitude. Bran took the gold and turned it into Forge Dust as well and gave it to Fifi, telling him the same thing. Elana, on the other hand, was more concerned about the vision earlier and decided to roam the skies in her eagle form. Aurelia promised to immortalize his greatness in her journal. Kevlar blessed the blacksmith and felt the warmth of goodness seep into his bones. His corruption level went down a notch.
The four, sans the erstwhile missing Sam Lantern, disembarked at a town that looked like it was leveled by a natural disaster. Everyone said their thanks and goodbyes. Fifi asked what else they could find in the ruined town of River Maine, while Aurelia told Mag'Khardan that they should meet again under better circumstances. Mag'Khardan informed them of the war that ravaged the town and that there should still be some remains of the castle somewhere ahead of them. Rhaz'Madan then disappeared from their sights as they focused on the picture of devastation.
Part II: Devastation
There were only piles of stones and some torn cloth on some poles stuck on the ground. Darkhan investigated some and found out it was a black flag with a standing lion. The flag was both familiar to Darkhan and Aurelia. Kevlar decided to explore and suddenly disappeared. Darkhan, Fifi, and Aurelia grew alert. Darkhan didn't sense any traps. The stone he threw to the spot where Kevlar vanished drew an unusual reaction, as if it hit a magical field. Darkhan grabbed his robe and tried to flap it in that particular spot. To Fifi and Aurelia's surprise, he disappeared as well. Aurelia summoned her creature Tharnok and it safely managed to roam around the area, confusing the young wizards. Fifi used Conjure Spirits and asked Aurelia for names. She named Miss Avon, the mistress of her old orphanage, but Fifi didn't receive a response. Aurelia began to think that Miss Avon might still be alive somewhere after all. After much contemplation, Fifi decided to walk to where the two adults vanished. Left alone, Aurelia was left with no choice but to follow.
When they opened their eyes, they saw a somewhat familiar town. It was River Maine, but it wasn't as dilapidated. And to their utter surprise and confusion, they knew they weren't themselves. Wherever they were, it made them swap bodies with their comrades. Kevlar the cleric somehow realized that he was in Darkhan's body. He could feel and remember all of Darkhan's past actions that he extremely disapproved of. Darkhan was struggling with the fact that he could feel himself being cloaked in the goodness and blessing of Pelor. Fifi realized he turned small and Aurelia was uncomfortable at the discovery of an appendage that she had no idea how to use.
Before they could all convene, undead warriors bearing the crest of the Order of the Black Flag started attacking them. The four trudged on, trying to escape to safety while being forced to use their swap buddy's attacks and spells. They ran towards the castle and Fifi-as-Aurelia remembered that it was an old school where the master had taught. Fifi-as-Aurelia remembered how to get to the library. Darkhan-as-Kevlar suffered considerable damage and tried to heal himself but it only made his glowing cross to turn black. Aurelia-as-Fifi offered to heal Kevlar-as-Darkhan but the Cure Light Wound spell was ineffective. Even the potions turned thick and black. Having left with no other choice but to explore the derelict castle, Kevlar-as-Darkhan checked the two doors in sight for traps and found none. Darkhan-as-Kevlar went inside the open outhouse from the castle courtyard and beheld the sight of corpses. Fifi-as-Aurelia followed and recognized the bodies on the ground as the two old ladies from her orphanage. The exposure to death and decay shook their mental state and increased their corruption levels.
Aurelia-as-Fifi and Kevlar-as-Darkhan stayed outside, shouting if they found anything of interest or if they're alright. Fifi-as-Aurelia sounded rattled but warned them vehemently not to enter the outhouse. Fifi-as-Aurelia and Darkhan-as-Kevlar went out and led the other two to the other door, which turned out to be the pantry. The feeling of death lingered. The food had gone stale. The produce had turned rotten. More bodies—some familiar to Fifi-as-Aurelia—were strewn across the floor.
The four turned more wary. They all decided to follow Fifi-as-Aurelia who knew the way to the master's workshop. Aurelia-as-Fifi stayed close to Fifi-as-Aurelia and used the Cloak of Invisibility on both of them. They will tap the floor with their staves to sound off their location. Kevlar-as-Darkhan used stealth, while Darkhan-as-Kevlar prepared his shield and morningstar again.
They reached the castle's main staircase leading to the upper level. There was a portrait of a familiar looking archmage. On the landing of the first flight of stairs was a man wearing a dark cape and armor lying on the floor under a pile of rubble. There was a huge hole in the ceiling. He was clutching a letter in his hand. Kevlar-as-Darkhan checked first if there's any sign of danger before he plucked the letter away from the dead man's hands. It was a missive addressed to the king of Lorenthal Tirith, telling Zendel Blackedge that they were being outnumbered by the corrupted citizens of River Maine. They needed reinforcements and they were under attack. Kevlar-as-Darkhan saw the signature and he—Kevlar—knew in his heart that the dead man on his feet was Darkhan's father—a valiant and forgotten knight who had stayed and continued to defend the town of River Maine even when his king had chosen to abandon him.
Kevlar-as-Darkhan looked meaningfully at Darkhan-as-Kevlar for a while while folding the letter, which he tucked inside his pockets. Fifi-as-Aurelia asked if he found any important information. Kevlar-as-Darkhan simply said, "It was nothing" and continued to investigate the area.
Suddenly, the Forgotten Knight's brittle body moved, as if it was controlled to move to life.
Part III: Acceptance
Darkhan-as-Kevlar used his shield and morningstar to fight. Althroughout the battle, he kept hearing voices in his head about the greatness of Pelor until he was directly asked, "Do you accept Pelor as your god?" He denied him twice.
Kevlar-as-Darkhan dealt him damage using his dagger. His dagger remained stuck in the knight's gut. He looped a rope onto the ring attached to the dagger before jumping around pillars in preparation for another attack. Weakened from his earlier injuries, he failed and was left in a vulnerable spot.
Aurelia-as-Fifi's Magic Missile missed, but the concentrated warmth from her cantrip distracted the Forgotten Knight into thinking he was being attacked from behind. The Forgotten Knight turned around and swung his Fire Mace, spreading fire around the area.
Fifi-as-Aurelia cast Fireball and dealt considerable damage to the Forgotten Knight, but not enough to stop him from launching a deadly attack towards the direction of Aurelia-as-Fifi and Kevlar-as-Darkhan.
The voice asked Darkhan-as-Kevlar once again. "Do you accept Pelor as your god?" Seeing his own body in danger, as well as Fifi's, Darkhan-as-Kevlar finally accepted and he felt the cross in his chest glow.
Feeling empowered, Darkhan-as-Kevlar rushed to save the two by tackling the Forgotten Knight and plunging the glowing cross in his exposed chest. For a moment, Darkhan felt like he was himself again—his thoughts running through his own body while still holding the cross against the Forgotten Knight. In his head, he heard another voice—-a voice that should have been unfamiliar but his heart had achingly known whom it belonged to—-telling him how proud he was of him of his choices, beyond any doubt; that he did the right thing. The body perished right before his eyes and the remains sparked into embers that added further damage to the area.
The sight of destruction triggered a memory in Fifi-as-Aurelia. She remembered her master telling her she was destined for greatness but her path was mired with danger. She saw a vision of her master at his workshop with Myre Silverfang—-both looking younger, less weathered, but still serious—crafting the Ring of Silverfang—-both looking younger, less weathered, but still serious—crafting the Ring of Sephilus. She learned that King Zendel was a white dragon who can also become Obscura Akastimazillan, or Dark Death himself. The Ring of Sephilus forced the corrupted side of the dragon king into the ring that served as its vessel. The king grew weaker and the blight across the lands pervaded. Myre Silverfang unfortunately brought the Ring of Silverfang unfortunately brought the Ring of Sephilus close to the king and triggered his mental corruption, thus earning him the status of an exile. The vision vanished and she realized they were still inside the castle still on the verge of destruction.
They all ran as far as their battered body could take them. They reached a somewhat empty spot that felt relatively safe and built a campfire. Darkhan realized he was again—and still—in Kevlar's body. Darkhan as Kevlar flopped ungracefully onto the ground, trying to digest everything that had transpired so far. Kevlar-as-Darkhan met Darkhan-as-Kevlar's eyes and both understood that they somewhat knew whatever the other knows.
Fifi-as-Aurelia has also somehow learned of Aurelia-as-Fifi's memories as an orphan and also learned about what she knew about the ring. They sat down together in front of the campfire but chose not to talk about what they knew with the others.
Not far from them, a light shone brightly. Kevlar-as-Darkhan stealthily investigated the area and found a shining gold plate. They all remembered a phrase they read earlier before coming to this confusing place: "Gold is the color of divinity."
Without thinking twice, Kevlar-as-Darkhan touched the Gold Plate and was fully healed. The rest followed suit until they were all touching the Gold Plate. They felt healed and then they were surrounded with a blinding white light…
When they opened their eyes, everything felt normal again. They also felt stronger and wiser. Darkhan found himself holding a familiar looking mace, the very same Fire Mace that the Forgotten Knight had been holding: his "Father's Memento."
They realized they were in a rather busy looking town and there was a commotion near them. Darkhan stealthily went ahead to find out pertinent information. Fifi used his cloak to turn himself invisible again and followed. Kevlar and Aurelia walked together until Aurelia saw an official looking person. She let go of the cleric's robe with intent to charm the information from the officer.
Darkhan had reached the center of the commotion. At the center of the gossiping crowd were three bodies.
Three familiar looking bodies.
Darkhan leaned down and looked at the stiff and prone body of the man who had helped them a couple of times, and then at the other two who served as his companions at least for a while: Mag'Khardan, Tic, and Braddoc Elohir were on the ground side by side.
A movement caught Darkhan's attention and when he looked up, he saw Sam Lantern. The bard's mouth twitched—resembling a smirk that Darkhan had found suspicious from the very beginning. And before Darkhan could do anything, Sam Lantern had disappeared amongst the crowd, leaving him nothing but more questions…