The Singing Mercenaries, having recently escaped their trials in Sigil, were teleported back to Rantalia with the barkeep Ostermann’s assistance. Returned to Fallcrest, their happy band thought a period of rest might ensue, before they were called upon to to aid Jett in his quest to recover an artifact of great import to his cause against Mindartis. However, upon their arrival, a series of strange events unfolded that seemed to dash all hopes that this might be the case.
While the party had traveled with Tattered Onion, Thorn, Sasz, Mark 9, Jett, Roiclem a Cleric of Erathis and Hemerias, it seemed that only two of their party made it through the portal, along with the shawl Jett had been carrying for the purpose of enshrouding the artifact he sought. As Mark 9 and Sasz gained their bearings, they noticed a short, but familiar figure cut through the gate – Winward, Gnomic Bard and founding member of the Singing Mercenaries, had returned. Soon after, a portal opened through which Valmir,the other founding member and himself a Tiefling Warlock indentured to the Prince of Frost, was spat out.
Winward had been careening through space and time in a dimensional rift, which forced him to survive countless planes and dangers, until a fortuitous accident caused his unstable dimension to collide with the material plane, bringing him back to Rantalia. Valmir, however, seemed to have been thrown out of a portal, which made it difficult to ascertain where he had come from. However, his appearance had changed. Instead of the shadowy, hooded figure, he appeared in crimson, standing arrogantly, and seemingly boasting of some new inner strength…
As the party began exploring the town, they were shocked to notice that the entire location seemed devoid of people, until they came upon their old hideout. From the north of their location, an armor clad figure, Alain, a Knight of The Kingdom of Nerath, approached them to discuss his puzzlement at being in such a location. While they were not certain he could be trusted entirely, his confusion and agreement to their terms provided an outlet for temporary alliance.
Investigating their strong house, the Singers uncovered a chilling fact – the entire town seemed to be a powerful illusion that could not be dispelled. While it was clear that the illusion made things seem as though they were real, the shadowy interior to the buildings and lack of people indicated it was not strong enough to provide a complete masque. The illusion, unfortunately, could not be dispelled by force of will or perception, which was unusual. However, attempting to enter into the building causes a strange reaction – the Singing Mercenaries found themselves at the entrance where they had been reunited.
As they gained their bearings, a huge and terrifying creature floated towards the gate, before resting upon it and speaking to the Singers, taunting them with confounding ideas. A brief moment of insightful history reminded them that one of the objects they had acquired in the past, one of the Gogori, The Blades of Orcus, could be the present projection in front of them. What they might not have realized was that it had the power to corrupt and overcome whatever it came in contact with. Seeing as they had left it in the hands of an Archpriestess of the now defunct Temple of Bahamut, it stood to reason that it had corrupted her, given that the god’s power had waned when he was chained by Orcus.
The Nightfang, as it seemed to refer to itself, was interested in testing the Mercenaries, playing with them as a cat might a mouse. It revealed a great beacon to the northwest, and told them to seek it out when they were ready to leave, provided they passed its tests. Quickly moving away from that location, the party of Mark 9, Valmir, Winward, Sasz and Alain set out to seek this beacon and find a way home.
As they looked to the north, a wall of bodies blocked a path that had been there not moments before – the corpses too thick to travel…or so it seemed. Heading south, the Mercenaries unexpectedly encountered a group of survivors near the cliff face leading down to the lower sections of Fallcrest. Approached by a mourning father, the Singers were asked to help located one of his sons, who had apparently been teleported to this strange location sometime between the Mercenaries first teleportation and the second.
While the Singing Mercenaries agreed, they diplomatically suggested that the group of survivors remain on the high ground until the child was found. Descending yet again into the town, they heard cries for help, which led to an investigation of buildings near the river. As it turns out, the Mercenaries had been lured into a trap – the child itself was in fact an illusion, a fact brought to light when the erstwhile father appeared and revealed himself. The mourning father proved to be a devilish creature, which led to the discovery that Winward and Valmir were in fact imposters, Doppelgangers sent to impersonate them. As Alain, Mark 9 and Sasz began combat, two duergar burst out of two nearby buildings, exploding the illusions. Combat ensued, wherein the real Valmir and Winward were discovered by Alain.
Trapped together and manacled by warded cuffs, they soon joined the combat. While the combined forces of the enemy proved to be no match for the might of the Mercenaries, they did succeed in slowing them down for a time, as the devilish figure used his charming powers to dominate the allies, time and time again, while the Doppelgangers screened attacks for the duergar to launch a sickening and fiery poison at the adventurers. However, as the enemies fell, even the intervention of Devil Legionnaires proved insufficient in stemming the collective determination of the Singing Mercenaries.
As the mourning father was put to earth, he cried out that Valmir would pay for this treachery, and that somehow, the Singing Mercenaries were involved. Although it did not make much sense, it did prompt the Singers to try and take a prisoner. Finally, conjuring every bit of willpower they had, the Singers defeated all but one duergar, whom Valmir intimidated into submission. However, in an almost nonchalant manner, the duergar seemed ready to comply with their requests, as the interrogation began…