Xant returns to service with Silver Swords, bringing with him his tale of rescue, and Eltron’s brave sacrifice. He is feted by his peers, promoted in rank to Captain of the First Watch, and quickly becomes enmeshed in the daily doings of the SIlverswords.
But politics is not for him. Before long, his status breeds resentment among other, more ambitious members of the organization which, combined with his great guilt over the death of so many friends (and his own self-perceived failures to protect everyone), forces him into retirement. Beset by constant dreams of Quincy and Kanen set, and still obsessing over Eltron’s cryptic message, he plunges into intensive study with Ivan Kolenov, a Dark Arts sage of Mestamilsa, where he pours over ancient tomes concerning the Goldstone legacy relic, “Ferrin’s Blade” (aka The Sun Blade). Charged with finding this device and “restoring the Goldstone name,” he find no concrete evidence of where to begin, and once more lapses into despair. Worse, a wound given him in the Balicanth cave, a wound that just won’t heal, gnaws at him painfully. He stoically pushes on, hoping somehow to uncover the nature of a destiny that seems forced upon him.
Gromminique Riptor returns home to Char’n Delminnen…for a time. Always dour and prone to fits of temper, he know becomes outright violent, causing harm to those closest to him. Before long, his dishonorable behavior (which includes maiming one of his sister’s by cutting out her tongue), leads to a death sentence. He is saved from the brink by members of house D’runkin, who owed him for delivering Ludwig’s token. It seems the small box, along with Gromm’s testimony as a (then) honorable prince, restored the old dwarf’s honor, and the family owed him. Gromm is escorted out of Chaar, where he is now believed dead and gone (and where scheming rivals have taken over his holdings through marriage to his eldest sister). Still torn and enraged, filled with dark impulses, he makes his way toward the only friend he has left – Dimitriy Xant.
A trio of Ashtree Elves, led by an old friend of Eltron’s, Oryol of Ashtree, makes its way to Foursquare. Accompanied by trainees Bronwen of High Bark and Laurence Silverheart, the three are to find and meet Xant, and to “deliver a message.” The trainees have no knowledge of the whys and wherefores of the meeting (much less any message), and are further placed at a disadvantage when they are ambushed on the trail by members of The Kestral, a mercenary band. Oryol is killed in the brawl, but manages to pass off a scroll tube to Laurence, with instructions to complete the delivery and to “serve the recipient until your services are no longer needed.” The two novices also manage to capture one of the escaping operatives, an initiate from whom they derive small bits of information about The Kestral.
The fledgling warriors make their way into Foursquare, where they deliver the message to Xant. Now more scholar than knight, Xant and librarians Kolonev and Ork Ignidias Maxmillian discover two things. First, the message contains a map to the tomb of Ferrin Goldstone, the greatest of the Dozelmarian kings (and the one who abdicated to institute councilor rule). Second, they find that Gromm, weakened, weary and sick, has been “infected” by the magical throwing hammers he obtained in the Gimli Mines. The Mithril Hammerheads surround a magica; l “Zero Stone” which enforces a quest upon the wielder. The problem is, no one knows what the quest is. And the hammers are so old, the only way to find out is to talk to the long dead owner in the Halls of Hardhome, deep within Chaar. If the Zero Stones are not “cleared” of their quest, they will eventually sap Gromm of his life force (but not before driving him more mad than he already is).
Thankfully, there is a way to heal the dwarven warrior. In the mountains there is a rare herb called Hazewort. The problem? It grows in remote places, and only at certain times of the year. Naturally, this is the time, as fall begins to turn to winter. Yet, still, it’s a stroke of incredible luck. Ferrin’s Tomb lies in the same direction!
So, off the party goes, into the cold, broken crags of The Mountbane, that devouring land that defies the use of horses. Somewhere within the depths of Ermsagh Canyon is Ferrin’s Tomb. And to the west, the dark peaks of the Everrise Mountain Range hold (the heroes hope) the cure for their ailing comrade.
The group is six: stalwarts Dimitriy Xant, Warren Doomsayer and Gromminique Riptor. Accompanying them, the two young Blades of Ashtree, Laurence Silverheart and Bronwen of the Amberfist Tribe, and Max, the Scholar-Ork. The task before them – brave the elements.
And the Orst…