London Bucklebough, an acquaintance of our hero's, had sent them each an item for safe keeping, along with a letter indicating that he would meet them again in three months to retrieve it. He never returned and they were notified of his recent passing. They traveled far, to the town of Crimbury to pay their last respects to their beloved friend. Dael, the painted elf ranger, had served him as a guide and even possibly been a romantic interest of his. Liyal's traveled with London for most of her childhood at the insistence of her adopted father Sammeth Grijord. Alistyre Onyx-Brass was a kindred spirit, and assisted him in his horticultural studies near Meeles. Rilken Sureclaw and Shalazar were martial and academic acquaintances who met him in the town of Longcrossing, and Illiaph keeps their relationship to himself.

Memory of a Friend

London's funeral was conducted in a matter befitting him and afterwards, the party discover each others relationship to London. They reveal what items were sent to them.

A Mothers Request

was approached by London's mother, asking them to investigate the mysterious circumstances of his death. The party agree and head to the location of London's last moments, an ancient ruin in the forest of Ishtar to the South.

What they find is beyond belief. The massive archeological site looks like a warzone. Bodies of mercenaries and blackhorn rangers lay strewn about. Inside is little better. A large pool of black water spews fourth shadowy creatures. Halfling sized ones. London's employer, Terron Blackwell is not pleased to find tresspassers in his dig and after demanding they hand over the shadowmace, an ancient Tengu artifact housed in this place, he orders the ruin demolished with them inside. A side tunnel leads them out into the forest hours later and a gentle rain of ash alerts them to the tragedy at Crimbury. Unfortunately exhaustion gets the better of them and they are forced to make camp.

Tailing the Cat

The next day, they learn that fire has taken most of the town, what little remains is crushed as minotaurs dig through the rubble for screaming halfling victims drawn by a ring in Liyals posession. She puts the ring on and flees South, drawing the minotaurs away. The survivors of the attack are few in number and unfortunately, do not include London's mother. They tell the party of a group of blue cowled wizards, demanding the location of a ring. The menacing mages fled East when the minotaurs arrived. The party do what they can and rush after Liyal.

Tracking the forest folk girl through the Sunsir desert they reach Sunnuth and learn that two Kenkus named Kangee and Corbin had nicked it from her. The Kenkus, as well as the minotaurs, worked for a woman named Lassandra Legault, matriarch of the noble house Legault. The party trade her a bag of treasure from London's ruin and in exchange She trades them information on the blue cowled wizards and the ring. Unforunately, Liyal has disappeared.

They learn through Lassandras ancestor, Jodando's memoir that he and his companions were sent to recover a silver ring from a minotaur and bring it back to a cowled wizard with a bandaged left hand. They lost a Yod native named Azel in the process but eventually they succeed. The cowled wizard payed well but was never seen again. They entombed the Yod Azel in a forest shrine in the Helmstadt Vally. The wizards had once had this item but somehow lost it. Minotaurs are irresistibly drawn the the item which Jodando calls the "Seeker's Ring".

More documents list mysterious places remenicient to their description of the pool in London's ruin. The legendary Pool of Vis in the city of Shra on Narrock, The Deepblack beneith the worldcavern city of Ironwell, the Umbreal Door which seals the twin cities of Kolzamor and Kalzomar and others. These "shadowpools" seem to be dotted across the entire continent. They wonder what Blackwell would want with such an item as they wish Lasandra Legault farewell and board a ship for Wingar.

Blue Cowl, Red Cloak, Blackwell

The party take the first ship to Wingar, East of Crimbury, following the last heading of the blue clad cultist. The Winger Greeter informs them that he welcomed such a group and guided them to the Winger Royal Library in town, but that they left yesterday heading North. The party visit the Golden Troll alehouse and rest for a night while Dael visits her own home in town. The party visit the library and meet a peculiar gnome scholar named Slimwig Stapler. He guides them through the rows of books, but is forced to ask them to leave when Shalazar damages a bookshelf called ADVANCED EXTRA-PLANAR CARTOGRAPHY revealing a previously hidden doorway.

The party reconvine to find that Illiaph has a letter summoning him to a private meeting with Terron Blackwell. Illiaph and Alistyre decide to go to the meeting while Rilken and Shalazar case the library. Terron Blackwell outlines a journey to Narrock to recover an ancient treasure and help Findle recover from the looming famine.

After the meeting the party witness several cowled figures entering the darkened library. They steal some blue cloth from a store called the Frilled Dandy and attempt to pass as more cultists. Slimwig Stapler lets them inside, reveling himself as a worshipper of Vis, Lord of Secrets. He leads them into an oubliette benieth the library along with several other cultists. An abandoned cistern houses a small depression filled with a rippling black liquid. Cultists take turns removing hands and eyes and tossing them into the roiling pool. Weapons are drawn and Dael plans to demolish the unholy site with several sticks of dyanime but is stopped by a group of red cloaked hobgoblins. The combined might of the red cloaks and the blue cowles nearly overtake the party and the resulting battle wakes wakes up the entire city block. The party flee into the city after looting several items from the hobgoblin, including a letter detailing instructions to be taken concerning Blackwells ship and a contact at the White Lotus import company.

Of Riots and Ruin

Food shortages wrack the lower classes in Wingar, causing riots at the docks. Blackwells ship is being looted by civilians and the party manage to stop the burglary, helping several of the townsfolk escape into the storm drains.

Following them, they learn that the robbery was a cover for a theft by the trading company the White Lotus. The leader of the white lotus is a disturbing man, identified as an Oni. The party read the hobgoblins letter and buy the listed goods, indicating the the unknown contact that the hobgoblin's job is done. The Oni accepts this purchase and offers some advice in exchange for a bit of treasure from London's ruin.

"If you seek knowledge of the shadow way, beware the ones with the yellow eyes. Secrets are kept for a reason and the nothics do not share knowledge."

Shadows of Shra

Blackwell's journey leaves early to avoid further issues with starving townsfolk. They sail South to Narrock, stopping briefly to restock along the Eastern coast of Hul. The ships pull into the port city of Hopelight on the dark sub-tropical island continent of Narrock. A massive beacon shines brilliantly, said to repel undead from the city. Townsfolk gleefully warn them to be out of the city at weeks end as Akyri's festival of the red moon will turn the city's lycanthrope inhabitants feral beasts. The party load up their caravan with cannons and building materials, setting up their fort several days South of Hopelight, just on the outskirts of the cursed city of Shra. The party explore Shra and find the city of sweeping spires and bottomless pits difficult to navigate on foot. Some of the spires house open air pavilions piled high with treasure. They nearly lose a man, neglecting the traps placed by the ancient Tengu.

Race in the Dark part 1