The Harbingers have won.
Still reeling from the loss of one of their own, they abstain from the celebration in their honor in Dambrath’s capital of Cathyr, staying among the diminished werewolves of Luenath until they are healed of their wounds. Some injuries leave deep scars: Garret finds himself with a predilection for drink, and even after being healed by Blais, Khymerus finds himself less trusting and more suspicious of those closest to him. Occasionally he sees things that are not there, a haunting reminder of the Far Realm’s touch upon his mind.
With no mission to enforce their fellowship, the Harbingers find themselves drifting on the winds of chance. Garret is the first to leave, then King, then Kelshar. Silaqui, Bhediya, Khymerus, and Hamo return to the city of Herath, where they discover that a powerful cleric from the Spires of the Morning in Waterdeep has come and gone, raising Luth from the dead. The werewolf renounces Malar under the unforgiving eyes of priests serving Lathander and Berronar Truesilver. He pledges himself to the cause of eradicating Velasco and the huntlords, but he is in no condition to carry out his vow. He is very much weakened from his long death and will need months to recover from the experience, if ever he does.
An eager Silaqui inquires about the mysterious Lady Silver, who was responsible for assassinating Luth. He replies that Silver is the most mysterious of Velasco’s lieutenants. She goes about hooded, wearing a mask of hammered silver, and serves as Velasco’s personal assassin. Luth has never seen her face. Silaqui finds she is not at all reassured by the werewolf’s knowledge.
Bhediya takes it upon herself to escort Luth back to Luenath by way of Camp Dambron. Although Karal’s pack has been eliminated, the huntlords are still entrenched in their summer strongholds in the west. Moreover, Muramand’s great army has splintered apart into dozens–perhaps hundreds–of tribes and clans who now fight for dominance south of the mountains. Dambrath has become a more dangerous place for travelers. Bhediya and Silaqui share one last girls’ night at the Damp Spot, for old time’s sakes, and then Bhediya departs with Luth.
Hamo and Khymerus escort Silaqui down through the Underverge and back to T’lindhet. There, they find a city in the throes of change. The Night Market has reformed, though it is smaller now. Most merchants shun the city for fear of another invasion, as the drow failed to protect them once. This blow to the city’s trade, along with the intervention of the foreign Harbingers in the Siege of T’lindhet, has paved the way for a newly liberal stance on non-drow within the city. Already, the High Houses have sent representatives to the Melanith Confederation in hopes of forging new trade agreements. House A’avaleith is at the forefront of these new opportunities, guided by Varithra’s competent hand and bolstered by Silaqui’s status as a bridge between Underdark and overworld.
Khymerus becomes skilled in the arts of speaking Drow and writing in the Espruar script, easily picking up the complex language in the following months. Hamo serves as Silaqui’s eyes and ears within the city and frequently gleans secrets from the merchants of the Night Market. Silaqui trains him in the art of Drow Sign, allowing her to capitalize on opponents who might let their guard down around non-drow.
None of the three realize that Kelshar is also in the city. House Doth, too, is on the rise, as Akhamet has taken advantage of the decimation within the Canton of Arcana’s ranks to fuel his rise to power. He handily takes over the canton, becoming the foremost authority on magic in T’lindhet. In his gratitude for Kelshar’s indirect help in his ascension, Akhamet teaches his cousin the fundamentals of ritual magic.
Varithra is, of course, frustrated by Silaqui’s insistence on throwing herself into weapons training. The Lady of House A’avaleith is haunted by the near thing that was her duel with Tethron Morvinas. Over several months, she reaches a breakthrough: when using her reaction to make an opportunity attack, she has advantage against her foe. She swears she will become the best duelist the city has ever seen, in case anyone should challenge her as she once challenged Tethron.
Garret returns to the city of Maarlith. He finds himself struggling with the desire to drink, but his newfound fondness for spirits has little effect on his skills as an assassin. Free from the morals of his friends, he throws himself into bloody business, making a small fortune from various contracts. He is troubled, however, by rumors of incursions from Cathyr’s Knotter’s Row Gang, apparently under new management. When he hears the name “Karal” bandied about, he is troubled, but keeps the matter to himself. Knowledge, after all, has a price.
He dreams more and more of a broken horn, spiraled horn, and often feels eyes on his back. People in the criminal underworld begin to refer to him as the Lucky Man. None of them know his name, for he is too careful for that, but he seems never to be taken by surprise.
King returns to his home village of Wildernsedge, near Ammathtar, but is restless there. He is plagued by memories and feels powerless when confronted with the absence of his mother. The druid seeks solace by wandering in the wilderness, honing his survival skills, until his rovings take him to Maarlith.
Meanwhile, a nothic with vague memories of battle and a strange-colored blade finds himself traveling with a woman named Etreia. She informs him that she, too, is a nothic, but her magical abilities allow her to appear as a human. The nothic thinks that he, too, was once human, but he cannot be certain. She names him Raak, and the name sounds familiar enough that he accepts it as his own. Over their months together, the woman tries to help him recover his memories. She has him try tinctures and casts spells upon him that she seems unwilling to endure herself, but to little avail. The woman grows frustrated with him, but she is all he has ever known.
A day comes when their paths cross with a circus that has traveled from across the Shaar Desolation. Etreia introduces him to its ringleader, a brown-scaled dragonborn named Kikoreth, and tells Raak that he will be staying with Kikoreth for a while. Kikoreth gives her a sack full of coins, and she leaves, and the circus travels onward, having secured a new curiosity for its show.
Bhediya arrives in Luenath. Blais is grateful for her presence, but wary of Luth. She charges the former Malarite with proving himself by keeping the city safe, and seeks Bhediya’s assistance with a curious ailment plaguing a newcomer to the city. It is while dealing with this matter that Bhediya encounters a group of adventurers out of Maarlith that remind her ever-so-slightly of her friends (and Garret) and the glories and horrors they once fought.
Plagued with wanderlust, she writes to Khymerus via the Book of Sending, suggesting that the Harbingers have a small reunion in the city where their journey began. Surely, she thinks, it will be an uneventful and welcome gathering.
But that night, she is plagued by a strange dream. She sees the Saltpeter father temple in the Council Hills of the Shaar Desolation. It is an impregnable and imposing stronghold, and it is there that Auseus Grey is imprisoned. The man has been mostly comatose for months, but in Bhediya’s dream, he awakens. Helpless, she sees him slip through the bars of his cell like an eel wriggling through a fisherman’s grasp. He surprises his guards and kills them with brutal ease, tearing limbs from their bodies with impossible strength. The man, who is perhaps no longer entirely a man, expresses no emotion as he slaughters his way to freedom. He is driven only by a distant siren voice, calling to him: the call of the kaorti.
Called by Bhediya, several of the Harbingers reunite in the city of Maarlith to share what they’ve been doing with their lives. During a visit to the Winking Weasel, they learn from Vashram that the Knotter’s Row Gang has moved into town and are trying to force him out of his inn over a dispute. They decide to take in a carnival that has recently come to town, Kikoreth’s Caravan of Wild Wonders. Coincidentally, two other members of the Harbingers are at the same carnival.
King has tried to infiltrate the carnival to free the various abominations and monstrosities, feeling called as a druid to do so. Garret is there because one of his clients has ordered Kikoreth killed. Garret stumbles across a nothic, the carnival’s newest acquisition for its freakshow. He is content to free it before he sees the Knife of Firelight embedded in the flesh of its back. Immediately aware that the creature must have a connection to the events at Heller’s Fort, he tries to befriend it. It calls itself Raak and tells him that it is owned by the carnival, having been sold by Etreia. Garret ‘purchases’ Raak for a single gold coin, which he gives to Raak, informing the creature that it is free.
The rest of the Harbingers make their way into the carnival and play an archery game, which they win handily. At the same time, King stumbles upon the scene, drawing the wrath of some carnies. They try to interfere with the escape, which draws the Harbingers to the scene to defend their friends. During the combat, Khymerus lights one of the nearby tents on fire, which spreads into a great conflagration.
Taking advantage of the confusion to escape, the Harbingers don’t realize that Garret has abandoned them to pursue his mission. King puts out a flaming elephant as they make their way out of the collapsing carnival, but they don’t draw undue attention in the chaos. An unsettling scene awaits them at the Winking Weasel: the windows and door are broken and Vashram appears to be missing. He turns out to be nursing his wounds in a secret tunnel below the inn. After Bhediya heals him, the invisibility spell hiding Raak fades and Vashram is shocked to see a nothic in his inn.
The party seems to have taken to Raak, but needs a means of hiding him. Vashram tells them that he was assaulted by the Knotter’s Row Gang, who did not take kindly to him getting new guests there while they are pressuring him. He has an opportunity that can benefit the party and hurt the gang: one of the criminals’ patrons is a merchant named Mesium Mirewood. He is wintering in Hazuth, but he has a collection of magical items that includes a cloak that allows one to change their form. If the party breaks into his mansion, they can recover the cloak and send a message to the gang for Vashram.
The Harbingers spend the rest of the day shopping, though Hamo and Khymerus fall ill. At night, they dodge the local curfew and make their way to Mirewood Manor, only to find that the way is barred by magical traps. The first, a basilisk, turns Silaqui to stone. Within, they find a blank wall that leads to a hidden writing chamber. While Kelshar and Bhediya investigate it, Raak and King rifle through Mirewood’s supply of capes and fine clothes. Kelshar and Bhediya find themselves trapped in the writing chamber with a repetitive mimic, but manage to decipher its riddle and get the door open.
The four remaining Harbingers make their way through a room that is clearly a safety chamber for a werewolf, then proceed to a chamber with a mirror and an empty treasure chest. They discover that the mirror is a portal of sorts and dump its contents–a khayal named Yost and the sought-after treasure–out onto the ground.
The genie grants them a boon, restoring Silaqui from her petrified form. He is curious about why the party appears to be touched by the Shadowfell, but leaves them with a warning not to cross paths with him again. With the cloak and several other magical items in tow, they begin to deface the mansion.
After ruining Mirewood Manor and stealing a great quantity of good moktessa and other wines, the Harbingers return to the Winking Weasel to enjoy their spoils. Raak uses his new cloak to turn into a voluptuous woman, deeply confusing an increasingly drunk Vashram.
The barkeep, filled in on the fact that Raak might be what remains of Resh, tells the party that he might be able to help. A wanderer from the east, a monk, has been making waves in town by seeking people to help. The foreigner pledged their services to the Belamond family, whose farmstead has been occupied by the undead since a brutal gnoll attack on the branch of the family dwelling there. Monks, he reasons, are workers of ki and might know a means of improving Raak’s questionable condition.
During a stop at Alinser’s, Bhediya trades the mimic book to Elsimore for a pair of magical trinkets. The party then proceeds out of the city to the Belamond Stead. There, they stumble across a battle already in progress, lending their aid to the halfling monk Seraphina Lightbottle.
Though they are able to defeat the undead, the party realizes that they lack the capability to permanently cleanse the Belamond Stead. Seraphina says that her order, the Order of the Opal Cat, might just have a way to restore Resh’s essence to his body. She agrees to guide them to Krenalir, but will not simply tell them the way due to her vows. Together, they set back off toward Maarlith to prepare for their journey.
Vashram presents the party with two complications when they return to the Inn of the Winking Weasel. The first is that they cannot make the voyage to Krenalir by sea–at least, not directly. Trade Princess Loris Caumbrath, the leader of the Melanith Confederation, has been escalating an internecine trade war with Durpar for several months and most ships are deterred by the rising tariffs. The party also recalls their difficult passage on the Maid of Dolphins, a ship with which the barkeep connected them, and would really rather not use his services again.
The second issue is more compelling. They have been invited to dine on the next night in an official function with Trade Prince Aethel Dekhor, the ruler of Maarlith. He was allegedly offended when the party did not return to Maarlith to be honored after the Battle of Heller’s Fort, and wishes to do so now. To this end, he alludes to a considerable monetary award.
After visiting Alinser’s, where the party purchases new magical items that include a suit of Aasimar plate armor for Bhediya, the party prepares for the dinner. Khymerus tries to teach Raak how to transform into a more tenable form, and King flies out of town to commune with nature and a plant he has been cultivating.
During the night, Garret experiences a horrific dream wherein he is a small slave child, approached by a woman with only half a face. The other half is impenetrable shadow. She pulls him free from his cell and becomes “Lilith”, the pseuodonymous rakshasa who originally marked him for a mysterious patron. He stands with her atop a high pillar of raw stone, drawing his attention toward a black keep in the distance. Then she shoves him from his perch and he falls back into his body.
The next evening, at dinner, the party meets Aethel Dekhor’s chirurgeon, Korris Fenn. Although he is magically disguised, Bhediya realizes that he is Karal. She is unable to expose the werewolf, but it is clear that he is toying with the Harbingers. They dine with Fenn, Dekhor, and a drow from T’lindhet named Hanlassa–Hanli–R’yeth. The young drow is deferential to Silaqui, as she is from a much weaker house looking to establish a trade in Bhaerynden truffles with the city. Dekhor seems to be interested in Hanli’s offer, inviting her to speak with him at length. He also honors the party with a considerable chest of gold.
When Raak, in disguise as a strapping young athlete, blurts out the word “boat”, Aethel inquires about the party’s needs. When they ask if he can help find them a way east, he says that he cannot get them a ship out of Maarlith. He is, however, willing to get them passage on a secret fleet he is running out of Delzimmer to circumvent the Trade Princess’s tariffs. He grants them a commendation and a letter of writ, telling them that they have quite a journey ahead.
Using their dispensation from Trade Prince Dekhor, the party purchases horses, a cart, and a pony for Seraphina. Their haggling with the horse merchant is considerably eased by the presence of King, who spots coalblack on a horse being sold as a black stallion. Together, the party heads northeast, encountering few troubles on the road despite spotting a large pack of migratory gnolls.
On the second night in the wilds, Garret and King are on watch when they spot something moving beyond the stand of bergamot trees in which the party has camped. Garret notices feline eyes and feels his marked hand burning. He sneaks away from King and discovers an albino rakshasa in the woods. She introduces herself as Nishri, and confirms that she had played the part of “Lilith” back in Herath. Embodying an odd mixture of threat and encouragement, she tells Garret that his road will take him past an ancient fortress soon. Speaking for Garret’s patron, she demands that he convince the party to enter the keep.
True to Nishri’s word, the party encounters a black stone fortress on a ridge a day and a half outside of the ruins of Crimar. Seraphina cannot see it, and the party reasons that perhaps their stay in the Shadowfell has altered them somehow. They find a way up, although Bhediya and Khymerus fail to make the climb and Hamo stays to guard the horses and cart with Seraphina.
Atop the ridge, the Harbingers discover a scattering of raven feathers. Garret’s work is not difficult at all: his party mates voluntarily explore the ruin. The place is obviously magical in nature, as evidenced by a horrific mural, depicting the Blood War, that inserts the viewer’s face into the fray. They discover a wide variety of traps and trick doors, making their way to an armory where they are assaulted by possessed arms, skeletons, and an explosive flesh golem.
On their way deeper into the keep, Kelshar discovers a small music room and recovers a flute and accordion.
Outside of the keep, night falls and werewolves begin swarming past. The pack has hundreds of wolves, but they seem unwilling to come too near to the ridge. One, braver and bigger than the others, is grey and tawny, an older wolf. She catches Bhediya’s scent and comes near, ignoring the Selunite’s compatriots. Bhediya greets her in wolf form, and the strange lycanthrope retreats without betraying her intentions.
Hearing a commotion within the keep, Bhediya and Khymerus search for a safer way up with renewed urgency. They manage to reconnect with the other Harbingers just after Garret triggers a falling stone trap that blocks the party’s way forward. Bhediya opens the path with a Shape Stone spell. King and Raak remain in the music room, as the strangeness of the keep seems to be unmanning the nothic.
Making their way to a royal chamber, the party discovers a spectral lich named Rafassis. Although he is largely incoherent, he indicates that he has been charged with guarding something terrible down below the keep. He fights with incredible fervor, shredding the party’s defenses with spells, but the Harbingers prevail. Sparing the lich’s phylactery, the party tries to communicate with him but only manage to garner his assistance in restoring their spent spells. They discover a secret passage beneath Rafassis’s throne.
Down below, a beholder that Rafassis summoned–Gorgofex–has turned into a horrific undead creature. He attacks the party, charming and later killing Kelshar, but Bhediya is able to resurrect the bard in time, albeit down one eye. They struggle with Gorgofex, virtually tearing the monster apart, before making their way to the treasure chamber it was guarding. Within, the party finds a mosaic honoring Gargauth, the Tenth Lord of the Nine Hells. The centerpiece of the treasure room is a strange shield floating in the air. Only Khymerus is able to remove it from its wardings.
Garret takes the shield, having seen a strange figure in its depths. The Harbingers depart the looted keep. That night, Garret has a peculiar dream where Nishri recovers Gorgofex’s fallen corpse for purposes unknown.
The party is making their way northeastward toward Delzimmer when Kelshar topples from his saddle, suffering the aftereffects of zombification and his blinded eye. Knowing the region, King suggests that they take him north to the village of Dunfeld for needed rest. The village sits at the lowest reaches of the Hills of Dead Kings, which are a hotbed of werewolf activity during the winter months due to their drier climate and more temperate weather.
When they make it to Dunfeld, Bhediya feels a sense of familiarity with the village. She believes she was orphaned in Dunfeld until she was taken south to Cathyr to be raised by the monks of Selûne. She comes across a small shrine of Selûne at the town’s outskirts, manned by an old woman with a nightingale familiar. After paying her respects, the party finds an inn called the Pack Mule’s load and negotiates a stay there.
Their rest is short-lived, however, as werewolves led by the packmistress Lagria attack the town, raiding it for supplies and to spread the curse of lycanthropy. The Harbingers intervene, and to their surprise, Lagria asks them to parlay instead of ordering their death. Taking especial interest in Bhediya, she claims that if the Harbingers will return to her camp, she will leave the town unmolested for the remainder of the season. The party accepts.
Lagria’s star has risen recently among the Huntlords. When Karal disappeared, most of his werewolves joined with her pack. She assumes that she has the Harbingers to thank for his ‘death’. She is a convivial host to the distrustful party, taking them to hunt with her. The party fights a huge wyvern and fells it easily. Afterward, King notices that the creature had a bridle and saddle bearing the marks of his father’s bloodline, House Reneiros. He conceals this and tells no one.
While feasting on their kill, Lagria proposes a melee between the Harbingers, promising that she will see any who fall restored by virtue of the Malarite priests who serve her. The party fights, impressing the werewolves. In the ensuing celebrations, Lagria takes Bhediya to show her one of the reasons why she was so interested in the Harbingers. Their ally, Branduin Bleakshard, is her prisoner, having survived the destruction of Heller’s Fort.
Lagria points out that Branduin’s Crown of Innovation will give the werewolves a considerable tactical advantage once Branduin is broken and tells them how to use it safely. While she is speaking with Bhediya, a runner arrives to inform her that they’ve discovered a badly injured elf in the flatlands nearby.
This new prisoner proves to be Quisarious Leyallen, an eladrin from the Feywild. It was his wyvern that the party found, as he was chased out of the Feywild by malevolent faeries called the Wild Hunt. He quickly ingratiates himself to the party by telling them that he can provide them with a means of escape: there is a faerie ring not far from the camp that would allow them to escape into the Feywild if they could just get free from the werewolves.
Lagria takes Bhediya out under the auspices of hunting together, but in truth, she is curious about how strong Bhediya is and how far she is willing to go to win a fight. After taking a beating from the Selunite priestess, Lagria reveals that she has been concocting a plan. She wants the Harbingers to help her overthrow Velasco. He has taken the werewolves far from Malar’s precepts, organizing them into a fighting force when Malar is a god of the hunt. During this discussion, she alludes to having whelped previously. She says that she tried to use an abortifacient, but it did not take, and she gave up her only daughter in the town of Dunfeld. Bhediya suspects that she might be this child, but Lagria says there is no way they will ever know for certain. She is pleased, though, by Bhediya’s strength and tenacity.
The packmistress makes it clear that there is no choice: she has already summoned Velasco to the camp. The Harbingers must help her against Velasco or she will let him kill them. She offers to let Bhediya go, but Bhediya insists on facing fate with her friends.
They return to the camp to treat with Velasco, with Bhediya pretending that she has decided to reconsider her allegiance to Selûne. Velasco does not seem to believe her, but he allows the ruse to continue. Lagria uses Bhediya’s sympathy charm to send a message to Garret. He lets Branduin free as a distraction, and then in the resultant chaos, the Harbingers get free and attempt to assassinate Velasco.
Things do not go as planned. Velasco draws on his powers as a Chosen, staining the moonlight crimson and becoming unstoppable. Lagria realizes that her attempt has failed and tries to lead Velasco away from the Harbingers. With Quis in tow, they escape from the chaotic camp, dodging the Velasco’s monstrous wolf form and attackers from all sides. They make their way to the faerie ring.
While trying to activate it, Quis takes an arrow to the chest, but Khymerus is able to aid him in activating the ring. Together, the party and Quis stumble into the Feywild.
In the Feywild, it is clear that Quis’s condition is grave. The arrow that struck him is barbed and has a hollow filled with poison. Garret identifies it as drow poison and uses some of Silaqui’s blood to concoct an antidote. King speaks to a dour old tree to aid in finding other components to the tincture, and Elvarg departs to hunt the life-rich woods of the Feywild.
While the party is unable to remove the arrow without killing their new ally, they manage to provide him a measure of protection from the poison. Silaqui, Kelshar, and Bhediya work together to stabilize him with healing spells before they set up camp for the night. While they take turns on watch, a huge shape moves by in the forest, shattering trees as it goes. More worryingly, vines surround the dome of magic keeping the party safe for the night. King tries to get through them, but they poison him, and he is only able to escape their grasp by transforming into a dragon wyrmling and burning the vines’ source.
On the next day, Quisarious identifies the plant as a death blossom. He says that he would prefer going around the forest they are in, a wood once named the Forest of Reckless Endeavor. In recent years, a darkness has set into the woods, and it is now known by a drearier name: the Corpsewood. With the barbed arrow, a slayer arrow, in his chest, there is no way he could make the longer trip.
The arrow itself bothers Silaqui and Kelshar. From what they know about Malarites, they do not typically use poison, as it violates the spirit of a clean hunt. This arrow was a particularly efficient and unsporting means of bringing down prey.
King scouts as a brass dragon wyrmling and discovers huge humanoid tracks and broken trees. Quis realizes that a fomorian giant has made it into the forest.
While making their way through the woods, they come to a narrows that is a perfect spot for an ambush. Kelshar sends his familiar to scout ahead and it is assailed by a mature death blossom. The party is set upon by a tribe of hungry redcaps, who have apparently cultivated the blossoms to ensnare unsuspecting passers-by. To make matters worse, the fomorian catches up with the party during the battle and nearly kills Hamo.
The party fends off the dual-pronged assault only to find that redcaps have kidnapped Quisarious.
Silaqui is unable to lock a Hunter’s Mark onto the fleeing redcaps, but she uses her more conventional tracking skills to chase them down as the rest of the Harbingers pursue. The redcaps assail them with poison darts and trick the party into a glade of ancient, evil treants who try to restrain Kelshar and Garret. Garret uses his Feywild Boots to try and escape the grasp of one of the monstrous plants, but something interrupts their teleportation powers and he disappears.
Unable to find him, the party forges onward. They manage to pierce the magical illusion cloaking the redcaps’ steps and are soon on the trail once more. After a dangerous brush with poisonous vines, they detect a glade cloaked in unusual energies. Therein, they find a felled treant with an ancient sword of cold iron buried in its bole. Raak pulls the sword, Brynsvaltr, free. Khymerus also finds several scrolls beneath the treant. He is unable to decipher one that mentions a creature known as the “Morrigan.”
While sneaking up on the village of the redcaps, King deduces that Quis is being held there to replenish the creatures’ blood supply. The dark fey are born from bloodshed, and must routinely bathe their distinctive caps in blood or vanish from existence. The sheer number of redcaps suggests that a murderous creature spawned them and has been keeping them well fed.
As the Harbingers move in to save their ally, they discover the source of the bloodshed: the Morrigan. She is a vicious opponent, but flees to alert the rest of the Wild Hunt once the Harbingers manage to prevail over her redcaps and treants. It’s not long before the horrible cries of black dogs fill the woods, and the party must flee.
With the Wild Hunt alerted to the Harbingers’ whereabouts, they take flight toward the safety of the elven city of Wilderbrink. Pursuing them are a pack of cu-sith: fey hunting dogs that are invisible to the eye and incredibly vicious.
At the party’s urging, Raak brings down an old tree that is full, almost to bursting, with thick sap that hinders the terrifying pursuers. Undeterred, the hounds trail them to the banks of a black river. The flow of it moves strangely, just slightly more languid than water ought to be, and when Khymerus peeks into the depths, he sees a cold, black city down below that is lit by pale limelights.
Khymerus dives into the river, heedless of its oddity, and the water carries away several days’ worth his memories before the party is able to rescue him. The droplets of water on his skin coalesce into smoky raven feathers that puff away into black smoke.
Bhediya casts a Water Walking spell and they traverse the river safely, reaching the Thornwall. The huge expanse of stone and overgrown thorns protects Wilderbrink. There, they fight the Alderking, a vile huntmaster, while eladrin mages rain down arcane fire on the dark sprites and cu-sith pursuing them. Raak is struck by one of the fey arrows.
At the apex of the battle, Daerodalian Reneiros, King’s full-eladrin father, appears atop the high white battlements of Wilderbrink. He uses his ring, Vedra, to repel the attackers with bursts of pure nature magic. After sharing a long stare with his son, he departs the quieting battlefield and leaves the party in the care of an elven lieutenant named Valandra.
Although she is obviously grateful that they saved Quis, she has the Harbingers put under guard. Her troops escort them through the expanse of rainbowed pale stone that is the lower city. Wilderbrink is built across vast platforms that spiral up the trunk of an immeasurably immense tree like mushrooms growing from its roots. On one of these tiers, the party is placed in a jail that could be a palace, by its own rights.
After some delay, they are freed and escorted to Daerodalian in the middle of a vast feast beneath the bole of the tree. Faeries commingle with the eladrin, wisps float in the air, and all eyes are on the Harbingers.
A woman wearing gems and a sheer gown that changes colors as she moves descends from Daerodalian’s dais to greet King. It is Kalista, his mother, and she is not the prisoner that he believed she was.
King’s reunion with his mother quickly sours when he realizes she has been in the Feywild for all this time without sending for him. More, he has spent the years believing that she was a hostage to his good behavior. She protests that she attempted to send for him, but that time sometimes works differently between the worlds of the Feywild and the Prime Material Plane, and he had long since left Wildernsedge by the time a messenger arrived.
But King contends that he did receive a messenger, an elf from the Reneiros household guards. This man had told King that he was to leave Wildernsedge and never return. Ridian Reneiros, the duke’s full eladrin son, intercedes. He claims that the warning was delivered to King in error. None of the Harbingers believe him.
Being weary, the party is taken to chambers along the bark of the great tree. Open to the air and looking off into the strange sunless sky, the quarters have a view of the surrounding woodlands. Beyond the city, it’s clear that the Wild Hunt has stationed themselves just beyond the reach of the eladrin mages. The eladrin are confident that the Wild Hunt will never breach the gates, as they have tried before.
Quis, healed by a council of eladrin mages, is assigned to taking them around the city. While he escorts them through a nursery, a little girl speaks to Hamo, demanding to know why he abandoned her. Quis tells the party a bit about elves and their cycle of reincarnation. He points out that past-life memories usually come to elves very late in life, but that the Feywild plays havoc with this natural process. It is entirely possible that the little elven girl is the rebirth of someone who perished in Hamo’s home village.
This also explains why the eladrin pity the drow, a fact that begins to grate on Silaqui and Kelshar. Neither can see the beautiful colors suffusing the stone of the city, and so it looks cold and hard to them. Matters are made worse when the whole party indulges in valaquinde, a beverage concocted by fermenting sap of trees descended from the ancient trees of Arvandor. It awakens memories of past lives for the elves, specifically reminiscences of Corellon himself before the betrayal of Lolth. Other party members are affected differently: Bhediya is assailed by memories of primal wolves, and Khymerus glimpses a cold hell that might belong to his devilish ancestor.
Bhediya and Khymerus attempt to contact Alinser, but he responds via their Books of Sending that he is on another plane and is months away from returning to the Feywild. Instead, they decide to seek out another magician’s shop to make needed purchases.
Their tour of Wilderbrink involves a visit to a magic shop owned by Kestria Corellathon, where Kelshar procures a new eye that grants him monocular truesight. It ends on the high stone battlements of the Thornwall, looking down on the Unseelie encampment. Daerodalian joins them there and says that he does not fear the dark fey because of Vedra. While they are conversing, his ring reacts with Bhediya’s, quietly singing.
Their tour of Wilderbrink ends on the high stone battlements looking down on the Unseelie encampment. Daerodalian joins them on the battlements and says that he does not fear the dark fey because of Vedra. The ring reacts with Bhediya’s, quietly singing.
That night, while supping with the duke, several elves who were injured in the battle with the Alderking begin to convulse. They vomit up blood-covered redcaps, revealing the Alderking’s subterfuge. He has spawned a force within the city of Wilderbrink itself. Raak manages to survive the escape of the redcap that gestated within him, and the party fights off a group of the horrible little creatures. Still more escape into the city, causing chaos and breaking open the warded gates that protect Wilderbrink.
The Harbingers set off after Daerodalian, Ridian, and Kalista, who were escorted away during the strife by eladrin soldiers that include Lieutenant Valandra. Daerodalian has one of his scryers show the rising bloodbath in the lower city, and he is aghast. Lives that have gone on for hundreds of years are being snuffed out. He commands one of his mages to Teleport him down to the lower city.
There, the bloodshed is terrifying. Pools spill over the white stone, and as they watch, the Alderking advances upon an elven soldier to cut her down. Daerodalian uses Vedra to raise a wall of thorns before the terrifying assailant, and calls out for him to stop. The Alderking halts, and Daerodalian tells him that he will go to the hunt’s mistress, the Queen of Air and Darkness, willingly.
The Alderking whistles, and the shrill sound echoes over the battlefield as the dark fey slowly retreat. Wordlessly, the Alderking looks at Daerodalian and nods, a cruel cast to his smile. A shadow comes over the sky and a chill enters the air. Kelshar sees a woman of unearthly beauty, her hair as black as fresh-dyed velvet and with blood-black eyes. She approaches through the breached gates, steps toward Daerodalian, and shadows swirl around the two as they vanish.
Kalista screams and sobs, but King holds her back from running toward where Daerodalian stood. True to their word, the hunters withdraw, leaving the eladrin dead and dying.
In the aftermath, it’s clear that Ridian will be named duke, which will result in Kalista’s expulsion from the court and King’s exile from the city. She is too busy mourning to care. That night, Bhediya’s and Khymerus’s books vibrate with the word, “Surprise.” Alinser arrives in response to the party’s earlier summons. He clarifies that time works differently on other planes, so months passed for him in the hours that were expended in the Feywild. King leaves to walk around the city, unwilling to be a part of the conversation.
In the morning, he still is not there. Amidst the mourning of the eladrin, they go to Kalista, who is mourning her consort’s death. As they’re talking with her, she mentions that he had spoken of visiting with Kestria once more. A tremor goes through the air and Kalista looks suddenly confused as she vanishes away. They hurry to Kestria’s shop.
The magician, unrepentant for her part in what is going on, tells the party that she gave King the information he was looking for on a means of purging his human half. Out in the Corpsewood, there is a cavern where eladrin once went to reflect upon the flow of time, but it has become a dark place, the seat of the wood’s corruption.
The party goes there, only to find that there are wards meant to keep out creatures who are not eladrin. They find a lightning trap, cavern walls that turn to liquid and begin to press in upon them, and finally a large cave. Within, there is a seedling in the center and an opening a hundred feet up. As they proceed through the cavern, the tree grows into a dry, dead oak. They have to water, altering its destiny into that of a great and thriving tree, in order to climb up into a hollow in one of the walls.
Beyond, they find a huge gemstone that they recognize as a phylactery. They encounter its occupant, a dracolich named Erystrasz. Once a silver dragon, he sacrificed his life to protect what lies within the cave. They find Erystrasz locked in a timeless battle with King over a temporal wound. They rush in, joining the expanse of slowed time near the event horizon, and are able to defeat the dracolich after a pitched battle. However, fighting over the wound has destabilized it, and they are sucked into a swirling vortex of power.
The Harbingers find themselves alive but disoriented, lying on a hillside in eastern Dambrath. There is fresh dew on the grass and the sky overhead is dark and full of stars. But there’s something wrong. Vast patches of blackness seem to scar the night sky. From one of them belches forth a sickly silver meteor, its trail alive with flame of a nameless and unsettling color. As it impacts with the ground below, the earth shakes and lets out a tortured groan.
More meteors rain from the sky while the party collects themselves. They see that King is nowhere to be found. An old chest has fallen through with them, clearly from the dracolich’s lair. They collect its treasure and hurry down to a nearby bridge crossing a sluggish flow of muddy water. While exploring the area and trying to get their bearings, misshapen creatures find them and attack.
They are so occupied with these beings that they do not notice a group of humanoids sneaking up on them. At the head of the party is a half elf with a lute strung over her shoulder and a battered Saltpeter rifle. She realizes that the Harbingers do not immediately recognize her, and reintroduces herself as Auryn Sevenstrings, the bard that they met many months ago.
Auryn is not certain that they really are the Harbingers, but she knows someone who can make the determination. She leads them across a cratered landscape, pointedly ignoring a creature that appears to be a forest of maws and tentacles a mile or so away. They come to a ruin that Auryn reveals to be the city of Ammathtar.
There, she brings them to an old friend: Branduin Bleakshard. He is initially furious at the Harbingers’ “disappearance”, but is glad that they have returned. They meet a trio of adventurers in his employ. Felgrin, Jhyr, and Ari are the only remnants of another adventuring party, and they blame the Harbingers for letting the entire world go wrong. Felgrin reveals that the Harbingers have been missing for over a year in the Feywild.
In that time, the world fell apart. Separated from Luenath by a war between Halruaa and Dambrath, Felgrin’s party was unable to prevent the Wolfplague, and werewolves across Dambrath became extinct. This allowed Halruaa to push into Dambrath as far as Herath before being repelled by Herath and the Seven of Steel, but a group of Halruaan geomancers reactivated the Herath volcano. This destroyed the city and left Branduin as the sole survivor of the Seven.
Auseus Grey broke free from the Saltpeter Redoubt in the Council Hills and was empowered by the kaorti. He returned to the Saltpeters and brought them under his vile sway. In the chaos caused by the rampage of his corrupted Saltpeters, Karal was able to become a lich by making common cause with the Shades of Tenebrous, a group of cambions–half-demons aiming to reunite Orcus with his divine essence. Leading a tireless tide of undeath, Karal has wiped out most of the Melanith Confederation armies in central Dambrath.
United with the Saltpeters, the Cloister of Revealing Fire (the Farflame Cult) has achieved their goal of thinning the gap between the Far Realm and the Prime Material Plane. The boundaries of reality have begun to collapse. Now, the Saltpeter forces corrupted by Auseus have made their way southwest into Dambrath to eliminate the last shreds of resistance.
A great battle near Ammathtar was almost a disaster for the resistance force, but elves led by King Daerodalin II Reneiros saved the day. This gave Branduin the idea to retreat into the Feywild with the survivors under his protection. However, Daerodalian was captured in the fray and the elves will not allow passage into the Feywild without him.
They party seek out the elves, who are engaged in a ceremony over Vedra, praising Corellon. Among them, Quiserious and Valandra serve as touchstones to this altered timeline’s events involving the Harbingers. Quiserious was captive with the Harbingers, but when they made it into the Feywild, they found themselves drawn by visions to an ancient cave underneath the boughs of a red willow. He did not pursue them inside, thinking they had been slain by what awaited within.
At the urging of the elves and Branduin, the party must sneak to the ruins of Ammathtar Castle. They are seen off by friends old and new, including a powerful sorcerer child named Phadim, who has become a ward of the second party.
Navigating the ruins, the allies avoid a pack of Saltpeter Scouts along the way to their goal. They are controlled by familiar creatures: mind flayers. Garret must fight off a pathological fear of the aberrations.
They make their way to the courtyard of Ammathtar Castle and engage in a daring attack with the aid of the other party. This involves taking control of two huge cannons, Saltpeter constructs with the ability to fire devastating projectiles over vast distances. Raak gleefully turns one of the cannons upon the castle itself, obliterating Saltpeter reinforcements and blasting a way in. The party makes their way into the cells and discovers that King Daerodalian II is none other than King himself, having achieved his goal of becoming a full-blooded eladrin by altering time. He has no memory of the Harbingers, but finds them familiar.
The party makes use of invisibility and flight to escape the Saltpeter army that has been stirred up by their attack. As soon as they get back to the camp, evacuation preparations are executed, and the ragged refugees hurry toward the nearby faerie ring that leads into the Feywild. Most of the refugees are through when Auseus Grey attacks, hurling an unsuspecting Phadim into the surrounding woods and gravely injuring the boy.
Although the Harbingers and their allies are able to fend off Auseus’s new powers, he slows them down enough that the Saltpeter army manages to catch up. It’s clear that someone will need to stay behind to hold them off so that the eladrin can shut the faerie ring permanently. Felgrin, Jhyr, and Ari volunteer themselves.
The Harbingers and King make their way to the dracolich’s cave in the Feywild, where they discover this reality’s version of themselves and the original King. At the Harbingers’ urging, King unites with his other self and recovers his memories. He was responsible for altering the timeline, so desperate was he to purge his human half. If it had not been for his friends, all would have been lost.
This, it is revealed, was part of a test by Corellon Larethian, the god of all elves, who had taken on the form of Quiserious. He offers the party the chance to undo the damage done to the timeline, going back to the point in time when they departed. All he demands is a penance: King must come with him. The druid agrees, humbly offering himself to the god. Before departing with King, Corellon touches Silaqui and Kelshar each on the forehead, wreaking an unknown change in each.
Darkness closes in around the Harbingers as the aborted timeline dies. They awaken on the same hill near Ammathtar, this time to an undisturbed night sky. Numbering seven, they move on toward the city and their ongoing journey.
Brigands attack the party on their way to the city of Ammathtar. One of the bandits has an old Saltpeter pistol that looks badly damaged. Once they have dispatched the bandits, they find a Saltpeter corpse nearby. It looks a few weeks old and is being picked at by buzzards.
The party finds refuge in what remains of a Crinti rancho. While staying the night there, Gargauth manifests before Garret, pulling him into a fantasy where the rancho is thriving and resplendent. The devil informs Garret that the Shield of the Hidden Lord, recovered from the Fane of the Tenth some time before, is a physical manifestation of his prison.
Garret, enchanted by Gargauth’s promises of power, offers to destroy the shield, but the devil makes it clear that it needs to be taken to the city of Tirumala in Durpar. There, Garret is to contract a rakshasa named Usamaru to properly extract Gargauth from his prison.
Upon reaching Ammathtar, the party discovers that the names and descriptions of the Harbingers are well known in the city. Kria Gant, their Saltpeter ally, was found near-dead in the wilds, missing an arm and leg and feverishly ranting about a monstrosity. They find her convalescing at the house of a kindly older blacksmith, where she is working on forging herself a mechanical arm.
She relays the events of weeks past, when Auseus Grey slipped free from his cell, horribly mutated by the influence of the Far Realm. Saltpeters were corrupted by his madness, Auseus left Kria untouched.
She reveals that Auseus was headed eastward, toward Vaelen, pulled along with single-minded intent.
The party remains in Ammathtar for a needed rest. It is a city full of colleges and libraries, and they use the opportunity to relax and take in needed information.
Silaqui visits, and later spends the night in, the College of Dust. She liberates an ancient tome from the stacks after discovering that it is a magical book, full of information about the Shining South.
Kelshar is upset when he is denied access to Ladric’s College of Sword and Song, a bardic college, because he is a drow. Growing irritation within him causes him to clash with the college’s guardians, and he is accosted by members of the city guard.
Garret and Bhediya commit a minor heist against Brightwood, an academy of healing, through a clever combination of spellcraft and deception. Bhediya retrieves an alchemy tome from the college, but does not find anything helpful to ward off the strange symptoms she has been experiencing.
Their casual jaunt through the town turns dangerous when the party finds that Kria’s spread of their descriptions has attracted attention from beyond Ammathtar. A paladin of Lathander, Fjath, has been drawn to the town on a search for Resh. He arrives at the Book Worm, the Harbingers’ inn, and demands to see Resh.
Fjath does not accept the Harbingers’ assertions that Resh died at Heller’s Fort, and the party clashes with him and his mercenaries. Garret loses the Shield of the Hidden Lord during the fight, as Fjath Thunder Steps away.
Kelshar pursues and attacks the paladin in broad daylight, viciously knocking him unconscious. This is done in full sight of the local guards, who quickly rush to protect the paladin.
The Harbingers subdue Fjath’s mercenaries, but they are badly outnumbered by Ammathtar’s guards. Desperate to retrieve the Shield of the Hidden Lord, Garret tries to attack one of the devout priests of Lathander accompanying Fjath, but the panicked cleric uses the fullness of his holy might to summon a powerful planetar of Lathander. The being arrives accompanied by a pack of spirits taking the forms of blink dogs.
Recognizing that they have gone too far, the Harbingers send Bhediya forward to negotiate with the holy being. The planetar is suspicious of Bhediya, telling her that the Shield of the Hidden Lord is a hellforged artifact, and that Kelshar has been corrupted by his new eye. Worse, confirming the party’s suspicions, it is the Eye of Vecna, one of the most powerful objects of evil known to the world.
Bhediya is able to sway the creature away from eliminating the Harbingers, promising to find a way to safely destroy the Shield of the Hidden Lord and the Eye of Vecna. This mollifies the planetar. It takes the shield and leaves Kelshar alive.
In the aftermath, the party retreats to the Book Worm. They let most of Fjath’s mercenaries go, but decide to employ Vulst, a red dragonborn, to help them make it to Delzimmer.
On the way to Delzimmer, the party is pulled off-course by the cries of a woman in peril. Vulst, motivated by selfishness, discourages the party from responding. He says that gnolls have been active in the area lately and frequently use innocent victims to lure in more prey.
When the Harbingers investigate, they discover no gnolls, but find that the woods have become overgrown with strange vines. The source of the invasive blossoms appears to be a small homestead at the woods’ edge.
There, they discover a monstrous pumpkin and Etreia, who seems to be under its sway. After smashing the animated plant, Etreia comes to her senses. She says that she had heard the Harbingers were in the northeast, but had no way to find them, so she animated the pumpkin golem to cause enough of a stir to attract their attention.
Fueled by rumors, Etreia had extrapolated that the party had found a way to restore Resh to his original state. She demands the privilege of coming with the party. Rather than risk a confrontation with the mercurial nothic, the party takes her along under the condition that she remain on her best behavior.
Accompanied by Vulst and Etreia, the Harbingers approach Delzimmer while the coast is being menaced by a pirate invasion. They see part of the Golden Fleet, their promised transportation to Durpar, under assault in the harbor. Dodging the attackers, the party make their way toward the docks, but they draw the attention of a group of pirates.
These are no mere privateers. They are powerfully magical beings, deeply hooded and robed, and are accompanied by enchanted weapons and armor that rise to their defense. The party is about to be overwhelmed by the unexpected strength of their foes when Seraphina joins the fray.
When she kills one of the pirates, an illithid tadpole wriggles out of his ear before expiring in the open air. As the rest of the Golden Fleet arrives in the harbor, the pirates quickly disembark, leaving the town battered but not broken.
The Harbingers learn from the townsfolk that these are fairly regular raids, as the pirates are motivated by profit and a desire to swell their ranks with more victims for the tadpoles. The pirates are worshippers of Ilsensine, the illithid god, and are led by a corsair-turned-zealot who made a bargain with the goddess.
Seraphina knows the pirates well due to their constant hunt for her homeland of Krenalir, where they believe an ancient power is kept.
Vulst thanks the party for employment and they leave the dragonborn on good terms.
Down at the harbor, the Harbingers present Trade Prince Dekhor’s writ to Admiral Jerrec, the commander of the Golden Fleet. They are a trading company, mercenaries of Delzimmer hired by the prince. Jerrec takes the party on board his flagship, the Golden Rod, and they embark on a journey toward Krenalir.
Seraphina demands absolute secrecy and care as the party sail toward Krenalir. She halts the ship in waters far off the Durpari coast and requests a rowboat for the party. After an afternoon of sailing, Seraphina reveals a pendant whose light shines toward an empty spot on the waters. She pilots the rowboat there and throw a veil of magical wardings. Beyond it lies Krenalir.
Late that night, the party comes ashore on a white sand beach. It abuts a jagged stone bluff that rises far into the air. Seraphina calls out to her kin, but there is no answer from the island. With Khymerus’s assistance, the party finds an illusion concealing a narrow stone path up to the island. A distracted Garret nearly gets stuck in a craggy bend on the way up.
The island is a small halfling community, mostly a village and a monastery home to the Order of the Opal Cat. Elder Rafel, one of the monks, welcomes Seraphina home and opens the monastery’s limited hospitality up to the Harbingers.
When they inquire about a way to fix Resh, the monk tells them about a fissure deep below the island that breaches into another plane. There, thought, form, and essence are all one. It might, he claims, be the path to Resh’s recovery. Raak seems confused by all of this, but Etreia is fascinated.
The party resolves to go together in the morning, but when they wake to a traditional halfling feast, they discover that Etreia has gone on ahead.
They make their way down into the darkness of the cleft, contending with an irate guardian that takes the form of a shadow drake. Upon defeating it, the party enters the cleft, and finds themselves consumed by shadows.
The party enters into a surreal dreamscape, where they see a high mountain stretching above a plain of grass. Pale mist rises from Raak’s skin, seeming to bleed into the surroundings. It is clear that he is the source of the world that the party inhabits.
Bhediya, too, seems oddly affected by the place. She glows a faint blue that shades past the visible spectrum, an indication of the Far Realm-enhanced plague tormenting her. After finding that this place is influenced by the mind, she tries to will away her illness.
The party follows a manifestation of Resh toward the mountain, where he passes through an ornate door. They find several keys to the door, but only one allows them to go forward.
Passing through the door, the party finds themselves walking through Resh’s life, from boyhood to a tumultuous young adulthood. They witness his fostering with the benevolent priest Kastolat and his forbidden love with Casma, a much older acolyte of Lathander. Working through the puzzles thrown up by Resh’s subconscious defenses, they experience his failure to ascend to the priesthood and his subsequent meteoric rise in Vaelan as a soldier in service to Lathander’s Ever-Radiant Army.
As they are about to witness the Battle of the Golden Line, where Resh famously gave in to his berserker rage and felled dozens of beastmen, Bhediya’s Far Realm influence disrupts the demiplane. She finds herself suddenly part of Resh’s memory, tangibly present as an oncoming force of beastmen come to crush Resh’s forces.
Raak is tormented with psychic pain as his memories struggle to reconcile the disruption.
The party hurries Bhediya out of the line of attack, but are caught up in Resh’s memory bodily. They fend off the enemy’s surprise masterstroke: vampires and vampire spawn buried on the field of battle who burst free as soon as the sun sets. Amidst their own struggle to survive against the lethal memories, they witness Resh’s rampage through the enemy forces.
They then see him honored for his heroism, and the envy and spite that his rise provokes in two other servants of Lathander. One is the paladin, Fjath, that has been hunting Resh. Raak finds himself unable to recall the name of the other.
The rivalry between Fjath and Resh culminates in a fistfight over the graves of Resh’s fallen comrades. That night, he goes to dine with Kastolat, who reveals that Resh has finally been offered a place in the priesthood. Resh refuses over the priest’s objections, but they are interrupted by an intruder: a creature without form that breaks in through the window and kills Kastolat. Moments later, Fjath breaks into the chamber with guards and attempts to arrest Resh, who flees through the window and falls into the river far below.
The manifestation of Resh admits that he does not want these memories any longer, and that he wishes he could just be a simple nothic. Bhediya tells him that the world needs Resh Caden, baggage and all.
In a final shift of memories, Resh sees himself at his moment of death, high in the skies above Heller’s Fort. This time, the Blade of the Black Star reintegrates, and Resh takes it willingly. The platforms below give way, and the party crashes down into nothingness.
All of the Harbingers find themselves lying in an empty cavern, accompanied by Resh and a blade that closely resembles his meteoric sword. They ascend back to the monastery.
Etreia has preceded them. She claims to be an innocent priest’s wife named Frissa, but Khymerus pierces the illusion surrounding her. She is revealed to be Azmoda, Khymerus’s half-sister, torn apart by the powers she stole from Asmodeus. Still unstable, she is overwhelmingly strong, subduing the Harbingers and then cutting the Eye of Vecna from Kelshar’s head, killing him. She departs, promising the Harbingers that she will not be so merciful if they dare interfere with her again.
Bhediya orders Kelshar’s body brought to the monastery’s shrine. She attempts to resurrect the bard, but he does not return to life.
Unbeknownst to her, Kelshar has found himself in Arvandor, an impossible miracle for a drow. He finds himself in preternaturally beautiful woods, his elven soul having been welcomed home by Corellon. The god appears to Kelshar, revealing that he has been watching the drow’s struggles. He offers Kelshar a choice: stay in Arvandor and rejoin the cycle of rebirth, or return to his battered drow body and potentially prove his entire race worthy of reconsideration in Corellon’s eyes.
Kelshar reluctantly returns to life just as a crier lets out a warning: ships have breached through Krenalir’s defensive wards.