Leelo dedicates several years to infiltrating the Sheaim and Infernal empires as an agent of the Overcouncil, or at least what remains of it after the gutting of Elohia by Mardero. To facilitate these intrigues, she assumes the identity of a Svartalfar diplomat who suffers misfortune during the perilous journey to Galveholm. There she learns of the existence of a second Soul Forge at Dis and confirms Hyborem and Mardero are indeed trapped in the Iron City for a period of five years before they can once again walk arcanearth in corporeal form. The famed ‘Storm Queen’ Os-Gabella has disappeared from view.
Leelo receives a cryptic message from her long-lost brother Keelo: “the ascension grows near…” Leelo quickly returns to Evermore, capitol of Ljosalfia, again disguised as the missing Svartalfar diplomat. Queen Phaedra is not fooled but keeps Leelo’s subterfuge a secret. The Summer Queen, Prince Amelanchier and Viconia the Winter Queen are likely the only living beings aware of Leelo’s true heritage. And of course Leelo herself since the revelations of Nidarchus in the lair of Belchorzh.
While roaming the woods of her homeland Leelo gains the friendship of a tiny red, gold, and blue pseudo-dragon, one of many fey creatures roaming the ancient woods around Evermore and the Pool of Tears. This new familiar is able to travel alongside his master in a hidden pocket dimension. Very useful for Leelo’s forthcoming travels in Svartalfia and Illia!
From Evermore Leelo journeys north to the lands of the Winter Queen. Indeed, Svartalfia is now shrouded in a permanent fey winter where green plants somehow grow rimed with frost and fantastic crystal blankets of ice span the living trees. The dark elves’ pact with the Illians and Auric Ulvin seems to suit them well. But at what cost to the other peoples of arcanearth?
Her mother was well aware of Leelo’s true identity. But like Queen Phaedra, Viconia chooses to keep this information to herself. As before, Faeryl showers Leelo with gifts and patronage but no formal acknowledgement. Finally, the cryptic warning uttered by Nidarchus years ago deep beneath the Vault of the Nine is revealed. With the aid of her mother, Leelo outwits the dark elf hero Alazkan to retain possession of Nidarchus.
During her years in Svartalfia, Leelo ventures into the frozen lands of Illia but discovers nothing more of her brother. Instead, her efforts yield alarming information. Os-Gabella is working to aid the Illians in their great project, the ascension of Auric Ulvin to the avatar of winter. This presages the return of Mulcarn and a new Age of Ice, something not even the dark elves would welcome. In but a few short years, arcanearth will be divided into equally unpleasant hells: Mulcarn’s ice in the north and Hyborem’s fire in the south.
Mesmer looked at the spells organized on his desk. Each one was stacked neatly and arranged by level and importance. He had more experience now and a better understanding of the world he was forced to endure. “I need a grimoire that truly arms me for the perils ahead!” He could barter and trade until he amassed an acceptable collection of spells. However, one spell stood out from the rest.
Mesmer picked up the parchment directly in front of him. It was this he would concentrate on first. He had brushed the shoulder of death too many times to dismiss it as mere chance. Should the accursed rune once again impinge itself upon his existence, he would undoubtedly find himself in situations that could lead to an untimely demise. “If only I can accomplish this task and not die in the process, I will have the edge needed to survive any eventuality.” True, it wasn’t immortality, but after contributing to the demise of Asmoday, the wizard wasn’t about to go down that route.
The journey would require a visit to all the guilds of arcanearth and no doubt squander much wealth and magic in the process. This alone was the work of years, but the other arrangements would require a bit more effort and help from a source not immediately apparent. He carefully placed the parchment into the special protective container and sealed it with a spell, placed it on the desk, and began packing for his journey. While not otherwise sentimental, Mesmer would bear with him the silver sword of his father, reforged after its destruction in the Vault of the Nine.
At long-last free of the cankerous rune-curse, Mesmer embarks upon a five-year quest to augment his power with the greatest magical incantations available in arcanearth and beyond. Along the way he visits every known mage guild from the southernmost isle of the Dremmenstad Shadowlords to the remotest crag of the Chaoticists and all points in between. Whether by trading, buying, begging, or stealing, the universe of spells flows into Mesmer’s ever-growing arcane library. But one spell eludes him, a charm that will grant him the secret of life itself without the unseemly corruption of lichdom.
In his researches Mesmer delves too deeply into the secrets of dimensional magic and thereby comes to the attention of Os-Gabella, the Immortal Storm Queen and possibly the last surviving apprentice of Kylorin. In the chaotic flight that follows, the desperate wizard randomly leaps into a plane of existence entirely encompassed by a single great world-city contested by ten powerful factions. But fortune is with the lost wizard. Among these factions are the Simic Scientists who fuse magic with a novel technique known as ‘science’ to produce wonders undreamed of in arcanearth. After much haggling and finally a trade of great consequence, Mesmer comes away with his most treasured and hoped for prize. Zegana, archmage and Prime Speaker of the Simic Scientists, decrypts the stubborn spell and will deliver to him a most precious vessel nine fortnights hence.
Mesmer returns to a world in far worse shape than he left it. Hyborem and Mardero will soon reform material bodies and march forth once more. A strange yet all too familiar chill blows from the north. The Illians and their god-king Auric Ulvin are up to no good. Stephanos the Conqueror now controls the entire Hippus empire. At this rate, the First Horseman will soon have company.
Krag gazed out over the sparkling waves below Dragonrider Castle, home of the late Rune Heroes. All had departed save himself. Much time had the war-priest ruminated upon recent years, the carnage, the untold destruction and pain wrought by his enemies…and by himself as well. He could not deny the change which came over him in the vault of Asmoday. The rose of fire had not returned but he would forever seek it out.
The Ember half-orc considered his decision, but it was final. No longer would he serve the god of war. Xrarog’s bronze circlet flew over the crashing surf to disappear beneath the blue waters of the Lavrentine Gulf. In that moment Krag fell to his knees, struck by a bolt of divine thunder only he could feel. All the greater powers granted by his former deity were gone save those of the lowest rank.
A few days later, Krag stored his warhammer, shield and breastplate in the castle armory and took up a sturdy walking stick carved by Rabat, alter-ego of the titan Eurabatres. Armed only with his staff and clothed in the simple robes of an itinerant priest, Krag stepped out onto the dusty road. In his travels he had many adventures, helped many in need and always worked to repair the harms visited upon innocent people.
After five long years of wandering, Krag found himself standing alone upon a high cliff above the northern verge of the Earthsea, now frozen solid by the oncoming Illian winter. His frigate the Witches Brew lay anchored in the Gulf of Tiranis three hundred miles south. Krag’s heart leapt as he glimpsed a far curtain of scintillating fire above the polar horizon. This could only be the Ring of Carceri, a legendary prison created by the fallen goddess Bhall to imprison her most loyal archangel Brigit the Shining. The former priest of war set out at once, a tiny speck struggling across the vast expanse of ice. He would free his rose of fire from her icy prison or die trying.
Months later, the Witches Brew lay trapped in the icy grip of Aurin Ulvin’s unnatural winter. From across the windswept waste marched a burning figure. Krag had returned a priest of fire and first prophet of the new goddess of fire, Brigit. A jet of flame from his holy symbol, a golden censer, burned away the ice. Without a word the mighty cleric put his shoulder to the anchor chain and pulled his ship toward the open sea.
Hoxton bids his former rune-cursed companions farewell shortly after returning to Dragonrider castle. Serlatha the purple-kobold thief and Beebop the rogue monodrone will accompany the monk on his travels. Chrysanthe, now alone in the world and perhaps the last golden dragon in arcanearth, agrees to fly Hoxton’s party of ‘shorties’ four hundred leagues across the continent to Ljosalfia and the Pool of Tears. There Hoxton plans to renew his acquaintance with his human foster-father and mentor, Master Cosmas.
Ethereal steps spiral upward to the invisible Guardian Monastery situated between the colossal trunks of three mighty cypresses. The still waters of the Pool of Tears glimmer in the shadows far below. Only three young monks attend the silent sanctum and halls. Hoxton finds that many left to fight the Infernal armies during the sack of Elohia but few returned. Most of those who survived now watch over the narrow channel between Warrenpoint Isle, captured by the Infernals, and what is left of the Elohim mainland.
Among those lost is Master Cosmas. Inquiries reveal that Cosmas perished fighting scores of Os-Gabella’s shadow-monks and vampiric assassins during the successful attempt on archmage Corlindale’s life. Nevermore will the master’s diamond soul ride the Seventh Wind down the mountain as was his custom.
There are many such Elohim Guardian Monasteries scattered about arcanearth for the purpose of watching over sacred places of power, such as the Pool of Tears, or keeping vigil over some latent danger like the Broken Sepulcher. Should he so choose, Hoxton can don the mantle of ‘Master of the Pool of Tears’, there to stand vigilant and train a new generation of monks. However, such a pedestrian fate does not accord with Hoxton’s innate tendencies.
After a few years training Serlatha in the ways of the Elohim Order and placing Beebop in the care of expatriated gnome artificers, Hoxton meets Chrysanthe on the snow-clad peak above Evermore. The young gold dragon has learned one of the tricks of her extinct elders and now appears as a slim, golden-haired maiden with eyes of luminescent topaz. Such a skill will be more than useful in the upcoming intrigues and escapades. Together they resolve to dedicate their lives to a project the late Master Cosmas would have heartily endorsed. The blood-sucking children of Os-Gabella will soon gain a new perspective on terror, this time as victims.
Mavriy stood atop the old Patrian ruins in the hills southwest of Junon. Below spread the wastes of the great eastern desert separating Grigorian, Ember, Calabim and Malakim borders. Four empires perched like vultures over a crippled peace with the threat of hellfire looming in the west and icy doom creeping from the north. Isolated yet strategic, this crumbling keep would make an ideal stronghold. Nor would she change its outward appearance to alert friends or enemies. They would live underground and travel in the extensive tunnels and caverns of glass carved out by her companion.
Nebotus exploded from the sand in a plume of dust and lightning, being sure to accidentally cover his half-cambion mistress in sand up to her chest. The booming laughter of a sixty-foot blue dragon never got old. Even the grim agent of the Nightwatch shrank back involuntarily. “My lady, our agents are active in Amarna, San’ta’ron, Costa del Sol and Edge. Should anyone make a move we will be adequately informed.” Now that things were settled here, she could focus her attention on other matters.
Arcane sages of the Catacomb Libralis quickly solved the riddle of the gold spectacles. “These artifacts were crafted by Kylorin himself and make visible certain intra-planar doorways, both ancient and more recent. One such door undoubtedly exists in the crystal caverns above the fabled City of Gold.” Ten days later Nebotus landed in the alpine valley above Thonis. The Museum of Man was empty and silent, its magic departed along with the Titan who created it. Mavriy donned the spectacles and stepped through a misty gateway where Nebotus could not follow.
For years Mavriy remained entangled in the intrigues and machinations of Tanelorn’s ten guilds. As an unavowed agent of the Azorius Senate she was privy to all kinds of useful and interesting information. Such as the fact that the Guildpact was now a toothless slogan. And Hyborem maintained a ‘summer residence’ in Tanelorn where he was worshipped as ‘Rakdos’ by a cult of entertainers and hedonists. But still the whereabouts of her mother remained elusive.
Just as Mavriy was about to abandon the city, she received a message from the Boros Legion. This guild was led by Aurelia, one of the few survivors of the four hundred forty angels who rebelled against Bhall’s fall from heaven at the end of the Age of Magic. “Bhall’s dominion has ended. Your mother now serves the new goddess of fire, Brigit, who has just been freed from the Ring of Carceri. By one of your late companions, I believe…”
The paladin of Esus quickly returned to arcanearth where loyal Nebotus had made himself at home in the caverns above Thonis. The former Museum of Man was now decorated in barbaric style with treasure from the ruins and bones from the dragon’s victims. Nebotus swallowed up the treasure, then both flew directly back to their desert stronghold.
The hills below Junon were covered with a dusting of snow, something she had never seen before. Mulcarn’s impending return was heralded by a new constellation of stars edging closer to the polar horizon with each passing day. Nebotus shivered in the cold, whimpered once, then disappeared beneath the sand with finality. Mavriy turned and marched alone into the north.