Continuing their adventures in the village of Umbraforge, The Hand of The Silver Flame had just barged into the foundry, an oppressively hot building through which a river of magical lava flowed, to be used in the creation of magical abominations. It was there they found their mortal foe, Morda, and his minions, busy trashing the place.
“Fools! You’re too late!” he cried, wrenching open a mystical vat of sludge, releasing one of the diabolical creations: an enormous bull, infused with vile energy.
An incredible battle ensued. With the light of the Flame surrounding him, noble smuggler-turned-paladin Jantry charged bravely to meet the vile beast, and held it at bay atop a narrow bridge straddling the lava. Meanwhile, Breogan rushed around to cut off the dark creeper’s accomplices, while Elani and Quinn aimed searing beams of divine energy at Morda himself, who once again showed his aptitude for vanishing from sight as Oris engaged him with sword drawn.
Seemingly helpless against an invisible foe, Oris retreated, leaving himself open for attack. It was an invitation which the greedy Morda could not refuse, and he struck from the shadows. However, the retreat had been only a feint! Having provoked his foe to reveal himself, Oris uttered a vow of divine retribution, and swooped down upon Morda with wings of divine light.
The battle had turned. With its movement restricted on the precarious bridge, the shadow-bull monster could not advance past the mighty Jantry to unleash its full fury. Morda was finding the Hand’s renewed attack quite implacable, and so turned again to shadowy tricks, surrounding himself with an area of pure darkness. However, once again he was foiled by Oris, and was pulled from the darkness in a flash. Quinn then invoked a spirit of the Silver Flame directly, which held aloft a spectral blade.
Their enemy was worn down, but refusing to face justice. Again, Morda turned invisible, and made to escape. Oris had seen a hidden passage in a corner, and moved to intercept, but could not detect his foe, and blindly groped the thin air. Suddenly, from the shadows behind him, Morda struck, his deadly blades aimed squarely at Oris’ unexpecting throat!
Sensing the attack but unable to respond, the deva’s eyes grew wide in the face of imminent death, and momentarily he wondered: Had he brought enough justice to the world, and be returned to it in time to continue his work? Or would he be reincarnated as a corrupted rakshasa, doomed to perpetuate evil? Oho! ‘Twas not the time for such questions: for even as Morda’s blades homed in for the kill, Quinn’s divine blade appeared in a flash, striking an instant before Morda, and the dark creeper crumpled to the floor, stone dead.
With a shout, “May the Silver Flame purge all worlds of corruption!”, Oris struck once more, just to be sure Morda was no more. Once again, Hand of the Silver Flame had triumphed, and dealt with a deadly enemy. Now they peered down the hidden passage which led into Sarshan’s fortress, and found themselves at a critical juncture. Would they escape now, happy with their temporary victory, or continue further, hoping to encounter Sarshan and bring him to justice?
Of course they wouldn’t back down! The party charged on through the passageway, until they emerged, finding themselves in Sarshan’s library, where miracles of the language barrier led to the slaughter of some of Sarshan’s shadar-kai allies. All around them were the mystical and alchemical tools to create an army of dark warforged and other terrors. After another battle with wraiths and dark creepers, the brave heroes came upon the quarters of a band of gnoll mercenaries who had signed on to help Sarshan. Ever gracious, the members of the Hand were able to convince them that Sarshan’s time in power was coming to an end, and they were free to leave as long as they didn’t interfere.
As the gnolls left in a huff, and the party ventured up the tower, picking to take the stairs instead of what appeared to be a mystical elevator of some kind. In the center of the tower they found a strange chamber which was filled with vines and plants. Along one wall stood an inactive portal similar to the one they had used to enter the shadowfell. Suddenly, deadly swarms of beetles emerged from the thick undergrowth, which they were barely able to vanquish; by this time, however, Sarshan’s guards had been alerted by the exeunt gnolls.
Battered and worn, the party prepared themselves for a bloody last stand as a dozen of Sarshan’s men clambered up the mystical elevator and surrounded them with weapons drawn. Realizing they were outnumbered, the Hand (quite uncharacteristically) surrendered. Behind them, the portal opened, and a weathered old shadar-kai stepped out. It was Sarshan himself!
The captain of Sarshan’s guards knelt before his master and told him of the party’s attack on the fortress. Trying to explain that it was all a “simple misunderstanding”, with Jantry presenting the head of Morda as proof. Sarshan was angry, but also impressed with the ability of the party, and offered them a deal: He would tell his men to stand down, forgive the destruction the Hand had wrought on his own forces, but in return, the party must agree to join him. He finished by saying, “After all, you might as well stay here, as the world you came from will soon be in ruins”, and when pressed on the matter, would not elaborate.
The party huddled, trying to decide what to do. Siding with him would be folly, but to fight would surely be suicide. Elani glanced meaningfully at the portal, which shimmered invitingly behind Sarshan. Oris nodded knowingly, and the party prepared to make a run for it, when all at once another earthquake shook the fortress, perhaps aggravated by Morda’s attack on the foundry. Through the window they saw the volcano erupt, and a red tongue of molten rock began flowing down the hillside towards the slave pens. “Time to go!” someone shouted and the party dashed towards the mystical gate. In a fury, Sarshan barked at his lieutenant, “Kill them! We will deal with this.” and departed with some of his troops.
Breogan and Oris valiantly held the line against the lieutenant and his shadowy blink dogs while the others scrambled for the portal. As they slipped through one by one, Breogan was horribly mauled, and was able stumble into the portal on his last legs. As Jantry and Oris stepped through, holding the line Quinn removed the keystone and closed the portal.
Through incredible luck (and some incredible teamwork), the heroes had escaped! Looking around, they found themselves in a lavish apartment, with large windows offering a panoramic view of Sharn. It was Sarshan’s private dwelling, and seeing as the Hand of the Silver Flame now held the key to the portal, it appeared that they would be safe from attack until Sarshan could find some other way out of the shadowfell!