Historians are not likely to remember favorably the sacrifice and dedication shown by the men who traveled across the world to face the awnsheleghn known as the Sphinx. The Crusade to find and kill this beast was perhaps a folly. Nothing was gained and hundreds of Anuirean men spilled their life’s blood upon the sands.
However the crusade did serve to unite four men in common cause. The twin brothers Ward and Porter, the Cleric Victor Raniel, and the Khinasi warrior Athar Thelal fought and bled together during the two year ordeal that has finally culminated in their return to the shores of Anuire. They have come back empty handed. But they have come back to the shore of Anuire with their lives intact. Many of their fellows were not so lucky.
The four men return to the shores of Coeranys to find a letter awaiting one of them. Victor Raniel is summoned to the home of his uncle in a neighboring province with the news that his father maybe ill. They travel there to discover Victor’s father is thankfully still alive and well.
The men meet Count Amarante Raniel, who holds a banquet in their honor. In attendance are two Journeyman Wizards, both under the tutelage of Master Colgrevance Raniel. Both being non-humans, they both stand out in the room. The two wizards are currently living and studying at Raniel Manor. Dorious is a dwarf from Barak-Azhik. Zale is a wizard of both human and elven decent.
Also in attendance at the banquet is the Count’s daughter, Reyanne Raniel.
Dinner is interrupted by the arrival of an elven messenger. Thurenz is an elf from Baen Asea. He brings a token of peace to the Count and delivers news of a strange darkness which has been increasing within the forest in recent years. This immediately peaks the interest of the group’s Cleric, Victor and seems to worry the Count.
The group begins making plans to visit the woods on the next day, but the preparations are interrupted twice. The first comes from an invitation to go hunting from Sir Conner Raniel, the son of the Count and Victor’s cousin. The group spurns Conner’s invitation and Victor gives him a disapproving speech or a pep-talk to change his ways (depending on your point of view) and the group gets back to their preparations. They are again interrupted, but this time the interruption is a rider from Doyle Manor with a desperate plea for help.
Marrion Rivers, a herder from Doyle Manor tells a horrifying tale about undead. Immediately, the Cleric determines to deal with the menace and his Uncle gives the group his blessings. He empowers them to act as deputies of the law and arms and equips them as they need.
The group sets out with Mrs. Rivers leading the way back to Doyle Manor and they arrive late that afternoon.
They discover four skeletons in the barn and make short work of them, but in the process the elf, who is obviously also a wizard, manages to set the barn on fire with one of his spells.
Meanwhile, Dorious demonstrates the awesome power of blood through his use of divine wrath channeled into a spell. It makes even Zale retreat a couple dozen feet. But it is from this vantage point that he sees three evil looking shadows flee the flames of the barn and into the manor house.
“Three shadows just fled into the house.” He says as the group stands back and watch the barn go up in flame.