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LEVEL 97 cont.
One more important person to see is the Ruler of the Islands. The Queen greets you with “May your path be lit by the moon and Northern stars.” But she’s concerned about the unusual cold touching her Islands. “Does someone intend to take my realm? They’ll have to go through me first!” The Ruler of Islands suddenly becomes a contentious ruler, “My heart grows cold, as if covered by ice. The Northern Islands are mine, and the Lord of Darkness will not have them! My fury is without limits!” One of the most important responsibilities of a Queen is the protection of her people. The Ruler notes, “Our loyal dogs are growling at the sky. They sense the impending darkness. A foreboding silence hangs over my lands.”
The Queen’s astrologists calculated the eclipse’s approach and suggest using protective runes. The Queen notes, “No mere eclipse can break our spirit! All forces are focused on placing the protective signs around our territory. They should repel the shadowy creatures. It’s hard to be a queen, but it’s my duty to take care of everyone.”
Just then, the Ruler’s mages report “our enemy wishes to speak to us! You’re reliable and clever, will you be my ambassador?
The Lord of Darkness, standing in the Ancient Garden, introduces himself. “I am the Lord of Darkness. I’ve waited centuries for your moon to enter the right phase – when the long eclipse would make me most powerful. When I felt the call of the dark moon, I tried the portal to your world, and it opened.” The Lord of Darkness said his horse, Nightmare, would turn your blood to ice. But the horse brought him through the portal without fear. “I have many devotees. My army stands ready at the threshold of the portal. They can’t follow me through…yet.”
The army of the Lord of Darkness also feels the call of the dark moon and they can be heard roaring at the portal. But there’s still time until the eclipse. The Lord of Darkness says you’re the least of his worries and continues about his horse, “Nightmare beats her hooves, and the ground shakes. It’s hard to imagine a more majestic animal, although I’ve never seen a dragon.” But says he would never exchange Nightmare for any dragon. Focusing back on the present, the Lord of Darkness says “The long eclipse is soon. The dark moon will give me the power to bring my army to this land. You should be happy. I’ll make this world even better.”
The Lord certainly isn’t going anywhere for now, “I seek power over the living and dead, everywhere the sunlight falls and everywhere that exists in complete darkness.” He asks what you want, but really doesn’t care. “You shall all become my servants, bowing to me and my power.” The Lord of Darkness senses your doubt in opposing such evil, “You’re a stubborn one, and you have fury in your eyes. I wonder how you’ll fare against my will. Have you listened to anything I’ve said? Prepare for a new future.”
The Ruler of the Islands is convinced these are all empty threats from the Lord of Darkness. She doesn’t recognize your staff, but promises to ask the wise ones of the North about it. “It’s called the Sealing Staff, and one of its parts is rather close by. It’s buried amongst the debris of the ruined castle in the woods. The fire that destroyed the castle couldn’t be extinguished, even when the mages used magical water.”
The Ruler believes only you can handle this task and appreciates your promptness, noting “Never lose that – it’s a valuable trait.”
*****The adventure will continue in a future update!
LEVEL 97 cont. (Update July 6, 2020)
The warriors of the Ruler of the Islands discovered the source of the magical fire. It seems the inhabitants had a couple of phoenixes but couldn’t handle them. The Ruler decides to take over the search for the Sealing Staff artifact part and will let you know when she has something.
The artifact part of the Sealing Staff has been found. According to the Ruler of the Islands “the trail of fire prints led my people to the Phoenix Feathers. Take care of it, such things are hard to find. I believe we will defeat any foe if we stand together.”
The assembled Sealing Staff is ready to be used for its intended purpose. “The portal to our world is sealed to the Lord of Darkness and his army, but curiously, it seems that you’ll now be able to pass through it.” This could very well just be the quiet before the storm.
Sealing the portal angered the Lord of Darkness and everyone is becoming shadows. Luckily, there is someone who can stop this.
Within the Forest of Shadows resides Lilith the Shadow Huntress. Lilith is looking for someone and hopes you can help. She is an inter-world traveler, “I can travel freely between your world and the Dark Side. I’m hunting the evil shadows that want to invade your world. Many in the Dark Side are outraged when shadows invade the world of the living.” Lilith explains that “many shadows, creatures and sorcerers seeking solitude found the Dark Side a safe place to live.” She has a secret that she will share later.
After earning her trust, Lilith opens up about the person she’s looking for. “It’s the Lord of Darkness’s sidekick – Shadow. Shadow and I are old acquaintances. More than that, once upon a time. But then he got in trouble.” She does remind you that “in case my allegiances were unclear, I’m against the Lord of Darkness. The enemy of my enemy is my friend and I will help you fight the Lord of Darkness.” Apparently, Shadow isn’t Lilith’s only motivation, there’s also the danger hanging over the entire world.
Lilith applauds the sealing of the portal to hold back the shadow beasts and says “Luckily, Shadow Elves like myself don’t need portals. We could move between the worlds since ancient times. It’s a skill that can’t be taught.” While Lilith is aware the outraged Lord of Darkness cursed all Midnight Castle residents, which transforms them into shadows, she doesn’t know how to stop it. And she also wonders how the Lord found such a curse, saying “It’s older than the ancient dragons!”
Something of interest was found among the scrolls of Lilith’s ancestors...a legend about a Shadow Tamer. “The Shadow Tamer was created by the Shadow Elves long ago. Its details are lost to the streams of time. I believe in this artifact and its power. You should believe, too.”
Suddenly, Lilith feels Shadow’s presence somewhere in the town between the worlds of the living and dead. She urges you to find him.
Shadow, still lurking around Creepy Street, wonders how you found him again. “Do you have an enchanted compass that points to me? There’s truly nowhere I can hide from you.”
Shadow continues, “Ahh, memories. So Lilith the Shadow Huntress sent you to me. Lilith and I were close long ago. I had a name then, and I was a normal man – not the Shadow you see today.” Lost in his memories, Shadow continues his story “The Shadow Elves wouldn’t accept a human suitor for their brave huntress. I came to your world from the Dark Side to prove to everyone that I wasn’t the weak human they thought I was. Lilith left the Shadow Elves and went to your world, where she hunts evil shadows.” A cold wind whispers bad tidings, but the fate of Lilith and Shadow is intertwined. “It’s strange that you’ve encountered Lilith. I haven’t seen her in so long, yet she still follows me. Could it be a sign?”
While there is a chance Lilith and Shadow can still be together, the Lord of Darkness must never know. It would be too dangerous for Lilith to meet Shadow in person, so he needs to perform a ritual using an ancient recipe to speak with her from afar. “This is a dangerous ritual, but it’s worth the risk. If the Lord learns that we spoke, Lilith might be in trouble.”
Shadow collects everything he needs for the ritual, but wonders if Lilith will ignore him. His fears were for naught, “I talked to Lilith. She’s right; I chose a dark path. A path I shouldn’t have followed. For now, my only companion will be sadness. It seems I should join your battle.” In exchange for helping in the fight against the Lord of Darkness, “Lilith said that she can help me remember who I am.”
Apparently, the Lord of Darkness is much more powerful than the Bone King, who stole the throne from Shadow. “After we rescue Midnight Castle residents, we need to stop the Lord of Darkness.” Shadow apologizes, but he wishes to be left alone for a while.
Lilith the Huntress is glad Shadow remembers her and “that he chose the right side in this conflict.” Lilith recalls one of the Shadow Tamer’s parts might be “in the sacred domain of the Shadow Elves, but the road to it is long forgotten.” After racking her brain, she remembers a shadowy path leading to the entrance of the ancient domain. “It’s dangerous, but difficult times require difficult solutions. I’m preparing for a difficult journey. Be patient and trust in me.”
Hard work pays off and Lilith is successful. “It wasn’t easy. Actually, I’d rather not relive the horrors I saw. I found what you’re looking for. Lilith hands you the Ancient Pipes, hollow branches of an ancient tree that will be a great base for the Shadow Tamer.
In an effort to prevent the shadow transformation, you must question the mages and ethereal beings of the world. First on the list is the High Mage of Frost, already a shadow victim. “Look at me! I’m disappearing from this world! One by one, all the residents of Midnight Castle are becoming shadows!” As long as some haven’t been touched by the curse, there’s still a chance to stop it.
The Mage is very impressed with your abilities and wonders if you’d like to become his disciple. That’s great, but even a very powerful mage can’t stop this curse. The High Mage of Frost says, “I haven’t felt the cold stab of fear in a long time. This evil is draining my magic and life force. The curse is not from this world. It simply can’t be.” An icy wind pierces the Mage deep in his soul and he wonders how long until everyone is gone. “See the snowflakes sparkling in the moonlight! This world is too beautiful to leave.”
The High Mage of Frost knows of a ritual to slow the residents’ disappearance from the world. With your help, he still has enough power left to perform the ritual. You set about collecting some magical items and potions, even requesting some from other mages. “The magister of the Order of Burning Heart has some requests in exchange for a mandrake tear for my ritual, Lady Melissa will send a fern flower and Ellaniel, the elvish healer, has powered unicorn hair.”
The Mage feels “as though the wind is blowing us ever forward” as he prepares the ritual. Everything is put into place and the Mage gathers all the magical power he can muster. “Success! It worked! The process is slowing. It’s up to you now. Assemble the Shadow Tamer and stop this curse!”
The Genie at the Gates to Atlantis is also a victim of the shadow curse. “Your presence raises my spirits, despite my state.” The Genie didn’t think it was possible, “but the ritual of the mage from your world slowed the transformation.” The Genie is perplexed that an ethereal creature such as himself could be turned into a shadow. “I’ve never seen such magic before” and he vows to “find the one who did this. There is nowhere for the Lord of Darkness to hide.” Try as he might, the Genie says “the sensation of shifting from an ethereal state to that of a shadow is indescribable.” Genies are rather persistent and pernicious, so while his efforts are fruitless at the moment, “I’ll get this villain, wherever he is. I’m getting close. It won’t be much longer.” The Genie found the Lord of Darkness and wonders about your plan for talking to him. “Knowing you, he’ll join our side by the end.”
The Lord of Darkness “felt your pet genie searching for me, so I let him find me. I have no reason to run. Now, I’m ready to spend some of my time on you.” The Lord asks if you remember the “entertaining conversation last time and you distracted me long enough to seal the portal to my world. I wanted to punish you for ruining my plans, but physical injury is so unsophisticated. Did you like the new look I gave your friends and allies?” The Lord of Darkness promises “there will be more shadows soon. Your mage’s pitiful attempt to slow the process is pure and simple desperation. The genie’s and wise raven’s shadows will be valuable acquisitions.”
Has his dark revenge been sated, “My, my, you are angry! I think that I’ve had my revenge for you sealing the passage to my world, don’t you? Why are you here? Small talk? I wonder if I could make you even angrier. My army can’t invade because of you, so I thought I’d make a new army here instead. Frustrated, are we? The curse is impressive, no? The first tests were with lab rats. Everything worked out, as you can see.”
Then the real threats begin, “I plan to increase the range of the curse to affect all of the Midnight Castle residents, including you. The longer you take the more of your friends become shadows. Your worry amuses me. Our conversation is becoming tedious – I’m telling you fun stories, but you only make angry faces in reply. You’re diligent. I’d like to have you as a shadow. And soon, I will!”
The Lord of Darkness promises there are no empty threats, “Everything I’ve said will come true, so why not join me? You’ll be so powerful! Your inability to look ahead surprises me. You seemed so bright.”
When you return to the Genie, he notes that the “streams of magic have dulled. They’re contaminated by the darkness.” The Genie knows the location of one Shadow Tamer artifact, “the part we need is locked inside the Echo Crystal. The Crystal looks delicate, but it’s quite strong. Three genies must meditate around the Echo Crystal for three days. I have to persuade two others to join me.” It’s time consuming work, but the Genie manages to get three genies in one place, a feat he hopes will never happen again, and you are rewarded with the Rainbow Threads, which binds the branches of the Shadow Tamer securely, enhancing their powers.
It’s wonderful to see everyone united against a common enemy, and there’s another flamboyant friend, a powerful sorceress, who can help.
The Fire Conjurer is in a burning fury, “Do you see this?! I’m a ghost – a shadow of myself! It’s impossible! I was cursed and didn’t notice it!” Unfortunately, the Fire Conjurer, as well as other mages, have no solutions. They’ve tried everything in vain. “I don’t want to disappear! It feels like I’m dreaming, but I can’t wake up. This won’t end well.” The Fire Conjurer is compelled to help, “I can’t save myself, but I can at least help you. If the Shadow Tamer works, it will lift this terrible curse.”
With her magic pendulum moving, the Fire Conjurer notes more of her acquaintances are becoming shadows. “I must charge the guardian stones that protect our community.” You collect some items to help charge the stones, but something is wrong. “I charged the stones, but their light is bright red, and it should be green. I must look into this.” It appears that someone damaged one of the stones, “one of the stones’ magical runes is gone, either eroded by time or sabotage.
Recreating the ancient paint formula used by the fire people of the Southern Lands is no simple task, but the Fire Conjurer completes this task and now needs the scroll with the inscriptions. “If you were one of the ancients, where would you put a scroll with magical runes? The library! Of course!” Having secured the scroll and the paint, the Fire Conjurer sends you to Valkyrie while she continues to restore the guardian stones.
Valkyrie, standing at Sacred Grove, is another obvious victim of the shadow curse. But “despite the dire circumstances, I need proof that it’s really you.” Valkyrie sends you on several tasks and says upon completion, “I believe you now. Nobody else can do what you do.” Valkyrie apologizes for the precaution, but states “brave Valkyries prefer a fair battle to that devious shadow magic.” She’s glad you’re on her side and vows the one who did this must be punished.
According to Valkyrie, “One by one my Valkyries turn into shadows while our wolves frighten our neighbors with their howls. Seeing my sisters like this fills my heart with sorrow. I must do what I can to save them.” The future appears bleak, but there may be a way to stop this.
Suddenly, there’s an eerie silence. “Listen! Our wolves have stopped howling, but another sister is becoming a shadow.” Valkyrie searched the scrolls in the secret library of the Valkyries and found one ancient scroll that contained information about an artifact part. Valkyrie assembles a squad of her bravest warriors, “Our priestesses will protect them while they retrieve the artifact part. We’ll be vulnerable here with our priestesses gone, but it’s for the greater good.” All hope lies with the priestesses preparing to leave with the Valkyrie squad. The squad is ready to go, but there’s a long road ahead and the task will not be easy. “The squad is on their way. The priestesses will protect them from the Lord of Darkness’s curse on their journey. All we need to do is wait.”
Sometimes, no news is good news and there’s nothing else to do but keep living our lives. Never before has waiting been so agonizing. Valkyrie receives word that the squad is on the way back with the artifact part! “May the wind be at their backs; I can feel the power of the priestesses back in our sacred borders.” The situation is grim and the price of victory dear. The artifact part is back, but the Valkyries have almost become full shadows.
Valkyrie hands you the Inhibiting Wraps, which will add power to the Shadow Tamer, and says “I hope you can solve this dilemma. My people need you now more than ever.”
Meanwhile, the Fire Conjurer finished restoring the stone, “The stone is restored, bathing my community in emerald light. It won’t stop the shadow transformation, but it’s slowing. Everything seems to be fine, but I’ll continue to monitor the situation. All of that effort, but people are still turning into shadows. At least it bought us some time.”
The Fire Conjurer hands you an unexpected gift she found while searching the library, the Agony Tree Bark, another artifact part for the Shadow Tamer.
Fate has prepared another new encounter, hopefully an ally.
Morisa the Forest Witch says, “As my dice foretold, a visitor came to see me. You’ll have to gain my trust, stranger. Then we’ll talk.” After your completed tasks gain her trust, the Forest Witch introduces herself. “My name is Morisa. I’m from the world of the living, but it was too noisy and hectic there, so I moved to the Dark Side. I don’t intend to leave my dwelling just yet. As you can see, it’s much quieter here – the ideal place to do magic.”
The Forest Witch acknowledges an uncertain future lies ahead, “I know what the Lord of Darkness is doing. I’ve seen the future, and...No, I shouldn’t tell you, or it won’t happen. I know a lot, but I can’t tell you everything.”
After expressing to the Forest Witch how much you need her help to find the Shadow Tamer’s final artifact piece, Morisa says, “Of course, where could the last part of the Shadow Tamer be if not the shadow world? I need to see what the cards say and check the position of the stars.” That final piece is the most elusive piece and Morisa will help you find what you need...for a couple of favors.
As luck would have it, you can always count on family and Morisa knows just the right person. “My cousin, Baba Yaga, can help get the part, but she won’t do it for free.” The Forest Witch asks, “Could you do me a couple of favors while my cousin is busy with ours?” Once the tasks are done, Morisa comments “I haven’t heard that much complaining in a while, but it will be worth the effort.” But she is also quick to compliment, “You’re as fast as a magic broom, your abilities are amazing” and “you’d make an excellent apprentice.”