Part V: Otherworldly Signs

Valthrun peered worriedly into his spyglass. Normally, spending an evening staring at the constellations was a source of much joy for the young sage, but not tonight. There was talk everywhere about the Red Tear. At least that was what the citizens of Winterhaven were calling it. It was a red star – streaking across the night sky – that had been there for days. With Padraig laid low under mysterious circumstances, and the ominous star, it was enough to bring out the worst superstitions in the town’s populace. Valthrun knew that Padraig was recuperating from the mental invasions of a cursed necklace of Vecna, but that news was wisely not spread among the common people.

Valthrun, sighed and began paging through his tomes again. What he’d discovered worried him. No, that wasn’t exactly right. It terrified him. He was still cross-checking his facts, but the signs could not be denied. He’d need to get to Gardmore. He’d need to speak to the Winterguard. Valthrun was a man who enjoyed the sanctity of his tower and the comfort and safety of his home. The thought of making the journey to Gardmore did not sit well with Valthrun’s hermit-like tendencies. But this was no time to be cowardly.

A sudden knock on his front door startles the books out of Valthrun’s lap, causing an avalanche of scrolls and tomes to fall onto the floor. He’s not expecting anyone. The sage is debating ignoring the knock and returning to the stars, when it comes again, this time longer. Curiosity gets the better of him, and he hurries down the steps to the front door. The visitors are in the middle of knocking a third time by the time he slides his view window open and stares out at them.

The forward figure is a robed humanoid, his features pale and tattooed, and his complexion covered in various piercings. A shadar-kai, native of the shadowfell, on his very doorstep! Valthrun’s excitement ebbs, when he begins to wonder if there is a connection with his discovery, and these visitors. He doesn’t see the second figure beyond the first, but when he does, there is almost nothing to see but a shadowy form in a deep hooded cloak. Valthrun blinks for a second when he thinks he spies glowing eyes deep in the hood. Nothing about either figure makes him feel at ease, especially not after having discovered what he has about the red star.

“Yes? Can I help you?” Valthrun stammers, hating the obvious fear that he can’t keep from his voice.

“My name is Morpheus.” The monk says, as he holds out his empty hands, trying his best to look disarming, “This is my companion, Legion.” There is a pause before the word companion, but Valthrun fails to notice. The shadar-kai continues, “We’ve come seeking your aid in a quest that will seem impossible to believe, and highly improbable, but I assure you that it is truth.”

“What do you need from me?” Valthrun asks, his voice less stressed.

“Knowledge.” Morpheus says, “There is no easy way to explain us, then to say, we’re not from around here.”

“Well,” the sage interrupts, “I know you’re from the shadowfell, that much is evident, but I fail to se–”

“No,” interrupts Morpheus, “Not the shadowfell. You are correct in that I was born there, but for years I have adventured and journeyed outside that dark realm. Until recently, I worked with the group that liberated Baldur’s Gate.” Valthrun’s brow furrows in confusion.

“I consider myself a learned scholar, sir, and I know of no place that is called such.” the sage states, somewhat defiantly.

“Nor would I expect you to know it.” The shadar-kai continues, “It is ruled over by Grand Duke Portyr, and is known the world over as the greatest city on the Sword Coast, though Waterdeep and Athkatla would greatly debate this point.” Morpheus shrugs when he sees Valthrun’s look of bewilderment.

“Are you mad?” the sage says.

“No,” Morpheus replies, his brow furrowing, “but this next part you may prefer to sit down for, as it will take a while to explain and may shock you. You see, we are from another world, entirely.”

Author: Neil