Back in the surface city, Gaerioth and Sercian learned from a monk of a minor order that there was some trouble at an apartment house in Oldtown. Investigating, they found the whole place strangely sealed and very quiet. While they looked around, two figures approached. One was a tall, blue-skinned ogre-mage with numerous ioun stones. He was fairly well known in the city, so they recognized him as Urlenius, the Star of Navashtrom. He was a boisterous cleric of the god of harmony and strength, and a representative of the Brotherhood of Redemption—the group that turned him from his evil, monstrous ways. With him was Tellian Riverborn, another cleric of Navashtrom. A newcomer to Ptolus, the elf Tellian had pledged to follow Urlenius. The ogre-mage was quick to tell Gaerioth and Sercian that he had experienced a dream that sent him here looking for evil and chaotic creatures known as kython.
From the other group, the Black Lanterns had heard of kython: insectile/reptilian horrors created by the Galchutt. (Sercian’s brother Serai had encountered a few of the creatures and had heard they were somehow related to the chaos cults and chaositech.) The four of them entered the building and found that Urlenius’ dream had proven true. The place was overrun with kython that had come up from the sewer.
Eventually Vexander joined them, and the group explored the sewer to find the entrance to yet another chaos temple under the city. This temple teemed not only with cultists, but with kython of all shapes and sizes.
It was during this adventure that the Black Lanterns noticed more and more often that Sercian was acting very strangely. They had noted this behavior before, back at their tower and in Dwarvenhearth. There was also that odd comment from Urlenius as the group made its way through the sewer back to the surface: “I thought that elves and dark elves didn’t get along.”
No one realized at the time that he was using true seeing and looking at Sercian.
As the clues began to lead to the revelation of an imposter in their midst, Sercian went back down to the tower the group held under the city. They had left the place in the hands of their dwarf friend Hansk, whom they had raised after the last battle in the tower. Gaerioth followed Sercian and, once in the tower, asked him what was going on. While they spoke, someone came to the door.
It was Sercian, looking mistreated and underfed. As Gaerioth stared at two Sercians, the one in the tower gave a command, and hired mercenaries erupted out of hiding. Gaerioth and Sercian suddenly had to face “Sercian” and a bunch of thugs. Eventually, they drove off the imposter and defeated the mercenaries, taking one githyanki woman prisoner.
They learned that the imposter was a dark elf named Vastare. Sercian told Gaerioth that dark elves had captured him long ago while he was on his way to Dwarvenhearth. Using Sercian’s belongings and magic, they transformed one of their own to look like the shoal elf in order to infiltrate the Company of the Black Lantern and get the key to
Dwarvenhearth, so they might learn what was going on in there. These dark elves were enemies of the dark elves who had already gained entrance to the ancient dwarven city and served the vampire Zachean. The ones who’d captured Sercian were from House Vrama; they’d taken their prisoner to a stronghold of theirs and branded him a slave.
The group also learned that Vastare had slain Hansk and taken much of their treasure reserves. At that moment, the Company of the Black Lantern stopped whatever else they were doing and swore vengeance upon House Vrama and Vastare. They spoke with the most powerful elf they knew in the city, Doraedian Mythlord, seeking aid. He told them he thought he knew of some elves that might want to help them.
He also told them about an artifact that might prove helpful in fighting dark elves: the Eye of Ardaen. Ardaen was an old elvish god of light and the sun who died long ago. The artifact—literally his eye—commanded powers of light that would surely be of use against dark elves. However, an evil cult serving Danansk, God of a Thousand Pains, had stolen it and secreted it away from the powers of good in a hidden vault on Tridam Island in the underground Shadow Lake. The company knew that a group called the Pactlords of the Quaan maintained a stronghold on that same island.
The Company of the Black Lantern put out a call for mercenaries, hoping to gather a number of them quickly. Also joining them was Sercian’s brother, Serai, who wanted to help them get revenge for what the dark elves did to his twin. While scouring the city for help, they came upon a dwarf named Soren Clanstone, who said he could wrangle some help from the dwarves living in a citadel called Kaled Del, below Ptolus. The Company had dealt with these dwarves before and were grateful for the help. Little did they know that their new friend was a member of Kaled Del’s nobility! When they arrived at the citadel, they were surprised to discover that Soren was the prodigal son of the local dwarven lord, Terrik Clanstone. In the citadel, they learned that dark elves had been attacking often of late—they’d suddenly grown particularly active in the region. The dark elves would blow up sections of the fortress with chaositech weapons, then flee. However, the dwarven alchemists had devised a counter to the chaositech: a form of concentrated law.
To help fight the dark elves, Soren’s father had given him a unit of boar cavalry, a unit of riflemen, and a beastmaster with an anklyosaur. The army was shaping up. But the Black Lanterns felt the cause still needed a source of real power. They needed the Eye of Ardaen. So they traveled to the underground island in Shadow Lake, encountering and falling to the Pactlords of the Quaan. Approaching later with stealth, they followed Doraedian’s instructions and entered the secret vault. After overcoming numerous traps, tricks, puzzles, a maze, and false orbs—not to mention fearsome demonic guardians—the group found the artifact they sought and returned home.
They gathered their army of 30 mercenaries led by Jaren Thor (a human fighter); an elite unit of elven fighters led by Chaldakin Wingsoft (an elven fighter) and Charneset (a litorian); the dwarves of Kaled Del; and Doraedian’s friends, Kelaed Morningword (an elven cleric), Zaetra (a cherubim elf sorcerer/bard), and Paellindar (an elven sorcerer/fighter). With the Eye of Ardaen in hand, the Company of the Black Lantern and their followers—almost 60 in all (not counting boars and dinosaurs)—followed Sercian’s directions and headed off to bring down House Vrama.
Next: Urlenius leads the other group to the chaos temple to fight kython, and the Company of the Black Lantern discovers more deception.