Seers had been speaking foreboding omens for a long time. The heroes had been hearing about things like “the return of the Vallis moon,” and “the Night of Dissolution” for some time.

Rumors that the barbarians of the far east had become restless again had been circulating for months. It was these same barbarian tribes that had, just a few years earlier, sacked the city of Tarsis and in many ways brought the Tarsisan Empire (of which Ptolus was a distant part) to an end. Recently, however, the Emperor of the Church—having fled to Ptolus when Tarsis fell—had not only declared that he was now both the secular Emperor and the Holy Emperor, but that Ptolus was the new capital of the Empire.

So now the barbarians marched on Ptolus.

Days before the invasion, a mysterious green light appeared in the night sky, growing stronger each night. Seers and diviners proclaimed it a horrible omen, but truth be told, no one knew exactly what to make of it. Meanwhile, the people of Ptolus prepared for a barbarian invasion. Some met the thought of it with fear, but most with excitement.

Despite the barbarians’ past victories, the people of Ptolus had faith in two things: the Commissar and his battery of powerful cannons, and the mages of the Inverted Pyramid, the most powerful and renowned arcanists’ guild in the world.

In fact, on the day the barbarian armies reached the gate, the people of Ptolus gathered atop tall buildings and even the city wall to watch the spectacle. They waved flags and drank ale and munched on bread and cheese, expecting a good show. (Fesamere Balacazar invited the members of the Company of the Black Lantern to join her where she watched on the wall, along with her sister Maystra (mother of “The Boy Who Could Sing”) and her brother Malkeen.)

While the Commissar’s positioning of his cannons was impressive, when the Inverted Pyramid mages showed up with their flying battle barges, each filled with wizards and sorcerers ready for battle, it was an incredible sight. Amid cheers, the mages flew off to deal with the barbarian horde. Without hesitation, the wizards called down meteor swarms, fireballs, lightning bolts, and more upon the ranks of the invaders. The barbarians broke and scattered. The cityfolk cheered!

And then, the mysterious green light in the sky grew so bright that you could see it even during the day. Although few knew it yet, this was the Vallis moon, a third moon that had been missing for almost 20,000 years. The Vallis moon held upon it the keystone of the world, the source of that which bound everything together—the mystical Seven Chains. The source of all magic, it controlled the flow of eldritch power in the same way that the other moons dictated the tides. In the incredibly distant past, the Galchutt had almost destroyed the world by breaking the Seven Chains, but the Elder Gods and a few mythic heroes had thrust the moon away and thus ensured that the Galchutt would be thwarted forever. Or, at least, for what seemed like forever—approximately 20,000 years.

But forever finally came to an end. The Vallis moon had returned. Its sudden influence on the flow of magic disrupted that flow and brought it to a halt.

Magic stopped working all across the world. And the Galchutt began to awaken.

Needless to say, there were screams of horror and shock as the Inverted Pyramid’s battle barges came crashing down, and the most powerful wizards and sorcerers in the city died a terrible, fiery death, all at once.

Needless to say, the magical protections covering Malkeen Balacazar’s vampire bodyguard failed and he was caught out in the middle of the afternoon, on top of the city wall, on a cloudless day. He exploded in flame.

Needless to say, the people of the city panicked and fled from the walls. But not everyone lost their composure. A few kept their wits long enough to exploit the situation. Someone, for example, used the confusion and the lack of magical protection (and lack of the magical ability to counter poison) to put a poisoned dagger in the back of Malkeen even as the family (and the Company of the Black Lantern) fled to a Balacazar safehouse.

Needless to say, without magic, the Seven Jewels of Parnaith—already decaying and disintegrating, their time now passed—winked out of existence. This event brought the other heroes, now called the Runewardens, back into the world and into the chaos that presented itself.

Next Time: ????