Year of Darkness 1123
26th - 28th days of the Wolf

The party are joined by a battlemage called Sandir, whose first encounter is with Irmirsul, who casts stoneskin on him. The party find a room to discuss the troublesome fire sentinel, Immolan. Valorn talks to the fire sentinel though his mind. Immolan warns him about Tammaret's attitude. "The librarian is beginning to annoy me," the sentinel says.

Atris the assassin finds a fellow killer called Valdron in the tavern and Atris learns about the etiquette of the guilds in Castle Stormstone.

Kysantel finds a thief inside the tavern, a common pickpocket and pays him to steal the fire sentinel, which is housed inside Tahlia's lantern. But Tahlia has struck up a friendship with the newcomer and it is Sandir who spots the thief. Tahlia strikes the pickpockety dead with her knife.

Unbeknown to the rest of the party Sandir and Tahlia have swapped lanterns so that the battlemage is now in possession of the fire sentinel. The warrior mage realizes that Kysantel probably has a point about the danger of Immolan and takes matters in his own hands by trying to throw the lantern down the nearest well.

There is a massive explosion and all the candles in the tavern burn fiercely. Kysantel has seen enough and she gathers the rest of the party to leave, to put as much distance between them and the fire sentinel as possible. There is nothing left of Sandir the battlemage, not even charred remains.

Tahlia eventually follows.

Later that day they spot a dead body decomposing in the road. A trap. Kysantel lightning bolts the corpse and Valorn fires a dispel magic arrow into it. Irmirsul informs them that the body housed an undead spirit waiting for a host. They give it a wide berth and move on.

Two hours after midnight and the party continue their quest to escape the fire sentinel Immolan. They are being watched. Eyes in the darkness scrutinize their every movement. Irmirsul slides into the shadows with Atris following suit. They spot smartly dressed humans feasting on human flesh.

Tammaret casts slow and waits until Atris is in position. The assassin uses the silent blowgun to spit a dart into the first human, killing him instantly. Tragladt the dwarf is more forceful in his approach - the dwarf opens up a huge hole in the cannibal's stomach and watches as his entrails spill out at his feet.

The party are joined by another dwarf, a fellow by the name of Taid Sef, who demonstrates his usefulness by sinking into solid rock and back out again.

"You're a rock walker," Tragladt says to his dwarven companion.

"Yes indeed," the newcomer grins.

They reach the Wicked Wayfarer another roadside innhouse and rest for what remains of the night. Kysantel manages to activate the cloak of the mage and senses great power within it. Taid Sef also activates the Ring of Ascension and tells the party that it makes the wearer formidable in battle. Valorn recovers the ring and slips it on his finger.

In the dark shadows of night Irmirsul - under Tahlia's instructions - bites the thief on the neck. His power is such that he is able to control the flow of blood. His venom flows into her even as he drinks his fill. He knows that come the morning the last vestiges of her living soul will be gone and he will have his first disciple...or slave?

Next day Tahlia emerges to the party as they ride towards Stormstone. She is pale, with dead eyes and no heartbeat. They are shocked but welcome her into the party as a friend and not a foe.

Later that morning she accompanies Irmirsul, her creator, and the vampyre puts a farmer to sleep with a spell. She is ravenous and drinks deeply, unable to slake her thirst and unable to believe the power of drinking blood. When she has downed the last drop she raises her blood soaked face and smiles.

"I can hear heartbeats," she says in awe, "from miles away."

Irmirsul smiles darkly. "It is but the beginning lady Tahlia; at night your senses will be enhanced even more."

They come upon a mass of tents at the side of the road, a bazaar that moves throughout the Iron Realms. Self governing, self sufficient and full of mystery and danger. The party are cautious, Irmirsul keeps himself and Tahlia out of it but Tammaret and Atris need information. The head inside to find out what they can discover.

Before long they find Witlock, a librarian who knew Tammaret's father. Atris learns much from this man, including the name of a necromancer called Kralnar who is present in the bazaar. He slips into the strange shadows that have become his personal secret tunnels between dimensions, tunnels he can slip in and out without anyone seeing...apart from Irmirsul.

Kralnar is surprisingly keen to help Atris; who shows him the ring of the lich. This peaks the necromancer's interest.

"We must go into the woods and find a secluded spot," Kralnar says. "If I am right then this ring will turn you into a lich. Liches are powerful, known to all the underworld as kings of the undead. I would dearly like to help you Atris."

"What's in it for you?" Atris asks suspiciously.

"It would enhance my power if I helped you...and I would gain a very powerful friend. The ring is the vessel that will protect your soul...or more precisely your power."

"Let's get it done."

So Kralnar oversees the creation of a magical circle, inscribed in blood, with chants and litanies in a tongue only spoken in Hell itself. Atris kneels in the centre of the circle, ring of the lich firmly on his finger.

At the climax of the ritual Atris steels himself and runs his keenest blade across his throat, the blood steams in the cold night air as he gasps and gulps for his final breaths.

But he does not feel pain. He does not hear the screams that echo round the clearing. Instead he feels incredibly calm, rested and reposed. The cold of night vanishes. The shadow panes that he glimpsed in life are now fully open to him; the junction between life and death itself. Atris is now master of both.

There is no heartbeat, no breath, no blood through his veins but there is awesome power. His mind is free of doubt and fear and his thoughts are sharper than the sharpest blade.

Atris can sense undead...and so much more. When his dead eyes open he sees Kralnar, the necromancer, and he sees fear deep down in the human.

You know what I have become Atris says to himself and you fear it more than anything else in this world. The ring is now more than a trinket. This much he realizes. The ring is the vessel that houses his power, his life force, and grants him immortality.

He stares at the ring and lets the power of it flow through him...