A Recent History of Stormguard Part 1
A Recent History Of Stormguard – Alyssa Dratharni
The Rise & Fall of Vincent Vials
I came to Stormguard in the Spring of PW+15, not long after my brother Ronan and my cousin Av’n. It was a small settlement, full of rag-tag wannabe heroes and lost souls who I can only assume had been drawn to its power (most probably unknowingly). The wilds were untamed, the Church were trying to assert their dominance (what a surprise) and Stormguard was being consumed by the chaos.
Through a willingness to stick together, we came together as a community in those first days and overcame those immediate threats. Through recognition of Ivor the Barkeep as the Spirit of Stormguard, through planting a magical border of sacred flowers and herbs – infused with our oneness, through the investment of a council and through the agreement that we would call this place home; we pushed back the wilds and claimed it as ours.
So many faces come to mind who are long since lost. Although names are a distant memory when you have lived as long as I have. One that sticks however is Vincent Vials. When I met him he had recently been revived from death, and he was a strong leader and charismatic diplomat. However he had been converted into a Hollow Tooth. Not a vampire, not undead, but more like a cult that survived on the blood bonds between its family, to the point where blood could heal them and they could be controlled from its elder members. Many of us became concerned that Vincent was compromised.
This coincided with the arrival of a number of our D’rough bretheren. Vincent felt his position as mayor and heart of Stormguard was under threat from Ronan (who was also on the council) and the D’rough, and he suspected a coup. So he struck first – persuading one of the other citizens to assassinate myself, Av’n and Ronan. He failed, Ronan and Av’n attempted to take Vincent down but somehow his blood magic saved him and he fled. He returned some years later, but I’ll get to that.
Freehold and Wyliam’s Betrayal
So tempers were fractured, and with it the community spirit of the hold. But we got on with what needed to be done. Soon after we came into contact with a group of refugees and helped them establish the settlement of Freehold. Many of these people became good friends. Vincent (a different one) and Penny I held in high esteem. But my closest friend was Bayley – a fellow druid and a man bound to me by the fates. May all of you live out your days in the afterlife in peace.
Even back then the elements were a stubborn lot. Always vying for power, and as such, it seemed they wanted to invest elemental champions on Af’ael. We spent much time visiting various elemental places of power and trying to bring balance to these forces.
It was around this point that everything happened at once.
It was rumoured back then that the Emperor was possessed by a demon, and somehow the seals that separated the lower tiers of existence were beginning to crack. Demons were coming into Af’ael and a name was uttered among the chaos – Felclaw. Things were unclear at this point but the church was very much the enemy as well as the demons. But that wasn’t all.
Necromancy was very rare at this point, but one powerful Necromancer somehow managed to gain so much power he was able ascend to demi-god-hood. Somehow this involved a Felidae named Raoul but the less said about him the better. Undead were becoming a real threat, on top of everything else!
Now, while we were distracted with all of this – demons, undead, elemental champions and spending more time helping Freehold (I was even on their council at on point) – Stormguard got neglected.
One of our number – a man called Wyliam – had been experimenting with Necromantic powers and had gotten himself turned into a Lich. He was also a powerful ritualist and all the while we were distracted, he had been cementing his power over Stormguard behind our backs. We were pretty much driven out while Wyliam took control and named himself mayor. Stormguard became a haven for the undead, and the villagers that remained were essentially their slaves.
Some of us took residence in Freehold, with the Ursine mercenaries hired to defend its walls. But once again fate took us off and with the heroes gone Freehold was decimated by creatures known as Flesh Elves.
We learned of a new threat, except it wasn’t new but very very ancient. God-like creatures called the Vouracci were coming. Until then they had been banished from all of our planes of existence. But something was calling them back. It turns out there were cults dedicated to the Vouracci, mainly in the North, and powerful priests known as Dragons. They consumed knowledge and power – literally. The Flesh Elves had been known to pick apart their victims and absorb their powers and abilities by various means, including eating them. The Dragons were twisted, malformed creatures – consumed by the power of the Vouracci so much that they bore no resemblance to the creature they used to be. Through long, hard battles we were eventually able to slay them all, but at great cost.
To seal the rift between the planes was beyond our power, and we were forced to make an impossible choice. Only 2 ‘men’ were willing to help – the demi-god Michael the Meek, and Felclaw. They would deal with the rift, but in return we would have to accept the powers of either Necromancy or Demonolgy into the mainstream, and therefore allow whichever one we chose more power within Afael.
The debate was a simple one. I remember clearly all of us standing in a circle by lantern light in a beautiful glade. Everyone (apart from some young boy named Tim) was in favour of accepting Michael’s help. And so it was. With Michael’s help we were also able to defeat Felclaw, however many demons remain and portals to the lower tiers are opening again. There is even talk of the number 236 being discovered again.
But by accepting the power of Undeath so readily, it made Stormguard & Wyliam’s reign over it stronger. Ivor had become so corrupted by what had become of his beloved home that he was a husk of what he was. All the pain and suffering, all the torment that took place within Stormguard was in his head, all at once. He was driven mad.
Enough was enough. One night Ivor came to visit us. I will never forget that night. Pleading with him, shouting at him, tears rolling down my cheeks, only to be met with empty, soulless eyes. That was the night I vowed we’d get Stormguard back.
We took some time mopping up the last of the Vouracci cults and Dragons. Part of this involved venturing into hell (as you do), to chase after one of the Dragons who was hiding down there. Oh yeah, the Emperor had been ‘kidnapped’ at this point (I didn’t really care) and he was in hell somewhere as well.
While we were there we came across the 2nd-tier-down-version of Ivor. He was a lot more coherent and strong willed than our version, although while talking to him we saw Wyliam’s influence breaking through every now and then. Ivor did his best to control it and I put my plan into action. I wanted more than anything for Stormguard to be home again, and for Ivor to be at peace. So with alternate Ivor’s agreement, he melded his soul with mine. The things I saw in his mind were too terrible to describe, but I can draw comparisons to how and why the wrath were created.
I decided to return to our plane but the others decided they would go and try to save the Emperor. But time works differently down there so they didn’t return for another 20 years. The world had changed. The old Emperor’s brother was now the current Emperor, but rather than being possessed by a demon, this one is actually an augmentor. New paths of magic were emerging – Sun, Shadow and especially Pantheon magic were becoming increasingly common. But for me, 20 years (nothing to a fae) of plotting, planning and waiting were finally over, and we made our move.
All I had to do was get to Stormguard’s ritual circle…