Campaign Report – A Chilling Cadence

Part 1: A Northbound Trail

Participants: Kathene Wildstar, Ialluen Moonglow (Siemin Nightspring, Veris Stargleam, Thiely Sorrowsprig), Thylendra Rosesky, Telderan Swiftlance, Aroki Windsweeper, Telariel Moonseeker, Uodrieth Rosedancer.

Mission report 1 – Astranaar, Ashenvale
Date: 24th of Mennare, 2020

Summary: In response to disturbing news having reached Feathermoon, The Nightblades set out northbound towards Ashenvale, riding to aid the Darkshade sentinels – a cadre located in and around Astranaar. Despite being excellent saber handlers, the Darkshades had been decimated since the war, and described themselves as thinly spread across the woods. A situation not particularly favourable as of recent news – twelve of them having gone missing in one night alone, as if swallowed by the forests themselves.

In the company of Sentinel Siemin Nightspring, their path led the cadre northbound towards Ashenvale. After an uneventful trip, the setting changed drastically as the Nightblades made their way into what should be a well known country. Ashenvale greeted the cadre with utter silence, a total absence of the sounds that would normally be so characteristic for a forest in the late summer months. With sabers and hippogryphs bristling and rearing at the unfamiliar sensation, the trip into Astranaar as a safe haven was made a short one.

Settling in, some time was spent talking to whatever Darkshade Sentinels that still lingered behind. The details heard of spoke of unsettling sightings…

Part 2: In Wake of Death

Participants: Kathene Wildstar, Aariam Nightborne, Ialluen Moonglow (Siemin Nightspring), Thylendra Rosesky, Aroki Windsweeper, Telariel Moonseeker, Uodrieth Rosedancer, Cinelyn Rosedancer (guest)

Mission report 2 – Astranaar, Ashenvale
Date: 25th of Mennare, 2020

Summary: With little information left to go on in Astranaar alone, the Nightblades, guided by the Darkshade Sentinel Siemin Nightspring set out to try to pick up the trail of the missing cadre. Following the path south from the village, the only goal was to find and locate the point where Huntress Featherfern and her squad’s last known location was.

Little of value was found, any potential leads likely lost to the time that has passed since the cadre’s unfortunate disappearance. After some searching, Sister Rosesky and Brother Windsweeper happened upon some kind of evidence – a lost Darkshade dagger. Past that, a critter could be seen in the distance. As the rest of the Nightblades followed the pair, they realised that the tracks of the lost cadre had been purposely trampled out by hundreds upon hundreds of small paw prints. The critters of the woods seemingly having erased whatever trail they could find – much to no one’s understanding.

As the Nightblades progressed deeper into the woods, they soon found themselves surrounded by several packs of critters in various states of injury and decline. All staring blankly ahead in front of themselves, unmoving. Does, hares, bunnies, owls and squirrels. Upon trying to catch one of them, the creatures screeched prior charging at Thylendra, who promptly had to drop the captured squirrel she managed to grab. A battle broke out, with the Nightblades on one side, and the mindless, broken and otherwise innocent denizens of the woods on the other.

Emerging from the fray with two captured creatures, the Nightblades managed to fend the critters off prior returning to Astranaar. Bringing their newfound eerie critter friends with them to see what might be wrong.

Part 3: On Forlorn Paths

Participants: Kathene Wildstar, Aariam Nightborne, Ialluen Moonglow (Siemin Nightspring), Thylendra Rosesky, Tharhan Windsweeper, Telariel Moonseeker, Telderan Swiftlance, Telrenya, Uodrieth Rosedancer

Mission report 3 – Astranaar, Ashenvale
Date: 27th of Mennare, 2020

Summary: With little more to go to, it was time to return back to the glade, its fearsome denizens from the last outing now gone – as if they never existed. As the Nightblades moved onwards in the ever so silent forest, they happened upon the glade in which the critters from before were found – empty. Little did they know that worse encounters lingered just around the corner.

Pressing on, the cadre soon found themselves at a crossroads. One path leading further into the forests, another one leading up to a small shrine. After some searching, Telariel seemed to find something shimmering around the shrine – an eerily looking black crystal, cold and smooth to the touch. Picking it up seemed to be an unpleasant experience for the acolyte, as a brief touch seemed to be enough to warrant less contact with it. The investigations were cut short however, as The Nightblades found themselves rushing to hide. It was in the nick of time – in front of their very eyes a pack of sabers approached, all looking like they had died at least once. Mangy looking, with matted fur and even broken limbs, their ferocious demeanour leaving them unbothered of such minor inconveniences as injuries. The broken pack was on the prowl – and the Nightblades in a bad location.

With some expert hiding skills, the sentinels avoided any unnerving close-up encounters. But something as disturbing as these creatures could not be allowed to roam freely! The Nightblades set after them, chasing the saber pack further into the woods. After some tracking skills, the pack was tracked down – little did The Nightblades know it had grown in size. Suddenly, more of the forest’s undead denizens revealed themselves, as owls swooped the Sentinels so to hinder them from going any further. Three larger sabers joined the fight, but it proved to be a futile effort, as the Nightblades emerged victorious. The relief was short lived – as it turned out the trio of sabers killed were none other than three of the missing Darkshade Sentinel’s loyal companions… what in the world could have turned them into this?

Part 4: A Plea for Mercy

Participants: Kathene Wildstar, Aariam Nightborne, Ialluen Moonglow (Siemin Nightspring), Thylendra Rosesky, Tharhan Windsweeper, Telariel Moonseeker, Telrenya, Uodrieth Rosedancer

Mission report 4 – Astranaar, Ashenvale
Date: 29th of Mennare, 2020

Summary: After almost a week in Ashenvale, little new information had surfaced, The Nightblades still scouring the forests and paths for anything that could perhaps lead them to any explanation of what had happened to the missing Darkshades. This night however, things took an unexpected turn, as one of the remaining Darkshade scouts returned from an outing, panicking as she spoke of what she had heard – pained cries and ethereal shrieks from a glade in the easternmost parts of the forests. All plans of carefully searching the woods were thrown to the side, and together with Siemin, now self-styled leader of the Darkshades, The Nightblades rode out in hopes of making any sense to the allegations.

Approaching the glade proved easy for the Sentinels – but difficult for their companions, who seemed spooked by whatever was present in the glade down below. Only Softplume, the loyal hippogryph companion to Thylendra kept their cool. Hidden by the shadows, the Sentinels approached the glade, and what met them could easily be described as an eerie sight. A lanky and shady looking figure, cloaked in shadows as they stood in the middle of what seemed to be a ritual circle wrought in blood and decorated by familiar looking black crystals. The figure did not linger for long prior walking away, disappearing into the shadows. As The Nightblades moved closer to inspect the location, they noticed they were no longer alone – Nine sabers, broken, killed and raised, the remaining former companions of the Darkshades, had found them.

As battle broke out, the cadre were efficient in their approach, both seeking to cull the fallen sabers as well as deal with the ritual circle, the latter seen by Telariel and Tharhan in tandem, as they sought to dispel the ritual and break the crystals. The crystals, as eerie as they may have looked, turned out to contain the locked away souls of those slain – one by one seeking to cross to the other side in their newfound freedom. The fight was a struggle at times, but in the end, The Nightblades came out victorious, albeit sporting a few new injuries. Turning to leave, they realised that one of the released spirits lingered behind…

After gathering themselves somewhat, the Sentinels approached the lingering spirit, after a while introducing herself to once having been Huntress Malara Featherfern, one of the lost Darkshades. In an eerie sounding tone, she revealed how she and her fellow lost Darkshades were not only lost, but slain, their souls tortured by someone or something referred to as “The Hollow”. Little else did she say, before asking for the Nightblades to do but one thing – avenge the fallen Darkshades, and put an end to The Hollow.

Together with a shaken Siemin, The Nightblades swore to avenge the fallen sentinels. The question on everyone’s minds being “how”`?

Part 5: And Out We Ride

Participants: Kathene Wildstar, Aariam Nightborne, Ialluen Moonglow (Siemin Nightspring), Thylendra Rosesky, Aroki Windsweeper (Tharhan Windsweeper), Telariel Moonseeker (The Hollow), Telderan Swiftlance, Telrenya, Uodrieth Rosedancer

Mission report 5 – Astranaar, Ashenvale
Date: 1st of Kaldore, 2020

Summary: With a fresh vow of vengeance, the question of “how” did still hang in the air as The Nightblades gathered to discuss the findings of Tharhan, him having scouted eastwards during a brief period of rest. The report was interrupted by two Darkshades, seemingly having deserted their self-styled leader. In a frantic tone, they told how the remaining sentinels with their cadre had rode out to seek the Hollow and slay it in vengeance for their fallen sisters. The Nightblades were not late to follow, knowing very well where Siemin’s desire for revenge could – and likely would – lead to.

Riding eastwards towards Satyrnaar, the path to their quarry was heralded by shrill screams and pained, ethereal cries. As the Nightblades made their way to a cliff above Satyrnaar from where the cries had been heard, they did not only find the Darkshades – but also the Hollow, all in the midst of a ritual to claim the souls of the fallen sentinels, having fought the dark ethereal being in vain. The Nightblades had been right – their fears now confirmed, as it seemed like Siemin had led her sisters straight into the grave, as none of the seven Darkshades seemed to cling to life, lying unmoving in the desecrated glade. Yet still, the Nightblades were not baited into all too rash actions, as they first and foremost managed to save four of the fallen Darkshades, barely alive. With the aid of Telderan’s hippogryph Zin and Telariel’s hippogryph Miranell, those who could be saved were sent back alongside Ialluen to Astranaar. With that, The Nightblades turned towards the Hollow and their ritual circles chaining the three remaining dead Darkshades, with all intent of making this the end of the troubles in Ashenvale.

As the sentinels aimed their first strikes, the unpleasant realisation struck them – the Hollow did not seem corporeal. Instead, The Nightblades turned their attention towards the ritual circles, wrought in the blood of their fallen sisters. In retaliation, The Hollow sent forth a wave of spirit bolts, likely in hopes to end the second wave of intruding sentinels there and then. But with the blessing of Elune, Telariel managed to deflect one of the spirit bolts back towards the incorporeal horror, harming them where no blade had managed to do the same. In retaliation, and in before the Nightblades eyes, the three dead Darkshades were raised into an undead, broken and mindless state with one purpose alone – to kill the Nightblades where they stood.

As battle broke out anew, the fallen sentinels managed to get a few all too well aimed strikes in on their alive sisters and brothers. It was with some struggles that they were finally returned to their last rest. It was a shaken and bloodied cadre of Nightblades that returned to Astranaar. At least they returned alive – where the majority of the Darkshades did the opposite.

Part 6: A Spiritual Unrest

Participants: Kathene Wildstar, Aariam Nightborne, Ialluen Moonglow (Siemin Nightspring), Thylendra Rosesky, Aroki Windsweeper, Telariel Moonseeker (The Hollow), Telderan Swiftlance, Telrenya, Uodrieth Rosedancer

Mission report 6 – Astranaar, Ashenvale
Date: 3rd of Kaldore, 2020

Summary: With the Darkshades out of the equation, for better or worse, the time had come to put an end to the horrors tormenting Ashenvale. As the Nightblades gathered together, Aroki shared information from a scouting mission, having found out the whereabouts of The Hollow. All signs pointing towards Satyrnaar, and The Nightblades set out towards eastern Ashenvale to finally see justice done – and to finally see the Darkshades avenged.

As the cadre ran towards the lair of their foe, something stood in their way on the path to Satyrnaar. From a gathering of mists, the spirits of the fallen Darkshades rose, yet to cross to the other side. As the spirit of Malara Featherfern spoke, the fallen cadre pledged themselves to walk alongside the Nightblades in the field, in one last battle. The spirits accompanying the Sentinels, as their former leader led the Nightblades onto a hidden path towards Satyrnaar.

With a good view from a path above, the Nightblades spotted several ritual circles and crystals in the glade down below – sadly guarded by beasts, broken and having died at least once, much like the other creatures from nights before. Still no sight of The Hollow, but further into the glade, they spotted a thin barrier. Perhaps it was there their foe hid? Aided by a stealthy approach, the Nightblades managed to defeat the beasts and shatter the crystals in the glade. For every crystal that shattered, a wave of lost spirits were set free – and for every crystal broken, the mysterious barrier quivered, until it finally broke apart.

Behind the barrier, The Hollow lingered, together with three final crystals, three final rituals. As soon as the Nightblades went in for the final battle, they came under assault, as a relentless torrent of spirit bolts assaulted them. The Darkshade spirits kept their vow, protecting those that yet lived from the most gruesome injuries before leaving the battlefield for the last time – shielding their still living kin from impact. To break the last rituals proved a difficult task, but for each shattered crystal, The Hollow was rendered more and more corporeal. As the final ritual was destroyed, the Hollow remained alone. Corporeal, and their plans now spoiled, the imprisoned spirits belonging to the denizens of the woods having been released from their torment. With a final strike, Kathene put an end to the foe of not only the Nightblades, but of every denizen of Ashenvale, their body shattering into a million pieces, before dispersing into nothing. What the eerie creature was in truth still remained an unanswered question.

The hold of the Hollow upon the forest was broken, and in the middle of the now silent glade, the spirit of Malara Featherfern took shape. Her last words spoken in gratitude to the Nightblades, as her spirit was now put to rest. Their enemy slain, Ashenvale saved… And her sisters, the Darkshade sentinels, finally avenged.

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