Shadowghast limped away from the wizard’s tower bleeding from the multiple wounds he had sustained from the battle. He nearly died in the encounter, but his planned succeeded on all fronts. His gambit to lure the adventurers to the tower had worked, his business dealings with the Beholder were a success, and most importantly he had the ring. The Ring! “Ossë, the mage was a fool to try to keep the ring for himself”, Shadowghast thought. “He lacked the clarity of purpose, the vision, to even posses such an item. But I have a purpose, and I have a vision”, he growled to himself. “I will carry out the task long sought by my ancestor Orobius, and Asmodeus will know my worth.”
He gazed down at the mummified hand that he carried, scarcely believe that he had, in his possession, that which he had searched for so long. It had certainly taken some time, to learn of the full power of the ring. His research on his ancestor Orobius had taken him to the lost library of Voran Earthmane, the goliath sorcerer. In an ancient tome, he learned of a storied ring that would allow a mortal to walk among the gods. Orobius was in search of that ring, and it was that search that led him to make his pact with dark powers.
Following the trail of clues, his search led him to Gardmore Abbey and Sir Oakley. “Bah, Oakley’s a fool, and more the fool for refusing my offer to him”, he thought. But he knew he also had in his own possession something that Oakley desperately wanted. His ace in the hole. He chuckled to himself at his own joke.
Glancing again at that hand, his humor turned to ashes as the hand and the ring on the bony finger turned to dust even as he grasped it. Howling in rage, he cursed himself not seeing through the fool wizard’s stupid parlor trick, but he also cured the wizard himself and the group of so-called heroes that he traveled with. He would soon have his vengeance. He would have the ring, and he would capture the wretches that made him wait even longer to see him dream fulfilled. Azmodeus would be pleased to have each of their souls along with the gift he would deliver.
Shadownghast went straight to Fallcrest see his old friend Dar Gremmath of the Iron Circle. “Dar, I need your help. Please use some of your finest to locate those adventurers that have been hanging around Fallcrest. They stole from me a piece of the meteorite and denied me something even more valuable. Follow them, and do what ever it takes ensure they visit me soon.”
Gremmath nodded and smiled. His pact with Shadowghast had served him well in the past and Shadowghast had aided him in gathering more power over Fallcrest in the last few years. Dar used his influence in Fallcrest and quickly learned that the adventurers were headed to the Hermitage in the Fens. He dispatched two teams of Iron Circle soldiers to the Fens to make the mischief requested of them.
The soldiers lurked in the muck out of sight and sound and soon heard the group would be headed to Harken Forest treat with the elves for some dragon’s book. “Team 1, waylay them at the ruined temple of Zehir. They are like as not to stop there tonight. Team 2, make all haste to the Woodsingers and let’s make their wretched lives a little more wretched! If living in the shadow of Shadowmire isn’t enough, let’s give them a tale of woe they can pass on to their few remaining children!”
The second group of soldiers traveled all night to get ahead of the adventures. Using potions provided by Shadowghast they stole into the encampment disguised as elves. They quickly slaughtered many of the elves and took several as prisoners for Shadowghast. Before leaving they said to the elves. “A group of adventurers should be here soon. It it because of the reckless actions of these people that this tragedy has befallen you. Please take that into consideration when speaking with them.”