alright, this is the meat of what was supposed to happen in Stairway, its a bit depressing when you see exactly how little actually happened. This story chronicals the adventures of the Heroes of Destiny: Isaac, a church assassin; The Dragon-Clan Coirrana; her sister Trassa; Kurt Stormborn a fleeing Rykish Warmage; Masaru, Bastard son of the Iron Emperor of Nisaru; and the trickster Jonarion.
Gathering the Pieces
A prophecied crystal was discovered in the seas of of Ederas and transported to a nearby monestic archive for safe keeping. The trickster and shapeshifter, Jonarion, infiltrated the organization to get a closer look at this object, due mostly to curiosity.
This Singing Stone was said to begin a series of events that would lead to the eventual rise of the gods.
Nature of the Prophecy
100 mortals walked the earth, selected by Destiny and bearing the mark of a spiraling flame. Not all of them would Ascend, but Destiny had marked them as those who potentially could.
Character Profile: Valas Corvo, Archbishop of Uriel
Once upon a time, there was a stretch of land east of Rykeland, north of Meridia which was home to a very subtle curse. Every ruler would die a bloody death before they reached old age. No Kingdom would outlive its founder. Into this land of constant war and violence was born a small boy with a vision of peace. Peace, he believed, could only be achieved with stability and a unified rulership. The only institution that had anything close to that much influence already was the Church of the Archangels. He set out to become a priest in service of Uriel, the Archangel of Justice. Rising through the ranks, he eventually became Archbishop when a disturbing revelation occurred. The Church of the Archangels had been set in place to help facilitate the return of the Gods but after the Gods had been put in power, then what? The church would fall, the lands that had once been united by the Church would divide among warring divines fighting holy wars against one another. Chaos would reign. Therefore, he must do everything in his power to prevent the Gods from coming into power, including destroying the key artifact involved in the prophecy of their return and promptly blaming it on a convenient trespasser, a Shape-shifting Trickster who didn’t even know he wasn’t responsible for the crime he was accused of….
The Prophecy in Four Parts
One of the last acts of Ravena was to create a framework for the return of the gods. Four sybils sacrificed themselves to Elemental fonts to gain immortality and full prescience, but with the cost of their freedom. A group of mortals marked by destiny itself set about to gather those pieces of the puzzle. In Aryland, they learned of the Doom of the Gods, of the terrible entity known as Nicarius. In Veraunt, they learned that the damage done to the divine fabric could be healed by overturning the Tetrarch. In Meridia, they learned of their own destiny, to ascend to divinity and replace the fallen gods. Finally in Erades, they learned that the path to the Garden of the Gods and the Grail lay through the Flame of Destiny itself, at the Heart of Mechanus.
The Dark Castle
Somewhere in the middle of this, the vampire Andreas von Ryke kidnapped Trassa, killing her and stealing her Divine Mark. In a rage, Coirrana led the rest of the Heroes into the jaws of the Black Castle, a palace of necromantic horrors, intentialy made haunted then having that haunting bent to the will of its masters. There they met a woman named the Hunter who was already bent on Andreas’ destruction. Andreas was eventually defeated and the true Lord and Lady of the castle, Valdemar and Isabella, freed from where their spawn had imprisoned them. Valdemar granted the Heroes their lives for the service of freeing him and his wife. With her spirit freed after the destruction of Andreas, Trassa was able to be resurrected. Valdemar and Isabella would later use Andreas’ ritual to gain Marks of Destiny for themselves.
Fighting the Church
Earning that last portion of the prophecy didn’t come easily. Valas Corvo engineered his own rise to Archprelate of the Church and declared the Questors and any who would aide them enemies of the Church. The final shrine was located outside of Ravena, the seat of the Church’s power! In order to get close, they were forced to dismantle the church piece by bloody piece finally exposing Corvo for the monster, before defeating him in battle.
The Artifacts of Rule
The Geistwood was once the Holy Forest of the Gods. Planted by the Fallen Goddess of Nature to guard the sacred ground where the Godstone fell from the heavens, the forest was tainted and twisted by Nicarius when he bound it to the will an insane being known as the Tetrarch: Four Demiliches who were once bitter rivals who he bound into one conciousness. In order to stand a chance against this entity, the heroes went about trying to find Artifact Weapons left behind by the Fallen Gods.
Their quest took them into Tchai’kenow, where they encountered an ancient evil. The Draconic Ascendant, Hui Xing, the Darkstar had freed himself of its eternal prison. Twisting the Golden Dynasty to follow his whims, he had, over the past decade gathered the Artifacts of Rule to himself and his supporters. Unfortunately, the Golden Dynasty had become too corrupted. In order to defeat his armies, the Heroes were forced to favor their eternal rivals, the Red Faction.
Even with the aide of the Artifacts of Rule, finding and defeating the Tetrarch proved no easy task. Meeting up with a team of unlikely allies, the Human Bear Warrior Turog, The elven druid Sylviel, and her brother, the Ranger Kasaran, the Heroes sought to end his evil reign once and for all, fighting the entire strength of the Geistwood to secure a victory. Sylviel volunteered to let herself become the new focus of the Geistwood’s power. The strain of dealing with that much power eventually killed her, but her body reformed in the Garden of the Gods, allowing her to become the first Ascendant. Turog and Kasaran entered stayed by her side until her departure, then, upon her appearance as a goddess, immediately followed into the Flame out of love for her.
The Hunter and Old Nick
Somewhere in the middle of this, Old Nick attacks the party, using a mere magical weapon in place of the Shard of Oblivion he usually wielded, he seemed to think it mostly a game. The Hunter arrives and, using a special arrow, slays Old Nick, claiming his mask as her prize.
The Flame of Destiny
In order to Ascend to Divinity, the heroes must pass through the flame of destiny and so enter the Garden of the Gods, where they attempt to find the Grail left by Xeris, God of Craft to sustain creation in the Gods’ abscence and drink from that. The Heroes of Destiny knew this from relatively early in their travels.
What No One told them was what passing through the Flame would entail. Scorching pain unlike any they had ever endured shot through every nerve in their body. They continued forward, watching their extremities dissolve around them. One by one, their number fell, consumed entirely by the almighty Flame.
And then they were through. Their mortal forms had been burned away and their souls reforged as perfect physical bodies, ageless and immortal.
(In Game Terms, they applied the Paragon template, and everyone’s type changed to Outsider, with the exception of Coirrana and Massaru, who became Dragons.)
Though the Heroes were the first to discover the nature of the Mark of Destiny, and were most instrumental in permitting allowing Divinity to exist at all, they were not the first to pass through the flame, nor the first to Ascend. They were beat to the punch by two goddesses, Silviel, who was mentioned earlier, and Albera, former Headmistress of the Alsforth Academy, ascended become the Goddess of Magic, the Archtheurge, Chief Sorceress of the Gods.
When the Heroes traveled to the Grail, they found they traveled along with the Hunter. The instant they drank from the grail and were awarded their first divine rank, the Hunter instead removed the mask from her belt where she had kept it, and put it on her face, transforming instantly into their old dread foe, Old Nick.
In a terrible pitched battle, the newly ascendant gods fought against oblivion itself as the ancient fiend sought to rid the world of Divine power entirely, thus dooming it to a slow, Entropic death.
Needless to say, Nick was slain, his mask was recovered and with the help of Albera, sealed away safely in its old imprisonment, in a demiplane accessible only from the Holy Forest where it, to this day, remains.