It's been a while since progress has been updated, but the story continues on. Here's a rushed, abridged summary of events that gets us current on the story:
The group stumbled across an NPC named Aidan Thommys Dalinara, known as the "Fireblade" due to the magical blade he uses that sends him into a berserker frenzy. He just dispatched a small group of vampires and agrees to help track down Maeris, considering she was likely taken by the same group he was hunting.
Together they stumble across a house and slaughter the family of vampires within, finding Maeris within. It seemed too late for her, as she had been partially turned. With Anise's blessing, the group decides to take a rash course of action, killing the girl and purchasing a scroll of resurrection to return her to life. The gambit actually works and the sisters are reunited.
Niccadia: The Border Outpost
After the touching reunion, the group decides to turn its attention back to the original goal of hunting down the remnants of Marcus Soulstrider's army and discover the true evil plan.
As the group flies overhead on their trusty Roc, it is shot down at the border by an unseen foe. They recover from their fall, manage to save the life of the Roc, and are promptly captured by a group of vicious half-orcs led by a mysterious figure in a robe with a device that prevents all magic from being used within a certain radius.
The group is thrown in jail, with the exception of the druid Thoth, who had the foresight to go into bird form and fly away before being captured. He finds where the group is imprisoned and manages to work out a plan to help the group escape by setting the prison on fire.
Yes, he set the prison on fire with his friends inside. They manage to escape their bonds without the use of magic and use the distraction of fire to escape, but they nearly burned up in the process. They fight their captors until a voice yells out "stop!"
The voice belongs to Gorebyss Maulhammer, the leader of the orc outpost. He had no knowledge of the group being captured and instead decides to let them free. He says that they've been on edge due to some mysterious attacks and murders of the clergy by a winged demon, so the guards have had itchy trigger fingers.
The group, convinced that the orc is being truthful, decides to help in exchange for help in locating Marcus's Drow. They track down the source of the murder to that of a vicious succubus that nearly kills Thoth before they take it down.
Gorebyss, pleased with the groups efforts, handsomely rewards his new friends and points them to the outpost near where the Drow would descend to their Darklands.
The outpost is found, and Adotlin finally is able to procure the gun he had been searching for. Information is then gathered from the locals through various methods of persuasion (what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, my friends). Finally the entrance to the Drow Darklands is found in a cave near the trail.
Before entering the cave, a large Niccadian army is spotted marching East, presumably toward the Angeni lands. The information gathered from the locals indicate that there is a crazy priest leading the charge and they have gone rogue from the larger Niccadian forces.
Acting on this information, the group decides to head down into the Drow Darklands to seek more information on this crazy priest, and perhaps find a way to defeat the new threat.
The entrance to the Darklands is a cavern tunnel ending in a trapped door. The group manages to collapse the tunnel leading to the door by softening the rocks around it. A few hours later they hear some rumblings and soon see a giant mole burst out of the tunnel followed by some Drow handlers. It appeared as if they could quickly re-open collapsed tunnels by using giant beasts.
After the cleanup crew leaves, the group finds the door now guarded. They manage to get past it and descend the tunnel into the depths below the earth.
The dark tunnels eventually give way to a large underground forested area covered in rocky trees covered with bio-luminescent leaves. They fight their way through this beautiful underground park and discover a tunnel leading further down.
In this new tunnel they find Drow elite forces that provide some significant resistance, but they manage to find their way to an alter where several Drow priests are chanting.
The Drow express their fear of the craziness of the priest and their desire to stop him. They give a special dagger to the group and lead them to a secret exit that would put them at the head of the army.
They emerge to find that the enemy forces razed Maulhammer's outpost, killing everyone and burning the buildings to the ground. Two Rocs were severely beaten and tied down, and a large cage in the center of the camp held a few prisoners.
The priest addresses the army and Thoth, flying high in bird form, recognizes him as Marcus Soulstrider, who has had an arm, leg, and part of his face patched over with mechanical replacements.
He says an incantation and row by row, the army falls dead and their life force flows directly to Soulstrider. He laughs, acknowledges Thoth's presence, and flies off.
The group heals the Rocs, frees the prisoners, and finds that Fenria Vix and the dwarf Bratta Marala had come back to provide assistance but were ambushed by the army. Besides those two, Gorebyss Maulhammer was the only other surviver from the enemy onslaught.
After spending some time discussing what to do next, it is decided that war is looming and must be prevented. Gorebyss and the dwarf decide to take one of the Rocs and fly to the Niccadian capital to let them know about Soulstrider. Fenria and the group would take the other to the city of Fomoria, the capital of Angen, to rely information to the Queen.
On the way to Fomoria, the Roc has to land, and the group camps out near the shores of a vast lake (which protects the island known only as The Haven). As they camp they are attacked by a giant guardian feyward tree. They defeat it and harvest its metallic body, recognizing the potential payday from such a haul.
The next day they finish their trip to Fomoria, and Fenria tells them to spend the day in the city and she would return when the Queen wishes to see them. So the group spends its time selling their metal tree bits and doing a bit of shopping.
Malavison talks the group's way into a very posh Inn called the Rose and the Bramble, where they try to talk to the locals for information. They want to see if anyone has heard anything about the whereabouts of Soulstrider.
One of the locals mentions a nearby pirate with ties to Soulstrider. This pirate has been terrorizing the town, kidnapping people, and building a crew for some nefarious purpose.
After visiting the inn, the group heads to the Queen's Library where they meet the eccentric wizard Johnny Porter. He seems odd and speaks using weird words, phrases, and references, but he does have information about the location of the pirate. He mentions that he has been seen holed up just north of Fomoria in an abandoned mine whose entrance is in a small hamlet.
Later that night, the group is walking back to the inn. They are ambushed by a Greater Shadow, sent by an unknown assailant. They defeat the shadow and follow the assailant, but discover they were walking into a trap. They trigger the trap remotely, which caused an explosion that collapsed the nearby buildings and blocking their path.
Rubble is not enough to stop a group that can either fly over or burrow through earth, so soon the assailants were found and dispatched in a single fury of hellfire from Malavison.
The next day the Queen finally summons the group to their war council to present their case. Arguments for war are spearheaded by the Queen's advisor Barnum Septus, but the group presents a good case for holding off and focusing on Marcus Soulstrider.
The queen is about to make her decision when an assassin strikes and fires a deft crossbow bolt at the queen. Chaos erupts. Septus sends guards after the assassin, and Valaina jumps on healing the queen.
After the queen is stabilized, she commands Septus to continue pursuing the assassin and group is tasked to focus on Soulstrider, using the pirate as their best current lead.
Johnny Porter, present and now helping with the queen, says he finally remembered the name of the pirate: Eddard Vancle.
Now the group prepares to head north to a new grand adventure. Will they find the pirate and will it lead to Soulstrider?