As it is written: “At Winter Solstice within the Year of the Scarlet Witch wise men shall gather to stand between Darkness and Light.”
21 Nightal, 1491 DR
After vanquishing the Pit Fiend from the Grandfather Tree, the group returned to the Twilight Monastery cave to rest and reflect on what has happened recently. Each of the monks went about their own routines, still not fully comfortable with each other. Even though The One Who Walks assembled them and renamed them as Order of Twilight, they were still individuals who have not learned to mesh as a team. It would take time for them to learn each others strengths, weaknesses, abilities, and flaws.
They were all still coming to terms to the new abilities that had been granted to them by The One Who Walks when he poured his essence into them and then vanished. These new mystic powers were akin to the flow of Ki but also held aspects of magic. Each of them were aware that the new ability was granted to you much like a natural talent but it would take discipline and practice to harness the full extent of these powers. For now, each of them were like a toddler, experiencing new skills haphazardly with a newfound appreciation and awe.
“You will stand between Darkness and Light.” Fo’s words echo in their minds as they pondered his final words to them. “There will be distractions presented to you that will tempt you to stray from the true path. Stay focused on what you wish to do. The prophecy hints that you will be the catalyst that brings change in Faerûn for ill or good. Your decisions may very well return light to the world or doom it to an eternity of darkness. The seven years of darkness started with Lolth, and must end with her. Destiny and Fate will lead you if you are faithful to what you have learned all these years in your studies. Good luck. You are the chosen ones.”
He had also explained to them that the gods were no longer allowed to personally act within the world. They could act indirectly through their clerics or send signs and portents to those who they might influence. But they could no longer use mortals as the pawns they once did. That is what has led to the uprising of minor powers and principalities in the world. The power grab is too much for some to resist as was the case with both Lolth and Tiamat.
As they each went about their routine, they became aware of movement in the forest. Before long, they noticed something light-colored moving slowly from the direction of the Grandfather Tree. Had something followed them back to the cave? It was hard to say.
Lou was the first to notice the White Stag. It was the same creature that he (and some of the others) had seen on their journey to the cave on Winter’s Solstice. They noticed for the first time that it only has one of its antlers other side and there’s have been broken off. Could this be creature that was referred to by the bugbears as the “One Horn Horse?” The creature lingers about 30 yards away from the cave. It chews on branches and foliage, seemingly observing the monks for several moments before turning to slowly walk Northeast away from the cave.
Lou spoke up, speaking in Sylvan: “Greetings forest hart. How goes the world?” Sylvan was a language spoken by Fey and magical beasts. If this creature was either, it might communicate with Lou.
The Stag continued to pick its way through the forest, paying no attention to Lou. The monks all knew that the appearance of a White Stag a place in the mythology of many cultures in Faerûn. Barbarian tribes of the North believed that they were messengers from the gods, sacred creatures which would appear to those who needed guidance. Cormyr legends state that the creature has a perennial ability to evade capture, and that the pursuit of the animal represents mankind’s spiritual quest. Tales in Waterdeep often said that a knight who encoutnered a White Stag were being summoned on a righteous quest. Even the old sage Elminister weighed in on the White Stag at one point: “The White Stag has a message for you. Hunters of old pursued the miraculous stag, not because they expected to kill it, but because it led them in the joy of the chase to new and fresh adventures, and so to capture happiness.” No matter how they believed, the presence of the Stag could be considered a good omen.
Or it could be a sign or portent, sent as a distraction, to lead them on a wild goose chase. Again, it was hard to say.
The White Stag walked slowly for several hundred feet to the Northeast as the monks followed. And then suddenly it flagged its tail several times and burst into a run, dashing through the forest in a generally Westward direction. The monks had to run to pursue the Stag, using their abilities to accomplish amazing feats of parkour and acrobatics to keep up with the beast.
Even with their speed and agility, they lost sight of the Stag several times. Finally, they saw it head for an clearing and the three of them rushed forward. Bursting into the clearing, they saw that the Stag was gone. Instead of the white deer they faced a dolmen mound that would have been nearly impossible to find save for they were led there … by the creature.
The three monks cautiously inspected the dolmens that formed an arch, creating a doorway to a mound. The stone was etched with ancient Elven runes and symbols, declaring that this was a sacred place called The Hall of Mists. Several wards and protective symbols guarded the archway. Some even appeared to be runes that would strike a man dead. But this did not deter them. They carefully entered the archway, walking inside of the cool, dark mound that resembled a cave.
They found a tunnel running down at a sloping angle, and decided to follow it. After more than an hour of quiet progress, they started to notice that the tunnel was different. A strange, black, viscous sap smelling seemed to ooze from the walls, almost as if it were an ancient wound that would not heal. With more than a trace of trepidation, they continued their journey into the darkness.
In the end, the three monks found that the tunnel came to an abrupt end in a large door. Again, it was marked by ancient Elven runes and spell-craft intended to protect and ward. They had to force the doorway open, and for a moment they could not see because a cloud of dust and spores blinded them.
After a moment, they were amazed to find themselves standing in a huge library! The walls were covered by the same delicate, bright green moss that was in the Twilight Monastery cave. The center of the room was dominated by a young tree that has burst through the stones in the floor. Two other trees decorated the room on the right and left of the first, adding beauty to the surroundings.
Instantly, all three of them heard a whispering in their mind. “This is the Hall of Mists,” whispered the voice. “Welcome, and be at peace. This is the ancient stronghold of the the Ba’etith, an organization of sages and lorekeepers.”
As they stood, Zhang felt the scepter beginning to vibrate. He held the device out, still knowing very little about it even though he had started to study and examine it to understand its properties. The scepter glowed with a golden light, and then the floor was lit by a matching luminescence of glimmering gold. They watched as a teleportation circle slowly took shape around the center tree.
“I can use the scepter to take us wherever we need to go,” said Zhang. “It is a key.”
The three monks exchanged glances, and they knew that Destiny and Fate were indeed on their side.
THE CATALYST CAMPAIGN