This is a recap of the events and fiction that make up the “Benambra’s Trail” story arc that began in May of 2013. The story involves the legacy of the adventurer Benambra – and the riches he acquired over a lifetime. 300 years after last being seen, Detective Thorpe and Lieutenant Jeffrey follow his trail in hopes of finding the one treasure Benambra seemingly couldn’t live without…

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Check back regularly for updates as the story unfolds. Please read the summary for the mini-arc “No Laughing Matter: Curse of the L-Ag” for Benambra’s introduction to our lore.

As a result of the discovery (and subsequent raid) of Benambra’s Lost Treasure, a growing interest in the mysterious adventurer’s story had been sparked. For reason he did not explain, this included King Blackthorn himself, newly installed upon the throne of Britannia. The King tasked his Viceroy, Sir Andrew (a retired knight and nobleman of Britain) to look into the rumors that Benambra may have possessed magical artifacts of great power. If they existed, they were not accounted for during the raid of Benambra’s vault, and thus must still be “out there” in the world.

His attention being split between this matter and his new station as Viceroy, Andrew turned to Lieutenant Jeffrey, formerly of the Royal Britannian Guard, and Detective Thorpe, the head of the Royal Investigators. Thorpe and Jeffrey were to work together to follow the path of Benambra’s adventures, and see if there was any truth to this talk of powerful relics. Thorpe’s investigators went to work immediately, and their efforts were soon rewarded as they found reference to Benambra in Papua, where he stopped on his way to Terra Sanctum. Upon journeying to the remote area of the Lost Lands, the investigators found a strange cult calling themselves the “Followers of the Spirit of Energy” (to Britannians, they became known as “the Menli” due to their curious habit of all sharing a variation of the same name). Once there, “Menli the Guide” informed the intrepid investigators that they would be granted access to the “Source of the Spirit of Energy” – the very artifact that Benambra sought so many years ago. The only catch was that they would have to return with a larger force, as they would need it in order to pass a series of challenges. The Menli also indicated that individuals skilled in magery would be of particular importance.

The “thinking” part of the immediate journey done, Thorpe handed the investigation over to Jeffrey, who led a sizable force to Terra Sanctum. Once there, Menli the Guide asked the group to split in two; one group was to defeat the “spirit reflections” on the surface of Terra Sanctum, while the other was to journey deep beneath it to pass a series of magery-related challenges. Once the challenges were complete, the mages were to return to the surface and summon the “Facsimile of the Spirit of Energy”. Once the Facsimile was defeated in combat, entrance would be granted to see the Source of the Spirit of Energy.

The mages were successful in completing their challenges, and after some time were able to summon the Facsimile (a familiar purple energy being that resembles a llama). The battle was fierce, but Jeffrey’s force prevailed. The Menlis congratulated the group, and granted them access to the artifact. Upon entering the chamber where it was held, however, it was discovered that the artifact was missing – and its keeper along with it! The Menlis pleaded with Jeffrey to help them, as their lives were somehow linked to “The Source” and they believed it to be too great a power to be in the wrong hands. Jeffrey agreed to help, and returned to Britain.

Thorpe’s Investigators were once again in action, now tracking down Menli the Adept who had gone missing along with The Source of the Spirit of Energy. The trail was a difficult one, but the capable sleuths were able to follow a trail of notes seemingly left by the Menli. They were from a field journal as he was investigating the true nature of The Source and its possible connection to something called “The Pentad”. His notes indicated a strange change in personality as he traveled with the The Source (which he brought with him as he thought it might be helpful, believing he could capably protect it as he indicates that the Menlis are all but impervious to harm). The trail ended in the Hedgemaze, where a final note indicates that he felt afraid – he believed he was being followed.

Upon questioning of the Followers of the Spirit of Energy (the Menlis), it was learned that “The Pentad” mentioned in Menli the Adept’s notes referred to a prophecy long denied by the Followers. Menli the Historian claimed that there were always rumors of a group that waited for the day the prophecy foretold, when the artifacts of “The Pentad” would be reunited. That group was said to operate out of Britain, and was probably hiding “in plain sight”. After days of wandering the streets of Britain, some of Thorpe’s investigators came across a familiar, though mysterious, figure; Vincent, one of the Healer Guildmasters, was found near the monument to Lord Owain Surrey. When questioned of The Pentad, he cryptically responded that he would call for a meeting with Thorpe in the coming days.

Days turned into weeks, when finally word came to Thorpe that Vincent was ready to meet with the investigators. During this meeting, the nature of The Pentad was revealed (and the full name “The Pentad of Power” was learned). Many generations ago, there was a struggle for the artifacts of The Pentad. No one knew where they came from, or what they were made for, but their power was unquestioned. The Prophecy of the Pentad says that when the artifacts were united for the first time, true Chaos was introduced to the world. Further, it says that one day the “Bringer of Chaos” will seek to reunite the artifacts again, and wield the ultimate power – that over existence itself. Vincent is the leader of a sect of Healers that has sworn to keep watch for the Bringer of Chaos. He explains that every time there is conflict or battle in the world, it is likely one of his people is there watching (and acting as a Wandering Healer). There eyes and ears travel far, which is how they always seem to be in the “thick of things”. Vincent also reveals the only location he knows of that could hold one of the artifacts – the swamps of Nox Tereg.

For more information on this meeting, as well as Lieutenant Jeffrey’s feelings on the swamp, please read “Answers” posted on the EM Site.

Jeffrey and his group of brave volunteers ventured to the vile swamp of Nox Tereg in Ilshenar. There, they found a community of Lizardmen (the very same that tried to ruin one Mongbat couple’s Valentines Day) who protected the entrance to a passageway leading to an altar where a terrible Ancient Wyrm waited. Hidden beneath a pile of bones, was another passage that led deep underground to a cave filled with noxious water. There, Jeffrey’s group discovered another of the artifacts of The Pentad…being guarded by a Nox Dragon. Many fell to the dragon’s claws and poisonous attack, but the brave adventurers were successful, and delivered the artifact to Thorpe and Sir Andrew.

Following Jeffrey’s return, Thorpe held a meeting with his Investigators to determine the next course of action. It was revealed that each of the Artifacts of The Pentad was named; “Power” for the one stolen from Terra Sanctum (called “The Source of the Spirit of Energy” by the Menlis), “Balance” for the one recovered from Nox Tereg, and three yet to be found – “Spirit”, “Intelligence”, and “Health.” Given the nature of “Power” as an energy artifact, and the tendency for the sandals of “Balance” to poison all who wore them, the Investigators present theorized that all of the artifacts were somehow related to the five elemental powers. With this in mind, it was decided to search all areas of extreme cold. Investigators spread out across all lands, searching. In the mountain peaks of Ilshenar, frigid demon scouts were encountered, but no artifact was found. A search of Ice Dungeon found even more demons, but also a friend who seemed certain that no artifact was to be found there.

The search continued, until at last a strange lantern was found in Winter Spur in Tokuno. There, the intrepid Investigators met a strange being identifying herself as the “Keeper of the Cold.” The Keeper spoke strangely, and admitted she held one of the Artifacts of The Pentad. She would not hand it over, however, instead insisting she must be killed for it to be claimed. It seems the artifact was holding her captive of sorts, and she was bound to defend it to her death. The remaining Investigators bravely attacked The Keeper, but were soundly defeated. They returned to Thorpe, and filed their report.

Eager to recover one of the Artifacts, Jeffrey promptly organized a party to make the journey to Winter Spur. Clad in thick boots and furs, the adventurers departed for Tokuno by way of the moongate at West Britain Bank. The journey to Winter Spur was perilous, as they were attacked from the shadows by murderous ronin and terrible beast alike. Other, more reasonable parties witnessed the Britannian’s trek, as Jeffrey was confronted by a representative of the Empress at the entry to Winter Spur. The representative, Uki, insisted that Jeffrey return with her to Zento and that the party of adventurers go no further. Having led an armed force into a foreign land, Jeffrey saw little choice. He left with Uki, but not before quietly signalling the group to continue on once he had left.

The group trudged through the snow of Winter Spur to find the hanging lantern where the Keeper of the Cold could be summoned. Upon arriving, Ouija of Skara Brae and her companion, Ultrakill, stepped forward and challenged the mysterious guardian of the Artifact. Recognizing the duo as the ones who discovered her previously, the Keeper materialized in front of the group. Five lanterns appeared around her, and she instructed the Britannians to destroy her “guards” before engaging her. No sooner had someone asked “what guards?” did the wind begin to howl and the snow rise from beneath their feet – all about them elementals of ice rose. The adventurers set to work promptly – with each group of guards that fell, a lantern surrounding the Keeper shattered.

After a bitterly cold fight, the guards were all defeated, and the Keeper came forth once more. Before engaging the assembled attackers, the Keeper made one final warning:

“Knnooowww…thhhiiiiiss…Thhhe Pennntaaad…isss…nooot…whaat…yoouu…thhiiink…Chaos…isss…nooot…whaat…yoouu…thhiiink…”

Following this warning, the fight began. The Keeper of the Cold brought her terrible powers over the elements to bear upon Jeffrey’s group, and the white snow turned red with blood. Her powers were no match for the courage of the gathered adventurers, however, and she was defeated. Immediately after, a soft whisper could be heard as if it were carried by the frigid wind itself. Only a single word was said – “Finally.”

With the Keeper defeated, the group spread out to locate the Artifact. At this time, Jeffrey had returned from Zento, urging the group to quickly find the Artifact so that they could depart – he offered no details of what had transpired in Zento. Finally, it was discovered that the lantern hanging upon the tree that the Keeper seemingly emerged from could now be removed. Removing the lantern, Jeffrey fell to the snow briefly, and began to speak in a manner more suited to a scholar of the Lycaeum than a former Lieutenant of the Guard. Unnerved, he immediately wrapped it in a spare cloak and seemed to return to normal.

Moving towards the cave to exit Winter Spur, the Britannians were met with another surprise as a massive demon appeared before them. Identifying himself as Azmok, he demanded the group hand over the Artifact so that he may return it to his master. The brave adventurers denied Azmok, and were immediately set upon by numerous demons of all shapes and sizes, while Azmok himself disappeared. Weary from their encounter with the Keeper of the Cold, Jeffrey’s group still managed to fend the demons off without suffering any casualties. They quickly departed Winter Spur, and Tokuno, before any further surprises could arise.

The Britannian force returned home with their prize, but brought with them other complications. Irritated by the incursion into her lands, the Empress of Tokuno demanded a meeting with a delegation from Britannia. During a Council meeting, Governor Nails Warstein of New Magincia was chosen to lead this delegation. While Governor Warstein tended to the diplomatic front, Jeffrey and Thorpe uncovered more details pertaining to the identity of the mysterious enemy who sought the Artifacts of the Pentad. Thorpe tasked his Investigators with confirming his suspicions, as well as searching Benambra’s Vault for missed clues. The Investigators also searched for the next Artifact, this one pertaining to the elemental force of fire.

Though they were unsuccessful in locating the next Artifact, the Investigators did manage a few discoveries. Bytor, Thorpe’s highest rank Investigator, found a lantern hidden in a corner of the Vault that was previously missed. Its inscription read “Only accompanied by the blood of Benambra shall you receive entrance.” New Investigator Tobias Cardont and his fellow Rangers of Spiritwood also found the lantern, and surmised the message to mean a descendent of Benambra must be located and brought to the Vault. Finding a link between the old Council and the demons that seemed to be seeking the Artifacts on behalf of their master, many of the Investigators believed their mysterious enemy to be none other than Brother Lian Vinre, or Janus, come back from the dead. Unfortunately the truth would prove to be far worse.

Jeffrey called for a large gathering of adventurers in order to locate and retrieve the next Artifact. A large force answered the call, many of whom were part of the newly formed Town Guards. It was here that Thorpe revealed the identity of their enemy – Relvinian. The undead demon conjurer had not been seen since the defeat of the terrible Ix Tab, but it was now clear that he had been influencing events in the realm for some time through his pawn Lian Vinre. Grimly motivated, the adventurers set about finding the fire Artifact (known as “Spirit,” among other names). Reports of a very large group of demons near the coast of Fire Island brought the group there to investigate. They found a large dig underway, with demons burrowing at the foot of a volcano in search of the Artifact. As the adventurers and Town Guards engaged the demons, Jeffrey issued a challenge to Relvinian – to come forth and fight. The Demon Master obliged, and once again was seen walking the world of Sosaria. Lieutenant Jeffrey charged the undead fiend but was consumed by a raging wall of fire that had sprung from the ground. The shock and horror of the adventurers soon gave way to anger as they set upon Relvinian with fury. Taunting them, Relvinian made a few cryptic remarks regarding Jeffrey’s fate before disappearing.

Their leader seemingly slain and their enemy gone, the Britannian force turned their fury upon the remaining demons and slew them by the hundreds. Throughout the battle Relvinian would reappear – sometimes in front of warriors, sometimes in a tree, but always taunting the heroes. As demon after demon fell, the fighting slowed until it seemed none remained. Save one. With a bellow that sounded like the roar of a thousand furnaces, Azmok, one of Relvinian’s generals, appeared. Many fell in the great battle, but so to would Azmok. As the beast fell into a fiery heap, scorching the ground beneath it, Relvinian reappeared near one of the holes that had been dug. Reaching into the hole he pulled something out and held it over his head. A craftsman’s apron, made of unknown materials and shimmering in a deep red hue unfurled in his hands. Soon, Relvinian himself began to glow, as he laughed in sinister triumph. He taunted the Britannians once more, and bade them return to Britain and spread word that he would soon be claiming dominion over all the Kingdom. With this, a moongate opened, and he vanished once again. Cautiously stepping through, the heroes found themselves in Britain. Forlorn over the loss of the Lieutenant and their failure to retrieve the Artifact, they informed Detective Thorpe of what had happened.

With the Lieutenant seemingly lost, Thorpe continued on in the search for the final Artifact. With the help of his detectives, a link between Benambra and the former Commander of the Royal Guard, Olivia Kanlocke, is discovered. Convinced that Olivia is the key, they begin the search. She is successfully located, and agrees to accompany an armed Britannian force back to Benambra’s Vault where she is able to unlock a previously blocked passage (“only with the Blood of Benambra shall entrance be granted”). Upon entering, the Britannian adventurers are shocked at what they find – a decrepit old man sitting upon a throne of rock. Upon being approached by Olivia, the old man begins to speak, and his identity becomes quite clear – it is Benambra himself! Surviving for over three hundred years thanks to his handling of one of the Artifacts, he confirms Olivia’s heritage as his descendent. Furthermore, he says demons had just left this secret chamber, taking with them his diary as they search for the final Artifact. Olivia vows to defeat Relvininian, and Benambra releases his weak hold on life.

Realizing that the demons have probably learned enough of her family history to know where she was born (and also the likeliest hiding place for the fifth Artifact), Olivia leads the force of Britannians to Minoc. There, they found a city under siege by wave after wave of demons wielding fire, ice, and lightning. Rushing headlong into the fray, the adventurers rid Minoc of demons as Olivia secures the Artifact (now understood to be the Artifact representing “Health” and perhaps “Protection”). As the battle wound down, a scout appeared with a terrible message from Britain – King Blackthorn had been kidnapped! Returning to Britain, the adventurers (as well as members of the Royal Britannian Guard) learn that Relvinian himself appeared in the Castle and abducted the King (most likely aided by the power of the Artifacts he had in his possession). Bade to return to their homes and secure their towns and villages, the adventurers dispersed, fearful of what was to come.

One week following the King’s abduction, an emergency session of the Royal Council of Governors is called by Sir Andrew. It is there that a report is given by Tobias Cardont, a Ranger of Skara Brae and one of Thorpe’s newest investigators, regarding an appearance of “the imp” at a recent fair. It was said that the imp appeared during a contest for bards and troubadours and recited the following:

Roses are red,
Violets are blue.
Relvinian hath said,
To an early grave your King flew.
But don’t be sad,
For he you may recover.
Bring the Artifacts of the Pentad,
And a grim fate he may not suffer.
Sadly my work is incomplete,
A story yet to be finished.
Uncertain is the fate you will meet,
When CHAOS shall not diminish.

Cardont and the other Investigators believed the King (and possibly Jeffrey) to be trapped in Relvinian’s grave, deep beneath the Hedge Maze. After much discussion, the Council decided to exercise caution – they would attempt to rescue the King, but not involve the Artifacts. Sir Andrew, though initially agreeing with the majority of the Council, feared too greatly for the King’s safety. Recognizing the enemies he would make of some of the Governors, he secretly allowed Olivia to take the Artifacts, which, including her own, numbered three to Relvinian’s two.

The call went out for all available RBG Town Guards and all willing adventurers to follow Olivia to the Hedge Maze. Once there, Vincent assisted Olivia in opening a passage into Relvinian’s grave – a place all too familiar for some). Entering the grave, they were confronted with scores of demons and undead creatures. Fighting their way through the halls, it was not long before a cell was found. Inside, the King sat tied to a chair, seemingly unconscious. Next to him, looking haggard but otherwise unharmed, stood Lieutenant Jeffrey. Before long the gathered Guards and adventurers had the King and Jeffrey free. As a detachment of Guards escorted the recovered leaders back to Britain, the rest searched for Relvinian. The answer would once again arrive upon the wings of the imp, who appeared and told Olivia’s force that Relvinian could be found in the place the Artifacts of the Pentad had been created – he even opened a moongate to the spot. Though they believed it a trap, the adventurers pushed through the gate. Stepping out on the other side, they were surprised to find themselves in the land of Malas, amongst the Grimswold Ruins. There, surrounded by five pillars with a stone slab in the center, was Relvinian.

The Britannians, led by Olivia Kanlocke, charged the demon charmer. When they got close, however, something strange occurred. Frozen in place, Olivia watched helplessly as the Artifacts she carried were whisked from her body by invisible hands, drawn to the pedestals. It was then that they noticed that two of the pedestals were already occupied – by the Artifacts which Relvinian held.

It had begun.

With the Artifacts brought together once more, they would be capable of summoning the Pentad itself – a magical object of such immense power that none dared guess at its purpose. Relvinian’s trap had been sprung, and now the Britannians found themselves surrounded by demons. Many vanished in demon fire, and one by one the Artifacts vanished from their pedestals. Once all of the pedestals were empty, a blinding light  shot from the starry Malas sky and engulfed the stone slab in the center of the pillars. The fighting stopped as something floated down the beam of pale blue light, coming to a rest on the slab. The light faded away, leaving a sextant that glowed in the same blue hue. Approaching it, neither Olivia nor Relvinian could claim the Pentad. But then, neither one of them was supposed to.

From the trees a familiar cackling could be heard. Olivia closed her eyes and sighed as she finally realized what was happening. The imp appeared once more, this time floating above the Pentad. With a demented smile, he scooped the Pentad up with his clawed hands as if he were simply picking up a bit of rubbish from the ground. He cackled more as he thanked Relvinian and the gathered Britannians for their help in gathering the Artifacts so that the Pentad may be recovered. He revealed that once summoned, the Pentad could reassemble the Artifacts from itself, though their powers would be diminished in order for the Pentad to remain. For their help, he promised to give the Britannians four of the Artifacts, with the fifth (that of “Spirit,” which was powered by the elemental fire) being given to Relvinian. After making a few cryptic comments about using the Pentad to “travel,” the imp disappeared once again.

Enraged at being manipulated, Relvinian called forth more demons, as well as his newest general – a twisted, undead Menli the Adept. The fighting lasted many hours, but the Britannian Guards and adventurers managed to defeat their enemies (though there was no further sign of Relvinian). They returned to Britain where they were thanked by the King.

One month after defeating Relvinian, and one year after the investigation into Benambra and the Artifacts of the Pentad began, Lieutenant Jeffrey organized a force to return to Terra Sanctum. Believing the Artifacts to still be too powerful to have all in one place, it was decided to return the Artifact of “Power” to the Menlis (or, the “Source of the Spirit of Energy,” as they called it). Upon arriving, however, they found the remote home of the Menlis to be under assault by the remnants of Relvinian’s demon army. The Lieutenant led a force across Terra Sanctum freeing captured Menlis and vanquishing their demon captors. They successfully returned the Artifact, and went home. It had been a long journey, but this part of the story finally came to a close.

Still, they knew the day would come when the next chapter of this story would be written.

For the epilogue to this arc, please read “Journey’s End.”

Last updated 6/12/14.

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