The Fall of Summer Heat as a New Dawn Rises

It was an early spring morning of the year 666 since the Coming of Estarra when a peculiar phenomenon was observed at dawn – a streak of golden light illuminated the skies. It lasted well into the night but as Solstice was near, most dismissed it as one of its hallmarks. It was only Serenwilde, ever vigilant of anything potentially to do with Brother Sun, that investigated further but all of their leads went cold and soon most forgot all about the occurrence. Then, one late spring day, the astrologer Hiari of the Serenwilde was standing underneath the Moonhart Mother Tree when she noticed something peculiar in the skies and, using an astrolabe, discerned it to be a trail of roseate light still ripping through the heavens. She informed her fellow commune mates, including Huskii Myeras and Adushoc zi’Prouep, and continued to keep a close eye on the trailing light, visible night and day to a trained eye, over the coming days. The mystery of its creation would take a while to be unravelled, however.

Meanwhile, Xenthos An’Ryshe was secretly contacted by Summer Heat, a dracnari infamous for attempting to corrupt the Old Ones of Scorpion Caverns. Unknown to most, Summer Heat turned out to have been attempting to recruit followers for whoever or whatever it is that he serves. And so, under the cover of darkness, Xenthos snuck quietly into the Nerale Mausoleum, where Summer Heat had been waiting, and where he would inform Xenthos that after his initial trial, he would now be given a real mission. The dracnari looked even worse than when first met in the Skarch – devoid of the brown flames about his mouth, and desperate.

Summer Heat was seeking essence and lots of it, but not just any old essence, the essence that he would twist to empower something he called a “siphon”. Intrigued by what this so-called “siphon” was, Xenthos quickly gathered some essence, but before he would hand it over, he demanded a demonstration and explanation of the plan and its intricacies. Anxious to proceed, Summer Heat demonstrated how he could corrupt this elemental essence, cracking it open and breathing dark brown flames into it until its very core had become corrupted. From there, Summer Heat directed Xenthos to meet him at a secret location where they could venture into where the siphon had been constructed, a waterfall behind the Estengare River. Using a tinderbox he had been given, Xenthos found the covert entrance and silently slipped behind the waterfall and inside what turned out to be the realm of the Elder God Valtreth. There stood a monolithic obelisk of dark stone. To Summer Heat’s surprise, after he carefully explained the plan which involved the draining of this abandoned realm for his master, Xenthos quickly collected evidence and swiftly departed. Armed with information, he alerted his allies and the Fellowship of the Roots what he had learned and called them to arms.

The Fellowship was in a stir and quickly mobilised, while Cheliyi Lunarose carried the warning of immediate danger to the citizens of New Celest. Together with the help of Hallifax, Glomdoring, and the Fellowship of the Roots, they ventured to a hidden grotto at the end of the Estengare River where the entrance to the Salt Cliffs stood – the realm of the Valtreth, the Majesty of Dawn. Upon arrival, Chairman Tikki alongside Zylissa Al’tair, Ayisdra Ysav’rai, Efarihm Ysav’rai of Hallifax, Tridemon Regalis and Cheliyi Lunarose of New Celest, Xenthos An’Ryshe and Skaza Ysav’rai of the Glomdoring Commune, together with Nimuire Duskbloom and Thes Erurozea of the Fellowship of the Roots discovered a foul corruption had sealed off the once radiant pool of golden light, impeding their access to the realm of Lord Valtreth. The path Xenthos used to pierce through these protections was also now closed to them, as his tinderbox was destroyed for his betrayal. Cheliyi also admitted to having been recruited by Summer Heat, and to have been entertaining him while trying to gain pertinent information to take him down, but at that admission, her own tinderbox was destroyed as well.

A former Archdeacon of Lord Valtreth, Tridemon remembered the day when the realm was originally discovered and what they needed to do back then to access the realm. He informed the group that it required the use of light essence and so a small group broke off to scour the elemental planes and gather what essence they could find and bring it to the pool to see if it would help combat the corruption. As the first bits of light essence were placed into the vitiated waters, a hopeful ripple of light traveled across the surface and so they continued to bring in essence over the coming days. The Chairman of Hallifax, Tikki, diligently hauled essence from all corners of the known planes without rest, assisted by Tridemon, Exeryte, Xenthos, Galaphyrae, Xiran, Veara, Fillirriqili, Zylissa, and Skaza. It was soon apparent that their efforts were working as the waters of the pool were beginning to show signs of clearing.

One morning, as the golden light of Father Sun peaked over the mountains, Summer Heat gloated and taunted the Basin from afar, proclaiming that his plan had reached fruition and that they would soon know the power of his master. Darkness began to build above the Razine Mountains as crimson lightning split the skies, quickly spreading across the lands. With his control over the realm of the Elder God Valtreth, and its connection to His shrines, Summer Heat was able to channel the corruptive energies through and release an army of corrupted Legates of Morning, the guardians of Lord Valtreth’s realm that he had twisted under his control. The corrupted Legates stormed through the lands, rising from where the shrines were erected – the City of New Celest and Lord Valtreth’s master shrine within Mount Avechna – and attacked anyone they came in contact with. Hesitant to attack the Legates of Morning for fear of hurting Lord Valtreth in some way, many stayed their hand for a time until it was clear their link to the Dawning Lord was broken and no harm would befall Him should they be slain. And so the people of the Basin began fighting back and pushing back the corrupted army.

Several members of the Fellowship gathered to defend Lord Valtreth’s Fulcrux, while Nimuire Duskbloom fought her way back to the corrupted pool to lend her assistance. As more and more corrupted Legates marched across the lands, many discussed methods they could use to purify them. Tikki had brought several of the slain Legates back to the pool, as Nimuire suggested perhaps returning them from whence they came may help restore the balance, and placed one within. Many onlookers were dismayed as the corrupted body sunk below the surface only for plumes of dark brown smoke to spew into the pool, corrupting it further and counteracting their efforts to purify it. As they discussed alternative methods, those defending the Fulcrux sent word of a second pool within which luminous energies swirled, and that perhaps this pool may work instead. Tikki swiftly made way to the Fulcrux of the Morning Lord and hesitantly laid the corrupted body in the luminescent waters. Amid gasps, dark brown smoke spewed forth from the twisted body but was soon dispelled by the radiant mists, and so now they had not just a way to purify the Legates of Morning that Summer Heat had corrupted, but also a way to slow down their advance for once purified, they would not rejoin the army.

As the Fellowship of the Roots and their allies tirelessly worked to purify the pool and the corrupted Legates over the course of the month, Summer Heat had his own plans in the works. He had instructed those following him to spread across the lands to counteract any work meant to thwart him, and so they secretly started stealing essence from the elemental and ethereal planes, bringing it to Summer Heat to corrupt, and then attempted to sneak it into the pool. They also scoured the lands for slain bodies of corrupted Legates and brought them to the pool to sabotage the efforts of those trying to purify it. Finally, they continued to sneak in and out of the corrupted realm itself through the hidden waterfall entrance as, despite Xenthos’ warning, it went unguarded.

Another month would pass as adventurers from all over the Basin fought against the forces of Summer Heat and his corrupted army, the balance of power shifting back and forth as each side struggled to keep control. Eventually, the clashing of swords and troops marching erupted loudly as a coordinated attack from the corrupted Legates of Morning converged upon the hidden grotto where Tikki, Tridemon, and Cheliyi had been standing guard. Soon joined by Exeryte Stormcrow, Veldrin D’Cente, Zylissa Al’tair, and Huskii Myeras, the group worked to fight against the onslaught until reinforcements could arrive. Word reached New Celest through Meleris, the Keeper of the Pool of Stars and rallied the King of New Celest, while Thes called upon the Fellowship of the Roots and Nimuire Duskbloom to join the fray. Meanwhile, Xenthos left to gather more essence, and upon his return and a final addition of essence, the waters of the pool began to seethe and roil as a golden brilliance burst forth and burned away the last remnants of the corruptive magics blocking the entrance, allowing the group to finally enter the realm of Lord Valtreth.

But as the adventurers stepped through the rippling pool of golden light, they were met with a large contingent of corrupted Legates preventing any further ingress. The Legates, however, were no match for the assembled forces, which quickly dispatched them and advanced further towards the entrance of the Temple of the Dawn where, as it turned out, Summer Heat held the priest of Lord Valtreth, Auguste L’Fevre, hostage and himself was protected by a corruptive sphere of dark brown smoke that repelled any attempts at attacking him. The monolithic obelisk that Xenthos originally saw stood there still, draining and corrupting the realm.

As everyone watched on in horror, Summer Heat began to torture Auguste. It was at that moment that the very air began to ripple in a shimmering haze and the very ground shook beneath their feet. A mighty voice boomed from within the Temple of the Dawn before the Majesty of the Dawn Himself descended in a blaze of gold-tinged, roseate dawnfire. Visibly stricken with a strange wound, Lord Valtreth stumbled momentarily, wincing but remaining strong as He advanced upon Summer Heat. Auguste L’Fevre, who had been tending to his Lord as He secretly sought refuge in His realm, begged the Morning Lord not to fight. Summer Heat laughed and mocked the weakened Elder God, taunting Him as his siphon continued to drain not just His realm but, in truth, Him as well. With Summer distracted, the Morning Star mustered all his strength to reach the monolithic stone where he began to glow with a radiant, white light, sad eyes falling upon his Lord as he sacrificed himself, his radiant life force flowing into the obelisk causing it to overload and fracture which in turn caused the entire realm to shudder and become unstable.

With the obelisk shattered, Summer Heat visibly began to diminish before everyone’s eyes and tried to gather the pieces of the obelisk in an attempt to save his foul plot. Notably bereft of his tell-tale brown flames, he berated the group for depriving him of his next crystal, claiming a need for essence. As he angrily declared everyone betrayers and blamed them for his shrivelling numbers of followers, the protective sphere dispersed around him and the group took their chance. Tridemon promised him death once, and he did not hold back. Summer Heat tried desperately to defend himself but in his fragile condition, he was soon overwhelmed, with Faragan Ladyn, King of New Celest landing the final blow. As Summer Heat fell, his body shrivelled into a husk of his former self, much beyond what a sudden death would have caused. But he was, at last, dead.

In His weakened state, Lord Valtreth was unable to contain the instability of His realm and urged everyone to depart swiftly before it collapsed in on itself. As the last of the mortals escaped the Salt Cliffs, rays of golden light erupted from the Estengare River before a soundless explosion tore through the Razine Mountains. In the trail of destruction, skeins of shimmering light unfurled throughout the sky as the Majesty of the Dawn descended into His fulcrux on Mount Avechna, followed soon by numerous mortals. Much to Lord Valtreth’s surprise, Lord Darvellan also arrived in a wash of starlight to greet His cousin. The Navigator and the gathered mortals had many questions of the Dawning Lord, notably about His journey and current wellbeing. Lord Valtreth explained that He had left the First World long ago, on a mission to locate the Red Star of the Half-Formed Lovers, Supernal Dumaliel and Emanation Grimbach, hoping to heal and redeem them. On His journey, Valtreth came into contact with the Elder Carsini, but little did He know, that the Elder of the Firsts was merely Nohaji, the Soulless Face Thief in disguise. While they travelled together for a time, Nohaji studied Valtreth, sensing the duality of Divine essence within Him, as they continued to search for the Red Star.

Valtreth was often plagued by memories of His time as Elder God Eventru and Elder God Lyreth, which led to some insight into who Carsini really was since Eventru had worked closely alongside Carsini in the past. Coupled with the hungering glances and un-Elder-like mannerisms, it all began to make the Dawning Lord uneasy and suspicious. As the hunger became overwhelming, the Soulless face-thief launched an attack upon Valtreth, tearing into His flesh and spilling His divine essence as He attempted to consume Him. Wounded, Valtreth managed to weave a blast of dawnfire to repel the Face-stealer long enough for Him to escape. Still wounded and bleeding His golden essence, Valreth secretly returned to the First World, confused and not daring to trust any after such a betrayal. He found refuge back within the Basin of Life, deep within the Salt Cliffs of His Divine Realm, where He attempted to conceal His presence long enough to heal His wounds. But something was wrong… He could not quite remember how. His healing knowledge appeared to be gone, stolen by the Soulless Nohaji.

So as the golden essence of the Majesty of the Dawn continued to rain across the skies and with His wounds not healing, Darvellan offered Him refuge and protection until such a time that They could reverse the effects of His wounds.

How did Summer Heat know that the Majesty of Dawn had hidden within the Salt Cliffs? Or was it luck? And what is the power he so desperately craved? Whatever Master he served, may well still be out there still.