PREMISE More than 10,000 years ago, in the age before the Sundering, the once great Silver Guard struck a devastating political blow against the arrogant highborne of Queen Azshara's court in a gambit to revitalize the Elunarian faith, which had become overshadowed by the power of the Arcane. In the end, the highborne emerged victorious, and the price of loss for the Silver Guard was too great.
With their Keeper, Imyira Whisperblade, publicly executed, leadership of the Silver Guard fell on the shoulders of her first born daughter, Celissera Glaivewhisper. But a rift had formed between Celissera and her younger sibling, Ylaesia Glaivewhisper. Where the eldest sister sought renewal, the youngest sought vengeance for the one who betrayed their family and their Circle.
In the end, Ylaesia found the traitor and carried out vengeance in her mother's name. But vengeance came at a cost, for in the weeks following she was cast out of the Silver Guard and sent to wander. Others of the Guard left as well, believing Ylaesia's exile was wrongful. Together, Ylaesia and the other exiles of the Silver Guard formed the Shadow Guard.
Centuries later, the Shadow Guard persisted, even as the Silver Guard rose and fell and rose again with the passage of time. One of these Shadowsworn was Halia Glaivewhisper, a priestess of now-lost Elunarian mythos, who pledged to guard Elune's will for peace and the great forests of Kalimdor against any threat that should emerge. Recently, Halia Glaivewhisper, Matron of the Shadow Guard, discovered a possible solution to the threats that plight Kalimdor.
To that end, Halia has organized a coup to take back the Black Flame of Elune and has begun recruiting new kaldorei to some unknown cause.
Ilarii Farlight is a battle-priestess of Elune and the matron of her order. She and her grey-cloaked companions are members of a new order called the Light of the Moon, who have sworn to protect the various refugee camps across Northern Kalimdor from the external threats. Recently, Ilarii Farlight and the Light of the Moon found themselves in desperate need of aid and made fast allies with the Silver Circle. Now in the Circle's debt, Sister Farlight is ready to assist the Silversworn with tracking and hunting the rogue agents of the Shadow Guard organization.
Matron Halia Glaivewhisper
Daughter of the Second Keeper of the Shadow Guard, Thenysea Glaivewhisper, Granddaughter of Ylaesia Glaivewhisper and Great Granddaughter of Imyira Whisperblade. Halia is a zealous Shadowsworn who is hard-pressed to unravel the mysteries of her ancient order and uncover the truth about her ancestor’s demise. Her virtues compel her to wield the Black Flame of Elune for some unknown purpose.
PRELUDE In the weeks prior to the five year anniversary of the Silver Circle, members of the Shadow Guard began to make an appearance in Val'sharah.
Tana Rosedancer and Halia Glaivewhisper arrived to Lightsong under the pretense of celebrations, games, training and companionable exercise. A war game of capture the flag was organized between Halia Glaivewhisper and Interim Warden of War Thinius Shadowfern, resulting in a Silversworn victory. As a reward, Halia promised that the Shadow Guard would perform a special ritual on the eve of the Silver Circle's fifth anniversary, to commemorate the victory and celebrate the Circle's growth.
In the nights following this, Halia made a series of requests of the Silversworn, imploring that they assist her and the Shadow Guard with acquiring the necessary reagents for the celebratory ritual. The items required were: one dreamrunner horn, three unique phials of moonwell water, and moon-blessed spider silk.
Warden of the Hunt Mythanil Briarblade volunteered to acquire a fresh dreamrunner horn and was assisted by Feydren and Aythir with calming (or startling) a dreamrunner stallion so that the horn could be humanely acquired.
Elders Celassa Kal'nor and Kelanthos Ivyfang led the party through the forests of Val'sharah and Suramar, stopping at three unique moonwells to acquire the necessary phials. The moonwells chosen were at the Temple of Elune at the forest heart of Val'sharah, the Irongrove Retreat in Suramar Forest, and home in Lightsong.
Last on the list of reagents was moon-blessed spider silk, which could only be acquired from moon-blessed spiders that dwell on holy ground. The Temple of Fal'adora was the only option. Led by Halia Glaivewhisper, the Silversworn descended into the dark tunnels of the temple ruin to gather spider silk. But on the way, they were waylaid by a massive ley-enriched spider matriarch. The beast was easily ten times the size of your average elf, and it skittered through the ruins attempting to web the Silversworn to secure its next meal.
At one point, Kelanthos and members of the Shadow Guard, including Halia and Tana, fell through the spider web bridge and required rescue. Sang, Cayldiais Moonfang's hippogryph, came to the rescue under the careful instruction of his mistress. Sang air-lifted Halia to freedom first, followed by the others, while the rest of the party worked to keep the giant spider at bay.
After acquiring the final reagents and making a close escape, the Silversworn followed a hidden passage through the waterways and channels between Suramar and Val'sharah to reach Lightsong. There, the Silversworn and Shadowsworn rested and recuperated their strength in preparation for the celebratory ritual.
RITUAL OF RENEWAL On the 16th night of Sellistre the Silversworn and Shadowsworn assembled in a private chamber within the Temple of Elune in Val'sharah to perform their ritual. Keeper Nightfury led the opening remarks, and sang praises to her fellow Silversworn for all the good work they had done in the past year. Nightfury honored the passage of time, and claimed that the Circle's five years of service was "only the beginning," and that "there is still much work to be done."
Following a brief speech about the tenants of peace and a collective reiteration of their oaths, the Silversworn ritual space was turned over to the Shadow Guard to perform the special ritual Halia had promised weeks prior. The Shadowsworn, who had been gathered around the outer ring of the ritual space fell silent as Halia stepped forward to begin the ritual.
It took the span of eight heartbeats. Magical binding sigils sprung to life beneath the feet of the Silversworn and bound them in place as Halia beseeched them to surrender themselves to their inner thoughts. In this moment of vulnerability, Halia stabbed Feyawen Nightfury and the coup for the Flame of Elune unfolded before the Silversworn with devastating clarity.
The reagents the Silversworn gathered for the Shadow Guard served their purpose well. The moon-blessed spider silk and moonwell waters forged the perfect spell to hold each Silversworn in place. The expertly carved dreamrunner horn was the perfect implement to sever the Flame of Elune in two, drawing out the Shadow Guard's Black Flame. The secluded temple chamber rang out with the cries and protestations of the Silversworn and the deep, forbidding song of the Shadow Guard esbats performing the ritual spell.
As the ritual drew to an end, Silversworn Fyfaesia Silverstrike was touched by a fleeting vision, of herself dressed in holy white robes, without weapons, during the Circle's pilgrimage to the Temple of Fal'adora. For the briefest moment, Mother Moon's light shone down on Silverstrike, and she found the strength to break free of her bonds.
Without skipping a beat, Silverstrike cast a bolt of lancing moonlight across the hall at Halia, ceasing the ritual moments before it came to a natural end. The spell struck true, wounding Halia. But, not before Halia claimed the Black Flame in a lantern and implored her followers to summon their own lavender gate herbs to make their collective escape.
The vast majority of the Shadow Guard fled through isolated portals, sprung into existence by shattering stalks of unique lavender gate herbs, which had been a gift to the Shadow Guard given to them by the Silver Circle in years past. But, some Shadow Guard were left behind...
Keeper Tana Rosedancer, who had been as dumbstruck and wounded as the Silversworn, remained behind with a small group of Shadowsworn loyal to her. Rosedancer and her followers were swiftly confronted by enraged Silversworn and taken into custody at the Temple of Elune.
The remaining Silversworn gathered around injured Keeper Nightfury, and aided Kelanthos Ivyfang in stabilizing her with an ancient method of druidic healing.
TREACHERY Keeper Nightfury was spirited away to a place of rest and healing in the wake of the climactic events on the eve of the Circle's anniversary ritual. In the nights that followed, the Silversworn gathered at the Ironwood Retreat and discussed that Tana had given a lead to Warden of the Hunt Mythanil Briarblade about the location of Halia's last known outpost. Deciding it would be a good thing to do, the Silversworn made their way to Halia's home.
The old Shadow Guard base had been discreetly located in the expansive confines of Tel'Anor, on the northern fringe of Suramar's forested hills. The party was greeted by harpies when they arrived at the ruins through the gloom. Some of the Silversworn briefly suggested battling the bird women, until Ithil offered a nonviolent solution. The ancient elf read poetry to the harpies, which appealed to their nature for a time, until Ithil's performance eventually fell short and the offended harpies lashed out themselves.
The Silversworn immediately fell on the defensive, but the rancorous bird women were swiftly felled in a few powerful blows.
Following the encounter, the Silversworn progressed through the shadowed ruins until they reached the cluster of old stone buildings that once served as Halia's home and the Shadow Guard base.
More than a few oddities were discovered amid the ruin, a stack of papers with some names of departed kaldorei, a sarcophagus with a body inside that was missing a ring and finger, and a few other tomes that displayed a ritual of some kind or another. Digging deeper, the Silversworn discovered some notes left by one of the departed Shadowsworn: young Miko. It was Watcher Zethras Greywinter who discovered the pivotal clue:
Starlight twinkles, flames dance. Bone and marrow advance. Moonlight shines on hallowed ground, the shadows flit until found. No cries of mercy, but a choice is made. All are asked, before debt is paid. Matron to Keepers are Divine, showing light on the benign.
With the clues retrieved, the Silversworn returned to Val'sharah to speak with the Shadow Guard captives who were secured under lock and guard within the Temple of Elune.
ANCIENT COMMUNION Kelanthos Ivyfang with the assistance of the Silversworn of the Silver Circle performed a ritual to peer through the veil and speak with ancient Silversworn connected to their souls through the Silver Flame. The ritual required a dream state along with a confession of something personal to use that vulnerability to open one’s soul to allow the Silversworn of the past a beacon to reach them.
Through the ritual the Silversworn were able to contact a boisterous, jovial older soul who gave his name, Y’drus Truehide, along with regal, elegantly silhouetted figure who never revealed her true name to the group. Together they explained that many new souls were being joined with the Elune’s Flame of Power through rituals in Darkshore. These souls were most notably filled with rage, fueled by betrayal and vengeance. They offered well wishes and some advice to the younger members of the Silver Circle order before offering their goodbyes.
PRELUDE: COUNCIL GLADE IN LIGHTSONG On the 8th night of Quel'Asta, Interim Warden of War Thinius Shadowfern called a Council Glade in Lightsong Village.
In the heart of the Timberdawn Tavern, the Silversworn gathered to discuss the recent and unsettling events that plagued their order. Most notably, an ally from abroad called Ilarii Farlight from the Light of the Moon order in Darkshore joined them.
Farlight spoke of the missive she received from Keeper Nightfury and spoke at length about what scouts of her order had discovered and found peculiar in Darkshore in recent times. Farlight mentioned that Shal'lora activity was on the rise in both Ashenvale and Darkshore, and that these priestesses of the black moon were part of the enigmatic sect of the Sisterhood of Elune and charged with burial rituals and ceremonies and issuing last rites to the fallen on battlefields. Farlight spoke of Shal'lora paying visits to various graveyards around Darkshore, particularly in the south. And that one of her scouts even bore witness to a strange ritual that took place, involving wisps and unearthed bone. In the wake of this news, Farlight offered to show the Silversworn the graveyards where the Shal'lora had been sighted.
PATROL Some nights after the Council Glade in Lightsong, the Silversworn volunteers made landfall in Darkshore and met with Ilarii Farlight at the Auberdine camps to embark on a patrol of the southern graveyards.
The party set out posthaste, after securing their rations and supplies. Not long into their journey they discover that a number of the log bridges on the trail had been tampered with and unceremoniously shattered on the rapids far below.
It took some effort to cross the various chasms that split the region on their journey to the south, but eventually they made it to the first graveyard. There, they discovered two irritated wisps tinged red and violet by their volatile or conflicted emotions. On the way to the next graveyard, the party had to cross the most expansive ravine, without the aid of a log bridge or operational grappling hook. Thinius and Mythanil cleared the jump with relative ease, but looked on in horror as the others each fell into the waters below one-by-one.
Mythanil and Thinius raced through the trees and over the rocky hills, giving chase to their allies as they fought to keep their heads above water amid the raging rapids. The chase eventually reached an end as the waterways let out into a gaping maelstrom. The party scrambled, but only Ilarii managed to escape the long, treacherous fall. Watching their comrades fall over the side, Thinius and Mythanil opted to dive after them.
Those who went into the pool were tossed about by strange currents and sucked down through submerged passageways. Eventually, choking and gasping they resurfaced in a bizarre subterranean ruin.
Amid the old columns and crumbled stones, the Silversworn found a member of the Shadow Guard: a tattooed hunter locked in some manner of correspondence ritual. Fyfaesia, Nemriel and Zethras all gathered close to listen to the conversation. From the rune crystal in the hunter's grasp came Halia's voice, speaking of operations in Felwood and Ashenvale.
Halia mentioned the name of one Shal'lora in particular: Dahnyephris Blackcloud. And how once her work was done in Ashenvale, the Shadow Guard could proceed with the next step in their plans. When the ritual subsided and shadows blanketed the ruins once more, the Silversworn struck. In the span of two heartbeats, the trio managed to disarm and knockout the Shadowsworn hunter and take him captive while at the base of the ruins, Thinius Shadowfern opened a portal back to safety.
The captive was taken back to the Auberdine camps where Ilarii Farlight and the Light of the Moon took the Shadowsworn into temporary custody until a vessel bound for Val'sharah returned to port and could bear him and the Silversworn safely back to the Temple of Elune.
INTERRUPTING THE SHAL'LORA Two weeks passed with little word or news. The Shadowsworn found in the subterranean ruins had been detained in Auberdine, under the close guard of the Light of the Moon and local sentinels. He had not spoken a word. Just when it seemed the trail for Halia and her ilk had gone cold, Priestess Illarii Farlight called for an urgent meeting at the heart of the refugee camp.
"The Shadow Guard have been sighted on the Zoram Strand," she told the Silver Circle, who were gathered tensely around the campfire. The Light of the Moon scouts, primarily druids of the moon, had been away on the hunt for a fortnight, and at last the good news had been delivered by hawk owl. The trail was fresh again. Sensing the urgent need to depart, Farlight arranged for hippogryphs to be dressed and saddled. While she went to tend to that, the Silversworn were left to decide how they should handle the Shadow Guard.
Warden of the Hunt Mythanil Briarblade urged the Silversworn not to cause any undue injury that could lead to death or trauma, should the Shadow Guard respond with hostility. Watcher Zethras Greywinter advised the use of a smoke screen, to safely land on the beach, unnoticed. With that determined, the party mounted and took wing.
The flight was swift. The hippogryphs carried the Silversworn on a cool southerly wind that blew in from the north. It was as if Aviana's herself watched over and guided their journey. As they rounded Darkshore's southern-most promontory, Aythir Swiftspirit, Ivahra Autumnsong and Zethras Greywinter let loose their spells and smoke flares to create a dense fog-like screen that carried the party straight out into the Bay of the Zoram Strand.
From their altitude, Nemriel Swiftstalker spied a series of glowing lanterns in procession down the south end of the Strand, and Ivahra Autumnsong noticed the warm glow of a large campfire on the north end of the Strand. Warden Briarblade urged the party to alight on the north side, and to investigate the campsite.
The camp was sparse. A cluster of bedrolls and makeshift hammocks filled a small corner of a ruined veranda, where a dozen or so Shadow Guard Aspirants watched over the camp; or should have been. All were asleep, save one on watch. They were easy prey. Warden Brairblade and Feydren Nightfury broke the party into two groups and readied and ambush.
Feydren's party went for the sleepers, with Glynindra and himself taking the front while Elder of the Moon Celassa Kal'nor and Ivahra Autumnsong provided cover from the back.
Warden Briarblade's party took a more direct approach, and moved into position to tackle the camp lookout. When the signal was made, the Silversworn struck. A struggle broke out for the brief span of two minutes, and at the end of it all the Shadow Guard Aspirants were rendered unconscious and bound up in rope, save for one.
The remaining Aspirant was held by Watcher Zethras Greywinter while the Silversworn questioned him. While that unfolded, Celassa Kal'nor and Aythir Swiftspirit swept the area. The Aspirant gave nothing away, and spat defiance in retaliation of the Silversworn's efforts. But outside, Elder Kal'nor sensed something amiss at the south end of the Strand. Moments later, a pillar of silver-blue light illuminated from a little isle upon which a ruined rotunda protruded from the sands.
The Aspirant laughed, cautioning the Silversworn that interrupting the ritual could be their undoing. Greywinter knocked the unruly Aspirant out and the party ran down to the south end of the Strand.
To their horror, they had arrived at the ritual just moments too late. As they came to a halt, opposite the small isle, the waters around the rotunda rippled and quavered then erupted as dozens of lost, enraged red wisps soared up from the waters and spiraled around the ritual site, creating a vortex of magic.
Feydren Nightfury was the first to cross the water and enter the vortex, followed swiftly by Zethras Greywinter and Glynindra Breezebend, and later Mythanil Briarblade and the rest of the party. Greywinter's shuriken made the first landing blow, interrupting two channelling Shal'lora and caught their leader by surprise across the face at the heart of the ritual. But the ritual was not broken, and eight wisps dove into the Black Flame brazier in the center of the ritual circle. The two mildly wounded Shal'lora turned their ire on the Silversworn, launching vengeful moonfire at Zethras and Feydren.
The Silversworn retaliated in kind, taking heed not to slay the priestesses of the Black Moon.
A short battle ensued and was abruptly halted as the Zoram'gar Outpost warning horn blared across the waters. Torches lit across the Outpost parapets and high in the watchtower that loomed over the small isle where the ritual was taking place. In a matter of moments, flaming arrows began to rain down on the isle. In the scramble and confusion, the Shal'lora made their escape, and Priestess Farlight called for the hippogryphs to return and deliver the Silversworn from harm.
Cursing, the Silversworn fled the scene, unable to conduct a proper and thorough investigation. They flew back to Auberdine, where they licked their wounds and discussed next steps. Elder Kal'nor took it upon herself to wander into the gloom of night, to interrogate the detained Shadowsworn that lingered in their midst. Perhaps, now, he might be willing to talk...
DARK SERMON Only a few nights had passed since the Silversworn witnessed the insidious ritual on the Zoram Strand when Priestess Ilarii Farlight called for them to meet her at Bashal'Aran. A streak of well-trained nightsabers were prepared and the Silver Circle rode north from Auberdine to the old ruins that once housed their very own Flame of Elune, in the time before the Fourth War.
Beside the fount of the Night Warrior, Priestess Farlight informed the Silversworn that a ship bearing the Shadow Guard to the north end of Darkshore had been spotted. Light of the Moon scouts claimed the Shadow Guard forces were roughly sixty in number, when they were seen rowing into the beaches on the northern coast, and that they appeared to be moving into the Ruins of Mathystra.
Warden of the Hunt Mythanil Briarblade advised that this would only be an investigation, and that the mission must be conveyed under the cloak of night, noting it would be unwise to invoke the ire of so great a force. Still concerned over what she had witnessed nights prior, Ilarii Farlight of the Light of the Moon offered the full services of her own order, and promised two dozen personnel to assist in an ambush. The offer was declined politely, after Sister Fyfaesia Silverstrike and Mythanil Briarblade cautioned against hostility: "these are still our people," they said. Quiet words of gratitude were given, by Keeper Tana Rosedancer and Thalonir, who had elected to accompany the party on their mission, to see if they could learn more about what happened to their order.
A new plan was formed, off-duty Lieutenant Sidhanei of the Moonglaive Sentinels accompanied the Silversworn on the mission, and lent the aid of her sentinel owl, through which a message could be conveyed back to the Light of the Moon should the Silver Circle require aid. Farlight agreed, and she and her retinue slipped into the shadows of the forest to await any such calls for aid.
When the Silversworn reached the ruins of Mathystra they found the area remarkably silent, save for the cawing of crows that circled over a distant part of the ruins. Electing to remain in a group, the Silversworn and their allies searched the ruins, stumbling across a trail of blood, an abandoned camp, and a mass grave for Shatterspear villagers.
The most grievous find by far were the ruins of the Shatterspear Camp on the north side of the ruins, where the bodies of Shatterspear warriors lay prone in pools of fresh blood, with their heads strangely absent.
Examining the troll remains, Elder of the Moon Celassa Kal'nor discovered that the mutilation was likely of religious significance. Elder Kal'nor implied that in certain sects of the Sisterhood, pounds of flesh, and often heads, can be carved from the enemies of Elune, and used in ritual sacrifice to acquire a boon of sorts.
A deep sense of unease settled over the party as they progressed through the ruins and eventually heard a deep, collective hum echoing up from a great pit wherein an ancient altar resided. Gathered around the altar were the Shadowsworn of the Shadow Guard, led by the same ritualist they had seen on the Zoram Strand; a woman called Dahnyephris Blackcloud, according to Thalonir and Tana.
The Silversworn crept down on a lower ledge to observe the ritual unfolding, and Lieutenant Sidhanei sent off her sentinel owl to signal the Light of the Moon for back up.
Bound in the center of the ritual space were three Shatterspear Trolls, a young warrior woman, a female shaman, and an elder hunter. Warden Briarblade quickly recognized the symbolism behind the intended sacrifices, "They are maiden, mother and crone. Just like the ritual of Illthanyn, the Cleanse." Kal'nor followed up this realization with the likely intent of the ritual, "This manner of sacrifice is conducted as an offering to Elune, before some greater undertaking. This is for a boon to aid them on their quest, whatever it is."
While the Silversworn whispered among themselves, the ritual continued and two of the three sacrifices were claimed by Blackcloud. Cayldiais Moonfang aimed a shot at the final sacrifice, under Warden Briarblade's command. There was a chance that the ritual could be interrupted, if the last sacrifice was claimed by another; in this case, Moonfang's arrow. But Elder Kal'nor warned against this, cautioning that this ritual now lay between Elune and the Shadowsworn, and that interrupting it could insult the Goddess.
Meanwhile, in the pit below, Ritual Leader Blackcloud spoke of the misdeeds and war crimes committed by the remaining sacrifice, the elder Shatterspear hunter. She bid her fellow Shadowsworn to call forth the Black Flame onto themselves, to let the avenging wrath of the souls so wronged by the Horde to flow through them, and consume the final sacrifice in the Night Warrior's name.
On the rise above, quiet tension filled the party of Silversworn and their tightly-strung allies: Tana and Thalonir. Muted threats were issued, and weapons were drawn. Conflicting orders came to Cayldiais Moonfang's ears from Warden Briarblade and Silversworn Silverstrike as she drew back the arrow, feeling the flow of tension running through her carefully aimed weapon. At this point, Lieutenant Sidhanei's sentinel owl returned unobtrusively to alight beside her mistress.
At one point, Thalonir threatened to harm the Silversworn, it they dared interrupt the ritual, and Feydren Nightfury, who had been carefully shadowing the demon hunter, drew a knife on him.
"Take the shot!" someone whispered harshly.
But it was Elder Kal'nor's command that Cayldiais Moonfang heeded. She lowered her bow and in the pit below, the Shadowsworn cast their Black Flames onto the final sacrifice. Vengeful wisps seemed to come alive within the flames that wreathed the elder troll's body. And then, all turned to chaos as the Light of the Moon emerged and a battle cry sounded from the far side of the basin: "BANDU THORIBAS"
Auberdine Sentinels had rallied with Ilarii Farlight's Light of the Moon order, and the grey-cloaks and sentinel archers rained arrows down into the ritual pit. Tana and Thalonir dove down in a vain attempt to save their comrades as Sister Blackcloud gave the order for the Shadowsworn to flee with their midnight lavender gates. In the chaos, both Tana and Thalonir were felled by arrows, and many bodies littered the once-sacred shrine.
Ilarii dressed Tana and Thalonir's wounds, and the pair were taken into custody once more by the Auberdine Sentinels and delivered back to the port city by hippogryph riders. The remaining Silversworn, frustrated or relieved by the outcome of events, retired back to Bashal'Aran to consider what this may mean for their own mission now that the trail has gone cold...