Having returned to Sigil after defeating Urishtar, the heroes dreamed of the shadow dragon and the wraiths trapped in her Soul Vortex. They also saw other things. Some, glimpses of the past. Others, glimpses of the future.
“An ominous dream comes to you in flashes as you sleep. You see a temple on a mist-covered mountain, where thousands of ravens circle above its slender spires. The scene shifts to inside, where a knight in black armor atop a black steed pounds on a doorway beyond a mirrored altar. His crimson shield is adorned with the head of a black dragon. The scene shifts, and you see yourself and your companions locked in battle with an ebony dragon as ghosts wail in agony and the dragon cuts you down one by one. The scene shifts, and you are alone in an endless darkness. After long moments, you spot a dimly lit corridor containing a succession of seven locked gates. You try to open the first gate, and the scene shifts. Now you are on a wide, desolate plain, watching helplessly as a great black rock the size of a moon hurtles out of the sky. It strikes the land with a world-shattering impact. Sweat soaked, you awaken, these scenes of future doom still bouncing within your mind.”
Recognizing the shield and dragon as the emblem of the Ebon Riders, a division of the Ashen Covenant, they set out to uncover the meaning behind their dreams. San visited a temple to the Raven Queen, where he discovered that the Ebon Riders had not been heard of in some time, and that the leaders of the Ashen Covenant had also avoided notice. Tannerli, a cambion associated with the Ebon Rider known as Ghovran Akti, had been spotted in the Market Ward. While the priest didn’t recognize the imagery of a black moon striking the earth, he revealed that the seven locked gates likely referred to seven holy shrines in the Raven Queen’s temple of Zvomarana. He also mentioned that there had been disappearances lately, which had largely gone un-noticed and ignored by the Mercykillers because people often came and wentin Sigil, making it impossible to be sure people hadn’t left of their own accord.
Immobilo, San, and Sar discovered some more information from a woman near the market, who told them she’d seen the cambion on the rooftops from time to time, staring down at the market as if in search of something. Occasionally this cambion would be in the company of an eladrin male, though she was hesitant to mention it because this eladrin was a frequent guest of one Lord Barrens, a powerful member of one of Sigil’s numerous factions.
Scouting ahead, San climbed a building to see if he could spot Tannerli. Instead, he found ravens. They were sitting on the rooftop and watching him quietly. Somewhat freaked, he returned to tell his friends what he’d discovered. Upon return, Sar determined that the ravens behavior was in some way unnaturally influenced. At about the same time, the ravens looked to the end of the market – where a gang of Ebon Rider mercenaries had appeared rushing in the heroes’ direction.
Tannerli was flying and quickly landed on a stage at the northern edge of the market. Two dark clad knights on the back of Shadowclaw mounts followed, while Ghovran Akti approached on his own mount from the west. Sar quickly realized that the eladrin was actually a lich despite the lack of obvious undead features.
Tannerli was taken by surprise when San leapt nearly fifty feet through the air from his rooftop to the stage where she stood, striking her painfully. She was preparing to take to the air when Immobilo charged her, her necrotic shield almost collapsing under his powerful blow. Thrown from the stage, she could only watch in terror as the warforged barbarian followed up with a second charge, knocking her into unconsciousness mere moments after her arrival.
The Ebon Rider knights and their steeds were dispatched by the groups combined power, and the lich teleported atop a nearby roof. San followed him quickly, striking him with deadly precision. Akti’s body and possessions crumbled into dust and sifted down from the rooftop. However, his phylactery was not to be found.
Upon interrogation, Tannerli revealed that she had actually been scouting for the party all along, the Ashen Covenant not wanting them interfering with another plan. The other members of the Ebon Riders had gone to the Raven Queen’s holiest of temples, Zvomarana, in an attempt to despoil it and perhaps strike down the goddess herself. Mauglurien believes that, if slain, the goddess could be raised as a powerful undead servant of Orcus.
She also stated her belief that the invasion was a ruse, designed to distract the defenders from the actions of Elder Arantham. This Elder, a type of undead known as a huecuva, had gone to the Shadowfell some months ago on a secret mission. Tannerli believed he was seeking a weapon of some sort, and when asked about the dream admitted Elder Arantham had been researching something about a great black rock.
She provided the party with a talisman that operated a specific keyed portal and the location of the gate the Ebon Riders had used. She cautioned that Mauglurien, head of the Ebon Riders, had taken a somewhat sizeable force and Ghovran’s phylactery with him through the gate. With this knowledge in hand, the party went to inform the rest of their fellows.