Many hundreds of years ago, a band of legendary adventurers known as the Seneschals created a gift for the realm of Inlustris: an Archstone, a massive collector of magical energy that could siphon and purify arcane energy so that anyone in the realm, not just dragons, ancient wizards, or gods, could access and use magic as part of their daily lives. It was an achievement the Seneschals hoped would bring joy to the realm for many years to come.
However...over the course of their many adventures, one of the Seneschals became unsatisfied with her life's work and yearned for the normal life she saw so many of the peasants and nobles enjoy. This woman, Olym, was eventually approached by a powerful witch of the Shadowfell in secret, who offered to give her the life she sought...in exchange for allowing the witch to access the stone. She agreed. A piece was chipped off the Archstone, and the witch transformed the piece into a child named Juna. Olym fled the Seneschals with her child, raising her to live an ordinary life in a sleepy seaside village...and the curse the witch placed upon what remained was left unnoticed.
Shortly after the Archstone was activated, calamity struck. A terrible, incurable disease the people called Summer's Touch swept the realm, particularly those who had no skill in magic. They were left to wither away in agony as black slowly rotted away their flesh, their strength, and their lives. The remaining Seneschals devoted their lives to finding the cause of, and the cure for, this disease, and when word of it reached Olym, she panicked. She locked her child in a magical sleep, wiped her memory, and called forth a band of heroes...not to undo her mistake, but to hide it. The Archstone was shattered into seven pieces, each tied to a single school of magic, and each piece was deactivated. At the epicenter of it all, Olym worked to cast a spell that would wipe the memory of everyone in Inlustris, sweeping her mistake under the rug once and for all...except one of the Seneschals, J, had realized what had happened and confronted her halfway through the cast. Unwilling to kill her former friend, she locked him away deep within the Underdark where none would find him and then wiped the knowledge of what she'd done. And then she hid herself far away too, in her own little pocket of the Underdark, to keep an eye on the stones lest her solution fail.
For centuries, the Archstone was the epicenter of a tragic cycle. Inevitably, the seven pieces were found and reactivated once more, Olym emerged from hiding to pose as a goddess while ordinary people died en masse to the curse she caused, and with her help, a band of adventurers would rise up to shatter the stone into seven again so she could once more deactivate them all and wipe the realm's memories clean.
And so it went, for centuries, until one day at the cusp of the next Archstone cycle, a gift of seven Evnir was presented to the town of Hilfenn. The Silverskins, as they would come to be known, were the first Evnir of their kind, with tough skin of bare metal and no need to eat, drink, or sleep. Upon their activation, they became Hilfenn's guards, and considered themselves a family, arranging themselves as siblings based on their heights. Frae, shortest among them, was the youngest.
The seven of them each approached their duties a little differently. Kris, the oldest, was the face and the leader of the Silverskins, and was Frae's role model growing up due to what seemed like an effortless cool-headedness and strength under pressure. Lanz, the second-oldest, was more of a community leader, and it could be argued that the townsfolk knew of Lanz more than the Silverskins did, due to their penchant for running community classes and teaching self-defense at the town hall, rarely interacting with their siblings. Targe was the gentlest of the bunch, serving as the healer of the group. She never once would consider taking a life herself unless it was all that could be done. Battaile, the strategist, was responsible for organizing their guard patrols, and played numerous very complicated strategy games against themself or any fool wishing to join them on their rare days off. Cruz was the only one who decided to present male and use male pronouns, and he became the loveable dumbass jock of the bunch, acting as the muscle whenever muscle was needed. He was inseparable from his twin, Arrow, who was the exact same size as him. Arrow was a trickster and a ranged fighter, preferring subterfuge and guerilla tactics to take down threats. She was the prankster of the group, frequently roping Cruz into her shenanigans. And Frae, the youngest, preferred to defend the town by becoming one of them, and grew to have such an admiration for the people and their beliefs that after a few years, she chose to become consecrated as a champion of the town's patron god, Helm the protector. The oath she took marked her as a paladin, and it was a personal point of pride for her.
They lived in peace together for a long time, around 20 years, but things changed when Alric Aldwin, newly-chosen leader of the town, developed a vicious jealousy towards Hilfenn's other spellcasters. One fateful night, he called the Silverskins into his office and presented them with a list. According to him, these people were plotting his assassination. They should be dealt with as the Silverskins saw fit. To Frae, Kris, and Lanz, the people on the list were familiar - townsfolk they met and spoke with daily, whose lives they knew. They had their doubts about the orders, but they were orders. Rather than go against Alric or their morals, they simply did nothing but observe, hoping to witness for themselves the assassination plot Alric had claimed was in motion before they took any action. Cruz and Arrow, on the other hand, had no such qualms, and Battaile was a strict believer in following orders. To them, their next steps were clear. And Targe loved her siblings more than anyone. Of course she'd come with to defend them against assassins while they carried out their work in secret.
Things came to a head some weeks later. The townsfolk were starting to notice that beloved figures were going missing or had been discovered dead in their beds, and the pain of losing them prompted Lanz and Kris to finally take action. Kris confronted her siblings herself, but it was too late. They'd gone through half the list without any of the others' help, and their own suspicions had built in turn. Arrow accused Kris of being an assassin too, one thing led to another, and another death shortly followed - Frae watched as her sister was destroyed. Horrified, Targe tried to get the others to listen to reason, but was cut down herself, and the commotion finally allowed the townsfolk to put two and two together. When Frae and Lanz tried to flee, they found an angry mob, waiting for the mad Evnir to emerge so they could cut them down for their crimes. Frae remembers little of the rest of that night. She only knew that she got out safely, somehow, but the image of the town, burning, still haunts her nightmares. She remembered denouncing it, recanting her oaths, and destroying Helm's holy symbol before fleeing into the night, away from the place her faith was broken.
After 50 years of traveling, chance circumstances brought her into contact with a group of adventurers, including one she'd met long ago, when she was still a paladin for Hilfenn and Helm. Though she'd never intended to get wrapped up in anything after Hilfenn, she somehow found herself involved with the adventuring party and a larger plot that had the fate of the town they were in, Tra Laghi, at stake. The leader of the town, Palis, had developed powers from a strange magical sword, and his plan to use them to forcibly end crime within the town by taking away its citizens' freedom forced both the leader of the local thieves' guild and Palis's own brother to team up with the party to try and stop him. Seeing a chance to right her own wrongs, Frae joined the effort, but despite her efforts to resolve the issue peacefully, Palis was killed. Still, the town was saved, the party was joined by a suit of enchanted armor they'd found in the town (that Frae quickly adopted), and one of the Archstone shards, long-buried, had been awakened by the commotion, prompting the wizards of the capital, Scholae, to appear to contain it. With no further plans, Frae collected Palis's sword so it couldn't fall into the wrong hands and joined the party for the rest of their adventures, still regretting that she had been unable once again to save one she'd seen so much of Arrow in.
From there, the party was hired by Scholae to collect two more of the newly-reawakened Archstone shards, the second of which, the stone of Necromancy, brought another complication - its activation had also brought life back to a number of the recently deceased, including Palis himself. The man harbored no resentment for the party, but in a twist of fate, the stone chose him as its bearer, and he was bundled off to Scholae as a prisoner. While undertaking these jobs, Frae had learned the truth of Palis's sword. It was not a mere magical item, it was a relic of a war that wiped out the dragons from the world - and bound to it was the soul of an ancient gold dragon, who'd seen Palis's efforts to enforce the law, misguided as they were, and willingly offered its help and guidance. Frae managed to build a rapport with it, and soon she became its next bearer, earning its support and friendship.
The introduction of more Archstones and another nation threatening Scholae with a stone of its own turned the morals of one of Scholae's leaders, Margot, and though the party had chosen to live peacefully in the town for a while, that changed when they discovered and freed J from the Underdark, learning the truth of the Archstones and the calamity that the world would soon face. But when they returned to warn Scholae's leaders, they found Margot on the cusp of pulling off an assassination attempt on another leader to seize power and begin expanding Scholae's influence, seeking to gather and reassemble the Archstones to cement Scholae as an empire under her sole command. The party refused to join this plot, and fled into exile to avoid being killed for failing to comply. But as Margot brought Scholae's stones back together again, the curse once again flared to life, and hundreds of people sickened and died from Summer's Touch. Unbeknownst to Frae, Palis managed to escape his imprisonment in Scholae as well, though his escape was less for his safety and more to seek knowledge - he'd managed to contact one of Frae's creators, Whirl, using the necromancy stone, and was promised that he could help free the dragon that Palis had befriended from the sword if Palis could seek out Whirl's sister, who had helped him create the Evnir. Unbeknownst to Palis, Frae had already freed Scale, sort of, some weeks before, using the help of an artificer to transfer the dragon's soul from the sword to a specially-built mechanical body.
Frae had developed some affection for Palis, having visited him numerous times during their stay at Scholae, and her search for him after their home's destruction and the town's transformation into an empire led them to meet at the same place - an entire town full of Evnir, led by the one who had created them all, Frae's "mother", Scholl.Frae gladly led Palis to her upon hearing of his interest in meeting her, too focused on her joy at seeing him again and the knowledge that she was not, in fact, the last of her kind like she'd thought to even consider being suspicious. It was that careless bit of affection that sealed her doom. Palis hadn't escaped Scholae at all - Whirl, dwelling within the stone all this time, and had hijacked Palis's body, sealing Palis's soul in the stone in his place. Whirl used Palis's body to kidnap his sister, dragging her deep beneath the town with plans to use the necromancy stone, her life, and the lives of all the Evnir there to fuel his immortality, just like he'd nearly achieved before Scholl had killed him the first time.
A miserable Frae led the party to evacuate the town and then gave chase, culminating in a battle with Whirl that destroyed Palis's body, but saved Scholl from certain death. With the enigmatic J's help, they discovered that the stone held its own world within it that contained an entire civilization of personified spells. To end a spell within the stone, all they needed to do was find the source and kill it. The party found a way to venture inside, neutralized the magic Whirl had placed to keep Palis imprisoned, and found him, shaken but still whole, safe in his prison. With no body to return him to, Frae petitioned Scholl for a new one, and assisted in the crafting of a new Evnir herself. And Palis was returned to life for the third time, as an Evnir, and Frae's conflicted feelings of affection only deepened. With his body's death, his connection to the necromancy stone was severed, and it was agreed that he could stay with the party and the stone could remain hidden where it was, deep within the mountains, to prevent Scholae from finding it.
With their safety secured, the party then turned their sights on finding the other shards, and a way to end the curse, before Margot succeeded in reassembling them and dooming Inlustris's people. Though they endured many trials, the stones slipped through their fingers, one by one, and as Summer's Touch continued to strengthen, Palis's own brother fell ill with the disease. In a last-ditch effort to give them the time they needed to find a way to stop the calamity, Frae severed her partnership with Scale and forged a pact with the Necromancy stone instead. Margot would have to find her and kill her before the final shard could join her collection. Frae's gamble paid off - while she kept Margot on a wild goose chase, J helped the party find and secure one of his old companions' notes, believing them to hold the key to deactivating the Archstone for good. But Palis, left behind, had set a plan for Margot in motion in turn, his desperation to save his brother forcing him to turn to her in secret when she promised that she knew how to break the curse. When the party returned, Palis was gone, and Frae was at her limit. And all they had for their efforts was a page describing Calamity magic, a series of forbidden spells that were powerful enough to overload the Archstone and shut it down for good. Such powerful magic would require a team of mages to cast, could very well kill those who cast it, and would have a catastrophic effect unless very carefully worded. Frae hated that this was the best they had, hated that she'd been betrayed again right when she felt she could trust Palis fully, and hated that none of the others could understand her frustrations. Though she agreed to help the party return to Scholae to end the calamity once and for all, she developed her own plans on the side.
Their return to Scholae was done in secret, and they encountered little resistance when they broke into the massive floating keep that had been built around Scholae's fused Archstone in their absence. In the light of the fused stone itself, they found Palis and Margot, who gleefully revealed herself as the witch who'd cast the curse on the stone to begin with. If the stone was completed just once more, the life force that Summer's Touch would funnel to her would give her all the power she needed to ascend to godhood. During their desperate battle to stop her, Frae tried one more time to appeal to Palis, not as a stand-in for all her prior mistakes, but as a person she'd come to care about, to teach and learn from and expect more from. It made all the difference, and Palis had a last-minute change of heart, turning on Margot and helping the party strike her down. With nothing left between them and the calamity spell they'd chosen, the party tried to cast it, but were blocked from attuning to the Archstone, the final step needed before the ritual to cast it could start. Olym had at last fallen to madness, seeing her plans fall apart, and her attunement to the stone meant that she had to be put out of her misery to allow Summer's Touch to be ended at last. In one final battle, rife with trickery and enemies they'd fought throughout their journey, the party, with Palis as an ally now, weakened her enough for J, the last of the Seneschals, to spend the remainder of his power to put them both to rest. With nothing else standing in their way, the spell was cast, and the world was populated with flowers that the party had used Evocation, and their own most cherished memories, to grow. The flowers posed no threat. The Archstone shut down. Magic faded greatly. And at long last, there was peace.
But Frae could not be satisfied with that.
A few nights later, she approached Palis to admit her feelings...and then say goodbye. After countless hours of research, she'd figured out a one-way spell that would let her back into the strange world of personified magic the Archstone contained. Since she had no need to eat or sleep, she planned to travel within this world for as long as it took to find the physical form Summer's Touch had taken in there and wipe it out. She wasn't sure if it was even there, but she had to try. She couldn't let the Seneschals' last gift to the people of Inlustris only ever become known for its curse. Rather than bid her farewell like she'd planned...Palis asked to come with.
And so the two Evnir, Scale, and Anthony, the enchanted armor from Tra Laghi that Frae had adopted as a son, bid goodbye to the party for possibly the last time before venturing into the stone, hoping to one day find what they sought and fix the Seneschals' past mistakes for good.