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, an orphaned half-elf and his brother stole a golden sword from the head of the twon of Tra Laghi's Guild of Thievery. While it had been taken with the intent to sell it, young Palis discovered the sword was alive, possessed by a powerful ancient spirit that believed in the law...just like he did. And the two hatched a twenty-year plan to rid Tra Laghi of its thief problem once and for all.
Thus began Palis's meteoric rise to fame as Tra Laghi's youngest mayor, backed by the magic the ancient blade Scale granted him. He carefully set up every piece of his plan with a magical charm here, a careful bribe there, and a forced Geas employed on those who insisted on stealing under his watchful eye. It was all supposed to come together on the festival celebrating the 50th year of the town's founding...and instead, Palis and Scale found themselves outsmarted, outmatched, and destroyed by a band of adventurers...and among them was his own brother, who had caught onto the cruel heart of his plans long before. Palis was killed, Scale was taken from him, and their story came to an end.
...Or so he thought. Unbeknownst to Palis, the magic he'd woven over the town over the years finally prompted the activation of a shard of the Archstone, which had sat dormant for decades beneath the town. And with its activation came all the others...including the stone of Necromancy, whose activation granted life anew to all the recently deceased. Palis's forced revival wasn't easy - in ripping him from death's grip, the stone inflicted wounds to his soul that left him permanently weakened, wracked with pain. In trying to reconstruct a body that was mostly destroyed from the pyre he perished in, the stone left him with only one arm and half a face. And in binding his soul to its own to choose him as its bearer, it granted him powers beyond his own understanding. Palis lived again as a sorcerer, crippled by the very power that had brought him back. And somehow, despite all odds, the first living people he met since his revival were the very adventurers that had killed him...and his sword, now in the hands of the Evnir that walked with them. He went with them to the capital, Scholae, with no argument, too tired from everything he'd been through to fight back.
When they finally arrived in Scholae, Frae, the bearer of his old sword, argued against his imprisonment. His death, and the torture of his continued existence despite that, was punishment enough for his crimes in Tra Laghi, she argued, and the council agreed. But the alternative wasn't much better. Though he was placed in a house instead of a cell and left to his own devices, he still had guards stationed at his door and was not allowed out into the city without an escort...which left him with nothing to do aside from dwell on all that had happened and try to stave off boredom. With nothing better to do, he began to practice the magic he found himself with, eventually discovering a way to manage his pain with a spell he devised, and a new purpose - Frae had visited several times with Scale, and it reminded him that, though they had failed, he still owed Scale a debt for helping him try to achieve his dreams in Tra Laghi. He'd learned that Scale used to have a body, and in his studies, he'd also discovered that the stone of Necromancy held an entire world in it - a world its inhabitants called Phos. And within this world, an ancient necromancer anmed Whirl was trapped, a necromancer who promised to grant Scale a body if Palis would reunite him with his sister one last time. And so plans were made.
The pair waited patiently for Scholae to let its guard down, and their moment finally came. Some madness had taken one of the council's leaders, and Palis put his new friend's plan to action: he swapped places with Whirl, taking his place in Phos while the necromancer was free to roam the world again in Palis's body, and with their combined might and knowledge, they escaped their captivity, heading for the little town in the mountains Whirl had come from, where his sister Scholl resided. Unbeknownst to either of them, the adventurers had fled the city too, and they reunited with him just outside of Whirl's final goal. And it was there that Palis discovered that Frae had already done what he had planned - among them stood Scale...dog-sized, mechanical, and wingless, but with a body of his own. But it was too late for Palis. He had been so desperate for purpose that he hadn't considered how to regain his body if the deal with the necromancer went south, so he was powerless to change course now. All he could do was watch as Frae led his body to Whirl's sister, led him to betray her...for nothing at all. The party cleaned up after his ambition once more, and this time, the price for his folly was his own body.
Yet once again, he got another chance...this time, from Frae. The adventurers found a way into Phos somehow, traveling deep within it to free him, and when he finally escaped his cell, Frae offered him a body...a mechanical one. Bewildered by her continued kindness despite everything, he agreed to it.
Returning to the world as an Evnir let him face what he had done, how his connection to the stone had nearly wiped out the last of the world's Evnir all in one go...yet at the same time, Scholl and Frae alike informed him that it had also saved Inlustris from one more Archstone joining Scholae's collection, preventing countless innocents from falling to Summer's Touch, the curse the stones held. With the death of his body, his connection to the stone was severed, and with it hidden in the town, it would be safe for a time. He was free, truly free at last, to do as he wished. And he had no idea what to do with it. Perhaps sensing his sudden discomfort, Frae offered a suggestion in a far quieter voice than he'd expected. With Scholae in chaos, Tra Laghi had also run into difficulties, and the adventurers had been in contact with his brother Pache since Palis's deposition. Had told him everything. Had somehow convinced him to join their ranks after all of that. When she asked him if he wanted to go and see his brother again...he would never have considered refusing. And so Palis found himself a reluctant ally of the Idiot Brigade, as they called themselves.
The weeks that followed were some of the strangest in his life, as Palis soon found himself surprised at every turn by a group he'd always considered wildly unorganized. Since leaving Scholae, the adventurers had not only found the councilmember he'd thought Margot had killed in her seizure of both the Archstones and the Scholae's seat of power, but had healed whatever had ailed him, with the help of an odd doctor that they'd somehow made a staunch ally of. They'd found a way to stall the spread of Summer's Touch, though it took a Beholder's eye and could only help a few people at a time. They'd even acquired a manacutter somehow, and in the face of total annihilation, with only the barest of leads to go on for how to do it, they were determined to use it to single-handedly reclaim and secure the other Archstones before Margot could reach them. And Frae, for some reason, was determined to seek his help with all this, despite how clearly uneasy his presence made the rest of the group. He soon found himself bemusedly going along with daily combat lessons...with the very longsword he'd once held at what had then been the peak of his life. Frae had insisted he'd have Scale's old vessel, and he didn't have it in him to argue. And somehow, between the daily practice of both his magic and his swordplay, visits with his brother, Scale, and Frae, and the unending optimism aboard the manacutter, Palis startled himself into finding joy again. For the first time since his death at the hands of the very adventurers that he was now traveling with, the world didn't seem quite so cruel, even as the adventurers tried, failed, and tried again to save the remaining Archstones. Perhaps it really would work out.
But of course, nothing is ever so easy, and the optimism couldn't last. They'd only secured one, but had lost two more stones, and he'd been left behind when the party had embarked on yet another trip, this time to some unknown plane, to seek a third. While he'd planned to keep himself busy with martial training and keeping the manacutter running, fate threw a wrench in his plans. The two stones that had joined Scholae's collection had apparently been enough to tip the scale - and Palis found himself alone and powerless once more, this time forced to stand by and watch as his own brother paid for the adventurers' (and his own) failure. Pache had contracted Summer's Touch, and though Palis worked himself to exhaustion night and day to try and recreate the antimagic aura of a beholder's eye, nothing he found could help. The disease spread, leaving Pache bedbound and failing fast. And when the adventurers finally returned, empty-handed once more, it took all he had to not snap then and there. Instead...he turned to the only other wizard he knew of that could possibly help. After all...she already had nearly all of the Archstones, and would surely pay dearly for information on the final two the brigade had found. His brother's life would be a pittance for her to pay.
He kept silent as the adventurers discussed their options, argued over what else could be done with the time they had. Their unending optimism that had once buoyed his own hopes made him sick with dread instead. Not once had they discussed his brother amongst their plans, as though they simply expected him to hang on and survive while they embarked on some foolish plan to hunt down some useless research notes their immortal psychic jester friend insisted must still exist in the Underdark. He ignored how much it hurt. He ignored that it hurt even more to turn his back on it all right when he'd started to finally feel okay again. But he couldn't ignore Frae volunteering to buy the group time. He'd already promised Margot two Archstones for his brother, but...not like this. With gritted teeth, he amended his plans. And when the adventurers (sans Frae, now bound to the same awful stone that left him maimed even now) left on their fool's journey, he put it into action, vanishing from the ship and using every ounce of trickery he'd learned from Frae herself to guide Margot directly to the only other stone the group had secured...and then carefully misdirect her, to keep her just close enough to Frae to tantalize her without letting her claim the final stone. But eventually, she'd had enough of chasing. Especially when they learned that somehow, the fool's errand had been a success after all: the party had found record of Calamity spells, the only thing that could end the Archstone for good. But they needed a fully-restored Archstone before any of them could be cast. So Margot and a reluctant Palis retreated to prepare for the party to simply bring the final stone right to her.
Just as expected, the adventurers took Margot's bait. Palis could barely contain the sickness he felt watching them lead the realm to its doom in one final attempt to save it...especially because he felt as though his own chance to help them had long since passed. His selfishness and lack of faith had led him down the wrong path again, but this time there was no returning. And yet...at the penultimate moment, he met Frae on the battlefield once more, their roles seemingly reversed: he stood alone with nothing but a longsword at his side, while she had the full might of an Archstone behind her, and unlike when he'd commanded it against her so long ago, she would have had every right to use it and finally end his path of folly.
But she refused. Of all the spells the Archstone of Necromancy offered her, the only one she aimed at Palis in the end was Antilife Shell - for his new Evnir form, it was not a prison, but a barrier, protecting him from the rightful wrath of the very friends she'd traveled this far with to save. And within the field only a construct could breach, she didn't even raise a hand against him. Instead, she pleaded with him, telling him of her own desperation to save those she cared about, her own selfish wish for a better hand than the one she'd been given, and feelings that...really should have been obvious to him by now. He didn't have the heart to tell her he'd been convinced long before the spell was cast.
Together, with the help of Frae's friends, Palis righted his wrong and ended Margot's dreams of godhood. 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 fully restored 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, Palis helped the party weaken her enough for their weird jester friend, apparently the last of an ancient band of heroes she'd once been a part of, to spend the remainder of his power to put them both to rest. It was over. With nothing else standing in their way, Palis watched as 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 not for Palis.
In the days that followed, the cycle of guilt following a moment of bad decisions blindly made caught up to him, and Palis contemplated what he would do with his life from then on. Pache was safe, and more than excited to return to Tra Laghi in peace...where he knew he could never go again, even if he wanted to. Scholae was out of the question, too full of bad memories of his brief house arrest and pact with Whirl. He'd never really been anywhere else in Inlustris, the party was parting ways, and he'd never quite managed to get close enough to any of them to feel comfortable following them...save for Frae, who'd kept surprisingly quiet following their battle with Margot. Perhaps she'd regretted saying what she had to force his change of heart. He wouldn't have blamed her.
So when she instead approached him a few nights later, not with regrets, but with an absurd plan that would take her, Scale, and Anthony, her armored son, on a one-way trip into the world of Phos for an unknowable amount of time to destroy a curse that may or may not even exist...he didn't even hesitate to ask to come along. If nothing else, it was something to do, and it would at least offer a chance to repay Frae, Pache, and the world at large for letting him continue to live in it.
And so the two Evnir, Scale, and Anthony 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.