Khalaan, a proud wizard from the desert, and Terelk, a champion of Fharlanghn, were contacted by The Society of Ancients, an archaeological guild they had both done work for previously. The two and their respective companions were hired to find a couple of the senior members, Xadryn Kree and Creighton Lourde, who had disappeared during a routine excavation in the mountains to the west.
The missing members were found in the custody of the Heavenly Order, a fringe cult of worshippers of Heironeous and St. Cuthbert, who vehemently opposed any excavation of the site, asserting that the knowledge contained within was “forbidden” and “dangerous”. Khalaan and Terelk successfully rescued the pair, killing most of the cultists and taking their leader, Jaevedra Ollett, captive.
Jaevedra, when questioned, refused to share why the Order considered the site to be a danger, merely repeating what she had already said over and over. She was eventually released by her frustrated captors, and was last seen racing off toward her hometown to defend it from a Devastation Beetle. Meanwhile, Khalaan defended his city from a swarm of Deadborn Vultures, which he was able to trace back to a necromancer who venerated Nerull. Before the necromancer had a chance to react, he found himself turned into a mummy and taken captive by Khalaan (all of which was hidden from Terelk.)
Khalaan and Terelk decided to check out the site for themselves, and found a temple to Vaastri, a demigoddess of magic and learning and one of the original creators of the world, whose very existence had been lost to time. The pair recovered her staff, her spellbook (written on a library of stone tablets), and a scroll. Terelk learned the legend of the Crystalline, the fourteen godlings who shaped the world, through a series of murals and writings, and Khalaan, upon converting to Vaastri’s faith, found a Tome Dragon nestled deep within the temple. The dragon gave a warning not to trust those who weren’t what they seemed, and revealed the location of five of the godlings, who had begun to awaken. Two such godlings were near the city of Cordell, the Society’s headquarters.
Upon their arrival at the guildhouse, the pair ran into Balthezar, a mysterious man in a crystal bird mask. While attempting to find out what his business was, Carlota Alterra, the very ill founder of the Society (who hadn’t been seen up to this point), came out of her room demanding “her staff” and “her spellbook”. Carlota was revealed to be the vessel for Vaastri herself, whose awakening had completely obliterated Carlota’s personality. Carlota’s longtime friends and compatriots, Daneth Valdoun and Jacoby Thaern, were utterly shocked and bewildered.
Khalaan and Terelk returned to the City of Sand, and Balthezar followed, wanting to know more about what he had just seen. As he was being caught up, a strange flying creature was apprehended just outside the city by Khalaan’s followers, who brought it back to him. Initially appearing to be a mere cat, further investigation revealed it to be Lunara, a Tibbit (or cat-were) who had been escaping the Devastation Beetle attack in the north. After some heated discussion concerning shapechangers, the ethics of taking prisoners, and the meaning of “freedom”, Lunara followed Khalaan, Terelk, and Balthezar back to Cordell.
The party arrived at the guildhouse to find it mostly deserted, with the exception of Daneth, still in shock, who told them Carlota/Vaastri had gone missing and Jacoby was with her sister Myra, who had come to visit. He also gave Khalaan a letter, which had come to him from the Temple of Heironeous. It stated that their clerics and paladins seemed to have lost their spellcasting abilities, and asked him to send along word should he meet anyone else with the same problem. The group, upon learning of this, decided to investigate, and found that the same problem was also befalling those that followed St. Cuthbert.
After the investigation had concluded, the party was walking through a halfling district in the city when they were attacked by the Ruby Guard, a strike force of followers of Wee Jas. The Guard were eventually taken down after a lengthy battle, but not before unleashing several Alchemical Ooze grenades and paralyzing Lunara.