Your PCs are reaching the upper end of the heroic tier. New worlds are opening up to them—they might have already ventured to the Feywild, for example, and made contacts with inhabitants of that magical plane. Now they are ready to take their first steps into the darkness. The Shadowfell awaits...
Vandariel, a shadar-kai witch who calls herself the Voice of Pain, is a fanatic devotee of the Raven Queen. She has founded and become the self-proclaimed high priest of a bizarre cult, the Lords of Pain, whose purpose is to bring more fey into the shadow pact with that goddess of death. Although the original shadar-kai entered this pact voluntarily, and the race breeds true, Vandariel is consumed by what she sees as a divine mission to reveal the mystery to all fey—whether they wish it or not. Those who do not come voluntarily to the truth are brought against their will. Dark stalkers move like the night, seeking out and abducting suitable subjects.
This Side Trek can serve as an introduction to the dangers of the shadow realm. It works well for PCs who are approaching the paragon tier, since it presents a reasonable challenge for characters of 10th level. It is suitable as a climactic encounter for lowerlevel adventurers, as well. It consists of only two encounters.
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