Article written by Uziel
Nightshade Pricklypear (? AC - 422 AC) was a male Kender who had the ability to commune with the dead, and is known as a Nightstalker. Described as being a thin and lithe male kender, he wore his hair in the traditional topknot and always wore a purple vest and purple britches. Nightshade's communion with the dead had made him a serious kender, and although still bearing the innate kender curiosity, he was somewhat fearful of the living. Unlike any other kender, Nightshade took no enjoyment or spent any effort in borrowing things from others, instead having a natural aversion to borrowing anything, and being almost completely inept at it.
Much of Nightshade's early life was spent with both his parents, who were Mystics that communed with the dead. On his travels across Ansalon with his parents, Nightshade discovered he had an inherent ability to talk to the dead as well, and would play games with the dead. He grew tired of being accused of stealing things by living folks, and begun to hang around in cemeteries and mausoleums on a more frequent basis, since the dead never accused him of theft. With the end of the War of Souls, Nightshade soon had no dead spirits to play with, as they had begun to transcend beyond the mortal plane, and begun wandering through towns studying the undead and searching for any remaining spirits.
The Undead Expert
On Nightshade's travels to find spirits in 422 AC, he encountered the monk Rhys Mason, who convinced the kender to join him on his quest to locate the monk's brother. Rhys also told Nightshade that the goddess Zeboim had visited him and told him that Nightshade was an expert on undead and the person needed to aid the monk on his quest to unravel the plots of the god Chemosh. After scouring a battlefield and speaking to dead souls, Nightshade deduced that Chemosh was no longer harvesting the souls of the dead, as he was now finding servants amongst the living. The pair traveled through Haven and then Solace, where the kender decided to peddle his wares as a communer with the dead to the local populace.
In the dark inn called The Trough, Rhys and Nightshade tracked down Lleu Mason, Rhys' brother. As the monk tried to question his brother, Nightshade advised him that Lleu was in fact one of the dead... and yet he appeared to everyone else as a living breathing person. Rhys had already learnt that Lleu was mixed up with Mina somehow, and when Nightshade and Rhys confronted Lleu and his new convert Lucy Wheelwright, they were attacked. Nightshade tried to use his mystic powers to turn the undead away, however Lleu and Lucy revealed themselves as the members of the Beloved of Chemosh and dismissed the kender's magic as if it was nothing. Nightshade and Rhys fled from the undead, and the kender recalled that he had also seen other members of the town, and that they too were obviously dead followers of Chemosh, who wore the guise of living folk.
Zeboim again spoke with Rhys and Nightshade in the Solace jail, where the goddess told them that she needed them to go to Storm's Keep where she required them to defeat the death knight Ausric Krell and rescue her son Ariakan, whose soul was trapped in a khas piece. She then transported the pair of them to Storm's Keep, and magically transformed Nightshade into a miniature kender, who was stored in Rhys' pouch. When the monk confronted the death knight, Nightshade crept onto the khas board and found Lord Ariakan and spoke to the soul of the son of Zeboim. Whilst Ariakan refused to be rescued, the kender instead charged the former lord and barreled him over. Noticing the movement on the khas board, Rhys picked up the kender and the khas piece containing Ariakan's soul, and fled from the death knight.
Chasing the Beloved
The kender and the monk returned the khas piece to Zeboim, and Nightshade was returned to his normal size, as well as being transported with his companion back to Solace. In the town, Nightshade and Rhys finally convince Gerard uth Mondar, Sheriff of Solace of the threat of the Beloved. Gerard called the Highmage Jenna and a Holy Warrior of Kiri-Jolith named Dominique Helmsman and attempted to destroy a Beloved named Cam. This was hard for Gerard, since he knew Cam and his family. Cam though tried to kill Gerard, but luckily Atta saved his life just as the life was being choked out of him. Luckily to be alive, Gerard returned to his duties in Solace as Nightshade and Rhys continued on their mission.
Following the Solace encounter, Nightshade and Rhys tracked the undead to New Port, where they again encountered Rhys' brother Lleu, and witnessed his demise at the touch of an innocent child. The adventurers were then captured by Minotaurs slavers and dumped in the Shrine of Zeboim. In the shrine, Mina questioned Rhys over what he knew of her origins, believing he could answer her questions; however he was unable to provide her with any information. The goddess Zeboim appeared directly afterwards after the same information, and again Rhys was unable to comply. He also informed Zeboim that Majere had forgiven him and he was no longer her servant. The raging Zeboim left Rhys and his companions to rot in her grotto, chained to the rocks. Soon after Nightshade and Atta were free, and Rhys lied to Nightshade to go journey to the Temple of Majere in Flotsam to go get help, hoping that the kender and his beloved dog would escape with their lives, since they were unable to get him free. The pair departed in good faith, leaving Rhys still chained in the grotto.
On the journey towards Flotsam, Nightshade and Atta became lost, and were set upon by a pair of Beloved. However the pair were rescued by the god Majere, who set a plague of grasshoppers onto the undead. The god then departed, offering Nightshade his blessing to go rescue Rhys. The kender and Atta reached Rhys, only to face he was being confronted by Chemosh himself. Atta bit Chemosh, causing him a minor injury as her teeth had been blessed by the power of Majere. The god was then struck by Rhys' Emmide and departed to learn the nature of the shaking of the earth. The grotto continued to experience earth tremors until it began to collapse and fill with water. The kender managed to pick the locks of Rhys' manacles, something which he'd never been able to do before without the blessing of Majere. He then found himself unable to drag Rhys out of the grotto when six monks of Majere magically appeared and lent Nightshade some aid. The kender, Atta and Rhys escaped the grotto and noticed the Tower of the Blood Sea was now above the waves.
Rhys and his companions stared in amazement at the new edifice and noticed a girl lying unmoving on the shore. The monk raced over to rescue the young girl, only to learn shortly after from Zeboim that it was Mina, except she had somehow reverted in years back to the age of six. She asked to be taken to Godshome to be with her mother Goldmoon and Rhys complied, much to Nightshade's horror, knowing that Goldmoon was long dead. The group were stopped by Ausric Krell, however Mina used magic to incapacitate Krell before they moved on. However Mina then decided she needed a present for Goldmoon, before she could meet her at Godshome. The present she wanted was located inside the Tower of the Blood Sea.
The group took a boat out to the small island that now housed the tower, only to find the land was overrun by hundreds of Beloved. They swarmed Mina, but the girl drove them back with holy rage, and kept the Beloved away from the small group, they then entered the tower and met Caele and Basalt Darkeye. Mina then went down the tower towards the Solio Febalas, only to find the path to it destroyed. However she used her magic to transport herself, Rhys, Atta and Nightshade through to it, whilst the two mages trailed them. In Solio Febalas, Mina claimed several magical artifacts for Goldmoon, and used her magic to disable Caele and Basalt when they tried to kill the adventurers. Mina also gave a golden pin to Nightshade, which was a blessed artifact of Majere, which she told him would give him the power to hop as far and high as he desired. Nuitari appeared, apologised to Rhys and Mina for his wizards and magically secreted them away for good. The companions made to leave the tower, only to find their way blocked by thousands of Beloved. Mina grew fearful and then after some prompting from Nightshade, seemed to remember the Beloved and was transformed back into her adult self. She used holy fire to destroy every single one of the Beloved, and then reverted back to a six year old, asking Rhys, Atta and Nightshade to take her to Godshome. The adventurers sailed to Flotsam, where Nightshade located a map which showed the way to Neraka, which he knew was somewhere near Godshome.
Outside of Flotsam, Chemosh appeared to the group and tried to convince Mina to come with him, however she refused. Zeboim then appeared and defended Mina and her friends, telling Mina that she would be able to use her powers to transport them all to Solace, where they could gain further directions on the precise location of Godshome. Both gods then disappeared. Mina used her powers to make the group all walk at extremely high velocity through from Flotsam to Solace in a single day. In the temple of Majere, the group were set upon by Ausric Krell and his Bone Warriors. Krell laid Rhys and Mina low, but was struck by a mystic spell cast by Nightshade and knocked unconscious. Mina blamed herself for Rhys being incapacitated, and ran off so Rhys and Nightshade would not need to take care of her anymore. Atta and Nightshade pursued her, whilst Rhys lay imprisoned in the golden bands that Krell had wrapped around him. Nightshade and Atta quickly ran into Mistress Jenna, sending her back to aid Rhys in getting free of the bands and stopping Krell from awakening and killing the monk, before pursuing after Mina once more. The kender and Atta tracked down Mina outside of Solace, where they continued to trail her northwards, and on catching up with her, made her understand that she didn't need to run away, as Rhys and the kender understood the danger of taking Mina to Godshome, but did it because they cared about her. Mina acquiesced, allowing Atta and Nightshade to travel with her once more, and hoping that Rhys would catch up. The trio entered a small forest and came across a house. On entering the house, they were greeted by a kindly woman baking gingerbread who welcomed them all inside. A short while later, Rhys also travelled down the road and entered the house, finding the trio fast asleep, and recognised the kindly woman as the goddess Mishakal. The goddess informed Rhys that he had to take Mina to Valthonis, as no-one else would be able to lead Mina to Godshome, and that she could direct the monk and his companions straight to the former god.
The adventurers found themselves transported by Mishakal near Neraka, where they spotted a minotaur war party, which they bypassed, and entered the valley of Neraka. In the valley, Mina transformed from a girl into a woman once more, and greeted Galdar, who had Valthonis in tow.
Mina appeared confused about events, asking Galdar to aid her in a fight that her forces won during the War of Souls. Galdar helped bring her mind to the present, and then showed her Valthonis, saying that Sargonnas wished her to strike down the individual who led to the fall of Takhisis, and claim her seat beside Sargonnas in the pantheon. Rhys in turn told her about Valthonis being her father, and that she was in truth a god of light, and Mina's form changed once more. Mina asked Galdar for his sword so she could strike down the defenseless Valthonis. Galdar however told Mina that he honestly believed she should not take Takhisis' place in the pantheon, nor kill Valthonis in cold blood. Wishing to have no more to do with the proceedings, the minotaur walked away, however Mina leapt after him, attacking the minotaur in a rage and beating him senseless. Rhys tried to stop Mina and was also beaten into unconsciousness and Atta was wounded by a vicious cut of Mina's sword. Finally Nightshade then tried to stop Mina from attacking, but she viciously broke his neck, killing the kender.
With the death of Nightshade, Mina realised in horror what she had done, and transformed into a six year old girl once more, she broke down in tears over his corpse. Valthonis rose and offered minor ministrations to the three survivors, before he and Mina left, leaving the trio and heading towards Godshome.
When Rhys and Atta had returned to the Order of Majere Monastery, Nightshade appeared as a ghost before Rhys, telling him how he was really impressed by the great funeral done for him in Solace. He then went on to tell him how many of the gods congratulated him on helping to bring Mina into the pantheon, and that Mina herself thanked Nightshade crying over him. Nightshade bid Rhys a fond farewell as his spirit departed the world one final time.
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