(I’m writing most of this from memory. If anyone notices some incorrect details, lemme know so I can correct them)
Our story begun at the start of the new school year. Bright-faced and eager to learn, our heroes (Adam, Clarissa Reginar, Kaepora O. Gaebora, Ninja, and Vanderloki) gathered along with the rest of the students for the opening ceremony. To cut it short: Headmaster Grimaldi gave a speech, and they were crammed into a team together (nobody expected it at all). Now in their teams, they were given their first team-building assignment: a jolly walk through the woods to catch crazy teachers.
The carriage-ride to the forest gave the group a chance to introduce themselves to each other. Arriving late to the forest drop-off point due to a late start, they discovered the other groups had already begun. Receiving their instructions from Instructor Vail, the group set off into the forest after their prey. Thankfully, Adam had some skill at tracking, and noticed a single set of human tracks that nobody had followed. Seeing it as their best lead, the group followed. Their walk was rudely interrupted by an out of place Slime Demon and its spawn. Despite being the first time in actual combat for the majority of the students, they successfully dispatched the beast in time to be congratulated by Instructor Syrrag, the one they had been following. As a reward for slaying the Demon, Syrrag awarded the group his badge, signifying their passing grade.
Skipping forward a few weeks, our budding heroes decide to take a mission for ‘extra’ credit (ie. “get to work and prove you’re not dead-weight” credit). They choose to head for Lakeview, where rumors of disappearing fishermen had struck panic in the rest of the village. Upon arrival, Clarissa inquired about the state of affairs in the village and where their leader could be found, shortly before having a door slammed in her face. The village leader is eventually found, and details that are surely unnecessary for this synopsis were relayed. In short, the decision is made to borrow the leader’s unused boat and investigate the lake that night (much to Adam’s discomfort).
Out on the lake, the group notices a strange light, which begins to lead them towards the northern shore, where the Lakeview leader warned was the home of a pack of aquabears, normally docile creatures that defend their territory viciously against any intruders. Not afraid of any silly aquabears, the group pushes on and gets attacked by several aquabears. A scuffle breaks out, punctuated by the sudden appearance of even more of the aquabears, but our team is triumphant, and carries on following the mysterious light. The light leads them right to a ruined boat that contains evidence of the missing fishermen, as well as a very well preserved and intact Soulstone, which Vanderloki keeps for later use.
Back at school (and skipping about a week), our heroes are challenged to a friendly group-duel by Clarissa’s roommate Silmeria Grimaldi‘s team. Of course, it is seen as a challenge to Clarissa’s authority or something, so must be taken with utmost seriousness. The players gather in the dueling field, the judge for the match Syrrag arrives with the Charms of Protection necessary for the match, and battle begins. It is an extremely long battle (taking place over, what, 3 out-of-game weeks?) with our heroes emerging victorious, even though Clarissa ended up taking 3 fireballs to the face and being eliminated from the match.
The match over, Vand receives a message ‘requesting’ his team’s presence in the sealed-off lab by Instructor Vail. There, they meet the charming Instructor Setanonthes working on a device that, they believe, can allow them to speak with the souls inside Soulstones. Getting an intact Soulstone is extremely difficult, but Vail remembered hearing that our heroes had found one during their mission to Lakeview, and wished to borrow it and test out the machine. It eventually works after much fiddling with the controls, and we meet Miar, officially, for the first time.
She tells tales of huge stashes of Soulstones tucked in a hidden storage room under the mountains. However, she warns, the stash has been raided many times over several years. Her own Soulstone was being transported when the stone was dropped into the lake at Lakeview, where she stayed for nearly 2 years until she was found by Vand and his group. Nevertheless, the group decides to go in search of this hidden stash to see what might remain. Miar offers her assistance in creating a smaller, portable device that would allow the team to carry her Soulstone and communicate with her whenever they wish.
As Vanderloki works on the device with Miar’s help, Clarissa and Adam head back to Lakeview to gather clues. They learn strange ships pass by about once a year with an unknown destination, although it’s still about 3 months off before the next one goes by. Meanwhile, back in the lab, Vand’s work is interrupted as Bird Demons crash the party. With the help of Ninja, Kaepora, Silmeria, Wel, and Desh, they fend off the Demons who seem intent on grabbing Miar’s Soulstone. One almost makes it out of the lab with the stone before being brought down. The lab clear, most head outside to see the swarm of Demons being finished off by other students that had arrived to help. Everyone is puzzled by why they were all attacking this one building, but they aren’t able to ponder it too long as Vand’s girlfriend Clare Grimaldi finally makes an appearance.
Now in the mines in search of the stash of Soulstones, our group stumbles upon a group of guards in front of the tunnel they’re heading for. They’re there to wait for another group of Arcanium students to arrive and investigate more strange sounds coming from the mines, as well as look for missing miners. Silmeria and her group arrive shortly afterwards, and introduce themselves as the ones investigating. The guards let them know about more of their group already inside investigating, and the two groups of students head in together. The path splits shortly afterward, and so does the groups as they have different objectives.
With Miar’s help, our heroes make straight for the stash, but it isn’t long before they discover the fate of the advance group of guards. Hideous slashing wounds had gutted them all. At that moment, the group also notices a small Slime Demon retreat from the greater numbers, directly into the tunnel they’re headed for. They realize a Slime does not have the capability to inflict the slashing wounds they see on the guards’ bodies, and know there’s something else down here as well. Unable to do anything for the dead guards, they continue considerably more cautiously.
At last, there’s a door at the end of the tunnel, but no sign of the Slime. Upon the door is a strange symbol that none of them recognize: a skull with a dagger through the left eye socket. Opening the door anyway, they’re greeted with the site of hundreds of sealed boxes, all bearing the same skull symbol. Miar warns that this is indeed the hidden room, but these are not the boxes the Soulstones were stored in. Deciding to open up a box to see what’s inside reveals a pair of Mantis Demons. Pathetically weak against Vand’s summoned soldier, the two Demons are quickly dispatched. Unfortunately, the noise had aroused the Demons in the other boxes… the hundreds of boxes, and the team decides it’s time to make a tactical retreat to a more defensible position, perhaps with allies.
The Demons had apparently found other pathways out of their room, likely smaller than a human could fit through, and cut off our heroes’ retreat. A desperate battle ensues. Individually, the Demons were weak, but their strength lay in their uncountable numbers. Kaepora is gravely wounded in the scuffle, but their line holds long enough for Silmeria’s team to arrive and turn the tide of battle (and to stuff Kaepora’s spleen back in place). The apparent hive-mind of the Mantis Demons realize they cannot win a stand-up fight with these determined foes, at least not without taking substantial losses, and pulls back into hiding.
Now with their escape, our heroes can allow someone else to deal with the clean-up of the mines now that a huge nest of Demons are known to live there, while they deal with bigger issues. What happened to the stash of Soulstones? Who took it, and why? And why were they replaced by hundreds of boxes full of Demons? Their only real clue lies in the skull-and-dagger symbol they saw in that hidden room.