Aithar burns. The War of the Races is over, due to the subsequent invasion of the continent by the Imperial Dragons, who were awoken from their slumber and are now led by none other than the Dragonqueen herself. Despite the valiant efforts of a now-missing group of legendary heroes, the Dragons have left Malice Rock and swept over Aithar, laying to waste the great cities and setting forests aflame. Aithar’s armies stand in disarray, and nations scramble to respond. Even daily life, travel, and work are affected, with the blade of fear hanging over the necks of all. The Council at Mindel are gridlocked in their negotiations, attempting to bring the nations of Aithar into a binding agreement to battle the dragons and their Dragonsworn together as allies, as they did so once before many centuries ago. As time passes, however, many have begun to fear that a united response will be far too little and far too late.
The stage is set, and the focus of this story now shifts to the Citadel. A massive fortress which sits astride the mighty Tarrigan River, whose rushing currents split the continent in two. To the north of the Citadel, the river runs all the way to the sea; to the south, the river runs out of the Ragged Mountains, which are too deadly for most to attempt crossing. The Citadel allows safe passage to all who travel on the High Road and pay the toll as they pass, and the dwarves who own it prosper.
The Citadel is perhaps the most militarily strategic fortress on the continent, as its owners can separate the West from the East, forcing opposing armies to travel using far more dangerous, time consuming routes. The Stonehall Clan are currently its masters, and now they rush to prepare a defense. Dragonsworn march on the city from both the east and the west, and the city is besieged. The dwarves boil down out of the mountains to bolster the Citadel, but the Dragonsworn number in the thousands, and the Dragons themselves will soon arrive. The dwarves of the Adamant Hammer Clan, longtime arch-enemies of the Stonehall Clan, march to reinforce the Citadel, to stand with their bitter rivals against the Dragonsworn, and die shoulder to shoulder. The city which has never been fallen to invasion will soon be brought to its knees.
The Dwarven monarch, King Borgien, has located a group of untested adventurers and tasked them with slipping a magical artifact (a sword of dark power) out of the city, cloaked by their very lack of status, and take it to the capital of the Free Cities, to the west. There he begs them to present the artifact to the leader of the Undying, the secretive Mage order, for the sake of Aithar. The artifact, he says, is the first part of the key to defeat the Dragons, and the Undying possess the knowledge to do so. With this charge, and the promise of a rich reward from the Mages upon arrival, the party must now find a way to flee the city and travel to Mindel, in the Western Free Cities. They will carry with them the artifact, and the future of Aithar.