An Esrian Tale II: The Wings of Death was the direct sequel to the events of the first game, taking place ten years later in a world darkened by evil. For the first time, it expanded on the nature of heartstones and told the story of how four heroes would rise to end the threat they posed once and for all.
Part I: Hope Descends
By the year 1381 C.E, the world of Esria had darkened greatly. Magic had receded further than it ever had before, and deeply rooted cynicism surrounding the existence of the Heavens above was beginning to take hold. Fantastical creatures and beasts, too, had all but disappeared into myth and legend. It was a time that demonstrated all too clearly that the world was truly troubled.
Fortunately, another unlikely tale was set to unfold. This time, however, the fate of the world would fall into those who had been shaped by its darkness.
Deep in the heart of the Astanién city of Armelle, the streets echoed with footsteps. In the shadows, an ungracious one-armed necromancer by the name of Lorawyn Allard and her towering undead companion Andrik were up to no good. Accompanying them was Sir Elric Wybert, a sellsword from Vesryn with an eye for gold and a stark lack of honour. Having fallen on hard times, they had bound themselves loosely as associates and had found employ in the service of one spirited, silver haired thief, Renée de Marcellette. She too was another Astanién girl with grander dreams than her lowly station.
They crept through the night with the intention to subdue a privately guarded signal tower and intercept the path of the Griffon Royale, an approaching airship that was the first of its kind. They assumed that it had been loaded with the wealth of the Astanién nobility, which naturally had made it a target too tempting to ignore.
After a brief fight, they lit the beacon in time for another to find itself extinguished, and after a short while found themselves embarking onto the airship through unlikely means. The strength of Lorawyn's skeletal companion was invaluable in manually mooring the airship, and the great flying machine was anchored just long enough for the two to fling open the cargo doors and board in the ensuing confusion.
Onboard the Griffon Royale, Lorawyn and Elric quietly investigated the lower quarters of the airship and discovered a remarkable wealth of treasures and gold. Elric discovered a particularly impressive fist sized gem of a dark crimson colour, and deemed it worthy of his pocket. He had no idea that he had just uncovered a heartstone, nor had he even the slightest idea of its dark power. Troubling times lay ahead.
After subduing a wandering crew member, they found the third of Renée's hired accomplices stowed away inside of a box. A well-travelled man in his fourties, David Holmes was an unusual sort. He was soulforged, although he had little understanding of that fact, and as such was followed closely by a curiously terrifying phantom apparition named Scath. While Lorawyn and Elric had previously met the man while working in Armelle, finding him aboard the airship was a surprise.
Now in full force, they stormed the deck of the airship and did their best to incapacitate and restrain the crew before searching further into the ship and encountering the captain. Though fierce in his resistance, he was gravely wounded at the end of Andrik's blade, but kept alive with rudimentary first aid.
All seemed as if it was going well. Things were not to stay that way, however. As Renée took control of the airship and made for the coastal town of Bienville, a previously spotted shooting star revealed itself to be a tremendously bright ball of white light that fell straight for the Griffon Royale. Despite the best efforts of all on board, it found its mark and splintered the bow of the airship with a tremendous crack. The entire ship bent and broke, and both wood and cloth sails were ignited in a furious blaze.
The airship fell to the sea on that fateful night, though the thief Renée was lost overboard in the confusion. Lorawyn, Elric and David were left clinging to life in the black waters of Saint-Astan, holding onto broken scraps of their prize before submitting to unconsciousness. Little did they know, their adventure had only just begun.
When they finally washed ashore, the three soon took to gathering their wits and finding out which of their belongings they had lost to the sea. They took a moment to recover from the events of the previous night, drying their clothes and lamenting the loss of an impressive treasure, and began venturing out across the sands they had landed upon.
On the very same beach, the trio encountered an eager and incredibly friendly ratfolk scrounger by the name of Pebble, who after asking around for shining stones and other curiosities agreed to lead them to the nearby village of Lilou. There, Lorawyn chose to rest in the local Silversmith Inn, while the other members of their impromptu party opted to hear of the village's troubles from the reeve himself.
After a brief stay and a few minor scrapes helping the reeve deal with his troubles, the party resolved to take what little gold they had been paid and head back to the city of Armelle, where their journey had began. There, Lorawyn's cart waited to take them further, but not without a stern warning. The old stable master warned the necromancer about the recent activities of both the Astanién Order and their far less merciful counterparts, the Inquisition, and advised caution on the road ahead.
Their travels would take them further north and through the town of Avelay, where they would come to encounter the talented Elven smith named Holly Hayward, and the silver haired ratfolk traveller named Boots. Both would find a place in the party as their travels progressed, but it was the young Hayward that played a key part in uncovering a mystery long forgotten.
The party learned that Holly had been missing after failing to return from a brief foray into the woods for materials, and set about embarking on a presumed rescue. They found her in the clutches of goblins, but not after being subdued and overwhelmed by large orc-like creatures and fell spiders of considerable size.
It would come to pass that within that cave, the party would learn of a truth that had been buried and forgotten for years. In looting the party's belongings and killing the guard that had been posted on their cart, the goblins had brought forth a rich bounty of treasures stolen from Elric, Lorawyn and David. It was the ruby inside of Elric's coat, however, that would seal their fates forever.
When a fight between the goblins resulted in a crack in the gem and a smear of blood across its surface, the stone produced a wicked, red glow that resonated with unknown magic. Violating every rule of known magic and chilling the air with dread, it soon exploded into a million pieces. The goblins in the cave were instantly reduced to ash, and the stone floor frozen solid. The blast allowed the party to escape, safe from harm due to distance, but no less troubled for it.
They had encountered something truly evil, and in doing so had found themselves on the path of a hero whose mission had never been completed.
Part II: The Gathering Shadow
Their return to Avelay was marked with a tremendous storm, the likes of which that had never been seen before. It blocked out the sky with a huge sheet of roiling black clouds, and with flashes of lightning and deep cracks of thunder it sent a constant rainfall down to Esria. It would be a storm that persisted for weeks on end, only growing worse by the day.
In the town, Lorawyn received a mysteriously magical metal arm from Holly, and their journey continued once more. This time, however, they departed with far more questions than they had answers, and the uncanny feeling that they were now being targeted more than ever.
That feeling would prove founded again in Armelle. The party returned to the city to stock up on provisions, but found themselves assaulted by a rooftop archer and launching an impromptu rescue mission after the silver haired ratfolk named Boots is snatched up and carried away. Despite their unknown assailants utilising strange ice magic to turn the rainwater beneath their feet into solid ice, they prove victorious with only a few stragglers escaping into the rain.
Returning to the cart, Elric would have a brief exchange with a handful of mischievous children. Seeing that they were pursuing one another for something that they carried, he resolved the situation by simply taking it for himself when they found themselves running into him. The object was an odd, reflective metal hoop, seemingly of no great importance, but it had found its way to the party regardless. Elric tossed it into the back of the cart, and spared no more thought for the curious artefact.
Soon after, the party departed. Their destination was Leneheim, a beautiful city in Leoben that lay at the end of the trading route known as the Eastroad. It was a choice by the ratfolk named Boots, who seemed eager that there was much good that the party could do there.
They passed through Echelle, and once more proved that their souls were considerably darker than most. David and Elric saw it fit to arm themselves with a particularly impressive weapon, the Ashrend Scythe, that was a relic of the Ostian War of Independence, but did so by taking both a foul-mouthed merchant's stock and his life in the process. The shop burned to the ground before the guards could arrive.
On the road that lay ahead of Echelle, they were ambushed once more. This time, they were forced to fight much harder than they had been before, and it would prove testing for even the most skilled members of the party. When one of their attackers survived the battle, they interrogated him without mercy to discover exactly who it was that had ordered numerous attempts on their lives. One all too familiar name crossed their ears. The Inquisition was following them.
The next town they found was Pontou, but it held nothing for them but betrayal. They discovered that the ratfolk traveller named Boots was little more than a common spy, forced to serve the Inquisition's interests, and made their escape after finding the ratfolk scavenger from Lilou served up as a macabre parody of a dinner.
Pontou's bells were ringing, and the party was charged with the attempted murder of the corrupt duke that had orchestrated their capture in the first place. They had no choice but to flee for the east, into the orc lands of Olkhun.
Part III: The Wings of Death
Although providing much solace, the journey into Olkhun would reveal little for the party. They quickly learned of the inhospitality of the orcs, with their presence met with outright hostility during such dark times. It seemed that all were aware of the impending doom that lurked in the shadows.
After the party turned away an attack on the orcish encampment they were staying at, fighting off raiders desperate for food and dismissive of both law and order because of dire omens, they heard a captive of the battle speak of the coming shadow. Kharan Zel, the Dark Lord, was coming - and there was nothing that mortals could do to stop it. Coupled with the eerie yet typically vague words of an aging orc soothsayer, laced with dread and predictions of the future, they left with heavy hearts.
They departed for the north, keen to continue towards Leneheim, although they knew that they would no longer be safe in Saint-Astan. Instead, they opted to follow the orc lands as far as the mountains, where they would pass into Leoben and hopefully into safety as a result. The journey was not without its stops, however, and although the party faced far more questions than they did answers, a fateful encounter in an unusually solitary inn would reveal much to them...