The Dark Archer Returns
Now the characters followed the pull of the magical Rods once again, to find them pulling in the direction of the Heartwood. On the way there, the heroes discovered that Y'Nell, a son of the Guardian Yellondana, was on his way to the Heartwood as well.
Wasting no time, Zerek the Wizard, Malachi and the rest of the adventurers headed quickly into the forest, even though they had been warned that it was filled with dangerous magical beasts left over from the Mage Wars.
Once inside the forest, they encountered a Soul Killer, a powerful beast far from their power to defeat. Only the fact that the undead creature could not pass over running water saved the life of Malachi, who could not hurt the creature even with his magical Cleave. The creature left after it knew it could not kill it's intended victims.
Finally, Y'Nell found the group and they decided to camp. Y'Nell explained that he had known that he was being followed for some time, after discovering a piece of a magical Rod (Y'Nell had no knowledge of the Rods up to this point). The creature turned out to be none other than the Dark Archer, who was though to have been killed by Malachi in the elven forest. Apparently, one piece of the Rod was not enough to destroy him.
The Dark Archer fought Y'Nell for his piece of the Rod, cutting it into two peices. The Dark Archer took one half and fled, apparently heading for the Darkwood, which was rumored to hold the fortress of Fergot, the ancient and evil mage who still survived from the days of the Mage Wars.
After the stories of Y'Nell, a Wind Duke appeared, telling the characters that the Dark Archer was animated by the power of Fergot the mage, and that he sought to find the other piece of the Rod and deliver it to his master. He also informed Malachi that his past was not what he believed, and that he should contact his family to find out the truth. He would say nothing more, and disappeared.
They tracked the Dark Archer into the Darkwood, encountering the Black Haggler's once again, and finding a body of a Spyderfiend who had been slain by the archer. Still, they pressed on until they found the fortress of the mage.
In the fortress, they encountered magical traps, one of which killed the coragous Perridon, who told Malachi as he died that he too knew the secret of Malachi's past and that he was sent to protect him, but died before he could reveal any more.
The group then fought undead, a minor demon, and the Dark Archer himself. Using thier skills, strategy, and new magic they had found, they managed to defeat the Archer (although they are unsure of his death), and secure the second half to the piece of the Rod that Y'Nell carried. The two sections magicaly placed themselves back together, and the characters traveled on toward the south, where Malachi hoped to solve the riddle of his mysterious family.