The Dragon Arrows

Ravensbrook Runs Red - Final Part

Adventurers – Biblios (Barbarian), Ellywick (Monk), Finley (Sorcerer) Silver (Rogue), Tim (Warlock)

Preparations and revelations

The adventuers temporarily parted ways in order to allow Silver some time to train with his Father, and to gather a few supplies for the assault on Ravensbrook estate. Biblios, still under his axes grim aura turned to gambling and ale to kill time, but the dragonborn simply wanted to kill. There would be worthy foes in the fight ahead no doubt. His sprightly monk sidekick, Ellywick, opted to branch out into new business opportunities, and made a deal with the enigmatic Doctor Crow. The deal looked set, but at the 11th hour Tim jumped in with a bag of gold, and nabbed a slice of the potion business too. Crow cared little, although neither adventurer would benefit from a truly custom potion this time around.

Finley returned to Phandalin with a skip in her step. She could finally afford her elephant, and wasted little time picking up the friendly beast, who was still an infant. Finley lovingly named the new friend Martha, and leaped on her back. The Bullwug village was due a visit from her, and she was eager to check in on their progress. They were pleased to see the sorceress, and informed her that the birthing traditions of old had returned, and things were slowly improving. There was still much to do however, with the more reluctant tribe members requiring a full visit from the group.

Tim once again found time to stalk Rusty in Lielon. His investigations turning up very little, other than discovering Rusty was now lording about town, and throwing his meagre weight around with irritating confidence. The Tiefling would need to wait to strike however, and so did some subtle digging around about Roland. An ally would be useful. No solid leads were uncovered though, other than the odd missing pie, and hear say sightings of a man by the river devouring raw fish like a madman.

Back in Duskfalls Silver was pushed to grueling levels by Dorns rigorous training. The rogue wasn’t allowed to give thought to questions for the father he never knew. It was a surreal storm of events that he was just trying to cling onto until things made sense. Dorn was a distant figure, and never seemed to stop or rest, constantly pushing his half elf son. To the point where during one duel Dorns blade completely shattered SIlvers rapier. Blackwing was the blade of house Ravensbrooke. A thicker black blade, forged for real war, back during a time when the first Baron would face death in the face with a snarl. In contrast Silvers rapier was an ornamental blade, stolen from a noble house that probably never dirtied its hands with war. Dorn raged at Silver, then disappeared to cool off for a while. The rogue brooded, confused and exhausted.

Nailo Nightbreeze, the ranger, approached the half-elf with poise and a friendly smile. Explaining that Dorn bore a heavy burden, and that in time all would be explained. He also came with a gift, and handed Silver a beautifully crafted longbow. Decorated with Elven names of heroes that had wielded the weapon in times past. SIlver replied with deep reverence in elvish, to which Nailo smiled and inclined his head.

When Dorn did return his temper had cooled some, and he handed his son a worn black leather journal. Along with a few words of explanation, which only seemed to confuse Silver further. Dorn was neither truly living or dead, and explained that he would soon have to return to his slumber. There was only time to prepare SIlver, not join him in the fight ahead. Yet he would leave the rogue with a majestic gift, and presented Blackwing to him. The blade was magical, and seemed to sense the Ravnesbrooke blood flowing through Silvers veins. In turn he felt like he had always owned the obsidian blade, and that if need be he could push back an entire army or slay a commander in single combat. Vermillion would be no easy foe, and SIlver hoped the blade thirsted for corrupted blood.

As Dorn departed with Nailo and the other rangers Silver stole a few moments to read through his fathers journal. Tricked by the Order, Dorn had done what he could to repair the damage with the help of the elves. But paid a terrible price in the process, there was imply no easy way back from killing a god. Questions would always be there, but for now he had the other parent to rescue, and finally face Vermillion. So sent word to his comrades via the sending stone.

Horrors of the Mine

Reunited again, SIlver informed them off the events penned by Dorn in his journal. And with final preparations made, they travelled from Duskfalls to Ravensbrook. The small town emanated an oppressed aura, and the local tavern was all but empty save for a few nervous locals. The rogue had visions of stirring a rebellion, and leading a fired up mob to the gates of the Barons estate. But the plan fell flat, there was none willing to confront the red Baron. But before they could consider a different approach, galloping hooves thundered past the inn. Tim acted first, bursting out the door and hurled eldritch blasts at the red rider. He cursed as the bolts failed to unseat him, and ignored Silvers flurry of words questioning his actions. The rogue blitzed past him, and leaped onto Jackpot. The rest of the group spurred their mounts into the chase, as the red rider disappeared into the forest.

SIlver recognized the red rider. It was Hermann Albrecht, the Barons loyal servant who he had spent considerable time fishing for information. The rogue loathed the man, and relished the opportunity to end him. They had to, for his haste was in no way a good sign for the party. The Lurkwood was dense and ancient, and they tracked him as best they could. While they had no ranger tracker, they did have a forest gnome. Ellywick relished the opportunity to make a new animal friend, who could maybe help them with directions. A flying squirrel swooped in from nowhere, and chirped at the monk as it perched on her shoulder. Ellywick grinned, and thoroughly enjoyed the critters banter. Rewarding him with a handful of berries, as they followed his direction to the mines.

Sure enough they found Hermanns exhausted steed near the mines entrance – he was in there. There were no guards, which was a warning in itself. Only fools went in the Ravensbrook mines, and the accounts in Dorns diary painted a grim picture of the place. A strange rune was discovered near the entrance, and the rogue instinctively looked to the magic dealers for enlightenment. Finley smiled nervously, and explained her magic just happened, while Tim shrugged his shoulders. Damn, Glim would be useful about now he muttered. Ellywick was ever resourceful though, and cast a dome of silence over it, while Biblios dug up the thing and hurled it into the forest. The rune pulsed and gave off a warning noise, but the dome thankfully prevented the warning going any further into the mine. An unorthodox, but effective approach, which allowed them to carefully navigate further into the gloom.

The mine was an ominous place. Pick axes magically tinked away by themselves at a mysterious red stone, which had a dull glow and an unpleasant aura. So of course Tim decided to help himself to a few piles of the stuff, happily scooping it into the bag of holding. The axes ignored them, and just kept mining away as the party passed by as stealthily as they could. The tink-tink was the only noise, until up ahead they heard a ruckus coming from an old door. Must be Herman, and the silent approach was abandoned as they gave chase.

They didn’t find Hermann in the small room. But rather a chained up dwarf, several prisoners, and what looked like a work area of sorts. SIlver held out the runesmiths pendant they had recovered from Duskfalls, knowing the dwarf was the missing runesmith. The dwarf introduced himself as Solan Stoneshield, but insisted they save pleasantries and make haste after Albrecht. Biblios cleaved through the dwarves chains with a whistling chop from his axe, the dwarf wincing slightly but giving a thankful nod. Finley and Ellywick released the other prisoners, and gave them a few provisions to aid recovery. The dwarf had been forced to use the red stone, known as gods blood, to help create the abominations that were the judges. When fused with flesh the stone had unpleasant but powerful side effects. And Hermann had grabbed several prepared spikes of it.

They emerged into another part of the mine. The red stone clusters gave off enough of a sickly red glow that several rooms could described ahead. But it was the Hermann Albrecht that demanded attention. He was no longer running, and instead stood purposefully facing them on a stone cut bridge arching over a cavern. It was the only way forward. The man gave out a mad laugh, then plunged red spikes into his own flesh. He contorted horribly for a moment, then levitated off the ground, as blood pooled down and formed wicked red chains. “Finally!!” Biblios roared, and hurtled towards the foe at full pelt, axe iat the ready. Ellywick nimbly followed him, drawing and preparing her own magical blade. An arrow whizzed past the two as the ran, Silver putting the new long bow to the test. It hit true, but Herman just laughed. The fiend plunged his hands towards the ground, and chains snaked through it until they burst forth in several places surrounding the adventurers. While in the adjacent rooms there was a distinct shuffling and moaning, as ragged figures began to stir.

Finley hummed with raw power, as several perfect replicas fizzed into existence beside her. While Tim gestured then blinked onto another plane. Both magic dealers were setting up defensively it seemed. Which was wise, as the chains surrounding them darted into action. One coiled around SIlver, and despite an uncanny dodge swept the rogue off his feet and began ripping into his flesh. Another hissed into one of Finleys dopplegangers, popping it like a summer berry. One of the Finleys exhaled with relief.

Tears of joy ran down Biblios scaly cheek, as the barbarian worked himself up into blissful rage of destruction. Great sweeping blows smashed into Albrecht , the axe almost wailing with glee as he did so. Chains swung around the overloaded man, deflecting a couple blows, but no doubt most hit true and hard. Elleywick rained down punches and precise strikes with blurring speed. Frustrated that only her blade seemed to really damage him. She would have to meditate on this later. If they had a later that is. Albrecht narrowed his bloodshot eyes, and chains began to circle both his attackers, looking for an opening to ground them.

The chains were a problem, but Silver painfully wriggled free and sprinted towards Hermann Albrecht. Raising Blackwing he named his foe and compelled him to a duel. The rogues voice taking on a slight otherworldly tone as the words struck Herman. The man paused momentarily, his deformed body suddenly jerking to move towards the rogue instead of face Biblios and Ellywick. The chains however dug into both of them, preventing them from pressing this advantage… yet.

Finley had new problems. The rooms had housed failed experiments, poor individuals who had been hideously deformed by contact with the gods blood stone. They came for her, and in doing so distracted her enough for the chains to attack. It was too much, as they swarmed the sorceress and took her down with a loud cry of pain. Tim could save her, but the Tiefling blinked back into existence and instead let loose bolts of energy into Albrecht. The unconscious and defenseless gnome just a few feet away.

Blackwings spell was enough, and in unison Ellywick and Biblios broke free of the chains and punished Hermann with shattering strikes. The dragon born was held aloft by the mans chains, but feverishly wailed at him with gore filled joy anyway, until finally even Albrechts pumped up body couldn’t take any more. He lifted the protesting bloody mess that was once Hermann Albrecht, and tossed it into the black abyss below. A few moments passed, and a chain snaked back up and found purchase on the stone bridge. With one swift slice the barbarians axe shattered it, and was met with gurgling screams as the fiend plummeted to his demise. The group were severely battered, but victorious. Finley was nursed back to conciseness by Ellywick, and they stole a few moments to catch their breath and chug some of Doctor Crows health remedies.

The mine was a terrible place to rest. The uneasy atmosphere, gloom, and disconcerting red glow weren’t the only reasons. There were whispers and distant titters in the dark, and the constant tink-tink of animated pick axes. But a short rest would be better than nothing, as the battle had left Silver and Finley in bad shape. While Biblios shuck in one corner as the blood lust cooled in his fiery veins. If this was the Barons general, then what powers did Vermillion and his bride have in store. They would soon find out as they discovered a hidden passage that would lead right into his crimson lair.

The red reunion

Fortune favored them for heading to mine first, as they discovered a concealed passage leading to the main house. After an hour or so traversing its dark and rocky path, they finally came upon a door. The party emerged into yet more darkness, and what looked like a small chapel dedicated to Selûne – The Moon maiden. While not religious in the slightest, Silver saw fit to drop a coin at her statue and hope for the best. As he did so, the illusion broke, and the statue appeared defiled with it’s offerings rotten. Selûne could not be pleased with this, maybe she would smile on the party in some way.

Navigating the small shrine in complete darkness was challenging for those gifted with dark vision, but for Biblios in his armor it was obvious he was going to make noise. And all was still very quiet, so just maybe they had the element of surprise. They would find out, as teach adventurer slowly moved into a massive room supported by several grand but aged columns running along it’s length. In the blackness, Silver edged forward quietly, and peered far enough to make out the Blackkwood chair.

In front of the chair stood two figures in black robes. The rogue knew it could not be this easy, but none the less who ever stood there was going to fall. He silently indicated to the others to prepare, and notched an arrow in the longbow. Adding some spider venom for extra bite. The arrow struck true and with sickening force, sending the robed male several feet back with the impact. He died instantly. Then all hell broke loose, in some ways quite literally.

It wasn’t Vermillion of course, but it was one very dead Judge. No, the Red Baron had been there along, but actually not there at all. His silken voice came from everywhere and made the skin crawl, malicious laughter clawing at the soul as he welcomed his cousin. Finally the lord of the estate came forth to confront the intruders, bursting from a hiding place on another plane. The visage Silver knew to be Vermillion faded away, revealing a foul being with infernal features and leathery wings. A cambion. The vile spawn of a unholy union. Vermillions father, Umber, was of course human. But his mother clearly was not. The rogue was disgusted, and even more determined to end the Baron for good.

Vermillion was not alone. Esvelle followed her crimson winged lover from her own alternate plane. She was a despicable creature, as the illusion faded to reveal her true sucubus form. Licking her lips she laughed, then began incantations to summon even more minions. If she wasn’t stopped, the group would quickly be out numbered and out matched. Tim took up the challenge, drawing deep of his abilities to confront Esvelle while the others battled the Judges and Vermillion.

The Baron immediately targeted Silver. Speaking words of power to charm the rogue and draw him closer. Silvers mind once again felt the familiar fog and lack of clarity he experienced those many years ago. For a brief moment it looked like he might succumb. But he just chuckled, whispering elvish words of protection his mother had taught him as a child to fend off terrors in the night. He wondered how Vermillion felt now having once insulted his mixed heritage. For his elven blood offered magical protection. SIlver drew black wing slowly, and pointed it at his cousin. Compelling the pit spawn to face him in single combat. The Baron went to laugh, but paused as the swords magic gripped him. The rogue leapt at him, and they clashed rapiers once again.

The main hall became a storm of carnage filled combat. The female judge roared, leaping at the party, while yet more poured from Esvelles portal. Ellywick and Finley combined to combat the judges, while Biblios charged into Vermillion and SIlvers duel. Tim hurling arcane bolts at the hissing Esvelle in a magic fueled contest, but the Tiefling was undone. The warlock became entranced by his foe, and thoughts filled his mind telling him to attack Silver. Energy crackled around his hands, as he slowly turned towards where his friends were battling.

Ellywick knew how to handle magic wielders, and with a swift incantation threw up a dome of silence over the main brawl. Vermillion showed the briefest irritation, but continued to exchange blows with Silver. The arrogant Baron had supreme confindence in his abilities, but perhaps was yet to face a rampaging blood thirsty dragonborn. Biblios slammed into him with crushing force and velocity, his axe raining down on the fiend with raw ferocity. Vermillion took horrendous blows that would fell a lesser being, hurt and bleeding he left the fray with a mighty leap into the air on crimson wings. Landing with a thud by the Blackwood chair, he gestured with his hand and another illusion dripped away. Revealing the fallen forest god Dorn had slain, the inky black spear still in its deer like form. The Baron pulled the spear free with a sickening laugh, wisps of oily smoke snaking around his hand.

Silver dodged a lunging blow from one of Esvelles minions, and acrobatically leaped out of the melee in pursuit of his nemesis. The rogue sprinted at the Baron, and with the faintest of movements drew a small vial from his pocket. Mid stride the half-elf simply vanished, causing Vermillion to scowl and scan the room. Silver had of course used the Oil of Etherealness, and was viewing proceedings from another plane. Waiting for the perfect moment to strike. Which wasn’t long, as the Baron was again assaulted by Biblios. Fully distracted by the Barbrians rage, the Baron didn’t see his cousin appear right behind him. But he did feel the full force of numberless magic missiles knifing into him, spinning his body like a ragdoll. Caught between the barbarian and the rogue, he was double teamed. The axe of Biblios sending Vermillion flailing back, right onto the obsidian point of Blackwing. The blade pierced true, and so ended the black reign of the of the red baron. As his final life force ebbed away, Silver whispered in his ear…"Gorga i’ Cam’wethrin, ten’ ron sana revenge vee’ eithel vee’ alma." Which loosely translates to ‘fear the thief, for they take revenge as well as wealth’. An old elven warning that his mother taught him as a boy.

Esvelles anguished scream filled the hall, causing all who heard it to claw at their ears in pain. Then she was gone, withdrawing to what ever hell spawned her. The minions she had summoned turned to ash on the spot, and the judges fell lifeless to the gore slicked tile. Tims eyes blinked, and the Warlock slumped to a near by column. He was once again in control, if you could ever say he was ever in control that is. Ravensbrook was liberated…and now had a new Baron.

Silver kicked the lifeless form of Vermillion down the steps, then seated himself into the Blackwood chair. “Well I imagine it is proper to pay you my friends, you have my eternal gratitude, for I could not have done this feat without you. What say we find the treasury?” he grinned.

“And the wine cellar…”Biblios smiled. Ellywick agreeing.

“And a broom..” Cheered Finley. Pushing aside a dead judge with her foot.

“urgggghhhmmm” Said Tim.

There was much to be done, the Order was still out there. But for now the party could celebrate.

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Ravensbrook Runs Red
Part 1

Adventurers: Biblios, Ellywick, Finley, Silver, Tim

The rogue returns

The summer heat beat down on the region, but there was little time to bask in the sun as the Brass Lantern kept their adventurous contractors busy. While they had control of the Neverwinter situation, there was always a thousand other contracts filling up their busy notice board. Biblios, Elllywick, Finley, Glim, and Tim had been busy on the road tackling the mysterious cackle fever, and the ominous Brotherhood. So back in Neverwinter they stole a few moments respite, not to mention celebrating Finleys birthday. One never asks a lady gnome how many moons she is mind, plus she was very preoccupied with obtaining an elephant…

The rogue returned. Just as the wizard vanished. Borgin shrugged, he knew that while they took on jobs for him, each of his adventurers often went walkabout to deal with personal business. Glim would no doubt reappear at just the right moment, in time for dinner and a pint he quipped. The wizards wizened cogs were always turning, and that business at the university had him concerned.

Silver exchanged some what rushed greetings with his comrade in arms, despite having not seen them for days. Biblios looked…twitchy, and even more ready for a fight than usual. That axe maybe, can you ever really trust these magical weapons? To Ellywick he boasted of a painting, one displaying her martial prowess that was now front and center at his newly opened shop in Phandalin. The monk nodded with approval, and returned to her mediation. Finley received a wink, and he slipped her a folded sketch for her birthday, along with the 30 gold she needed for the elephant. The gnome seemed to appreciate the gesture. Approaching Tim he enquired about any recent valuables they might have acquired on their travels. The warlock chuckled, shook his head, and rolled eldtricth fire through his fingers nonchalantly.

Silver beelined for Borgins office, and the uncharacteristically rushed report indicated he was quite rattled. The rogue insisted that the recent chatter of Baron Vermillion Ravensbrooke moving to control security forces in Neverwinter was dire news. Not only that but he feared his cousin might be behind the growing tension between Mithral Hall and Neverwinter. Borgin agreed, and moved through the correct channels to authorize a scouting party to investigate. Nobles, dwarves, and not to mention Luskanites, created a minefield that would need to be navigated carefully. The party agreed to Borgins job once he added coin, then began preparing for travel once again.

Dwarves and danger in Duskfalls

It would be a weeks travel to the smuggler town of Duskfalls. SIlver informed the party of a letter he had received from his mother, one which had a undertone of danger. The town of charlatans, where the half-elf spent much of his youth, was the perfect location to get a take on the regions troubles. But one needed to have eyes in the back of their head at all times. Finley just laughed, and toyed with the leopard belt before exclaiming she was broke anyways. Biblios clutched his axe tighter and let out a low growl. Yeah, they would be just fine the rogue thought, and listened to the many stories of the previous adventures he had missed. The camp fire crackling in the background, as inky night gave way to dawning daylight.

While a relatively trouble free journey, they did hit upon a Luskanite outpost. One Finley informed them was not there as she traveled that way before. Housing a handful of guards, one a hulking man in heavy armor who eyed Biblios with menacing intent. While a lithe female in an ornate but scarred mask appeared to be in charge. With a nod Ellywick vanished, stealthy circling the back before quietly scaling the guard tower. The monks growing control of the shadows was impressive. A guard picked his nose, and lazily drew his cross bow, unaware he was a short step away from gnome fueled death.

Before violence could erupt, the party tried a more deceptive yet passive approach. Proclaiming Tim to be a Luskanite noble, traveling with his entourage. The ruse stretched thin, and it was obvious the female with the scarred mask was not buying any of it. Yet she let the group pass, maybe preferring to avoid blood shed herself. But down the road the group noticed that the guard towers signal smoke had changed color. Danger it seems had only been delayed, not avoided.

Finally they arrived in Duskfalls, a rag tag town constructed out of stilted buildings and bridges, sitting along side the water. Filled with shady types who made a living on the wrong side of the law, the party kept their wits about them as they entered. The rogue led them to his old home, where he looked forward to seeing his mother, Enna Moonrunner. Who greeted them cheerfully, but showed a nervy edge that her two male friends also shared. Brief pleasantries gave way to the matter at hand, as she sketched out the troubling situation she found herself in. A rare dwarven artifact had been found by a local skimmer, Benson, who just happened to be a dwarf enthusiast. He was missing, and Enna feared that maybe the Ravensbrook Judges had gotten to him. The artifact in question was a believed to be from a Rune Master, who was no where to be seen.

Looking for further clues on the matter, the party searched Benson’s house, which was filled with various dwarf knick-knacks. Among the clutter they found a beer stained sliver of parchment that appeared to be some kind of coded dwarf communication. After a bit of head scratching the puzzle was finally solved, and its grim message brought to light. The dwarf had made a desperate escape from Ravensbrook, with Judges disguised as orcs in pursuit. He was either dead, taken prisoner again, or had managed to escape.

Catch me if you can

Before they could ponder the next move, an arrow fizzed through the air and struck one of Ennas male comrades. His eyes rolled back into his head as his form slumped to the floor. The hooded intruder had somehow evaded detection by Finley and Biblios standing guard outside. In one swift movement he turned and bolted, eager to escape the scene. Ellywick and Silver leapt out the window, while Tim ushered Biblios and Finley into the chase. It would be a desperate pursuit through the ramshackle streets, their foe showing great speed and dexterity versus raw determination.

Silver gave a nod to Ellywick then boosted the nimble gnome upto roof level. She grinned wildly, her feet already a blur of movement as roof tiles flung off in her wake. The rogue knew these streets, and the bottle neck the murderer was heading for, so vanished in another direction to his friends. There would be a heading off at the pass no doubt. Tim and Biblios kept at ground level, but were completely taken by surprise as the runner panicked a horse into a stampede on the busy streets. The dragonborn bore the full brunt of the animal as it floored him, along with pushing Tim into a desperate dodge. Enough to slow both of them down, but only their pride damged. Finley played a very tactical approach, opting to stay back should other foe have friends spring a trap.

The chase heavily disrupted the daily routines of the market square. Biblios unleashing a blood curdling roar to send the locals scampering. Silver rejoined the chase as the runner approached the bridge, getting a few fruitless swipes and a failed grab. Cursing his choice of silk gloves this day. The cloaked stranger looked to further distract them by swiping at a beggar, sending the poor soul splashing into the river. At the rear Finley halted, and opted to rescue the man from a watery grave. The rest kept up the chase, as finally Ellywick looked to press an advantage. Bringing the man to a crunching halt with a stunning and impressive strike. Biblios quickly restrained thim, barely holding back the urge to tear him in half. The rest caught their breath and began to circle him for questioning. But his master had other ideas…

The man gave a desperate plea insisting he could still serve, before an intense heat engulfed him as a fiery circle formed in the messy wake. A barbed devil slinked from it’s fiery plane, hissing a vile challenge. Finally Biblios roared, and drew his hungering berserker axe, while the others hastily prepared spells, or in Silvers case back flipped behind a handily placed box. Tim looked to be preparing some vastly powerful incantation that would no doubt consume the horror in one blast. But instead he blinked from existence with a knowing cackle. While Finley drew upon her deception spell set, looking to confuse her foe.

The creature faced the dragonborn onslaught, Biblios proclaiming that he wanted it’s skin in between punishing blows from his axe. Ellywick peppered the fiend with a several blistering attacks, inciting the devil to hiss at her. A lone bolt pinged off the creature, followed by muffled elvish swearing. Then Tim reappeared from a sudden tear in reality, blinking back into existence just in time to fire off an eldritch blast. The beast looked to be faltering, and failed to stop the raging dragonborn from tearing off one of its arm spikes. Biblios looked extremely pleased, until his grin faded as the body part disintegrated to ash. With a final otherworldly howl the devil was bested. Its form folding in horribly before crumbling into smokey ash carried off by the wind. Again Biblios stressed how much he wanted the skin, ignoring a troubled look from Ellywick.

Parental guidance advised

Retuning back to Ennas house they were horrified to find the home had been ransacked. The remaining comrade of Silvers mother lay in a pool of his own blood. Of Enna there was no sign. Just a message from the Judges stating she was theirs now. Silver burned with rage and hastily rushed back out side to look for signs of the kidnappers. A firm gloved hand gripped his shoulder and turned him round. The rogues eyes narrowed with his dark mood as he demanded the identity of the man. An eye patch covered one eye, and white hair framed a grizzled face. The man was also missing an arm, but was anything but a cripple. An ornate and dangerous looking rapier hung from his belt.

“I’m your Father” The man proclaimed.

Silvers mind exploded with a thousand questions as his eyes widened. Seeing features of his own in the mans face, he knew the declaration to be true. It was indeed Dorn Ravensbrooke, dishonored noble of the house and presumed dead. Now standing very much alive in front of his son. A scattering of cloaked figures were with him, the rogue instantly recognizing the ranger Nailo Nightbreeze. The very individual who had informed him of his Fathers death. There would be words for him too.

Dorn explained that now was not the time for the many questions he knew his son had. Together they would need to rescue Enna and take on the might of the Red baron, Vermillion. Beginning with locating Ennas secret stash room, which required the considerable strength of Biblios on the door. Inside there was a variety of supplies, along with tools and a few prized valuables. Dorn tossed a speaking stone to Ellywick, and a second to Silver. Finally the father handed the son a neatly folded garment, which Silver opened to reveal a majestically crafted cloak. This cloak made by his mothers elven hand, and was no ordinary cloak. As he pulled it around his shoulders it blurred his outline, with colors shifting to match the surroundings. This was Ennas surprise for him that she hinted at in the letter, and a deep link to his elven heritage. But his human side was staring at him with intent.

“There is much to do, let us see what you are capable of.”

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No Laughing Matter. Or Something Like That.

Adventurers: Biblios, Ellywick, Finley, Glim, Tim
By: Finley Eaton Davies Carnahan, aka Elefinley

There are so many cliche ways to start a story. In the beginning, once upon a time, it all started when, it was a normal day, and so it goes. But cliches are unfairly hated. It’s not unoriginal to start a story the way all stories have always been started. It’s smart. Stories are started like that for a reason: so you know it’s a story. Because—and you can trust me on this, even if you can’t trust me on anything else—stories aren’t real.

At least, they aren’t real in the way you want to think they’re real. I can never tell you what really happened, and that’s okay. What happened for me probably didn’t happen for you. At least, it didn’t happen for you the way it happened for me. My story is my own, and I’m the only one who can tell it.

So, here goes nothing.

It all started with the Finley Davies Eaton Carnahan wing of the research library. I was cruising the halls of my own newly funded wing, just looking for some information on the Bullywugs. For weeks, I’d tried to find ways to talk to them, eventually resorting to donating basically all of the gold I’d saved up just so I could be no closer to an answer. Now I was broke as hell and still unable to get the image of that scared Bullywug out of my mind. His legs shaking, spear raised at old man Boris Henry. Every time I thought about it, I was back in that clearing. The cool, damp air on my face, sweat trickling down my neck. I wanted so badly to save him—to protect him.

To protect him the way no one protected my brother. Or me.

Flashes of a childhood lost crept to the surface, and I slammed the book in front of me shut.

Stupid, useless history book. You’d think someone, somewhere would have tried to talk to the Bullywugs before. I mean, come on. They were obviously sentient beings—they had religion, family, culture. I carried the heavy book, entitled “Marauding with Monsters,” back to the shelf, ready to just give up. The Bullywugs could take care of themselves, and the boy would be fine. He’d be fine.

I mean, I was fine.

So he had to be fine.

But as I placed the book on the shelf, a folded note, heavy with dirt and age, fell from its pages. The stained paper felt smooth and worn in my hand, and it crumpled as I unfolded it. I blinked at the paper several times, afraid I’d wished the note into being. Afraid that it wasn’t real, and that it would disappear before my eyes.

But it didn’t.

CALLING ALL DOUR DWARVES, HUMORLESS HUMANS, ELUSIVE ELVES, OUTCAST ORCS, BULLIED BULLYWUGS AND KRAZY KOBOST
CAN’T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG?
COME TO THE SHRINE OF SAINT FINDIZZLE WAMPUS IN LAUGHER’S GORGRE AND LET US ALL SHARE IN A CHUCKLE
GUARANTEED TO PROVIDE MIRTH OR YOUR MONEY BACK!!!

I read the flier three times, taking comfort in the fact that I wasn’t the first person to recognize it for what it was—a key to unlocking the Bullywug language. Because written on the flier, in scratchy scrawl, were the words, “Bullywug language clue?”

The flier was for some event at Saint Findizzle Wompus’s monument. All I knew about Saint Findizzle was that my mom had heard his name once when she was growing up and said, “that’s my baby’s name, right there.” It’s how I’d ended up with the first name Finley. My older brother had the misfortune of actually being named Findizzle.

Probably why he turned out so horrible.

But the Findizzles—both of them—were irrelevant. The important part was that Bullywugs could understand whatever was happening at Laugher’s Gorge. I knew I need to go there and see it for myself, even if the event in question had long past, judging by the age of the flier.

Clutching the flier, I sprinted to find my friends, pumping my short gnome legs as fast as I could. If I could convince them to come with me—maybe, just maybe—I could figure out how to communicate with the Bullywugs. Or at least it could get me one step closer. Then I could go check on the boy and make sure he was okay. I just needed to go to Laugher’s Gorge first.

I knew Glim would help—if only because Saint Findizzle Wompus was a famous gnome, and Glim loved an opportunity to learn about famous gnomes. But Glim wasn’t enough. I needed Biblios to come or I couldn’t, and it was as simple as that. He was my protection from that damn Vovovian mafia, and I wasn’t quite ready to give him up. Of course, I wanted the others there too, even if my reasons for needing them were largely sentimental.

Ellywick was easy to find—she’d been helping the town after some shitty cult party we’d went to turned into a super gross monster attack. I may not know what the deal was with Oskar Oaken and the New Abolethic Soverienty, but I wasn’t so heartless that I didn’t recognize the town was in a shambles over it. Maybe I should have helped too, but Ellywick was more useful in a fight, anyways.

When I found Biblios, he seemed to be having his own financial problems. I offered to help him in exchange for help visiting the statue of Saint Findizzle, but thank the gods and Saint Findizzle the Brass Lantern stepped up to help instead. At this point, my financial situation was no joke. I mean, I would have done it. But, I might have had to resort to some side money making gigs. Like human child babysitter. Or something equally dreadful.

“So, guys,” I said, once I’d rounded everyone up. “It’s been sort of depressing around these parts lately. I think we should do something to cheer ourselves up.”

“Any ideas?” asked Ellywick.

I held up the flier. “Let’s hit up Laugher’s Gorge. I mean, laughter’s right there in the name.”

“As long as it doesn’t cost any money,” grunted Biblios, mumbling something about damn dwarves and their specialized equipment. He didn’t seem super interested, and neither did Tim, honestly. But that was Tim’s norm for the past several weeks. Always so distracted. And always trying to sneak away in the middle of the night. Several times he’d mumbled about rust or things being rusty. But who knows what he was talking about. Literally nothing he owned had rust on it. I’d never even seen him with a weapon that could rust.

Ellywick frowned. “I’ve heard rumors of gnolls being infected with Cackle Fever near Laugher’s Gorge. Some trader named Bouran Daysprings lost half his men to the disease.”

“Where can we find this Bouran Dayspring?” asked Tim, seemingly perked up by the thought of killing some gnolls.

Ellywick pointed to the outskirts of town, while Glim looked over the flier.

“I think we should check it out anyways,” said Glim after a while, his eyes never leaving the flier. “We can talk to Bouran before we leave town.”

As we walked, Glim’s eyes glazed over while he regaled us with tales of the famed Saint Findizzle Wompus. In his time, he was a bard gnome who’d had his tongue cut out by some king who took offense to his jokes. And you know, isn’t that always the way? If someone says they can take it, that almost always means they can’t take it. Anyways, ol’ Findizzle was gifted a silver tongue that allowed him to talk to anyone in any language. And better still, he could understand any language. He used that silver tongue of his to bring laughter and happiness to all who came across him. Or something like that. All that really mattered was that Findizzle could talk to the Bullywugs. Him and his silver tongue were the key.

I was so excited to be moving towards an answer that I almost missed Bouran’s caravan.
Which was actually quite impressive, all things considered. Bouran’s face and belly were so round that he looked like two circles simply stacked on top of each other to form a humanoid shape. His blue skin had a bright sheen of sweat covering it that I suspected never really left. His wide smile sort of gave me the creeps, and I considered hanging back.

But then I saw the silks.

Oh my gods. Silks everywhere. Beautiful silks. And a hot pink one!

I raced towards it. “How much?” Recently, I’d started waking up at night to dreams of a flying machine, and I knew that if I could just figure out the mechanics, I could use the pink silk for a seat on the machine.

He made a sucking sound on his teeth. “That’s ten gold for the pretty little gnome lady.”

I smiled and attempted to haggle, but when he put his arm around me, it was impossible to keep the smile in place. I scrunched my face up instead.

“You’re smart,” he said. “I like that. Can’t we just be friends?”

So creepy. Easier to just pay full price and get the hell out of there. I might be poor, but that was no reason to stand next to him any longer than necessary. I’d just suffer through a couple of nights without meals.

But I wasn’t the only one distracted by Bouran’s wares. Glim was engaged in a lively discussion with Bouran over whether there were any trinkets from the far east he could purchase, while Biblios looked sadly at the smoking tobacco he couldn’t afford. It wasn’t long before Bouran started to brag, once again, about how he’d been the only one with the vision to bring trading from the Far East to Phandalin.

Oh, yeah. The Far East.

It was like we all remembered why we’d stopped at the caravan at the same time.

“What can you tell us about Cackle Fever?” asked Glim.

Bouran launched into a tale that focused mostly on how great he was, giving very little useful information. I sighed. The man really was an idiot. Basically, he told us to travel three days, and we’d hear the cackle fever for ourselves.

We were just about to leave when Ellywick piped up. “Do you have any ear plugs?”
Bouran showed her how to make some out of cotton and beeswax. Thank the gods she purchased enough for everyone.

#

As we approached the area Bouran described, we started to hear laughter. Ellywick scouted the area with her beeswax earplugs firmly in place, and informed us there was only one figure in the distance, surrounded by large stone pillars. Everyone seemed delighted with this news and headed in that direction, me trailing behind.

“Wait, guys,” I said. “Do we have a plan?” I knew the plan involved killing whatever was in front of us. But what if it was an innocent human? I still remembered when my new found friends sent two hunters into the woods to get murdered by a were-bear. A memory that still gave me nightmares if I’m being honest.

“Kill it,” said Tim and Biblios, almost in unison.

“But, like, what if we can save it?” I asked.

The group made a collective shrug and looked around, as if they hadn’t considered that option, but now that it had been presented to them, they would consider it. I sighed with relief. Maybe we wouldn’t have to kill anyone.

“What are you going to do with him if we save him?” asked Biblios.

Oh. I hadn’t thought of that. “Take him back to the infirmary?”

Biblios looked confused, though that wasn’t necessarily uncommon for him.

“You’re going to take him on a three day trip?” asked Tim.

Oh, yeah. Right. “Well, I’ll think of something else.”

“Better do it quick,” said Tim.

“Okay,” said Biblios. “We’ll save it if we can, but…”

“If things go south,” supplied Tim.

Biblios nodded. “We kill it.”

“And no matter what, we aren’t taking it back with us,” added Tim.

I nodded, my mind working overtime to try to come up with anyway to save the poor infected creature. “Right.”

Before we could make any more plans, cackling laughter echoed off the giant stone pillars, just barely reaching our ears.

“Alright,” said Ellywick. “Now that that’s settled.”

Then silence.

Complete and utter silence. It pressed around me, the weight of it making me want to scream. But even if I had, no one would have heard me.

Such was Ellywick’s power.

Tim and I rushed to get out of the zone of her spell. Our own spells were useless within the spell parameters, thanks to our inability to speak within it.

Biblios ran towards the creature with his ax, and we got our first real glimpse.

A troll.

“We kill it!” yelled Tim, our earlier conversation of saving it, totally and utterly forgotten. And rightfully so. This troll would kill us if we didn’t kill it.

Biblios’s ax came down hard on the thing, but it started to heal almost instantly.

“Fire!” yelled Tim. “Use your fire!”

But I think I was the only one who could hear him since we were the only ones outside of the zone of silence. Biblios and Ellywick both hacked away, their blows healing almost as soon as they made them. Glim was standing next to one of the rock pillars, his nose in a book, looking up only occasionally. Apparently, he was unaware entirely that a fight was raging on behind him.

Tim and I shot fire bolt after fire bolt at it. Every time we hit, the wound sizzled and stayed, seemingly unable to heal, and before long, it looked like Biblios and Ellywick’s hits were leaving their mark as well. The troll focused his blows on them, allowing Tim and I the opportunity to hit it without interference.

We poured magic at it, and with one last maniacal laugh, it burst into flames. Biblios and Ellywick panted as they looked at the mangled and burned body, sweat obvious even on Biblios’s hulking form. It wasn’t until Tim and I made our way over that Glim finally looked up from the massive stone rocks.

He shut his book with a snap and ran his hands over the pillars. “These are practically humming with magic. I recognize some of the writing too. But the magic feels twisted. Wrong, somehow. Can’t you feel it?”

“That’s great, man,” said Tim. “But we were sort of busy.”

“Oh,” said Glim. He looked down at the burnt troll carcase, surprise etched in his features.

“Well.” He cleared his throat. “Good work, mates.”

Biblios frowned.

“So, should we press on through the pillars?” I asked. “I’d think if there was a religious statue, it’d be on the other side of this religious looking clearing.”

“Right,” said Tim. “Let’s go.”

We headed towards the path just behind the clearing, ignoring the one before it, but we didn’t have to walk long before we came to another path that led into a cave like tunnel. In the distance, we could see the exit to the valley, so we turned towards the cave, with Ellywick throwing up a glowing orb that allowed Biblios—the only one amongst us not blessed with night vision—to see.

The tunnel was for sure creepy, but I just knew we’d find the statue in there. It only made sense.

Our footsteps echoed through the tunnel, the lightest sound of laughter the only other noise. Everyone seemed on edge, especially when we stumbled across an old human skeleton. Glim picked up the skull, moving its jaw up and down as if it were talking. Biblios let out a hearty laugh, but everyone else’s laugh seemed more nervous. After all, this was the place where people laughed themselves to death.

As if on cue, the sound of crazed laughter meandered its way down the tunnel. We all put in our earplugs, but it was too late. I felt a chuckle rise in me, like something was funny, but it shouldn’t be. Like I wanted to laugh at my misfortune. Laugh at my dream to save the little boy Bullywug. Laugh because it was stupid and I was stupid for somehow thinking it would fix things. That it would fix me or my brother.

I pressed my earplugs in tighter and the feelings, along with the humor, evaporated. Glim, Tim, and Biblios seemed equally dazed, all letting small laughs escape. The noise seemed to surprise them out of it, though, and all of our eyes met.

This was it. More cackle fever.

We moved towards the noise, only to find ourselves standing in front of a cavernous room, filled with ten gnolls.

And, of course, they’d seen and heard us coming.

Fighting broke out immediately, with Ellywick’s silence once more descending on the room as she ran in without fear. Three knolls were on her almost immediately. I shot fire bolts at one in the back, but with so many, I had no idea what to do.

I’d hoped this adventure would end with us killing nothing, but now it looked like there was no option but to kill everything.

The three on Ellywick slashed at her, while she ducked and dove around their knives. Glim cast sleep on one of them, while Tim knocked one unconscious. I cast my web at all three, hoping that, even if they woke up, they wouldn’t be able to move.

Biblios seemed almost reluctant to enter the room, like he thought maybe we should have came up with some sort of plan, even if he wasn’t sure what that plan would have been. But, because he’s epic, he did come in, and he started wailing on the closest one to him. From there, I tried to focus on taking out the gnolls in the back, fire bolting them one at a time. One up at the front ran towards me and Glim, but he slipped and fell, as if the floor had been covered in grease.

Gnolls were falling one by one, with each of us ganging up on a different one each time. An arrow soared towards Ellywick from the back, and I focused in on the gnoll who’d shot it. An illusion of the earlier troll we’d just killed sprung up from my magic, chasing after the gnoll. He ran, screaming as the illusion troll chased him, and with every blow the troll dealt, the gnoll whimpered in pain as if he was really being hit. But before the gnoll got too far, Biblios brought his axe down on him, taking him out.

Gnoll bodies littered the floor.

Excitement coursed through my veins. We were almost there. So close. But then I noticed something, probably at the same time everyone else did. There was no way out.

Great. Just fucking great. I’d waltzed us right into a gnoll living area, with no way out except back the way we came.

At least we knew where we had to go.

So we doubled back and arrived at the rock clearing to find it exactly how we’d left it, with the smell of burning troll filling the air. This time, we took the first path, which led us down into a similar cave like tunnel. We raced down the hall, everyone anxious to find what we’d came for and get out of the god forsaken laughing dungeon. Glim soon discovered a round wall, which he insisted proved we were now headed in the right direction. And he was right.

After a moment’s inspection he discovered an opening. Anxious for anything that would get me closer to the Bullywug’s I crawled in. There, right inside, was a small black statue of a gnome with a silver tongue. Findizzle.

I approached with caution, afraid it would start cackling like the knolls and aware that I didn’t have any beeswax in my ears. But instead, it asked for a joke. I told the only one I knew, which was some dumb knock-knock joke that was in my favorite book growing up. After I said it, the words sort of emblazoned themselves into it and disappeared. But… then nothing else happened.

I waited. We all waited.

We looked around. Nothing.

It felt like defeat. I was ready to give up when we came to another room, the center piece of which was a gigantic stone blocking a door. I just knew the answer was behind that door, but no one was rushing to open it. For one, that stone was really fucking huge. But, and more importantly, it was pretty clear brute strength wasn’t going to be the answer here. Also in the room were four plaques with four places for an offering. Each plaque contained a riddle.

Because of course they did. Because I hate riddles. And because I suck at them.

I hung my head and sighed, ready to turn back. I knew the others were talking, but the words flew past my ears. It was too late for me; I no longer wanted to listen. But just as I turned to leave, Biblios breathed fire into the first place for an offering. Then Tim blew in the second one. Glim broke off a piece of stone and put it in the third. And, finally, Ellywick extinguished her light.

The giant rock shook the room as it moved from it’s place blocking the door.

I rushed inside, pushing everyone out of the way.

Oh, fuck.

Facing me were two more gnolls, both with two hyenas on leashes, and what looked like a gnoll leader. The gnolls holding leashes dropped them, and the hyenas bounded towards me.

Thankfully, everyone else rushed in after me and absorbed some of the blows. But I’d messed this up—I was taking too many hits, and I felt weak. My well-honed strategy of staying in the back and helping slowly pick them off, wouldn’t work this time. I ran for a pillar at the far end of the room, while Glim ran for the other one. Biblios, Ellywick, and Tim were all taking heavy fire in the center, but there wasn’t anything I could do for them. I cast a spell that allowed me to create three duplicate versions of myself to help absorb some of the blows. Ellywick ran to hide behind one of my doubles, but it didn’t offer either of us much protection. Tim tried to come help us, but his spells seemed to keep missing.

Biblios let out a cry, and we all realized at the same time that we’d left him in the center of the room, and he was in trouble. Panicked, I cast another illusion to attack the leader who’d gone after Biblios. But something must’ve gone wrong because it didn’t faze him.

Then I exploded.

I mean, my body did. I grew and grew and grew. Until I was an elephant.

I let out a ringing roar, as Ellywick climbed up on top of me. Together, we ran towards Biblios, who lay on the ground bleeding. I trampled towards the leader and gored him with my tusk, while Ellywick threw down a cloud of daggers on his leader ass. I backed up and charged at him again, this time taking him out. Then I stomped on one of his hyenas and turned it into hyena paste. I reared up on my hind legs, letting out another battle cry, before heading to the gnolls.

But then, just as suddenly as I’d turned into an elephant, I popped back into myself.

Then passed out.

By the time Glim woke me up, it was all over. Biblios was up again too, but we all looked worse for the wear. I could barely move, but I dragged myself up to a sitting position. I hadn’t come all this way to die, dammit. But I couldn’t focus. There were things. We’d gotten things. A treasure box. Some scrolls. An ugly hat I’d never be caught dead wearing.

It didn’t matter. I was too confused and tired to focus. I wanted to go home, forget this day had happened. I laid back down, allowing the cool earth to mend some of the pain radiating through my body.

Glim tapped me on the toe, and I just barely managed to flutter my eyes open.

“Look what I found.” He held out a jade statue of a gnome. “Neat, huh?”

“Very nice,” I mumbled, ready to go back to sleep.

“Oh, and here.”

I felt a thud as something cool landed on my chest.

“It’s the silver tongue of Saint Findizzle Wompus. It’s what you wanted, right?”

I scrambled up, grabbing at it. It’s magic rushed through me as I squeezed it in my palm.

“Thank you,” I breathed. “Thank you.”

Finally, I’d be able to talk to the Bullywugs.

View
Party Crashers

Adventurers: Biblios, Ellywick, Finley, Glim, Silver, Tim

(Silvers perspective)

Silver needed air. The interrogation of the crazed noble, Oskar Oaken, had left him feeling uneasy. He lacked the stomach for such things, but noted the importance none the less. That brute Forath was better suited, or of course Tim would delight in it. In truth though, part of him enjoyed having the upper hand on an opponent who hours earlier had threatened his very existence with purple eldritch fire. The foul master Oaken serves had imbued him with formidable power. Silver hadn’t been so close to breathing his last for quite some time, and Oskars maniacal expression would be with him for all his days. At least the truth serum had pulled something from the captured man, but it’s value was debatable.

The door bearing the Brass Lantern sigil swung open, Silver shielded his eyes as light and noise assaulted his already tired senses. Bells clanged amidst screams, crying, and yelling. The cacophony of sound from the turbulent streets of Neverwinter left the half-elf feeling even worse. He saw over worked guards rushing to put out fires, while clerics tended to the wounded. Crowds of wide eyed citizens huddled together looking like their world had been turned upside down. It had. The attack at Oakens party was just one of many, formulated by this new Abolethic Sovereignty to rock the city and its inhabitants. The guards and the men of the Black Lantern were weary, tired, and stretched thin. Every scrap of help was desperately needed.

He kept walking, pulling the hood of the long cloak up, and avoided eye contact with a guard who could of used a hand. In hindsight he should have asked Glim to do that disappearing trick on him, but instead he drew on his own skills and vanished down a back alley. The sound dulled somewhat to a low buzz, but the smell of smoke, and heavens knows what else still clogged the air. And just what was that questionable liquid oozing through the cobbled street stones? He had to get away. In one swift acrobatic leap he left the drama behind, climbing up the side of a house, and finally onto it’s roof. A portly woman screamed, slamming the window shutters shut, as she caught sight of the uninvited figure scaling her home.

The rogue slinked along the roof tops into an area of the city he was quite familiar with. Finally reaching an old abandoned guard tower, which the guilds sometimes used as a dead drop. Climbing through the ruined window a trio of startled pigeons fluttered past. In the gloom, an old rickety stair case spiraled up to the vertigo inducing top. So treading carefully he ascended, desperate to put some distance between himself and the drama he now found himself in. Pushing open a small square door he hauled himself up onto the towers lookout. Finally taking a deep breath, and surveying the misshapen skyline of a troubled city. Pillars of smoke billowed up into the tormented sky, and a few fires still raged with primal intent as they chewed up old buildings. But it was to the south where he looked with utter dread. Waterdeep, or rather the lack of it. The destruction caused by the Pando dragon arrow was unthinkable. An entire city gone.

Cross legged the rogue perched on the edge of the outer wall. Shuffling his thoughts like a well used pack of cards, searching in vain to find a hand that made sense. This was all new, and he didn’t like it. The events of the previous night returned to him in strobing vignettes of terror. They had believed it to be an easy job, but was there any such thing where the clean cut dwarf was involved? Still, a ball they said. Just bring back the noble, maybe have a glass or two of the ‘79 then bop him on the head and rustle him into a cart. Certainly the proceedings had a disturbed edge with the masks and gowns, but nothing that indicated what was to come. They should have spent more time looking around. Maybe a stealthier path was there to be taken… if the two gnomes hadn’t got in a fuss with that guard, thus requiring SIlver to step in. Dueling without their weapons was a foolish endeavorer, well perhaps except for the groups monk, Ellywick. But damn, if only he could have smuggled the hemlock in successfully. Maybe. Just maybe, he could have incapacitated Oaken before the horror show. Biblios played his part very well, it was the rogue who slipped. Maybe he should have taken notice of that ill omen.

But just like the ball, Silvers world had swiftly got complicated… and ugly. His secure pocket of reality was being savagely invaded by larger schemes in play. His own plans edged aside, as he got sucked into events he would rather side step or ignore. Yet the gash in the sky jutting down to where Waterdeep used to be was very real. He had gotten used to the dragon arrows orbit, and on more than one occasion contemplated painting it. Never once did he consider it would be brought down to earth to obliterate an entire city. Like the ball, he didn’t expect gibbering mouthers to burst forth from the casks at midnight and devour the partys elite guests. The thought of those things made him shiver. His fellow adventurers had fought with true bravery as the plan went south. Biblios carved mighty blows into their perverted gaping forms, Ellyewick engaged several creatures at once, while the spell casters hurled arcane bolts for all they were worth. Oaken had shown himself to be more of a foe than they ever expected. His attacks caught them completely off guard, and just when they thought he was down the bastard came back from the brink. What foul pacts allow a man to defy death? He recalled Glims words as the master wizard unleashed a powerful chromatic orb, challenging the noble to face a true master of magic. Finley and Tim had their own struggles, fending off clawed assailants with dazzling spells. At one point Finley even grew in height. He concluded stress of combat must do strange things to the gnome anatomy. Thankfully the valiant efforts were enough, Silver having the pleasure of cracking Oaken out for the count. They survived then.

Many didn’t, as the image of poor Lilya Haldenfrond filled his mind. He had failed her, failed all of them, but then wasn’t it just the plan that failed? Maybe he was just getting slow, unfocused, and off track. Straying too far beyond his comfort zone. Vermillion would’ve seen the writing on the wall where he had not. Is that why he lost out to his insufferable relative all those years ago? Failing to see the bigger play until it consumes you. How different was Baron Vermillion Ravensbrook to Oskar Oaken? Both hiding behind the masquerade of nobility while they craft nefarious plans in the dark. The rogue raised an eyebrow. Was his cousin just lounging around the Ravensbrook estate drinking wine and laughing with his cohorts? No, he wouldn’t be. Shuffling his thoughts faster now, like an elaborate card trick as the plan began to take shape. Oakens words zig zagged in his head. It would be no stretch of the imagination to link his cousin with the machinations of the crazed noble. Hell, there might even be truth baked into it somewhere. Borgin could event be persuaded to lend considerable Black Lantern resources to avoid another evening like last night. Vermillions laugh emanated from the depths of his memory like a choking fog. SIlver knew his cousin would also look to gain from the misfortune of others, further adding to his domain and power. With haste SIlver stood up on the wall, a bit to quickly, and for a wavering moment lost his balance. Loose bricks tumbled many feet to the courtyard below. The rogue regained his stance and gracefully stepped down off the wall. A plan made in haste often failed. He would need time.

Again he looked in the direction of Waterdeep. The people of that city had lives, plans, and fortunes. They were no doubt just going about their day, when just like that – everything was snuffed out. The nobles of Waterdeep surely had tremendous power and wealth, maybe even fantastical magical artifacts. Yet they were ultimately powerless to stop the fate thundering from the heavens. Silver hadn’t really thought about what would happen should he actually wrestle back control of his family estate from Vermillion. Dread filled him, as he imagined sipping wine while a dragon arrow desolated his newly acquired land. Or legions of abominations rampaging through wonderfully maintained gardens. Priceless art being eaten by slimy mouthers. Rude, he sighed. It would be impossible to sleep under silk sheets knowing such menace was at large.

Could a power like that be confronted and stopped though? The cards shuffled in his thoughts, throwing down each of his companions. Glim had grown tremendously in his mastery of magic. The rock gnomes selection of spells never ceased to amaze, ready with the solution to any situation. Ellywick was a dynamo of shadowy destruction, her blows sharper and even deadlier than before. She was also a monk, dedicated and unwavering in the task ahead. While Biblios rage fueled attacks were even more fearsome than when they had first met. The dragonborn had the courage to take on any foe, no matter the size, and often coming out on top. Tim the tiefling differed in his approach to the arcane, but his power had grown rapidly of late. No doubt the warlock had even more devastating spells hidden up his mysterious sleeve. Then there was the most recent gnome recruit, Finley the wild sorceress. Unpredictable, yet unquestionably bright in the most testing of predicaments. All his companions had performed admirably as Oakens surprised them with his evil schemes. The Black Lantern itself was also a force for good, no doubt. And though he was yet to see them fight, he knew Borgin, Itham, Forath, and who ever else they recruited were capable combatants. Silver had also improved, the art thief adding extra layers to his repertoire of skills. Enough most times to keep himself alive, and plant a bolt or sword thrust where it is most effective. Indeed it was a strong hand from the deck, maybe even a winning hand. Time would tell.

Yet there was still Vermillion. That most personal of thorns in his side. Time was essential to weave a robust plan, and the Black Lantern would be busy patching up the city for a good while. The rogue knew of a few select places he could unwind, that hopefully weren’t either burning or out of wine. A sprinkling of pretty faces wouldn’t hurt either to wipe away the ghastly images imbedded in his head. With that he was gone, slipping down from the tower and looking for yet another pocket away from reality. At least for the time being.

View
The Legend of Boris Henry

Adventurers: Biblios, Ellywick, Finley, Silver, Tim

The water was livelier now, and even the wildlife seemed to have returned in greater numbers to this part of West Leilon. Boris Henry hummed a sea shanty as he finished up the last of the repairs to the fishing boat, stopping occasionally to puff his pipe. Another fine days fishing. Life was good again, in fact it was better than good.

A few of the locals from the town made their regular stop to pick up Boris. A gangly scrap merchant, a slightly over weight farmer, and his wife, sat atop a rickety cart pulled by a wheezing mule. Boris heard their cart arrive and put down his hammer, it was time to unwind for the night. He bid them a welcoming smile, and climbed aboard.

“Them repairs not done yet Boris?” quipped the scrap merchant, who went by the name Nails.

“Too busy, fish to catch. Besides, its there bouts done.” Nails nodded. He had supplied Boris with the majority of the scrap material required to finish his boat. In fact many of the towns folk now looked up to Boris, who had not only faced death in the face but came out the other side to make a profit.

“Ere’ Boris, the good lady hasn’t heard the whole tale yet, been too busy with those carrots” The farmer said as he nodded to his wife, who looked at Boris with a slightly yearning gleam in her eye. “Yes me dears, i’ve only heard what Arry told me, and he always forgets the best bits!”

“Oh, you don’t want to hear it all again do you?” Boris said with no real conviction. The group nodded with wide grins. He brushed his beard and looked off into the distance as he began the story

“Well, I was about to set sail by miself. Tackle the pickle once and for all, and claim back our waters. Then out of the blue came the oddest folks i’ve seen in all me days. One of them pointy eared blokes, a devil in a mask, not one but two small folk, and a bleedin man-dragon. Twas the strangest thing, but they pleaded to help me. I couldn’t say no like, I have to help people out, and they looked capable deck hands.

We set sail to where this foolery started. Lookin for old Reggie, Grotto, and One Eyed Willy, maybe they was still kickin like. Maybe they hadn’t got them selves eaten. Then it got real spooky like. And all of a sudden, giant man frogs! Hundreds of them! Jumped on me bleedin boat and made a right mess. Of course I grabbed old faithful and gave em what for. The weird folk gave a hand too mind, tackling the lil nippers while I brawled the big bastards."

The farmers wife, Ethel, pulled her shawl tighter and edged towards Boris. Ignoring her husbands cutting glance. The cart and the story rumbled on.

“So anyways, I fought off half a dozen, the man-dragon gave em wot for as well with that big choppa of his. But them devil frogs had a dabbler in the mix ya know. " Boris pulled a face and wiggled his fingers. " The blighter sat atop a bleedin massive frog, the size of a house! Could swallow ya whole it could!

It was trickery, and the effin frog went and ate me up like a summer plum. It smelt like old Nails here after a days work, and was as dark as the abyss. I rolled around in its belly, and must have blacked out. Felt like days. Weeks.

When I came to the bleeders had me tied up. Must have been magical rope, as usually I can break out that stuff. I know me knots. " Boris flexed his bicep, and Ethel swooned slightly, almost reaching for a squeeze. "But i had a plan see, I just needed a distraction. So it was good I let them weirdoes tag along. They appeared just as i was about to make me move. One of lil folk disguised herself as a frog, ha ha, cheeky that, but day work. The blighters saw through it.

Well them frogs were upto no good. They had been feedin old Reggie, Grotto, and One Eyed Willy to an effin snake. One made of bones! For the life of me never seen anything like it in all me days. I had to dig deep and man upto it. So i burst me ropes with a roar!" Ethel wide eyed an in awe gasped slightly. " I know, how do you punch a bone snake?. Well them odd folks had some dabblers too. That creepy one in the mask, and the lil one with bag pipes. Oh and the pointy eared fella had a stick of stars. The man dragon was there too, and the zippy lil un. That seemed to do the trick and gave me the opportunity to punch the giant snake clean out. " Boris doing his best slow motion uppercut motion.

“Went down it did. Just like that. Sweating bullets I was, but alive! The other froggies we rounded up and gave em wot for. Told em to stay clean away or else they’d see old Boris again. Shame about the lads, not a good way to go, eaten like, but worked out for me I guess. More fish for me ay! and that was that. " He beamed and took a deep puff on his pipe.

“You said the frog was pink last time Boris. " Nails pointed out. “Oh yeah, well, it was a few colors see. Did I mention that?”

The cart pulled up to the tavern, where laughter and music flowed out the doors. A man in armor walked out and gave them a shifty sideways glance. Followed by a tall companion with an eerie air about him.

“Them again. That Weirdgraff fella bin lookin for loony Roland? He’s long gone by now. in a puff of smoke i’d wager. He’s a dabbler.”Again Boris motioned his fingers. Then they all got out the cart, Boris offering Ethel a weathered hand of assistance. Before they headed into the welcoming glow of the establishment.

Weigraf Volm of the Les Cartes strolled away from the tavern. No one noticed the lone figure on the rooftop. The faintest glint of a mask in the pale moonlight. Watching….waiting.

View
Pixies, Displacer Beasts, and Hell Bears, Oh My!

Adventurers – Biblios (Barbarian), Ellywick (Monk), Glim (Wizard), Tim (Warlock)
Finley (Sorcerer)

The Diary of Glim

—June 15, 3375

Followed a rumor and did some snooping around the university. Someone with sticky fingers has been getting a little greedy. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary upon initial inspection. On my way out of the gate I noticed a glint in my eye. A cobblestone held a faint glow. Magical writing had been inscribed. “Meet here later.” Was this a signal from one Thief to another? What arcane trickster was doing this? Was it a team? Was someone within the university involved?

I met up with the group on the way to the stables. They had just returned from a mission of their own. No sign of Silver though. No doubt he was probably casing some joint, probably with the aid of a stemmed glass of the finest red. The brought along another member. Finley is her name. A fellow Rock Gnome and what appears to be some sort of arcanist. She doesn’t look very book-learned though. Maybe she gets her magic from some foul entity like Tim. Will have to keep a close eye on this one.

We learned about some mysterious happenings to the Southeast of us in the Kryptgarden forest. Apparently a strange beast is killing all who enter. Intrigued, we decided to venture forth and investigate.

Because we had the brilliant insight to leave Archibald and the caravan back in Phandalin, I am without transportation. Silver’s horse should do fine. He won’t mind.

During watch that evening, our good friend Tim appeared. Deviously late to the party. Was he following us the whole time? Still unsure about his motives.

—June 16, 3375

The morning found us in to Leilon. An interesting city. Somewhat split between the coastal commerce section and the bustling inland population. We were hoping to find some more information here.

Note: The taverns in Leilon are horrible. The ale selection is extremely brief. As in, one ale, on tap. Even warmed up, it tasted like lamp oil. Biblios didn’t’ seem bothered by it however. In fact, he rather liked it. Speaks volumes to his intellect.

Despite the disappointment in my mug, the barkeep was rather helpful. He informed us of a hunting camp just outside of the forest. This camp experienced the most recent losses to the beast. Also learned that the beast i called, “Hell Bear.”I don’t mind bears, but, I don’t like Hell. Maybe Tim can befriend it.

Speaking of Tim, apparently someone he had met on a previous journey was in the local jail. Fitting. We visited the jail and his friend was ecstatic to see him. Uncomfortably ecstatic. He begged and pleaded to be released so he could follow Tim. Somewhat disturbing, the friends he keeps. Was it wise to give him the Spider staff? Not sure.

On to the camp!

We are now at the hunter’s camp. It is about midday I would guess. The camp is primitively built up. Several structures surrounded by sharpened stockade walls. After asking around we were pointed to the main lodge to speak to “Burrs.”

Entering the main room of the lodge, several hunters were found eating meals and relaxing. Among them, a rather large half-orc appeared who seemed to dominate the conversation. This was Burrs.

Burrs gave us his personal account of meeting the Hell Bear and the story of his escape. He warned us that this was like no other bear we had ever seen before. Interesting. Of personal note are the slashing scars across his face. No doubt a parting gift from Mr. Hell Bear. Burr continued on to give us some direction to the last known sighting along with advice while travelling. We enjoyed a steak lunch and then left along a path headed in to the forest.

The forest is terrifyingly silent. I scanned the area but didn’t pick up any sources of magic. Maybe the surplus of death was causing the unnatural silence? The flora seemed unchanged.

After several hours of travel, we found a clearing and bed down for the night.

—June 17, 3375

This was a long day.

I had last shift of watch this morning. Just how I like it. Normally at least. While getting the stock pot and fire ready for breakfast I noticed a movement from the corner of my eye. I peered out in to the dense forest. Nothing. I placed the pot over the fire and there it was again. This time I could see the form a little more clearly. A black panther of sorts was slowly slinking its way towards our camp. Its outline seemed to shift a it walked. Also of note, it had six legs and two strange tentacles that stretched from its chest.

I took a few steps back, our eyes were locked. I then cast invisibility on myself and backed away to the opposite side of the clearing. Now feeling safe, I yelled to wake up the group. As they arose, the beast entered the clearing. The beast lunged at the party who was now up and ready to fight. Being a clever Rock Gnome, I observed from a distance. As the fight went on I noticed a crack and pop behind me. I turned around and a second beast was entering the camp from the rear. The party did not notice. A coordinated hunting pair!

I unleashed a bolt of flame at the new intruder missing wildly and exposing myself in the process. At this same time, Biblios had tackled the first beast and had it on the ground. What a savage. Finley spun around and blasted the new enemy with a magical bolt of her own. Tim also stepped up to aid in the new attack. As attention focused to the rear of the camp, Biblios was seen cutting off the head of our first attacker. Quite brutal and lacking proper finesse I say, but effective, none-the-less. After some continued fighting, Tim froze the second cat in its tracks. With the enemy now incapacitated, Biblios strolled over and skewered it like a mutton kabob.

What on Toril were these things? I kept a pelt for future examination and experimentation.

We took an hour or so to bandage up wounds and eat a meal. Once we were packed up, we continued on our mission.

Note: Tentacled, six-legged, phase-shifting panthers hurt badly.

The morning stretched on turning in to early afternoon.

I sent Hoot forward to scout ahead. We did not want to be sneak-attacked again by these deadly cats. My faithful friend picked up a distant, high-pitched sound. A screaming of sorts. I stopped to take a peek through its eyes. There, near a rocky cairn, half a dozen pixies were fighting off not one, not two, but four of these shifty cats!

The attack on the fey beings sent Ellywick in to a rage and she bounded towards the panthers. Not wise, but hey, she is a Forest Gnome. They are the wild ones of our lineage. Her bravado caught the attention of two of the cats who turned and charged the group. Upon killing a few of the pixies the remaining two turned and charged as well. We were now outmatched. Thank you Forest Gnome.

Finley quickly worked up a spell that created three duplicates of herself. Very fascinating. School of Illusion? It seemed to work. The cats were as confused as Biblios holding children’s blocks. I yelled to the pixies to come help. They flitted and fluttered over to us with their tiny bows and arrows doing nothing but agitating the sleek felines. Thank you pixies.

Finley cast some other spell that opened up a magical portal. Out stepped a small metal man with wings. Did my eyes deceive me? An automaton? How does she harness this magic? It seems almost, accidental. I will need to ask her about this immediately. I was transfixed by the small metal man.

Once I snapped out of it, I noticed Tim on the ground, bleeding profusely. I guess this is the payback you get from making wicked deals with questionable deities. The cats were now controlling the fight. Tim was down, Ellywick and Finley were near exhaustion, and Biblios and I were rather hurt. All of the sudden a loud roar shook the forest. Could it be?

A young eleven boy rode in to the area upon a great elk and with him a giant bipedal bear carrying a large axe. Hell Bear! The two newcomers began their own attack on our enemies. The bear person shredded cats left and right. One cat severely mauled the elven boy. I immediately stepped up and cast a healing spell, closing his wounds. Another beast lunged at Biblios and at that moment, Tim awoke, sat up, and blasted it with a greenish eldritch energy that sent the cat to the ground. At long last, the six-legged panthers now lay dead on the ground.

We spoke briefly with the boy and what turned out to be his cursed father. They are druids and are attempting to cleanse the forest of a dark hex conjured up by a coven of hags. The cleansing includes outsiders like us. Ibor (Hell Bear) told us a rather morose story of a hunting party, led by Burrs, killing his wife whose remains lie within the rocky cairn. After much convincing on our part, we were presented with one option to leave the forest alive. We were to lure Burrs back in to the forest to face Ibor. We were in no position to challenge Ibor at his request, so we agreed on one condition. We needed his axe to prove to the hunters that we had killed him. Reluctantly, Ibor agreed and sent the elven boy to accompany us to the camp and beyond to Neverwinter.

We are now on the way towards the camp. The elven boy doesn’t seem very conversational. Somewhat rude where I come from, but hey, this is his land, not mine.

Upon reaching the camp, Burrs stood in waiting. Presenting the axe as justification of the dead bear was satisfactory and our reward was given. We instructed Burrs to look for the body near the cairn.

As Burrs’ hunting party left out in to the dark forest, we could see Biblios entering the edge of the wood, and planting the axe in to a tree for Ibor’s retrieval.

Note: Forest Gnomes are as unpredictable as old Farbis once taught me and pixies are worthless creatures and make good panther snacks.

—June 18, 3375

This morning we head back to Leilon and eventually, Neverwinter, having met two new friends, Finley and the strange elven elk boy. Hopefully, the tavern in Leilon has some fresh ale on tap that tastes less like pesticide.

I still hate pixies.

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The Tower of Gargoyles
June 9, 3375

Adventurers – Biblios (Barbarian), Ellywick (Monk), Silver (Rogue), Tim (Warlock)
Hirelings – Dr Crow

On the Trail

Having settled into the big city life of Neverwinter, the party soon needed to replenish their dwindling finances. Squandered on the enticing activities of the cities nightlife no doubt. They needed a job. One that paid out big.

The Brass lantern was always in need of willing souls eager to risk life and limb for sparkling treasures in the dark. Borgin also knew he needed to keep his adventurers skills sharp, for who knew what dangers lay ahead in these troubling times. So with the promises of 500 gold, he briefed them on a matter he needed a hand with.

With master wizard Glim dealing with his own business in the City, the party welcomed the mysterious yet enthusiastic Dr. Crow into their midst. And his expertise was definitely needed, as a previous job developed. Turns out the Brass Lantern finally had a lead on the grisly murders caused by the Gargoyles plaguing the docks. The clues lead to a tower near the Merchant district, so the group was tasked with investigating (and no doubt pocketing what ever loot they found).

Into the Tower

Under the cover of a cloudy night, the group kept to rooftops as they approached the tower quietly. The impressive structure loomed overhead and presented them with two clear ways in, neither easy. Opting for a dextrous approach, the group nimbly began to climb the towers walls, Biblios grumbling slightly as he carried the good doctor on his back. Swiftly they reached the top, thankfully without anyone breaking their neck or pride.

Entry into the actual tower interior was unnervingly easy. Either someone didn’t believe in security, or they didn’t think anyone crazy enough to enter. Silver had heard parts of a conversation from a tavern below as they traveled the roof tops. An Elf by the name of Haedirn was linked to the tower. But there was no sign of anyone as they delved deeper into the upper levels. Which showed signs of being the home of a wizard, an alchemist, or both. SIlver noted Glim would find this place of much interest, and indeed the rogue appreciated the owners taste for art and antiques.

Eyes were upon the party though, their home invasion was not unnoticed. Movement detected, and a strange small man of clay shrieked! Before questions could be asked the animated figure was obliterated, a strange colored symbol was noted. What did it mean? The adventurers moved on, Biblios delighted to discover a vintage cask of fine elven wine. The dragborn taking huge gulps with a toothy grin.

Exploring carefully, they encountered what seemed to be a room of antiques. Old ceremonial weapons, of little value in a fight but maybe worth some coin, stood proudly on walls. A fine shield proved too much of a temptation for the dragonborn, who reached out a grabbed it with both hands. Only to met with electrifying consequences of a magical trap. As smoke and sparks flicked around Biblios, Ellywick directed a few harsh words at her carless friend. Tim laughed, his infernal cackle sounding even more menacing behind his ever present mask. Dr Crow advised more caution, it was after all the lair of a magic user.

Crow was a mystery himself, covered fully by a waxy leather outfit, and pointed medical mask. Two blank eyepieces showed no emotion, but no doubt a calculated and brilliant mind sat behind them. The ever mistrusting rogue probed him with the odd seemingly innocent question. To which the doctor answered intelligently and with gusto. Dr Crow was seemingly enjoying himself, he had also gifted the group several specialist vials of acid. A brew that was deadly to denizens brought to life by magical means.

Time to Dine

The home of Haedirn was indeed impressive, and the party continued to stealthily explore its layout. Until they came upon a magically bared door, that bore similar symbols to the one the little clay man had. Tims magical knowledge drew a blank, so they would have to search further for the remaining. Silver muttered under his breath, hoping that Glim was having a grand old time off while his skills were clearly needed here. His thoughts disrupted by the sound of Biblios belching after another swig of wine.

Was this really the home of a murderer? Or were the adventurers just trespassing in a hermits home who desired simple privacy, and for his wine collection to remain in tact. The house answered them, as they found the dining room with its malicious inhabitants. The quiet of the tower was dismissed, as the shrieks of gargoyles and scarecrows shuck the adventurers into combat. The animated creatures rushed into the fray, and were met by sword and spell. Tim unleashed fiery arcane blasts that incinerated the scarecrows, while Ellywick and Biblios carved into the gargoyles with keen blades. Dr Crow and Silver kept range, picking off the vulnerable with thrown vials and crossbow bolts. In the blink of an eye the confrontation was over, the creatures returned to their natural stillness. A second clay man was also in the mix, taken out by a swift bolt to its tiny face. Another step to opening the magical door.

Unexpectedly, they came across a thief. Busy helping himself to the towers riches as well. The slippery fellow had an accent, and used his guile to keep the encounter brief. The party had bigger fish to fry, and hopefully the thief hadn’t taken anything vital to their quest. Silver made note to enquire about this charismatic character with his contacts.

As they explored more rooms they came upon a curious one with tapestries and statues. While at first glance simply another room of art, it was maybe hiding something. The adventurers looked for clues, and noted that the tapestries were in a pattern. Maybe if the statues followed the same pattern it would unlock some wondrous secret, or maybe Biblios would get electrocuted. Either way, entertainment was sure to follow. As the puzzle was solved, a hidden stash of loot greeted wide eyes and smiles. This was turning into a most profitable excursion. To which they also added some random bag that could seemingly hide anything… how curios.

Silver discovered a hidden stash behind a painting of a beautiful elven woman, in it a few choice trinkets and tragic tear soaked love letters. Clearly something awful had happened to Haedirns love. But enough to drive him to murder?

Adjacent to the tapestry room however, a grisly discovery was made. A bloodied mess of body parts littered the space. Upon further inspection, they all appeared to be female, and were indeed the remains those brutally murdered at the docks. The Elf, obviously mad, and possessed by some dark plan for his lost love.

A Cosy Desk Job

With a renewed sense of purpose they continued on in search of the last clay man, so that the magical door could finally be unlocked. Behind which they presumed Haedirn was scheming. So it was they came upon the library, in which the clay man was slinking. Another crossbow bolt ended the animations existence, and with its demise the final lock on the door must be gone. But before confronting the demented wizard, they opted to pillage the library and fill their pockets even more.

But in a house flowing with magic, one can never assume a room is truly empty. The rogue was the first to discover the desk was no ordinary desk, as it mauled him in a vicious surprise attack. The encounter was uncomfortably long for the groups pride, but in a shower of splinters the mimic desk was defeated. Not one for the rogues memoirs.

Before heading to the magical door once again, Dr Crow had a curious proposition for Biblios. requesting one of the Dragonborns scales, he offered the chance to increases the warriors skills even further. Biblios agreed, then downed the bubbling brew, and amazingly began to grow…and grow. His colleagues looked up to his dramatic and awesome form with mouths open. “I like” Biblios grinned. Silver raised an eyebrow at the doctor, who was become rather useful indeed.

Love Hurts

WIth a giant Dragonborn at the front, the group strode confidently to the magic door. Eager to end the wizard and claim the coin. Oh and bring justice for his evil deeds. But mostly the coin. The stealthy Ellywick and SIlver took point as they entered the wizards most private quarters.

Haedirn didn’t notice them. Silver noted the Elf looked rough, and obviously hadn’t rested in any way for quite a while. Haedirn was preoccupied with a large mechanism dominating the center of the room. He busied himself tending to its arcane wishes with wild fever in his eyes. The contraption was embracing a woman, who a long time ago was maybe beautiful. Now she lay still, covered in surgical scars where she had been constructed from those poor victims. Her wedding dress swept around her with ghostly gusts.

Silver caught in the moment of the scene, contemplated the sadness of it all, two lovers dealt a cruel hand and pushed to depravity. The rogue sighted his crossbow from the deep shadows at the edges of the room. He gave a nod to his comrades, took a breath, and pulled the trigger. There was a brief snikt, as Haedirns story reached it’s tragic end. Yet in the dying moments, he transferred all his power to his love, completing what ever plan he had. The air hummed with raw power, lightning and magical bolts fizzed around the woman Lyonthel. There was a brief moment of silence, then she opened her eyes wide and screamed a bone chilling scream that clawed at the soul.

The party opened fire, while Biblios in his mega-Biblios form, bounded forward with shuddering strides. Yelling a battle cry in his native draconian. Lyonthel looked own at the crumpled shape of her dead lover. A tear would have formed, but water was long gone from her. Instead she channeled the magical energy flowing in her and smashed into Biblios. The two grappled as chunks of the room began to dislodge and shake. Tim drew deep and unleashed his most potent powers, while Ellywick darted and stabbed where she could. Dr crow took out more bubbling vials and supported the encounter with science. It was a long and bloody encounter, and despite his enhanced strength, the Dragonborn could not slay the enraged bride by himself. Punishing blows were exchanged by all, Lyonthel proving incredibly resilient but still out numbered.

Silver reached into a pocket and drew the wand he so hated using. But the weapon was potent, and the rogue knew this fight could end one of his friends, such was the threat. As Lyonthel battled his friends he saw the briefest of windows and unleashed the wands (almost) full power. A hail of magical missiles whizzed through the air and ravaged the rampaging bride. Halting her mid swing, she glared at Silver with shock and hatred. Then fell to the cold stone with a thump, magical energy discharging itself and leaving her for the last time. It was done.

The Tower exist was not easy, as the group, tired and battered, fended off yet more animated fiends. A carpet almost suffocating Ellywick, and fanatical suits of armor troubling Tim. But the adventurers finally made it out the tower, pockets bursting with loot. A successful burglary. I mean, justice has been served.

They returned to Neverwinter and the jingling sound of payment. Along with a lesson in life and love.

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On to Neverwinter!

Adventurers – Biblios (Barbarian), Ellywick (Monk), Silver (Rogue), Tim (Warlock), Glim (Wizard)

Biblio, Ellywick, and Silver returned to the Smithy to retrieve their crafted goods. Being a little short of gold, and not quite understanding the concept of “short gold,” Silver stepped in and satisfied Biblios’ bill. In return, Biblios received a rather gratifying, massive, two handed sword.

Meanwhile, Glim and Tim visited an evil nemesis in the town jail. A necromancer, captured and stripped of his spell book, stood in a lonely cell. Rather confident in his confines, the dark magician entertained a short conversation. After some prodding he explained the reasoning behind his recent excursions to the old owl well while claiming innocence for murders, he claims, he did not commit. Glim then presented his black book of animation much to the delight of the prisoner. The man recognized the tome and requested a closer look. Knowing the potential dangers an arcane book could present in the hands of such a spell caster, Glim refrained. Instead the two learned that the wizard was from Thay, an infamous mage-controlled city. Upon leaving the jail, Glim presented Tim with the Spider staff to aid him on his adventures.

The group spent the afternoon taking care of errands around town. Silver worked on his paintings, Biblios nursed a hangover, and Glim took Archibald and his caravan to Carp’s family farm for storage. Glim was thanked for allowing Carp to aid him on the caravan construction. Carp’s mother, Qelline Alderleaf, gifted Glim a handmade, woven hammock and a home cooked meal of stewed carrots, tomatoes, cabbage, and braised rabbit. The group reconvened and bedded down for the night. In the morning, it would be on to Neverwinter!

Waking up early, the crew set off on a two-day trek to the City of Skilled Hands. The first day was rather uneventful. Comrades shared stories of days past and planned for their future business in Neverwinter. The flames of the fire drew low as the adventurers prepared for rest. During Ellywick’s watch, a stranger approached. The intruder immediately recognized Biblios, a fellow dragonborn. The group learned his name, Makahi, and that he was in search of another dragonborn, Zon, the Bard of Brass Lantern past. After denying any knowledge of Zon, the bounty hunter moved on, towards Phandalin.

On the second day the group continued north along the main road until they spotted some debris in the grass that led them to an abandoned merchant wagon. The clearing the wagon sat in also contained a large, opulent, tent filled with rugs and other luxuries. Closer inspection of the wagon revealed statues, busts, and other simple treasures. Another oddity was the presence of stone grasshoppers crunching under foot. After further investigation, the party solved the riddle. About a hundred feet beyond the tent, on the other side of the grassy area, stood a vile lizard-like creature chewing on a stone man. In the statue’s hands sat an invaluable painting. Silver’s heart dropped. At that moment, the basilisk turned and charged the tent. The group quickly ducked out of the way of its petrifying gaze. Ellywick quickly grabbed the large mirror in the tent and aimed it at the opposite opening. Glim prepared the tent floor with magical grease…of which, Biblios promptly charged through. The Barbarian leaped in the nick of time, clearing the grease, and meeting the beast head on at the opposite tent flap. Silver and Tim hid behind the near entrance of the tent while Glim crept around to the backside, preparing an invisibility spell. Meanwhile, Biblios and Ellywick bravely fought the creature blindly, refusing to open their eyes. As Glim reached the rear opening, Biblios slew the reptile. A distraught Silver tried to find a way to repair the painting, but all his effort was in vain.

The mounted travelers continued on and reached Neverwinter by dusk. Upon entering the gates, the first stop was the legendary Moonstone Mask for a drink and to catch up on the local gossip. The bartender told a story of local deaths occurring at the docks. Apparently, bodies were randomly showing up, shredded to death. The area had been searched but no evidence existed of the killer. Piqued with curiosity, the group kept the mystery in mind as they packed up and headed to Brass Lantern headquarters.

Reaching Brass Lantern, the party learned that Borgin was not currently in the office. After a rather adversarial conversation with the gate guard, the tired group asked to be put on the meeting list and for accommodations for the night. Everyone went to sleep except Silver. Silver decided to take this opportunity to provide some creative ridicule of the night watchman. As he fulfilled his late night shenanigans he noticed a trio of men entering the courtyard from the gate. It was Borgin and his two bodyguards, Itham and Forath. Silver noticed a limp to Itham’s step and was intrigued. The next morning he informed the group of what he had witnessed. They approached the guard, asked for their meeting with Borgin, and were promptly denied. A comical conversation had with Borgin’s father only confused matters more.

As they expressed their frustrations again, they noticed a small patrol, led by Magrin, forming up and heading out. After learning of the soldier’s destination, they headed down to the docks. Another body had been found, again, shredded to a pulp. Obviously disappointed in the patrol’s limited investigation, the party decided to stake out on top of a nearby building and keep watch on the area.

Later that quiet evening, a loud scream could be heard from below. Rushing over and looking, the adventurers saw a streaking shadowy figure descending from the sky and ambushing a lowly worker. After covering the ground in gore, the winged, stone wretch darted towards the party. The gargoyle’s stone skin repelled many of the mundane attacks until Silver’s adamantine arrow struck home slaying the foul creature. The mystery had been solved with no help from the bumbling patrol.

Finally, the group was rewarded a meeting with Borgin, head of Brass Lantern. They learned of an evil plot involving some villains of recent past. Borgin showed the group the symbol of the seven-pointed star, the same symbol found on the drow, cleansed from the Wave Echo cave. Borgin learned from the party of the Illithid within the cave. Borgin explained his undercover activities then retired to the bedroom to further his intimate interrogation.

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A Damsel in Distress
May 29 - June 02, 3375

Adventurers – Biblio (Barbarian), Ellywick (Monk), Silver (Rogue), Tim (Warlock)

A Solid Investment

Phandalins nightlife continued to thrive, with the Wheel of Fortune proving a popular new haunt for those feeling lucky. Or a place to squander ones riches gained from adventuring out in the wilds. So it was that a hulking dragonborn danced with lady luck and found her generous in her gifts, and indeed with her ale. But that kind of scene does not go unnoticed, and the dragon was not shy about displaying the gold around his belt. But Biblios had the ever watchful Ellywick by his drunken side, and only a fool would try and wrestle their riches away from them. Phandalin was a safer place these days, but was still home to charlatans…

Silver approached the dragonborn casually, complementing the warrior on his winnings and his obvious martial prowess. The rogue had need of investors, who would be willing to put their gold into the business of the Stoneshield twins. The dwarves showed obvious talent in their craft, but lacked the coin for much needed equipment. Turns out that Biblios and Ellywick liked the idea of better weaponry too, and the trio headed over to the town smithy. A fourth figure kept pace with them, disguised behind a ornate mask and cloak. Tim was curious.

A deal at the smithy was quickly struck, and Tim was convinced to throw in after being spotted loitering in the shadows. Digna Stoneshield took the gold, and made note of the weapons required, while her assistant Dirk harried her customers. The chatty Dirk proved harmless, and even pointed out the activity at the old burnt down manor…

Biblios realized his coin belt was now significantly lighter, and was not impressed. But the rogue promised riches and more as they approached the old manor. Which was now a hive of activity, and bore a freshly crafted Brass Lantern insignia. Silver greeted a few familiar faces, introduced his new friends, then began fishing for information. Graves informed them that they would have to travel to Neverwinter in order to gain more insight into the troubling events at Wave Echo cave. While the cave invasion was still troubling, this was a group that put coin above all else, and was eager to replenish their finances. So they took up a local contract for a lost merchants daughter, which would hopefully pass the time while they waited for shiny new weapons.

Mocking Birds

The four made haste for the Triboar Trail. Ellywick riding on the back of SIlvers horse ‘Jackpot’, while Tim galloped alongside on his own steed he had affectionally named ‘Tims Horse’. The brass dragonborn, Biblios, pounded behind with huge shuddering strides. The trip proved uneventful, and they passed time cheating at cards which cost the rogue his pride and a few more gold coins. Yet it wasn’t long before a mysterious figure stood cloaked in the middle of the road. Silver spurred jackpot to leap the figure and continue on, but in mid jump Ellywick had other ideas and leapt off acrobatically. The cunning Gnome knew better, and in a breathtaking display of martial arts spun in the air and yanked the figures head clean off before landing gracefully near by. Biblios caught up on foot then quickly spotted the ambush and alerted his allies. Tim stayed on his horse, and began hurling forth arcane energy into the forest edging the trail. Kenku, strange bird-men like creatures set off their ambush and attacked the party. A few riding atop squawking bird mounts with wicked beaks and talons.

The fight was brutal and short. Biblios swung his massive two handed sword in bloody arcs, and incinerated a few with his lethal fiery breath. While Ellywick bounded about, diving under and over with her sword slashing at the feathery foes. Even Silver got his hands dirty, but not his clothes mind. The Kenku knew they were outmatched and fled, one completely obliterated as Tim unleashed an unforgiving blast from his hand. As the group caught their breath they noted that Biblios wasn’t present, the dragonborn had bounded after the last Kenku into the unknown of the thick forest…

Unfortunately Biblios didn’t get far, and in his haste had found one of the Kenkus devious traps. With only the brass dragons pride harmed, he leapt out of the hole as the party caught up. He complained that his ‘rock was hot’, a trophy he had gained from a pervious encounter with orcs. Silver looked to Tim for his knowledge of the arcane, but the warlock was so repulsed by the rank stone that he got nothing from it. Ellywick remained focused however, and used her knowledge of the forest to commune with a helpful squirrel, who was greatly amused by the misfortune of Biblios and the hole. As they contemplated the squirrels conversation, a babies cry pierced the air. But the Kenku ruse was seen through, and the fleeing mimic caught and questioned. The bird man communicated in words he had heard, and repeated what sounded like a woman in distress, then pointed deeper into the forest. Biblios ended the Kenku with a sickening smack against a tree, as the group were contemplating his fate. The dragonborn shrugged.

The Magpies Nest

As the adventurers approached a clearing in the forest, they kept low and adopted a stealthy approach. Looking into the clearing they saw towering statues of stone, depicting warriors of old, and a handful of crumbling structures now inhabited by the Kenku . Around a central well, a colorful shaman clung to a gnarled staff as few other bird men stood close by. Silver silently drew his newly purchased crossbow, took a slow breath and lined the shaman between his sights. Before he could fire there was a loud crack that echoed through the trees and sent birds flying. The party looked at Biblios, and his giant brass foot that had crunched a sizable log in half. Before they could say anything, the earth rumbled as rapidly growing vines viciously tangled and rose to block their path. While a flock of crows swarmed and circled a nearby building. It appears their foe was now very aware of them. The dragonborn snarled, and picked up both halves of the log. Hurling the improvised projectile into a kenku with a crunching thud, and saving the other half for latter.

The rogue swiftly moved into the closet building to the left, ruined by a huge tree that had grown through it. Silver paid no attention to the bones and rotting smell, and hid himself in the doorway. Ellywick quickly followed suit and prepared to attack, while energy began to swirl around Tims outstretched taloned hands. Biblios had other interesting ideas, and barreled full force into a building on the right. Sending bricks and rubble flying as he left a dragonborn shape where parts of the wall used to be. As he shook debris and dust from his head he glanced up to see a slightly confused Owlbear. Thankfully the beast was chained, and hadn’t considered attacking… yet.

The party entered combat with the Kenku, as the shaman directed the crows to attack the dragonborn barbarian. Biblios bellowed and swung his sword wildly, as the crows attacked him in a black cloud of feathers and beaks. Tim reacted quickly with a few magical words, and a ear shattering blast of noise erupted around the crows and Biblios. The frenzied birds falling dead to the ground, while the dragonborn gripped his ears and growled. Ellywick was already in the midst of the Kenku, a swirling blur of kicks, punches and sword slashes. While Silver delivered whizzing bolts from a distance. The kenku were overwhelmed, and the shaman dispatched efficiently by the gnome monk. The group took in deep breathes and nursed their wounds, while quietly looking in the remaining buildings. Biblios was discovered feeding the owlbear dead crows, and had suddenly become quite attached to the feral creature. A hidden stash in the wells mechanism, gifted a few more treasures too. They even fought off a singing harpy, hidden away and luring Biblios in with an enchanting song, until Ellywick finished her in a gruesome manner.

Eventually a frightened young woman was discovered chained up in a dank makeshift cell. The rogue winked, and deftly removed the locks as she was set free. Lilya Haldenfrond was grateful, and relief filled her pretty features as she recounted the tale of her abduction. Silver reassured the young maiden once more, and handed her one of his trusty daggers to defend herself. Lilya asked if the group would recover a priceless heirloom, which raised a collective eyebrow, until she informed them it was only of sentimental value. Never the less, the adventurers continued to search.

The largest structure appeared to be a shrine or temple to a great warrior. In its depths, a handful of Kenku were oblivious to the demise of their kin. Busy counting coins and other trinkets taken from unlucky travelers. The party got the jump on them, and battle irrupted in the echoing old building. A larger Kenku appeared to be giving orders, and the bird men retaliated with a hail of arrows. Ellywick caught a shaft out of mid air, and in one fluid movement hurled it back at her assailant. The arrow silencing the bird with a wet thump. Silver took down two with his crossbow, impaling one to the wall as it flailed around. Tim and Biblios inflicted their own brand of violence on the bird-men. The barbarian sped after a fleeing kenku, weighted the remaining log half, and then sent it soaring through the air. The gnarled hunk of wood smashed the bird-man completely off his feet, sending its weapons clattering. With their number decimated the remaining two gave up for fear of their lives, making coin jingling noises and pointing. The day was won.

The party bathed in the golden glow of the loot pile, and grinned. A nice bonus in addition to the coin they would receive for returning the young lady in one piece. As for Lilya, she was over joyed to be free, and once again in possession of her heirloom.

Back in Phandalin, Graves handed the group a hefty bag of coins, Biblios displayed an impressive set of teeth as he grinned to Ellywick. No doubt the pair heading back to the Wheel of Fortune along with Tim. The monk asked Silver to capture her dramatic horseback dismount decapitation as a painting. The rogue nodded agreeably, the image still vivid in his mind. He then turned and ushered Lilya back towards his guest house, convincing the young lady to view his painting in progress before traveling back to Neverwinter…

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The Attack on Wave Echo Cave
May 19, 3375

After three days of rest a small group of adventurers found themselves sharing a table inside Bugbear’s Folly. While enjoying a well-deserved ale and hot bowls of stew, they heard a gathering of people across the way, near the town hall. Piqued with curiosity, the bunch lazily stood and meandered outside in to the mid-day sun.

Atop a podium, a thin, formally dressed man holding a hand bell waited patiently. As the buzz and murmurs came to a fevered pitch, the bell rang out.

“Oyez! Hear ye! Hear ye!”

“Nobles and officials! Good people of Phandalin!”

“Not three days ago a plume of smoke rose in the East. Sensing danger, our illustrious Mayor dispatched available guardsmen and other able bodies to investigate. Among these brave souls, a smaller band of heroes emerged. This rather, ahem, eclectic posse soon formed the tip of the spear, felling two terrifying monsters along the road to the caves. However, this was just the beginning!

But pray, let us pause a moment to admire these heroic individuals. A wise gnome wizard donning a majestic hat piloted his fine cart, filled with a colorful and motley crew, into the fray. A swift elven ranger hung on with graceful ease, while a brooding drow paladin scowled at a cheerful gnome monk. Yet ahead of them, two figures on steeds of their own had reached the troubles first; a disheveled rogue with paint on his face, and a mysterious masked figure only known as…Tim. These brave souls would face danger to save our fine town.

Into the terrifying caves they swept, with sword, bow, fist and magic. No fear of the unknown, or what creatures may await them in the darkness. And thus the shadows did indeed cloak vile creatures clawing at our town’s roots. From the inky black they swooped on our fair heroes, with poisoned blades and blasphemous sorcery! Drow they say! But hold ye breath fair people, for this group did battle them, ignoring wounds that would fell lesser folk, ahem, no offense. And bested these drow were, after a bustling battle in the gloom. Yet this was not the end, nay! What further abominations to nature had these dark creatures dragged with them you ask?

How about a hulking monster with crab-like pincers for arms and a maw covered in poisonous tentacles? An old friend lay trapped in a room while the beast tried to smash its way in. These do-gooders, fearing nothing, launched a menacing attack on the crustacean, ending its being and saving their ally.

As the band traversed the caves towards the magical forge, they encountered a powerful drow warrior. No doubt, their leader. On his head sat a steel helmet shaped much like a squid and in his right hand, a wicked blade. The group fought to the brink of death, even considering retreat, until the clever rogue presented a wand of arcane power. The half-breed elf pointed the wand at the wounded enemy and unleashed a dazzling array of magical bolts all finding their mark, dropping the evil drow to the ground.

By God, these are the truths as I know them. The caves are once again safe thanks to these honorable men and women.”

The Crier peered out and noticed the aforementioned adventurers standing behind the crowd, just outside of the Folly doors.

“Ah, and so it appears they have taken a liking to our wonderful town. Please, turn around, they stand before you!”

The crowd turned almost in unison, and there was a brief silent pause before thunderous applause and whooping filled the air. Each adventurer reacted differently to the attention. Some shying away from it like a vampire in sunlight, others eating it up like a sumptuous meal. A few had quickly retreated back into the Folly, lest they be forced to shake grubby hands with the beaming locals.

Indeed, Phandalin was safe for at least another night, but there had been more questions than answers. Harder questions, and tougher foes awaited no doubt. But for now the ale flowed, short people told tall stories, and music carried through the streets.

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