Illen has returned from his “mission”. He rejoined our party after the incident at the inn, smoking a pipe with a sly smile on his face.
After several uneventful days on the road, we approached Daggerford. There, our caravan was joined by two new members, Jamna Gleamsilver and a Red Wizard of Thay. At first, neither spoke with us directly, though certainly I was (and am still) suspicious of the Red Wizard. As soon as I detected his identity, I shared this with my party.
This proved too much for Sergey, who instantly began interrogating me. As I feared, he had indeed heeded the words of the fallen Cultist and grown increasingly suspicious of my true motivations and purpose. Forced to reveal my past naïve foolishness in joining the Cult, he at first wished to dispel me entirely from the party.
Dismayed, I told at length how I had not initially recognized the Cult for the evil they represent, and had joined them willingly, yet now am determined to fight against them, not only to rescue you, Mælström, but also to save myself from whatever vile magic they worked against me. At first, he refused to believe me, reminding me of my failures in the ruined temple (which again he called an abandoned mill for some reason). I told him that I am continuing to study the dark necromantic arts as well as gather knowledge of dragons, but all solely to the end of reversing their wicked spells that are decaying me and ultimately, of destroying the Cult itself (and yes, of rescuing you, too, my dearest Mælström!).
Eventually, I tried to prove my sincerity by showing him the picture I had drawn of you in my log. He seemed moved by it, and in the end, agreed to allow me to continue with the party. However, he was very clear that I am on notice, that he is watching me closely for any signs that I might wish to return to the Cult. I must tread carefully, lest he misunderstand again my true purpose in studying the necromantic arts and dragon lore.
In Daggerford, we again received grievous tidings: The innkeeper of the Horse & Hell Hound Inn has been murdered! Apparently, he was ruthlessly killed, and the inn was destroyed. We know not who committed this heinous act, but I fear that it was the men, and that our actions might have played some role in this dreadful turn of events. I rue the day we met, and dread even more the day when next we meet again!
Several days after departing from Daggerford for the final portion of our long journey to Waterdeep, we had again made camp for the night. In the morning, we sat down to our ration of porridge for the day. Suddenly, before we could even enjoy a bite, Jamna Gleamsilver approached our table and sat herself to our party. Speaking blithely of trivial things like a little girl, she ever so slyly reached into a bowl of porridge and began fishing about! Quite taken aback, we starred aghast. Then she very swiftly and stealthily pulled a small, round silver object from the porridge, revealing it to us.
Very momentarily, she spoke in a serious tone, telling us that the objects were hidden in all of our bowls and that we must not eat the porridge, as they would swell with barbs in our throats and kill us, with no remedy available to stop its course once swallowed. She ever so slightly nodded in the direction of the Cultists’ table as she spoke. Never did her blithe expression waver! And just as suddenly, she returned to her gay talk of trite things, smiling and laughing with us. The Cultists soon departed to ready themselves for the journey, at which point we disposed of the lethal porridge and made ready ourselves. Fearing that the entire bag of grain might be contaminated, we dared not break our fast at all, and instead were forced to do without. We must needs tread ever more carefully, keeping close watch on our food supply and on the Cultists!
Two days later, we arose to discover that a Cultist had been murdered in the night. All the caravan gathered round to learn what had happened.
As soon as the remaining Cultists noted our presence, they swiftly began accusing us of murdering their companion! I know nothing of what happened, and I trust mine own companions at their word that they also know nothing and furthermore did not commit this deed. At this time, we know not what happened. The Cultists attempted to have us expelled from the caravan, but ultimately we were able to convince the rest of our innocence, and thus were allowed to remain, though grudgingly I fear. We certainly have attracted much negative attention in the course of our journey!
Privately, I find my thoughts about the matter drifting toward Jamna Gleamsilver. Might she have murdered the Cultist in retribution for the attempt on our lives? I know little of her, though she did save us from certain doom, so I believe her to be on our side. Whilst quite adept at playing the part of a silly little girl, she has more than revealed her true nature to us, one of sly intelligence very capable of deception. Yet precisely this makes me distrust her all the more. Might she have revealed the Cultists’ assassination attempt precisely in order to gain our favor, the better to wreck greater havoc later? Might she even have planted the silver objects herself? Only time will tell.
If not done by Jamna, it is also possible that the Cultist’s death was merely staged. Could they have cast a spell on him so as to make him appear dead in order to have us expelled from the caravan? This seems unlikely, as he looked well and truly dead to me, bleeding profusely from many dagger wounds. Yet I was not able to approach the “corpse” to detect if an illusion of some sort had been cast on him. Again, only time will tell.
Finally, we approached Waterdeep. Our accursed journey was at an end. The caravan began to dissolve as the parties went their separate ways to their various destinations, and we saw the Cultists, too, were preparing to depart. Samardag enquired if we would see him to his final destination in Waterdeep, or if he should settle up our final wages at the outskirts of the city so that we might be on our way.
Oh, dearly do I wish that we had been able to see him to his final destination! The porcelain was still wholly intact from our long, perilous journey, despite all. Sorely did I wish to accompany him to the end, so that I might perhaps finally know the true nature of his wares! Yet we all saw that, should we tarry long, we would surely lose sight of the Cultists and never discover their destination. For the greater good of the realm, and against I am sure the curious desire of all to know the truth of the porcelain, we decided to settle up our wages immediately instead of accompanying Samardag through the city.
Perhaps someday, somehow, we will meet again, and I will finally solve the Great Mystery of the Porcelain.
Carefully, always remaining just out of sight of the Cultists, we followed them through the city to the harbor. There, we observed how they pulled their wagons into a warehouse, which appeared from our vantage point to contain many more such wagons and carts. Quickly we deliberated whether we should attempt to infiltrate the warehouse, and decided that, if we did, we would be unlikely to learn any more than we already had, or worse, we might be discovered and this time overpowered by the Cultists, now in greater numbers.
We thus observed what we could, and departed to seek the inn where we hoped to find Ontharr Frume and Leosin Erlanthar, as per Ontharr’s instructions in Baldur’s Gate. There, we met with Ontharr and Leosin, as well as a new man by the name of Lord Neverember. We first shared all we had learned about the Cultists and the whereabouts of their warehouse, meager though this was. However, all seemed very pleased that we had discovered the location of the warehouse.
From Lord Neverember, we learned that the Cultists are led by a man called Severin. Their purpose in amassing such a hoard of treasure is as I have suspected all along: They wish to somehow use the treasure to summon an army of dracoliches, and ultimately, Tiamat herself! Lord Neverember is the leader of the Lord’s Alliance, a group to which Leosin and Ontharr also belong, as we learned, which is working in secret to disrupt the Cult in their evil activities. After some brief deliberation, we all decided to join their cause, as we are aligned in our purpose and have already seen a little of the quiet power they wield.
Further, we have also learned from Lord Neverember that the Cultists are to depart on the morrow by ship with the hoard from the warehouse. However, as Lord of Waterdeep, he has set about the task of closing the city’s harbor under some pretense, thus delaying the ship from departing for at least a day so that we might devise a plan and prepare for the next stage of our adventure.
Although we were not able to prevent the Cultists from detecting us, nor were we able to prevent their delivery to the warehouse, I feel that we have not yet failed. If we can prevent their immediate departure and devise a clever plan, we might yet be able to prevent them from using the hoard of treasure for their wicked purpose. We must fight on!
I still feel terribly saddened about how dismayed my party was to learn of my past. Yet I can only hope that they will understand why I chose to keep that secret guarded for a time: I desperately needed the opportunity to prove my value and true intentions through my deeds and actions. For who should ever believe that a Cultist, such as they are, could see the truth and seek to change their course and correct their past mistakes? I myself would never believe such a tale of another Cultist! I should scarcely believe it of myself, if it were not mine own story. Not to speak of my ghastly appearance! I must find a way to stop the decay ere it is too late!
I place my trust in them, that in time, they will understand, and trust me again in turn.