Tyranny of Dragons

Days 45-61
Session 8

Dear Mælström,

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.

Forever yours,

Elys

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Balance

I awoke this morning to the call of a woodland bird. This peculiar little bird fluttered from branch to branch finally stopping on the branch I rested upon. Grandmaster Bin taught us of the balance of birds in our daily lesson. They fall from branch to branch – balancing large bodies on relatively small legs.
“The universe is in balance. Every tree. Every stone. Every person. If you can sense this balance, you can alter it for effect.”

I didn’t realize what he meant until this morning. There is a point where the balance starts – where it can be shocked and disrupted. It has taken me years, but I believe I can replicate his sparring trick. He could shift our balance, not our physical balance, but internally, to make us reset our Ki and send us into a state of chaos. It was brief, but very effective.

I should ask Illen about the bird that enlightened me. Perhaps it has more to teach.

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Journal Entry - Shinokage
Horse & Hell Hound Inn

I have found my new target of hatred. Four spoiled rich brats who deserve to have their eyes removed and nailed to their pretentious family crests. They coerced a simple innkeeper and insulted our honor. Although it’s been an long time, I remember my elf family dealing with such vagabonds in our forest-home. They stole their supplies and harried them out of the forest. The elves were weak. The monks of the Shadow taught me the only resolution is to reciprocate with a stronger hand. They punch, you kick. They kick, you maim. They maim, you kill. I know that I will see them dead before the hand of fate with their weak human heritage. I will be their death knell. They will see my face before I crush their ribs with my fist.

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Miller? I hardly know 'er!

After rescuing Shinokage and the human woman, you make your way back to the surface. The woman’s name is Erin Heartshorn and she introduces herself as a wanderer, hermit and ‘tender of the wild’. After a detailed discussion with Illen of the local ecosystem and how it affects the reproductive cycles of several species of crickets, you have the strong suspicion that she is a druid. This is all but confirmed when Nanfoodle notices a small pendant that she wears around her neck, shaped as the head of a stag.

Erin mentions that she was investigating the ruin because of a recent increase in unexplained animal deaths in the area. Shortly after she arrived, she saw a Shinokage approaching the ruin. Unsure of what to expect, she hid in the brush. Suddenly, a thick pale mist seemed to rise from the ground. Before she could react, she was enveloped and quickly began to feel faint. The last thing she heard was a rough voice saying, ’that’s one less to deal with!’

She continues discussing various natural phenomena with Illen while you walk back to the caravan, but she stops short before you get there. “Thank you for your rescue, but my path leads a different way. Best of luck to you all, we will see each other again, I am sure.” With a long look at Illen, she shapeshifts into a deer and bounds off into the woods. Illen looks back and forth between her and the group and eventually shrugs and says, ‘Yeah, we’ll see each other again.’ He shapeshifts into a pony and trots off after Erin. Curiously, you all notice that one of Illen’s front legs has a jagged, seeping wound.

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Days 28-44
Session 7

Dear Mælström,

Illen has departed with Erin Heartshorn on some sort of… “mission”. I guess that’s what the kids are calling it these days…

After several uneventful days of travel, as we came over a rise, we discovered hobgoblins attacking a wagon on the road. A family was cowering in fear underneath the wagon, defenseless against such a terrible onslaught. Quickly, we sprang into action, defeating the hobgoblins with ease. The family was relatively unharmed, though very shaken, and had suffered the loss of some of their goods on the wagon in the fight.

Shinokage felt especially moved by their plight. At her insistence, we have taken the family under our care. They are also en route to Dragonspear, so it makes sense to join our caravan for protection in these perilous times, whilst also restoring purpose to our continued presence, for now at least. Shinokage even offered them gold to cover the losses they suffered, and then some.

Continuing on in our journey, we again had several very quiet days, almost too quiet, in retrospect… Nearing Dragonspear, we began to wonder how we might locate a new patron to join the caravan so we might have pretext to continue on to Waterdeep. Our worries, however, were ultimately for naught…

Just one day’s travel from Dragonspear, we awoke to discover that the wheels of the wagons belonging to Samardag and to the family we rescued from the hobgoblins had been destroyed in the night. Knowing that an hour or more would be required to replace the wheels, we encouraged the caravan to proceed to Dragonspear, where we would join them again later that evening, as we knew they intended to make camp south of the city for the night. Samardag’s new party had little interest in assisting with such a menial task, so we set about the work of repairing both wagons. Whilst Sergey was lifting Samardag’s wagon in absence of any other means of lifting it to replace the wheel, we were suddenly ambushed by a group of Cultists and two red wyrmlings! A great fight ensued, in which we were nearly overcome. We at first believed that we would not stand alone against our foes, as we should surely be aided in our fight by Samardag’s new party, yet they were soon revealed as none other than farcical imitations of heroes. They quaked and cowered, and soon each fell in turn to a single blow from the Cultists.

Ever valiant until the end, we soon overcame the Cultists and their kobolds, though not before one shouted to me, “You never should have left us, Elys! You will never prevail over such might! Return to us, ere it is too late and we destroy you and all you hold dear!” Shocked and dismayed at this outcry, my party looked to me with a terrible mix of fury and fear in their eyes. Yet we fought on, until all the kobolds and Cultists lay dead at our feet.

Now the red wyrmlings attacked with renewed vigor. With our powers combined, we were able to destroy one of them, but we were unable to prevent the other from escaping. As we delivered blow upon blow and he grew weaker, seeing that all his companions had fallen, he took wing and fled. Unable to match his speed by air, we ultimately understood that he was lost to us.

In the aftermath, a stony silence ensued, in which I saw that my party was terrified and troubled by the Cultist’s words. Examining Samardag’s fallen party for any useful gear we might now have, we discovered that their armor and weapons were but cheap imitations, well disguised wood painted so as to appear as true adventuring gear. All was worthless, and soon we understood: Their boasts were nothing more than inventions, designed to gain patronage, on the hope that they should never face any true dangers such that their farce might be revealed. Mere con artists, in truth. Shameful indeed.

Upon discovering the truth of their con, Samardag begged our forgiveness, apologizing profusely for ever doubting our mightiness and begging us to return to his employ. Feigning deliberation, we in truth gladly and willingly accepted, as now we would be able to rejoin the caravan with ease and continue our journey to Waterdeep.

Searching the Cultists, we also discovered a note with a drawing of the layout of our camp from the previous night. Our wagons were clearly marked, and we understood then that we had not escaped the notice of the Cultists in the caravan at all. Rather, our wagons had been deliberately damaged, such that we would be unable to proceed in the morning and might be ambushed by the Cultists and their wyrmlings. Grievous tidings!

I am pleased to report that I was able to harvest the heart and scales from the wyrmling we killed. I know not as yet to what end I might use these terribly valuable items, but surely I will require them in due time. I must learn how I might best harness their power. Until such time, I have preserved the heart from decay with magic.

We quickly set about the work of repairing the wagons, fearing that the caravan might now have hastened to outpace us at the entreaty of the Cultists. Under the stony gaze of my party, directed at me without discretion, we soon set off for Dragonspear.

Arriving in Dragonspear, we soon found that the caravan had not camped in the location previously agreed upon. We delivered the family to their destination, sending them off safe at last and with a bit of gold jingling in their pockets, then set about replenishing our supplies and discovering what we could about the whereabouts of the caravan. We learned that they had proceeded to a camp on the north side of Dragonspear, and thus were able to rejoin their ranks. The Cultists’ faces betrayed no sign of surprise at our return. Whether this is because they were simply able to contain well their thoughts or because they had already learned of our victory over the ambush from the escaped wyrmling, we know not.

Much have I already written today, but one further incident must I relay, as by the stars I fear we may yet be forced to confront the consequences. Yesterday, after several days of peaceful travel, we made camp. The weather had grown increasingly dismal and drear, such that we wished not to spend a further night in the dank out-of-doors. We ventured to a nearby inn, the Horse & Hell Hound Inn, to see if we might rent a room for the night and thus be snug and dry for a spell.

The innkeeper seemed extremely nervous at our coming, and continuously glanced over to a party in the tavern. He denied that there was a room available, seemingly at the direction of the party, even though the inn was quite large and empty except for the one party. Surely there were enough rooms to spare, yet vehemently he denied this, continuously casting worried glances to the other party.

When the innkeeper brought them more beer at their brusque demands, the party began taunting us, calling us names and telling us to leave immediately, lest we incur their wrath. The innkeeper pled with us to leave, but Shinokage was angered by the ignorant behavior of the men, who, as we soon observed, were bearing crests which revealed them to be very rich descendants of great families. These sorts of men Shinokage cannot abide, and she began to taunt them in return.

As the innkeeper pled, the men rose and struck a few blows. We quickly realized that we must flee or be destroyed, for truly they were powerful foes, ones whom we should never overcome. Ere we fled, Shinokage exchanged final words of abuse with the men, who only laughed derisively as the innkeeper cowered behind his bar.

That night, we retired in the camp, weary of the dank and gloom, and supremely dismayed at our inability to defend ourselves against such vile men. This morning, we arose to discover that Shinokage had returned to the inn’s stables under cover of darkness and released the men’s horses into the night. They all made swiftly for the hills.

I know not what will come of these events, but I fear that we have not seen the last of the men. Shinokage has been fairly simmering with rage all the day long. I can only hope that we will be able to face them when next we meet.

I fear, too, that I will soon be faced with a great reckoning. All of my party, but most of all Sergey, continuously steal glances in my direction, their gaze full of reproach. Yet I fear to address openly the Cultist’s words myself. I believe I shall wait until they broach the subject themselves. Until then, I wait in agony.

Though we strongly believe the Cultists know we are following them, they as of yet have not betrayed any outward signs of this. We must tread carefully.

The porcelain is still hale. I grow ever more suspicious of its true nature.

Yours truly,

Elys

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4/11/15

Written by Sergey

11 Uktar 1489 DR
My dear Sister,
I write you, not knowing when I shall be able to hire a courier to carry this letter to our homeland. But, I am hopeful that it will reach you in good time. I apologize that it’s been so long since last I wrote. I’ve been on the road for some time and the journey hasn’t been without perilous event. One such occurrence happened yesterday, so I shall relate the tale.
Yesterday was the tenth day of travel on our trek North toward Waterdeep. My companions and I rose to find our friend, Shinokage, had disappeared. In her place, we found a note indicating that she’d left in the night to investigate some lead she’d heard about off the road. If she wasn’t back by morning, something had gone wrong. Seeing that she hadn’t returned, we set out to find her.
We walked for a time in the direction that she’d indicated and came upon a ruined mill of some kind. The others seemed to think it had been a temple instead, but it certainly looked “millish” to me. But what do I know about farming?
In any case, the place was a right ruin and anyone could see it’d been abandoned for a long while. After a bit of searching, we’d found no sign of Shino (no surprise there, sneaky bugger) but we DID find an old stairway leading down. We climbed down and saw that the whole cellar had been used as a crypt. This must’ve been quite a
wealthy miller because his whole family were buried in seven great stone sarcophagi.
We searched around a bit and that mad little gnome (not the shape-shifter, the other one) climbed up on top of one to have a look. Ever the showoff, he tried to jump from one to the next and landed hard, knocking a lid loose and waking the gods-damned miller! He and his whole family came crashing out of their coffins!
Thinking quickly, the OTHER mad gnome conjured up some thorns out of the bare stone and I called upon Bahamut to help me drive these unliving horrors away. Actually, for a change we ALL seemed to work well together. We’re really pulling together as a team, no doubt due to my resolute leadership. Well, all except for that elf. I’m honestly not ENTIRELY sure that she wasn’t helping the undead along. Honestly, it seemed like every time she attacked she either missed them or actually made them stronger. If I genuinely thought she was evil, I’d not be travelling with her, but she’s certainly…off.
Anyway, we were able to smite the creatures in fairly short order and then discovered a gigantic hole in the wall cunningly hidden behind a thin curtain. Passing through this we entered a natural cave and immediately saw our friend and another figure tied up on the floor. We’d barely entered the cave when another undead horror, no doubt a powerful arch-lich appeared. He prattled on for a bit about us disturbing his rest as these bastards are wont to do. Then he raised some skeletons.
I hate to admit this, but things got a bit…grim…there for a moment. The uber-lich seemed to shrug off even my most devastating hammer blows and it sent some sort of wispy, ghosty thingy that hit me very hard. I found myself unable to move or act in any way. The others weren’t faring any better as the skeletons and their sire knocked down both Elys and that shifty fellow.
Thankfully, the madder of the two gnomes was able to revive his cousin, who in turn helped the wizard. The tide finally turned as Elys and Nam used their magic to defeat the looming demigod of the undead. Oh, and the shifter turned into some kind of big lizard, but gods only know to what end.
We were able to free our friend and the other prisoner. After a VERY thorough search of the cave, we found a hidden treasure hoard and emptied it. We were able to rejoin the caravan not too far along the road and I’ve only just now found time to write.
Ah well, I suppose that’s enough for one letter. Although I know he won’t care to hear it, please give my love to Father. And, of course, to your children. With Bahamut’s help, I hope to complete this undertaking and make my way home someday.
With all my affection,
Sergey_signature.png

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Days 21-27
Session 6

Dear Mælström,

The morning after we fought off the spiders and ettercaps, we awoke to discover that Shinokage was missing. Upon searching the camp, we discovered a note from her which stated that she had left during the night, and that we should follow her if she had not returned by morning.

Following her trail, we came to a ruined temple, which, for some reason, Sergey insisted on calling an abandoned mill. Entering the temple, we saw that its upper levels were in complete ruins, although there was a set of stairs leading down into the crypt. In the crypt, we found many sarcophagi, but no sign of Shinokage. Nam, bless him, suddenly climbed atop one of the tombs, and before we could catch him, attempted to jump from one to the next! Knocking loose the lid when he failed, he released a horde of undead!

We all fought bravely and ultimately prevailed. However, I was not feeling well (the roast squirrel from the previous night tasted a bit off to me…), and my spells kept failing to cast properly. Worse still, in a moment of hurried frustration, I accidentally cast a necromantic spell which actually assisted the undead in their attacks against us! After the fight, I noticed that Sergey was eyeing me with great suspicion.

After we had defeated the undead, we found a hidden entry into a cave behind the crypt. There, we found Shinokage and a woman, who we would later learn is called Erin Heartshorn. Yet before we could revive them, we found ourselves under attack by a lich. He immediately raised several skeletons, and we were nearly overwhelmed! Still reeling from the last fight, I was soon knocked unconscious after only a couple very unsuccessful attempts to cast a spell and attack the lich.

After I was revived, I found that I had renewed vigor and focus. I was thus able to assist Nam, who exceeded all my expectations, in defeating the lich. I can only hope that Sergey will see that I am truly on the side of good… It is driving me mad, trying to keep my past hidden in this way!

After searching the cavern and discovering its treasures, we all returned with Erin Heartshorn to the caravan. A mighty success!

However, I must continue today with somewhat grievous tidings: Samarday has chosen to discontinue his relationship with us, despite our success in protecting him so far. Yesterday, a few days after our victory at the ruined temple, we stopped at an inn for the night, where we encountered a group of adventurers boasting in the tavern. These adventurers made quite a show of telling us all about their mighty feats (impressive though they were, I must admit). Nam, bless him, has now gotten it in his tiny head that he would like to join their order by killing some number of dragons. I do hope the little guy can achieve his dream. I’d hate to see him disappointed.

We noted that Samardag sat himself down to the group with a tankard of ale ere we retired to rest for the night, but assigned no meaning to it beyond that he was interested in hearing their tales and less in need of rest, seeing as he had not recently fought off a horde of the undead.

Yet next morning, we arose to discover that we had been rather unceremoniously… replaced.

Whilst saddened by this news, we have resolved to continue on with the caravan, as we have the pretext of his former employ in our favor. We may continue at least until Dragonspear until we must discover a new pretext.

The porcelain remains intact, though no longer in our care.

No change with the Cultists. We remain unable to learn any new information, but we also remain undetected. We shall continue to bide our time.

With all my love,

Elys

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Days 9-20
Session 5

Dear Mælström,

We arrived in Baldur’s Gate wholly without incident. We traveled by land to Elturel, where we were able to locate a boat for swift passage up the river to Baldur’s Gate. This was tremendously to our advantage, as while passage by water is inherently more risky, we were able to reach Baldur’s Gate only a day after the Cultists. We were extremely fortunate that we were not delayed by any ill-toward events on the river, enjoying a smooth and easy passage for the entire trip. The stars were ever in our favor.

In Baldur’s Gate, we learned from Leosin’s friend, Ontharr Frume, that the Cultists were joining a caravan moving north to Waterdeep the next day. As it would have been suspicious for a group of adventurers to join a caravan of goods for no known purpose, we swiftly located a merchant who sought a guard for his person and goods during his passage north, by the name of Samardag.

At first, Samardag only wanted to hire Shinokage, but Illen, Sergey, and I were able to convince him that we could also prove useful, though at a lower rate of pay, which we grudgingly accepted. For although it is an insult to doubt our mightiness or usefulness, it is more important that we obtain entry to the caravan than that we should quibble over a few gold pieces. Nam, bless him, was kept on as Shinokage’s assistant, at the lowest pay grade. We decided not to disabuse him of the notion, as it was quite humorous indeed, how sparks flew from the little gnome’s ears.

Samardag is a queer sort. He claims to be transporting a cart of porcelain goods of great value for to sell or trade in Waterdeep. However, this porcelain is not well packed or padded in any way. We enquired multiple times whether we should repack it for him, or if I might cast a protective spell over it. Yet he insisted that the extremely delicate and valuable porcelain would survive the journey in the wagon fully intact without any need for careful packing or padding. We shall see…

On a personal note, in Baldur’s Gate, I was able to discover an important item of information. I located a scholar who had a tome of great value. Although I did not have the gold to purchase this tome, I was able to rent time to study it. Much of what was written there was already familiar to me from my previous training as a dragon scholar, but one entry in particular was new to me: I discovered that there exists a set of five dragon masks of great power which correspond to the chromatic colors. Whosoever possesses one of these masks has some sort of power over all dragons of like sort, though I know not what is the nature of this power. Should one possess all five of the masks… Well, I can only imagine. I shall surely seek further information about the helms, in particular, their nature and whereabouts. I must have them, all of them, if we are to prevail over the Cultists.

Since leaving Baldur’s Gate, we have had a series of adventures on the road. We first encountered a pair of perytons. I was able to blind one, and we were eventually able to kill both of them, though with some struggle.

Later, the caravan came upon a golden stag. Some members of the caravan were intent on killing the beast, despite our vehement protests against taking such action. Its countenance was so brilliant and pure that surely it would have been an act of great evil to harm him. After much argument, weapons were drawn and they took aim at the stag with arrows. Illen saved the golden stag from certain doom by shapeshifting into a cougar and scaring him off. The members of the caravan were quite cross with us, but we care not.

The next day, we came upon a swarm of spiders and ettercaps. Many members of the caravan were captured and engulfed in web, and they attempted to steal our horses, but we were able to subdue all of the foul beings and rescue the caravan from any serious harm.

The porcelain survived all of this completely unscathed.

We have not yet been able to infiltrate the Cultists. We had hoped to gather information from them about the Cult’s activities, but approaching them would arouse suspicion with a certainty, and they seem not to engage in much talk amongst themselves. We do not believe that they recognize us from the camp, but we cannot be certain of this. Time will tell.

With love,

Elys

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Days 5-8
Sessions 3 & 4

Dear Mælström,

We returned to the camp, this time guised as workers as we observed them ere we departed. We brought a wagon laden with “treasure” in order to gain entry to the cave, this time through the front door! Arriving at the camp, it was clear that it had been largely abandoned. We were the only wagon approaching, and the land before the canyon was scarred with the mass exodus of a large party moving north. The guards at the entrance to the canyon were suspicious that we should be bringing more treasure to the cave, as they indicated that everyone had already left and that we were too late, but despite this, we were able to convince them that we were on Cult business.

Entering the cave, we saw that all the treasure had indeed been removed from the area where it had been stored. When the guards at the cave became suspicious, we killed them and continued to explore the cave, for if we could not retrieve the goods belonging to Greenest, we hoped to at least fulfill the second half of our mission, to discover the Cultists’ purpose in amassing the hoard and where it was being taken.

We fought our way through kobolds and guard drakes, down into the inner chambers of the cave. As we approached a stair leading further down, I heard a familiar voice coming from a chamber ahead. I carefully descended the stairs, fancying myself quite stealthy, to peek around the corner. I immediately confirmed my suspicions: Langdedrosa was in the chamber, with two of his henchmen. However, I had not been as careful as I thought, for immediately, Langdedrosa, without even turning to face me, said in a quiet, steady voice, “You never should have come back, Elys.”

I dashed back up the stairs, with Langdedrosa and his henchmen in pursuit! As soon as I was certain that the others could hear me, I shouted, “Langdedrosa is here!” We fought a mighty battle, in which I was knocked unconscious and we all suffered grievous injury. But before I fell, I was able to cast a web to ensnare Langdedrosa and one of his henchmen, which Nam, bless him, was then able to light aflame. We ultimately prevailed, though at great cost. We spent the night in the chamber above, which had housed the guard drakes, to tend to our wounds and to gather our strength to continue exploring the cave.

The next morning, we started by exploring the chamber where we had found Langdedrosa. Nam, bless him, insisted on opening a box he found there, which released a cloud of poisonous gas issuing from the mouths of the black dragons painted on the walls.

Recovering from this minor setback, we proceeded down into the lowest chamber of the cave. Here, we encountered a Roper Beast which had been tasked with guarding two dragon eggs. He hit us once, enough to convince us that fighting him was futile. Yet try as we might to reason with him, the Roper Beast would not let us anywhere near the eggs, as he had been tasked with protecting them and was very single-mindedly determined to fulfill his task.

In what was surely his most brilliant moment, Nam, bless him, threw a love potion he had found earlier that day into the Roper Beast’s mouth. He fell immediately in love with Nam, bless him, though he remained sorely distrustful of me, as he now perceived me not only as a threat to the eggs, but also to his new love. Nam, bless him, was able to discover that the Cultists had fed him meat in order to win his loyalty. Having no meat to hand, I attempted to heat and flavor a bundle of clothing in order to disguise it as meat, but this not being my area of expertise, the Roper Beast was not impressed.

As we conversed with the Roper Beast, we learned that the kobolds were bringing him a lot of meat, and we reasoned that this must have been stored in the cave. Remembering a strong smell of decay in a chamber off the main path as we had descended into the kobolds’ chambers, we suspected that they housed the meat there. Nam, bless him, was able to convince the Roper Beast that he should come with us to the meat chamber, where he could have all the meat he wanted. It was a slow and arduous climb up to the chamber, on which we had hung all our hopes that we would find the meat, until at last, the Roper Beast reached the chamber, where we did indeed find a vast room filled to the brim with meat. We told him that he could eat his fill, and that this was his new task.

Having distracted the Roper Beast for the foreseeable future, we swiftly returned to his chamber and destroyed the eggs. Afterwards, as we were leaving the cave, we discovered a small passage off the main entrance that we had failed to observe before. Entering the passage, we found more Cultists, whom we swiftly killed.

Weary, we pressed forward into the chamber below, only to discover none other than Frulam Mondath. A great battle ensued, in which we almost perished, but ultimately we prevailed and defeated her. Shinokage kept her cloak as a trophy, and we raided her chambers for what information we could discover. From the scrolls and maps we found, we learned that the Cultists were taking the treasure to Baldur’s Gate, but for what purpose, we know not.

After resting briefly, we discovered a final chamber with a lone Cultist. We swiftly finished him, and took what treasures we could find, few though they were.

We returned to Greenest the next morning, dismayed to report that we had not been able to locate their stolen goods. Yet there is still hope, if we can track the treasure to Baldur’s Gate, although it seems more important now to discover what is being done with the treasure than any attempt to return it to its rightful owners. I can only hope that the good folk of Greenest understand that, for the greater good, we may not be able to return the treasure, though surely we will try.

Tomorrow, we will make for Elturel, and then on to Baldur’s Gate. If we move swiftly, we may be able to reach the city in time to head off the Cultists, or at least to interrupt their delivery. In Baldur’s Gate, we must seek Leosin Erlanthar’s friend, as per instruction.

There are no words for my own private joy at the news that we will be making for Baldur’s Gate. With any luck, I will be able to spend a little time reading what scrolls and materials I can find, through which I hope to discover what I can about what is happening to me and how we might defeat the Cultists once and for all.

With great anticipation,

Elys

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Days 3-4
Session 2

My dearest Mælström,

Today we narrowly escaped with our lives! All the while, as I stood tied to a stake, face-to-face with none other than Frulam Mondath, all I could think was that I should perish and my last words to you were, “I will be right back!” How miserable you must be now! I have not kept that promise, as far as you know, I have abandoned you entirely, and now you are of a certainty in the dungeons of the Complex, wasting away and despairing of my return!

But I am getting ahead of myself. Let me tell you the entirety of the tale.

We set forth from Greenest at first light, following the Cultists’ trail. We encountered a group of kobolds on the way, who proved no match for our might. As we neared the raiders’ camp, we saw that it was in a canyon of sorts. We scaled around the back side to understand their movements, and soon concocted a plan: We would lower a rope down the back of the canyon, and climb down under cover of darkness. In this way, we might have a chance to gain entry to the cave, where we could see that cartloads of treasure were being brought.

We were successful in entering the camp undetected in this manner, and in joining a group of workers by the fire. We obtained much valuable information from them, though I think they thought we must be quite stupid for our lack of knowledge (though they in turn were too unintelligent to recognize our stupidity for the farce it was). We did not discover the Cultists’ purpose in what they are doing, but we at least now know that they will soon cease collecting treasure to the hoard in order to deliver it to Waterdeep. It seems the workers know no more about the Cultists’ ultimate purpose than we do, rather they are simply working to earn their meager wages without question.

Suddenly, Frulam Mondath and Langdedrosa emerged from the cave and approached our fire. Upon recognizing us, we were captured, although fortunately, Illen was able to shapeshift into a mouse in order to avoid detection and capture. Though we fought capture, disposing of a dozen or so kobolds and guards in the process, we were ultimately overcome. We were tied to stakes, to be dealt with in the morning. All our weapons and supplies were taken from us, stored in a supply tent on the other side of the camp. Knowing not what had become of Illen, we were left to contemplate our fate, whilst Shinokage and I both attempted escape at various points, most unsuccessfully.

As we later learned, Illen was not idle during this time. He was able to retrieve all of our weapons and supplies from the tent by sneaking in as a mouse, returning to his own form to place everything in a bundle, and then shapeshifting with the bundle back into a mouse. He scurried back up the rope, which we had fortunately left well-hidden, and hid our supplies in the woods above the camp. After resting for a time, he scurried back down the rope to see how he might help us in our plight.

Nam, bless him, was able to conjure a thick fog and thus create a distraction at Illen’s instruction. Illen then untied us in the ensuing confusion, and we were able to escape up the rope again. After retrieving the rope and resting for a time, we carefully retreated from the canyon and are now returned to Greenest to deliver what news we could discover and to replenish our supplies.

A narrow escape if ever there was one! I’ve no doubt that we must return to the camp and gain entry to the cave. We might be able to retrieve some of the treasure stolen from the good folk of Greenest, and more important still, we may yet discover the Cultists’ true purpose in amassing such a hoard. Yet in order to do so, we must discover a new means of entry. Certainly the woods surrounding the rim of the canyon will now be closely guarded. We are unlikely to gain entry again in such fashion, nor will we be able to enter the cave undetected.

Tonight, we rest. I have sought what information I could in Greenest, but have found little that is helpful. I am hopeful that the great libraries in Baldur’s Gate and Waterdeep will have more to offer, if ever we journey north.

What I do know for certain is this: I must find you again, if it is the last thing I do. I cannot fail in this, for I cannot suffer to know that you should ever think I had truly abandoned you. We will be reunited. This I swear.

Yours forever,

Elys

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