Baldur’s Gate

The Wide
While perusing the myriad goods for sale in the Wide along with his friends, Erevan was accosted by a haughty-looking noble who accused the elf of treading on his fine silk cloak. Mara recognized him as Lord Devlin Redlock, a pugnacious fellow if ever there was one. He waved one of his gloves in Erevan’s face and demanded satisfaction. A duel!

Erevan figured he had this one stitched up, but Lord Redlock proved to be no slouch. He parried the elf’s first thrust and dodged the second before landing the first blow. Forced to concede defeat, Erevan agreed to accompany the gloating patriar to purchase him a new cloak.

Meanwhile, the others noticed that two thieves had taken advantage of the distraction to pick people’s pockets. Flint made a grab for one of the thieves, but he melted away into the crowd, while Keo and Mara pursued the other. Mara soon caught up to the pickpocket and grabbed him. Turning him over to the nearest Watchmen, Mara didn’t bat an eye as they cut off one of the thief’s fingers before escorting him away. Keo was rather bemused by this, but Mara assured him it was standard practice in the Gate.

The Hissing Stones
Later one of the urchins Erevan had employed to keep a watch on things for him delivered a note addressed to both him and Flint. It appeared to be from a fellow Harper named Jandar, who was asking them to meet him at the Hissing Stones bathhouse in Seatower. He claimed to have some information to give them. Much to their surprise, once the two Harper recruits had read the note, it burned away to ash in their hands!

Erevan and Flint made their way across town to the bathhouse, which was built in the old Chessentan style, complete with a central cloister, heated floors, and mosaic tiles – including a rather impressive one of a wizard fighting a dragon amongst the clouds. The two trainee Harpers found Jandar in one of the steam rooms. A dusky-skinned human from the east, Jandar greeted them warmly and informed them that he had some information on the Cult of the Dragon. He indicated that he was aware of their mission, having been contacted by Leosin, and he wanted to let them know that the Harpers already had several agents in the city, some of whom were in deep cover. They knew of several cult cells, and while the groups frequently didn’t see eye-to-eye, they seemed to be cooperating more than usual. Something big was going down. The cells had been receiving shipments from all over, including from the Moonshae Isles to the west and even from the Underdark beneath the city. What the shipments contained and what the cult planned to do with them wasn’t clear. The heroes, however, assumed that the shipments all contained stolen treasure. It would appear that the cultists were funnelling their ill-gotten gains through the city.

The Harper agent continued, relaying that the cult had influence at all levels of the city strata. Enough patriars and peers were being bribed or blackmailed – with a few possibly even being members of the cult themselves – that it was unlikely that the authorities could be persuaded to move against them. Not that the heroes wanted that to happen anyway, since their goal was to follow the treasure to its ultimate destination.

Jandar also informed the two that the cult had put a price on their heads. 200 gp each. No doubt the Guild knew about it and would be sending assassins after them. He reiterated that they should change their appearance as much as possible, although he acknowledged that there was only so much one could do to disguise an 8-foot tall goliath.

As the meeting concluded, Jandar let Flint and Erevan know that if he came across any further information pertaining to the cult, he’d pass it on to them. They thanked him and left to rejoin their companions.

Elfsong Tavern
Mara had initially gone to Greenest in search of her childhood friend, Talis. Having found no sign of her there, she decided she’d best report the bad news to Talis’ father, Coran. She arranged to meet with him at the Elfsong Tavern, where he was to be holding court that evening. The flamboyantly-dressed elven noble greeted Mara and her friends warmly, shouting them all a round of drinks. Erevan also found himself being served a free glass of elverquisst as he listened in stunned silence to a ghostly voice singing an elven ballad about a lover lost at sea. It turned out it was traditional for elves to be given a free drink when they heard the ghost’s song for the first time.

Coran was saddened by Mara’s news that Talis was still missing, and as he listened to her tale of all that had happened in Greenest and what they’d found in the cultists’ camp, he sighed wistfully, thinking back to the days when he’d been able to go on proper adventures of his own.

As the evening wore on, Erevan managed to shake himself out of his reverie and broached the subject of his head injury, hoping that Coran might know of an elven healer who could cure him. Coran suggested he pay a visit to the Moon Grove, a shrine to the Seldarine located in the Outer City suburb of Twin Songs.

The Moon Grove
The next day, the gang headed out to Twin Songs, an area of the city dotted with shrines to all manner of gods. Since they were out that way anyway, Flint decided he’d pay a visit to Danthelon’s Dancing Axe, a shop dealing in dwarf-made goods located near the north end of the Wyrm’s Crossing bridge. He hoped to get some new armor with the funds the Harpers had provided him.

At the grove, Erevan encountered a moon elf priestess named Caelynn Siannodel. She listened kindly to his tale of woe, only to inform him that she lacked the power to heal him herself. However, if he were to drink from the sacred pool and open himself to the influence of the Seldarine, there was a small chance that they might work a miracle for him. Erevan figured it was worth a shot and knelt down by the pool.


SIDE QUEST:
BARROW OF THE EVENSONG

After taking a long drink of the cool, refreshing water from the sacred pool, Erevan lay down and immediately entered a trance. He soon found himself standing on a fog-shrouded road, though he could still faintly feel himself lying on the mossy floor of the Moon Grove. Out of the fog walked his three companions. Looking them up and down, he couldn’t decide if they were really there or if they were just figments of his imagination.

Soon after, a blink dog came bounding out of the fog and barked excitedly at the group. Realizing that the fey creature wanted them to follow it, the group headed off the path in pursuit. The dog led them to an ancient barrow topped with large trees. Spider webs spilled out of a cave entrance off to the left side of the barrow, while the acrid tang of ammonia emanated from another cave entrance to the right, along with some rather bad singing. The blink dog, however, headed directly up to the top of the hill.

At the base of a stirge-infested tree, the PCs discovered a freshly-dug hole leading down into a chamber with a high ceiling. Erevan quietly and expertly tied a rope around the tree without disturbing a single stirge and then slid down into the chamber. The dog blinked down after him and began scratching at a stone archway situated on a dais on the north wall. Several tapestries hung on the walls, depicting scenes of elves going about their lives in the boughs of a massive tree. Sitting in the center of the room was a massive dial covered in a leafy motif. Arranged around the dial were four pillars. Inspecting the archway, Erevan noticed Elvish writing indicating that this was a portal to another world. All he needed to do was sing a certain song, turn the dial towards the pillars in a certain sequence, and the portal would open. There was no explanation of what the song or sequence were, however.

Erevan returned to the rope and tugged on it to let the others know it was safe to come down. Flint and Keo managed OK, but Mara made a bit too much noise, and two stirges followed her down into the chamber. One of them managed to latch on briefly but was quickly ripped off and then incinerated by one of Flint’s fire bolts. Erevan pinned the other one to the wall with a well-placed arrow.

Flint then cast detect magic and picked up a strong aura from the archway, the dial, and all four pillars. It soon became apparent that the blink dog wanted the group to activate the portal so it could go through, so the heroes began searching for clues to help them do just that.

Erevan soon located a secret door in a niche behind one of the tapestries. The group headed through it and followed a corridor to the west that ended in a large room with a giant tree root in the middle. On the root, someone had carved some musical notes and a single line from a song in Elvish: “Dolorous blue for a fine mourning cloak …”

In an alcove to the southeast of this room, the group found a ring of brightly colored flowers. Erevan recognized it as a shrine to the Seldarine and, desperate to cure himself, prayed long and fervently. He then anointed the flowers with a bit of his Berduskan dark wine … and after a moment, a light breeze fluttered through the flowers. Feeling lighter somehow, the elf jumped up, declaring that they should find something to fight so he could test out whether or not he’d been healed!

In an adjoining corridor, the party came across some sarcophagi inscribed with details of the lives of those interred within – all members of an elf clan whose name translated to “Evensong” in the Common tongue. Wisely choosing not to disturb their occupants, the heroes pressed on into a larger burial chamber dedicated to the finest warrior the Evensongs had ever produced. Her sword lay atop her coffin, and as Erevan entered the room in search of more song lyrics, the blade flew up into the air, seemingly challenging him to a duel.

Trying to stab at a flying longsword with a rapier proved rather difficult, so Erevan retreated into the corridor, giving the others room to press the attack. Keo cast faerie fire on the sword, enabling Mara to give it a good whack with her greataxe. Flint then finished it off with a fire bolt. As the sword shattered, a ghostly version of it floated back over to the coffin and thrust down into the lid, splitting it in two!

When nothing emerged from the coffin, Erevan gingerly crept over to have a look inside. The bones of the Evensongs’ most famous warrior had crumbled to dust long ago, but her armor – lightweight studded leather adorned with symbols of nature – remained in pristine condition. Feeling as if the armor was calling to him, he lifted it out and tried it on for size. Much to his delight, it reshaped itself to his form. Instinctively he knew that he could will it to cloak itself as any kind of outfit he could think of. [Yes, folks, Erevan has found a suit of elvish glamered studded leather!]

From here, the group wound their way south to a door made of petrified wood, which opened onto a breezy cavern filled with spider webs. Light from Keo’s lantern reflected off hundreds of spider eyes. Quickly shutting and relocking the door, the heroes headed back towards the portal chamber. Once there, Erevan experimented by singing the lyric he’d found on the root. It caused the pillar to the northeast of the dial to glow blue. They were on the right track!

As it turned out, there was a matching secret door behind a tapestry on the east wall. This led to a corridor heading to another large chamber with a root in it. Again there were runes and musical notes carved into the root, with the line this time reading: “Thoughts of greener days may our songs evoke …”

There was also a skeleton lying on the floor nearby. As the group approached it, a ghostly elven female floated up out of the floor and challenged them! When Erevan introduced himself and explained why he and his companions were intruding in the tomb, the ghost’s demeanor softened. She introduced herself as Sinasooh Evensong, once the caretaker of the barrow but now cursed to unlife as a ghost, unable to move more than 40 feet away from her earthly remains.

The group kindly offered to place her remains in a burial chamber, for which she was grateful. They asked if she knew how to activate the portal. She replied in the affirmative but insisted that they help her clear out the barrow first. Since she was stuck in this room, she was unable to drive away the monsters that had crept into the corners. A foul spider-like creature called an ettercap and its spider minions lived in the caves to the southwest, while a horrid harpy laired to the southeast. As long as they remained, Sinasooh would be unable to find eternal rest.

The heroes were happy to help, so Sinasooh told them about a scrying pool in a room to the north. They used it to spy on the harpy, who was busy squawking to herself as she perched on a spire of rock in the middle of a small pool. They could see a pile of bones from her previous victims nearby, a guttering torch propped up in the middle. Next to the pile sat the harpy’s nest, which appeared to contain an overly-large egg (far too big to have been laid by the harpy herself). Searching around the lair, they also discovered that they’d have to cross a large, dark pool to get to the harpy.

When they approached Sinasooh to ask if there was another way into the harpy’s lair, she told them that they could get to both monsters’ lairs by going through the central root chamber, which lay in between the two. She added that the roots were all from the World Ash, Yggdrasil, which explained why they appeared to be much too big to have come from any of the trees atop the barrow.

In the central root chamber, due south of the portal room, the group found a much larger root, complete with leafy branches. There was even a pair of glowing fruits growing on the root. Luckily, they spotted the room’s guardians – a quartet of violet fungi – in time!

Dues for the Dead

The Catacombs
After handing the Guild thieves over to Doomguide Glandon, the heroes tramped up the Mount in search of their druid companion. They found him meditating at the peak. After explaining what they are up to, Keo agreed to follow them back down the hill and into the depths of the catacombs.

Continuing on from where they’d left off, the group came to a room where skeletons were entombed in plaster in the ceiling. Several of them animated as the heroes entered, dropping down to attack. Fortunately, they were easily dealt with.

Next the group came to a room full of skulls on shelves. Cassyt explained that one could ask the skulls questions and get some answers, although the answers were usually confusing and contradictory. Mara decided to ask about her ancestor, Skie Sigursdottir, the Storm Maiden of Ruathym. From the jumbled mess of answers, she learned that her ancestor was indeed buried somewhere in the necropolis, and that her tomb may have been constructed to look like an old-style barrow mound.

To one side of the talking skull room was the tomb of Sedrair, who Cassyt explained had been an eccentric, wealthy merchant who’d loved her gold very much. Inside, they found Sedrair’s mummified remains sitting on a throne with a gold crown seemingly hovering above her head. Flint cast detect magic and discovered that the crown was warded with abjuration magic. He warned Erevan not to touch anything.

Next up was a room in which several criminals and their victims had been interred in macabre tableaux, in which the victims were depicted getting revenge on their killers. Cassyt explained that it had been a bizarre burial “fad” some time in the city’s past that had fortunately been short-lived. They hurried through this room and finally arrived at the entrance to the necropolis. Just off to the right was a side passage that Cassyt said led to an empty area, but the group insisted on checking it out just to be sure. No one likes having enemies they’ve missed coming up from behind them, after all.

After Flint turned Erevan invisible, the elf crept down the passage and into a room containing several zombies that were just standing around. At the far end of the room, a single kobold was dozing in a chair partially obscured by a barrel. Sneaking past the kobold and the zombies, the elf rogue discovered that the rooms beyond were far from empty! In one room stood some more zombies, and in the next, yet more zombies, plus some more kobolds, as well as a heavily armored woman with a greatsword, who was talking to a Red Wizard of Thay, of all people!

After sneaking back out to the others, Erevan reported on his findings. Cassyt was sure that the Red Wizard was the one responsible for the undead in the catacombs. The heroes devised a plan that began with Erevan taking out the sleeping kobold with a well-placed arrow.

Unfortunately, the rest of the plan flew out the window when Cassyt, overcome with a righteous rage, charged headlong down the passage, calling on Kelemvor to send the undead abominations back to their graves. Much to her chagrin, Kelemvor seemed unimpressed with his servant’s rash behaviour, and her attempt to turn the undead failed, leaving Cassyt at the mercy of four zombies. She quickly succumbed to their meaty fists, requiring Keo to break off his own attack so he could heal her and drag her to safety.

Flint and Mara held the line while Erevan’s head injury began plaguing him again. Keo came to the rescue by turning into a bear and shoving past Erevan, who took a few feeble swipes at his companion in his confusion. He then started to wander back out of the room, hugging the wall as he went along, before his head finally cleared again.

Once the zombies were dealt with, the heroes moved on to the next room, dispatching the other zombies and kobolds with ease. At the same time, the Red Wizard busily gathered up his things before teleporting away using a magic circle inscribed in blood on the floor. The Thayan knight then reappeared (having been lurking invisibly in the room) and attacked Keo, while a dragonclaw cultist came around the next corner and joined the attack! It would appear that the Red Wizard was in league with the Cult of the Dragon!

The Thayan knight fought valiantly, but she was clearly outnumbered. In an effort to keep the group from taking her alive, she quickly downed a vial of poison that killed her instantly. Shrugging, the heroes set about looting the rooms. They found some valuable goods but little in the way of information that would explain what the Red Wizard had been doing. Flint made sure to disrupt the magic circle before they departed, though.

Skie’s Tomb
After a short rest, the heroes ventured into the necropolis in search of Skie’s tomb. It took them some time but eventually they came across a barrow mound-like tomb with a set of stone doors bearing Mara’s ancestor’s name on the lintel above. The doors had no obvious locks or handles, just a bronze plaque bolted to the left door. Engraved into the plaque was the following inscription:

One tooth to bite,
’tis the forest’s foe
One tooth to fight,
as all Illuskans know

Mara quickly surmised that the answer was “an axe”, and sure enough, as she spoke the word aloud, the doors swung open with a thunderous rumble. Almost immediately, a strong, continuous wind roiled out from within the tomb. Mara hefted her axe and pressed forward, pushing her way down a 60-foot-long corridor lined with stacked stones. The others tried several times to get down the corridor, only to be blown back to the entrance by the force of the wind. It seemed like maybe Mara was meant to go on alone.

At the end of the corridor was a large chamber with three alcoves. In the center squatted a stone sarcophagus. In the alcove directly across from the entrance stood a life-size statue of a human woman bearing an uncanny resemblance to Mara herself! The statue was posed in such a way that it appeared like it ought to have been holding something in its hands. Upon closer inspection, there was even a slot in the hands into which something could be inserted. Something very much like Mara’s axe, in fact.

In an alcove to the left of the sarcophagus, there stood an altar shaped like a crashing wave, atop which lay an old filleting knife. Mara recognized this as a shrine to Umberlee, the evil goddess of the sea, a deity revered by many in Baldur’s Gate as a sort of mother figure. In opposite alcove stood an altar shaped like a billowing cloud, on top of which lay an old scrimshaw hunting horn. Mara wasn’t sure to whom that shrine was dedicated.

By this time, Keo had managed to force his way up the windy corridor, although the others had given up and remained outside.

Unsure of how to proceed, Mara consulted her father’s notes, which hinted at some tests involving the mind, body, and spirit. She presumed that the riddle on the door had been the test of the mind, while the strong wind in the corridor may have been the test of the body. That meant that the items on the altars must have something to do with the final test – that of the spirit.

As Mara walked over to Umberlee’s altar, a soft voice whispered, “Blood of my blood …” Instinctively, Mara picked up the knife and cut herself with it, letting a drop of her blood fall onto the altar. Nothing appeared to happen, but this did not deter her. Moving over to the cloudy altar, she heard the voice whisper again: “Breath of my breath …” Picking up the horn, she blew into it.

Still nothing happened. But then Mara felt a strange urge to place her axe into the hands of her ancestor’s statue. Unsurprisingly, it fit into the slots as perfectly as if it belonged there. Keo, marveling at the similarity between Mara and her ancestor, asked if she’d ever lived before. Mara drily replied that she didn’t think so.

At that point, a ghostly blue light rose up out of the sarcophagus and blossomed into the outline of a fierce-looking warrior woman. She greeted Mara like an old friend and congratulated her on passing the tests. Identifying herself as Skie Sigursdottir, the spirit informed Mara that she (Mara) had an important role to play in future events and that she (Skie) wished to help her fulfil that destiny. The spirit proceeded to float over to the statue and disappeared into the axe, which then glowed faintly for a moment. Mara could hear her ancestor’s voice instructing her to take the axe back again. When Mara withdrew it from the statue’s hands, a powerful wind swirled around her momentarily. Or at least, it felt like it to her, as Keo didn’t appear to notice anything. Perhaps it was just her imagination?

And thus Stormwind‘s power was renewed*, ready to help fulfil its wielder’s destiny once again!

Epilogue
Back on the surface, Doomguide Glandon paid the heroes 100 gp for their services in clearing out the undead and driving off the Red Wizard. Upon hearing their praise for Cassyt (conveniently not mentioning her little blunder with the zombies), Glandon was impressed enough to induct her into the order as a full priest, for which she was most grateful!

 

*Stormwind is a magical axe that requires attunement by a direct descendant of Skie Sigursdottir. The axe has the Guardian minor property, the Confident quirk, and the Thrown property. It also has 3 charges that the wielder can use to cast thunderous smite. It regains 1d3 spent charges each day at dawn. It also has the capacity to grow in power as its wielder does.