The Scroll Thief

Interlude: Midsummer
On the morning of Midsummer, Flint announced that he had something important to share with the rest of the group: namely, that he had been having a recurring dream for several months now. Each time, he dreamt that the world was destroyed by waves of destructive energy, followed by ten sinister eyes glaring at him from amidst the ashes. As a dragon scholar, he found it highly suspicious that the energy emitted by each of the five different kinds of chromatic dragons – acid, ice, fire, lightning, and poison – were all present in his dream. He had hoped to find some answers in Greenest, and while he certainly had picked up on some clues, the dreams had continued unabated, sometimes even becoming more specific – for instance, he dreamt of Berdusk being destroyed as they’d sailed down the river towards Scornubel.

The others thanked the normally taciturn dwarf for sharing something so personal, and Erevan added that he’d experienced a similar vision while praying at the shrine to the Seldarine in the barrow he’d explored in his vision quest. The group concluded that they were on the right path and should continue to see where it might lead.

With such somber thoughts on their minds, they sallied forth to partake of the festivities in the Upper City. As dusk fell, and those who didn’t belong were ejected by the Watch, the Wide was transformed into patriar party central. Unfortunately, this being Baldur’s Gate, ominous clouds loomed overhead and, soon enough, rain began to fall. While many revelers descended into the Undercellar to continue their fun, Coran the elf invite a select number of lucky folks back to his place for a more private soirée.

Mara’s brother, Faldorn, introduced her to Grand Duke Ulder Ravengard, Marshal of the Flaming Fist. He informed her that he’d had a letter from Ontharr Frume and was thus somewhat aware of Mara’s mission. He invited her to join his faction, the Lords’ Alliance. She accepted without hesitation, so the duke asked her to meet with him privately at his office in High Hall on the morrow.

Meanwhile, Coran introduced Erevan to a fellow moon elf named Edhelri Lewel. To his surprise, she turned out to be the beautiful but haughty merchant he’d “rescued” from the ettercap in his vision quest. She commented that Erevan seemed familiar somehow and wanted to know if they’d ever met before. Erevan replied that he didn’t think so. She went on to tell him that she was hauling exotic timbers from the jungles of Chult to Waterdeep, where she intended to sell them to the city’s master carpenters and cabinetmakers, who would turn the timber into exquisite furniture. She also mentioned that she was looking to hire another guard for the trip, if Erevan knew of anyone who might be interested …

Finally, Flint met two gold dwarves from far away lands. One was an older dwarf with greying hair and beard, a merchant by the name of Lai Angesstun. He was hauling Amnian oils and perfumes up to Waterdeep, where he would sell them at great profit to the city’s dandies. The other gold dwarf was Lai’s bodyguard, Eldgar Agetul – whom Erevan later realized was the third and final “rescuee” from his vision quest.

After talking it over with his companions, Erevan came to the conclusion that the Seldarine had given him a big clue: the fact that they’d now met all three people from his vision quest, and the fact that they were all going to be heading to Waterdeep via the caravan route (as opposed to going by sea), meant that the heroes should be going that way too.

The next day, Mara gent to see the grand duke. Ravengard informed her that he’d like her to serve as the Alliance’s eyes and ears on the road, keeping them up to date on the cult’s movements. He wished he could offer more help, but his hands were tied – unless a clear threat to the city could be identified, there was only so much he could do. Mara was nevertheless quite eager to join up and was rather excited when she received her faction signet ring.

SIDE QUEST:
THE SCROLL THIEF

Another day passed, and there was still no news of the cult’s wagon train. Mara’s aunt, Vigilar Allayn Bormul of the City Watch, came to the group with a favor. Several books had gone missing around the city, and she hadn’t got the time or the resources to look into something as seemingly petty as that herself. Mara was happy to help out, so the group headed off to Mantor’s Library to speak with the Master Scribe, Cassra Brandywine, who had reported the thefts.

Mantor’s Library
The group found Cassra, a young halfling woman, all covered in blue ink and partially buried in an office overflowing with books and papers. She was grateful that they had come and promptly brought them up to speed: three thefts of rare books had taken place in Baldur’s Gate over the past few days.

The first book was stolen from a wizard who runs a tutoring service just down the road. That book was entitled The Weave: A Practical Observation on Impractical Occurrences. It had been stolen four days ago.

The second book was part of a three-volume biography of Minsc, the beloved ranger, that had been in the possession of a retired adventurer named Marten Foss, whose training ground could be found in Blackgate. That book had been stolen two days ago.

The third book, The Lords and Lineages of Baldur’s Gate, had been stolen just the night before, from the shop of Agin Lamarck, a patriar historian specializing in genealogies and heraldry. Cassra had no idea what the three books had in common or even whether they were all stolen by the same person, but she was nevertheless quite sure that the robberies were somehow connected.

Aya Glenmiir
The group decided to visit to the wizard’s shop first, as it was just down the road. The wizard, Aya Glenmiir, was a half-elf who, as Mara knew, tutored spoiled patriar kids in the basics of arcane spellcasting in order to pay the bills. She much prefered to do arcane research, however, and to that end, had a large number of books on semi-permanent loan from Mantor’s Library. She was not surprised to see the group, quipping that Master Opanrael (the head of Mantor’s Library) clearly didn’t trust her.

Aya showed them the glass case in which she’d stored The Weave, and Flint almost immediately noticed that someone who obviously knew what they were doing had disabled the magical wards traced around the case. While asking the usual investigatory questions, the group got the sense that Aya wasn’t telling them everything. They eventually persuaded her to reveal that the thief had also stolen a magical horn of blasting and several spell scrolls from her office. There were no signs of a break-in, and the only other clue they could glean from the half-elf was that one of her former students, a human named Ellison, had recently gone to work for Mantor’s Library.

Marten Foss
Out in Blackgate, they found the one-armed Marten overseeing a sparring match in his training yard. Several young men were attempting to have a go at a fierce young woman, who handily held her own against the lot of them. Marten invited them in and related everything he knew: Minsc was something of a personal hero of his, and while Mantor’s Library actually had the other two volumes of the biography, he’d kept the middle volume – the one detailing Minsc’s heroics in Baldur’s Gate – for sentimental reasons. He hds no idea why anyone would want to steal it.

As the conversation continued, the group learned that the young woman in the yard was Marten’s daughter, Vera. Marten tried to convince Mara to have a go against her, but she turned him down, promising to come back another time. Erevan spotted a pendant bearing the mark of the Order of the Gauntlet hanging amidst some weapons on a rack and inquired about it – Marten revealed that it was his, and that he hoped to induct his daughter into the group once she was all trained up.

Agin Lamarck
When the group showed up at his office door, the handsome human noble, Agin Lamarck, sarcastically claimed to be very excited about being part of their investigation. He revealed that whoever had stolen the centuries-old book – one of only a few copies in the city – did so during the Midsummer revels. He claimed to have had it under lock and magical key, but Flint could find no evidence of any magical wards.

Agin blustered for a bit, and the group got the sense that he wasn’t telling them everything either. With great reluctance, Agin broke down and admitted that the book contained evidence that his family’s claim to the Lamarck name had been fabricated by one of his ancestors. He implored the adventurers not to tell anyone, even going so far as to offer them a bribe. Mara, knowing that nobles strongly disliked those who pretended to be their equals, filed the information away for later, figuring that her newfound faction, the Lords’ Alliance, would probably appreciate knowing.

Ambush
On the way back to Mantor’s Library, the group encountered an elf who claimed that the Guild had information that might help them in their quest. He tried to lure them down an alley, and while the group was extremely suspicious, they didn’t notice the elf’s accomplices – a group of halflings – lurking among the crates and detritus until it was too late. The elf revealed himself to be a member of the Cult of the Dragon, slashing at the adventurers with one of the cult’s trademark talon-like scimitars. The group proved to be too tough for their assailants, however, and the cultist literally flew up over the nearest building in order to escape, while the halflings vanished into in the crowd back on the main street.

In the alley, the adventurers came across a crumpled note addressed to “Soares”, telling him to get rid of the meddling adventurers so as not to have wasted time. It mentioned someone named “the Whisperer” and was signed by “B”. The adventurers wracked their brains as to who the “B” could be. Could it refer to Cassra, whose last name started with a “B”? The note was written in the same blue ink they’d seen all over her, after all.

Mantor’s Library reprise
The adventurers confronted Cassra with the note. She insisted that she hadn’t written it and even found some samples of her handwriting in order to prove it. She suggested they go see Master Opanrael, head of the library. The man was busy and was reluctant to see them without an appointment, but they were able to persuade him of their quest’s urgency. After viewing the note, the master commented that two of his staff happened to be missing: a senior librarian named Garda Greenleaf and a newly-hired scribe named Ellison Berenger.

Recognizing the second name, the adventurers insisted that they speak with Ellison immediately. Master Opanrael suggested they could look in the basement archives, where Ellison was meant to be working. Cassra escorted them down. Not knowing precisely where to look in the vast subterranean vault, it took the group an hour to locate anything of note. In this case, it was the dead body of Garda Greenleaf, whom they found hunched over in a puddle of his own blood. As Cassra retched in a corner, the adventurers leaned in for a closer look. It appeared that someone had clubbed him on the head. It also appeared that some of the missing books were right there on the desk – namely, The Weave and the missing volume of Minsc’s biography … except they’d both had pages cut out!

Just then, a tremendous blast of noise rocked the archives, causing the books and shelves to tumble over. The adventurers managed to avoid getting hurt but Cassra’s arm was broken. She stumbled away to seek medical attention, leaving the heroes to explore the mess that was the archives on their own. They soon discovered a hole in the far wall, but before they could get a closer look, the ghost of a previous librarian appeared and began sucking the life out of Erevan! Flint and Mara managed to convince it to stop attacking them, as they meant it no harm and were in fact looking for the person who had damaged the library. Mollified, it pointed through the hole in the wall. After pouring a potion down Erevan’s throat, they climbed through the hole into a small room partitioned off from the library basement. It contained numerous odds and ends, as well as a fancy fold-out chest emblazoned with the sigil of Ramazith, the sailor-turned-wizard who’d built the landmark tower that still bears his name in the Upper City.

Erevan noticed a sprung poisoned needle in the chest’s lock. He also determined that the chest had a false bottom, under which he found a bone headband also bearing Ramazith’s symbol. Sensing magic, Flint pocketed it for later inspection. The group then turned their attention to a second hole that had been blasted through the wall behind the chest. It appeared to open out onto the sewers. Sighing, they climbed in and followed the obvious set of muddy footprints heading away from the library.

The Sewers
After following the footprints for what felt like ages, the group eventually came to a spillway where the sewer opened out onto the River Chionthar. Blocking their path were two singed carrion crawlers feasting on the scorched carcass of a third. A backpack lay nearby, its contents spilled. Flint surmised that someone had let off a fireball. The adventurers decided to attack the crawlers, which came scuttling over to attack them in return. One of them managed to paralyze Erevan and dragged him into the sewage. Fortunately, however, his companions were able to slay the crawlers quickly enough to be able to fish his body out of the stream before it floated away. Another healing potion was poured down the elf’s throat, and Flint used prestidigitation to clean him up a bit.

After catching their breath, the group resolved to continue the chase.

Barrow of the Evensong

After a lengthy debate about how to deal with the violet fungi so they could pick the fruit (and so Erevan could read what was written on the root’s trunk), the heroes opted for a pre-emptive strike. The poor creatures didn’t stand a chance and went down one-by-one without ever getting within striking distance of their attackers.

Once the last one stopped twitching, the heroes breathed a sigh of relief and cautiously approached the leafy root segment. Erevan noticed that the vine-like branches were covered in what appeared to be the genealogy of the Evensong clan. He also found another line from the song needed to open the portal: “The red leaves tumble from Grandfather Oak …”

Being of a musical persuasion, Erevan surmised that this was the first line of the song. He filed that thought away for later and then went to pick the closest fruit – a glowing crab-apple like thing. Taking a small bite, he felt a warm glow spread through his body. [Nothing special happened, however, as the fruit functions like a potion of healing and Erevan wasn’t injured.]

Keo picked the other fruit for himself and then the group headed through the west door into the spider lair. Keo pushed his way through the webs, shifting into bear form as he suddenly came face-to-face with a giant spider. Erevan got stuck in the webs at a narrow point in the tunnel, forcing Mara to cut him free with her magic axe in order to be able to get past him. Flint then sniped at the spider from around the corner with his magic missiles. The spider died quickly.

As they pressed on deeper into the web-filled tunnels, with Keo forging ahead in his strong bear form, they came across three writhing cocoons. Erevan poked the first one with his rapier, and upon hearing a squeal, quickly sliced it open with his dagger. Much to everyone’s surprise, a young human woman dressed in peasant’s garb emerged. The most remarkable thing about her, however, was that she was completely green: her hair, her skin, her eyes, even her teeth! Noticing that she was weak from spider poison, Flint got out his magic ointment and offered some to her. She introduced herself as Imsa. She had no idea how she’d ended up there. And no, she didn’t want to talk about why she was all green. She thanked the heroes for saving her just the same, however.

The next cocoon turned out to contain a gold dwarf named Eldgar, who claimed he’d been jumped by an ettercap. The last cocoon contained a rather haughty moon elf merchant, who berated them for taking so long to get her out. Before the heroes had a chance to respond, though, the ettercap struck! Having snuck up on the group while they were freeing its victims, the ettercap bit and clawed at Flint from above. Despite being a dwarf, its venom still affected him, preventing him from hitting it with his retaliatory shocking grasp attack. His comrades all leapt into action, though, and the ettercap, realizing it was overmatched, attempted to flee, only to be mercilessly hacked down before it could get very far.

The group then escorted the ettercap’s would-be dinners back to the gate chamber, where they agreed to wait while the heroes dealt with the harpy. As the group headed through the door into the harpy’s chamber, they realized too late that they should have put some stuffing in their ears!

Both Mara and Flint were entranced by the old biddy’s luring song. Although Flint was able to shake himself free at the edge of the pool, Mara dove straight in and swam over to the finger of rock on which the harpy was perching. She swooped down and clubbed Mara a few times before the warrior regained her senses and stabbed at the vile creature with her javelin. The others peppered the harpy with ranged attacks from the safety of the shore, and soon it was floating face-down in the pool.

Keo and Flint immediately went over to look at the egg in the harpy’s nest. Though Flint could tell straight away that it wasn’t a dragon’s egg, and that it was too big to be a harpy’s egg, he was unable to identify it. After a bit of study, however, Keo realized that it was actually an owlbear egg. Being a hippie druid type, he refused to let anyone destroy it.

Back in the room where Sinasooh was waiting, the group discovered that she was rapidly fading away. Erevan quickly asked her about opening the gate and where the fourth line to the song was. She replied that there were only three lines and then disappeared. The heroes then laid her remains in one of the nearby burial chambers.

Back in the portal chamber, Erevan reckoned he needed to sing the red line first, then the blue one, then the green one. Sure enough, this made all the pillars around the dial light up. Curious about the yellow one, the group moved the dial towards it first, before trying the others. The gate didn’t open. Instead, a pair of satyrs appeared in alcoves to either side. The fey creatures were friendly and offered a clue: the sequence was in the song.

After a few false tries, the group figured out the red-blue-green sequence right and the portal opened with a flash of light. The blink dog bobbed its head in thanks and disappeared through the yellow glow in the archway. Watching it vanish, Erevan had a strange feeling that the blink dog had been a representation of his spirit. Shaking it off, he then directed the rescued prisoners through the portal, before stepping through himself, followed closely by his companions.

Instantly, Erevan awoke back in the glade in Twin Songs. Though his clothing looked the same as before, he was acutely aware of the fact that he was actually wearing the magic leather armor he’d found in the barrow. Score!

Danthelon’s Dancing Axe
Meanwhile, Flint had wandered down onto the Wyrm’s Crossing bridge to pay a visit to Danthelon’s Dancing Axe, a famous dwarven goods store. His new faction, the Harpers, had agreed to help him out with some better armor, so he had gone to ask Danthelon for a breastplate and shield.

Stepping through the door, he bumped into an old acquaintance from Iltkazar, a female dwarf named Tyjit Skesh. She was pleasantly surprised to see Flint and asked him what he was doing in the Gate. Flint was somewhat evasive, but as they got talking, Tyjit commented that she had signed on as guard on the next caravan headed north. Flint revealed that he might be heading that way too, to which Tyjit replied that that she could always put a good word in with her employer if he wanted to earn some coin along the way.

A Rescue
After shopping, Flint met back up with the others, and they headed back towards Mara’s family estate. Along the way, they stumbled across a (not so) surprising scene in the Outer City: Guild thieves harassing an innocent civilian. In this case, the thieves were the trio of low-lifes the group had “rescued” from the catacombs, and the person they were threatening was none othat than Imsa, the green-skinned woman Erevan had seen in his vision!

Erevan reacted fastest, casting sleep on the group. While this knocked out Imsa, it also took out the half-orc thug. Mara pressed the attack on the tiefling, almost chopping him in two. He turned to run, but Erevan got him with an arrow in the back. In the meantime, the elf grabbed the sleeping woman and put his sword to her throat, only to have Flint create an earth tremor under his feet, causing him to let go of Imsa as he fell to the ground. Mara then rushed up and tried to hack him with her axe. She missed and he leapt to his feet, thrusting at her with his shortsword. Realizing he had no chance of winning, though, he slipped out of Mara’s reach and made a run for it … only to end up burned to a crisp with another of Flint’s fire bolts.

Erevan tied up the sleeping half-orc, took his money pouch, and then roused Imsa. As he did so, a kindly local resident emerged from a nearby house to warn the group not to linger as the Guild would not be happy about what they’d just done! The group escorted Imsa back through the city gates. Settling down at an upmarket café in the Upper City, the group attempted to winkle her story out of her. She still refused to tell them why she was green, but she did reveal that she planned to join the next caravan to Waterdeep, where she hoped to find a cure for her embarrassing malady. The group wondered if this was a sign that they should also be joining the caravan.

Keo tried to give Imsa some money, since she looked poor, without even any shoes on her feet, but the young woman politely declined. When Erevan pressed the coin purse he’d taken off the half-orc thief into her hands, however, she begrudgingly accepted it. As they parted ways, the heroes told Imsa to keep an eye out for them, as they were most likely going to be taking the caravan north as well.