On the Road Again

The Cult Arrives
After a few more days of rest, the heroes were contacted by Erevan’s urchin army. Earlier that day, a palanquin carrying a mysterious figure with a “gruff but feminine” voice had arrived at Selebon’s wagon shop in Blackgate. The urchins had caught a few glimpses of something purple through the curtains. After an intermediary made a purchase on behalf of the figure, the palanquin was then taken back through the city and down to the docks, where it was carried onto a ship that set sail shortly thereafter.

The heroes promptly sought out Selebon, who confirmed that someone had paid for three wagons in coin. The wagons had already been delivered to a warehouse across the district. Selebon also informed them that the next caravan had begun assembling, so the group decided to pay a visit to the assembly yard first. After a short discussion, the group agreed that it would be smartest to hire themselves out individually as guards, rather than sticking together as a group, in order to belay the cultists’ suspicions as much as possible.

To that end, Erevan approached Edhelri Lewel and took up her offer of employment. Erevan impressed the stately moon elf enough that she put him in charge of her small contingent of guards, one of whom was a young, inexperienced human woman named Orvustia. Erevan took an instant liking to her, determined to show her the ropes and help her survive the long journey to Waterdeep. Edhelri also revealed that she had been chosen to be the caravan master for the journey, in large part because of her decades of experience.

Flint, meanwhile, went over to see Lai Angesstun, the gold dwarf merchant he’d met at Coran’s party. The older dwarf hired Flint on as a second bodyguard.

Mara decided that most of the merchants were beneath her and instead approached a rather grumpy-looking nobleman who introduced himself as Aldor Urnpoleshurst. A lawyer by trade, he was looking for a bodyguard to keep him safe on his journey to anywhere that wasn’t Baldur’s Gate. Although he was clearly an unpleasant fellow, Mara figured she’d rather work for a fellow patriar than a commoner, so she signed the lawyer’s contract.

Keo found work as a guard with an eternally optimistic human merchant named Samardag the Hoper. The man was hauling fragile porcelain, which he was absolutely positive would survive the journey intact. Keo was not so sure …

Several others would also be joining the caravan:

  • A human named Lasfelro who tended not to say much and whose wagon was guarded by a gargoyle
  • A human named Pavel Borsk who rudely rebuffed all attempts to ascertain what he was carrying
  • A haughty merchant named Morn Amblecrown who was hauling preserved fruits from the Sea of Fallen Stars region
  • Devlin and Tilda Appledown, newlyweds who were heading north to start a new life in Red Larch
  • Nyerhite Verther, an obese silk merchant
  • Beyd Sechepol, a roguish half-elf who would be running a mobile tavern along the journey
  • And a number of miscellaneous individuals who would be traveling with the caravan, including Green Imsa and a tiefling named Barakis

Once the PCs had made the rounds and found gainful employment, they reconvened and headed over to the warehouse indicated by Selebon. Flint cast invisibility on Erevan, who went sneaking inside. He found a hooded figure and two dragon cultists hiding in a loft, but the warehouse was otherwise empty – the wagons had already been loaded and sent to the assembly yard. Of the various merchants and travelers the group had met there, which ones were the cultists? Pondering this question, Erevan snuck back out and gave his companions the downlow. They opted not to spring the trap and headed back to the Stormwind manor.

Ambush
The next day, Erevan received a missive from one of the urchins in his employ: an anonymous note bearing the mark of the Harpers, asking Erevan and Flint to meet someone at a warehouse in Blackgate to receive information about the cult. Suspecting another trap, the group nevertheless sought out the warehouse (a different one to the one they’d inspected before). Arriving early, Erevan again snuck inside invisibly to have a look around. He spotted nothing out of the ordinary but decided against prodding the mounds of hay in the loft above just in case. He returned to his companions and they set up a stakeout, hoping to see who it was they were meeting. Much to their surprise, a light started blinking on and off from inside!

Erevan and Flint ventured in, where they found a cloaked figure with a magical light glowing behind her head. As they approached, the figure greeted them in a familiar, if somewhat slurred, voice. As the figure removed its hood, the pair were taken aback … it was Mondath!

Except her face had been horribly disfigured, and she appeared to be blind in one eye. It looked like someone had thrown acid in her face (or, Flint thought to himself, spat acid on it). Erevan remarked that he knew he should have checked the piles of hay as the two cultists he’d spotted in the other warehouse emerged from behind some crates to cut off their escape. Mondath proclaimed that the heroes wouldn’t escape this time and began casting a spell to paralyze them in their tracks.

At the same time, some other cultists came hustling down the alleyway outside and spotted Mara. She drew her greataxe and rushed to attack them. Keo, meanwhile, hearing the commotion inside the warehouse, conjured up two large bears with his newfound magical powers. He directed the bears to follow him as he charged through the warehouse’s front doors just as two more cultists come barging in through the back door.

Unfortunately for Mondath, she had grossly underestimated the heroes’ power. Either that or her boss had overestimated hers. She and her minions were sorely overmatched. The cultists quickly fell to the heroes’ onslaught, while Mondath retreated to the loft, only to find herself pursued by the bears, who climbed up the timber walls. Mara followed up the ladder and chucked her magic greataxe at the fleeing cleric. It was all over quickly, and as Mara approached the dying woman, she heard Mondath murmur, “Tell Talis I’m sorry.”

Bombshell!

Leaving Baldur’s Gate
A few days before the caravan was due to depart, Keo had a strange dream in which he was walking down a country road when a large humanoid shadow fell across his path. As he turned to look, he was surprised to see a rather vicious-looking stag looming behind him!

Finally the big day arrived and the heroes joined their respective employers as the caravan slowly wheeled out of Blackgate, heading north along the Coast Way. The road took them through the Fields of the Dead, a vast fertile plain that was nevertheless only sparsely inhabited, mainly by farmers and shepherds, as well as small tribes of goblinoids and orcs. The fields got their name from the fact that they had served as a battlefield many times over the past few centuries, and thus the area was littered with bones and other detritus from those ancient conflicts.

During the first days of the journey, Keo noticed that the tiefling, Barakis, seemed to be keeping an eye on both him and Flint, seemingly taking note of where they slept and who they talked to and so on. Keo didn’t know much about tieflings, but he had heard rumors about them. He wasn’t sure if Barakis was just being curious or if there was something else going on. He resolved to talk to the tiefling as soon as he got the chance.

Stranded
Late on the fifth day, the caravan was rounding a bend in the road when the sounds of a conflict emanated from up ahead. Edhelri ordered the caravan to halt and then called for volunteers to investigate. Erevan stepped up and asked if he could take Orvustia with him. Flint also stepped forward, as did Keo. Mara made to volunteer, but her employer protested mightily, insisting that she stay close to him in case the caravan was attacked. Mara knew how to talk to toffs, though, and had little trouble sweet-talking Aldor into letting her go. He threatened to dock her pay if anything happened to him, though …

So the heroes, together again, ventured around the bend and found a pair of wagons, peppered with arrows, standing in the middle of the road. The horses were dead, as were two guards. The rest were hidden under the first wagon, taking potshots with crossbows at hobgoblins lurking in the rocks to either side of the road. A perfect ambush spot. The heroes could also see some massive wolves – which turned out to be worgs – up in the rocks with the hobgoblins.

Not caring about becoming targets, the party rushed forward with the intention of helping the merchant and his surviving guards get to safety. The worgs came charging down to engage them in melee, while Flint sent fireballs up into the rocks, quickly incinerating all the hobgoblins. Keo conjured more bears and two of the worgs fell to the larger animals’ attacks. The other two tried to flee but were mercilessly cut down.

Crawling out from under his wagon, the rescued merchant introduced himself as Oyn Evenmor. He admitted it was stupid to try and make the journey alone. Back with the caravan, some of the others agreed to sell him their spare horses so he could continue his journey. The others were also quite impressed by the heroes’ exploits and that evening, the group enjoyed a number of free drinks from Beyd’s mobile tavern.

The Scroll Thief

Before leaving the sewers, the group took a quick look at the contents of the discarded backpack. Along with some coins and the like, they found a note and a map with Ellison’s name on them. He’d been ordered to steal the books and deliver them to someone named “Rythnax” in a swampy area near the mouth of the Chionthar.

The group agreed that they could afford to slow down a bit and headed back into the city. Erevan sought out the bathhouse for a quick cleansing while the others tracked down Keo. After seeing the note and map, Keo responded that his new allies in the Emerald Enclave had made him aware that there was a young black dragon upsetting the natural balance of the nearby swamp. He knew that they’d be keen to have the dragon dealt with and so was quite happy to help his comrades track down the book thief.

After Erevan was satisfied with his state of cleanliness, the heroes gathered their things and then got in touch with their faction contacts to acquire some mounts to take them out of the city and along the southern banks of the river more quickly. As a local, Mara knew the small swampy area – which lay between the river and the edge of the Cloak Wood – was only a half-day’s ride away. They were able to get there before the sun set.

The Swamp
As the party peered into the gloomy swamp from its perimeter, they spied a small rocky hill on an island less than two hundred feet away. Someone was huddled by a small campfire in front of the cave, with what looked to be a large black dog curled up at his feet. Erevan used his magic armor to disguise himself as a cultist and then asked Flint to cast invisibility on him. His ability to sneak up on the campsite was somewhat hampered due to having to wade through ankle-deep swamp water, though, and he soon discovered that the creature by the fire could sense his presence. Not only that, but it was not a dog … rather, it was a small black dragon! Standing up, the dragon stretched out its wings before informing its human companion that they had visitors.

The dragon called out for Erevan to show himself. After he did so, the elf quickly started making up a story about how Mondath’s group had sent him here to check up on things and make sure the delivery was going all right. Ellison and the dragon were at first confused as to how Mondath had known about the deal. Erevan could sense that he wasn’t convincing them … and, sure enough, the dragon announced that it was bored and spewed acid at the elf.

In response, Mara and Keo both went charging into the swamp, weapons at the ready, while Flint stayed out of the mire, casting catapult and giving the dragon a good hard whacking to distract it from finishing off Erevan. This worked like a charm, as the wyrmling roared in anger and leapt into the air, making a beeline for the dwarf. Ellison, meanwhile, indicated to Erevan that he did not wish to fight and slunk into the cave to hide.

As the dragon flew over Mara and Keo, they both took aim with their weapons but missed. Flint’s aim, however, was true, and he slew the dragon with a second casting of catapult! Keo went to have a look at the dead dragon, finding a satchel strapped to its chest that contained the missing pages from the stolen books, wrapped in watertight waxed paper. He also cut off the dragon’s head to take it back to town as proof that the job had been done.

As the others approached, Erevan drank a healing potion before calling out to Ellison to give himself up. The thief reluctantly complied, pleading with the adventurers not to hurt him. He promised that if they would just let him go, they’d never see him again. He wanted nothing more to do with the Cult of the Dragon. The heroes were not so sure and insisted that he let them tie him up. They then pumped him for information.

As it happened, he’d been hired by the cult to help them find the whereabouts of one Xandria Welltran, a human woman who may have actually been a polymorphed green dragon. She lived during the time of Minsc the beloved ranger, and so Ellison had stolen the biography because it contained clues as to where she’d been buried (in a crypt in the cemetery in Tumbledown, as it just so happened). He’d stolen the book of magic because he’d seen it in Aya’s office while training with her and thought it might have some useful information about polymorphing and the like. As for the peerage book, he’d taken that for purely personal reasons – he’d hoped it would prove that the Berengers were a Baldurian patriar family, but he was to have no such luck in that event.

Ellison insisted he knew nothing more than that. He didn’t know why the cult wanted this information, though he was able to tell them that his cult contact was none other than Soares, the elf who’d ambushed the party the day before.

When Ellison had finished his tale, the heroes had a look at the dragon’s small hoard. Mara found a nice suit of splint armor that could be adjusted to fit her nicely. They took some of the coins and other knick-knacks, then settled down for the night.

Late into the night, Ellison slipped free of his bonds and tried to escape. He hadn’t counted on the fact that Erevan, being an elf, didn’t sleep. The heroes soon wrestled him back into his bonds and then, in the morning, dragged him back to town, where they turned him over to Mara’s aunt, Vigilar Allayn Bormul.

Before returning the recovered pages to the library, Erevan and Flint made sure to make copies to pass on to their Harper contacts. And Mara went and had a quiet word with a Lords’ Alliance agent about Lamarck’s false claim to noble status, despite the others wanting to accept his bribe to keep it a secret.

Xandria’s Crypt
After getting a good night’s rest, the heroes trudged back out to Tumbledown, where they sought out Cassyt and asked her to help them locate the crypt of Xandria Welltran. It turned out to be easy enough to find, being a freestanding mausoleum on the surface rather than down in the catacombs. Upon entering, they found it to be a well-appointed crypt with a stone sarcophagus in the middle and a number of colorful paintings depicting Xandria in various locales on the walls.

The heroes pried open the lid and, sure enough, Flint was able to tell almost immediately that the bones inside looked like they’d once belonged to a dragon! What’s more, some of the bones appeared to be missing. Mixed in with the bones were five tiny gems, one for each color of chromatic dragon.

Just then, the outer doors swung shut with a boom and a hissing sound could be heard as a poisonous gas began filling the room. Seeing that the doors would not be easily opened from the inside, they looked around for some other exit. There were scrape marks on the floor around the sarcophagus, suggesting it could be moved, but none of them were able to do so using brute force.

Eventually, the heroes figured out that they could insert the colored gems into little indentations in certain paintings on the wall. The color of dragon that each gem represented had to match something in the picture – so the white gem went in the snowy mountain, while the blue gem went in the lightning storm, and so on. Once the last gem was correctly inserted into the wall, the sarcophagus slid away, revealing a dark staircase. The outer doors also opened, revealing a bewildered-looking Cassyt, who’d been left outside. She remained there as the group descended the stairs.

At the bottom, the group found themselves in a spiralling corridor that led to what appeared to be a throne room. There were three skeletons with swords and dragon-like heads standing guard, but they did nothing as the heroes approached the throne and poked around. Underneath the throne, Erevan found a hidden compartment protected by a poisoned needle, the disabling of which proved to be child’s play for him. Inside the compartment, he found a spell scroll and a gem.

Further along the spiraling corridor, the group came to an old dusty laboratory. After glancing over the books and the alembics and such, they concluded that the laboratory had been used by some kind of necromancer, one who appeared to have been interested in dracoliches! There was a blue bottle with a note about finishing some kind of experiment. The note’s writer warned the reader not to drink the potion. Erevan toysedaround with taking the potion with him, but when Flint revealed that everything in the room was under some kind of magical warding spell, the elf put the bottle back on the table and the group left.

The corridor ended at a chamber containing an old teleportation circle, along with what appeared to be quite the stash of gold coins in an alcove in the south wall. There were also some softly-glowing magic glyphs on the walls, as well as four dead bodies stitched together from various humanoid and draconic parts.

As Flint went to investigate the teleportation circle, the others attended to the bodies. As soon as Flint began unravelling the circle’s magic, however, the glyphs flared up and the bodies rose to attack! They were no match for these seasoned warriors, however, and were all soon lying inert on the ground again. As each one fell, one of the glyphs on the walls went dark as well.

Erevan used mage hand to retrieve one of the coins from the alcove. It turned out to be painted wood. He used his mage hand to sift through the pile to see if there was anything else there, especially because Flint’s detect magic spell was picking something up from that room. When he found nothing, Keo and Flint went into the room and only to find that they could’t get out again because some sort of invisible wall of force had sprung up behind them. Luckily, Flint knew he could get rid of the wall with a magic missile, so they weren’t trapped there for long.

The group returned to the surface and told Cassyt about what they’d found: an old necromancer’s lab, guarded by some minor undead creatures, possibly connected to the old Cult of the Dragon, back when they were more interested in undead dragons than living ones.

Having reached the end of that thread, the heroes ventured back to the Upper City to continue their wait for the contingent of cultists from the Greenfields to arrive with their stolen loot.

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.

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.

On the Road

Elturel
The PCs met with Leosin and Ontharr at the latter’s headquarters, the tavern known as A Pair of Black Antlers. They told the tale of what they’d found in the dragon hatchery, and Ontharr was suitably impressed. They also passed over the notes and map they’d found in Mondath’s chamber. [Although, come to think of it, Mondath probably should have taken her things back when the PCs were captured.]

Ontharr then challenged them to an arm-wrestling match. He beat Mara once, followed by Flint. Then Mara said she wanted a rematch and beat him, so he suggested a best two out of three, which he ended up winning. They may have even gone to best three out of five. By that time Ontharr had had enough and said it was time to go and inspect his troops. He invited them to come along and partake of some sparring or archery practice or whatever. I don’t think any of them actually did, though.

Erevan mentioned his head injury to Ontharr, who said he could get someone to look into it. When the elf inquired what exactly that would entail, and Ontharr indicated that it would involve quite a bit of prayer, Erevan turned him down. As an native of Evermeet, he wasn’t keen on being beholden to mere human gods. He decided to seek out an elven healer instead.

That evening, the PCs were summoned back to the tavern, where Ontharr gave them lots of alcohol to drink. He and Leosin laid out what they knew and what they wanted the PCs to do. The PCs all readily agreed, since they each had their own bone to pick with the cult. Erevan and Flint both seemed intrigued by Leosin’s description of the Harpers, as well, though they declined to join then and there. Mara, meanwhile, didn’t seem keen on either faction.

[Keo’s player wasn’t present, but in a brief one-on-one later, I had him meet with an Emerald Enclave rep who offered him the same mission and opportunity to join her faction. He agreed to join the Enclave and go on the mission.]

Ontharr furnished the PCs with new equipment and suggested they change their appearance, though I’m not sure any of them really did. Flint, for instance, wasn’t keen on shaving his beard or anything like that. I think Erevan acquired some secondhand clothes in order to appear less conspicuous.

Baldur’s Gate
The next morning, they hopped on another boat (with Flint gaining enough courage through drink to board on his own so Erevan wouldn’t have to put him to sleep again) and headed downriver to Baldur’s Gate. The trip was uneventful, and upon disembarking, they headed for Mara’s family’s mansion in the Upper City.

Over dinner, Mara’s older brother told her of some research their late father (who had been killed in the bombing of the city’s parliament in the lead-up to Bhaal’s bloodsoaked return during the Sundering) had been doing into the origins of the heirloom greataxe Mara carries around. Her father had concluded that the axe might only be a replica of a magical axe wielded by their family’s founding ancestor, Skie Sigursdottir, also known as the Storm Maiden of Ruathym. Her brother’s own research had led him to conclude that Skie was entombed in the necropolis under the cemetery in Tumbledown.

The next day, after the PCs went out to Blackgate and met with Ontharr’s contact, Ackyn Selebon, and discussed options for keeping an eye out for the cultists (Selebon suggested employing some of the city’s many urchins to keep watch and/or taking a stroll through the caravan assembly point once a day), they headed out to Tumbledown. Along the way, Erevan found some urchins and paid them to keep him informed of the goings-on around the caravan yard in Blackgate.


SIDE QUEST:
DUES FOR THE DEAD

In Tumbledown, the PCs discovered that the catacombs were closed to the public due to an undead infestation. Several of the Kelemvorites who tend to the cemetery had been killed by the undead in recent days. Since the cemetery was located in the Outer City, the priests could expect no help from the city’s authorities, so for now they had just sealed the catacombs. The PCs agreed to help them with their problem so that Mara could find her ancestor’s crypt.

The lead Kelemvorite offered to send one of his assistants, a young half-elf woman named Cassyt, as a guide.

After rolling away the stone blocking the entrance to the catacombs, the party headed down into the dark, with Cassyt carrying a lantern to light their way. They prowled through the catacombs, encountering some ghouls hiding amongst some ritually smoked bodies and some zombies in a room that had once been used to kill vampires. They also found some Guild thieves who’d been trapped in a room by the aforementioned zombies. After Mara intimidated them into handing over their ill-gotten gains, they then escorted them back to the surface and handed them over to Cassyt’s boss, Doomguide Glandon.

It was their intention to go back into the city to find Keo before pressing any further into the catacombs.