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 cafĂ© 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!