To Waterdeep or Bust!

A Day of Rest
On the seventh day out from Baldur’s Gate, the caravan stopped for its first rest day. The animals were allowed to relax, and the wagons were patched up. Erevan stepped into his roll as caravan guard sergeant by setting up a roster and making sure all the guards were on the same page.

Keo took them time to find the tiefling Barakis and struck up a conversation with him. The tiefling revealed that he had gone to Little Calimshan after fleeing from the turmoil in his homeland, but he didn’t like it there (too oppressed and dangerous), so now he was heading further north in search of somewhere better. Keo empathized with the tiefling, and the two agreed to get some drinks together later. Mara and Flint merely sat back and observed while off duty.

Erevan also took Losvius Longnose, an overly-curious halfling teamster, aside and warned him that he’d heard about the halfling’s nosey habits. Much to Losvius’ surprise, however, Erevan offered to pay him good money to report on anything noteworthy that he came across while poking around. He warned the halfling to be discreet, though, as there was some “hot” merchandise in the caravan and its handlers wouldn’t take kindly to it being discovered. Losvius readily agreed, of course. Hopefully Erevan wouldn’t be getting him into trouble!

Fungus Humongous
A few days later, a storm rolled in. Lots of rain. Thunder and lightning. The storm went on for two whole days, leaving everyone cold and miserable. On the morning of the third day, everyone woke up to find the ground covered in tiny but rapidly growing mushrooms that let out a puff of black spores and a sound like a baby’s cry when stepped on. The merchants were all terrified, convinced that the mushrooms would doom them all, especially since the animals were all spooked too. Keo, however, knew a thing or two about plants and determined that these were baby shriekers. He wasn’t sure why they were growing on the surface but pointed out that they were pretty harmless at this stage. Their spores were only mildly toxic. He volunteered to help clear a path, as did his companions and several of the other guards. Only the guards were affected by the toxin and ended up spending the rest of the day wracked with grief.

No Room at the Inn
That evening, the caravan approached the last inn south of Trollclaw Ford. The warm light spilling from its windows was inviting, but when the heroes were sent inside to secure some rooms, they discovered that the entire inn had been booked out by a snotty-looking noblewoman and her entourage of sniggering dilettantes. The woman insisted that she was waiting for some party guests to arrive but wouldn’t discuss the details. The innkeeper seemed completely unwilling to make any exceptions and wouldn’t even allow the caravan to stay in the stables (which the noblewoman had also booked out so her horses wouldn’t have to share the building with any other animals), although he seemed visibly embarrassed by it.

While the party discussed whether or not to simply overwhelm the innkeeper and the nobles with the sheer number of people in the caravan, Tyjit Skesh lost her temper and drew her sword. The noblewoman’s minions quickly leapt to their feet, drawing their weapons as well. The noblewoman herself underwent a terrifying transformation, sprouting large leather wings from her back and small horns on her head, as her skin darkened to an unholy shade of red. Keo recognized her as a half-fiend cambion. The fight was on!

As the cambion’s minions came charging across the room, Keo conjured up two brown bears in an attempt to box the half-fiend in the corner. Unfortunately, she was able to evade them by flying up near the ceiling. She then used her fiendish wiles to charm Mara into attacking Keo, who had changed into bear form himself. Between Mara’s greataxe and the minions’ swords, Keo found himself unable to stay in wildshaped for long. He also lost concentration on his conjuration spell, but not before the two bears were able to rough up two of the cambion’s minions.

The cambion shot rays of fire at the heroes and taunted them while she hovered in the air out of reach. Along with her minions’ attacks, the party were quickly overwhelmed. Flint dropped to the ground, though Tyjit managed to stabilize him. Keo soon followed, as did Erevan. Tyjit ran to the front door and called for aid. Orvustia, Leda, and Sulesdeg came running to help. Orvustia headed to assist Erevan, helping him back on his feet, while Leda and Sulesdeg held off the cambion’s minions. Erevan was soon on the floor again, though, as the cambion ordered Mara to chase him around and take him down. Orvustia went to help Keo, but the cambion scorched her with fire and she crumpled onto the ground.

The cambion then ordered Mara to go help herself to a drink, taking her out of the fight for a few moments. Flying over to a table near the bar, she invited Mara to join her while they watched her minions hack away at Sulesdeg and Leda. Sulesdeg fell, but Leda hung in there and ended up being the last one standing. She rushed over to get a healing potion off Erevan’s belt. The cambion, who had by this time introduced herself as Nemeia, ordered Mara to go stop Leda. Unfortunately, Leda gave Mara a few good whacks, enabling the noble fighter to shake off the charm effect. Disappointed, Nemeia flew over to the bar and tried it on Leda, but the veteran guard proved to be too strong-willed. Leda poured the potion down Erevan’s throat, while Mara went to fetch more healing potions from Flint’s bag of holding. With Flint back in the action, the cambion got pounded by magic missiles and soon called it quits, telling the party that they’d ruined her fun. She then plane shifted away in a puff of black smoke.

The battle over, the heroes picked themselves up, revived Sulesdeg and Tyjit, and searched the bodies of the cambion’s goons. Sadly, though, young Orvustia had succumbed to her wounds and was no more.

When the innkeeper came back to his senses (the cambion had also charmed him), he readily agreed to let the entire caravan stay at the inn free of charge (the rooms having already been paid for, after all!). While most members of the caravan were grateful to the adventurers for securing the inn for them, some of the travellers behaved rather oddly. The Appledowns, for instance, chose to stay outside in their wagon, despite the weather, and while Pavel Borsk took a room in the inn, he ordered his bodyguard, Umara, to stay with his wagon. Some of the other travelers who’d been walking also chose to stay in the stables rather than come into the inn. But others, like Imsa and Barakis, gladly partook of the warmth and dryness of the common room. Lai Angesstun droned on about how glad he was not to have to pay for a room, while Morn Amblecrown rudely ignored everyone else. Edhelri was pleased that heroes and their fellow guards were able to clear out the awful people, though she gives Erevan a bit of a chiding for allowing Orvustia to get herself killed.

In the morning, Orvustia’s body was buried under a cairn of rocks, and Edhelri instructed Erevan to write a letter to her family explaining how she’d died. The letter was left at the inn to be taken back to Baldur’s Gate by the next southbound caravan that came through. The caravan also confiscated the cambion’s fine horses.

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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

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.