Attack on Everlund

In which our heroes barely escape Everlund with their lives before heading to the Misty Forest

As the PCs made their way across a bridge, a black dragon swooped low in front of them, depositing a number of cultists in full regalia at the far end of the bridge. Meanwhile, an armored warrior bearing the symbol of Tiamat waded through the crowd, slaying anyone who got to close to the aura of fiendish spirits encircling him. Following closely on his heels was a half-blue dragon who looked a lot like Cyanwrath.

A fierce battle ensued, in which the PCs tried ineffectually to force the war priest to lose his concentration on his spirit guardians spell, which ultimately spelled their doom. If it hadn’t been for the nigh-unkillable Keo and his powerful healing magic, the group would’ve been wiped out. As it was, only poor Imsa died.

As the PCs tried to sneak through the city to Moongleam Tower, they were spotted by the black dragon, who strafed them with its acidic breath. This took them all down again, and this time Roscoe didn’t get up again. Flint regained consciousness first and used some healing potions to revive Keo and Skie. Flint cast gentle repose on both Roscoe’s and Imsa’s bodies and, finding that the battle had ended, the PCs were able to reach Moongleam Tower with no further problems.

After teleporting back to Waterdeep, Keo reincarnated Imsa, who returned as a human again, albeit in a new body, while the others arranged to have Roscoe raised from the dead. Both of them came back with more apathy than they’d had before. Imsa didn’t feel at home in her new body, while Roscoe simply couldn’t bring himself to care about much.

After recuperating and gathering supplies, the group went to see Delaan Winterhound, who supplied Keo with a scroll of wind walk to help them on their next mission: to investigate the cult’s attacks on the elves of the Misty Forest.

After zooming south in cloud form, the PCs set about inspecting the village of Altand, which had mysteriously survived an attack by cult forces, including an adult green dragon. The surviving villagers pointed them in the direction of their warden and new leader, Galin, who was struggling to come to terms with his new role as well as the loss of his wife, who had been killed in the raid.

The PCs were almost immediately suspicious of Galin. The elf was not telling them everything he knew, but they didn’t want to push him. Outside, Imsa suggested they try talking to Galin’s pet raven. Keo liked that idea and realized he could also talk with the very trees. He decided to try that first and learned from the tree holding Galin’s house that the elf had snuck out during the night and headed south. Other trees confirmed this and indicated that this wasn’t the first time they’d seen him do it.

Under the pretence of doing a patrol around the village, the PCs headed out into the woods and soon found a clearing to the south of the village where it was clear something large, like a dragon, had landed. There were also two sets of humanoid footprints.

Oyaviggaton

In which our heroes face off against Arauthator in his iceberg lair and live to tell the tale!

Note: This recap covers two sessions.

Part I: Against the Dragon
When it was clear that the ice toads weren’t going to stop them, the heroes collected their things, jury-rigged some crampons for their feet, and ventured out into the dragon’s lair.

Following a wide, circular tunnel that sloped up and down at odd intervals, they snuck past a chamber full of kobolds then came to a vast cavern filled with fog, in which loomed large shapes. Eventually they found themselves in an empty cave with a ramp sloping up out of the fog.

Flint cast invisibility on Roscoe so he could scout ahead unseen (as well as telepathic bond on the group so they could all stay in touch). Roscoe spotted a blue-skinned troll lurking in an alcove at the top of the ramp. Sneaking past, he entered another cave containing a large tent that looked like it would have been more at home in the deserts of Calimshan.

Slipping around to the back of the tent, Roscoe found another ramp sloping down into darkness. Creeping down, he found several makeshift bookshelves containing a number of books and scrolls that seemingly made his skin crawl just to look at them. The opening of a large chute yawned in the floor to the west.

Climbing back up to the tent, he pulled the makeshift walls apart just enough to peek through. Inside, he could see a tiefling sitting at a desk, with two nervous-looking kobolds in attendance. A brazier filled with warm coals gave off enough light and heat to make the interior quite pleasant. Although her back was to him, Roscoe was sure that the tiefling was the missing Brotherhood mage, Maccath!

Having telepathically reported his findings to the group as he went along, Roscoe waited for the others to come up with a plan. They rushed up the ramp and quickly dispatched the blue-skinned troll. As they rushed into the tent, they surprised the kobolds, who panicked and made a run for it, only to be swiftly cut down as well.

Maccath looked up at her would-be rescuers with disinterest. “Have you come to rescue me or kill me? Not that it makes much difference …”

The heroes quickly concluded from the tiefling’s demeanor that she was under some kind of spell. Keo dispelled it and suddenly Maccath came to herself. After bringing everyone up to speed on her activities during her years of captivity, Maccath pointed out that they’d have no hope of getting away from the iceberg with the dragon still present. Her absence would be noticed in due course and the dragon would hunt them down and kill them while they were out on the ice. The only real option would be to strike the dragon hard and fast and deal him a big enough blow – to his ego, if not his body – that he’d spend months sulking in one of his other lairs.

Maccath lent Skie her ring of cold resistance and let Flint rifle through the scrolls in the scriptorium below. After spending a bit too long hatching a plan for Maccath’s liking, the heroes eventually tied some rope together, tossed it down the chute, drank a few potions, cast a few preparatory spells, and then hastened down into the frigid darkness.

Arauthator somehow knew they were coming and was lurking in a pool at the western end of his lair, only his head showing above the slushy water. The heroes found themselves on an icy ledge, encrusted with coins and gems frozen into the walls and floor.

As you might expect, a fierce battle ensued. Spells were slung, dragon-slaying arrows and magic axes were hurled. Icy walls went up and fiery walls brought them down. Freezing fog froze lungs and icy breath froze flesh. Wings beat, tails slapped, claws ripped. Two aquatic trolls appeared and ripped poor Imsa to shreds before they could be stopped. Eventually, though, the dragon fled in a fury, and the heroes breathed sighs of relief.

Part 2: Looting the Dragon’s Lair
With the dragon dead, and Imsa’s body on ice, Flint cast detect magic and found two magic rings and a magic amulet. They dug those out of the ice, along with some gems and a fancy-looking eyepatch, and then climbed back up to the scriptorium. Maccath proceeded to collect all the Brotherhood’s stolen tomes and stuffed them into Flint’s magic bag.

They hurried back the way they’d came and climbed up the shaft to find themselves emerging in the Ice Hunter shaman’s hut. She was surprised to see them but made no attempt to stop them as they went back out into the snow and trudged over to the icy stairs, where Flint shot a fire bolt into the sky as a flare. Moments later, Desharra showed up with her griffons. They informed her that they’d chased away the dragon and found the person they were looking for. However, they just had a few more things to do before they’d be ready to leave.

Trudging back to the Ice Hunter village, they found the chieftain and informed him that they’d driven off the dragon. The Ice Hunters were ecstatic and, after a short celebration, began the arduous process of packing up their village. They intended to slip away into the depths of the Sea of Moving Ice, where they hoped the dragon would never find them again. Maccath reckoned they’d be OK. It was unlikely Arauthator would bother tracking them down, since they had no real contact with the outside world and thus would not be spreading word of his humiliating defeat.

After this, the heroes descended back down into Arauthator’s lair and sought out the ice toads. Maccath called for Marfulb, the toads’ leader, who came and spoke with Flint at length about Arauthator’s life. As the others began to get bored, Roscoe asked the ice toad if there was any more treasure in the lair. Marfulb explained that it depended on what he considered treasure. Some of the giants on display in the Hall of Giants, for instance, still wore some giant-sized jewelry. But there was also a chest of coins and jewels sitting on the deck of a rebuilt longship in the other trophy hall, where Arauthator also displayed his more bestial conquests: behirs, remorhazes, and abominable yetis.

Thanking Marfulb, the heroes retreated. Not wanting to tangle with the ice toads, they had Maccath guide them through the lair’s central chambers. As they attempted to pass another chute leading down into the caverns below, Keo’s weight dislodged part of the icy wall, which knocked Roscoe down the chute. They were able to fish him back up without too much trouble, though.

They then proceeded into the Trophy Hall, past all the enormous frozen corpses of monsters and onto the deck of the longship, which Skie could tell had been incorrectly rebuilt, though it didn’t look like too bad a job. Sure enough, there was an option chest of treasure. Flint opened his magic bag while Roscoe made to dump the contents into it.

As soon as the halfling’s hands touched the treasure, though, red light flared in the fog and the cracking of ice heralded the awakening of one of the remorhaz corpses! It appeared that Arauthator had set up some kind of trap! The remorhaz shrieked and attacked the would-be thieves. Roscoe delivered multiple nasty stabs, while Skie chucked her axe and Flint slung his spells. Keo changed into bear form and charged in, only to find that every bite was painful as the remorhaz was extremely hot! It got him up in its mouth and attempted to swallow him, at one point forcing him to revert to his normal form, but in the end the monster was slain (for the second time?) and the hard-won loot theirs!

Desharra agreed to fly the group straight to Luskan, where they returned Maccath and the stolen books to the Brotherhood. Once there, Keo arranged to have a gentle repose spell cast on Imsa’s remains, in order to buy himself more time to gather the materials he needed to bring her back to life.

And now that Maccath was safely back at home, she was happy to answer the heroes’ questions about the draakhorn. As it so happened, the horn had once been in Arauthator’s lair, but some humans in cultist garb had showed up sometime in the past year and had taken it away. It was an ancient relic that Tiamat had given to the chromatic dragons in their wars against the giants. There had once been coded blasts that could be used to send messages, but these were lost to the ages. She was not sure what the cult was doing with it now.

As the heroes were making ready to depart, Cashaan the Red, informed them that, in return for their help in rescuing Maccath and recovering the items Arauthator had stolen, the Arcane Brotherhood would be happy to join the coalition against the Cult of the Dragon! The heroes took this good news with them back through the magic portal to Waterdeep.

Keo wasted no time in using a sapphire he’d taken from the dragon’s hoard to pay for various rare oils and unguents he needed for the reincarnation spell. Once all was ready, he called upon the ancient magic and created a new body for Imsa’s spirit to inhabit. As the body, which was that of a strongheart halfling, came to life, its skin and hair rapidly changed to green. It would appear that whatever had caused this condition of hers was not merely physical! Keo resolved to get to the bottom of it somehow. In the meantime, he would have to help Imsa come to terms with the shock of finding herself in a completely different body.

Second Council of Waterdeep
The heroes soon learned that a political shakeup had occurred in their absence: the Masked Lords of Waterdeep had dumped Lord Neverember and appointed Lady Silverhand as the new Open Lord of Waterdeep in his place! This was quite the coup, and while not everyone was happy with it, many people were breathing a sigh of relief.

And it was Lady Laeral who directed the second session of the Council of Waterdeep. A rather glum-looking Lord Neverember sat to her right, along with Zelenn the White from the Arcane Brotherhood. Dagult had clearly pulled some strings to get his old friend to be the mages’ representative. Her presence on the council was welcomed by everyone except Ontharr Frume, who was not happy because the Brotherhood did not police its members. “Their leader is a blinking necromancer, for gods’ sake!” he spluttered. Everyone else ignored him.

As the council meeting got underway and the various delegates reported on cult activity in their respective territories, it became apparent that the cult was increasing its raids. When it got to be Delaan Winterhound’s turn to speak, the half-elf began to explain that the Enclave was investigating reports of dragon raids in the Misty Forest, only to be rudely interrupted by King Melandrach, who insisted that the raids had been dealt with by increased patrols and improved fortifications.

Lady Laeral then introduced a familiar face: Elia, the Turami noblewoman and friend of Lady Haventree whom the heroes had met at the first Council Quiet some months ago. Much to everyone’s surprise, she revealed herself to be, in truth, a silver dragon named Otaaryliakkarnos. She informed the council that the metallic dragons of the Sword Coast were arranging a council of their own. She recommended that the council send representatives, and so, of course, the heroes were chosen.

After the meeting, Delaan approached the heroes privately and told them more about what was happening in the Misty Forest. King Melandrach’s own son, Prince Alagarthas, was also convinced that something sinister was going on, for there were reports from survivors that the dragon was being controlled by a humanoid, possibly even one of the cult’s wyrmspeakers! If the heroes wished to investigate further, Delaan suggested they head to the elven village of Altand first, as it had mysteriously survived intact, whereas all the other raided villages had been destroyed.

The heroes agreed that it would be worth investigating. However, they decided that it might be worth talking to the metallic dragons first, and so agreed to attend the dragons’ council with Elia (aka “Otaaryliakkarnos”).

To the Serpent Hills

Waterdeep
As the heroes settled back into the safehouse in the North Ward, Leosin told them they’d have a few days to kill while the various members of the Council Quiet could get organized for a formal debriefing. During that time, Flint used his magic to identify the properties of both the magic sword and the dragon mask they’d salvaged from Rezmir’s ashes. Both items were extremely powerful, and no one in the party felt particularly comfortable handling them, let alone attuning to them. They all agreed to hand them over to Lady Laeral.

On the way to the meeting, Keo spotted a cloaked figure watching them from some distance ahead. When the figure spotted him looking in his direction, it turned and pushed off into the crowd. Keo caught a glimpse of a fiendish tail swishing out from under the cloak. His thoughts turned immediately to Barakis, the tiefling cultist that had tried to murder him several times during the caravan journey. Signalling to his companions, Keo followed the tiefling all the way down the city’s main thoroughfare and into a side court known as Virgin’s Square.

Here, amidst a crowded night market, the heroes discovered that the figure was indeed Barakis! Keo also spotted Umara, the cultist guard who’d accused him of murdering one of her companions, lurking nearby, pretending to examine a merchant’s wares while keeping an eye on the party.

Barakis demanded that the heroes give him the maks they’d stolen from Rezmir. If they refused, everyone in the square would die. The heroes flatly refused. A fight ensued. Barakis ordered his men, dispersed among the crowd, to start their slaughter. In the end, five cultists and twenty innocent bystanders lay dead. Flint had inadvertently set fire to a number of stalls, and Barakis had managed to escape in the confusion. Though the city guards detained the heroes for questioning, word of the attack quickly reached Leosin’s ears and he was able to arrange their release.

When the heroes finally reached the Yawning Portal Inn, the faction leaders were all eager to learn more about the attack. Everyone agreed that the mask seemed particularly important and that it should be kept hidden away somewhere. If the heroes kept it, as Roscoe desired, the cultists would be constantly attacking them in order to get it back. In the end, Roscoe reluctantly agreed to go along with the rest of the party’s wishes and agreed to hand it over to Lady Laeral for safekeeping. Laeral also offered to take the sentient sword off their hands in exchange for some other magic items.

The heroes then gave a full report on their activities from the Mere of Dead Men through to Skyreach Castle. The leaders were particularly impressed that the party had not only befriended a cloud giant but had also bested an adult white dragon!

Leosin reported that the Harpers’ interrogation of Azbara Jos had not been particularly fruitful, unfortunately, although they had been able to get him to confirm that Rath Modar was the leader of his splinter sect, known as the Thayan Resurrection, and that they had allied with the Cult of the Dragon in hopes that Tiamat would repay them by helping overthrow Szass Tam.

Downtime
After the debrief, the heroes found themselves with some free time. With winter drawing near, and having suffered the loss of both Skyreach Castle and the treasure that had been aboard it, the cult and its leaders went to ground. Lady Remallia Haventree, the elven High Harper, invited the heroes over to her manor for dinner, where she introduced them to her husband, Lord Arthagast Ulbrinter. An influential noble in the city (and rumored to be one of the city’s Masked Lords), Ulbrinter expressed his desire to “wine and dine” the heroes among the city’s elite circles in order to drum up support for their cause.

Keo politely declined, opting to travel with Delaan Winterhound to Goldenfields, where he spent some time catching up with Imsa and reverse-engineered the magical cult emblem he’d claimed from Rezmir’s ashes. He was able to craft himself a new one in the form of the Emerald Enclave insignia. Looping it onto a large leather thong so it would still fit around his neck while in bear form, he was pleased to find that it magically enhanced his teeth and claws as he’d hoped it would.

As Imsa was just in the process of concluding her initial druidic training, she was able to rejoin Keo as his apprentice and accompany him back to Waterdeep. Before doing so, however, the goliath spent some time training to improve his powers of observation with Emerald Enclave operatives. [DM note: I am intending to give the PCs each a bonus feat at some point, and Keo’s player has chosen to take Observant.]

Meanwhile, Skie met with Lady Laeral in private to inform her that Mara had perished at the hands of her former friend Talis and that she, Mara’s ancestor, had taken possession of her body. She confirmed her desire to continue Mara’s mission and pledged her allegiance to the Lords’ Alliance. She then took a fast ship down the coast to Baldur’s Gate to break the news to Mara’s family. She spent the rest of her downtime training with Lords’ Alliance operatives upon returning to Waterdeep. [DM note: Skie’s player hasn’t yet decided which feat she’d like to take.]

Flint spent a good deal of his downtime copying spells from the spellbooks he’d acquired on his adventures into his own book before turning them over to his Harper colleagues. Leosin also arranged for him to train with a Harper spellslinger on the art of magical sniping. [DM note: Flint will be taking Spell Sniper as his bonus feat.]

Flint also discovered a newfound obsession with alcohol. In fact, he found that once he started drinking, it became very difficult for him to stop. It wasn’t long before Lord Ulbrinter stopped inviting him along to his little soirees. [DM note: This is the cost of Flint’s resurrection.]

As for Roscoe, well … the less said about his downtime activities the better. Suffice it to say that he spent a good deal of time learning new tips and tricks from Zhentish agents based in Waterdeep. He also made sure not to miss any of Lord Ulbrinter’s parties.

A Message Arrives
Finally, in the midst of a snowy winter, Flint received an unexpected magical message from none other than Talis! Using the sending spell, Talis told the dwarf: “You want to catch a wyrmspeaker? You’re in luck! Varram the White has been spotted near Boareskyr Bridge. Make haste lest he disappear again!”

Flint quickly informed his companions and they went and told Leosin, who called an emergency session of the Council Quiet to discuss the matter. While some were concerned that it might be a trap, all agreed that it was worth following up. Lady Laeral teleported the party to the middle of Boareskyr Bridge. Getting their bearings through the snow, they headed to the south end of the bridge and entered the tent city situated outside the walls of the fort that soldiers from nearby Elturgard had recently rebuilt. At the pavilion inn, they discovered that the Halfling proprietor remembered seeing a dwarf matching Varram’s description. She regarded him as something of a hero, though, because he’d attacked a yuan-ti spy that had been lurking in the inn. She added that they last anyone had seen of him, was when he’d taken his heavily-cloaked entourage north along the river.

The heroes hired a human guide named Elowyn and headed upriver themselves. Along the way, they met a patrol of Elturgard soldiers who said they’d seen a dwarf and some rough barbarian types traveling upriver in canoes a few days earlier.

Emboldened, the heroes pressed on through the rough wilderness of the Serpent Hills. Elowyn was able to steer them clear of the area’s worst dangers. After a few days, they came across a set of canoes, abandoned on the north side of the river. Their guide found them a safe place to ford and they headed deeper into the hills, hot on Varram’s trail. On the seventh day out from the bridge, they came to a canyon in which lay the ruins of an ancient town.

The Tomb of Diderius
Searching around the ruins, they found some freshly-dug graves and an abandoned campsite. Roscoe noticed some massive, partially broken statues flanking an old path and approached them. He was surprised when the statues moved to face him then spoke, asking him if he sought wisdom or knowledge. Thinking quickly, the halfling chose knowledge, which seemed to satisfy the statues, which reverted to their previous position.

Soon after, Elowyn departed with her payment, and the party passed between the statues to investigate a tomb in the cliffside beyond them. Someone had placed a ladder against the cliff to reach the tomb entrance. Roscoe got Imsa to turn him invisible so he could climb up and look around more safely. The tomb appeared to be full of shiny treasures, but as Roscoe’s greedy little fingers made to pick out a few pieces, they turned out to be illusory! In truth, the tomb was completely empty. Everything had been looted long ago. The only real thing in the tomb was a stone door in an alcove at the back.

Roscoe discovered that the door had been forced open recently. Popping on his magical nightvision goggles, he pushed the door open and peered into the darkness beyond, spying a series of cowled statues lining a corridor that led to another door. As he crept into the corridor, a thought came to him that he should avoid looking into the darkness inside the statues’ hoods, as some things were not meant to be known by mortals. As he reached the midpoint, the robed statues all turned their empty cowls in his direction, making it harder for him to not look. He managed it somehow, though, as did his companions, once he’d warned them of the danger.

In the next room, they found a tile mosaic on the floor that depicted an armored knight battling a chimera. A ledge ran around the room near the ceiling, and there were two doors and a sloped passage leading out. The door to the left bore the word “SAFE” written in chalk on it. The door directly opposite was bulging outwards.

Roscoe chose to check the door marked “SAFE” first. As he crossed the mosaic, Keo noticed that the chimera had started moving. It clawed its way up out of the mosaic, turning into a barely three-dimensional creature that proceeded to breathe fire on everyone before swooping up to perch on the ledge.

The tile chimera proved to have more bark than bite, as it did not breathe on them again. Despite being thin in one dimension, the heroes had little trouble scattering its tiles around the room each time it swooped down to claw and bite at them.

Danger Ahead!

Sabotage
The next morning, as the caravan was leaving the inn, Samardag the Hoper’s wagon fell apart. His cargo crashed to the ground, smashing to pieces. Ever the optimist, Samardag just shrugged and decided to stay behind at the inn and wait for another opportunity to come along. Keo took a look at the wagon anyway and determined that it had been sabotaged, though he chose to keep that info to himself. The goliath decided to continue on with the caravan as an independent traveler, while his fellow guard, Leda Widris, was hired on by Beyd Sechepol.

Trollclaw Ford
A few uneventful days later, the caravan arrived at Trollclaw Ford and settled down for another day of rest. The heroes spent part of the day exploring the myriad ruins lying around the ford but no trolls were forthcoming. When they returned, they discovered a gnome had showed up in the caravan’s midst. About all anyone could get out of him was his name: Radecere Perethun. That and the fact that he really enjoyed playing games of chance.

That night, Barakis invited Keo to share a drink with him and exchange pleasantries. Afterwards, as Keo was settling down to bed, he was suddenly wracked with pain. It was only thanks to his stone-like constitution that he survived. The goliath set off to find Flint, who deduced that someone had put wyvern poison in his drink. Keo wondered if it had been Barakis or someone else.

Contraband
As the caravan wound its way out of the Trollclaws, the Appledowns had a small mishap as their wagon tipped into a rut and broke a wheel. As a result, some of their possessions spilled out onto the ground. While Tilda frantically tried to gather everything up, her husband Devlin insisted he could fix the wagon himself. Keo wouldn’t take no for an answer, though, so the young man eventually agreed to let the goliath hold the wagon up while he put on a new wheel.

After the caravan had stopped for the night, Losvius reported to Erevan that he had spotted some expensive-looking jewels among the things Tilda hurriedly put back in the wagon. Too expensive for such poor-looking commoners. The next morning, Losvius was found dead in his bed. Examining the halfling’s body, Flint noticed a tiny needle prick in the back of his neck, along with the telltale signs of wyvern poison. He chose to keep the evidence of Losvius’ murder to himself, though, so a manhunt wouldn’t reveal the cultists prematurely.

Bane of the Mountains
Another few days passed uneventfully. As the caravan settled in for another rest day in the shadow of the Troll Hills, Erevan and Keo spotted some perytons circling overhead. As the monstrosities began to dive toward the camp, the two gave a yell and made ready to defend the others, who were caught off-guard. One peryton went for Erevan, desiring his elf-flesh above all else, while another attacked Tilda Appledown. A third went for Imsa the Green. The remaining perytons struck elsewhere in the camp.

Seeing Imsa being gored by the peryton, Keo rushed in and used his magic to keep her alive. He then dragged her under the relative safety of a wagon and turned to face the hungry monster. Erevan, meanwhile, had also taken shelter beneath a wagon, firing his arrows at the peryton as Mara came running up and repeatedly threw her axe at the stubborn creature until it finally died.

As Flint fired magic missiles at the perytons, he glanced over at the Appledowns in time to see them draw a pair of familiar back-curved scimitars. The dragon cult weapon was of little use for Tilda, however, as the peryton’s antlers and talons ripped into her. As the monster made to fly off with her comatose body, Devlin ran to retrieve a bow from his wagon. Erevan the sharpshooter cames to the rescue, however, felling the beast from a great distance. Devlin hurried off to fetch his wife’s body, and as he returned to camp, Keo approached and offered to heal her. Devlin accepted but did not thank the druid.

Imsa the Green, however, did thank Keo for saving her life again. In fact, she proclaimed a desire to learn the ways of the druids and asked Keo if he would teach her. Flattered, the goliath agreed.

Dragonspear Castle
Another few days saw the caravan reach the end of the Coast Way, where it met the Trade Way in the shadow of Dragonspear Castle (or what was left of it). Here a smaller caravan traveling up from Scornubel merged with the caravan from Baldur’s Gate. Much to Erevan’s delight, the newcomers included two elf brothers, Noohar and Selvek. While Noohar was lively and talkative, his brother was mute. They were carrying exquisitely carved woodworks from the elves of Cormyr.

That night, the PCs heard all sorts of stories about the dreadful things that had happened up in the castle ruins over the centuries.

Animal Abuse
A few days later, Keo had become fed up watching one of the newcomers, a haughty noble named Grigor Chernin, abuse his animals. During a rest stop, he approached the nobleman and his bodyguards, a stern knight named Alethra and a sulky mage name Olem, to suggest that they treat their horses more kindly if they wished for them to survive the whole journey. Chernin brushed Keo’s concerns away, indicating that he could always get another horse if that one died. Not wanting to start a fight, Keo walked away, vowing to tend to the nobleman’s horse during the night, when no one was looking. Sure enough, he made sure to feed Chernin’s horses a goodberry or two every night to keep them going with the nobleman noticing.

The Golden Stag
During the caravan’s next scheduled rest stop, on the outskirts of the Misty Forest, a herd of deer wandered near to the caravan. A cry went up as someone spotted a magnificent stag with a shining coat seemingly made of gold and antlers covered in what looked like platinum. Numerous members of the caravan grabbed spears and bows and made to hunt the beast, ignoring the elves’ fervent pleas not to. Both Keo and Erevan decided to track the beast in hopes of stopping the others from killing it.

As the two slipped into the forest, they gradually heard the shouts of their comrades grow fainter, while every once in a while, they caught a glimpse of the stag up ahead. It was as though it was leading them somewhere, while the others were just getting themselves lost in the woods. Erevan hoped that no one ran afoul of the xenophobic wood elves who called the Misty Forest home.

After only a short distance (1,500 yards or so), they stumbled into a clearing in which lay the ruins of a once grand castle. In the middle, where a spring bubbled out of the ground and ran down among the rocks, stood the stag. It greeted them in a musical language that Keo recognized as Sylvan, although he couldn’t understand it. The stag then switched to Elvish, and Erevan translated for Keo. The stag told them that they were on the right path, and that they should follow the river of gold to the castle in the sky. It then implored them to drink from the spring. As a reward, they each received a charm of heroism. As the stag faded away, it warned them that not all of them would survive the journey …

And sure enough, as Keo and Erevan made their way back to camp, they found themselves ambushed by Barakis and a number of the other travelers from the caravan. All of them were wielding the dragon cult’s standard issue scimitars. Barakis further surprised them by breathing a blast of fire on Erevan. The cultists made short work of the two heroes, leaving them to bleed to death in the forest. Erevan soon succumbed to his injuries, but the goliath was still breathing by the time Flint and Mara found them. (Having seen everyone else who went hunting return but not their friends, the other two heroes convinced their employers to let them go look. Despite Aldor the lawyer’s sour attitude, Mara somehow knows just how to manipulate him into getting what she wants!)

A Second Chance
Flint revived Keo with a healing potion, and the goliath explained what had happened. The group decided to take Erevan’s body back to the ruins to see if they could find the stag again. When the stag did not return, Flint and the others decided to try shouting help, in case any elves were nearby. After some time passed, an elf emerged from the trees, and the heroes got the sense that there were many others watching them from the shadows. A tense discussion ensued, but the heroes were able to convince the elf to lead them to some druids who could help, though on condition that they all went blindfolded into the forest.

As the heroes met with the druids, they related their sorrowful tale. When Keo mentioned meeting the golden stag, the elves were suitably impressed, and when he added that he was a member of the Emerald Enclave, the druids’ attitude improved enough that they agreed to help the party. They offered to reincarnate Erevan for half the normal cost in material components. Flint scrounged through his bag of holding and begrudgingly handed over 500 gp in coins and gems.

As the druids performed their ritual, a new body took form. They called on Erevan’s spirit, and he returned to inhabit this new body. Much to his bemusement, and that of his friends’, he was now only half an elf! But this gave him an idea: the cultists would have no idea who he was. They could go on thinking that he had died in the forest, and he could spy on them as a newcomer to the caravan. It was perfect!

So the other three returned to the camp and spread the word that Erevan was dead. Flint privately told Edhelri the truth, that there were some bad people in the caravan that he and the others were tracking. They had killed Erevan. But Edhelri wasn’t to do or say anything, because Flint and his companions needed the bad people to reach their destination safely. Flint then went back to Angesstun’s wagon, convinced that virtually everyone in the caravan could be a cultist and that it was only a matter of time before they tried to kill him too!

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.