In a moment of well-earned levity, the heroes and the crew of the Gypsy Dawn gathered on deck as Anther and Kaloy tested their skills in deception against one another. Whoever lost would need to eat a pepper, spoiled well past rotten, which had been residing at the bottom of their enormous snack bag.
In the end, Anther and Kaloy proved evenly matched for one another, but Saradoc lost his wager … and ended up eating the spoiled pepper himself.
It was not pleasant.
Return to the Greypeak Mountains.
Later that evening, they arrived in the Greypeak Mountains, at the fortress the giants had claimed for their own. Hoping for answers regarding the elemental keys, they instead came to a site of mass slaughter, where the giants and ogres who had been trying to live a secluded and peaceful life appeared to have slaughtered one another, their art destroyed or otherwise ruined.
In the throne room they found the corpses of several giants and King Srothus himself, with the message AN EXAMPLE FOR THOSE WHO FAIL ABRAHAM written in blood upon the walls. In the king’s quarters, they found his journal, chronicling years of his life. The King and his tribe had wanted to live peacefully, but were frequently harassed by those who would hunt giants. He accepted a deal with two strange brothers, one who was logical and thoughtful, the other who was anything but. In exchange for protecting a key, they would be granted safehaven in this keep in the Greypeak Mountains. The final entry read, “It’s gone.”
In the vaults, they came across a single surviving ogre named Miarig, who had locked himself away before the slaughter started. He recognized Kaloy as the one who had come the other day, playing pleasant music. When Kaloy offered to play music again, he grew frightened. He remembered the brothers playing bizarre music that made his head hurt, and that made everyone attack each other. He recalled that they were strange and pale, with tentacles protruding from their faces. Illithids, more commonly known as mind flayers.
Miarig, it turned out, was also an artist—an amateur sculptor, in fact. The heroes decided to bring him somewhere safe, so that he at least might be able to enjoy a life of artistic pursuit, even after the tragedy at the keep. Bringing him back to the ship, both Skruk and Mason greeted the ogre in friendship, though Carbry was less than pleased.
They brough Miarig back to Loudwater, entrusting him to the care of Andalar, Anther, and Casaadi, who were sepaarating from the party to go to Waterdeep. They hoped to put Miarig under Varia’s care, so that he could still pursue his interests in sculpting.
In search of the Harpers.
Arrriving in Silverymoon, the heroes took in the beautiful sights of the enchanted city. Kaloy, Saradoc, and Ooga decided to head to the library in search of answers about Abraham, or the elemental keys, or the black fires. And maybe even to get in contact with the Harpers. Tobias, meanwhile, took the time to go to the local temple of Lathander. Mason saw another ship whose captain he was familiar with and departed to enjoy revelries. Laelyn set a date with Saradoc for the evening.
At the library, Kaloy, Saradoc, and Ooga met Vasandra, a Harper agent who operated from the library. Vasandra recognized the party as the people who had helped Tyaene in Waterdeep, so she brought them to a back room to fill them in on the situation.
The Zhentarim, it appeared, had infiltrated the city and stolen magical weapons from the Harpers’ cache. However, they had also taken a device that Vasandra believed they could use to locate their base of operations. While the heroes took care of the Zhentarim, she would gather her research on Abraham and the black fires to provide the answers they were looking for.
Tobias, on his way to the temple district, meanwhile accidentally bumped into an elderly gnome, causing him to lose his glasses. Tobias found the man’s glasses and gave them back to him, which the elderly gnome rewarded with a coin. Slightly suspicious, Tobias refused to take it—especially since Saradoc’s and Andalar’s curses both seemed to stem from strange coins. But the gnome was insistent—“You will want to take it.” So Tobias did.
At the temple, Tobias paid his respects to Lathander. Deciding to drop off the coin in a donation box, he found that the coin had turned into a note in his pocket. It read simply, “Trust no one.”
Tobias spoke with a Dawnbringer, trying to get a sense of what was occuring in the city. The priestess was more or less unhelpful, unable to give more information about local happenings than Tobias would have wanted. Turning the conversation toward the gods, and how the gods seemed to be quiet about the conflict brewing between Bane and Cyric, the Dawnbringer, apparently possessed by Lathander, told Tobias that he would need to serve as his eyes in the conflict.
Into the swamps.
The heroes regrouped and decided to follow the device from the Harpers to try and track down the Zhentarim’s base of operations. They stumbled into a raucous party on another ship and, after partaking in some of the festivities, managed to bring Mason out to help them follow the signal. Laelyn remained in Silverymoon, taking in the sights as a tourist.
The Gypsy Dawn flew above the Evermoors, settling above a thick tree cover. The heroes came down and discovered a large ward that had been designed to alert whoever was within of their oncoming presence. Deciding to play it safe, they dressed in the black cloaks fo the Zhentarim in order to disguise themselves as best as possible.
Stepping past the wards, they traveled deeper into the thick swamp. Behind them, they noticed something following. When they turned to challenge whatever it was, a treant approached.
Kaloy announced that they were with the Zhentarim. The treant growled at them, “Zhentarim? Zhentarim must die.” It proceeded to attack while the heroes removed their hoods and tried to reason with it instead, insisting that they were really the good guys. The treant would not listen to reason and instead tried to kill them instead. Annoyed, Kaloy cast a chromatic orb of fire at the treant, knocking it unconscious with a single powerful blast.
“Well, you could have just knocked,” a woman’s voice said from behind. When they turned, they found four others who had gathered to watch their scuffle with the treant. They revealed themselves as Alania Arkaniyae, one of the leaders of the Harpers; Lord Crom, a Warden of the Spellguard; Sir Lyle Sharyling, a Knight in Silver; and Lady Iveress Vulpaer, the High Lady of Silverymoon.
Alania revealed that the Zhentarim had infiltrated both the Harpers and the entire governent of Silverymoon, over the course of many years. They had all gone into exile to stay alive as the Zhentarim began eliminating those who would not comply.
She asked how the heroes found them. When they revealed the device they had been given, it reacted with a similar device that Lord Crom had. The two halves merged and exploded, injuring everyone but not enough to kill them. Whether it was an attempt on their lives or a message, they don’t know—but they do know that this hiding place is no longer safe.