The Heirs

Session 18: The Enemy of the Enemy

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The Enemy of the Enemy

An interesting request.

A meeting with Grand Duke Sentorious Wilheim.

Having successfully defeated the red dragon in the Cloudpeak Mountains, the heroes return to Baldur’s Gate. Zalthair has gotten away, with the heir Ofelia still his captive. The heroes look to find the remaining heirs in the Baldur’s Gate region before it’s too late. Meanwhile, Varia has sent the heroes a request to treat with Grand Duke Sentorious Wilheim, as representatives of the Lords’ Alliance, to secure his military support in the effort against Abraham and his minions.

The heroes navigate past the crowd gathered for an audience with the Grand Duke and present evidence of their defeat of the red dragon. Wilheim, however, is far from impressed: their triumph is enough to gain his attention, but it’s not yet enough to secure his outright support, much less apparent respect.

When the heroes ask him for support for the Lords’ Alliance, Wilheim negotiates even more quid pro quo. While his military is currently involved in yet another border conflict with Amn, to the south, a major farmstead to the north is under attack. While they have enough food to support the troops that Wilheim seems appropriate, the farmstead would be able to provide even more food to allow a stronger military presence. If the heroes could take care of that, it would be great.

But Wilheim’s true request is much simpler, if not perhaps hopelessly impossible: he seeks Varia’s hand in marriage.

Crimes against Lathander.

The heroes attempt to find out more about the heir Thobar, still at large and still being sought by Abraham’s minions. Having discovered that Thobar was a cleric of Lathander, Tobias inquires at the temple. A dawnbringer informs him that Thobar is not a well-respected cleric: in fact, he is accused of selling drugs throughout the Baldur’s Gate area, operating as a dawnbringer to gain the trust of his clients.

He has recently been detained in Heller’s Steadfast, a small village south of Baldur’s Gate. He is being held there, awaiting the arrival of a tribunal of high-ranking dawnbringers to decide what to do with him.

The Flaming Fist.

The heroes also investigate the supposed military might of Baldur’s Gate, curious about why the Grand Duke seemed so casual about things. They learn about the Flaming Fist, a storied mercenary company that complements Baldur’s Gate’s own official army. They are so relied on that their most trusted men actually comprise the personal guard of Grand Duke Wilheim.

Heller’s Steadfast.

A new ally …?

Deciding that finding the next heir takes priority, the heroes travel aboard the Gypsy Dawn toward Heller’s Steadfast to find Thobar.

The village is small, hardly even noticeable from the sky. The heroes enter the town and go straight for the town hall to speak with its mayor. They are greeted instead by a senior guard, whom after some convincing, escorts them to the dungeon beneath the barracks.

Thobar appears messy and unkempt, with a long and dirty beard. He is incoherent and cowardly, asking the heroes if they’re helping him to get out while simultaneously offering them his drugs as a reward.

And then Rhosius Vane arrives.

Rhosius has the entire village under his influence. “All glory to the dark sun,” the guard greets happily as Rhosius approaches.

Rhosius offers the heroes a choice. He, too, has no love for Abraham or Bane. He says that he can take Thobar under his protection and therefore forge some strange alliance with the heroes in their efforts. Rhosius will keep Thobar safe, protected from Abraham, ensuring that he won’t be used as a sacrifice for the black fires.

The heroes agree to his terms, entirely despised by Thobar as a person. As Rhosius departs with his new charge, he tells the heroes that if they wish to see him again, they can come to the Crypt of the Six, far to the north near Loudwater.

As the heroes leave, the entire town gathers to watch them go. The townsfolk all speak in unison, chanting, “All glory to the dark sun.”

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Session 17: A Dish Best Served Cold.

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To Baldur’s Gate.

The heroes routed the Zhentarim plot in Silverymoon, though not before significant damage was done. As Everlund arrived to help Iveress and Sir Dunfarres restore order to the city, the heroes embarked on their next adventure: to Baldur’s Gate, where stories of a familiar, monstrous dragon permeated.

Along the way, a raven landed on the Gypsy Sky with a message for the heroes. Open Lady Varia Mil’baer informed them that she was on her way to the Moonshae Isles, directly west of Baldur’s Gate, to treat with the royal family there. She asked the heroes, as representatives of the Lords’ Alliance, to secure the cooperation of Baldur’s Gate’s ruler, Grand Duke Sentorious Wilheim, in their defense against Abraham’s plot.

A well-deserved rest.

Chosen.

Arriving in Baldur’s Gate, a stranger bumped into Kaloy and dropped something into her hand: a message from Tyaene to meet at a specific inn that evening.

The heroes went about their separate ways to take in the sights and sounds of the bustling metropolis. Tobias and Kaloy went to the local church of Lathander, presently concluding their morning services. Tobias spoke with the Dawnbringer, wondering if there was anything he could help with. Instead, Lathander himself spoke through the Dawnbringer, inquiring of Tobias’s knowledge.

Lathander revealed that it was not only Faerun that found itself imperiled by Abraham’s power. Other realms had already succumbed to Abraham. Yet Abraham still could not break through into Faerun, the world he is originally from. Lathander emphasized Tobias’s mission—investigate the black fires and cleanse them.

Recreational activities.

Saradoc, meanwhile, went on a date with Laelyn, a few days after their previous attempt went poorly. Laelyn was warmer and friendlier with Saradoc, and by all measures the date actually turned out fine. She gave him a magically-infused glove she had come across previously.

Kaloy, Tobias, and Ooga meanwhile headed to the beach, to take in some much needed rest and recuperate from the stresses of their past several weeks.

A meeting of the minds.

The Harper safehouse.

That evening, the heroes went to the inn in the docks district of Baldur’s Gate. From the outside, it looked like a rowdy, noisy tavern. Entering inside, however, they found it was all just an image. The only people inside were Tyaene, Alania, and Lords Crom and Bailey.

Tyaene thanked Kaloy for the head’s up about the corrupted Harpers. As it stands, Alania and Tyaene are the only remaining active Harpers not under the influence of the Zhentarim. So Tyaene “acquired” information about Abraham’s plot from the other Harper in Baldur’s Gate before disposing of him.

Abraham, it turns out, is after three heirs in the Baldur’s Gate area. Zalthair, his Gith lieutenant, has been searching with his dragon, terrorizing the countryside as they moved town to town, trying to find these heirs. Word was they had already captured one, a young mage named Ofelia. Another heir had been confirmed as an itinerant cleric of Lathander named Thobar. The third remained unknown.

Zalthair and the dragon kept Ofelia somewhere in a lair in the Cloudpeak Mountains. The heroes decided their next action should be to kill the dragon. Alania and Lord Crom would continue their journey southward toward Candlekeep, for additional research on the black fires and Abraham. Lord Bailey would continue his research on the island Kaloy has been searching for near near the ruins of Mezro, a place that seems displaced from time and space.

An evil, evil book.

Finding a quiet moment, Saradoc visited Lord Bailey in his chambers in the safe house, a room that looked like it couldn’t possibly belong within the confines of the small building. Saradoc presented Bailey with the book he received from the devil.

Bailey did not like the book.

It was connected to the Daemonfey, Bailey said. House Dlardrageth performed evil, heinous experiments in the name of creating the Daemonfey, and Bailey wanted no part of whatever insanity was contained within.

A dish best served cold.

The Cloudpeak Mountains.

The heroes boarded the Gypsy Dawn and traveled to the Cloudpeak Mountains, where they spotted the dragon’s lair from afar. The cloaks of Zhentarim agents affixed to beams acted as scarecrows. The heroes dodged the magical traps and the Zhentarim patrols, making their way inside the dragon’s lair.

Within the mountain, they found an enormous cavern. Zalthair and the dragon appeared to be deep in conversation with Abraham through magical means, admonishing them for their lack of progress in finding the remaining heirs in the Baldur’s Gate area. Zalthair promised they were working with all due haste. Beyond them, the heroes found Ofelia, unconscious and in chains.

Springing a surprise attack, the heroes caused serious damage to the dragon. Zalthair, charmed by Kaloy, took Ofelia to a safer place, disappearing as the fight went on by shifting out of the plane.

The dragon put up a good fight, nearly killing Saradoc in a single blow. Outnumbered and overpowered, however, the dragon began to take flight. However, a precise arrow from Tyaene’s bow felled the giant beast.

Saradoc used a magic hand to retrieve a tooth from the dragon as proof of their victory.

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Session 16: Everyone Has a Price (Part 3)

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Two roads diverge …

Spies like us.

With the Iveress’s grandfather’s journal secured, Saradoc and Ooga return to the palace to gather more intelligence while Kaloy and Tobias head south with the Gypsy Dawn to treat with Everlund.

Back in the palace, Saradoc, still disguised as Sulfrael, seeks out the Silver Marches representatives to see if he’s able to find out anything about the Zhentarim plot. Ooga hides within the bag of holding. With the palace still in chaos from Ooga’s daring escape with the journal, they come across King Helzhick of Citadel Adbar. The dwarf seems also curious about the strange events going on, and even seems to have interests that line up with the heroes’. Ooga cautions Saradoc not to say too much for the time being.

Saradoc returns to Sulfrael’s quarters. He is visited again by a black cloaked-Zhentarim agent, who questions him about why King Thuenor does not appear to be exhibiting signs of sickness. Saradoc challenges back, accusing him of not sending the proper ingredients. The Zhentarim agent relents and gives Saradoc his next assignment: he is to retrieve another parcel from the mail room and have it delivered to the Assembly Room before the meetings take place the next morning.

After retrieving the package, however, Saradoc’s curiosity gets the better of him. Taking it to a side room unnoticed, he opens the parcel and finds a small, square box inside containing a ring. Putting it on, he discovers that it was a trap all along. The ring was intended as a means of communication, and Saradoc receives a message: “Traitor."

Before anyone else can tell what’s gone amiss, Saradoc and Ooga exit the castle, knowing that the disguise of Sulfrael has been compromised.

A diplomatic mission.

Kaloy and Tobias head southward with Mason and his crew to intercept the Everlund ship, the Argent Mist, before it can reach Silverymoon. Iveress reveals what’s so important about the journal: it details why the Vulpaer family of Silverymoon and the Starlighter family of Everlund never merged: Iveress’s grandfather was gay, and could not bring himself to marry at the time. However, in the fallout of the families’ relations, he ended up marrying and fathering children anyway, all to keep up with appearances and to ensure that his line continued.

The Gypsy Dawn encounters the Argent Mist, and after an initially tense exchange, the men of the Argent Mist board the Gypsy Dawn to find out what this diplomatic mission was all about. Insisting that they needed to speak directly with the First Elder, her guardsman brings her on deck.

Perrah Starlighter, it becomes immediately obvious, has no patience for flowery words and ceremony and insists that whatever the Gypsy Dawn’s purpose is be made known immediately. So Kaloy escorts Perrah to Iveress and the two chat with one another for several hours. Tobias, meanwhile, ensures that everyone is taken care of hospitably.

Back for seconds.

A meeting with fate.

Even though his identity is compromised, Saradoc doesn’t want to end at running away so easily. He and Ooga return to the palace, this time going through the secret tunnel passage beneath a nearby tavern. Arriving within the cellars, they follow a trail of suspicious footprints toward the dungeons. Entering inside as stealthily as possible, they come across a meeting they did not expect.

A Zhentarim agent spoke with two mindflayers—the Brothers, in all likelihood—as well as a beautiful devil. They appear to be discussing a change in plans now that someone is onto their plot. The devil senses that Saradoc is nearby, and his cursed hand tingles. She communicates with him telepathically, taunting him, telling him that maybe she’ll give him a head start before telling everyone else that they’re there.

Saradoc takes the cue to get out as quickly as possible.

Friends at last.

In the earliest hours of the morning, Perrah and Iveress emerge from their private conversation. Perrah pledges her support to Iveress, saying that she’ll have Everlund bring up its military as quickly as possible—she just needs to convince the Council of her intentions first.

The Argent Mist turns and treks back to Overland while the Gypsy Dawn heads to Silverymoon. They’ve secured the support of Everlund, whose powerful military would be an excellent backup, but the Zhentarim plot is to hatch in a very short while.

Dealing with the devil.

The massacre at Silverymoon Palace.

Kaloy, Tobias, Saradoc, and Ooga reunite again in a tavern to share their information together and plan. Trying to secure more support against the Zhentarim, they consider engineering doubt amongst the Silverymoon populace, to say that the Palace has already been compromised by the black cloaks. Unfortunately, they hear a town crier passing by with the morning’s news—the official story is already that the Zhentarim have claimed responsibility for the attacks on the palace.

So they discuss more plans. Tobias suggests that perhaps they should just assassinate the fake Iveress. The group eventually decides to try to get to the bottom of what the Zhentarim are planning on doing, intending to capture Iveress’s Chief of Staff, Arthrial.

Kaloy once again takes on the image of Sir Alyxe of Waterdeep, with Saradoc as a halfling page and Tobias as a Knight in Silver. Ooga hides within the bag of holding.

They enter the palace once again and find that the meetings for the Silver Marches Summit are already underway. They wait in the wings, watching Arthrial’s actions, waiting for him to leave Iveress’s side. When he finally does, Sir Alyxe catches up to him and he leads them to a library of legal documents.

Within, he says that in his infatuation with her, he did some research on Sir Alyxe, only to discover that there is no knight in Waterdeep by that name. Arthrial draws his weapon, revealing his allegiance to the Zhentarim. Kaloy charms him, telling him that he’s to reveal himself to the assembly and to everyone else he possibly can.

Making their way back to the Assembly Room, however, they encounter Sir Dunfarres. Disoriented and confused, he tells them that they need to help—everyone’s getting slaughtered.

When they arrive back at the Assembly Room, they find that the Knights in Silver are massacring the representatives and their delegations. Several are already dead, and the room is swimming in blood. Above them all, the devil that Saradoc and Ooga found the previous night is issuing commands.

Saradoc casts a shroud of magical darkness and launches forward to kill the fake Iveress. The devil retaliates, launching poisoned arrows at Ooga, Kaloy, and Tobias. She then offers an olive branch: she can make this whole thing stop, if Saradoc could just stab the escaping King Helzhick in the back.

Thinking quickly, Saradoc agrees and brings Kaloy to fake the king’s death. Catching up with him, alone in the hallways outside, they tell him what they intend to do—fake his death so they can save everyone else. They don’t know what the devil intends to do, if anything, with his corpse, but they can at least end the massacre. King Helzhick reluctantly agrees, and Saradoc and Kaloy “kill” him.

Bringing the corpse back to the Assembly Room, the devil is pleased with what happened. She gives Saradoc a strange book as a parting gift, then exits the premises, leaving the heroes to do whatever they wished to do next.

Saradoc orders the Adbar delegation to take the king’s body and hide somewhere that the devil won’t find them. Sir Dunfarres announces that the Knights in Silver who participated in the attack will be dealt with at a later time. For now, they needed to get the wounded treated and restore order to the Palace. Arthrial, revealed as a Zhentarim agent, is captured.

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Session 15: Everyone Has a Price (Part 2)

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Interludes.

The voices in his head.

After subduing the Spellguard, the heroes preparetheir next steps. Stepping away from the mage rather than murdering him, however, Saradoc hears a voice in his head, asking him why he isn’t taking the man’s life. The voice seems to be a lot more active lately …

A funny thing happened on the way to the reception.

Sir Dunfarres’s package.

The heroes let Tym go so that he can report back to Lady Iveress. Hoping to keep their presence a secret, they tell him to feed Iveress a simple lie—just that they found what they were looking for.

Meanwhile, they head to the mail room to find the parcel Sir Dunfarres had been waiting for. The word “midnight” is written along the side, in the same familiar handwriting as the coded messages Vasandra received.

Inspecting the parcel in a forgot storage room, they found the components for a powerful poison within. They decide to complete its delivery to see who’s supposed to take it. Sir Dunfarres leads them to the kitchen and places the parcel in a cabinet out of the way. However, with Ooga wildshaped as a direwolf, they attract the attention of a chef. She attacks the wolf and calls the guards against it.

Ooga runs while Saradoc remains behind in the kitchen, hiding in a cabinet to keep an eye on the parcel. Ooga runs to the storage room, Knights in Silver hot on his tail. To evade them, he returns to his half-orc shape and melds with the stone of the palace. The Knights fail to find him as Tobias and Kaloy, still in her guise as Sir Francois, finally catch up.

Sulfrael.

Left behind in the kitchen, Saradoc spies a halfling steward retrieving the parcel. He follows him to the servants quarters and into his private room, where the halfling begins concocting the poison.

Away from everyone else, Saradoc assaults the steward and subdues him. After a brief round of questioning, the halfling, Sulfrael, tells Saradoc nothing except his loyalty to the Zhentarim. Saradoc considers keeping Sulfrael subdued, but another bloodthirsty voice enters his head, telling him it would be so easy to just slit the defenseless halfling’s throat. Saradoc begrudgingly complies, hides the body, and takes his clothes to impersonate him. He destroys the poison, ensuring that it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

Fairy tales.

Exhausted from all of their efforts, the heroes split up to get some much needed rest. Tobias and Kaloy retreat from the castle, back to the Gypsy Dawn while Saradoc, Ooga, and Sir Dunfarres remain.

Kaloy speaks with Lady Iveress, concerned that her ploy to charm the apparent fake Iveress failed. Iveress tells her a secret she’s told no one else, about how much she loved the stories of a knight named Sir Tascha, who hid her identity and fought as a man, becoming a hero in the process. Kaloy polymorphs, taking the guise of an androgynous warrior named Sir Alyxe. Iveress seems pleased.

A visit from the Zhentarim.

Saradoc and Ooga, meanwhile, rest in Sulfrael’s room. While Ooga tucks away in a corner and dozes quietly, Saradoc investigates Sulfrael’s things to see what he can find. His correspondences seem to be highly concerned with the comfort and accommodations of King Thuenor of Mithrall Hall and his retinue.

Soon enough, there’s a knock at the door. Saradoc answers and creates a minor illusion of the poison being prepared on the table. An anonymous figure in the black cloak of the Zhentarim asks if Saradoc remembers his next instructions. Truthfully answering that he doesn’t, the Zhentarim agent is displeased by continues: the poison is to be split into thirds, to give to King Thuenor in small doses. The dwarf is to be forced out of the Silver Marches Summit through sickness on the third day, but he is not to be killed.

The Zhentarim agent then leaves and disappears down the hall.

The Welcoming Reception.

Life of the party.

The heroes reconvene in the reception hall as the representatives of all the Silver Marches nation-states convene for the summit. Saradoc fills the heroes in on the situation.

Saradoc continues to provide King Thuenor with ale, hoping that he’s able to convince whatever Zhentarim agents are watching him that he’s performing his function as required. Ooga hovers nearby, wildshaped as a quasit. When Thuenor steps away from the table to relieve himself, Saradoc follows and tries to tell him that it’s imperative that he attends the entirety of the summit, especially the third day. Thuenor seems confused (and drunk), so Saradoc also informs his majordomo as well. He seems to take the information a little more seriously.

Tobias surveys the reception. Sir Dunfarres approaches him and informs him of some disturbing rumors he’s heard around the palace. Namely, that an Illithid mindflayer had been spotted in the lower reaches of the palace. Whether these are baseless rumors or true remains to be concerned … but the heroes are aware that the Brothers are mindflayers.

Kaloy, in the guise of Sir Alyxe, attempts to get closer to the fake Lady Iveress. As she sidles up to the dais to speak with her, she’s instead greeted by Arthrial, Iveress’s chief of staff. While he seems charmed by Sir Alyxe’s presence, Iveress again seems entirely disinterested.

As Lady Iveress stands to address the reception, Saradoc and Ooga sneak out to find out where the journal is.

Autodefenestration.

Approaching Lady Iveress’s room, Saradoc, still disguised as Sulfrael, is greeted by two Knights in Silver and a Spellguard … Tym. Tym seems distant, distracted, and does not recognize Saradoc at all. The knights do not allow him passage through.

Ooga, still a quasit, scouts ahead through the window. He spies two Zhentarim agents on the other side of the door, guarding the journal they’re looking for.

Ooga and Saradoc decide to use magic to try to steal the journal. Saradoc climbs along the ledge outside and gets into position. Flying in through a crack in the window, Ooga stealthily grabs the book from the table while Saradoc places an illusion to fake that it’s still there. However, the journal is heavier than expected. The book accidentally hits the ground with a soft thud, enough to alert the Zhentarim guarding it. They cast magic to see invisibility and catch Ooga in the act.

Ooga hides under Iveress’s bed in an attempt to evade the Zhentarim. Saradoc uses more magic to knock some candles over, starting a fire in the bedroom. One of the Zhentarim leaps over the fire to try to attack Ooga while the other alerts the knights on the other side of the door. Rather than facing them all head on, Ooga transforms back into his original half-orc form, pushes past the Zhentarim, and jumped out the window, plummeting over 40 feet to the ground. As he falls, Saradoc catches the journal with his own magic and retreats back inside the palace. Ooga transforms into an eagle and flies away.

A powerful, fiendish threat.

The alarm is raised—the palace is under attack. Sir Dunfarres leads Tobias toward the action, to maintain their own appearances with the knights.

They look out onto Lady Iveress’s room from a window, enveloped in flames, smoke billowing into the night sky. Tobias uses his divine senses to see if anything is amiss. He notices something very, very dangerous.

A fiendish presence so strong has left the residue of its evil somewhere within the palace.

The heroes make their exit from the palace, the Iveress’s grandfather’s journal now in hand. The Silver Marches Summit has only just begun …

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Session 14: Everyone Has a Price (Part 1)

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Interludes.

After finding Sir Dunfarres waiting for them at the Gypsy Dawn, the heroes splintered with arguments, especially in the fallout of Sir Lyle’s sacrifice. Meanwhile, Saradoc turned to his skeletal hand and asked whatever entity was listening for … anything.

He received a response.

“Wait.”

A strategy is born.

Subverting the Zhentarim plan.

Despite their differences, the heroes came back together to figure out how they would strike back at the Zhentarim. They knew the Zhentarim were planning on presenting First Elder Starlighter of Everlund with a first edition copy of the history of the Silver Marches, a book which highlighted the friendship between Silverymoon and Everlund in earlier days. Iveress detailed that her grandfather was supposed to have married into the family of nobility in Everlund long ago, but called the engagement off. The two nations had been at odds ever since.

Iveress suggested that, if the Zhentarim were trying to present a token of friendship, perhaps the heroes could give something of even greater value—her grandfather’s journal, which was kept in the Royal Library of the Silverymoon Palace.

The heroes also still needed to stop whatever Zhentarim plot was unfolding in the palace during the Silver Marches Summit. Sir Dunfarres mentioned he was tasked with transporting a small parcel from the mail room to the kitchen before preparations for the welcoming reception were to begin. He did not yet have the item in his possession and had no idea what it would be used for. However, it was supposed to be passed off to Sulfrael, a steward in the palace.

They discussed several options for entry, but Sir Dunfarres said the palace was even harder to infiltrate now in the wake of the fight earlier that morning, which claimed Sir Lyle’s life. Sir Dunfarres revealed a secret entrance that led to the cellar, connected to a nearby pub that a previous princeling of Silverymoon used to frequent. However, patrols were even heavier and it would be hard to operate without drawing attention.

So Kaloy suggested a more obvious route: going in through the front gate. Kaloy and Saradoc would pose as dignitaries from Waterdeep, under the direction of Open Lady Varia and a writ of passage from the true High Lady of Silverymoon herself. Tobias would wear Sir Dunfarres’ armor and pretend to be a Knight in Silver. Ooga would pose as a cat through his druidic magic. Sir Dunfarres would come in after them, to avoid rousing any suspicion.

What could possibly go wrong?

Silverymoon Palace.

Passing Sir Crey.

The first major obstacle they encountered was Sir Crey at the front gate. Now that the palace had, allegedly, been attacked, Sir Crey stood with a stronger retinue of knights and was more discerning of who came in and out. He stopped the heroes before they could get too close to the gate and came to meet them.

Kaloy, who used magic to change to pose as Sir Francois, attempted to use dazzling language and superfluous gestures to convince Sir Crey to let them in. He inspected the writ Iveress gave them, suspicious of the party because they weren’t on the list of invitees to the summit. He was especially suspicious of Tobias, who did not lift the visor from his helm as he impersonated a Knight in Silver.

Eventually, Sir Crey allowed them to pass, keeping a watchful eye on them as they entered the palace.

The Royal Library.

Like Sir Dunfarres said, the palace was crawling with Knights and Spellguard. They had indeed bumped up security in the wake of Tobias and Lyle’s encroachment. The heroes needed to be very, very careful not to reveal themselves.

They went to the Royal Library and found Lady Iveress already inside. The fake Lady Iveress, that was, accompanied by a guard of four Knights and a single Spellguard. And she already had Iveress’s grandfather’s journal in hand.

Ooga tried to distract Fake Iveress and the Knights but to no avail. Kaloy also tried to get Fake Iveress to hand her over the journal, through more charming means, but also failed to secure the book. Sir Dunfarres arrived and tried to diffuse the escalating situation by having the heroes accompany him elsewhere, but they stayed on task with trying to get the journal.

Eventually, Iveress told her Spellguard companion to show them the archives, where a book more suited to their interests might be found. Iveress and the other Knights then left the library … with the journal still in hand.

The unwilling agent.

In the archives, a back room in the Royal Library, the heroes and their Spellguard minder went deeper inside until they were sure they couldn’t be heard. Intending to extract information from the Spellguard, they attacked him. He turned invisible and tried to run, but they caught up to him anyway and beat him into submission.

Tying him up, they interrogated him for whatever he knew. They discovered that he had, indeed, been compromised by the Zhentarim, but he didn’t know that the Iveress he was protecting was a shapeshifter. He refused to give anymore information. Shakily, the Spellguard committed his allegiance to the Zhentarim, and Kaloy and Saradoc intended to execute him. Dunfarres washed his hands of the mess. As Saradoc moved to stab the Spellguard, however, Tobias shoved his shield between them—there had to be a better way.

Talking further with the Spellguard, they found out that he was under duress with the Zhentarim. He was following their orders because were threatening to kill his mother if he failed to comply. All he had to do was keep the fake Iveress safe.

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Session 13: Sir Lyle's Last Stand

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Out of the woods.

The heroes convene with their new allies, Alania, Lord Crom, Sir Lyle, and High Lady Iveress in their hiding place in the Evermoors. Alania believes their position now compromised, and staying put is no longer an option.

Alania reveals that the Zhentarim had infiltrated the Harpers entirely, and that she trusts no one else in the organization. She tells the heroes that she, her companions, and the Harpers had been responsible for putting Abraham away a long while ago, that they thought they had done their work properly.

Unfortunately, Abraham has somehow returned. The man responsible for keeping Abraham trapped, a cleric named Winter, has gone missing.

The recent Zhentarim activity could be linked to the upcoming Silver Marches Summit, taking place over the next few days. But whatever their motives and goals were, Alania didn’t know.

Alania and Lord Crom decide to embark on a journey eastward, toward the last place Alania knew Winter to be. The heroes, on the other hand, decided to take back Silverymoon and put an end to whatever plot the Zhentarim have.

Into Silverymoon.

The library.

The party split up. Kaloy, Saradoc, and Ooga went to the library to investigate what they could of the Zhentarim and Vasandra. Tobias and Sir Lyle went to the palace to get in contact with Sir Lyle’s childhood friends, who might be able to help in the fight against the Zhentarim. High Lady Iveress remained on the Gypsy Dawn under the protection of Mason and his crew.

Arriving early in the morning before the library opened, Kaloy, Saradoc, and Ooga sneaked in through a backdoor and proceeded to Vasandra’s office on the top floor. Inside, searching for clues, they found nothing of particularly magical importance. However, they noticed several letters addressed from an entity named “Gray” who sent what appeared to be a coded message—something happening at the docks.

After they discovered the message’s meaning, Vasandra entered the library. The heroes decided to make a quiet exit rather than face her head on, leaping deftly from a window.

Sir Lyle’s Last Stand.

Tobias and Sir Lyle arrived at the palace in search of Lyle’s friends and prospective allies, Sir Dunfarres and Sir Crey. Finding Crey at the front gate on duty that morning, Tobias told him that Lyle was alive and knew that something sinister was going down at the palace. Crey told Tobias to meet him at the side entrance, alone, where they could discuss what Tobias knew and figure out where to proceed from there, especially since Sir Lyle had been implicated in a conspiracy against the High Lady.

When Tobias met Crey next, the knight brought him onto the palace grounds and into what he said was the garrison. However, it turned out to be the dungeons instead, where a small group of other Knights in Silver and a mage of the Spellguard were waiting.

A trap.

Rather than fight them head on, Tobias, made a desperate escape. When he got back out into the garden, Sir Lyle was waiting for him. Sir Lyle told Tobias to run while he remained behind to fight—someone had to restore order to Silverymoon, and Lyle was willing to lay his life down for the cause.

As Tobias made his escape, he heard a large explosion from behind as Sir Lyle was decimated by the Spellguard’s magic.

Fracturing.

Tobias fled into the city, hoping to throw off the trail of any Zhentarim in pursuit. Kaloy, Saradoc, and Ooga heard the explosion of the Spellguard’s massive fireball. Ooga transformed into an eagle to investigate.

Flying over the city, he found Tobias on the streets. Intending to help him find the others, Ooga swooped down to intercept. Signals were mixed, and Tobias thought the eagle was attacking rather than helping. After a charged scuffle, Tobias succeeded in beating Ooga off just as Kaloy and Saradoc arrived.

Extremely upset, Tobias said he intended to go to the temple before rejoining the others. At the temple, he found the Dawnbringer who Lathander spoke to. He warned her that dark times were coming.

Anger management.

Vasandra.

Together again, the heroes decided to challenge Vasandra and extract as much information as they could. Finding her in the library, just before opening time, they overpowered her in a fight and took her hostage.

Kaloy interrogated her through the usual means. Vasandra only knew a little more than the heroes had already found out. The Zhentarim had tasked her with giving a first edition history book to First Elder Starlighter of Everlund when she arrived at the docks, but that was it. The book was not even charged by any magic.

The messages between the Zhentarim were more coded, more obscure than before. They’d clearly taken measures to increase their secrecy since the heroes disrupted their plot in Waterdeep.

Finding no more use for her, the heroes killed Vasandra and left the library.

A new ally.

A dish best served cold.

With little clues to work on, the heroes returned to the Gypsy Dawn unsure of what to do next. They arrived to find a Knight in Silver aboard, held by Mason and Skruk, saying he was looking for Tobias.

His name was Sir Dunfarres. He was compromised by the Zhentarim. And he wanted revenge for what they did to Sir Lyle.

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Session 12: Welcome to Silverymoon

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Interludes.

The wager.

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.

Silverymoon.

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.

Trust.

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.

The Evermoors.

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.

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Session 11: Hail Hydra

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Interludes.

The Gypsy Dawn’s colorful crew.

Returning from a successful foray into the Greypeak Mountains with a newly acquired magical key, Saradoc decided to experiment with it—what was its purpose? What could it unlock? Unfortunately, the key did not seem to work on any of the locks aboard the ship. He and Ooga did, however, manage to upset Carbry.

Not that she wasn’t upset to begin with.

They also spoke with Laelyn, who needed a break from going over the ship’s finances anyway. She told them that she had joined up with the Gypsy Dawn’s crew a few years ago in Amn. Her father had wanted her to be a banker, but she found the lifestyle boring and instead enlisted as the Gypsy Dawn’s financial manager. Saradoc said she should come out with the adventuring party more often, and she agreed.

As the ship continued along its way back to Loudwater, Saradoc tinkered again with the ship’s only cannon, hoping to get it working again.

Restoration.

Meanwhile, in Loudwater, Tobias helped oversee Andalar’s recovery and tried to help restore Anther to his original human shape. They went to the temple of Oghma and met with Patriarch Korrik, a dwarf of some magical prowess. The spell, however, did not work.

Andalar mentioned there was perhaps another option: a powerful but reclusive druid named Nire.

The Brothers.

An invisible threat.

As their journey back to Loudwater continued, Ooga heard a sudden scream and then a thud from below deck. He and Saradoc went to investigate, only to find Carbry unconscious on the floor of the crew cabin after having been struck from behind. She accused them of attacking her, which they obviously denied.

They found no sign of an assailant anywhere in the room. Then, they heard Mason’s voice cry out, followed by a gunshot. Ooga, Saradoc, Kaloy, Casaadi, and Carbry all ran to the Captain’s Quarters, where Mason stood with his gun drawn, wondering who just attacked him.

Again, no sign of an assailant was found … but Saradoc realized the key was missing. Sensing it back on deck, they rushed outside to retrieve it. Kaloy heated the metal of the key to far greater than it was before while Saradoc used his Mage Hand to retrieve it. Casaadi struck the invisible creature as best she could, and Ooga helped outline its location with a little magical rain. Revealed, the invisible creature roared at Ooga, and Ooga took the shape of a bear to roar back.

Kaloy successfully used her Dissonant Whispers on the creature and it fled the airship, but not without uttering a warning: “The Brothers know you. The Brothers are coming for you.”

Saradoc decided hiding the key in the ship’s safe box was the best course of action, but Ooga had another idea—he created a small container from rock that they could place inside their bag of holding.

The Lady of the Misty Forest.

Reunion.

Back in Loudwater, the heroes were reunited again. Casaadi formally introduced herself to Tobias, but Tobias was suspicious of her as a sellsword. The others vouched for her prowess, but Tobias remained dubious nonetheless.

Ooga and Saradoc spoke privately, away from the others. Ooga was scared that his presence was too much of a danger to the party, especially with the bounty on his head. He volunteered to remain in a wild shape for as long as possible while traveling about, but Saradoc convinced him that he should only do that when the situation really called for it.

Kaloy, meanwhile, magically communicated with her parents, asking them if they knew anything about her being an “Heir.” They had no idea, but said they’d look into it.

Following a hearty breakfast prepared by Tobias, they went to the town hall and met once again with Andalar, Theran, and Lady Moonfire. Theran and Andalar recognized the key—it’s part of a set, elemental keys that supposedly open an ancient complex far to the north in the Spine of the World. Theran only knew about it in lore, but recommended that they speak with a powerful druid in the Misty Forest who might actually know more. As it turned out, it was the same druid Nire that Andalar thought might be able to help restore Anther to his human form.

The unwelcoming party.

Kaloy, Saradoc, Tobias, Ooga, and Anther jumped back aboard the Gypsy Dawn to fly to the Misty Forest while Casaadi remained in Loudwater with Andalar, to watch over his recovery. As they flew over the forest, they were greeted by several angry eagles … and giant eagles. Ooga and Tobias tried to communicate with them, but their message was clear: “Go away. You are not welcome here.”

Tobias pleaded that they were respectfully seeking audience with Nire, and asked what they could do just to speak with her. The eagles responded that Nire did not desire to treat with things of the man-made world, so if they were to approach her forest, they must leave behind their clothes, their weapons, and their armor.

Some took more convincing than others (or none at all), but the heroes complied. The airship set down outside the forest, and an owlbear guided them to a magical grove hidden somewhere within.

Balance.

The druid greeted the heroes at the grove, but she did not reveal her true identity, shifting from shape to shape as it spoke with them. When they implored her for help, Nire said she would trade a favor for a favor—if the heroes could handle a certain problem of hers, she would help them with theirs. There was a disturbance somewhere on the northern edge of the forest, where the River Delimbiyr flowed by.

Agreeing to the deal, the heroes reboarded the Gypsy Dawn and retrieved their gear, then flew northward to the river. Scanning its banks for signs of disturbance, they came across the corpses of several deer, near the water. The heroes, accompanied by Skruk, investigated further and discovered that the deer had all been attacked simultaneously. As if by multiple creatures at the same time, or a creature with several heads.

They were suddenly attacked by an enormous hydra. Saradoc warned them all that they needed to strike the creature with fire in order to prevent it from growing back any of its heads. Tobias waded through the water closer to the creature and struck with his quarterstaff, searing the beast with holy flames. Skruk flew into a wild rage and flung himself at the beast. Ooga conjured himself a weapon of pure flame and Kaloy struck the fiery magic of her chromatic orb. Meanwhile, from above, Mason took aim with his cannon and fired, striking the beast from high with one shot, though the second shot jammed. The hydra thrashed and attacked but in the end was cut down with Ooga’s mighty effort.

A second key, and a second chance.

The heroes returned to the grove, parading triumphanty through the forest with a litter of owlbears helping them carry one of the hydra’s heads. Pleased, Nire revealed her true form as an elf and presented them with the second key made of rock and wood and dirt and leaves—the Earth Key. Orcs apparently in the service of Abraham had come to the forest not long ago, looking for a safe place to stow the key. Unfortunately, they had come across her instead.

The heroes also brought up the matter of Anther, still stuck as a rat. Nire said she could help, but that they would not like her method. In order to restore him to his true form, she would kill him to end his polymorphed condition, then restore him to life.

Conflicted about the choice, they deferred to Anther’s judgment—it was his life, after all. Anther decided that he would go through with it, convinced that he was not helpful to anyone as a rat. Nire took him and ended his life swiftly. Then, a few moments later, she restored him to life once more, resurrected as a human once again.

Victorious, the heroes decide what to do next …

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Session 10: A Mysterious Key

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Interlude.

Aboard the Gypsy Dawn.

After Ooga told his story of fun with Saradoc’s family years ago, Saradoc recounted a story of a halfling named Mira, whom he had affections for. She also lives in New Dawn.

A new threat.

The bounty.

After rescuing Andalar from the clutches of the medusa, the heroes brought the unconscious cleric back to Loudwater to be healed. Leaving him in the care of Theran and Lady Moonfire, they decided to take their leave for the night in the hope that Andalar would be conscious again the following morning.

On the way to the tavern, they were stopped by a man named Granthes in an extreme panic. He approached Ooga, saying that a group of hobgoblin bounty hunters had taken his family hostage. If Ooga would show up at the theater at midnight, alone, his family would be released.

Naturally, the heroes were dubious of the man’s claims. After promising the man they would rescue his family, Ooga and Saradoc decided to scout out the theater to figure out what they could ahead of the meeting with the hobgoblins. Kaloy, meanwhile, went to the tavern to play songs.

The theater.

Ooga transformed himself into a rat to investigate the main theater with Anther, still in rat form, while Saradoc snuck into the back offices. The theater itself was empty, with nothing particularly suspiicious. Ooga left to collect Kaloy, while Saradoc remained behind in wait, ready to spring a surprise for the hobgoblins when they arrived.

A new friend.

Kaloy, meanwhile, played at the tavern, where she met a female dragonborn warrior named Casaadi, who also seemed to be looking for Kaloy. As it turned out, Casaadi had been one of Andalar’s companions into the Star Mounts. While the others fell into the trap of the medusa, Casaadi had separated from the party to chase down some Gith in the area.

Reassuring Casaadi that Andalar was safe, Kaloy invited the dragonborn to come with them to the town hall the following morning.

Meanwhile, there was the matter of the bounty hunters …

“We are civilized.”

Saradoc waited for the hobgoblins to arrive. They snuck in through a back entrance nad proceeded to try to set the theater to their advantage, extinguishing the lights that Saradoc set up all around. Saradoc even discreetly teased them with some minor magic, keeping some lights alive after the hobgoblins tried to extinguish them.

While they set up, Saradoc discovered that there were no hostages. The hobgoblins had hired an actor to convince Ooga to come—“We are civilized,” their leader said. “We don’t have to eat everyone.”

The heroes set up their ambush. Ooga transformed into a rat again and tried to surprise the hobgoblins with his magic, but they spotted him. Saradoc swung down from the rafters and Kaloy emerged from backstage. The melee was short, and Saradoc cut donw both the leader and one of the hobgoblins. The last one tried to escape, but Kaloy ended it with her magic, melting him in a puddle of acid.

Ooga rummaged through their possessions and found a note regarding the bounty. Whoever had sent these hobgoblins on them knew Ooga was traveling with companions, so soon after leaving Waterdeep—so soon that everyone was suspicious of the source of the information. The note was signed by someone named Malinthelid.

To the Greypeak Mountains.

Andalar speaks. Or, rather, writes.

The heroes went to the town hall the following morning, where they found Andalar already awake and enjoying breakfast with Theran and Casaadi. Saradoc provided a pencil and paper for Andalar to write with so that he could communicate with them.

Andalar revealed he was looking for a way to cleanse the black fires. They were appearing elsewhere, in both civilized places and forgotten ruins. He had chased down a Zhentarim agent in Llorkh, a town to the east of Waterdeep, and his clues led him to the Star Mounts. However, it turned out to be a trap. Andalar’s party was lost, and he was taken captive by the medusa, who was “saving” him for someone.

Andalar also revealed that he hadn’t been mute his entire life, only for the past couple of years. He attributes it to a cursed coin that he found, very similar to the one that Saradoc has. He does not know how it came into his possession, but he hasn’t been able to speak ever since.

The heroes deduced that the place Andalar was looking for was actually a fortress in the Greypeak Mountains instead. They decided to finish Andalar’s search, while Andalar and Tobias took Anther to the cleric to be restored to his human form. Casaadi volunteered to accompany the heroes into the mountains, if they would have her help.

In the realm of King Srothus.

A most unfortunate entrance.

The heroes boarded the Gypsy Dawn and flew several hours to the Greypeak Mountains, arriving under the cover of darkness as nighttime settled in. As the stars peeked out, a small fortress near the top of one peak shone, and the heroes decided this was their best shot.

The Gypsy Dawn landed near the fort, but the heroes needed to hike a little further. Scouting ahead, Saradoc found a large wall guarded by ogres, a large mural painted across the surface. Sneaking past them and grappling up the wall, he saw a courtyard full of giants and ogres, many of them engaged in sculpture, painting, and other forms of art, even in the moonlight.

Deciding that approaching from the front was a bad idea, they decided to try to find a back way in. They spotted windows on the side of the fortress, overlooking the sheer cliff face with no guards. Ooga transformed himself into a spider and brought a long length of rope across, allowing the heroes to infiltrate without incident.

Of course, they found themselves in the privvy. And it smelled.

Footsteps approached the privvy. Ooga cast a fog cloud, enshrouding the entire privvy in a brown, smelly haze. When the door opened, the giants decided that a different privvy would be better for their business and went away.

The heroes continued on undisturbed, following Saradoc’s Eldritch sight toward a mysterious magical item kept somewhere in the stronghold.

The vault.

Descending deeper into the fort, they came across two giants guarding a large vault door. Kaloy charmed them, then approached them with music. Treating her as a friend, they revealed that they and the other giants and ogres were here under King Srothus, a cloud giant.

King Srothus had been given a gift by two strangers. The strangers told himm that in this stronghold, he and his people were allowed to freely and peacefully express themselves through art and sculpture and feats of athleticism, undisturbed by the outside. So long as they kept the item in the vault safe.

Kaloy tricked them into thinking King Srothus had a present for them for their good service, and so they left the vault unguarded. Saradoc broke into the vault itself, and inside they found an ordinary-looking key that burned to the touch. Placing it in the Bag of Holding, they decided it was time to get out of there.

As they made their way back up into the main level of the fortress, they heard the giants crying, “INTRUDERS!” Kaloy sent a magical message to Captain Lockright to bring the ship around to the window they infiltrated through.

As giants and ogres closed in from all sides, the heroes made a mad dash for the privvy and jumped through the window, onto the waiting deck of the Gypsy Dawn. They flew away from the stronghold, a new magical item in hand.

Of course, what it’s supposed to do is still a mystery.

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Session 9: Avert Your Gaze

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Interludes.

Some revelations over breakfast.

With Lady Varia established as the new Open Lady of Waterdeep, the heroes finally allowed some dust to settle as they recovered from the events of the failed Gith attack on the city. A few days later, having breakast with Varia and Tyaene, the heroes asked if they had anymore information about the Heirs that they hadn’t shared yet.

Varia said the Gith torturer had mentioned the Martyr’s Progeny, the youths in the city of Tantras who were spared when Torm called for the souls of his followers to defeat Bane. Tyaene reiterated that they should speak with someone who was more connected to the Harpers’ previous bout with Abraham. She suggested Varia’s mother, Alania, now a High Harper, but Varia shot that down. She also suggested Lachlan, Varia’s ex-fiance, son of Doan Firemane, another adventurer from the company that helped the Harpers take down Abraham before.

After Varia left to attend to her new duties as Open Lady, the heroes decided on their next course of action—heading to Loudwater to find the cleric Andalar, who might be able to help them restore Anther to his original, human form.

Saradoc recruited the help of his friends to try to learn more about one of his curses—his skeletal hand. Guided by their inspiration and blessing, he concentrated his magic on his hand to discover any clues about it. The hand burned with an unholy fire, connected to a cursed coin that he kept on his person. Another voice reached out to him, saying that he was perfect.

But perfect for what?

Guidance from Starret.

Tobias, meanwhile, made another trip to the Spires of the Morning to seek advice from Dawnbringer Starret once again. He came across the priest in the garden, planting flowers for all the soldiers he could not save during the attack on Waterdeep.

Starret could not fathom why the gods were remaining silent, especially with the revelations that both Bane and Cyric were involved. Why would the gods do nothing, with conflict such as this on the rise?

The priest did offer some advice to Tobias, however, regarding his relationship with Saradoc—he should not abandon his friend, especially in times of need, even if he may be compelled to do evil against his will. He must still help bring people to the light, no matter how difficult that road may be.

Farewell to Waterdeep … for now.

Hiring a crew.

With Tyaene more forthcoming and apparently even somewhat friendlier, now that Rhosius had been dealt with, Kaloy tried to charm Tyaene to kindle a friendship. The Harper responded awkwardly, no longer used to such gestures of kindness.

Leaving Anther with Tyaene, the heroes decided their best course of action was to hire out the Gypsy Dawn crew, perhaps under an “official” capacity for the Open Lady of Waterdeep. They found Captain Lockright once again at the alehouse. He explained that yes, they did take the other airship, but no, they didn’t sell it—he gave it to the previous captain’s next of kin. A bit of honor among airship captains.

Nonetheless, the heroes (and Laelyn) convinced him to at least hear out the proposition of privateering for Waterdeep and acting as their personal transport. He came topside with the heroes for a meeting with Lady Varia.

At the courts, the dragonborn Lt. Arjahn greeted them at the door, treating Tobias like a brother. They meet with Lady Varia, accompanied by Goss Hollowhand and two Masked Lords—their identities, of course, obscured. The heroes present their idea to Varia, that Lockright’s ship should be commissioned to privateer for Waterdeep. Varia already seems to know who Captain Lockright is. She asks everyone to clear the room.

Outside, the heroes asked Goss for an update on what’s happening at New Dawn. The town is being rebuilt, slowly but surely. Saradoc’s mother, Celadina, had taken on a position of leadership, acting as perhaps the de facto mayor of the town now. Meanwhile, Garmek had recruited Tobias’ brother Cor and a few others to try to reclaim Silverhammer Hall.

After the update, Lockright burst from the room and announced, abruptly, that the ship would fly officially for Waterdeep. Lealyn chased after him, not knowing whether they were even getting paid for their services. The heroes returned to Varia, who acted very casually after whatever had happened behind closed doors. She charged them with one more task: find out more about the Black Fires … but most importantly, how to extinguish them. Waterdeep needs its seat of power back.

Parting ways.

The heroes gathered their things and prepared to board the Gypsy Dawn, docked at the harbor. Tyaene met them at the ship to say goodbye. If they returned to Waterdeep anytime soon, she wouldn’t be around—Varia had asked her to investigate the whereabouts of the red dragon harassing the Sword Coast. She said she was heading to Baldur’s Gate to meet up with another Harper in the area.

Tyaene and Kaloy shook hands awkwardly, Tyaene still unused to gestures of friendship.

Ooga’s story.

The trip to Loudwater would still take a day by airship. The heroes stretched out on the ship, taking in some of the most beautiful sights they’d ever seen—they had never been so high up.

Ooga struck up a conversation with the helmsman, Skinny the Skeleton, which was to say that Ooga talked and Skinny listened as others came by. Ooga recounted a memory of playing with Saradoc’s family, involving them trying to wrestle him to the ground, and later seeing how far he could throw them.

The tourist trap.

A celebration.

They finally arrived in Loudwater the next morning. A carnival had been set up, and the town was alive with activity. They bought some funnel cake and enjoyed the atmosphere. Ooga tried his luck at testing his strength, using Saradoc as extra weight for the hammer. He won a stuffed golden dragon.

Another tent advertised meeting the Heroes of Loudwater, and inside a particularly horrible play went on recounting the events of the siege on Loudwater about thirty years ago. While they complained about the production, an older man approached from behind, agreeing that the choice in actors could have been much better. He introduced himself as Theran and departed.

The heroes enjoyed the carnival a little more, then decided they had official business to take care of.

A conversation with Lady Moonfire.

In their search for Andalar, they went to the local temple of Oghma. Patriarch Waeynne said that Andalar had indeed stopped by. He’d even perused their library but didn’t find anything particularly useful or interesting to whatever his object was. He actually frequented Lady Moonfire’s office more often.

The heroes then went to the town hall to speak with the lady of the town. They were stopped by a Drow guard, Demeter, who refused to let them through. Kaloy tried to convince her of their official mission, but Demeter wouldn’t budge. So Ooga leaned in to intimidate her instead. In a moment’s flinch, Saradoc saw an opportunity to sneak right by and open the door to Lady Moonfire’s office.

Inside, the tiefling Lady Felicia Moonfire greeted them, obsessed with how cute she found Saradoc and … perhaps even mistaking him for one of the performers at the carnival. When she saw Kaloy, she inquired about her clothes, obsessed with their intricate beauty. While they talked, Tobias decided to investigate a strange feeling of creeping evil that he had detected from the statue garden.

The investigation deepens.

Tobias, Saradoc, and Ooga examined the statues at the carnival. Talking with a groundskeeper, they found out that the statues were relatively recent and that they had been found discarded along the side of the road near the path leading to the Star Mounts. They detected traces of evil on them, as if some foul transmutation magic had befallen real people and turned them to stone.

Meanwhile, Kaloy spoke with Lady Moonfire, who admitted she had grown bored by Andalar very quickly. Her husband, Theran, was the one who spoke to him. When Theran arrived, Kaloy inquired further. Andalar, it turned out, was investigating something about the Black Fires. He’d gone into the Star Mounts with a few other adventurers he’d recruited, to an abandoned fortress on the mountain itself.

The heroes reconvened and decided to follow Andalar’s path.

The Star Mounts.

An old fortress.

Up the mountain, hiking up a hidden road, they came across the abandoned fortress. The walls were in disrepair, crumbling, and it looked like it hadn’t seen practical use in decades, maybe even centuries. Two stone statues sat outside a door, dressed in armor and armed like adventurers. Saradoc detected a magically trapped door, so they climbed in through the windows instead.

Searching around the dark, abandoned fortress, they found a secret room that may have served as the armory. Inside, most of the armaments had fallen into decay, but they also found two items that appeared to have been enchanted by magic—boots that made no sound, and a shield that seemed to know exactly where its user wanted to place it.

Avert your gaze.

Exploring further, they came across the barracks, where an elven man was chained to the back wall, guarded by a medusa whose thoughts revolved around a single sentence: “I am beautiful. I am beautiful. I am beautiful."

Deciding not to attack the medusa outright, the heroes instead thought of a smarter way to try to fight it. They found the mess hall, with a cabinet with mirrors for the display of fine dining sets. Ooga and Tobias lifted the cabinet and brought it back to where the medusa was.

Kaloy attempted a sneak attack with her spell of dissonant whispers, but it wasn’t as effective as she hoped it would be. Tobias rushed into the darkness in an attempt to attack the medusa. Kaloy brought light into the room, and Saradoc ran to the prisoner to free him. Ooga trapped the medusa in a web and the heroes dispatched it, leaving them with their newly-rescued elf.

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