The Pale Kingdoms

Session 27
Raiders of the Lost Halfling, part 1

Eleint 26/27 (after midnight): In the aftermath of the battle at the Temple of Tiamat, the “(Party)” discusses their options. Lord Korras Anteos is unconscious, Favria is out to the Red Enclave (the Thayan Embassy in Waterdeep) to inform her employers of the alliance between the Cult of the Dragon and the renegade Red Wizards, young Torst Kettlesmith is found alive, and as for Steve, Silver Fang’s father…

Some debate starts about his fate. He wants to go back to the Wormsnapper orc tribe he’s been living with, now leaderless, to “remind them what true orcs live like”. Silver Fang wants him cured of the werewolf curse. At the end, Steve agrees to accompany the “(Party)” and adventure with his estranged son for at least a couple of days; if by Eleint 30 his lycanthropy hasn’t been cured, he’ll leave the city on his own.

The group exits Downshadow and heads to Rottenham Hall, where Cymril (Dame Corlinn’s sister), Blayne Rottenham (Civilar of the City Watch and Tristell’s twin brother), Mabella Rottenham (matriarch of Dame Corlinn’s adoptive family) and the Rottenham’s butler, Mr. Grichton, are apparently waiting for them.

There they learn that Mabella orchestrated the whole adventure: she learnt that Lord Anteos was up to no good and, through Mr. Grichton, ensured the “(Party)” knew of it and investigated it. Now that Lord Anteos has been found to be a member of the Cult of the Dragon, Blayne wants him detained and brought in front of a Magister, but Mabella has other plans: she wants to use this revelation to extort a letter of recommendation from House Anteos, in order to enter House Rottenham into Waterdeep’s nobility.

(Five votes from as many Noble Houses are required to enter this selective club. Through the years Mabella had secured four, including the Corlinn vote through Cymril’s marriage with her son Tristell. This would be the last one she needs.)

The “(Party)” objects, as does Blayne; but Cymril tells the group it’s prudent to let Mabella get away with it, for now. She reveals herself to be a member of the Harpers at Twilight (also known as “Those Who Harp”), a secret organization dedicated to promoting good, preserving history (including art and music of old) and maintaining a balance between civilization and nature. She also notes she’s got powerful allies who can make better use of this night’s revelations than the City Watch, anyway, and sets up a meeting between them and the “(Party)” for the following night.

The “(Party)” reluctantly agrees to leave Lord Anteos under house arrest in his own manor and is paid by Mabella for their services, even if they didn’t know they were working for her at the time; as for Esvele and Torst Kettlesmith, Mabella pays them enough to move out of the city and settle down in Baldur’s Gate, away from house Anteos’ or the Cult of the Dragon’s retribution.

Eleint 27: The “(Party)” spends the day resting and resupplying in town. In the evening, Silver Fang, Steve, Vi and Dame Corlinn meet with Rasolk at the Dagger’s Rest Inn. There, the wererat tells them his story (from his point of view, of course): he’s the leader of the Neverwinter branch of the Dead Rats, a group of wererat thugs. The organization’s headquarters are in the town of Luskan, to the north, and the leader is a woman known as Skaven. Rasolk introduced Kieran, Vi’s big brother and whom Rasolk “loves as if he were (his) own son”, to the organization shortly after Vi and Qelline Alderleaf left Neverwinter for Phandalin. Kieran “was delighted to be a part of it”, including the part about becoming a wererat, apparently.

A couple of years ago, Skaven wanted one of the Dead Rats to infiltrate the Xanathar Thieves’ Guild in Waterdeep, and Kieran was chosen for the role. But the young halfling stopped giving signs of life shortly after arriving in the big city, and was presumed discovered and dead. Until just a month or so ago, when he sent a letter to Rasolk in his own handwriting saying “Need help. I think they know. Always watched. Further messages at the Yawning Portal. Hurry.” (the Yawning Portal is an inn in Waterdeep, popular amongst adventurers because it contains a passage into Undermountain). Rasolk tried to convince Skaven to mount a rescue party for Kieran, but she refused, smelling a trap.

Undaunted, Rasolk lied to his men in Neverwinter and told them that Kieran had “discovered the location of a secret cache of the Xanathar Thieves’ Guild” and that Skaven had ordered them to go to Waterdeep and steal it. They went along with him, but as time passes, they’re becoming more and more suspicious of the halfling’s motives. Rasolk thinks they’re about to openly mutiny against him…

Rasolk received a second letter from Kieran saying “Need extraction. Eleint 28 midnight. 4 lvls down, NE until serpent crypts. Trust Tonya. Bring muscle.” and is hoping the “(Party)” will go with him to protect him from his own men, and to help him rescue Kieran from whatever trouble he’s in. The group accedes, if only because Vi needs to know what’s going on with her brother.

Meanwhile, Selsior, Therenden, Puddleduck and Silamen meet with Cymril at the Blackstaff Academy. There they are granted an audience with the much revered Laeral Silverhand Arunsun. Once known as one of the Seven Sisters and the wife (and later widower) of the archmage Khelben “Blackstaff” Arunsun, Laeral Silverhand is now famous in her own right as the Lady Mage of Waterdeep, a very powerful and savvy wizard, and one of Waterdeep’s political movers and shakers. She listens to what the “(Party)” has to say about the Cult of the Dragon and the renegade Red Wizards of Thay attempting to bring Tiamat back into the Mortal Plane and decides the matter is important enough to bring one of the Harper’s “big guns” into the fold: the archmage Elminster Aumar, also known as the Sage of Shadowdale.

Elminster is summoned to the room and is updated on these events. He agrees with all present that the matter is very serious and will investigate further, and involve the “(Party)” in the process; he gifts Puddleduck with a Sending Stone in the shape of a rubber duck she can use to contact him.

Laeral also promises the group a reward for their efforts: horses, which they can collect when they leave the city. The group then asks the mage if he knows who “Nana Pamyla” is (the misterious “old woman” who stole Daggy’s beard). He doesn’t, but Laeral remembers an old play she once saw in Silverymoon, many years ago; a “silly little murder mistery” on which a man was stabbed multiple times in a mansion. Turns out that “all of the man’s guests did it” because he was an evil person who’d “done something terrible to each of them”, and they wanted revenge; Nana Pamyla was one of the characters in the play. In fact, she was one of the murderers…

Therenden has some questions for Elminster about his magical amulet and the revelations given to him by Lonni, the Night Hag they fought near Amphail, and the mage confirms it’s a very powerful item that was probably crafted using some very powerful blood magic. As for whether the visions of his parents being drow are true or not, all Elminster has to say is “be careful if you start pulling on that thread, lest you don’t like what you find at the end”.

Eleint 28: In the afternoon the “(Party)” tries to get more information about the Xanathar Thieves’ Guild from Lucero, the young thief who participated in the theft of Daggy’s beard, but cannot get anything new from him.

Just before midnight, they meet with Rasolk and his were-rats at the Yawning Portal inn and proceed down to the dungeons under Mount Waterdeep, following the directions left by Kieran in his message. During the way they are attacked by two gelatinous cubes, which they defeat without losses — except for two of Rasolk’s men, who fall to them.

To be continued!

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Session 26
Werewolf? Here wolf!

Eleint 26 (night): Selsior and Lord Korras Anteos arrive at Downshadow, an ancient dungeon situated under Mount Waterdeep. It’s actually the top level of a very deep dungeon known as Undermountain, now refurbished as the living quarters of a group of outcasts, including a number of spellscarred (creatures mutated when the Spellplague hit Toril).

A tiefling called Morthos greets the couple, but Lord Anteos quickly takes Selsior to the Red Dog, a filthy tavern where he’s instructed to stay put while he conducts his “business”.

Meanwhile the rest of the (“Party”) (Silver Fang, Vi, Therenden, Silamen, Dame Corlinn and PuddleDuck) talk with Rasolk, who appears to be leader of a small group of ratmen belonging to a bigger organization of petty criminals called The Fucking Sewer Rats the Dead Rats. Rasolk wants the group’s help with his mission in Waterdeep, but won’t speak to them in the sewers; they are suspicious of his motives but Vi hopes he’ll provide a clue to the whereabouts of her lost brother Kieran. They agree to meet him on the night of the 27th at the Dagger’s Rest Inn.

The (“Party”) arrives at Downshadow, and between PuddleDuck’s charms and Vi’s coin, they obtain some information from Morthos: some of Downshadow’s passages lead to a long abandoned temple dedicated to “some dragon deity”; Lord Anteos is part of a group of regulars who worship at the temple; and Torst Kettlesmith, his missing linkboy, disappeared a few nights ago after nosing around his master’s business at the temple. Before heading there, the group proceeds to the Red Dog to pick up Selsior; but when they exit the tavern, they are greeted by a group of thugs led by a spellscarred dwarf called Grimvok and his second in command, Bromley.

The thugs demand payment before the (“Party”) can continue forward: all their magic items and coin. To the surprise of absolutely no one ever, this leads to a fight. Grimvok dies and an instantly-promoted and badly beaten up Bromley quickly capitulates and lets the group continue on their quest.

Watching the temple’s entrance, the (“Party”) sees Lord Anteos talking to a mysterious figure. From the shadows, an old… acquaintance, Favria, makes an appearance and reveals the figure is no other than Langdedrosa Cyanwrath!

Favria reveals that she’s been on the half-dragon’s trail since the Battle for Thundertree; she completely failed on her mission to provide a dracolich for her “employers”, and the phylactery they entrusted her with was destroyed as well; fearing for her life if he returned to her employers completely empty-handed, she decided to follow Langdedrosa instead. Now he’s managed to get back to the rest of the Cult of the Dragon, of which Lord Anteos appears to be a member.

Lord Anteos and Langdedrosa are meeting that night with a colorful and diverse mob, including some orcs and a brown-robed wizard that Therenden identifies as an apprentice to a Red Wizard of Thay (Thay is a region far to the east, ruled with an iron fist by a powerful and utterly evil lich called Szass Tam. They have an embassy in Waterdeep called the Red Enclave, and due to Thay’s warmongering and thirst for conquest, their presence in the city is only barely tolerated).

Favria seems surprised by this, and they all sneak into the temple to overhear their conversation. They learn some important information:

  • The Cult of the Dragon is under new management: a certain Severin. Under his guidance, the Cult has stopped trying to create dracoliches and instead is allying itself with the evil chromatic dragons to try and bring Tiamat, the Dragon Queen, back into the mortal world (Tiamat was banished to the Nine Hells a long time ago).
  • For some reason the Cult needs a lot of wealth to summon Tiamat. Because of this, they’ve been raiding and pillaging countryside towns with the help of local orcish tribes. Langdedrosa, with a bone to pick against the (“Party”), suggests Phandalin as the next target. Lord Anteos informs him that they’re aware of the town’s newfound wealth and they’re “considering it”.
  • The wizard present at the meeting, Samas Kul, is indeed the apprentice to a Red Wizard of Thay. It appears there’s a rogue faction of Red Wizards helping the Cult of the Dragon in their plans without Szass Tam’s knowledge.
  • Langdedrosa retells the events that happened at Thundertree, adding some extra information: Favria’s mysterious “employer” is a lich called Valindra Shadowmantle, who is an agent of the Red Wizards of Thay — the “main” Red Wizards of Thay, that is, still loyal to Szass Tam and not allied to the Cult of the Dragon. Favria admits this to be true.

While this is being discussed, another orc enters the room — none other than Steve, Silver Fang’s father! Steve’s a werewolf and apparently part of the Wormsnapper clan, the orc tribe which leader, Crubash, is present at the meeting. But before anybody can process this information, Therenden gives in to his impulsive side and hurls a bolt of lightning at the cultists, beginning the battle!

During the fight that ensues, Samas Kul manages to flee; Lord Anteos is knocked unconscious; Langdedrosa and Crubash die at the hands of the (“Party”); and as for Steve…

Dame Corlinn remembers the words of Timox Herden earlier that day, and sees her opportunity to get rid of her curse of lycanthropy by biting the werewolf. She takes her chance, transforming into a werewolf for the first time and sinking her fangs into the orc — which seems to work. She reverts to her human form, severely weakened, while Steve suddenly becomes more powerful than ever… or does he? Moments later, he clutches his chest and stumbles on the ground…

After some tense moments, he slowly gets up and stands on unsteady feet; he appears to be stable, at least for the time being, and retaining his extra strength. But for how long? Is he going to live? And if he doesn’t, did Dame Corlinn get rid of her curse, or was it for nothing?

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Session 25
Daylight robbery

Eleint 26: The (“Party”) visits the Dagger’s Rest inn and talks with Esvele Kettlesmith, a young servant who works in the kitchen in the manor of House Anteos (one of Waterdeep’s noble families). Escele tells them his brother Torst was the linkboy and personal manservant of their common master, Lord Korras Anteos.

Torst had told Esvele that he had gone with Lord Anteos several times to the Purple Lady festhall; from there, they had gone to the labnyrinthine sewers running under Waterdeep and had eventually reached “an underground town”, where Lord Anteos had him wait alone while he conducted his business.

But five days ago, the morning after one of these outings, Torst was nowehere to be seen; Lord Anteos claimed they had come back together the night before as usual, and had no idea what happened to him. The City Watch was informed, but they brushed it off: the current theory is that Torst has simply “run away”. Being a lowly servant, nobody is really looking into his disappearance.

The (“Party”) forms a plan: they’ll infiltrate House Anteos from within, with Selsior playing the part of Lord Korras’ new linkboy while the rest of the group investigates the festhall. They divide the group in two, and decide to reconvene at the Purple Lady at supper time.

Selsior, Dame Corlinn, Silver Fang and Vi walk to House Anteos’ manor, but in the way they find a commotion in the streets: a wagon driven by a gnome has broken down and the owlbear that was caged inside is roaming free! To complicate matters, when the crowd runs around them, Vi notices she’s been robbed: a young thief has cut the string of her Bag of Holding and run away with it!

Vi runs after the thief while the rest of the group quickly dispatches the owlbear and joins the chase. They twist and turn around Waterdeep’s alleyways, running into several people — including an old woman carrying a crate of chickens. Eventually they corner the thief, who surrenders to them and gives the Bag back. But a quick check reveals that something is wrong: the jar containing Daggy’s beard has been replaced with a fake!

The thief confesses an old lady calling herself Nana Pamyla (matching the description of the chicken-carrying lady they stumbled upon before) hired him to steal the Bag, ensure the (“Party”) gave chase, then pass on the Bag to her during the escape. The woman took out the jar (showing she knew exactly what she was looking for), replaced it with the fake, and urged the thief to keep running. He also tells the group he’s a recent inductee of the Xanathar Thieves’ Guild, and that he took the job without informing his Guild masters in order to not having to give them a cut — something that is sure to cause him problems if they found out.

The group lets the thief go and goes back to try to find this Nana Pamyla character, but she’s gone — and she’s taking the beard with her. They also suspect the gnome who was carrying the owlbear in his wagon is part of this, but the City Watch takes him for questioning before they can interrogate him. They also check with Preslee, who has no idea who the old lady is, but confirms there is supposed to be at least one town under the surface of Waterdeep, probably under Mount Waterdeep itself: Downshadow, a lawless place where outcasts dwell. Afterwards, they resume their plan and visit House Anteos, where Selsior is introduced to his new master…

Meanwhile, Therenden, Silamen and Puddleduck visit The Mount Waterdeep Crier, publishers of a chapbook written by Timox Herden about how to transfer the werewolf curse from one host body to another. The publishing company’s owner gives them Timox’s address, and they visit him immediately. He tells them his story: like Dame Corlinn, he was an adventurer who was bitten by a werewolf. He was cursed for over three months, and during that time they experimented with several cures, which only offered temporary respite. One day, they fought a were-bear and in the skirmish Timox turned into his hybrid werewolf form and bit his enemy.

To their surprise, Timox felt the werewolf curse leave his body — all of it — and enter the were-bear. The effects were immediate: Timox was debilitated and almost fainted, while his enemy grew more powerful and fierce; so much that he killed two of his comrades. But a few moments later the were-bear clutched his chest, howled in agony, transformed back into his human form, and fell dead on the ground. This was five years ago, and Timox hasn’t had any “werewolf episodes” since.

Pondering this information, the group visits the Church of Selûne at the House of the Moon. There, the Priestess of the High Moonlight Naneatha Suaril acknowledges that she’s read Timox’s story but doesn’t know whether it’s true or not, and is not interested in finding out — at the House of the Moon they’re not interested in undoing “the Goddess’ gift”, only in fighting against those who would use it for evil.

After all these investigations, the (“Party”) converges in the Purple Lady festhall. It’s a classier establishment than the Smiling Siren, with a powerful draconic iconography (such as the red dragon statue in the entrance hall, breathing illusory fire on the incoming guests). Different (“Party”) members do different things: Puddleduck plays for a while in the Minstrel’s room, and in her breaks asks the staff about the club; Silver Fang and Silamen try to infiltrate the building through the sewers; Selsior and Vi wait to be called in the servants’ room; Therenden snoops around while invisible; and Dame Corlinn walks in as a guest, staying close to Lord Korras Anteos. She is dismayed to see her sister, Cymril, is also in the festhall along with his husband, Tristell Rottenham.

Eventually Lord Anteos calls Selsior and goes to his room in the second floor, where Therenden sees them enter a secret room with a spiral staircase descending into the bowels of the club. While Puddleduck joins Silver Fang and Silamen in the sewers, Dame Corlinn and Vi (posing as her servant) try to go to the second floor together, but are stopped by a bouncer. But then, Cymril appears and vouches for them. They all go upstairs and Cymril cryptically tells them “this is as far as I’ve ever followed him. You have more chances of success than I do; we’ll talk about it later. Go!”

Dame Corlinn, Vi and Therenden descend the secret staircase and are stopped by two guards, but they bluff their way through claiming “they are with Lord Anteos”. They enter the sewers, where the whole group is finally together (except Selsior, still with Lord Anteos). They use Puddleduck’s magic to follow Selsior through the sewers — but are suddenly stopped by a gang of were-rats!

They prepare for a fight, but one of the were-rats tells the others to leave them alone. “It’s okay, guys… I’ve got this one!” When they leave, he reveals his real form: he’s Rasolk, the old partner of Qelline Alderleaf!

“Hello there, Vi. Long time no see.”

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Session 24
Big City Blues

Eleint 24 (afternoon): It’s been a long trip, but the (“Party”) finally makes their way to the city of Waterdeep. They are stopped by the gate guards and asked to fill out an entry form while they are informed of what the laws of the city are like. Dame Corlinn is given an invitation to attend Rottenham Hall “at her earliest convenience”; the Rottenhams were her adoptive family after her parents died in Neverwinter, when Mount Hotenow erupted. She learns that Blayne Rottenham, one of the two twins who used to bully her during her brief stay at Rottenham Hall almost thirty years ago, is now Captain Civilar of the North Ward of Waterdeep.

Once in the city, the group heads straight to Rottenham Hall. They are met by the family butler, Mr. Grichton, and Dame Corlinn has to suffer through being reintroduced to people she had hoped never to see again: Mabella, head of the family (Oswalt, her husband, spends these days surrounded by books in his study); Nevan, Oswalt’s senile father; Tristell, Mabella’s son and Blayne’s twin brother; and Tristell’s kids, the creepy Deidre and psychopath-to-be Goldberg.

To her distress, Dame Corlinn (whose real name happens to be Wilhelmina) also learns that her little sister Cymril, absent from the proceedings, ended up marrying Tristell…

During the awkward dinner, Dame Corlinn brings up the subject of werewolves. Blayne points out that “those crazies at the Church of Selûne” are known to befriend and ally themselves with lycanthropes. Wilhelmina later refuses to stay the night at Rottenham Hall, and the group leaves for the Grinning Lion, a tavern and inn in the North Ward recommended by Mr. Grichton.

At the tavern, the group discusses their plans for the next day — and meet a young elven ranger, Silamen, who is accompanied by no other than Selsior. It’s around that time that a group of dragonborn enter the Grinning Lion looking for Heskan. When they find him, they drag him away and tell him his sisters wishes to “have words” with him…

Selsior and Silamen ask to join the (“Party”). They accede but, before they know it, Selsior is already striking on his own: he spends the night at the Smiling Siren, a festhall in Castle Ward. Of what happens there, it’s better not to speculate.

Eleint 25: The (“Party”)’s first stop is the House of the Moon, a temple devoted to Selûne (also known as the Moonmaiden and Our Lady in Silver). It is tended by Naneatha Suaril, Priestess of the High Moonlight.

The group asks her if there’s a cure for lycanthropy; she tells them that the Temple offers no cure, as they don’t consider it an illness, but simply a gift from the goddess. “Worthy ones” accept, control, and use the gift for good; “unworthy ones” are consumed by bloodlust and use it for evil. They do acknowledge that werewolves cannot control their instincts during nights of full moon, however, and use control collars during those times to sap them of their aggressiveness — and any other emotions they may feel.

She offers to forge a control collar for Dame Corlinn, but they’ll need a vial of her blood to bond it to her; she decides to think on it for a while. Naneatha warns that collars are given during a ritual on nights of full moon, the next one being on Eleint 30; if she wants her collar by then, she needs to provide them with the blood by Eleint 28.

The (“Party”) goes then to visit Preslee, a friend and informant of Vi. Preslee is an elf who works at the Smiling Siren as a highcoin lass (Realmspeak for “female prostitute”. The more you know!) as a means to an end: gathering and distributing information. She tells the group of the current state of affairs at Waterdeep: there is an open conflict between the Xanathar Thieves’ Guild, who are trying to eliminate all competition (including Vi’s old fence, Paerro), and the Shadow Thieves, the only other criminal organization of note.

She’s also heard from Tharos, one of her clients, that there’s a “new halfling thug in town” — Rasolk, her aunt Qelline‘s old partner. Apparently he’s in Waterdeep to establish a branch of yet another criminal group, calling themselves “the fucking sewer rats or something”…

Therenden asks her about how to find a body for Fred, but that’s beyond her area of expertise; all she can recommend is contacting a wizard specialized in giving life to bodies such as golems.

After speaking with Preslee, the {"Party") spends the afternoon at the Font of Knowledge, Waterdeep’s Temple of Oghma and public library, all in one. While Silver Fang enjoys a restful nap, they learn the following information in there:

  • Selsior finds new information about the Staff of Defense that Therenden obtained from Glasstaff: It’s actually a staff of Defense and Resurrection; if used on a creature who’s expired, it has a chance of bringing it back to life. The sooner this is done, the bigger the chance. Regardless of the outcome, after being used in this fashion the staff shatters.
  • Therenden can’t find any particular information on the Staff of the Spider that he took from the Black Spider, but he confirms it was made by drow mages. He reads some books on the Underdark and the city of Menzoberranzan.
  • Vi finds an old children’s coloring book containing a depiction of a Nothic. The text reads: “N is for Nothics, who dwell in stinky caves. / They eat crickets / steal your secrets / and come from Outer Planes.”
  • Dame Corlinn and Silamen find the books The canon of medicine as applied to lycanthropic case studies by Hugebart Klerck (which suggests trepanation as a way to “offer the wolf spirits a way to escape the body”), On the tyranny of tides: Rejecting the shackles of Selûnite belief by Jurne Veles (which posits that destroying the moon would do a lot to solve the problems of the world, including werewolf transformations) and Furry beasts took my baby: The true shocking account of a plausible shocking tale of an overheard, possibly shocking, conversation about a woman’s quest to unlock the mystery of the cult of the were-hamsters by Chazaria Lintel (mostly incomprehensible, but it does offer another solution to eliminate lycanthropy: full body depilation). Dame Corlinn isn’t impressed with any of them.
  • Finally, Puddleduck finds a chapbook by Timox Herden titled The Were-Transference, published in Waterdeep some years ago by a small press called “The Mount Waterdeep Crier”. The author explains that lycanthropy is a very powerful curse bestowed by the gods and, as such, is impossible to eliminate without killing the victim; the only way to get rid of it is to transfer it to another host. Herden claims to be an ex-werewolf himself, having successfully performed this feat.

The (“Party”) decides to investigate this possibility on the morrow. For the time being, they return to the Grinning Lion for supper, where they are met by Mr. Grichton. The butler asks them for help: a young man, a linkboy (lantern-carrier) for a nobleman, has disappeared and nobody is looking into it. “Nobody cares about us servants, you see.” It’s actually the linkboy’s sister, Esvele Kettlesmith, who’s terribly distressed and begging for assistance; Mr. Grichton asks if the group would be willing to hear her out, if he arranges for them to meet. They accede…

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Session 23
Last witch standing

The (“Party”) storms Groa’s sunken tower, fighting against her guardians. They manage to kill another two of them, until their captain shows up and urges them to halt the fight.

“Stop!”, he says to the men and women under his command. “The Lady Groa orders you to stop! She has honoured our visitors with an audience.”

Suspicious, Silver Fang, Dame Corlinn and Therenden acceed to talk to the witch, followed from the shadows by Vi and PuddleDuck. In the meantime, Heskan goes to the top floor to recover his trident, closely watched by some of the tower’s guardians. They all notice that their opponents stopped fighting immediately when asked and, when they finally meet the hag, they know why: she has them completely enthralled under some kind of hypnotic suggestion, and probably has for years.

The little girl they came to rescue, Autumn, is with the witch but, like the tower’s guardians, she’s also under her spell. Groa is interested in learning what the (“Party”) knows about her (and where is Rann hiding) but refuses to let Autumn go. Eventually the (“Party”) grows tired of pointless negotiations, and attacks.

Groa uses a secret trapdoor to drop PuddleDuck (along with the guardians’ captain) into the maws of Mr. Pimples, a gigantic Gibblering Mouther she keeps on the basement as a pet, and the culprit of the tower’s sinking. The group fights for their life and, In the confusion, Guffrey shambles into the tower: Rann wants to have “words” with her big sister.

In the end, Silver Fang delivers Groa a mortal blow and Rann grapples and drops her dying body into the jaws of Mr. Pimples — while the entire tower sinks into the ground! The (“Party”) escapes along with Autumn, Guffrey, some of the tower guardians, and their captain, who is grateful for having been rescued from the nightmare he’d been trapped in for years.

Outside the quickly sinking tower, they meet another adventuring group, which had been following their tracks sice they left Guffrey’s shack: The Party! This one is composed of Tenis (a half-elf sorcerer), Toxicity (a tiefling warlock), Jamyang (a dwarf monk), Drizzle Do’ Shizzle (a drow ranger), Tinkerhell (a pixie) and a helmeted warrior they introduce as… Dame Corlinn?!

It turns out this Dame Corlinn is no other than Cymril, the other Dame Corlinn’s little sister, now living a life of adventure of her own. The two women have little to say to each other — for now. The Party! is also headed for Waterdeep, after all, and it’s a small world…

Eleint 21, afternoon: The (“Party”) returns to Amphail, where they receive their reward from Warder Briiathor and talk with Guffrey and Sadel about Autumn’s future. Looks like the group is about to gain another member…

In the solitude of her room, the young girl whispers “It’s okay, we are alone now. You can come out.” On cue, Rann’s ghost emerges from her body, grinning.

“Oh, my little sister! I know you’re scared about what the future may bring, but do not worry. I’ll be with you every step of the way, and teach you everything you need to know. And who knows? One day, maybe you can have little sisters of your own…”

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Session 22
Thanks for the memories

In the dark tunnels of the Underdark, deep under Faerûn, a young elf named Therenden looks for his parents. On and on he goes, until finally he stumbles upon a gruesome scene: a female drow plunging a ritual dagger on the chest of a pleading surface elf Therenden immediately feels he is is father, even though he doesn’t remember ever meeting him.

The drow assassin turns straight at Therenden and launches herself at him, weapon at the ready. As the young boy screams in terror, her blade strikes him…

…At which moment, the adult Therenden wakes up from the horrible nightmare. Like the other members of the (“Party”), he felt the psychic attack of Lonni, the night hag. The group decides to set out immediately to hunt her, in the forested hills west of Amphail. Guffrey goes with them, spurred onward by the ghost of the sea hag, Rann, who wants to see her “big sisters” as dead as she is.

Eleint 19 (late): The group reaches Lonni’s cabin in a clearing on the edge of the Westwood forest. They approach with caution, smelling a trap. Autumn’s cat, Malphaset, goes in front of them to scout the old. decrepit building, but sees nothing. They decide to rush inside, breaking down doors and windows… And find the place apparently deserted.

Heskan goes deeper inside the cabin to investigate Lonni’s room — but suddenly the floor breaks open under his feet, and a pair of long, lanky, pale hands grab his legs, pulling him down into the basement! Lonni Longshanks, dressed in an old, dirty and tattered wedding dress, attacks savagely with her long claws, moving around with impunity by disappearing into thin air as she pleases.

The fight is hard, and at some point Heskan decides to take a shortcut through the cabin’s walls… and takes down the whole building with him! The group keeps fighting over the rubble, and eventually take the witch down. But then they are hit with a final psychic attack, and this time they don’t live through a nightmare, but their darkest memories.

Silver Fang remembers the moment when his father, Steve the Orc, was bitten by a werewolf during one of their hunts. Silver Fang’s vows compelled him to attack… but his compassion took the better of him and he let Steve go. They never saw each other again.

Vi remembers the time after her parents were murdered, when she lived in the ruins of Neverwinter with her aunt Qelline and her parrner, Rasolk, along with her brother Kieran. Rasolk was involved into some nasty business — and when Qelline, recently pregnant, had enough of him, she left with Vi for Phandalin. But Rasolk refused to let Kieran go with them, and brother and sister were separated.

Heskan remembers the day he arrived at Faerûn, in the docks of Neverwinter, just a few tendays ago. But instead of the prince’s welcome he expected, he’s scorned by Ferrakas, clan Hammerwing’s contact in the Tarmalune Trade House. Ferrakas tells Heskan that his sister Valmyse is paying a lot of coin to ensure he never goes back to Arkhosia, as she’s quite interested in ensuring she has no competition for the throne back home. The dragonborn is now stranded in this strange, dangerous land.

Therenden recalls a memory that was magically erased from his mind; when he was but a baby, he wasn’t a surface elf — he was a drow! He remembers watching his parents talk about the gem he’s been carried around with him all his life — a gem imbued with two enchantments: One to ensure he always keeps it in close contact with his body, and another to keep him physically transformed into a surface elf, so he never suspects his true heritage. To his horror, he witnesses the kind of blood sacrifice necessary to power these enchantments: his mother, a drow mage from the school of Sorcere in Menzoberranzan, ritually murdered his willing father in front of his eyes.

Dame Corlinn remembers the days when she lived in the manor of House Rottenham, in Waterdeep, along with her little sister Cymril, where they were constantly harassed and bullied by their snobby, adoptive family. The day Mabella Rottenham went into labour, and the kids were left alone in the house, Dame Corlinn saw her chance to escape. She packed her meager possessions, including her precious greataxe, and left for a life of freedom and adventure — but had to leave Cymril behind, to ensure the little girl’s safety.

Finally, PuddleDuck remembers the day she left the Plane of Faerie, where she had had a happy (but brief) relationship with her beloved Merrisara, the brave and beautiful eladrin warrior. Merrisara pleaded for her to stay, but the gnome had to leave her behind — for she was consumed by the feeling that Merrisara only loved her thanks to the magic of the instrument she once played to win her heart.

Once the group recovers from these memories, they proceed to loot Lonni’s corpse, and retrieve a black, magical stone (which Therenden later identifies as a heartstone, an item that allows a trained user to phase between the Material Plane and the Plane of Shadow) and Lonni’s hag eye, which the witches use to communicate with each other. Rann immediately uses it to taunt Groa and tell her they’re “coming for her”.

Among the rubble they also find Rann’s old diary, and after reading it the hag’s ghost remembers where Groa used to live: a “magical castle” in the fields to the north east. They start to march there immediately.

Eleint 20, afternoon: In the middle of a peaceful meadow rests a short, squat building. Is this the magic castle the diary talked about? As they get closer, the group notices there are sentinels patrolling the roof; and also that the ground around the structure has a strange, doughy texture. In fact, it’s soon evident that at least part of the structure has sunk underground, and only the upper floors protrude from the surface.

The group is soon spotted, and nervous guards come out to meet them, weapons at the ready. Any attempt at subterfuge quickly ends when Heskan casually throws his trident at one of the guards upstairs through a window, hitting him squarely on the chest and showing simultaneously how dragonborn spell “diplomacy”. It is ON.

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Session 21
Dream a little dream

Almost thirty years ago… (around the time when the eruption of Mount Hotenow spelled the doom of the city of Neverwinter)

We are witness to the raid that put a (temporary) end to the activities of the witches’ coven in Amphail. A group of guards and warriors from the nearby city of Waterdeep (led by Mirta Sunderstone, a veteran captain of the Waterdeep guard) assaulted the riverboat where lived one of the hags, Rann.

Rann had asked for assistance from her two “big sisters”, Groa and Lonni, but they refused. And so, and despite commanding a small army of swamp creatures to confront her attackers, Rann fell to their onslaught.

One of the witness of the fight was a local boy, Guffrey…

And then we go back to the present. Or do we? For what we see is a series of scenes plucked out of the minds of the members of the (“Party”):

Silver Fang: A young Silver Fang is werewolf-hunting on familiar grounds: the dark, foreboding Neverwinter Woods. He’s sneaking around, getting close to his prey: a female human lycanthrope who’s in hybrid form, drinking from a stream. The half-orc approaches silently from behind, then rushes her with a vicious battle scream. He swings his magical axe, Mallory, and kills her with a single blow to the head!

While he’s catching his breath, his father comes out of the woods and looks at him in disarray. “What have you done? My son, what have you done?”. The orc runs to the fallen foe and picks her up in his arms, sobbing. It’s at that moment that she reverts to her human form, revealing she’s Mallory, Silver Fang’s mother!

But… didn’t she die in childbirth?

Vi: We see Vi as a little girl, running around the ruins of Neverwinter with her older brother, Kieran. Kieran is showing her some tricks that will serve her well in the years to come: hiding in the shadows, sneaking around the empty buildings, running around the rubble-covered alleyways…

They climb the top of a tower overlooking the Chasm, a huge hole in the ground that swallowed about a quarter of the city in the aftermath of Mount Hotenow’s eruption. But the tower also overlooks the cemetery, and from there Vi witness the murder of her parents by a zombie with the shape of…

Daggy?

Heskan: The young dragonborn is walking along the halls of the fortress that serves as the ancestral home of his family, clan Hammerwing. He’s accompanied by his parents, Hifarn and Nyskaryn, and his grandfather, the venerable Marlasar. “The foundations of our clan are honour and commitment; legacy and heritage”, says Marlasar. “Do you understand what this means, boy?” Heskan nods.

They reach the dungeons under the fortress, where prisoners are kept, and Marlasar offers Heskan the chance to prove it: some slaves have disrespected the clan by trying to escape, and they need to be taught a lesson. Under the watchful eye of his family, Heskan is forced to whip them savagely…

…But they turn out to be the other members of the (“Party”)!

Dame Corlinn: The day Mount Hotenow erupted, two young sisters (the one who would be known as the adventurer Dame Corlinn, and the younger Cymril) were visiting the residence of the Rottenham family, in south-west Neverwinter. They were accompanied by their mother, Janadine, as well as the snobbish and very ill-tempered Mabella Rottenham herself.

We witness the fury of Mount Hotenow as giant balls of fire rain over the city… But Janadine and Mabella are oblivious to it as they argue about the two girls. “You can have them, Mabella." Says the girls’ mother. "We don’t want to see the little brats ever again!”. And so, Janadine leaves her two daughters behind in the company of the evil woman, and Dame Corlinn watches helplessly as her mother rides away gleefully along with their father, Bronwyn.

Wait, didn’t both of them die in the cataclysm?

PuddleDuck: Sun shines through the treetops of the Plane of Faerie, home of the eladrin (who are known in Faerûn as the elves) and other creatures of faerie; such as gnomes. And there we find the young bard PuddleDuck, playing a magical instrument in front of her captive audience. Among the spectators is a beautiful eladrin warrior called Merrisara, whom PuddleDuck is trying to seduce with the help of her music.

But something is going very wrong. The magic of the instrument is backfiring, and instead of a feeling of bliss and well-being, it’s provoking negative emotions in the audience! And so, they all find themselves full of fear, hatred and despair. Unable to stop playing, PuddleDuck watches as they cry, fight and kill each other… or themselves. And so she witnesses Merrisara taking her own life!

But didn’t they become lovers after that day?

The (“Party”) realizes they’re under psychic attack by Lonni, the night hag; she’s forcing them to live through horrible nightmares, distorted versions of events from their past. They eventually manage to fight off the mental assault and reject the witch, finding themselves back at “Mad” Guffrey’s cabin south of Amphail. The attack has left them hurt and confused, but it has a silver lining: when the connection with Lonni was broken, they saw through her eyes the room where she lives. The ghost of Rann sprouts out of Guffrey once more, and the spirit tells the group that she recognizes the place!

Rann offers to take the (“Party”) there. She has carried a grudge against her sisters ever since the day she died, and wants to make them pay…

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Session 20
The Witchspawn of Amphail

The (“Party”) arrives at Red Larch late at night, and secures accommodations in a local inn. But they don’t stay there for long, feeling the pressure of the ever-approaching night of full moon at the end of the month. The next morning, they continue their trek south.

Eleint 17: In the morning, the group arrives at Amphail. They immediately notice there is a commotion on the town square: a group of citizens has cornered an elderly woman, Sadel Claywheel, and seem to be harassing her; chief among them are members of the local militia. They are demanding that Sadel tells them “where the girl is”; the woman is having none of it and asking to be left alone.

The (“Party”) intercedes, and the townspeople seem to be divided among them; some ask them to mind their own business and keep travelling, while others ask them to stay and help with their problem. The group decides to stay, at least for the moment, and observe a group of local kids playing hide-and-seek around the town; the “seeker” sings this rhyme before chasing after his friends:

O’er field and marsh, o’er hill and stream,
See the old witch run, chasin’ after me.
She’s the bride of the marsh by the gallows tree.
Maid, pay me a lamb, and you won’t see me.
She’s faster than the wind and quicker than death,
If she catches your scent, she’ll steal your breath.
You can’t outrun her or your end,
All you can do is outrun your friend!

Intrigued, PuddleDuck, Therenden and Vi follow Sadel to her home. There, they learn that her young daughter Autumn, around thirteen years old, is being targeted by the locals because they believe her to be a witch. Sadel confesses there is “something special about the girl”; she seems to be unnaturally good at forging bonds with animals and at learning about herbalism; but is that something so terrible? Couldn’t she simply be a very gifted young girl, or maybe even a developing sorceress? The members of the (“Party”) feel there’s more to Autumn that Sadel is telling them.

In Autumn’s room they find some samples of Autumn’s charcoal drawings, tucked away under her bed. One of them depicts a half-sunken riverboat with the word “Rann” written underneath. They also find some cat hair; Sadel confirms the girl has recently adopted a stray cat, Malphaset. She also tells them she’s hidden Autumn in the Maiden’s Tomb Tor, a local cairn (now largely unused and abandoned) while the townspeople of Amphail calm down about her. She asks the group to help her protect the child and prove she is innocent.

In the meantime, Dame Corlinn, Silver Fang and Heskan are invited to have a chat with the ruler of the town, the Lord Warder Briiathor. Briiathor is a retired warrior who used to be part of Waterdeep‘s roaming guardsmen; thirty years ago, his patrol was asked to help destroy a witches’ coven that was wrecking havoc around Amphail. The coven was formed by three hags; one of them, Lonni Longshanks, “the dark witch”, is the most well known of the three and part of local folklore.

Another one, Rann, “the swamp witch” was the hideous creature that Briiathor and his men cornered in a riverboat moored on the Stump Bog, a marsh located south of the town, in the Dessarin Valley. Briiathor explains that he killed Rann himself, by burning her alive inside the boat. This broke the coven and, although the other two hags were never found, they never bothered the town again.

But lately there have been more problems, and they seem to be related to the young girl, Autumn (which Sadel is apparently hiding). Briiathor tells the members of the (“Party”) that several supernatural events have happened in recent months and weeks: cattle being mutilated in farms right after Autumn visited them; clay bowls she delivered appearing full of blood and coiling centipedes; and several townspeople claiming that they woke up in the middle of the night to find her in their room, “sapping their life force”. The people of Amphail want blood; or at least have the little girl captured, brought to justice in front of a magistrate from Waterdeep, and put on trial for witchcraft… which will likely have the same result.

Briiathor is under pressure to bring in a Waterdhavian patrol from the nearby hamlet of Rassalantar, which he fears will simply execute Autumn the moment they find her. Instead, he promises the (“Party”) a reward if they investigate the matter, as he feels the two remaining witches from the old coven have something to do with the recent problems. The adventurers are either to hunt the witches down and kill them, or to bring Autumn back to town to be put on trial.

The (“Party”) gets back together and discusses their options. Rumors that they are going to help with Amphail’s problem are spreading, and the townspeople are eager to give them more information; including the fact that a tenday ago Autumn approached “Mad” Guffrey, a hermit living to the south of town, but he seemed upset and refused to talk to her.

The (“Party”) decides to talk to Autumn first, and they travel east to the Maiden’s Tomb Tor. They find it guarded by three ogres, which they kill. Inside, they find Autumn is gone; her belongings are scattered around, including a drawing of an elderly woman handling her a necklace with a big pearl on it. Silver Fang inspects the surroundings and they find Malphaset, Autumn’s cat, hiding on a tree. PuddleDuck uses her abilities to talk to him and finds out the elderly woman from the drawing, who commanded the ogres and has the ability to appear and disappear at will and move around without leaving tracks, has taken Autumn. The group takes the cat with them and decides to talk with “Mad” Guffrey.

Eleint 18/19 (midnight): After going back to Amphail and trekking through the hills to the south of the town, the (“Party”) arrives at the lonely shack where “Mad” Guffrey lives. The hermit (who does occasional work as a poacher and taxidermist) is annoyed to be woken up in the middle of the night, but accedes to talk to the group when they mention Autumn is in danger.

During the conversation that follows, Guffrey tells them his tragic story. About thirteen years ago, his wife Verana was due to give birth to their first child. But one night, just days away from childbirth, something terrible happened. The couple suffered from terrible nightmares all night long; when they awoke in the morning, they found to their horror that the baby had been stolen overnight… straight out of Verana’s womb. Horrified and unable to cope with her grief and the terrible violation, Verana took her own life.

Guffrey was, also, unable to cope with the situation. He buried his wife and spent days in shock; one night, ten days after the tragic events, he was about to take his life as well when he heard a cry outside his door; when he opened it, he found a newborn baby girl neatly wrapped up for him to take.

Guffrey didn’t know what to do with the baby. Was it the same baby? Was it even human? He couldn’t bring himself to raise the child, and so he gave her away to Sadel, a friend of the family, who brought her up as Autumn.

But there is more to the story, as suddenly the ghostly apparition of the dead witch, Rann, comes out of Guffrey’s body and talks to the group! Obviously deranged, the incorporeal hag begins rambling about her “big sister”, the third witch of the coven, Groa.

“We’re all so young and sad when it starts! She took me to her cottage out in the hills and said I was special and that they hated me because of it.”

“She made me such a lovely dolly, and now she’s made one for her!”

“She never really cared for me—only about the power.”

“If she ever comes here again, I’ll make Guffrey snap her little white neck! Maybe your necks too!”

…And then she disappears, just as suddenly. A very distressed Guffrey tells them that Rann has “been with him” for over a decade now; the Stump Bog, where the riverboat where she was burnt alive is located, is not far from his shack.

Guffrey offers to take them there in the morning. The group accedes…

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Session 19
What happens in Westbridge...

Eleint 12: The (“Party”) continues their trek to the south, leaving Triboar behind and marching towards Waterdeep. After a long day of walking and getting to know each other better, they finally camp for the night.

They decide to keep Dame Corlinn tied up, to which she voluntarily agrees, in case her lycanthropy flares up unexpectedly. Watch turns are discussed, and Therenden begins the evening vigil while the rest of the group sleep, followed by Heskan and a double watch by Silver Fang and Vi.

During their watch, Vi’s mental problems, which have been growing slowly but surely, prompt her to have a long conversation with the beard of their departed companion, Daggy. This causes her to walk away from the safety of the camp at the worst moment, when two stray Gibbering Mouthers attack!

Silver Fang rushes to wake up the rest of the (“Party”) and together they make their stand against the aberrations; Puddleduck‘s Shawm of Silence proves to be effective against their terrible wailing. Heskan is badly hurt in the fight as he rushes to the frontlines without the benefit of his armour, but his rapid action helps to save Vi, who had fallen victim of the monsters’ maddening gibberish.

At the end the creatures are defeated and the party decides to postpone their rest and march on. After another day of travelling, and as the sun begins to set, they reach the town of Westbridge. Here, they decide to stop at the Happy Halfling Inn to rest, relax and spend the night.

In the inn they meet the three members of the Company of the Book, Bell and Candle: Sir Dokray (a paladin of Helm), Mr. Sherman (a ranger of Mielikki), and Triolo the bard. They are acting as bodyguards of the Lady Rohini, a healer based off the town of Helm’s Hold whom they idolize.

Suspecting there is more to the group than meets the eye, Puddleduck begins an impromptu musical performance with Triolo while the others talk with the Lady Rohini and her other two companions. They find the Lady is also known as “the Prophet of Helm’s Hold” and that she has mysterious powers, often “seeing things nobody else can see”.

When the Lady and her companions retire for the night, the creepiness amps up: she chooses Mr. Sherman to spend the night with her, greatly disappointing Sir Dokray (who retires to his room to flagellate himself for his unworthiness) and Triolo (who, quite unsuccessfully, tries to bed Puddleduck). All this is witnessed firsthand by Vi, made invisible by Therenden.

Eleint 14: The next morning, Lady Rohini departs bright and early for Helm’s Hold along with the Company of the Book, Bell and Candle. She intimates that her special abilities led her to realize the night before that one of the members of the (“Party”) is “hiding their true nature”… Only to add “Oh, and I know Lady Corlinn is a werewolf, as well.”

Pondering this, the (“Party”) purchases some manacles and a length of chain in case they need to restrain Lady Corlinn at some point, and then continue their journey southwards.

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Session 18
In Sheep's Clothing

The (“Party”) continues their exploration of the upper crypts, and soon finds a small shrine dedicated to a long buried Uthgardt warrior, “Fieren the Small”. In front of it lies a magical artifact, a Shawm of Silence, what Puddleduck came to the tomb for. While the gnome identifies its arcane properties, her companions find themselves battling the crypt’s guardians: a quartet of spectres, soon joined by two fearsome wights.

Once the enemies are defeated, further exploration yields more magical items in several other shrines: the Shield of the Wolf (which belonged to “Nora the Strong”), a Bag of Holding (from “Ghennak the Greedy”), and a spell scroll (from “Urdic the Wise”). Satisfied that they’ve found everything the Tomb of the Ulfheonar has to offer, the group goes back to the lower levels while deciding what to do about Glorien and his father, Sulmont.

Eventually they decide to accompany them to Triboar, their hometown, where they arrive on the morning of Eleint 11 after several days of cold, rainy travel through the countryside.

There, the group resupplies while Sulmont reports to his superiors. Afterwards, the captain promises to make sure Glorien is kept away from the people he could harm; and asks the group to use their resources to find a cure for lycanthropy. The (“Party”) weighs their options and eventually decide to travel to Waterdeep, where they hope they can find help with his ailment.

Eleint 12: The (“Party”) says their goodbyes and starts the journey towards the City of Splendors. But soon enough, another problem becomes apparent — even when away from Glorien, Mallory, Silver Fang‘s magical axe, won’t stop glowing. Which means a member of the group is a lycanthrope! But who?

Some tests are conducted, and it’s soon obvious that Dame Corlinn has been infected with the werewolf curse during the fights against the Gray Wolves. The (“Party”) is now faced with a serious problem; and suddenly, a very definite deadline casts a dark shadow over their heads.

The next full moon is due to rise on Eleint 30…

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