The Adventures of The Stonelanders

Phylas' Journal VII
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Phylas’ Journal VII

19th of Ches

Goodness! What a day!

But first, a new feature: I’ve decided to keep a spider count every day. So, here we go.

Daily Spider Count: None! Hooray!

We went to the Temple of Gond this morning to let them know about the obviously serious undead problem they have in the sewers beneath their town. We met with a high priest, Erik, who didn’t seem hugely surprised by most of what we had to say. He did seem a touch surprised at our report that there was a ghoul-cult of Moander operating, though. Ah well: that threat, at least, we dealt with.

My new powers have allowed me to commune with the Heavens, so I did, while we were meeting with Erik, to try to determine if the creature that attacked Gorstag in the sewers was, in fact, Evard, their missing priest.

Had not anticipated that an evil god might answer my call for help, but appears to be what happened. Nevertheless, she—well, I think it was a she—confirmed that we had in fact encountered Evard.

As the commune was ending, a violent tendril shot out and put a purple band around my pinky finger. Ghastly! I mean, come on, how am I supposed to plan outfits if I have a permanent accessory?

Anyway, where was I?

Oh, right. Good news, bad news, time. So the good news was that we had found the priest we were looking for, but the bad news was that we’d have to destroy him; it didn’t seem possible to redeem him, and claim him back from the curse. Very unfortunate.

Armed with this knowledge—and with some scrolls and holy water the Temple very kindly provided—we went back into the sewers.

Am getting very tired of the sewers. Upside: no spiders. Downside: it’s… it’s a sewer. It’s a perpetual downside.

Anyway, we resumed exploration of the sewer and carefully avoided what we knew to be the vampire’s lair. Discovered the vile lair of the dracolisk that we had dispatched. Shortly thereafter, discovered what appeared to be the room Evard had taken up. Several bodies had been… well, they were in pieces.

Further exploration, and our intrepid ranger stumbled upon a secret door. She recklessly opened it, and was promptly poisoned. She managed to resist its more nefarious effects, and after standing around waiting for her to get back up (What? It was funny.) we ventured in.

The room was elevated, and had a ladder that shot straight up to a metal platform that was suspended from the ceiling to allow for access to the hatch in the ceiling. Joy proceeded up, intrepid as ever, while the rest of us waited at the bottom.

What ensued was a veritable comedy of errors, which involved Joy unsuccessfully attempting to pass herself off as a recently-escaped kidnapping victim. Eventually we all went up the ladder and into the room above, whereupon Gorstag and I immediately recognized the denizens as followers of the god Mask. This was, of course, bad news.

They tried to negotiate a binding oath with us not to reveal what we’d seen, but Septimus wasn’t too keen on that—neither was I, to be fair—and he leapt at the priest who’d been doing the talking.

In related news, there were apparently murder holes in the ceiling that my compatriots decided not to tell me about. I mean, I figured it out once I started getting shot at, but I should probably pay more attention to ceilings…

We retreated back down the hatch, and Septimus managed to drag the priest we’d been talking to with us. They unscrewed the platform we were on, but Gorstag has his ever-handy Featherfall spell, so we just floated on down again. He’s very nice to have around…

Anyway, as we were dragging our captive back into the sewer, we noticed Evard. A brief, but vicious, fight ensued, and we managed to defeat him. I removed his curse after that, and he crumbled away into nothing. It was rather sad, really, but nothing to be done about it other than gather his remains and return to the Temple.

Of course, we needed to dispose of the cursed sword, so I wrapped it up in a blanket and handed it to Gorstag. More, ahem, on this later.

We left the sewers and revived our captive, so that we could talk to him. Septimus thoroughly intimidated the man, though Joy felt it necessary to cut off his ear. I protested loudly at this (what kind of people have I signed onto my company?), and had to protest against killing him outright not long after. Ghastly! I mean, really.

We got some information out of him, about a thieves’ guild in the city. After we took his mask off, we recognized him from the Temple, and he confirmed there were other spies there, too. It was all very unsettling, so we dragged him to the Temple and presented him, and everything we’d found out, to Erik.

He wasn’t very surprised by most of it, although some of the spies in the Temple he apparently wasn’t aware of. Hooray for being useful! Naturally, I turned over Evard’s remains, too. We attempted to turn over the sword to have it dealt with, but Gorstag was very fond of it by that point, and refused. A brief scuffle ensued, but Erik, thankfully, put a stop to it when he managed to remove the curse that had begun to take over Gorstag.

Note to self: In future, do not hand cursed items to party members.

Gerri, the high priest of the Temple, came to see us, and rewarded us with the “Treasure of the Temple” for our many services. He called it the Starwheel, and it is some ghastly invention. It’s like a bow, except that it isn’t at all, and it uses smokepowder, and lead shot, and something or other. I’m not sure, I kind of tuned out during his explanation. What would I do with a ranged weapon, after all? Anyway, it’s very pretty, so I guess we’ll have to find somewhere to put it.

We’ve decided to return to Arabel, starting tomorrow. This is probably good, because when we returned to the inn, someone had hammered a bunch of masks (masks… of Mask! Hilarious stuff.) to our doors, so apparently we’ve made some enemies. And by “apparently” I mean “we definitely have”, and by “enemies” I mean “I’m pretty sure we’ve pissed off an entire guild of thieves, so maybe it’s time to go”.

It was only after much discussion that we decided to return. I think the Stonelanders need some direction, some purpose.

Gorstag and Joy mentioned venturing into the Underdark.

If we go there, my Daily Spider Count is going to be monstrous.

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Phylas' Journal VI
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Phylas’ Journal

17th of Ches

The stench is overwhelming.

Over. Whelming.

I suppose this is to be expected. Tilver’s Gap is apparently a small town built in the ruins of a much larger city, which means ancient sewers. Regrettably, our only lead to chase down the adventuring company and investigate the disappearances involved going into these sewers.

We found them of course, and their attendant smell. It is ghastly. Truly, remarkably, ghastly. I suspect that Gorstag did not anticipate that his first adventure with the Stonelanders would involve wading around in the stagnant—ahem—waste of ancient generations, but there it is.

We immediately encountered scores and scores of ghouls. It appears the town has a serious undead problem they didn’t seem particularly aware of. At least some of them were eating what I assume were the remains of some of the disappearing townsfolk. Ghastly.

I need to use another word other than ghastly, I think.

An unusual dragon roar sent the ghouls fleeing. More on this anon. Further exploration yielded very little, aside from two small caches that someone had obviously hidden. One of them contained a scrollcase marked with Bane’s sign: we have not opened it yet, as I explicitly warned against it at the time. The cursed priest (at least, I assume it was him) made an appearance: he attacked Gorstag before dancing away into the darkness.

Given the general state of the sewer (that is, overrun with undead, apparently), we pressed forward more cautiously.

We encountered a group of rust monsters and a few zombies not long after that. Nasty creatures, these rust monsters. We mostly managed to deal with them, although we certainly can’t take credit for killing all of them.

The dragon roar was repeated, and, after investigation, we discovered that it was, well… I’m not exactly sure. It appeared to be like a dragon, but it had aspects of basilisk monster to it, so I can only assume it was a dracolisk. I was terribly worried someone would get petrified, but it seems the gods were on our side (at least for now), and we managed to bring it down.

Gorstag and I had basically exhausted our power by that point and desperately needed a rest, so here we are, smelling like the rot of a thousand centuries, and trying to get some sleep.

On the upside, although I occasionally get some odd looks when people realize I have a tendency to float above the ground, it has come in handy in the sewer.

I still think I need to take a bath for five or six days, though.

18th of Ches

We seem to have stumbled into a veritable mess.

We returned to the sewers today to continue our investigation into the cursed priest. We had seen him, after all.

Further exploration of the sewers took us into something that seemed, well, entirely unlike a sewer. We then engaged in a protracted and stressful combat with a number of zombies, skeletons, and specters. It was not pretty. We eventually managed to get the situation under control (this, notably, after a group of zombies attempted to throw Septimus down an enormous pit).

A brief side note: though it is usually my job to either a) stand around and look pretty or b) keep my fellow group members healed up, the presence of undead occasionally affords me an opportunity to blast something into pieces myself.

It is refreshing.

Not that I enjoy killing, of course. That would be vulgar. But, you know, obliterating an evil undead creature? It’s very satisfying. Reminds me of my time at the Temple of Lathander, really, since they are so dedicated to such endeavors…

On the upside, have not had to deal with any terrifying spiders the size of houses lately, so there is that. I’ll take hordes of undead any day of the month over a monstrous spider (or two, or three, or four, or okay I need to stop I’m grossing myself out).

Anyway, given that we were all nearly killed, I should probably be less cavalier in recording what happened. It was, I assure you, extremely stressful at the time. Shortly after we managed to get the situation under control (so we thought), a vampire strode into the cavern and hit us with an enormous fireball. This, as I said, nearly killed everyone.

Fortunately, Gorstag has a charming Feather Fall spell, so I grabbed everyone, shouted, “Shazam!” (in the classiest way possible, of course) and we teleported far up into the air over the town and floated gracefully back down.

The vampire said a number of things (in a most unusual accent that I did not recognize) about this being “his domain” and something about how everyone who challenged his power died or something. Was not really paying much attention, as was slightly busy getting hit with an enormous fireball that nearly killed me.

Not sure what to do next. I have felt my connection to the heavens, my inquiries into the power of the Divine, increase my powers significantly over the past few days. There appears to be a very serious problem underneath Tilver’s Gap, though, and I am not sure we will be able to handle it, even with the expansion of my power…

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Phylas' Journal V
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Phylas’ Journal

28th of Alturiak

We’ve arrived back at the cave of “Fireworm.” There is a large contingent of Cormyrean troops outside the smugglers’ cave, apparently laying siege to it. The whole operation looks over our heads, so we’ve avoided it.

The cave of Fireworm (and perhaps Deadjaws?) is ahead. Time to get some revenge, and lay some souls to rest.

Maybe I should put up a memorial to Milo, and Henry, and Grim. I’ll have to think about it.

29th of Alturiak

When we entered the caves, or at least when we got closer to where I had last seen Fireworm, we could hear the thunderous crashes of battle. When we saw what it was… well, it was a little terrifying. The remorhaz was battling a dracolich. I’ve seen a lot of things in my short years, but this was definitely one of the most unusual. I think we can safely assume the dracolich was “Deadjaws”.

The dracolich managed to trap the remorhaz in ice, and it turned its attention to us. The battle was fierce, but we prevailed. There were some grueling moments, but the dracolich was defeated. We turned our attention to the remorhaz, but by that point it was practically trivial, paralyzed, as it was, by the dracolich.

Hopefully this will give Milo and Grim some peace.

We’ve explored a great deal of the other caverns and rooms in here, too. The dracolich had a significant horde. There seemed to be a fair amount of equipment from another adventuring party, but we found no signs of them. Presumably, ah, they met a gruesome end. I’ve said some prayers for them.

The rest of these caves have been oddly empty. I guess the dracolich and the remorhaz drove out the other occupants. We’ve found more ancient dwarven caverns, but they’ve clearly been long-since abandoned.

2nd of Ches

We’re returning to Arabel now. We spent the night in the caves, and did some more exploring after that. Several secret doors revealed some… unusual features. We found a vampire, but she appeared to be behind a wall of force, or something, as our attacks kept bouncing back. Eventually we decided to simply move on. She kept insisting to us that she was trapped.

Well, that’s not so bad. I mean, trapped vampires? Better dead, but trapped works, too.

We also stumbled upon what appeared to be the crypt of three dwarven kings. There was a fair amount of treasure, not to mention weapons and armor. I explicitly warned them against plundering the tomb, but neither Joy nor Septimus would listen. Shortly after removing a sword, a ghost was summoned.

Sigh.

We managed to defeat the ghost, and I replaced the sword. Joy seems… unreceptive… to my leadership of the group. Today, though, Septimus apologized. Told me he would be deferring to my leadership from now on. This was unexpected, but not unwelcome. Hopefully there will be no more ill-advised tomb-robbing.

8th of Ches

The ride back to Arabel was largely uneventful. And by “largely uneventful”, I mean the sorceress with us disappeared about two days ago. Poof! Just like that. Except, without the poof. I’ve no idea what happened to her. Left her horse behind, too. It was very odd.

The Stonelanders need another arcane spellcaster.

9th of Ches

I have a meeting with the Baron today. I thought I ought to tell him that Fireworm and Deadjaws had been dealt with. He seemed appreciative, but I imagine it was a minor nuisance for him. He doesn’t have more work for us. I had hoped that doing this would help restore the name of the Stonelanders to him, but I’m not sure it has.

I commissioned an Aspergillium of Perpetual Benediction at the Temple of Tymora yesterday when we arrived, which was ready this morning. I’m excited about it.

It’s odd, actually, but the aspergillium makes me miss my time at the Temple of Lathander. The regimen, the prayers, the orderly nature of the life there. Adventuring doesn’t lend itself well to studying the cosmos, or understanding the gods, or the heavens, or the stars. I mean, I suppose it does, in its own way, but… well, anyway, there it is.

I put out a notice that we needed an arcane spellcaster to join the Stonelanders. I was surprised by the rapidity of the response.

Gorstag Greycastle is his name. He’s a half-drow, which is unusual. It doesn’t bother me; I’m used to people looking at me a bit oddly, and I assume he is, too. He’s a War Wizard, though. I assume this is good news, since it means he’s got at least some power and experience, but I’m not sure how his position will interfere with the group yet. I guess we’ll find out.

10th of Ches

Rumors have trickled down from the north about an adventuring company that discovered a treasure horde. They were apparently chased away from it by a many-eyed beast, but the priest of Gond with the adventurers took a sword. His behavior got strange, and he vanished. Apparently, the adventuring company has also been vanishing, one at a time.

To be honest, we don’t have anything else to do, so we’re going to go north to investigate.

14th of Ches

We’ve arrived at Halfhap. This is the border of Cormyr, so I expect our travels north to Tilver’s Gap to be more eventful.

I have been thinking more about my time at the Temple of Lathander lately, as well as my new position as leader of the Stonelanders. Adventuring with Milo, Henry, and Grim was exciting, and dangerous, and it definitely helped me grow into my powers, but it never had a clear direction.

I have begun to give consideration to the foundation of a religious order. If the Stonelanders need direction, then I ought to be giving it.

15th of Ches

I was right about the road after Halfhap being more eventful. We came across a young human woman fleeing a group of five gnolls riding winter worgs. We intervened, and managed to defeat them.

She has, in fact, just approached me. Back shortly.

Well, that was unexpected. As I was saying, we intervened and saved her life. She was appreciative, but she was clearly hiding something. She gave us her name as “Lyneth”, but even that seemed to be a lie. She must have been at least somewhat appreciative, as she just propositioned me.

I mean, really! Maybe if she was a guy, but- no, that’s really not the point here. I directed her to Septimus. I assume he is, presently, pumping her for information.

Something is odd about her, but she won’t tell us anything. We’re accompanying her to Tilver’s Gap, but I doubt we’ll get anything out of her there.

16th of Ches

We’ve arrived at Tilver’s Gap. I’ve had more time to think, of course. The rest of the ride was uneventful. I probably drift off more than I ought, but oh well.

I’ve heard tales of Candlekeep, the greatest library in the land. I mean, who hasn’t, really? A great repository of knowledge. But why not a repository of prophecy? I think, perhaps, that is my direction.

At least, in the future. For now, we have disappearances to investigate. I’ve learned that townspeople here have begun to disappear, too. I think my companions are hoping to trace the adventuring company back to the treasure hoard where this story began, but for now we have a town to help.

I’ve also heard some talk of a possible massing of orc forces for an assault on Tilver’s Gap. This isn’t the most, ah, comfortable of towns, but I guess that means they need our help all the more? Perhaps we are meant to stay here for a spell. I cannot tell. I’ve not had any portents of the future lately; everything is clouded.

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Phylas' Journal IV
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Phylas’ Journal

29th of Hammer

[the handwriting is shaky, and occasionally blurred by large drops of water]

Everyone has died.

Katernin and I have been riding hard away from the caves but everyone else is dead. I don’t really know what to say. I think we have finally shaken our pursuers but I feel like I should set down what has come to pass in case I do not make it. We have scarcely stopped in the past two days but I think we are finally out of danger.

We did indeed go into the other cave. Some minor skirmishes occurred, but nothing major. Entered into combat with a troublesome goblin and a drow companion. I stayed behind for a bit, and when I caught up to the group… I just, I don’t know. Grim was already gone, and Milo was locked in combat with an enormous, centipede-like monster. I think it was a Remorhaz, but I’ve never seen one in-person before.

There was nothing I could do; they said it had already swallowed Grim, and shortly thereafter it swallowed Milo. Henry and I fled the caves and returned to Katernin.

We were distraught. Katernin wanted to press forward into the smugglers’ cave, and we agreed to go with her, so at least the whole mission wouldn’t be a total waste. This… this was a bad decision.

I had a dream. A dream of doom, and foreboding and danger and death and I ignored it, and now everyone else is dead. We hadn’t gone too far into the cave before the roof caved in. It nearly killed me, and Henry, and Katernin. It did kill everyone else. Vestele, and all the other soldiers. Dead. Gone.

I cast some spells to heal us up, and just after that we got hit with a fireball. Nearly killed us again. We turned and fled, and could hear our pursuers.

We probably wouldn’t have made it, but Henry sent his cat, Sara, out of the cave, and turned back. He shaped the stone of the cave, and closed it off. It bought us some time, but not much. It was enough.

Well, for us. For me, and for Katernin. The next fireball killed Henry, but we managed to get away. I think, at least, his heroic sacrifice earned him a place with his god, Sheela.

I don’t know what else to say. What am I supposed to do now?

7th of Alturiak

Katernin and I have arrived back in Arabel. The rest of the journey was spent healing, and not speaking much. Why didn’t she listen to me? I warned her about the cave. I warned her. I suspect she blames me for the loss of her soldiers, but that’s unfair. I warned her, damnit.

Have made my report to the Baron. He was angry, but not unkind. It is still something of a shock to have lost my adventuring companions after being with them for two years. I don’t think it has set in yet.

Unexpectedly, the Baron has knighted me. He has knighted the others, but they…

I have to go to Suzail to be officially knighted. I guess this will keep my mind off what has happened.

11th of Alturiak

I took off my ring of sustenance. I need the sleep. I can’t stay up like this. I can’t study. I can’t eat, either. I’ve arrived in Suzail. It’s been… unusual. I’m haunted by this grief, but coming back to Suzail is like coming home again.

Even still, it’s an odd homecoming, since I’ve been away for so many years.

Tomorrow I’ll be knighted at the Palace. I went to see my old mentor and friend, Gerard, at the Temple. It was good to see him again. He has been helpful in dealing with this grief. He said he was proud of how much I had progressed.

I don’t see what there is to be proud of. All I did was survive.

12th of Alturiak

Ceremony for the knighthood. I’ve been letting my hair grow out again. I probably shouldn’t, since it makes me stand out more. You’d think the people here had never seen an Aasimari before. Ridiculous. Maybe they’re just staring because I’m so hot?

Probably too soon for joking. That wasn’t even very funny.

Gerard thinks I need to return to the cave and dispatch the monsters who killed my friends. He’s probably right. At least, I guess he is. It should help with closure, or something.

17th of Alturiak

I’ve inherited the wealth of the Stonelanders. And the name. The group. I was our spokesman before, but now I’m officially in charge. There isn’t anything positive about everyone dying, but I am trying to pick up the pieces and move on, which means exercising more leadership than I used to.

I’ve recruited some new people to join the Stonelanders. Grim’s sister unexpectedly showed up, looking for him, back here in Arabel. I had to deliver the bad news. I did, at least, hand over to her his share of the wealth. Small consolation, I am sure.

Her name is Joy. I… I know I shouldn’t make jokes, but what kind of parents name their children Grim and Joy? I mean, really.

Joy has been adventuring with a half-elf named Septimus. He’s signed on with the Stonelanders, too. I posted a notice, looking for another, and we’ve attracted an odd young half-elf girl. A sorcerer, which is nice, but she talks to herself a lot.

The Baron dispatched a bunch of troops north to deal with the smugglers. He declined our assistance in the matter. Understandable, I guess. He said he wanted to leave me time to deal with my grief.

He also said that I’d be granted an estate soon, to go with my knighthood. Also, he gave me a horse. Not sure why, as already had a horse, but I have named this one Sam.

18th of Alturiak

We’ve left Arabel. I’ve decided we should return to the cave to defeat Fireworm. Hopefully we’ll be able to, ah, bury Milo and Grim, and give them some peace. Plus, the disruptions being caused by Fireworm and Deadjaws have been impacting communities in the area, so we’ll be doing some good.

Have taken to wearing my ring of sustenance again. I’m trying to take my mind off the disaster, and so have returned to studying the heavens at night. It is some consolation, I suppose.

Joy does not seem to like me. She blames me for her brother’s death. I have tried to explain that I wasn’t there, that there wasn’t anything I could’ve done, but that doesn’t seem to be enough. I suppose this is her way of grieving, so I should let it go.

I’m still adjusting to my new role as leader of the Stonelanders. I did re-design our badges, though. It was always a point of contention between me and Henry. He wanted earth-tones. I wanted blue. They’re blue now.

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Phylas' Journal III
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23rd of Hammer

Headed back towards Arabel, but Katernin’s scouts and Grim managed to pick-up the trail of the smugglers. Discovered a campsite of theirs, so sent some of the soldiers back to Arabel with the goods we recovered while we continue on in pursuit. Vestele is coming with us, thankfully. Am not sure could put up with the unending war stories of these soldiers otherwise.

24th of Hammer

Things have been better. Two of the soldiers with us are dead. Camp was attacked by five dire bears tonight. Battle was horrible. I managed to keep one of them enthralled, which helped, I think. Not sure it has impressed Katernin or improved her opinion of me, though.

Feel terrible for the two soldiers who died, but at least the remaining soldiers got their vengeance on some of the dire bears. Henry was a nuisance during the battle. Can understand the druidic devotion to life, but not when mine own is at stake. Said some words over the fallen soldiers. Hope they helped.

At least the bears weren’t spiders.

25th of Hammer

Have set off in pursuit of the smugglers again. Nearly forgot to mention important developments from yesterday. Had a dream about us approaching a wide cavern in a snowy valley. Sense of foreboding and impending doom. Most unnerving. Have refrained from telling Katernin, as feel she will just make fun of me. Am not too fond of her.

Henry insisted on saving one of bears yesterday. (Who names a hafling Henry? Must have had very curious parents.) He talked to it, and found out that some monsters (“Dead Jaws” and “Fireworm”) were responsible for driving them out of the hills. Katernin said this corroborated reports she had been receiving of similar stories elsewhere. Suspect we are going to get roped into dealing with them after we take care of these smugglers, but that would be a good service to provide.

Forgot to mention that I have successfully ascended beyond the need for material refreshment. It is a bit odd to need only a few hours of sleep every day, and never to get hungry or thirsty, but it has allowed me more time to study the heavens and read my books, which is nice. Vestele seems jealous. Told him he just needed to kill his own wyvern and buy a ring for himself.

Always thought I was the charismatic sort, but my jokes do not seem to go over well.

26th of Hammer

Must write quickly. Followed the smugglers’ tracks to the cavern I saw in my dream. Friends willing to listen to my dream; Katernin less responsive. Managed to convince her not to enter the cave, while we went off in search of another entrance. Have found one. About to go in. One of the soldiers mentioned seeing ancient dwarven ruins in the area. Hopefully we do not run into too many goblins…

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Phylas' Journal II
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Phylas’ Journal

12th of Hammer

Have decided to return to Arabel. Grim and I managed to decode the documents we found in the smuggler’s den, and they indicated another shipment was coming, which was then to be sent to Wolfcamp, whatever that is. Had a long debate over the best course of action, but decided we should hide the goods we found and report the rest to the proper authorities.

The good news is, we can unload the treasure we found and collect our reward. That means more books. Well, it is winter, so the markets aren’t really up, so I may have to wait a while for some new ones.

The druid is reasonably clean, but the others… slightly less so. Have told them I can summon water on demand, but this has not spurred their desire to bathe. Am occasionally unsure as to why I have fallen in with this rough crowd.

13th of Hammer

We are riding hard for Arabel so that we can inform the authorities. Milo and Grim have still not bathed. Have taken to riding in front of the group, so as not to be overwhelmed.

16th of Hammer

Arrived in Arabel today. Milo oiled himself up and slung the wyvern head over his shoulder as we rode up to the gates. I believe he wishes to be called “Milo the Wyvern-Slayer” now. To be fair, he earned it. On the other hand, I do not have a spiffy title, so am inevitably jealous.

Informed the authorities of what we had found. Sold off most of the things we found in the cave, which netted us a pretty penny. Drove some hard bargains. Party members should be glad they keep me around. I heal them, I call forth divine guidance for them, I get them good deals on their sales. Am very pretty; perhaps did not mention this before. Being vainglorious was highly discouraged in the Temple of Lathander where I grew up but I can hardly be faulted for something that is just true.

Anyway, we got our reward for the wyvern head. I have acquired a ring which will soon let me forgo eating and drinking, and most of my sleeping. This is good news, as I am not very interested in those rather vulgar pursuits anyway. Plus, will give me more time for studying.

Milo and I went to the city’s herald for information on the shield, and to try to track down bits of Milo’s background. His story is touchingly pathetic. Am also an orphan, so can get a little tired of the sob-story, though. Tracked down a member of the noble family and turned the shield over to him. Very sad, but at least they have some closure now. He also gave us a substantial reward, which should not go unremarked upon. More books!

Not more books, apparently. Milo and others have broached the idea of buying some property. That would be nice, as am tired of staying in this inn. Had to go to the bathhouse to get cleaned up today. So, the upside of our own property would be not having to go to the bathhouse, at least. I think Milo indulged in some rather vulgar pleasures while we were there. He is a curious sort of monk.

Met with the Baron. Explained to him what we found in the caves. He seemed very concerned. That is probably a good thing. He asked us to accompany a detachment of troops to hunt down the smugglers. We agreed, as have nothing else to do at the moment.

17th of Hammer

Met with the Baron’s troops this morning, and set off from Arabel. Katernin Orcslayer, the Purple Dragon, is a Knight, and is in charge of our expedition. Kind of a bitch. Likes things done her way or not at all. Poked fun at my oracular abilities.

Was more shaken by this than I expected to be. I am an oracle, after all, and devoted to the heavens. And to Lathander, and Selune. What business has she to disparage what I do? I did not ask for this gift, I merely employ it—and hopefully for the greater good of the kingdom, no less. Unclear why I am still unsettled. Perhaps because going around adventuring is not a very dignified profession for an oracle? Not sure. Nothing wrong with it, and I think we are doing good for the kingdom. I could use more time for studying and astronomy, but oh well.

A War Wizard initiate—Vestele—has also been assigned to us. It is nice to have another scholarly type around to talk with. Kind of attractive, which helps. Seems untested in battle, though, so am not sure how useful he will actually be on this mission.

18th of Hammer

More riding. Back to the cave. Do not really care for this kind of traveling, but I certainly do a lot of it. Anders—my horse—was uncooperative today. Not sure why.

19th of Hammer

More riding. Interesting conversation with Vestele about Cormyrean history provided a respite from the normal campfire conversation that usually plagues these kinds of adventures.

21st of Hammer

Finally arrived back at the cave. Terrible snowstorm. Katernin insisted on exploring it immediately. Smuggler’s den completely empty. Portals all gone. Fortunately, they did not find where we hid the goods we took from them, so it was not a complete loss to come here. The contents of the crates seemed to mollify Katernin somewhat.

Vestele was able to read the dwarven runes on the pillar we found, and identify the vein in the cave as mithril, which Henry extracted. Seems he is useful after all. Found that the wyvern’s body was gone, though. Noticed that something had written runes in the wyvern’s blood. Alarming.

Henry and I burned the skeletons we had left in the caves. Hopefully this has given them some peace.

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Phylas' Journal I
Entries from Phylas' Journal

Phylas’ Journal

8th of Hammer

I’ve decided to begin recording the undertakings of our adventuring company, The Stonelanders, for posterity. Or for my own edification. Or whatever. We’ve been together for a while now. Sometimes I miss the Twilight Hall in Berdusk; life was quieter then.

Life is less quiet now. We’ve been commissioned by a shopkeeper, Elhazir, to bring him back a wyvern’s head. Wyverns are dangerous, so I suppose we’re doing a service to Cormyr writ large by killing it, but I’m inevitably worried. I mean, a wyvern? And apparently he wants it to make a bathtub for a client.

Ghastly.

Our adventuring company isn’t very big, it’s just me, a ranger, a monk, and a druid. The ranger, Grim, is a bit of an enigma. He used to be a bounty hunter. I guess he still is, in his own way. Not entirely sure why he is with us. Fame? Treasure? An expansion of his quarry-base? I wonder if he really cares about anything, or anyone.

The druid is occasionally vexing, but reasonable enough. Henry. Or, Hank. And his tiger, Sara. Halflings are awfully tiny, but he’s still capable of packing a punch. Which brings us to Milo, the monk. He’s a curious sort of fellow. Seems more interested in the martial capabilities of his field than the discipline and aestheticism. He tries, and he’s reasonably street smart, I guess, but heavens know he’s about as thick as a brick. The upside, at least, is that I never need to worry about him getting hold of this and reading it.

We’ve been on the road for a few days out of Arabel now heading towards the mountains where we believe the wyvern is staying. Can’t say I care for camping, but it is what it is. The upside is that the night sky is far easier to see once you’re away from the city.

9th of Hammer

Arrived at the cave. The weather is bitterly cold, but that is to be expected, as we are in the mountains and it is winter. Have calmed down some since my last entry and the day’s events.

We entered the cave and came out into a square room with a magical pillar. I can’t read the runes on it, which is unfortunate, but they are magical. The masonry appears to be dwarven, which lends some credence to the old legends about ancient dwarf kingdoms up in these mountains.

Had some run-ins with some terrible flying things. They caused us no end of trouble until we retreated and they disappeared. Good riddance. Filthy, horrible buggers.

Further exploration yielded some natural caverns and a vein of a mineral we may need to come back for. After that it was webs webs webs. Why is it always spiders? The gods must have a cruel sense of humor to inflict such horrific monsters on us. We burned their webs and followed after that, but we found they’d been slain. Deep gashes. Apparently demonic. Very unusual. Good. Riddance.

Very sad sight after that. Another large, natural cavern, but this time with an old altar and a bunch of skeletons around it. Flag nearby of an old, dead god, Moander. Gives credence to the rumors that there are cults in the mountains trying to resurrect him. Alarming. Party uninterested in going near the altar. Poor souls.

Discovered a smuggler’s den after that. Appears to be a high-level operation: official wax and seals, the works. Crates and barrels of stuff. Looks like they’re equipping a small army, or some slavers. Portals to different, far-off cities. Alarming.

Went back to explore the caverns again. Noticed some valuables on the skeletons near the altar. Party suddenly interested in going near the altar. Ranger very kindly attracted the attention of a wraith, and then fled to leave us to deal with it. Screams of the tortured souls were horrible, but we overcame it and—hopefully—put it to rest. Valuables on the skeletons. Feels a bit like grave-robbing, but we can put the stuff to better use than them. Hopefully will get to bury them soon. Had to rest after this, as the party was worn out.

10th of Hammer

Still resting. Druid said something about re-communing with nature to improve his spell-casting. Told him he should try worshiping a god instead of a bunch of trees and maybe his spells would be better. Had to hastily insist I was joking, as he did not take it well. Started talking to his tiger. About me, I think. I heard the words “poncy git” and “irritating”.

Missing the Twilight Hall.

11th of Hammer

Victory! Praise the heavens, we have been successful in our quest. I should be more specific. Resumed searching the caverns. Found the wyvern. Horrifying to behold, frankly. It appeared to be half-fiendish. There were two small demons with it. It clearly has a demonic origin. Hopefully this won’t come back to bite us…

But I digress. We engaged the wyvern. Milo was amazing. I believe at one point he actually jumped up and punched the wyvern out of the air. It was all a blur. Apparently I prophesied the wyvern’s doom during the fight, which unnerved and distracted it considerably. I am told it was a very impressive prophecy.

In related news, it came true, which is good. I imagine I really would’ve looked like a poncy git if it hadn’t. To be fair, probably wouldn’t be around to look like a git if I’d been wrong.

Grim managed to slip on the ice and slide down into another cavern during the fight. Regrettable, but Milo was pretty much dueling the wyvern single-handedly anyway. Went down to find Grim after the wyvern had fallen, and we found the body of a man half-stuck in the ice. Recognized his shield as having a noble crest on it. Took the shield to return to its family; let Grim keep the rest of his gear. More grave-robbing, but we will put it to better use.

It seems the demons were keeping a horde of things, which was kind of them. Horde of treasure regrettably located near wyvern’s refuse pile. Smell was horrific. Yielded some treasure, such as it were, and a couple of useful magical items. More treasure means more books, so this is good news. Perhaps someday I’ll have enough money to build my own library.

Also a bathtub. But not of a wyvern skull. Honestly, that is just tacky.

I nearly forgot: MORE spiders. Yes. More. It was terrible, and that is all I have to say on that.

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Chapter 1 - Prologue

“What do you seek?” Old lady Marigold asks, slowly shuffling a stack of ancient looking cards.

Glancing at each other, Grim takes the lead and steps forward, “Fame and fortune.”

“And success, of course” adds Henry.

Quietly muttering an incantation, she holds out the deck. “Draw one card if you will, and show it to me. Let us see what role each of you will play.”

Everyone in the room takes a single card from the deck and shows it, once by one, to the diviner.

Phylas draws first, holding up a card depicting a coiled blue dragon, clutching a bleeding, wounded orb.

The Tyrant” She says, “a card for a ruler, overseer, or head of household who does more harm than good for those he purports to serve, sometimes without even realizing it themselves. Be mindful of the decisions you make as even good intentions can easily go wrong.”

Grim come up to the table to draw next, a card bearing the likeness of two men, almost identical, one with a knife held behinds his back.

The Twin, a card of duality of purpose or identity. Divided loyalties. A choice lies before you. One that will test you to the core. Life and death hang in the balance.”

Milo takes the next card. A puppet show featuring a knight fighting a dragon for its treasure is shown.

“Ah, The Theater” Marigold continued, “Just as the audience cannot control the play acted out before them, a prophet cannot control the visions he sees. Some things are outside of our control, whether we want them to be or not. The truth of a situation is often discovered too late.”

Finally, Henry come forward to draw his card, a woman of water and a man of fire stand together, holding a small child of mixed heritage.

The Marriage. A union of people, ideals, or kingdoms. The result of this union is powerful indeed, but will it serve for good or evil? Once wedded, the two cannot be parted. This is the card of permanent change.”

Taking back each of the four cards drawn, she once again shuffles the deck and places nine cards in front of her, face down, in a square.

“First, let us look to the past.” She says as she turns over the left column of cards.

The Crows, Three thieves wearing crow masks, sitting around a table piled with gold.
The Teamster, A small man in a mask, riding the back of a large orc, whip in hand.
The Foreign Trader, A well dressed foreigner, holding valuable trade goods in his hands.

After studying them for a few moments, she looks up at you.

“I see a powerful driving force here, one that cannot be ignored. Relentlessly pushing at events, the purpose of this effort remains unknown. Whether it acts for good or ill in unclear to me.”

“Now let us look into the present.” She proceeds to turn over each card in the middle column.

The Avalanche, A mighty earth elemental, forcing its way down a mountain side.
The Trumpet, A winged archon blowing a trumpet, a bloody spear in its hand.
The Courtesan, A three-eyed woman, peeking out from behind an elegant, white mask.

“Here I see a powerful, headstrong woman. A woman in a position of authority that must be dealt with carefully. How she is treated will have far flung repercussions.”

The next set of cards is turned over.

The Rakshasa, A finely dressed man with the head of a tiger sitting leisurely on a slave’s back.
The Demon’s Lantern, Three will-o-wisps floating above a swamp pool containing a corpse.
The Peacock, A beautiful bird, with the head of a cockatrice.

“In the future I’m seeing bonds and enslavement, but these are destined to be thrown off. I also see trickery and deceit. There are traps ahead that may be misleading in their nature or purpose.”

Gathering up the cards, she makes eye contact with each of you.

“The cards can tell me no more. It is now up to you whether to take these warnings and advice to heart. The cards never lie, but the truth they tell is not always the truth you expect.”

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