The Adventures of The Stonelanders

Phylas' Journal XVI
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Phylas’ Journal XVI

1st of Kythorn

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Following a much-needed rest after our travails in the Grinding Gulf, we ventured back to Fort Gurzoth. With magic restored, I was able to level it using the Lyre of Building we acquired. I decided we ought to send a stronger message, so I kept playing, and we erected statues of the Stonelanders: six of them, facing outward. In the middle, I had the symbol of my religious order carved, surrounded by the words, “THE PRICE OF HIGHMOON’S FREEDOM SHALL BE PAID WITH THE BLOOD OF THE BLACK NETWORK”.

That ought to get their attention.

We ventured into town after that to try to enlist the help of the major temples for the rebellion. On the way, we witnessed a number of sham trials, putting people away for treason. Gorstag’s mother was among those condemned as guilty. It remains imperative that we continue to weaken the rule of the Zhentarim here, and quickly.

Our mission to enlist the help of the temples of Oghma and Tymora was successful. Though the high priest at the temple of Oghma does not have many resources with which to help us, he introduced us to Dejhara, a priestess of Deneir and, I hope, a potential addition to the rebellion. She also seems interested in my Order, so perhaps we will see her even after we leave here…

The high priestess at the temple of Tymora was expecting us; she is a very clever lady, and has instituted a scheme to scam the Zhentish troops out of their money, and thereby get leverage to extract information from them. Not to mention setting her temple up as a gambling hall to keep as many troops occupied as possible. She has offered us her assistance, and I am grateful to have such an ally.

After that we decided that we needed to eliminate the air support the Zhentarim enjoyed. We managed to lure two of their four sky mages into traps, and we killed them. One of them appeared to be their leader, so that is good news. After that, we were able to fly back into the city and dump their bodies. We also dropped a score of notices that I have been copying in my spare time.

It occurred to me that we needed to make overt threats to the Zhentarim and announce our intention to overthrow their rule if we were to start a real rebellion. I have therefore issued a Decree in the name of my Order. I have attached a copy here:

A Decree
From the Order of the Constellation

Let it be known: that the illegal occupation of the city of highmoon by the Black Network is hereby condemned.
Let it be known: that crimes against the people of the Dalelands shall be avenged sevenfold.
Let it be known: that we have pierced the veil of time and seen the future of the Zhentarim here.
And let it be known: That any of the Black Network who wish to avoid their fate may leave now, unharried, but all who do not leave shall meet the fate that has been foreseen.

Given on this day, the first of Kythorn
In the Year of the Worm
By Phylas, High Prophet of the Constellation
In the company of His Most Noble Allies, the Stonelanders

It is, perhaps, a bit disingenuous: I have not seen the future here, but they don’t need to know that. Plus, my Order mostly just consists of me right now, so there is that, too… I am staking my reputation on our success here, but it seemed to me that, well, that it might sound more menacing than a rag-tag group of adventurers telling the Black Network to shove off.

We do not yet know what, if any, effect my Degree will have, but I hope it will at least shake the morale of the lower-level Zhentish troops, or perhaps of the mercenaries they have with them.

After our successes against the sky mages we ventured into the forest to look for Alazar, to see if he had had any luck with his fey allies. We were unable to do this, but we did manage to find the Shrine of Sehanine Moonbow that I was looking for. I contacted the goddess, and she answered a number of questions for us.

Before she left us for good, Sylune mentioned something about the “false lord of Highmoon”. Lord Ulath is still nominally in charge, so I do not know what she meant by this, but the goddess has confirmed that he does not have the real Scepter of Aglauntarus, a symbol of the rightful ruler of Highmoon. Perhaps there is a greater deception here? Has Lord Ulath been replaced?

We have, I think, weakened the allies of the Zhentarim, but their Drow allies still remain. I think they are our last significant obstacle before we can hope to free prisoners and begin an uprising.

Unfortunately, that means a descent into the Underdark.

That is going to suck.

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Phylas' Journal XV
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Phylas’ Journal XV

30th of Mirtul, Second Entry

The Weave is back; it has been repaired. Magic courses through the world and in the depths of this lair we were cut off from it, in total. I wonder if this is how Septimus and Elric and Griezly feel all the time: personally, I felt naked.

We found a hidden stair down to the bottom of the Gulf, and crossed over it and back up another stair, into the lair of Alokkair, an ancient wizard. More on him anon.

We encountered a woman and her guards, emissaries from the City of Shade. I am not sure what this means, but it cannot be good. It appears they were there, assisting in the Ritual of Unwinding that was undoing the Weave. We defeated her guards, but she fled. We did manage to discover a series of secret passages that Alokkair used to traverse his domain, and we promptly discovered him shortly thereafter.

Thereafter we bumbled into a serious mistake: trusting a lich. It is my greatest fear that I will let our party down again, and we will die, and this fear was very nearly realized.

Alokkair did not appear to be lying: he spun us a story about being kept prisoner by the priests of Shar who were working the Ritual. He accompanied us to his laboratory, where the actual ritual was taking place, and as soon as we attacked the guards, he ambushed us.

Without Sylune’s kiss, I am sure all would be lost, but we managed to prevail. Nearly everyone, it seems, came close to death, but perhaps the fates and the gods were on our side, as none plunged over that precipice; for this I am eternally grateful.

It seems after we stopped the Ritual, Sylune appeared and expended her last life-energy to repair the damage that had been done to the Weave. It is a great sadness that such a noble woman should now have passed permanently from this realm, but we have dealt a heavy blow to Shar and her minions, so that is cause for celebration.

After sacking Alokkair’s lair, we made our way back down to the bottom of the Gulf. Beyond doors in one of the walls was (as we later discovered) the House of Night, a small temple-complex dedicated to Shar.

We cleared most of the complex; there were some unusual extra-planar creatures, but we dispatched them. Eventually, we entered into the main temple itself, and a brutal battle ensued. We eventually triumphed, but it was another near-run thing.

We sacked the House of Night, and burned their vestments upon their altar. Septimus very kindly loaned me his adamantine hammer again, and he let me stand on his shoulders and desecrate the statue of Shar. These are evil gods, and they must be thwarted.

I think I may have surprised the party after that; I suggested we nail the body of the high priest to the door as a warning, and I wrote, “SHAR IS UNWELCOME IN THE DALELANDS” over the door in his blood. They seemed… unsettled, perhaps, by these acts.

We are trying to incite a rebellion; the time for half-measures is over.

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Phylas' Journal XIV
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Phylas’ Journal XIV

30th of Mirtul

DSC: None. Hooray!

Much to report.

We waited around, and sure enough, a War Wizard arrived and sealed the portal at Fort Gurzoth for us. This is of course good news, everyone. After that, we set off in search of the Grinding Gulf; Alazar had already given us a rough map to the place, and it wasn’t that far off. We camped high up on the ridge that night, deciding to venture forth in the morning, after Gorstag and I had a chance to rest.

And lo!, but during the night I had the most unusual dream. I was wandering through a forest, surrounded by plants I didn’t recognize. After traveling for a long time, I came upon a clearing. In the center was a ring of seven broken pillars, covered in silver ivy. After clearing away the undergrowth in the center, I came upon a font, still full of water. I reached into it, pulled out a moonstone set with electrum and mithril in the pattern of Sehanine Moonbow’s holy symbol.

After that, I saw one of the most beautiful elves I’ve ever seen; I assume it was Sehanine Moonbow. I awoke after that, and had the moonstone from my dream in my hands.

I’m not quite sure what to make of all this. It seems clear, at least, that worship of Sehanine will need to be incorporated into my Order. But beyond that, I’m not sure what she might want. Aiding me (and therefore, us) in the quest to liberate Highmoon seems reasonable. I suppose I ought to seek out her priests and see what they have to say.

In the meantime, we are here at Fox Ridge. We found an entrance marked with the sigil of a wizard who lived some, what, 700 years ago. I think that’s what Gorstag said, at least; I was kind of drifting in and out.

Don’t, uh, tell him I said that.

Anyway, after a fight with a nasty behir, we proceeded forward. A few more encounters, and we discovered what can only be the so-called Grinding Gulf: it is a veritable maelstrom of rocks and boulders, hurling against each other. We appear to need to get to the other side, but are unclear as to how.

The Weave is incredibly thin here, so I’m not sure what is powering the Gulf; this has severely hampered Gorstag’s usefulness, and I imagine that, if we are in the correct place to stop the Rite of Unwinding, I will shortly be fairly useless, too.

So now, here we are, stopped, trying to figure out where to go next. This brief respite has, at least, given me leave to think about our strategy in the liberation of Highmoon, and I think I have devised a plan that (I hope) will be effective.

It remains my greatest fear that we will not all live through this adventure; Septimus’ near-death at the hands of the ogre in Fort Gurzoth has shaken me out of my previous complacency. I do not think I could deal with losing another company of adventurers, and friends.

Plus, if Joy dies, I have a feeling yet another sibling will come out of the woodwork to antagonize me. And, really, that is punishment enough…

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Phylas' Journal XIII
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Phylas’ Journal XIII

28th of Mirtul

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I know, I know, I already had an entry for today.

After leaving Aumry’s tomb, we headed back to Highmoon. Sylune’s instructions about our next courses of action seemed to indicate that we needed to head to Fort Gurzoth and shut down a portal there that the Zhentarim were using.

Gorstag and I headed to the Temple of Oghma in town to do some research on the Fort and how to shut down portals. The short answer is that we don’t really know, but that maybe destroying the wall they’re affixed to will work.

It appears Fort Gurzoth was originally built as an outpost of the ancient Drow city of Maerimydra. Sylune also warned us to “Beware the remnants of Maerimydra”, so I assume this is bad news, everyone.

Joy and Septimus decided that the best use of their time was to get totally knackered at a tavern, so Gorstag and I arrived to find Septimus gaping at the sky while Joy was taken for a ride on what appeared to be a flying broomstick. Unclear as to where this flying broomstick came from.

We seem to have attracted the attention of an elven rogue named Elric. Though I remain skeptical, he appears to have a long-standing grudge against the Zhentarim and a desire to liberate Highmoon. Also, he totally knows stuff about Fort Gurzoth, so he seems useful.

Either way, I’ll be sleeping with one eye open.

I mean, not really. It’s a figure of speech.

29th of Mirtul

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What a day!

It’s not every day you get to sack a fort. Which is probably good, because I imagine that would be exhausting.

We got up early to head off to meet Elric at Fort Gurzoth. It wasn’t actually that far away, so that was nice, at least. We managed to attract attention almost immediately, though mercifully we didn’t alert the entire complex to our presence all at once.

After some nasty entanglements with some horrible ettins, I attempted to free some slaves that they’d been forcing to do repair work on the fort. These hellhounds let out this dreadful howling and, well, we’ll just skip that part. Anyway, when we all got back, all the slaves had run off but one. He identified himself as Griezly, and appears to be a gnome with serious anger management issues.

We managed to clear out the rest of the ground floor of the keep, and then we headed down into the lower level. There was some combat with an enormous ogre; it was extremely worrisome, as Septimus took quite the beating. Fortunately, though the Weave is, admittedly, thin here, my healing spells haven’t failed us yet.

I should mention a poisonous trap that our new rogue-friend, Elric, nearly died from, but I suspect he would be embarrassed. Anyway, so there was this poison trap, and our rogue-friend, Elric, nearly died from it. It was alarming at the time, but I’m sure in the future we’ll all look back on it and laugh.

Anyway, after that we headed into a dungeon, which is either quite a bit of fun or definitely none at all, depending on how you use it, I suppose. There was a large illusion there being cast by some nasty monsters I didn’t recognize. They threw quite a few fireballs at us, which I rather didn’t appreciate. We dispatched them—okay, one of them disappeared—and then we opened up all the cells. Alas, they were all empty (well, I suppose that’s a good thing, and doesn’t warrant an alas) but one: one that contained Alazar Falconhand, the fellow that the mercenary companies had been looking for in that poor village of Oakwood Knoll.

We let him go, and he said he would try to raise some Fey allies to help throw off the shackles of the Zhentarim here in Deepingdale. That is good of him, as we could use the help.

After that it was into the Temple of Bane, for some rather difficult combat against a Dreadwraith and a priest (we think he was Malathon, the leader of the fort, but of course we have no way of verifying that, as he is quite dead). Combat has gotten quite harrowing of late, and involved a number of near-deaths. These are of course quite worrisome, as I do not wish to lose any more party members. Bad enough to have the lingering deaths of Milo, Henry, and Grim haunting me…

Anyway, we eventually prevailed, and, after a short tussle with some basilisks someone was apparently keeping as pets (really? I mean, pets? Who does that?), we sacked the place. Scoured it from top to bottom! And boy, good thing we did! We found the portal, and Gorstag contacted the War Wizards to let them know, and to request someone to come seal it.

Apparently, Tilver’s Gap is also under attack by the Zhentarim, so Cormyr isn’t going to be able to help us much here in Highmoon. Alas, alas, it looks like we’re on our own. I know I’m not from here (only Gorstag is, really), but we can’t let these people suffer under the rule of the Black Network…

We’ve discovered a fair amount of treasure as well, which is nice, plus plenty of weapons and armor which we should be able to distribute to people once we get this insurrection off the ground.

Septimus was kind enough to loan me his adamantine warhammer so that I could smash up the Temple of Bane. Boy howdy, I could do that all day. Well, maybe not ALL day, but it certainly is refreshing, desecrating a ghastly place like this. Lastly, and importantly, we also appear to have discovered the gem Fireblood. This is, of course, the third in the Four from Cormyr set of magical items that once belonged to the Crown of Cormyr. If we can recover the last one, the sword Silveredge, the reward would be… well, hopefully substantial.

And we can always use more money! Or at least, I can. My plans for the Order have gotten extensive, and the library is going to be expensive…

Anyway, Elric and I ventured back to Highmoon, discretely, to purchase a large bag of holding to put all these things in. I wandered off to meet some folks at a tavern, but I don’t think he much noticed. So here we are, back at the fort, waiting for Gorstag’s war wizard compatriot to teleport in and seal the portal for us.

In the meantime, we have to plan our next move. Next on Sylune’s list for us was something about the Grinding Gulf, which doesn’t sound particularly pleasant…

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Phylas' Journal XII
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Phylas’ Journal XII

27th of Mirtul

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More bad news, everyone.

We arrived at Highmoon late this evening and are now staying with Gorstag’s mother. Will recap.

On the ride here from Oakwood Knoll, Gorstag noticed that the Weave felt… well, he didn’t know how to describe it, aside from, “thin”. I agree with him; this is incredibly troubling news.

We encountered a flying patrol on the way to Highmoon, and I hastily gave our name as that of the Nightblades, and said we were mercenaries, looking for work. This seems to have worked, as they’ve allowed us to pass into the city.

We met Gorstag’s mother, who seems very nice, though she had the misfortune of having to recount to us what has happened here. It appears that the Zhentarim showed up around a tenday ago and laid siege to the city. The same day, there was an attack on the tower of Rhauntides, the powerful wizard who watched over the city, and his tower was destroyed.

A few days later, a skeletal dragon burst out of the Tower of the Risen Moon in the center of town. Another dracolich, perhaps? The presence of the Cult of the Dragon here would be hugely regrettable.

Not long after that, a large contingent of drow came up through the Tower and helped to overrun the city. It seems Gorstag’s father, himself a drow, was implicated in this and thrown into prison. Shortly thereafter, the Lord of Highmoon announced an alliance with the Zhentarim.

The city is now being occupied, and the people seem well and thoroughly oppressed. Apparently there are informers everywhere.

Joy has been out in an attempt to get a clearer picture of what is going on, and has reported that the city seems to be being occupied by about a thousand troops, and that the Church of Bane also has a considerable presence here. The news just gets worse and worse…

28th of Mirtul

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Um.

You know, I’ve seen a lot of strange things in my time, and recorded more than a few of them here in this journal, but… I just… I’ve got no clue.

Teddy bears. We just… How does this even happen? Perhaps I should explain.

We set out this morning to go to the caravan camp on the other side of Highmoon to see what the other mercenary groups were up to. It is clear that we need to intervene here, but even inciting a rebellion (which will be necessary, given the overwhelming force) seems hugely difficult, so we weren’t sure where to start.

While on our way, Azouth’s holy symbol appeared before us and then we heard a loud, booming voice (presumably Azouth’s). He gave us some cryptic instructions.

Now, look, I appreciate that the gods work in their own ways and whatnot, but we don’t have time for any of this blah blah blah.

Blah blah blah blah!

I mean, why not just tell us what you want? Okay, I’m done. Anyway, it seems that the situation here is quite serious, if Azouth himself is intervening. The Weave has felt weaker here in Highmoon, so something is clearly wrong.

His instructions seemed to indicate that we needed to go to Watcher’s Knoll and find the ashes of Sylune, one of the Seven Sisters. (PS What is it with these people and all these Knolls?)

So, we set off to do that. There wasn’t much there, just a granite slab, a toppled-over plinth, and an enormous dead tree.

In related news, said dead tree was, in fact, a gargantuan skeleton of an ancient red dragon. After some INTENSE MOMENTS OF PANIC we settled in to attempt to destroy the thing.

And then… well, then all its claws and teeth turned to teddy bears.

Teddy bears.

I have no idea what is going on sometimes. I have a feeling Gorstag and Joy know, but they aren’t telling me if they do.

What on earth would turn a dragon’s teeth into teddy bears? And why would you want to?

Actually, scratch that, it was quite useful, as it almost certainly kept us from being totally destroyed. I had quite a bit to do with bringing this dragon down, but it nearly cost me my life. We prevailed in the end, and now we, um, are in possession of a bunch of teddy bears.

Joy has kept 47 of them for herself. I haven’t the faintest clue what she is going to do with them.

On the upside, this appears to have been the dragon that burst out of the Tower of the Risen Moon, which is good news. I mean, you know, it nearly killed us (thank goodness… for the teddy bears… honestly you know writing about it doesn’t make it any less weird), but it was a dragon skeleton, not a dracolich, which means we aren’t dealing with the Cult of the Dragon (probably?), so that’s good.

Anyway, we went down into the tomb and, after dealing with a nishruu (because I guess a dragon skeleton with teddy bear teeth wasn’t weird enough), Sylune appeared to us.

We freed her (or what’s left of her, at least), and she has given each of us a boon. Beyond that, she’s instructed us to free the Dalelands from the Zhentarim, and given us some instructions as to where we should go next. It sounds like Shar is behind what is happening to the Weave, which is just… you know the news just gets worse and worse here.

Sylune has instructed us to take her husband’s staff and cloak, though, and to use them to help free the land.

Also, she said we should look into the “realms below” for a way into the Tower of the Risen Moon. This means… this means heading to the Underdark, I think. Godsdammit but I am not looking forward to that, not in the bloody least.

Teddy bears. _Has the world gone mad? _

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Phylas' Journal XI
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Phylas’ Journal XI

18th of Mirtul

Daily Spider Count: Negligible.

We have decided to head east through the Hullack Forest, on to the Thunder Peaks, and then beyond, to investigate the rumors about the so-called Mad Witch of Archendale. As this will take us near Highmoon, I suspect we will be visiting Gorstag’s family as well.

As our plans will take us through the Hullack Forest, we have hired some additional help, another fighter and a rogue. The rogue has given us her name as Scouty McCupcakes; am unclear if she expects us to believe this, but whatever.

21st of Mirtul

Daily Spider Count: Seemed like a good idea at the time. Am getting tired of re-writing it all the time, though. Anyway, none.

Arrived back at the estate this morning. Had a most curious sighting on the way back, though. The estate is adjacent to the Immerflow River, which feeds into the Wyvernwater Lake, of course. The morning fog was especially thick today, and I could swear we saw a mist dragon and a castle in it. There are apparently rumors about there being a mist dragon that lives at the bottom of the Wyvernwater, but it is just a myth. Or… perhaps it isn’t? Curious.

We’ll be heading east into the Forest tomorrow.

23rd of Mirtul

DSC: None. (I should’ve abbreviated this months ago!)

We entered the Hullack Forest today. There is a road through it, but it’s not entirely safe. We are assaulted by some shambling mounds today. We have several half-elves in the group, and apparently they have an affinity for elf meat…

Anyway, we’re all fine now, though I would like to leave this forest behind as soon as possible.

25th of Mirtul

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Nothing to report, as the rest of the journey through the Hullack Forest has been quiet. We aren’t far from the Thunder Pass, so we’ll be entering that soon. There’s a Cormyrean fortress there, and then after that we’ll be out of the Kingdom.

26th of Mirtul

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Bad news, everyone. After exiting the Thunder Pass, we saw smoke from a serious conflagration down in the forest, by the river. Also, as soon as we did, Ms. McCupcakes departed from our company. Ah well, best of luck to her, and her baking-goods-themed aliases.

Anyway, we arrived in time to find two mercenary groups squabbling over the very few possessions they’d collected from this tiny village of (we later found out was) Oakwood Knoll. When we arrived, the villagers were all on the ground, dead and dying, the houses and the watermill were all aflame.

Boy, am I pissed. Ogres and men, teaming up to slaughter innocent villagers? Unacceptable. They picked the wrong adventuring company to mess with. Well, strictly speaking they didn’t pick us, we just saw them, but that is not the point. We captured a few and slaughtered the rest; they told us they were looking for Alazar (I think?) Falconhand.

And, apparently, having not found him, they torched the town. Bastards. We executed the rest of them, the filth.

I couldn’t save all of the villagers; many of them were already dead. I did manage to heal about half of them, though, so at least there were some survivors. The village was a total loss; though, curiously, the fires had actually been put out by a tremendous rainstorm during the fight, which seemed, weirdly, to be centered around Joy’s dog, Sir Barksalot.

I… I don’t know.

Anyway, the villagers told us an intensely troubling tale. Apparently, Highmoon has been occupied by the Zhentarim. After a brief siege, they capitulated, and are now publicly allied with Zhentil Keep. This is terrible, of course, and Gorstag is incredibly worried about his parents.

He wanted to leave straightaway, but I pointed out that we aren’t exactly an invading army, so we stayed to help bury the dead. I distributed some gold to the villagers to help them get to, well, to wherever they needed to go next.

I borrowed some shears from a villager, too, and cut my hair. If Highmoon has been occupied, the last thing we need is for a half-drow, two half-elves, and an Aasimar to stroll into the city. The Zhentarim aren’t exactly fond of Cormyreans, and here we are, with a War Wizard…

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Phylas' Journal X
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Phylas’ Journal X

30th of Tarsakh

Daily Spider Count: None worth mentioning.

Everyone else arrived today. Gerard has graciously allowed us to stay here at the Temple for the night. Seemed please to meet my new adventuring companions, and thoroughly amused by Imp.

The party at Thistleflame Keep is tomorrow. Should be fun.

Greengrass

Daily Spider Count: I should hope none, as we’re in a noble’s keep!

Well, the night has finally wound down. It has been a long day. There was mingling and socializing; the nobles here in the capital seem to take a dim view of adventurers, but I like to hope I won a few over with my charm and stunning good looks. I exaggerate slightly for effect.

I suspect that my efforts and social graces were undone by the inevitable social bungling of my compatriots. They try, but… Ah well.

Anyway, I got to meet the King, which was spiffy. I wished him a happy birthday. You hear all these things about Azoun, so it was interesting to see in person. And yes, I’d tap that. Wait, what?

After that was dinner. Food was extravagant. Sat near a bard named Mendryll and an excruciating noble named Lord Mournsoul. The bard seems nice enough, but all Mournsoul does is go on and on and on about how terrible life and love are, or something. Honestly, I tried to avoid talking to him. Were also seated near an adventuring company called the She-Wolves. They seemed nice, and pretty, which Gorstag inevitably capitalized on. More on this anon.

After dinner was the oath-swearing ceremony, and then the aforementioned Mendryll provided entertainment. He was quite good, though he managed to anger a Sembian adventuring company with some, ah, slightly unkind remarks about Sembians.

After that we headed off to the Bubbling Bulwark, and intercepted the same Sembians attempting to kill poor Mendryll. I suppose this is what happens if you are a loud-mouthed bard. He seems nice enough, though, and now he owes us… well, his life, I suppose, so that is good. I mean, not good that he got into a scrape, but it’s never bad to have someone owe you a favor.

The Bulwark was entertaining; there was plenty of drinking, and Gorstag… well, he is off with Brianna of the She-Wolves, I believe. I am back in the manor now; I suspect I ought to get some rest soon, th-

[the journal is interrupted, with a scrawl of ink across the page]

Well! Now that is a long story, and I am le tired, but here we go. When I was writing, earlier (you may see above for the interruption, which has caused that unsightly mark on the page), some armed men barged in to inform us that Lord Thistle had been murdered and that we were all suspects, etc..

Our names were essentially cleared because of our association with Gorstag; it appears having a War Wizard around is sometimes helpful. We were commissioned to help with the investigation after that. It took us a while, but we managed to piece together the story.

The Emerald Swords, another adventuring company, brought in a doppelganger and replaced Lord Thistle. They ended up killing off the doppelganger when he stopped cooperating, and we ended up finding Lord Thistle alive. It’s a long story, but suffice it to say that everything is okay now, though I fear we may come out of this party having earned the permanent enmity of some Sembians and these Emerald Swords.

On the upside, Lord Thistle was exceedingly grateful, and has rewarded us for our service, first with gold, and secondly with what he called the Seal of Iron, the confusingly-named medallion made of bronze that apparently makes its wearer fearless.

I am tired. Methinks it is time for bed.

1st of Mirtul

Daily Spider Count: None.

We departed Suzail today. I said goodbye to Gerard and the others at the Temple on the way out of the city and now we are encamped for some sleep. We are heading back to Constellation Estate; by the time we get there, the repairs and expansions should be done, which is nice.

Before we left, I asked Mendryll (see previous entry) if he could help us identify Deathsend, the dagger we recovered from Adzerak’s lair, and the Seal of Iron. Deathsend seemed most unusual, and the Seal of Iron is actually emblazoned with the Cormyrean royal seal, so I wondered if there was more to them than met the eye.

And how! Mendryll was shocked and seemed amused that we had no idea what we now had. Apparently they are two of the fabled “Four from Cormyr”, a set of four magical items commissioned for the royal family and lost quite some time ago. The other two are Fireblood, a gem, and Silveredge, a sword. The recovery of all four would make a fine gift to King Azoun, and presumably merit a handsome reward. Septimus has, of late, expressed his desire to become a knight of the realm; I am certain the recovery of the Four could be parlayed into such a promotion.

Mendryll also informed us that recovering all four would be worthy of making into a great song, which is slightly embarrassing. He said that Fireblood and Silveredge hadn’t been heard of in at least a hundred years, but that they were last seen in the eastern part of the kingdom, near the Thunder Peaks. He also informed us of a troubling story coming from that direction about the “Mad Witch of Archendale”. Apparently her keep was totally destroyed, and she was found going on about a Black Star, or something.

We don’t really have much else to do, and since the rumor seems to be in the same direction as the last known location of the other two from Cormyr, it can’t hurt to head that direction. Plus, Gorstag is from Highmoon, which is just over the Thunder Peaks, so he may welcome the chance to go home.

8th of Mirtul

Daily Spider Count: Mercifully, none.

Have arrived at Constellation Manor. Am pleased with the repairs and expansions. Need to find some, uh, reliable staff for it now. This could take some time, so am putting out a call through my contacts.

Have some financial business to take care of in Arabel, so we’ll be heading back there for a bit. Some downtime seems nice, given how eventful the past few weeks have been

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Phylas' Journal IX
Further Entries from Phylas' Journal

Phylas’ Journal IX

29th of Ches

Daily Spider Count: Zero.

Managed to catch one of the two ambushers. She is presently, uh, tied up. It seems they were an adventuring company called the Nightblades. Will turn this one over to the authorities.

Gorstag and Septimus have gone back to Arabel to bring back a cart so that we can haul all this stuff away. Have left me here, at Barrenstone, with Joy. Slightly awkward, as Joy and I do not have much to talk about. Also awkward because Joy talks to her new sword, Imp, but not to me…

On the upside, there is a library here, so I have plenty to do.

3rd of Tarsakh

Daily Spider Count: Still zero! Hooray!

Septimus and Gorstag returned yesterday. This was good news, of course. The chance to do some uninterrupted reading was nice, but it’s a bit creepy, being here…

Anyway, we managed to get into the final room. And lo, Adzerak was there. Something went wrong when he became a lich; he was deteriorating, and kept muttering about needing to protect his books. We got the idea to help him offer his books to Deneir for safe-keeping. It took a while, but we hauled all his books over to his chapel. Thereafter it seems Deneir himself came down to take Adzerak back up.

We do a lot of hack ‘n slash sometimes, it seems, so it was nice to be able to facilitate someone’s redemption. Poor Adzerak, he seemed like such a nice, but tragic, old man. But he’s with Deneir now, so that’s clearly a good thing. He did warn us, though, about someone who would come looking for us. Not sure what he meant, but maybe this is related to the dream I had before we got here…

4th of Tarsakh

Daily Spider Count: Zero-tastic.

Arrived back in Arabel today. When Gorstag and Septimus went back to Arabel, they received an invitation from Baron Thistle, the Registrant General who oversees adventuring companies in Cormyr. It seems he’s throwing a party for King Azoun’s birthday, and a bunch of adventuring companies are invited.

The party is on Greengrass, so we have a few weeks to kill, and no work lined up at the moment. This is good news, since it will give us time to sort out our financial affairs.

Also, the party is in Suzail, so I think I may head there early to visit my old Temple.

7th of Tarsakh

Daily Spider Count: Three. All small. Not terrible.

I’ve hired a foreman to oversee the repairs and expansions that my estate is going to require to make it livable. Everyone else is here in Arabel, taking care of business, so I am going to head to the estate to make sure construction gets underway.

I have decided to name it Constellation Manor. Hopefully soon I will be able to found my Order, and break ground on a temple.

9th of Tarsakh

Daily Spider Count: So. Many.

We went in the old manor house and there were cobwebs everywhere. Did not want to show weakness in front of, you know, anyone really, so I admirably brushed them away when necessary. Of course, where there are cobwebs…

Anyway.

The foreman seems nice enough. To be fair, with the amount of money we are paying him, he had better be.

11th of Tarsakh

Daily spider count: None! Hooray!

Returned to Arabel. It seems Septimus has, um, been magically enhanced? I leave for a few days and all of a sudden he’s going on about how much stronger he is. It seems Gorstag made him a magical belt… In related news, have asked Gorstag if he can make anything to make me more attractive.

Gorstag said that yes, he could, and I said no, see, I was joking, because that isn’t possible. He said no, it is, and your jokes aren’t that funny.

Was way harsh. Then he laughed, and said he was kidding. Breathed a sigh of relief.

Also, you should see Septimus in his new armor. A full-plate set of mithral! He is like a sparkly mountain. Have refrained from using the “sparkly” descriptor, as suspect he may not appreciate it. Downside: will probably make us very easy to spot.

18th of Tarsakh

Daily Spider Count: I dunno, a few here, a few there.

Have been managing finances and studying a book left behind by Deneir. Will be leaving soon for Suzail. Not much else to report. Things are quiet. Quiet isn’t bad, though.

20th of Tarsakh

Daily Spider Count: None!

Commissioned a new outfit for the party. Clearly, this is important. Must look excellent!

Actually, it is the robe I will be using for my Order. It was expensive, but worth it. Based it on standard clerical vestments; it is a deep blue, with silver stitching. Simple, but elegant. Restrained. A sun is stitched towards the bottom of the right-hand sleeve in gold thread, and there is a moon in silver thread on the other sleeve. I had them stitch in the symbol of the Order in gold and silver thread (a half-sun and half-moon, joined with three stars) on the chest.

It is very nice, if I do say so myself.

Which I do say, since… that is what this journal is…

28th of Tarsakh

Daily Spider Count: None lately.

Arrived in Suzail this morning. Took my horse, Sam, and hooked up with a caravan heading there, about a week ago.

Came to the Temple of Lathander here, where I grew up. It was nice to see so many familiar faces, my old teachers, and the like. Got to see Gerard, my old mentor. He is very kind, of course, and is letting me stay here at the Temple. He wants to meet my new adventuring company once they are in town.

We talked at length; it was nice to catch up. Hopefully he will be able to attend the dedication of the temple I want to build for the Order.

More importantly, though: he told me of a prophecy. Apparently, before I left for Berdusk, I prophesied something. This was years ago. Seems a bit odd that he kept this from me for so long, but, then, I doubt I would have been able to do anything with the knowledge before now. Here it is:

On A Shadow’s Spring Eve / All Fate Shall Be Lost / When The Son (Sun?) Of Black Rises / This House Shall Fall / As He Who Is Hidden Speaks Once More / Let Mortals and Gods Despair

He doesn’t know what it means. He said he even went to Candlekeep to research it. He suspects the first line is a reference to the Year of Shadows, but otherwise, who knows? This is troubling. Not sure where to begin, really, but this is something my attention should be turned towards now, I suppose.

In the meantime, the party is in a few days. Hopefully it will be fun, a nice diversion for a spell. Who knows, maybe the King will be there, and I’ll get to meet him!

Until then, it’ll be nice to spend some time here at the temple. Danath isn’t here, which is a bit odd. I asked, and was told that he took a position up north, outside of Cormyr.

Ah well, I have other things to contemplate now. Will record more after the party.

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Phylas' Journal VIII
Further Entries from Phylas' Journal

Phylas’ Journal VIII

20th of Ches

Daily Spider Count: None. That’s good news, everyone.

Left Tilver’s Gap today. Headed back to Arabel.

Not really sorry to be leaving those sewers behind.

23rd of Ches

Daily Spider Count: One.

It was tiny, though. We stopped to camp for the night and I saw one on the ground during my watch. I crushed it with my staff.

Immediately regretted this decision, as then had to clean spider guts off the staff.

26th of Ches

Daily Spider Count: Zero. Huzzah.

Arrived back in Arabel this morning. Took care of some business. Dropped the dracolisk parts off at a local, uh, enthusiast. Seemed a bit off, that one.

Not much to report for now. Have decided to resume my music after these years, so I picked up a nice little harp. Septimus needed a new suit of armor, so I let him have the mithral ore we recovered. Was a bit weird to part with it, since Milo and Hank and Grim were with me when we recovered it. Oh well. This is my new adventuring company, so it might as well be put to good use.

Time for dinner. Further entry later, if there is something to report.

[page break]

Goodness! Witnessed a brutal mugging after dinner. Poor old man was dead before we got to him, and Septimus, et al, lost the trail of his assailants.

Found a map and a letter on him. Tragic story. It seems he managed to procure a map to the ruins of the complex of Adzerak, whom Gorstag has informed us was a book-loving wizard who lived about three hundred years ago. We didn’t turn the map over to the authorities (what good would it do them?), but we’re going to leave in the morning and set off for this “Barrenstone”. If we do find treasure there, then we can take part of it to this man’s daughter, along with his letter.

27th of Ches

Daily Spider Count: Two. I need my own house, and then I need to place magical enchantments so that spiders can’t CRAWL DOWN THE WALL IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT ONTO THE BOOK I AM READING.

Excuse me.

Anyway, we set off from Arabel this morning. We tried to be discrete, since apparently there are others looking for this map. Or maybe the mugging was just a coincidence? No premonitions on this one…

28th of Ches

SO ANGRY.

SERIOUSLY.

Woops, sorry. First things first.

Daily Spider Count: Zero.

Unless you want to be metaphorical, in which case FIVE.

I digress. We arrived at Barrenstone this morning. It was a very, ahem, literally named place. Septimus started chipping away at it (useful to have around, that one) and he eventually uncovered a hatch.

Descended down the hatch into a musty, underground complex, and oh man, was it musty. Joy, our intrepid ranger, immediately triggered an explosive trap on the entrance. This seems to be her way of dealing with traps: Blaze ahead, randomly open doors, suffer the consequences.

On the upside, she usually finds the traps.

We came into a large receiving room. There was a chapel dedicated to Deneir, which was quite lovely, and in good condition. There was also a large library with a rather middling collection of books. More on this anon.

We went down a hallway and were immediately attacked by wights. They were dressed as scholars, and, from a note we recovered, seemed to have been Adzerak’s old assistants, driven mad by a failed experiment of his.

Joy tripped another trap, but we made it into another library, this one totally empty. Bit odd. More on this anon. After that, we found a secret door into what appeared to be Adzerak’s old bedroom, and then his alchemical lab. Were attacked by stone golems in both rooms and narrowly prevailed.

It appears, from what we found, that Adzerak was attempting to become a lich, and (apparently?) something went wrong.

After that, it was my turn to mess things up. I discovered a key and recklessly used it on a locked door, whereupon I managed to damage a spell holding a demon prisoner. After a brief, but nasty, combat, we managed to send the thing back whence it came.

And then: treasure bath!

Okay, not really. I mean, taking a bath would be lovely, and diamonds and gold are also lovely, but it seems like combining the two would be… difficult. We did seem to have stumbled upon Adzerak’s old hoard, which is nice. He won’t be needing it, of course, and we can put it to good use. We also seem to have discovered a nasty talking sword named Imp. Joy, intrepid as ever, has laid claim to it and is carrying it around. It does not seem to care for me, and the feeling is mutual.

After all this, we found one final room we do not have the magical capacity to open. We were going to head back to Arabel (plus, we needed a cart!), but we were then ambushed.

AMBUSHED. And one of the ambushing party was the old man. From the mugging! They played us! I am furious. I do not like being had, no sir.

The upside is that we killed several of them, but two of them got away.

It looks like the Stonelanders are going to have to go hunting.

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Phylas' Journal VII
Further Entries from Phylas' Journal

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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