Knights of Goldenhawk Tower

Destroying The Crown of Shadows

Dorian, Quill, and Shan Val work hard setting up the ritual. From the very start, respecting the terrible power and evil of the crown, they form a double layer protective circle of salt and ash surrounding their workspace and the artifact itself. The first phase of the ritual includes covering the crown in a mold of clay and then carefully removing it. A long ceremony transforms the clay of the mold into an exact replica of the crown down to every detail of inscribing and ornamentation. The copy is inspected to ensure there are no flaws or errors in the replica. So far so good, everything seems to be going perfectly. Shan Val, Dorian, and Quill check and recheck ensuring that everything is in order as they begin the delicate procedure of transferring the souls from the original crown to the replica crown.

The work is long, hard and exacting. The many incantations and arcane gestures involved completely amaze Redbeard and Praxis. Shan Val’s overall direction begins to slowly get more and more sharp tongued and short. He becomes increasingly frustrated with Quill and Dorian’s pace and tells them to pick it up. Quill’s eyes begin to narrow and look resentfully at Shan Val. Dorian’s song of encouragement slowly begins to take on a darker tone. The patches under each man’s eyes slowly begin to darken as exhaustion begins to set in and the frustration mounts. The arguing becomes a bit longer and more intense. Redbeard and Praxis look at each other in worried disbelief. Each counsels calm but it only seems to make things worse.

Then it happens. Shan Val yells at Quill for skipping a passage in the incantation he is reading and Quill slams the book down on the floor in frustration. As the giant tome hits the floor hard, it creates a powerful burst of air that blows the salt and ashes askew. Dorian dives down to try and fix the circle but is too late, a rush of energy explodes from the crown into Quill. Quill’s eyes turn completely black. He kicks Dorian aside and grabs the original crown, placing it on his head. Quill’s face contorts in maniacal laughter. He screams in triumph, “The Power!!! It is Mine! “ Shan Val’s eyes go wide in fear as he says, “Quill, No Wait…” and then is silenced as a black bolt of necrotic energy hurtles out of the crown to smash into Shan Val and knock him down. Dorian struggles to his feet when Quill puts a hand on his forehead surrounding him in black energy. Dorian screams as he is drawn into the crown, his body fading away into black wisps of smoke.

Quill screams triumphantly raising his hands above his head to caress the crown with his hair blowing around his head in a violent tangle. Then suddenly all three of you bolt awake. The horrible nightmare is over but leaves Dorian, Quill, and Shan Val with very unsettling feelings of uncertainty and fear. The dream was so vivid, so real. Dorian remarks that he is left with the same feeling as when he was carrying the crown during the journey yet it is so much more intense now and even more terrible. After comparing notes it is discovered that each had exactly the same dream.

More concerned than ever, Dorian, Quill, and Shan Val work diligently to begin the soul transfer process. In an eerie and familiar way the three go through the ritual each trying hard to be overly patient and careful. At one point Quill knocks a ritual candle over by accident. It hangs in the air for a painfully long moment threatening to land on the floor and ruin the ritual when Dorian’s slender hand snakes out and catches it. Quill and Dorian look at each other for a moment and then slowly exhale as Dorian puts the candle back into position. It takes a long while and there are some unavoidably tense moments but the day seems successful. No one sleeps well that night. Again each is plagued with bad dreams one even more gruesome than the next. But each day passes without a misstep and without any discernible problems to the ritual.

Shan Val examines the replica crown staring at it with his eyes only inches away. “Well?” asks Dorian looking inquisitively. “Are they in there?” Shan Val nods after a time and says, “Most definitely. We have them in the replica. Now to restore their souls to mortal form… and make sure they do not go insane…” Quill interjects, “Yes, I think Spellhold has had its fill of insanity.”

The final procedure is to draw the souls out of the replica crown and sever the connection by destroying the replica thereby forcing those trapped from the demi-plane of shadow back to the prime material plane. Again it goes well with everyone playing their part until the final moment is reached. Shan Val completes an incantation and says, “Now!” and Dorian and Quill simultaneously hit the replica crown with a powerful pulse of sorcery meant to strip all its magic away. The crown shudders and then shatters, a black mist spilling out all over the floor. The mist begins to coalesce into 4 distinct humanoid forms.

The black mist takes shape and becomes 4 male gold elves each wearing a beautiful gleaming set of elven chain mail, wonderfully detailed elven cloaks with intricate designs, and longswords at their sides. They eye you warily and look all about taking in their surroundings and surprisingly remaining very calm. Each of the four stretches and moves around as if waking up from a long slumber. One of them looks down at the crown and the ritual books scattered around, steps forward and bows. Quill and Praxis notice that his eyes never leave you and his body is tensed and ready to spring into action. He speaks in the common tongue, “It appears as though we owe you a debt of thanks, friends. The last thing I remember is a pulse of dark energy from that horrific crown. I do not recognize this place. Tell me, is this some new lair of Mordoch? Are we in Thay?”

Dorian glides forward and gracefully returns the sun elf’s bow. He replies in elven.

He uses diplomacy and employs his words of friendship: 34

“Fear us not sons of Corellon. You are not in Thay and not in Mordoch’s realm. Dorian Bladesinger and fellow Goldenhawks at your service. We are allies and found the crown while slaying trolls in the mountains north of Amn. We are currently on Amn by the coast. We have completed a long ritual to free you from the crown, yet only you appear to be the only ones to destroy it. We can aid and wish to destroy this evil forever. I will answer whatever questions I can, but please tell me, what year do you believe it be to determine how long you have been trapped inside?”

John, does Dorian recognize anything on the Sun Elves to determine from where they hail? Myth Drannor, Silvery Moon, Evereska, Seldarine Forest, Evermeet, etc?

History check of 26.

Everyone sees excitement in Dorian’s eyes at the sight of the Sun Elven Heroes.

Dorian recognizes the designs and patterns of the sun elf cloaks as being from the noble house Starym whose homeland is the fabled island of Evermeet far to the west in the Sea of Swords. You are correct that the Troll lair was in the Giant’s Run Mountains to the north of Amn, near to the small human mining town called Silvertown.

After Dorian steps forward and speaks, a noticeable calm washes over the elves. The lead elf points to Dorian’s shield and to your Goldenhawk banner and nods to the others “So you ride under the standard of Lady Vanamere and Lord Lethion? Their bravery against the hobgoblins of The Red Hand is legendary. May Goldenhawk Tower forever stand against the Goblins of the Witchlight Fens. Tell me Dorian are you sired from Vanamere and Lethion? Your power in The Art is clearly on display by freeing us from The Crown. A son of Vanamere would clearly be so gifted. Ah yes, I can smell the sea. Amn you say. The Sword Coast is far from Thay, that is for certain. As for the year, we were trapped in the Year of The Broken Arrow. I suppose much has happened since we were trapped in The Crown.”

You realize that The Year of the Broken Arrow was some 200 years ago before the Spellplague.

The sun elf smiles, “We are Ar’Tel’Quessir” (elven for ‘People of the Sun’ referring to gold elf or sun elf). “Two hundred years is but a small time for us. I know it is hard for you N’Tel’Quessir (‘Not of the people’ referring to non-elves) to understand. It is troubling to learn of the passing of Vanamere before her time. No doubt she died well and brought honor to the Noble House Evanara. Please forgive me, Dorian, I have not met many A’Tel’Quessir (‘almost people’ referring to half elves). I must apologize for assuming that you were the son of Vanamere. A coupling between Ar’TelQuessir and N’Tel’Quessir is a rare thing. And to see it produce as strong a bond as it did between Vanamere and Lethion is even more rare.” Quill notices a scowl crosses the face of one of the other elves and he gets the felling that the elf is trying to hide a strong feeling of disgust at the other sun elf’s words.

The lead sun elf turns to face the original Crown of Fallen Heroes still sitting on the floor in its protective circle. A steely resolve washes over the elf as he draws his blade. The blade ebbs and hums pulsing with magical power. It almost seems excited, anticipating what is to come. The elf narrows his eyes, “Yes. Let us finish this. Once and for all.”

The sun elves are well trained in the ways of magic and help with the rest of the ritual. After interacting with them and watching them Quill and Dorian would guess that all 4 have studied both magic and swordplay extensively. Many hours later after reading from ancient ritual tomes and inscribing the correct sigils to complete the ritual, each of the four elves takes up positions surrounding the Crown. The first elf draws his blade and in elvish says, “With Fire…” and his sword is wreathed in orange flames. The next elf draws his blade and says in elvish, “With Air…” and his sword begins to crackle with lightning. The third elf draws his blade and says in elvish, “With Water…” and his sword begins dripping with green acid. The final elf raises his sword and says in elvish, “With Earth…” and his sword begins to quiver and hum releasing the tell tale snicker of a vorpal weapon. Each elf raises his sword high above their head and the lead elf yells in elvish, “In the Name of House Starym and Tel’ Arnor Arator we smite thee and end Mordoch’s evil for all time. Ele i’ nilindale’ en’ neh usin ent amarth, llie Andatehta en’ gurtha!”

As one the 4 blades swing down in a mighty arc to smash into the crown. There is a bright flash of light and a sharp crack as the crown is split into 4 pieces. Black smoke pours out of the broken Crown. In a violent few seconds, black shadowy shapes pour out of the broken Crown and dissipate into nothingness as the the wails and cries of the thousands of the crown’s victims scream out into the huge cavern of Banemaw’s lair. And then there is silence as the 4 pieces of the Crown crumble into black dust and fade away.

" Ar’Tel’Quessir, a weight has been lifted from me and I thank you. I have been carrying that accursed crown since we slew the troll king that wore it in the mountains. Since then it has plagued my dreams and I am happy to be rid of it’s evil presence.

Now, this realm was recently the lair of Banemaw, the fabled black dragon that took Bane’s heart from his body after the fight between Bane and Torm during the time of troubles. Since then he has been striving to bring Bane back with the help of Fzoul Chembryl. He created a process that was stealing the art from local wizards and distilling it into a magical essence to resurrect Bane. In a land where the art is illegal, we infiltrated the city, found the location of their secret prison, gained control of a skyship and proceeded to free and restore the wizards that were still alive. We slew many Banites and Cowled wizards, Banemaw and the heart of Bane itself. We dispatched Fzoul as well, but alas it was a clone. Banite scum. All bodies, as well as the scepter of the chosen tyrant have been dissolved in Banemaw’s acidic blood. Thanks to him, we cleansed this place of all evil. Magic will flourish in this realm unheaded and just rulers will come to the throne. Good is victorious this day.

But let me introduce to my comrades. This is Sir Praxis, knight Templar of Torm, Quill, Shan Val and this little father is Redbeard. Be careful, he is very dangerous over short distances.

And now, for some unpleasant news.
You say you hail from Evermeet and long to return home, but alas during the spellplague all portals and contact has vanished. No one really knows what happened to the elven isle. I will tell you more if I can and pledge my help in any way. But now let us sit together, sip Evereskan sweet wine, Shan Val’s favorite, and plot our next course."

At the introduction of Redbeard, Quill notices the same elf who seemed disgusted at the talk of half elves seems to be struggling mightily to contain himself after seeing a dwarf wearing an elven cloak and boots. He tries to put on a calm face but Quill’s passive insight betrays his true feelings of anger and disgust.

The gold elves listen closely to your story and nod in approval at many points seeming to approve the way you have handled yourselves. After your introductions, the lead elf who has been doing all the talking reciprocates. “Yes, where I my manners. Please let me introduce myself. I am Lord Zanros Starym. And this is Oloril Starym, Belmorn Starym, and Norkul Starym.” Quill notes that Norkul is the one who has been having half elf and dwarf problems.

Lord Zanros continues, “That is troubling news indeed regarding Evermeet. Tell me what is this Spellplague of which you speak?”

We can assume there is a lot of back and forth question and answer related to getting the Starym elves up to speed on what has happened these last 200 years. The more they learn about the Spellplague and the details surrounding Evermeet’s lack of contact, the more concerned they seem to get.

Lord Zanros takes Dorian up on his offer to travel with the party to Westgate via the Golden Hawk airship. Their plan is to travel on from Westgate to Myth Drannor. They cannot believe it has been restored. When last they walked the realms it was an evil, demon infested place. They wish to see it with their own eyes. They hope to get some answers regarding Evermeet in Myth Drannor once back amongst their own kind. They are also quite interested in the skyship. The magical flying ship intrigues them.

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Saving Yggdrasil

Everyone gathers around Yggdrasil. The smell of rot and decay fills your noses as you survey the black cancerous wounds extending from the cold iron pipe. Redbeard puts his large hands on either side of the pipe and looks to Shan Val for the signal. Praxis inspects the wounds on the tree and Dorian helps him by tearing up the Banite robes from the dead and lashing them together with rope to plug the hole once the pipe is removed. Shan Val begins to concentrate and open his awareness to the tree. Likewise Quill reaches out to feel the magic of this ancient fey spirit.

With everyone ready, Shan Val nods. Redbeard slowly begins to twist the cold iron pipe out of the tree. Sap begins to slowly ooze out around the sides of the pipe. It is still golden in color and glowing with a bright silver hue. Praxis and Dorian put their makeshift gauze pads in place and apply force to try and keep the sap inside the tree.

Redbeard heaves again now straining against the heavy iron pipe and it continues to slide free of the tree. Shan Val and Quill try and create a magical barrier to stop the flow of arcane energy out of the tree and work on suppressing the necrotic energy of the enchanted cold iron pipe.

This continues for 5 minutes until Redbeard finally pulls the pipe free and Praxis and Dorian stuff the wound to stem the flow of the sap. They bind it tightly. As the pipe comes free, Shan Val and Quill feel a huge rush of arcane power suddenly flow around them. It is of an intensity they have not felt since being bathed in the light of The Recurve underneath Goldenhawk Tower and receiving Corellon’s Blessing.

A wind mysteriously arises and begins to blow through the room moving the tree’s huge branches to and fro. Motes of green and white light begin to gather high up in the canopy and then float down to bathe you all in some sort of sparkling pollen. Everyone suddenly feels an otherworldly connection to the tree. You are filled with emotions of fear, sadness, and an indescribable weariness. Then a hint of curiosity as if it the tree peers into your very soul and seems to know everything about you. The pollen on all your bodies glows white with a fierce intensity. You all feel emboldened and your wounds simply wash away (all of your hit points are magically returned to their maximum value – but no change to surges remaining). Finally you feel a sense of peace and letting go.

A deep humming emanates from the tree like the sound of the rising tide of an incoming wave. There is another surge of power felt by everyone. Shan Val yells, “No!!!! Don’t…” and then is cut off by a huge cracking sound as the main trunk of the tree splits in twain. Branches collapse and fall all around you, leaves and dust going everywhere and covering everyone.

Then quiet. Deathly silence. Everyone stares around at the broken remains of the shattered tree not saying anything. Until a glowing object floats down from the ceiling where the canopy of Yggdrasil once stood. A whispy silver glowing shape about 6 inches in diameter wafts effortlessly through the air, its tendril like extensions seemingly pulling or swimming it through the air. It stops for a moment hovering over Dorian, then it moves on to Shan Val where it lands on his shoulder. It brushes up against the skin of Shan Val’s neck and seems to melt away leaving a mark behind on Shan Val’s skin.

Quill looks closely and sees a silver mark that closely resembles an ash seed on the right side of his neck. He wonders at it as it glows silver and gold for a moment and then fades away from view.

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Into the Dark

Finally agreeing on a course of action, the group starts to head down to the edge of the clearing following the bloody footprints. Quill crouches by the trail and studies the ground intently with Sulee perched on his shoulder looking around for danger. Quill examines the broken branches. “Judging from the height of these broken branches I would say the tracks were made by
someone of human height. They were moving hastily without much heed to the terrain.”

You are far enough away from the clearing with the Cairns that you start to feel a little more relaxed in that the otherwordly deathly pall over everything seems to be receding a bit, the further away you get from the tomb. The eerie mists still remain, however and still blanket all in an eerie silence. There are no birds chirping, no wind whistling through the trees, it is deathly still. After a few more minutes of following the trail, Quill raises his hand for everyone to stop and crouches by a muddy area.

“Look at these tracks in the mud. It seems there were two of them. There are distinctly two sets of tracks here. Look at the splattering of the mud. They were still moving fast. I can’t tell if they were moving together or one was chasing the other but there were definitely two humanoids and at least one was bleeding badly.” Quill stands up and continues to move through the forest.

A few minutes later (your tracking has taken about 15 minutes so far total), Quill stops again and points to the ground. In front of you on the ground is a very dead human man. At least you think it is a human man. The side of his head is smashed in as if hit by a tremendous bludgeon. Quill points to the ground and you see the bloody trail continues beyond. “It seems the journey of this one ended here but another continued on.”

Quill crouches again and studies the body of the man closely. He is wearing platemail armor. A sword is sheathed at his side. A torn open pouch lies beside the corpse. There appears to be nothing of value on the man other than the sword which is of quality make but was recently made. Definitely not anything that would have been in the tomb.

“Hmm… What’s this?” asks Quill. He peels away some leather on the man’s armor that was partially exposing some of the metal plates underneath. “There is some kind of insignia here”


On Dorian’s command everyone moves swiftly. Quill tracking and everyone else following him. The trail leads down into a ravine, through some thick brush and then finally to the top of a rise. After only ten minutes of travel Quill stops again and everyone can clearly see a small clearing with a body laying in the center of it. Drawing weapons and readying, the party cautiously approaches. Adrenaline courses through your bodies as you look around expecting attacks from all sides yet none come. The only sound is the muffled crackle of the plants you trod upon while approaching the body.

As you close the distance, the light from Praxis’ sword bathes the body in pale illumination. This person is clearly dead. You believe this to be a human man, but the body is ravaged and torn apart. Dorian squats down and examines the body. He posits that the damage seems to be from claw and bite attacks from a large beast. Quill looks closely and points out several things. The man’s hand still tightly grips a hammer in his right hand. His left hand is tightly balled into a fist frozen by the icy grip of death. There are some Davek Runes carved into the head of the hammer. Redbeard takes a look and translates the writing into common. It reads:

Telchar the Foe Hammer. Redbeard furrows his brow, “This hammer is of Dwarven make.”

Dorian points out a sword sticking through the belt of the body. “Gentlemen, look at the ancient style of the crafting of this blade and see the designs etched into it. I would say it matches what we saw in the barrow.” There are numerous jewels set into the pommel of the ceremonial sword. You estimate the value of the sword to be 500 GP for the gems alone perhaps even more if you could find a dealer interested in the ancient Hill People.

Quill also finds a large sack tucked into the belt of the man. He carefully pulls the sack free from the belt and opens it. Inside is an ancient looking crown. The gold and gems inlaid into the crown sparkle and glow in the light of Praxis sword. Quill points out the bits of hair and skin still clinging to the inside of the crown. The style and craftsmanship of this crown is clearly that of the Barrow as well. You estimate the value of the crown to be in the neighborhood of 1,000 GP again subject the buyer’s interest in the ancient Hill People.

Dorian focuses his mind and holds out his hand toward the body. He feels the sparkle of magic on only the hammer, the sword and crown although ancient and valuable are not magical. Dorian pauses for a moment and focuses his attention on another flicker of magic. It is emanating from the clenched left fist of the dead man. With a little help from Rebeard’s powerful hands, Dorian manages to pry open the dead fist of the man revealing a small white stone carved intricately into the shape of a mailed gauntlet. It is no more than 2 inches long and has letters carved into the back. It says in common “Certain Justice”. Praxis frowns and says, “that is a holy symbol of Torm.”

Dorian searches the body carefully for any odd coinage and there is none. The hammer does not have any blood on it, but it is a common enchantment for most magic weapons to stay clean. The weight and size of the hammer could certainly account for the blunt trauma that caved in the side of the Knight of Torm’s head.

The bloody footprints stop here. There are clearly signs of another fight here but no other tracks enter or leave except his own.

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Bongo's Betrayal

It was quite a night – treachery, betrayal, intrigue, a chase, losing an old friend, gaining a new one, and eerie travels in the wilds. It was all there. You missed a great game.

The night started off pleasant enough. Everyone was sitting around Bongo’s dining room table drinking tea and eating cakes talking about next steps. As discussed by email the group was very keen to visit Amn’s ancient library. Bongo explained that after the cowled wizards and their orc minions took over Esmeltaran, they conducted a powerful ritual that moved the entire library from Esmeltaran to somewhere in Athkatla. The cowled wizards had stolen away what was most precious to the citizens of the town and brazenly struck at the heart of the Emerald Cabal to whom the library was a cherished institution. Praxis also learned that Draco had left town abruptly and angrily after losing his duel with Praxis. Apparently he was headed to his father’s estate in Crimmor.

Bongo was acting a little strangely. He was sweating and kept looking at Quagmire. Quill was waiting for a lull in the conversation to do something and ferret out what was going on, but he waited too long. A magical trap was sprung and the chair Quagmire was sitting in teleported him away to somewhere else. A metal disc on the table very similar to the one you found from gore bag the orc and mistakenly activated to interact with Barbosa the first time again brought an image of the cackling cowled wizard to your presence.

Don Diego Barbosa boasted of his victory in obtaining the last of the emerald cabal wizards. He said that Quagmire was now “his”. After some banter and amusing back and forth, Redbeard was so mad he was about to smash the disc with his hammer. But before he could act, Shan Val snatched it off the table and tucked it in a pouch. He put his finger to his lips so that Barbosa could no longer hear or see the group. Shan Val could feel the growing energy in the disc even through the pouch and suspected like last time Barbosa was sending agents through the disc to this location.

Redbeard grabbed the pouch containing the disc and threw it through the second story window where it landed in the yard below. After breaking the window, Redbeard saw some figures moving out of the shadows to look up at the window. Then the disc exploded and more cowled wizard agents teleported to the yard just as Shan Val had feared but luckily they were down below n the yard and not in the dining room upstairs with you. The agents were running for the first story door. Praxis then grabbed little Bongo and shoved him up against the wall at eye level threatening to squash him like a little bug. He demanded the hobbit show them the fastest way out of his house. Bongo melted like butter both ashamed of his betrayal of the party and incredibly intimidated by Praxis. Bongo triggered a secret door and the party made their way out of the house.

There was a tense chase as the party tried to sneak down the secret escape route without the agents hearing. Praxis was running with Bongo in one arm and the magic chair in the other. At first it went well and they were not detected allowing for a head start of sorts but then Praxis and ShanVal I believe made some noise with poor stealth checks. The agents found the secret door and began to give chase. The party managed to get to the end of the escape tunnel and found themselves in a small wood to the side of Bongo’s estate. The agents were barreling down the tunnel in hot pursuit, but Dorian closed the door and Redbeard using massive strength not seen since Gozu Mendok left the party, dragged a fallen tree in front of the door effectively blocking it from being opened.

The party made their escape through the woods as the agents were unable to open the door and had to go all the way back through the house to give chase. Knowing they had to get out of town, the party again pressed Bongo for information, having to really hold back their desire for revenge on the little fellow who had just sold out your friend Quagmire and nearly the rest of you. Praxis worked Bongo over with some serious intimidation and learned that Quagmire had been taken to Athkatla. The group decided that they needed to travel to Athkatla, but that would be no easy feat considering the well traveled roads to Crimmor and Athkatla were no doubt crawling with cowled wizard agents and spies.

Bongo knew of a pair of merchants who had gotten on the wrong side of the cowled wizards and were trying to make it to Athkatla as well avoiding any “Imperial” entanglements. Between the base of the small teeth mountains and the river that floats to the sea are some wilds where regular folk and even the orcs of the small teeth do not go. This was to be their road and they were looking for some extra muscle to protect them on their journey. The party signed on as merchant guards and left town hastily. Due to the public nature of the setting at the inn and with little choices in terms of meaningful authorities to which he could turn Bongo over, Praxis was forced to only threaten Bongo that he must change his ways and do something for the people of the town in order to regain his trust or that when this was over he would hunt him down and take him to justice. It was a very difficult moment for Praxis letting such treachery go relatively unpunished.

The group of 2 merchants, their 2 bodyguards, a servant boy, and the rest of the party (with Phil now playing Redbeard) began to journey through the wilds. The journey was swift thanks to Dorian’s songs of travel and the first couple of days passed without incident. However, one night by the campfire the little servant boy seemed very scared. Dorian talked to him and heard stories of these lands being haunted by the ghosts of ancient tribesmen and their hunting hounds. They were known as “The Hounds of Ill Omen” for to hear their howl always brought terrible misfortune.

The next day a fog rolled in off the barrow downs and the journey began to get very eerie. Shapes moved in the mists putting everyone on edge. And then as the group approached a bridge over a river, three hounds of ill omen ran out of the mist with an entourage of spectral tribesman. The howl was terrible indeed causing lots of psychic damage and cursing everyone but Shan Val who was lucky enough to get repeatedly missed. A howl was so terrible that everyone but the party members went rigid and collapsed turning deathly pale and their eyes taking on a strange pale bluish hue. They were still alive but overcome with some sort of curse. The spectral tribesman made off with the bodies of the two merchants and the boy, leaving the bodyguards behind.

The party was able to defeat the creatures but did not take a short rest because they wanted to give chase as soon as possible. The merchants and the boy were alive when taken so if you are swift there is a chance they could be saved from whatever horrible fate awaits them at the hands of the hounds of ill omen. The flying spectral creatures left no tracks but did leave behind a faint trail of sulfurous smell that in the still air could potentially be tracked. It will be difficult but the party wants to find them as soon as possible.

-DM

p.s. Phil has wanted to change characters for a while now so it was his choice to switch to Redbeard. I just worked the transition into the story. Redbeard is a formidable character – a barbarian striker infused with the spellplague and spellscars.

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Orc Slaughterfest

I just thought you guys would be interested in some numbers. Since arriving in Quagmire’s fair city of Esmeltaran in Amn, the party has slain:
20 orc warriors and 6 officers – in pitched battles through the streets of town
92 orc warriors and 14 officers (not to mention a quasit, 4 guard dogs, and a cowled wizard) – in a gritty floor by floor assault on The Sons of Gruumsh Keep

That is well over 100 orcs. Corellon Larethian would be proud and Gruumsh not so much.

Quagmire surveys the carnage and lights his pipe. He puffs contemplatively as he uses his foot to turn over the charred body of the cowled wizard. “Gentlemen, this is… err, was… Esteban Acebedo. Esteban was a thuggish brute under the employ of the Barbosa family. He had quite a knack for alchemy and potion making. but it is doubtful he would have been entrusted to run the show here in Esmeltaran. I suspect there must be an actual relative to Don Diego Barbosa or perhaps Barbosa himself upstairs. Although I find it hard to believe Don Diego would leave leave Athkatla to come all the way out here, it is within the realm of possibility. We must be on our guard. I don’t think this fight is over yet.”

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The Trial of Faunus

The day of the trial has finally arrived. Each party member except Praxis arrives outside the Citadel of the Radiant Fist and is escorted in together by paladins of Torm. As eyewitnesses you are afforded special seats near the front of the great hall. The room is filled almost to capacity with city folk of Westgate wanting to get a look at Captain Gnash. During the week leading up to the trial each of you has heard many folk saying what a scourge on humanity the bugbear pirates have been. It seems that everyone and his brother have had a relative or a business associate that has been put to the sword by Captain Gnash and his crew. Many have assembled in the hall of justice to see the bugbear pirates get their due. A few minutes later a door opens and Praxis walks into the chamber. The guards salute him as he passes by. He walks over and sits with you at your table.

The Hall of Justice is a huge room with white marble floors and large stained glass windows. The sun shines brightly though the windows depicting scenes of mighty paladins smiting evil in many forms – undead, dragons, demons. 4 – five foot wide by 10 foot tall iron cages with iron bar doors lie off to the side of the great hall at the foot of a massive desk made of oak. About 25 guards are stationed in various places throughout the room. A door suddenly opens and one of the guards cries out, "All Hail Lord High Bailiff Tomass. A tall muscular paladin in polished shining full plate armor confidently strides into the room. He stands to the side of the great Oak desk and slams a mailed gauntlet on the desk. “Bring in the accused!” he shouts

Through the same door two bugbears, a tiefling, and a satyr are escorted under guard and locked into the iron cages. At the sight of the bugbears, the crowd starts to howl and hiss. You hear shouts demanding blood and justice. Some terrible curses and foul names are hurled towards the bugbears who stoically enter the cages doing their best to ignore the heckling.

Lord High Bailiff Tomass smashes his mailed fist on the desk once again. “Order! I demand order!” The ravenous crowd of rabble quiets down Another door opens and an old looking human in black robes enters the chamber walking quickly behind the desk. The Lord High Bailiff cries out, “All rise to receive the Lord High Magistrate Nigel Ravenquist.”

The Lord High Magistrate takes his seat behind the mighty oaken desk and says, “Thank you High Bailiff Tomass. You may all be seated. Please state the charges.”

Lord High Bailiff Tomass unrolls a scrolls and reads from it, “Captain Gnash and Fecar the Unclean you are both hereby accused of piracy on the High Seas, murder, rape, pillaging, looting, wanton destruction of property, theft, and engaging in the slave trade. Jeezel and Faunus you are hereby accused of gambling, racketeering, ritualistic murder, the eating of human flesh, and removing the will of men through coercive magic.”

Lord High Magistrate Nigel Ravenquist speaks in a loud and powerful voice, “Thank You High Bailiff. I have been entrusted through both the holy scriptures of Torm as well as the government of Westgate to examine and determine the innocence or guilt of all accused here today. It is my solemn duty to determine the appropriate punishment, if any, to be exacted as justice for the crimes you are accused of. Leading up to this trial I have received statements from many folk most importantly those heroes who have captured these prisoners and brought them to justice before you today.” The Lord High Magistrate gestures to the party and a cheer goes through the room before being squelched with another hammer like mailed fist to the desk by the Lord High Bailiff As the din quiets down, the Lord High Magistrate continues, “I have carefully weighed the evidence before me and gathered the facts. I now give each defendant the opportunity to speak. Do any of you have anything to say in your defense?”

Fecar the Unclean grimly shakes his head from side to side. Captain Gnash looks around with an icy stare, “Nothing I can say is going to change anything. This court is a sham!” The crowd goes wild and starts yelling at him at this point until finally quieted by the mailed gauntlet of the Lord High Bailiff once more.

Jezeel stands quietly his hands folded in front of him. He lowers his tiefling horned head and says quietly, “I am prepared to die for my Lord Azeeel.”

Faunus nervously shifts about and says, “I don’t want to die. I just want to run through the trees and smell the forest again.” He keeps warily looking at the iron bars surrounding him.

The Lord High Magistrate speaks up, “Is there anyone else who wishes to say anything regarding the guilt of the accused?”

Praxis stands up, “Lord High Magistrate, you know my position with respect to the accused. As you know, justice cannot be served unless all facts are brought into the light of Torm’s view. As such, there is someone present who would like to present testimony in defense of one of the defendants, Faunus. However, due to the fact that this individual is being pursued by agents of evil, he is afraid that disclosing his whereabouts through public testimony would give his enemies purchase. For what it is worth, Lord Magistrate, I trust this man’s word as if it were issued by a fellow Tormtar. And although I do not ascribe to his position on the matter, I believe that justice would only be served if this honorable tribunal were to solicit his testimony. Therefore, I request that this court clear the courtroom and allow this man to speak his mind freely so that it might be fully apprised of the nature of the situation. I also request that his identity be stricken from whatever record and I will vouch for his character and his appearance at any further hearing.”

With that Praxis bows and takes his seat.

A large grumble goes up almost instantly throughout the peanut gallery which begins to take on the sound of a roar of protest until the Lord high Bailiff crushes it to silence with yet another mighty smashing of his mailed fist into the desk. “I WILL have order!”

The Lord High Magistrate raises an eyebrow. “This is a most unusual request, Captain Praxis, but it is one that I shall honor. i know you would not make such a request unless the consequences would be dire. Guards please clear the gallery. All these citizens will wait in the antechamber until such time as they are allowed back in after this sensitive testimony is heard.”

Immediately the guards move forward and usher the folk of Westgate out of the great hall. Once the last has left and the door is secured, the Lord High Magistrate continues, “Now Captain Praxis who is this mysterious witness that must speak his peace? Scribe, please remember this is not to be included in the official record. Please put down your quill.” A young scribe off to the side of the chamber places her quill on her desk and folds her hands in her lap. “Thank you. Now let us continue. Say what must be said.”

Once the area is cleared, Shan Val Stands and faces the Magistrate.

I thank the Lord High Magistrate for allowing me the anonymity that I need to speak.
First, let me state my credential so that my words can be weighed appropriately.
I have spent several years in the court of the High Lords of the Seelie Fey and thus have a tacit, though incomplete understanding of their ways. In that time, I encountered numerous of the Kith and Kin of the summer court and I know that there are various oaths which neither the seelie nor the unseelie fey will dare break.
An important thing to remember about the fey is that they are not human though some may look and act thus.

It is my belief that Faunus was tricked by the Rakasha and meant no harm to the people whom he watched. The vile one approached him in his native lands and asked him for his help in watching his flock as he explained it. Faunus accepted, not knowing the full story and spent his time tending the humans and keeping the healthy, happy and hale. The fey draw humans and other mortals into their dances and feasts with an open heart and no ill intent, not understanding that we mortals end up confused, drunken or in a stupor while in the presence of a Fey beings glamor. It is my understanding that the Rakasha took advantage of this effect of the Faunus’s presence which was heightened by the drugs that the fiend feed to his victims.
I have asked Faunus to swear by Oak, Ash, and Rowan, and by the names of the Lords of the Sidhe that he did not know that the people left under his ministrations were being harmed. He swore this to be the truth and was horrified that the people in his flock were being killed and eaten. Those oath have great power for their kind and I believe that he spoke true when he swore them.

If we judge him unfairly, there is a danger. The Fey live long and have long memories. They have two courts. The Seelie and the Unseelie. You can think of them as Summer and Winter, good or evil. Neither fits truly, but Faunus is currently of the seelie court and if we treat him poorly he and thus who owe him allegiance may go to the unseelie court.

If you have any questions I shall answer them as honestly and fully as I can.

Shan Val stands waiting patiently for any questions or a release from the magistrate.

btw: (I rolled a 26 diplomancy)

The Lord High Magistrate nods solemnly. “Thank you Shan Val, your counsel is appreciated greatly. I will take your testimony under advisement. You may be seated. Now is there anyone else who wishes to say anything?”

Quagmire stands and asks permission to speak.

When granted he bows and says.

“Lord High Magistrate I will be brief. I echo Shan Val’s sentiment, that Faunus was tricked into serving the Calif and did not understand that his actions endangered others. For his part, he took away their fear and did his best to make them happy, as is his way. For my part I do not wish to see a Fey creature imprissoned in irons. As my friend Shan Val has said, this is a dangerous path.

If you feel punishment is needed in the case of Faunus, it should be fitting to his crime as he harmed no one directly. He should not be locked up but instead should be sent out on a form of community service, helping those in need for a period of time, contributing to the greater good. I would offer my guidance to Faunus and see that the laws of Torm are carried out for whatever period of time this court sees fitting. You have my word. Thank you for letting me testify."

Diplomacy 26 (I rolled a 20).

The Lord High Magistrate furrows his brow. "Thank you Quagmire. I appreciate your concern in this matter and I value your service to this community. "

Dorian stands and graciously bows to the High Lord Magistrate. As Dorian speaks you all hear a new grace in his words, going beyond his usual beautiful speaking voice. It has power and authority, but still calm and almost singing. It’s like an iron fist wrapped in a velvet glove. Dorian employs his words of friendship (+5 to diplomacy).

“High Lord Magistrate, I am Dorian Bladesinger and I am deeply honored and grateful for allowing us to speak here today. Though the fight against evil usually cuts as clear a keen blade, as seen by the other three defendants today, I truly feel this is not the case with Faunus. First, most of the charges against Faunus have no evidence to prove his guilt. He was not part of the Rakshasa’s capital scheme, as described by himself and Shan Val, he served as just a shepherd. Though on the island, Faunus had no knowledge of the gambling and racketeering below. Also, he has little care for gold coins. Being of the Feywild, he prefers simple nature, dancing and freedom. So there is no motive to engage in such activities. Likewise, Faunus has testified that he did nothing to harm the humans he cared for, that includes ritualistic murder and the eating of human flesh. Faunus ate the fruits and vegetables and drank the spring water that was abundant on the garden level of the Rakshasa’s Island. The Caliph being a Rakshasa would explain why the murder and eating of human flesh took place on the island. But, Faunus was never aware of the Caliph’s true form and thus never participated in or was even aware of these gruesome events. All this speaks to Faunus’ state of mind. He believed he was given a Sylvan paradise with abundant food and the simple task to care for the well being of the humans.

Now, Faunus is not totally innocent of all charges. To the removing the will of men through coercive magic, he is guilty. He did so and I beseech the High Lord Magistrate to again recall the testimony of Shan Val. Faunus is not of this land. He courses through life with a different moral compass. Does that give him an excuse to not pay for his crime? Certainly not. But, I humbly ask the High Lord Magistrate to use this moment to spark a change in that moral compass’ heading. Show him the value of life, of all life and of dignity of will of all creatures. Though such magic is a helpful defense against aggressors in battle, let him understand the mistakes he has made and allow him a chance to learn these values. I do not mean to presume to pass judgement, that is your responsibility and I will bow to your divine authority (Dorian graciously bows again). Locking Faunus in an iron prison will destroy his love of life and as Shan Val puts it, allow the Winter Court to entangle him in it’s heartless icy grasp. It will not speak to him and it will merely shatter what will he has left to live.

But what of the humans? Don’t they have deserve justice? Yes, but I would like to point out that gambling is an offense this court takes seriously, hence charging it against Faunus. And it was gambling that brought all the humans to the Rakshasa. I believe the fact that the humans are still alive is justice enough, it allows them time to understand what fools they were thinking this mystical paradise was all it appeared to be. The true fiend behind this plot was the Rakshasa who tempted them all with illusions of fame, fortune and feminine companionship. He preyed on their weakness, was the mastermind and justice was served when his bones boiled away by Torm’s righteous fury. Now, the oath Faunus has given Shan Val is a good first step. And again, I beseech the High Lord Magistrate to allow Faunus a chance to learn the lesson Torm has put infront of him.

I thank you for your time High Lord Magistrate."

Dorian bows to the court again.

Diplomacy: 16+16+5= 37

The Lord High Magistrate nods and runs his fingers through his long mustache, “Well spoken Dorian Bladesinger. The satyr is lucky indeed to have such eloquent allies speak on his behalf.”

The Lord High Magistrate inhales and exhales deeply, “I thank you all for your testimony and participation in this trial. I also would like to thank all of you for your outstanding service to this community. Your bravery and honorable pursuit of justice should be an example to all those in service to Torm. Now we must conclude this trial. Lord High Bailiff now that the sensitive testimony has been heard please allow the public back into the hall.”

The Lord High Bailiff nods and salutes The Lord High Magistrate. “Yes M’Lord.” He moves to the door, opens it, and orders the guards to escort the public back into chambers.

Once everyone is back in the room and called to order, the Lord High Magistrate speaks again, “With all testimony heard and facts gathered, sentencing shall now commence. Captain Gnash, Fecar the Unclean, and Jeezel you have been found guilty of all charges. Faunus, you have been found not guilty of gambling, racketeering, the eating of human flesh, and ritualistic murder. However, you have been found guilty of removing the will of men through coercive magic and guilty as an unwilling accomplice to ritualistic murder and the eating of human flesh. All prisoners prepare yourselves for judgment.”

The Lord High Magistrate looks at each prisoner in turn.

“Captain Gnash, for your crimes against humanity, you are hereby sentenced to death. A gallows will be constructed in the city square and you shall be hung by the neck until you are dead. Torm have mercy upon your soul.”

“Fecar the Unclean, you are hereby sentenced to death. You shall be hung by the neck until you are dead. Torm have mercy upon your soul.”

“Jeezel, you are hereby sentenced to death. You shall be hung by the neck until you are dead. Torm have mercy upon your soul.”

“Faunus, your sentence of death has been commuted. Though the charges against you are grave indeed, you shall be granted clemency. You are hereby sentenced to 10 years in the prisons of The Citadel of the Radiant Fist. You shall be educated by the priests of Torm in the hopes that you might one day understand the wrongs you have committed and be taught to value the free will of men. For no matter how cruel this world may seem, no one has the right to steal free will from men. May Torm have mercy on your soul and give you the grace to learn from your mistakes.”

The Lord High Bailiff smashes his fist once more into the wooden desk and decries, “This trial is now ended. Captain Gnash, Fecar The Unclean, and Jeezel will be returned to their holding cells. The gallows will be erected in the square this afternoon and tomorrow at mid-day when the sun is at its zenith in the sky, justice will be done. Faunus will be transferred to a long term cell in the dungeons of the Citadel to begin his 10 year sentence. Guards take the prisoners away.”

The guards remove the prisoners and the public begins to file out of the hall. The Lord High Magistrate retires from the chamber. The Lord High Bailiff approaches your table. “For what it’s worth,” he says, “I was quite moved by your defense of the satyr. It is not often that the Lord High Magistrate grants mercy on the accused. I just wanted you to know that he shall be afforded certain special arrangements provided his good behavior. I will ensure that his cell is only of wood and stone and that no iron is used in relation to his imprisonment. May Torm guide Faunus to cooperate and succeed in his re-education.”

Keeping a steely face, trying not to show too much emotion, Dorian turns to the Lord High Bailiff. “Lord High Bailiff, I thank you for the accommodations your are providing for Faunus regarding his harmful reaction to iron. I also humbly ask to try and see to it he can have sunshine. A dark cell will do nothing but darken his spirits, no matter what it is made of. I thank the court for it’s swift justice and I pray that Torm’s grace enlightens Faunus’ heart and makes him a wiser Fey. I also have a humble request. Can you see to it he receives a letter? I hope it to help him in the trying days ahead.”

The Lord High Bailiff frowns, “I am sorry but sunshine and fresh air will not be possible within the prisons of the Citadel. He must pay his debt to society. I hope it is enough that he shall encounter no iron. It is the best that I can do. I will see to it personally that the satyr receives the letter.”

Dear Faunus,
__
I am sure you are bewildered by the human’s treatment. Why all this torture by locking us in cages? Why can’t we be free to run in the trees with the wind and sun? As you have heard and figured out by now, the Caliph’s Island was a place of evil, lies and murder. Though you weren’t behind these horrible acts, you had a part to play. But, that part has not warranted death. You can thank the mercy of the humans for that. You still get to live. Though, the price you must pay is giving them years of your life to understand what you did wrong and learn to truly value the will of others. At first this may seem worse than death, but take heart dear Faunus. You have an opportunity to learn more about this great realm. You have your fey nature as the backbone of your existence, to that you can add the civil, noble and gracious ways of the forces of good here in this city. As your behavior will dictate, you will be granted more and more freedom the more you learn. Why, in I time I am very confident that you could be an incredible Emissary of the Feywild and the mortal world. With your knowledge, alliances and bridges can be built so the powers of good from both realms can unite in times of great trouble. And those times are on the horizon, for there is also great evil that does not sleep, but waits, patiently in the shadows. This is a path that is open to you, a unique path that seems to be meant for you and you alone. And sometimes great responsibility and valor takes great sacrifice. Things will seem bad for a while, but remember every long journey must start one step at a time. Though our travels must take us away from Westgate, I promise I, Shan Val and Quagmire will come to visit you whenever we return. And have no fear, we will return. I look forward to hearing of your progress on this journey upon my return.
__
Sweet water and light laughter,
Dorian Bladesinger

P.S. I promise to bring Oliver so can do a little jig for you as well!

Dorian says to Praxis after the trial. “I pray for Torm’s mercy and Faunus’ patience. I truly hope good can sprout from the evil the Rakshasa had sown on that island. Is this goodbye Praxis? It seems we continue onward and leave Westgate, while your mission was to arrive here. Our band was truly singing a potent battle hymn with you on the front lines. Though I know you do not serve your own will. What is you next mission if you are at liberty to say?”

As soon as the Magistrate leaves, Quagmire looks to Shan Val, Quill and Dorian with a pained and sad look to his face.

“Let us leave this place and be on our way. Esmelteran awaits and the sooner I am on the open road the quicker I will forget about the court of Torm.”

He glances at Praxis and shuffles away thinking to himself about what he should have done…

When we are out of earshot of any agent of Torm Quagmire wispers to the remaining party.

“Ten years without grass or sunlight, Faunus will be mad by then. I should have broken him out of the wagon when I had the chance.”

Quagmire produces Faunus’ pipes from his robes as a tear streams down his face.

“I hope to never see an agent of Torm until I return with your pipes my friend.”

He makes a silent vow to return with Faunus’ pipes in ten years time.

Quill says, "quagmire, though I appreciate your sadness, remember the fey do not know time like we do. Ten years for Faunus is a but a blink in his lifetime. I honestly believe it is also difficult to predict the future effects. There may be some interesting evolution of the Torm education with Faunus. Or perhaps not…

In any case, Faunus will likely find a strength in himself he did not know he possessed to persevere. Perhaps there is good to come of this in the end."

“Thank you Quill, I know it will seem like an instant to Faunus, I am the one that will feel the guilt for ten long years. Let us get out of Westgate as soon as possible. I need to feel the ground beneath my feet and the warmth of a campfire under a starlit sky.”

After the courtroom clears, Praxis frowns and walks down the aisle out of the hearing room following the party out. Once outside, he banishes his armor, cracks his neck and shakes out his arms and tries to meet each of your silent gazes. After Quagmire speaks of getting away from the agents of Torm, Praxis raises his hand and says, “Quagmire, I’m not sure you appreciate the significance of what has just occured—the High Magistrate was well within his rights to sentence Faunus to death. You were able to accomplish a very remarkable thing by convincing the High Magistrate to institute a much less severe sentence—on which you and I will have to agree to disagree.” Praxis gives Quill a quick glance.

“As to your your exhortation to hit the road, so to speak, I would like to offer my service in your company on your trip to Esmereltan as I have been dispatched to Amn. I am, ready when you are, but if we are going to travel overland, I would suggest that we obtain horses and perhaps travel with a caravan.”

Quill says, "though the judgement of torm is foreign to me as well, i believe the nature of praxis’ glance to me, quagmire, was to highlight an example of agreeing to disagree. i differ from the rest of you in that i did not defend faunus in the trial. i did not because i do not disagree with the the judgement of torm as a whole. however, i was moved by the entreats of the party as much as the magistrate was so i am glad faunus did not die.

in any case, i agree we should leave the city and move on. i feel a… pull towards that tower in my dreams. i have had the dream again, friends, though i have no more insight than the last time.

praxis, what does send you to amn? i am curious."

Dorian says, “I for one consider the matter settled and look forward to returning here in a few years and be amazed at Faunus’ progress. I can’t help but feel optimistic about him. He has such a great opportunity, that is why I felt I had to write him that letter. Also remember, the jailors are true forces of good in the realms, not a corrupt cadre of cowled conjurers. It seems to me the Temple here has sent Captian Praxis to single handedly remove the cowl from the cowled wizards and restore peace and civility in that part of the realms. Considering what he did to the Rakshasa, I just want to go along and chronicle the holy fury being unleashed!” Dorian grins and slaps Praxis on the back.

“Shall we get some horses to aid in our journey?”

Smarting from the hearty slap, Praxis smiles at Dorian and says, “your enthusiasm is infectious not-so-gentle bard but the fury unleashed on that unholy spirit was a group effort. I am but a humble servant of Torm who is a protector and ally of all good faiths in the Realms, not only that of his followers.”

“Shan Val, most of my experience in battle was gained in fighting demons—my knowledge of devils is that they are beings of unspeakable and diabolical evil. I would endeavor to destroy them on sight.”

“As to my orders, suffice it to say that it is not a specific task so much as a general order to discover and report on Baneite operations. I do not mean to be mysterious but I do need to be discreet, so I would ask that if you are asked by other parties, you not disclose the purpose of my mission.”

“Finally, I would say that we take the route that takes us most expeditiously to Amn.”

View
The Interrogation of Faunus

Praxis will stand over Faunus, “why did you attack us? We meant you no harm—we only sought your help. Unless you tell me what I want to know, you will taste the stern taste of Torm’s metal, satyr.”
Praxis rolls a “9” + 14 = 23 + 6 (from Dorian) results in a check of 29.

“Tell me precisely how we operate the elevator. Now.”

Faunus shrinks back in horror from the imposing form of Praxis. He looks to Dorian only to curl up and shut his eyes. Tears stream down his face, “I am but a simple shepherd. Please! What is an elevator?
You speak in riddles and I cannot think whilst the human’s metal body is so close.
Ahh!!! It burns. Keep it away Just leave me alone.”

Quill studies the face of Faunus and comes away with the feeling that he is truly scared and does genuinely seemed puzzled by the question. He seems very worried that his inability to answer will result in his death. He clearly does not want to die."

Praxis nods to both Quill and Dorian. He then turns back to the fey and with a steely glare, “you know something? I’m not particularly piqued that you’re herding humans here, so you’re not quite out of the shit storm yet. Tell me then, who hired you?”

Faunus shrinks from Praxis’ steely glare. “Please… please sir… Stay back. I am no threat to you. I was hired by the Caliph. He brought me here to this island to tend to his flock. He provides me with a nice place to live and I tend to his flock. My music soothes them. Please do not harm me.”

Quagmire gets in between Faunus and Praxis with a big smile on his face. He holds his smoking pipe forward towards him. “Friend, I’d advise you to tell the armored man what he wants to know Would you like a smoke, it might calm you’re nerves while you think about it…”

Faunus focuses on Quagmire and the crazed look of a caged animal melts away a bit. He takes a long drag on Quagmire’s pipe and his nerves noticeably fade away. Faunus smiles, “Thank you friend. I have never breathed in smoke like that. It is truly an experience. I thank you for keeping the metal man away. I don’t like him at all. He is mean and cruel to poor Faunus. But I do like you. You have thick fur on your face like Faunus has on his legs. You are nice to Faunus. Untie me and we shall dance together.” Quill feels that Faunus isn’t scared anymore and truly wants to dance. Quill is fascinated by how mercurial this fey creature is.

Quagmire does a little jig, then leans in close to Faunus and whispers to him. “Tell the metal man what you know about that device (pointing to the elevator) and how you came to be a shepherd here and we can dance If your ruthful, we could use your help to keep these folks (pointing to the humans) safe until we figure out what is going on here.”

Faunus laughs. "You will have to teach me that dance “beard face”. I don’t know anything about that (Faunus points to the elevator). All I know about it is that it is where the tieflings come and go from. It must be magic. The door opens and they are there. The door closes and they gone. Sometimes they bring new humans for the flock. Sometimes they take humans away from the flock. I have never really paid much attention to the magic door.

The smiling Faunus giggles merrily, "How did I get here? Now that is quite a story. It all started when I was running through a forest glade one day, playing my pipes as I usually do when I came across a rather large and fat human. He introduced himself as “The Caliph”. He told me that he thought my music was beautiful. He danced with me. He was quite spry for someone so fat! He offered me food and drink. It was delicious. His hospitality was without measure. Then he asked if I wanted to see his home. I could not refuse such a gracious host. He said it was close by. He somehow used some sort of magic trick because in the blink of an eye we were here in this lovely place." Faunus gestures about the greens. “It is a place of great peace and tranquility. Abundant food and drink is available and I have my flock to tend to. The Caliph explained that if I used my pipes to keep the flock docile and happy, I would be rewarded with all the great food and drink his hospitality could provide. I have been here ever since. When the humans first arrive they are so sad or angry or confused but the music of my pipes soothes them. It wipes all their troubles away. I can make them dance. Do you want to see? If you untie me, I will play and we can all dance together.”

Quill senses that Faunus speaks the truth in general and holds the Caliph in high regard. Quill gets the sense that Faunus feels a slight attachment to the humans in his flock but truly thinks of them as a herd of animals to be tended. They are toys to be played with. Quill does not sense any ulterior motives behind being untied other than Faunus truly wants to dance.

“Faunus, please do not play your pipes around the metal man, it make him angry.”

Oliver comes out and bows. “This is Oliver, my companion. Gentlemen can I release Faunus? I think if you stay here and tend your flock there will be no further difficulties. After we depart, I promise to return shortly. We need to sing and dance to your pipes”

Both Oliver and Q do the little jig and as they spin around Q winks to Praxis, Quill and the others out of Faunus’ sight.

Faunus gazes upon Olliver. “Oooo…. I like your little hat. The rat in the hat.” Faunus starts laughing hysterically. “A dancing rat… Fancy that!” Faunus laughs some more.

Praxis looks squarely in the eye of Quagmire and says, “no, you may not free him. He has enslaved these innocent people. He deserves punishment not praise for such an immoral and illegal act.” He turns to Faunus and says, “satyr, I will not kill you but I will not allow you to go free after your complicitity in depriving these people of their freedom.”

The laughter of Faunus fades away. He turns to Quagmire, “Why does the metal man have to be so cross? He uses words I do not understand. How can I dance when I am all tied up? Beard face, good beard face. Please untie me. I want to dance and play my pipes, but metal man is so mean to me. He seems to be accusing me of something. I helped the humans. I never hurt them. They were scared, they were angry, they were feeling too much. Thanks to my pipes, now they don’t care for such things. They live in the moment. They are happy. They are free. Faunus should be free too. Please untie Faunus beard face.”

Quagmire walks out of ear shot with Praxis, Quill and the others.

“Praxis, I feel Faunus will not harm us if we intie him. We can bring the other with us and Faunus will simply care for the humans while we explore the rest of the complex. the poor fey creature does not even know how to use the elevator. What do you say?”

“Quagmire, these people have been imprisoned here and Faunus is there prison keeper. I will not allow fellow free-men and women to continue to be enslaved let alone to allow someone responsible for their enslavement to go free. I’m sorry, I know that you and the others have been together through much but I cannot condone you freeing him.”

“Presumably, if these people are released from whatever charm is held over them, they will be able to take care of themselves here. I will not let you allow this slaver to go free or to restrict these fellow humans freedom any longer. They are sentient beings who have had their free will taken from them.”

“Praxis, did you not hear his story, he was duped into coming here by the Calif. He is as much a prisoner as them and could be of service to us. Do you not understand the diference between a Shepherd and a Prison Keeper. I say we let him go.”

Phil, for reference, please see the following excerpt:

“The smiling Faunus giggles merrily, "How did I get here? Now that is quite a story. It all started when I was running through a forest glade one day, playing my pipes as I usually do when I came across a rather large and fat human. He introduced himself as “The Caliph”. He told me that he thought my music was beautiful. He danced with me. He was quite spry for someone so fat! He offered me food and drink. It was delicious. His hospitality was without measure. Then he asked if I wanted to see his home. I could not refuse such a gracious host. He said it was close by. He somehow used some sort of magic trick because in the blink of an eye we were here in this lovely place." Faunus gestures about the greens. “It is a place of great peace and tranquility. Abundant food and drink is available and I have my flock to tend to. The Caliph explained that if I used my pipes to keep the flock docile and happy, I would be rewarded with all the great food and drink his hospitality could provide. I have been here ever since. When the humans first arrive they are so sad or angry or confused but the music of my pipes soothes them. It wipes all their troubles away. I can make them dance. Do you want to see? If you untie me, I will play and we can all dance together.”

“Quagmire, with all due respect, it does not sound like he is a prisoner here—it sounds like he is “rewarded” for his services. What leads you to believe that he is imprisoned here?"

There is a dark scowl on Dorian’s face during this conversation. Though his words are not very loud, you all feel intense passion behind them.

“Quagmire, it’s those exact pipes that allowed all those tieflings to blast me one step away from Arvandor. I think Faunus here should not be untied, he will use his pipes to attack us, to lull us off to sleep or whatever. I don’t think he knows anything that is particularly useful right now. He blatantly attacked me and I don’t trust him. We need to focus our attention on that Tiefling in order to get the information we seek. I also think you should focus your talents on this enchantment that is keeping the humans in their herd mind. I do believe you have the capability to figure out at way to jog the humanity back into them. Faunus’ received a large gift from us, his life. He should be so thankful.”

Shan Val steps up to the Satyr and says, "Fannus, I have spent time in the fae courts under the dreaming sky with the sidhe lords. I will know if you speak false. Can you free these humans from the glamour placed on them? Will you swear by the fae lords and the king of the court that you did nothing more than watch them and keep them under your glamour? By oak, ash and rowan, do you swear you did not know that the Caliph tooks these souls from here and killed them and ate their flesh?

Quagmire’s pipe drops out of his mouth at Shan Val’s speach…

“Goodness gracious me.”

As if noticing Shan Val for the first time, Faunus suddenly gives him his full attention. All mirth drains from his face. A look of total seriousness overcomes his visage. He stares intently at Shan Val as he speaks. His eyes go wide and he looks around as if some danger was lurking in the shadows ready to strike. “Be careful human. Do invoke the King of the Seelie Court idly.” He looks at ShanVal again staring at him his jaw dropping wide open. “I see what is inside of you human…” A look of terror overcomes Faunus. He shakes his head as if awakening from a dream looking away from Shan Val. “If you let me play my pipes again, I can free the humans from the glamour I spun on them with my pipes. I swear by the fae lords and the king of the court that I did nothing more than calm them and make them docile with my glamour. I never hurt anyone in my flock. I cared from them like they were my very own pets. By Oak, Ash and Rowan I swear I do not know what the Caliph or his Tieflings did with the humans either before or after they came or left greens. If it is as you say and they ate of their flesh, then I am truly sorry. That is a most unexpected and horrific outcome. I am sad for the role I played in it.”

Quill gets an intense sense of earnestness and truthfulness in Faunus. He is clearly very afraid and respectful of whatever it was Shan Val was referring to. You think he believes in whatever the oath was that he took.

Shan Val says, “Praxxis, with that oath he has spoken the truth and I believe him. I say we have him free these people once we learn what we can from the hellsworn.”

Praxis looks at Shan Val and smiles, “perhaps you should do the interrogating! I trust your judgment Shan Val but I still think it unwise and unwarranted to free him. Let him free the humans and let’s remove whatever charm remains on them. Faunus willful ignorance is no defense for his crime and he should be tried for those crimes.”

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Assault on the Underchurch

The game started with Dorian attacking Zara after she revealed her squid legs. Mother Sharallan came out from behind the curtain and launched a huge burst 2 attack that pounded on Gozu, Shan Val, Dorian, and Olliver. The wee rat was frozen solid atop the bookcase. Everyone else was hit for nasty cold damage and worse immobilized. Alderman Ritter followed up with a similar burst attack that again rocked the same folks. Quagmire luckily got to go next and was able to get out of his dangerous forward position by moving back into the corner by the bookcase. Everyone else was stuck by the immobilization and the thuggish cultists and fish men pressed in for the attack. One of the cultists thugs pulled the bookcase over on Quagmire. In a really cool move, Quagmire used his staff of winter’s shielding capability to protect himself. The bookcase shattered on the invisible force field around him and books careened across the floor creating difficult terrain that would effect the battle to come.

The fish men and thugs tried to overwhelm the group but Gozu really held his ground. He took an incredible beating in multiple rounds of pitched fighting but his Goliath ability to absorb some damage and his regeneration power really helped him stay on his feet (not to mention a nice healing from Dorian and a second wind). Curiously the cultists seemed to be ignoring Quill as he had been somehow charmed by Zara Ritter. Zara dove into the pool and bid Quill to forget about his armor and to just dive in with her. Luckily Dorian hit Quill with a tanglefoot bag, preventing him from moving until he could shake off the effects of the charm. After he made his save he went right after Mother Sharallan and Alderman Ritter who were in the back laying down serious ranged attacks. Quill was able to lock them down and force them to attack him using their mace and longsword respectively. That really helped turn the tide because those attacks were far less effective than their ranged and burst attacks.

Shan Val had a tough time moving around the battlefield as he does mostly because the enemies he kept cursing refused to die. They all had a lot of HP and his fey pact rarely came into play.Sunshine did a good job playing Shan Val, using the rod of feywild to move to a better location, using witchfire to burn Mother Sharallan, using the crown of stars early and continuing to pound enemies with it in later rounds. He did the cool teleport, blow up and escape move that really helped at one point.

Although there were some pretty close moments, no one has gone down (yet) and you guys managed to slay Mother Sharallan and a bunch of the other bad guys. Gozu had a wicked charge attack on Sharallan that missed by 1. But he followed it up with an action point and unleashed a daily on her, cutting her down in viscous fashion. Many enemies are still up, however, and the battle could still turn either way. I am excited to see what happens. Well done everyone. It has been a long battle and the circumstance made it difficult to focus on particular enemies. They also have a had a lot of HP. Hopefully we could finish the battle in a night time game before the in person game.

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Skull Puzzle

Quill and Quagmire perform the hand of fate ritual perfectly. The ritual scroll burns away to dust as its magic is released and the spectral hand appears. Quill steps forth and says aloud, “in order to open this door,” Quill points at the door to the north, “which color skull should be placed in the cauldron first?”

Everyone holds their breath as the spectral hand begins to move. It floats gently over to the pile of golden painted goblin skulls and definitively points at the golden pile. Everyone starts to exhale slowly until the spectral hand moves again. Quill’s eyebrow arches in surprise and wee Olliver hides in his master’s beard.

The spectral hand floats over to the purple colored skull pile and definitively points at the purple pile. Quagmire manages a “hrmph” as he clenches his pipe in his teeth. Olliver peeks out from Quagmire’s beard only to hide again as the spectral hand begins to move for a third time. The hand floats over to the black painted skull pile and points definitely at the black skulls.

There is a deathly quiet as everyone waits to see what happens next. The hand begins to move once more and Gozu exclaims, “What in the Hells? Will it ever stop?”

But the hand floats over to Quill and hovers in the air expectantly awaiting another question. Quill obliges,“in order to open this door (he points) what color skull should be placed in the cauldron second?”

The hand responds by floating through the air to once again point at the gold, purple, and then finally the black pile in succession before returning to Quill.

Quill continues, "in order to open this door ( he points ) what color skull should be placed in the cauldron third?

Again the magic hand of fate points to the gold, purple, and black skull piles in succession. Then it fades away to nothing and the divination ritual is complete.

Dorian blurts out, “I knew it. Gold, purple, and black. Those were the colors we saw on the standard of this keep outside remember? It was a bit faded over time but it was clearly a two headed golden hawk upon a shield of purple and black. A very fine code of arms indeed.”

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Interrogation of Lurash

With Quagmire and Gozu covering the closed door, Dorian drags the human female over to the barrels and checks her bonds. The ropes and chains are tight and secure. Shon Val fills his wine glass and leans lazily against the barrels behind Dorian. Quill stands off to the side fingering his sharpening stone.

Dorian crouches down next to the woman and tends to her wounds. He applies a makeshift bandage to a deep cut on her shoulder with a torn bit of her cloak (healing check 19). He then puts his hand on her head and whispers into her ear. Soft melodious words stir something inside her and her eyes suddenly snap open. Dorian takes a quick step back as she struggles briefly against her bonds, testing them, but seems to soon realize there is not escape. Her body relaxes and she shakes her head.

Dorian bows with a flourish of his cloak. “Greetings my dear. It seems you are in a bit of a pickle. My friends here are intent on sending you to your grave.” Shon Val leans in with a menacing look; eldritch flames crackling about his raised fist (intimidate 17). She stares defiantly back at both Dorian and Shon Val, “You fools don’t scare me. Do you know what horrors lie within these walls? If you were smart you would turn around, climb up that ladder, and get as far away from here as you can.”

Dorian smiles, “Now now… Let’s not be hasty here. I don’t want to see you harmed further, but that depends a lot on you.” He pushes Shon Val back and steps forward, offering her a drink from his waterskin. She shakes her head no. Dorian puts the skin away and continues, “Tell me my dear, what is your name?” (diplomacy 26) The woman narrows her eyes and seems to relax a little bit. “My name is ”/campaigns/knights-of-goldenhawk-tower/characters/lurash" class=“wiki-content-link”>Lurash Taloncroft. Why did you come here and kill my friends?"

Dorian shakes his head, “No, no my dear ”/campaigns/knights-of-goldenhawk-tower/characters/lurash" class=“wiki-content-link”>Lurash. I am afraid I am the one asking the questions here. What were you and your people doing here?" [diplomacy 25] She replies, “We serve our master by guarding the tower from brigands like you.”

“Who is your master and what does he want with this tower?” Dorian presses. “My master is a powerful wizard and his plans for this place are his own. I suggest you leave before he discovers you are here.” Dorian glances at Quill who simply nods slightly the fingers on his whetstone still."

“Ah yes, Lurash I am sure your master is powerful indeed, I am sure he will be quite pleased with your efforts to protect the tower.” Lurash frowns and grows quiet. Dorian leans in close, “Where are you and your people from Lurash?”

“We are from Cormyr,” she replies quickly. The slow rasping sound of Quill’s whetstone upon his drawn blade fills the empty air (Insight 26). Dorian shakes his head, “Come now, Lurash, if you are going to make it out of this alive, you are going to have to be truthful with me. I don’t believe for a minute you are from Cormyr. In fact I know for a fact that you are from Netheril. Tell me that I am wrong.” (Bluff 20)

Lurash looks around quickly and then sighs, “Will you set me free if I tell you what I know?”

Dorian shakes his head, “I am afraid I cannot offer you that. However, I can offer you your life. If you cooperate truthfully, we will deliver you unharmed to the authorities in ”/campaign/knights-of-goldenhawk-tower/wikis/brindol" class=“wiki-page-link”> Brindo to stand trial. If you had nothing to do with the attacks there, you should have nothing to fear."

Lurash narrows her eyes, weighing her options. “Agreed.” Quill stops sharpening his blade.

Dorian smiles and offers his waterskin to Lurash again. She drinks heartily this time. Dorian says, “Yes, there we go. I am glad we could make an arrangement. Now who is ”/campaigns/knights-of-goldenhawk-tower/characters/sithian" class=“wiki-content-link”>Sithian?"

“”/campaigns/knights-of-goldenhawk-tower/characters/sithian" class=“wiki-content-link”>Sithian is my lord and master. He is a Netherese shadow mage from the City of Shade in Netheril. "

“Who is Prince Shadar?”

Lurash’s face grows dark and fearful, “Prince Shadar is a Shadovar. He is one of the 12 princes of Shade. He lords over the great Shadar family estates and armies.”

“What is this tower?”

“It was originally the home of a powerful elf wizard and human warrior. They fought in the goblin wars some time ago in this region. The tower was destroyed in a large battle during the beginnings of the first war with the Red Hand of Doom. Giants and hobgoblins destroyed the tower and slew the inhabitants, but a secret crypt remained hidden from them. You have just entered the crypt. There is something here my master wants, but I don’t know what it is.”

“What’s behind this door? Where does it lead?”

“I am not allowed beyond this door. Master Sithian and his Shadar Kai are the only one’s allowed deeper into the crypt.”

“Are there any other attacks planned on Brindol?”

“I don’t know anything about Brindol other than Sithian has made some sort of arrangement with the local hobgoblin tribes. The hobgoblin attacks and dangerous roads have kept folk away from these ruins and left us in peace, until you showed up.”

“Who is the ”/campaigns/knights-of-goldenhawk-tower/characters/sithian" class=“wiki-content-link”>emissary?"

“The emissary is the pseudonym used by Master Sithian when dealing with the hobgoblin tribes. We are all under strict orders not to use our real names or to reveal to anyone that we are from Netheril.”

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