Knights of Goldenhawk Tower

Exploring Babba Yagga's Hut

Passing through the purple portal, the party found themselves in an underground tunnel. They cautiously began to travel down the hallway to a door, opened the door, passed through it, went up a flight of stairs came to another door and continued to navigate the tunnels and stairs. (see attached image “5 caverns visual aid.jpg”).

As the traveling continued, everyone began feeling tired. And after an insight check, Praxis got the feeling that the group was somehow going through the same places again and again. Shan Val used his arcana to detect a powerful glamor on the tunnels that magically misdirected, transported you to random places, and tried to put you to sleep. Thus began a very difficult skill challenge where each round everyone had to make an endurance check to keep from falling asleep as they attempted to escape the warded caverns. Invariably someone would succumb and collapse into sleep. Dorian’s heal checks and Redbeard “slap ’em silly” technique would be employed to wake them up while the others who did not succumb to the sleep attempted to navigate the passageways. Arcana was used to suppress the glamor. Insight was used to escape the mind clouding magic. Dungeoneering was used to keep track of where the party had been and how the construction of the tunnels interacted with the dweomers upon them. Some lesser skills were used to provide bonuses on the very difficult high DC primary checks. Diplomacy was used to focus everyone’s efforts. History was used to recall information about similar traps and how they were avoided. Thievery was used as a mundane means of marking doors and passageways to help identify them and see where things were recurring.

Complete success to escape the warded caverns was 12 successes before 3 failures. Also if everyone failed their endurance checks and fell asleep, it was effectively a loss of the challenge as well. Although the arcana checks were pretty easy, they were limited to 4 successes along with dungeoneering and insight. So the challenge was hard. A good balance had to be reached and in some cases if too many failed their endurance checks and fell asleep, the party would take a round just getting everyone awake and not moving forward. At one point all but 1 character had fallen asleep and there were 2 accumulated failures before the final success was won. It certainly came down to the wire. But eventually the party finally made it though and reached the next purple portal and passed through it.

On the other side of the purple portal they found themselves in a maze of stone tunnels with the unnerving presence of many inanimate but life like statues scattered throughout. (see attached image “6 – The Maze Map.jpg”). As the party warily moved through the maze, they were suddenly attacked by 2 medusa archers up on a wooden platform 15 feet off the ground with a ladder running up to it. Quill felt the bite of two arrows and could feel their poison coursing through his body. But he shook it off and sprinted towards the medusa. A pit opened up beneath him and he tumbled down towards the spikes 20 feet below.

Any other man would have been doomed, but Quill made good use of his new grandmaster training that he received from the elves that were freed from the Crown of Shadows. Quill used Davros Elden’s Aerial Step to float gently down to the bottom of the pit, take no damage from the fall, and always land on his feet. He then used a combination of moves to fly and teleport up to the top of the platform and pound the medusas and knock them off the platform and into the pit. In an awesome turn of advantageous terrain for the enemies into disadvantageous terrain, Quill turned the tables on them knocking them into their own pit. It was pretty awesome. One of them tumbled in but the other managed to grab the edge of the platform and hold on. The next round it was able to try to use its gaze attack to turn him to stone, but Quill made his saving throw and knocked it down into the pit for good measure.

Everyone’s high fives and joy about Quill’s awesome maneuver was short lived, however, as three oblivion wraiths phased out of the walls and floors to surround Dorian and attack. Praxis saved Dorian by using his power that let them switch places. Dorian was safely out of harm’s way but Praxis was in trouble. The oblivion wraith’s Nihil Strike attacks ignored his armor and instead attacked reflex and devastated him with necrotic damage. Praxis fought back but the wraiths were regenerating and insubstantial. The other really tough thing about them was their Nihil aura which prevented those within 2 squares of them to take necrotic damage and be unable to spend any healing surges unit the state of their next turn. Sir Praxis was able to use radiant attacks on the Oblivion Wraiths to prevent them from regenerating but their insubstantial natures allowed for half damage from all attacks. It might be hard to see in the picture but Praxis went down and is currently in big trouble bleeding to death at the feet of the Oblivion wraiths.

That is where we stopped. Although the medusa were effectively neutralized by Quill’s awesome maneuvering, the Oblivion Wraiths remain a big obstacle and Praxis is in very serious danger.

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Babba Yagga's Dancing Hut

But Wait… There’s more… Finding the Dancing Hut, the party approached cautiously with stealth. This is what they saw:
Before you stands the fabled dancing hut. The structure
is a small log cabin, roughly fifteen feet across and fifteen feet tall. It is hexagonal in shape, with no windows and one door, and it sports a peaked roof made of wooden shakes. A small stone chimney juts from one edge of the roof. The hut is perched on two giant chicken legs, each fifteen feet tall and two feet thick at their slimmest.

The hut is in the center of a hundred-foot-diameter circle formed by a fence. The fence is four feet tall and con- structed from intertwining wooden posts that seem to have grown out of the ground. Spaced evenly along the tops of the posts are twelve skulls of various humanoid races. A five-foot-wide gate made of bleached bones stands between two of the posts. Bones in the gate are oriented vertically, but a few of them form a toothy mouth.

A few trees are interspersed around and within the fence’s circle.

3 dancing hut map

From a hidden position behind some trees outside of the fence, Shan Val used the “Wizard Sight” ritual to place a sensor inside the hut and look around. This is what Shan Val saw:

The interior of the hut looks like the hovel of an old peasant. It contains a small wooden table with a wash basin on it and 2 chairs next to it. The floor is packed earth, and the walls and ceiling are of simple wooden construction.

A stove stands along one wall, its pipe leading to the chimney above. A tattered quilt lies against one wall. The floor and the shelves on the walls are littered with tattered clothing, utensils, and sewing supplies. Several candles glow in various places.

They could not see around the one other door that was in the room but there were no immediate threats so they decided to approach the Gate together as a group. Dorian stepped up to examine The Gate of bleached bones for some sort of enchantment when a magic mouth sprung to life in the middle of the gate. The mouth said, “Welcome to BabaYaga’s domain. Kindly state your business or be on your way.” Dorian turned on the charm and tried to bluff his way in saying that they had important business with Baba Yaga. His Silver Tongue proved a valuable asset as he convinced the gate to open and allow entry. So everyone made their way through the gate and approached the hut. Shan Val wanted to examine the door but it was 15 feet up in the air. The hut was standing up on the 15 foot long giant chicken legs. In order to get up there and try to open the door, Quill and Shan Val began to try and climb the chicken legs to reach the door. As soon as they touched the chicken legs, however, the legs burst into motion. They delivered a flurry of kicks in all directions injuring many of the party members. The hut began to spin around furiously and run around inside the fence.

After some consideration using their arcana skill, Shan Val and Dorian agreed that it was their thinking that as a magical construct of some sort, if the party could do enough damage to the hut, it would stop its wild dance and settle down enough to allow entry. And so a wild battle broke out between the Dancing Hut and the adventurers. (During the beginning of the battle, I played the attached music which is actually written to describe Baba Yaga’s hut from Russian folklore – “The Dancing Hut.m4a”)

The battle began with the hut bending over and unleashing a sheet of flames from its chimney to burn the party. This minor action caused considerable fire damage and left those hit by it on fire with ongoing damage. The Hut’s favorite tactic was to move and dance through party member squares and kick them forcibly with its strong chicken legs. These kicks not only did lots of damage but also sent the unfortunate person hit flying 6 squares to land in a heap. In order to escape the rampaging hut and get some distance between himself and those terrible chicken legs, Sunshine had Shan Val teleport closer to the fence and away from the Hut which was in the middle of the fenced in area. Unfortunately Shan Val soon discovered that the skulls on top of the fence were traps that blasted those who got too close with fire. He tried teleporting further away but just got in range of some more of the skulls that were evenly spaced around the permitter of the fence. So in a frustration of fey teleport movement, Shan Val got cooked by many of the skulls and found out how the trap worked the hard way.

During the course of the battle, Dorian was able to disable a skull or two. Redbeard and Shan Val did lots of damage to the Hut. Quill had some cool maneuvers where he saved party members from attack by the interrupting the attack, teleporting the hut to the edge of the fence and having it attack the skulls instead thereby destroying them. Redbeard was on fire for much of the battle, but he laughed it off as he made good use of his resist 10 fire spellscar. Others did not fare as well. Almost all healing magic was used during the tough battle with Praxis going down for a bit as I recall. Another fun thing that happened was that Redbeard was punted outside the fence. Since it was only 4 feet high, he got up and tried to make an athletics check to jump over it and return to the fray. Unfortunately he found out that the fence could grow up to 15 feet to keep out intruders. He leaped up, smashed into the fence, and slid down to the ground, flustered and bewildered.

The Hut had 592 hit points so it took a long while to bring it down. But Sir Praxis who is now known by his monicker “The Closer” which Sam relished and referred to all day reminding everyone that he had the killing blow. A mighty strike of holy furor brought the Hut low. Its legs finally stopped moving and it slowly sat down, the floor of the Hut finally touching the earth. It was an epic battle to be sure and everyone agreed that Paragon level is no joke.

Unsure of how much time they had before the Hut might regain its restlessness, the party decided against a short rest. Even tough they really needed the rest, they instead rushed to the door. There was no door handle nor key hole nor any way to seemingly open it. Quill looked closely finding no traps but that it was wizard locked. Shan Val stepped up and using his arcana sprung open the the wizard lock and the door opened. The room on the inside looked just like it did when using the “Wizard Sight” ritual. Quill, however, heard something stirring in the next room beyond where they could see. Still, wanting to ensure everyone made it inside, the party rushed forward and everyone went inside, closing the door behind them. A quick search of the adjacent room revealed a peasant bedroom of sorts. Quill was surprised by a pair of reflective eyes when he peered into the darkness but found they belonged to a house cat who warily eyed him suspiciously but otherwise seemed harmless.

The rooms seemed secure except for the cat who seemed harmless enough. Dorian gave the cat some food and the cat settled down on the bed content to eat and look around. However, Quill decided to look at him closely and discovered that the cat was a familiar about the same time as it spoke in elvish asking for some more food. The party gave some more food and began a conversation with the cat whose name was Vladimir. He said that he was supposed to be guarding the Hut but that he was bored with the job after so many years and that you were welcome to try and enter if you like. Dorian got Vladimir to reveal that he was Baba Yaga’s familiar and that he hadn’t seen the old hag in a long time – months at least. He wasn’t sure if she was in or out but that she did spend a lot of time away from the hut these days. Quill found a hidden trap door covered by an illusion under the table. Shan Val was able to dispel the illusion and knock open the wizard locked door. However, he luckily avoided the trap that was laid on the trapdoor in the form of a powerful Baba Yaga curse – curse of the Morphing Flesh which over time will turn you into a slime devil. Below the trapdoor was a purple light which looked to be a portal of some kind. Vladimir confirmed that it was a portal that would whisk you away to the next room in Baba Yaga’s hut. There are hundreds of such portals that connect the rooms of the hut together.

The party took a short rest to heal up, thanked Vladimir, and jumped down through the portal to be whisked away deeper into the Hut.

-DM

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Unearthing the Spell Journal of Arian Dane

Confident that Elaith and Jarath (Quill’s father) were the one’s in the vision and present in this location, the party kept the dagger and climbed down into the ruined tower. Curious about the book, Quill searched very carefully and managed to find a hidden chest that was cloaked in a “Conceal” ritual. After a few attempts Shan Val was able to use his arcana to open the chest which was wizard locked. Once opened, the chest appeared and revealed its contents – a brown leather bound book. A quick examination of the book revealed that it was “The Spell Journal of Arian Dane”. Dorian’s history skill revealed that Arian Dane was a powerful human wizard who was the head of the college of wizardry in Ormpetarr before the fall and Spellplague unleashed its ravages upon Ormpetarr.

It was decided that Quill would perch on top of the ruined wall on guard duty while everyone took an extended rest. During the extended rest Quill experimented with his magic and was able to harness his arcana skill to tamp down the effects of the spell plague. He in effect learned how to avoid the dangerous unpredictability of the spellplague effects and taught this method to Dorian and Shan Val. Now the three no longer need to roll percentile dice when using arcane powers… unless they want to risk a bad effect in hopes of a good one.

Shan Val read the Spell Journal of Arian Dane during the extended rest and tried to gain as much information as possible from the book. It was a nonmagical book and was a kind of diary written by Arian Dane. No one got much rest finding the Spellplague draining each individual’s fortitude defense and limiting the number of healing surges regained from resting. But Shan Val found the end of the book the most interesting. It describes how the human wizards of Ormpetarr unearthed a building buried under the city called “the emerald tower”. It was of an architecture foreign and unknown to them, but they suspected was built by the elves long ago. Inside the tower was a shrine to Sehanine Moonbow, the elven goddess of the moon and wife of Corellon Larethian. Also in the Emerald Tower was a creature in stasis – interred in the tower like a prisoner. This creature was known as “The Sharn” – a terribly powerful ancient creature of magic said to be the deadly enemy of the Phaerim in the long ago days of the Netherese and Cormanthyr empires. Arian Dane and his human wizards in Ormpetarr were wise enough to be very extremely cautious around the creature imprisoned in the Emerald Tower. They studied the wards that held it in stasis within and studied the shrine of Sehanine. This worked well for quite some time until the day that Mystra, the goddess of magic died. The resulting rift in magic at Mystra’s death either broke the spells imprisoning the Sharn or weekend them enough for him to escape. Either way The Sharn was freed from his prison, but this was unknown to the wizards of Ormpetarr until it was too late. One by one, The Sharn captured the wizards and used his fell magic to twist and corrupt them into hideous deformed snake creatures. Arian Dane discovered this after many were turned, so he gathered up what wizards remained and they launched an assault on the emerald tower. That was the last entry almost exactly correlating to the start of the Spellplague.

After mulling over what he had read, Shan Val suspects that The Sharn somehow profaned the shrine of Sehanine Moonbow and perhaps unleashed the Spellplague. Quill thinks that perhaps Elaith and his father, Jarath, had obtained Shalay Marel (The Silver Disk artifact of Sehanine) to try and cleanse the altar. Based on the maps and the notes in the spell journal, Shan Val has a pretty good idea where the emerald tower was located within the Ruins of Ormpetarr. It is no more than an hour or so journey from their present location in the ruined tower. However, using the magic map ritual with Elaith’s dagger, the party discovered Elaith’s position to be 45 miles to the northeast in the Chondalwood. Since Quill was very keen to find his father and it seemed to the group that the silver disc was key to whatever needed to happen in the Emerald Tower, they decided to venture out of the swamps of The Plaguewrought Land and into the Chondalwood in search of Baba Yaga, the witch of Chondalwood. And since Elaith seemed so adamant that the book not fall into the hands of the witch, the party decided to return it to the concealed chest and bury the chest in its original hiding spot at the bottom of the ruined tower.

Using a message ritual, the party sent word to The Goldenhawk crew of Tormtar Knights to fly the sky ship to a rendezvous point for extraction outside the plaguewrought lands. Dorian still was wary about bringing the ship anywhere close to the unpredictability of the spellplague. The group was picked up and got a proper rest en route to the location of Elaith using the magic map, deep in the Chondalwood. On the way, the party wanted to learn as much as possible about the powerful old hag they suspected they would face going after Elaith and Jarath. Shan Val used the “Consult Mystic Sages” ritual to find out that Baba Yaga was an ancient and powerful hag and powerful wizard. She used to be a peasant farmer that was fond of chickens. She now lives in a hut that walks on magical chicken legs. It can travel from place to place. The hut is much bigger on the inside than out and is said to span different planes of existence. Baba Yaga is said to have traveled all across Faerun, the outer planes, the Astral sea, even to other worlds. She has powerful magic and curses at her disposal and uses an enchanted mortar and pestle as a mount. She gets inside the mortar and pushes it along the ground with the pestle, sweeping her tracks away with a broom. Some say that the mortar can even be made to fly through the air. Baba Yaga has many slaves that defend her hut. Demons, devils, undead giants, hags, constructs, even half chicken half men creatures called Diaka that Baba Yaga made from the chickens from her original farm – all defend her home. Baba Yaga also has two foster human daughters – Elena and Natasha – that she took into her home long ago. Elena is known as “Elena the Fair” and is renowned for her beauty. Natasha now goes by the name “Iggwilv” and has left the hut to become one of the most powerful summoners in Faerun. She has bound many demons and devils to her will and tales say she is consort to the Demon Prince Graz’zt. Iggwilv’s infamous book Demonomicon is a tome of great legend.

Arriving as close as possible to the location using the magic map but unable to search the thick forest from the air, the party launched an away team that flew down to the forest floor to search for signs of Baba Yaga’s hut. Not long into the search, they came upon what must be it – Baba Yaga’s Dancing Hut (see – 2 Dancing Hut Visual Aid.jpg).

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Plaguewrought Land and Ormpetarr

The game began in the middle of a battle between The Goldenhawk Knights and a host of Gnome Plaguetouched-Ghouls that had surfaced from the swamps of The Plaguewought Lands. The undead host lead by a ghoul king rose from the deep swamps to attack with surprise. The ghoul king himself used his incredible strength to push a tree over on top of the group as the fight began. The battle was hard won with the ghouls and ghasts immobilizing party members and then unleashing their gut tongue (tongues that emerged from a toothy maw in their stomach) to lather the unfortunate victims in acid. Sir Praxis discovered that the evil creatures were vulnerable to light so he and Shan Val used Radiant powers to great effect against them. The terrain was difficult for Shan Val because the party was surrounded and he was having a tough time staying out of melee. At one point he teleported up into a tree thinking himself safe. Unfortunately, the ghoul king pushed the tree over on top of Quill severely injuring them both. Luckily neither was trapped under the tree but the resulting chaos on the battlefield was significant.

The Spellplague also influenced events both positively and negatively. A few times spells were weakened or nullified but other times they were boosted and changed. One notable plaguechanged attack by Shan Val turned a gnome ghoul into a statue of solid iron. I think he was rather fond of that one. The undead must have been voracious because they fought to the last ghoul trying to eat the party members but alas it was not to be. Despite being severely hurt and low on resources, the Goldenhawks decided to press on through the swamps of the plaguewrought land because they were very close to The Ruins of Ormpetarr.

Arriving in Ormpetarr (see attached image 1 ormeptarr map.jpg), the party found a large body of deep swamp water blocking their path. An old broken bridge partially spanned it but the middle 30 feet had fallen away blocking the path. Shan Val and Dorian used the Shadow Bridge ritual to weave the shadows of the swamp into a solid bridge across. Everyone easily crossed using the Shadow Bridge and found a number of bodies at the base of the a ruined tower. Dorian used his nature skill and heal skill to determine that the bodies belonged to the race of the Yuan Ti (half snake half men). The Yuan Ti had been dead for many months possibly a year. Redbeard athletically climbed up the 30 foot wall of the ruined tower to gaze down into the basement. He found another Yuan Ti body on top of the wall with a jeweled dagger buried in its skull. He also saw a shovel, a pick, and a pile of dirt as if something had been dug up in the bottom of the tower.

Redbeard returned to the group and brought the Yuan Ti body with him. Dorian inspected the dagger and found it to be non-magical but of elvish make. Shan Val took out his ritual book once again and cast “last sight vision” to reveal the last 10 rounds before the death of the creature. What Shan Val saw through the eyes of the dead Yuan Ti is described in this audio clip:

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1 ormpetarr map

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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.”

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