We’ve left the temple in the hands of the local authorities, with the expectation that a proper Mystran priesthood will arrive from Saerloon within 5 days. After an initial foray into the temple and the dispatch of some of its guards and priests, we turned the evidence that the temple was, in fact, a front for a Sharran cult to some purpose over to the authorities, who finished the job, at some cost to their military might. The Kingfisher Company is pursuing the matter further.
Would you like the complete tale? Of course you would. I will pick up after my last letter.
Intending to investigate the temple from within, I first decided to investigate from without, asking about the town. There was little to learn from the people of this unfamiliar city concerning the temple itself—-they didn’t go. The tract from the temple was inviting mostly to vagabonds and adventurers. People who wouldn’t be missed.
Tanner scouted the temple itself, discovering the schedules of the guard changes and the comings and goings of the ‘faithful’. Fingal asked about after the guards. They were brought to town with the rest of the temple’s staff, and kept to themselves. Quintus sought the aid and comfort of his own kind, the clergy.
Very little existed to counter this false temple’s claims to both revealed knowledge or Mystra’s sacred trust. In fact, the only text I could find in town that may have provided any guidance as to the specifics and timing of Mystran rites had been stolen, along with the Amanic Basult, the bookseller on whose shelf it rested. This proved to be the single enlightening clue that
all was not as it seemed, apart from Tunaster’s original testimony.
I promised his wife Mela that I would do my best to return her husband, or at least give her the closure of being a widow. Couldn’t help but clean up the shop though—such organization chaos grates on the nerves. I have since informed her of her husband’s demise and offered what scant aid and comfort I could.
I’ll continue, but first an aside:
I have revered Oghma as a primary patron for most of my adult life. Oghma, Mystra, and Deneir—Knowledge, Magic, and Literature, in that order. Knowledge reveals the mysteries, and the mysteries inspire the arts. I could almost—ALMOST—join the Oghman clergy. Not cut out for the cloth, though; not only that, Oghma has not revealed himself to me in any way.
The gods of our world, however, aren’t abstract concepts—they are people in their own right, with their own goals and needs. They squabble like children. Children with advanced needs and minds and plots. That my companions and I are currently entangled in them? We should do our best to settle out on the side of good and right, to even in this minute instance aid the Mother of the Weave against Shar.
This isn’t to say that ‘good and right’ are defined by any particular faith or stricture. Quintus’ definitions of these terms begins to concern me. I had thought him a follower of Tymora, boldness and luck, but over the past few days I suspect he may have come into contact with the Lathanderite faith: truth, justice, and light. While his faith doesn’t require honesty or even recommend it, his recent increasing zealotry against it makes me wonder if another diety isn’t courting him and his culinary talents.
If he decides to switch teams to a more ‘forthright and upstanding’ faith I will of course understand and respect his decision, however he will no longer be an asset to this company or, I suspect, Those Who Harp.
Back to the story—-we are standing up against at least Shar, and possibly The Mad God as well. Pray that any success we have achieved is mirrored by others across our land, for this Temple was no doubt one of many such.
We prepared for our incursion: I gathered some materials from Hanno’s Herbs and Medicines, the martially inclined sharpened their weapons, Quintus sought the aid of the divine. Tanner Brookside and I were to sneak in with the help of some drow poison on well-placed arrows, while Fingal and Quintus would work from within, posing as faithful seeking deeper mysteries.
Several minutes after the potential victims were taken within, Tanner and I disabled the guards on the walls. (When next we meet, I will describe the temple in depth—-yes, there were walls, battlements, and soldiers.) While exploring the chambers of one of the temple’s priests, he arrived back at his room. He was unwilling to discuss and the matter was resolved violently. I am not proud of my behavior in that small stone room, but that is a part of this story you will never hear. In his possession was a ring of keys to many of the locks in the temple.
Also of note was a letter from Lady Arthas (the headmistress of this temple, killed at the hands of the Purple Dragons who would later finish securing the temple). It spoke of the need for more ‘recruits’, on the orders of Esvele passed through Despayr. Esvele is no doubt a person’s name. Despayr could be a place, or the kind of creature that would haunt my dreams. If you can find any information, please send it along.
While we were investigating this priest called Shan Thar, Fingal rejoined us. Together we bound the guards remaining outside the walls (sleeping). In their guard house was a unique opportunity to enter the temple without using the front door. It was neither pleasant nor comfortable, but in the end we found ourselves within the walls.
We donned our guises (two guard uniforms and Shan Thar’s high priest’s robes) and entered a lower chamber. The chamber contained a statue of Mystra, piled about with refuse and burned books. Burned books, dear. I know that the stricture against the destruction of knowledge is unique to our faith, but it still gave me pause, then anger. All three of my faiths violated in a single chamber. Clearly, firm proof was at hand that the temple was not what it seemed.
The chamber was guarded by two humans of unfamiliar shape and language. They were neither Sembian nor Cormyrian, and matched in form none I’ve encountered nor read about. In that chamber they were dispatched, along with some sort of refuse elemental. We continued to explore a library and a horrid chamber wherein a human taxidermist called Fembrys was practicing his art. (We would later learn that one of the human heads adorning the walls was that of the bookseller, Basult.)
In this horrid chamber was a letter from Lady Arthas, alerting us to the presence of prisoners somewhere nearby.
At the end of a long hallway adorned with statues of who I presume to be Shar, there was a door, beyond which a portal of some kind yawned. The portal bore the shape of a holy symbol of Shar, confirming my previous suspicions. We distracted the guards and headed up, to recover our companion Quintus from the petitioners.
As we entered the middle chamber, Fembrys was conducting the rite in clerical garb. He didn’t hear us enter, and was quick to fall. The guards—-accustomed no doubt to noise, if not screams from the middle chamber—-did not arrive to assist him. Those petitioners were set free, instructed to summon the Purple Dragons.
So it was, half a bell later, that reinforcements arrived in the form of Constal Maximanus Tholl and a company of Purple Dragons. They took control of the temple, dispatching its remaining inhabitants.
On the morrow, we spoke to Wheloon’s Lord, Sarp Redbeard. He informed us of Tholl’s actions, the existence of a prisoner we weren’t allowed near, and that we could search the temple for any remaining materials if we agreed to continue investigating this threat. I’m certain he feels terrible about the tax breaks he gave to the temple during its construction, but bureaucracy is what it is. He also gave us a map he’d recovered, presumably the path the victims were to take once they were ‘prepared’.
What was happening? Petitions were enter seeking Mystra’s Secret Trust. The temple staff would perform a powerful domination, sending them along the way as fodder for whatever scheme Shar and perhaps Cyric has in mind for them. Clearly this scheme targets Mystra, but the particulars have as of yet escaped me.
A tool in this effort is an artifact which I presume to be the Starry Gnosis, spoken of in Kimbryl 224, an ominous sphere that has proven immune to my divinations beyond the surface structure.
I’ve mentioned the Mad God; where does he figure in? It is no more than a suspicion: we discovered an ornate book lionizing the Dark Gods in the temple. The two spoken of most highly were Shar and Cyric.
persecutus est altius mysterium
We stayed in Wheloon until the 14th of Eleint. I crafted additional tools to help us pursue the deeper mystery, and purchased some supplies. I’ve devised a method to quickly convert acrane scrolls into cards for ease of storage and retrieval. It’s simply a matter of a few folds and then binding them into the deck. My own repertoire is now much more flexible, if exorbitantly expensive.
Another shortcoming of our company lies with our in our inability to get a fecking door open. To this effect, I’ve constructed a device I’m calling an arcane key until I can come up with something more suitable for posterity. I’m including its particulars here, that they may be interred into the records.
- a key from the chain of a defeated enemy focuses the conflict against a mechanical foe
- grease stolen form a locksmith’s toolkit as sympathy against locksmiths and their products
- wire of brittle iron, silver, and steel brittle for the mechanism, flexible for the magic, strong for the will of the wielder
- two cubits of string from a marionette adds sympathy for the motion of mechanisms within the lock itself
- a binding form in three parts, form 12, 6, and 4 augmented with a reflexor matrix, inscribed
- the captured energies are of knock, cat’s grace, and prestidigation
The rest follows the rituals of the proper form. Page 441 of Art and Artifice.
I’ve also taken the time to construct the most basic of _Artifice_’s tools, the Artificer’s Lens. There is a lensman in Wheloon that can bend glass of sufficient quality. This should’ve been completed in Baldur’s Gate, but there were other things on my mind.
We set out from Wheloon in pursuit of the dominated petitioners, using the map they were given as a guide. We encountered the first stop on their journey, and a group of creatures awaiting them. We’ve dubbed them “hoofers”, because they look like slightly melted goblins made of gray candlewax with hooves. They can apparently grow quite large. They were discovered at the Tomb of Chonis, from which I’m writing this missive. Given the delay before I can send this, I will not include the usual postscripts, however I’ve copied the pertinent maps for your amusement.
We are in over our heads. Pray to Oghma, Mystra, and Deneir that our knowledge is not lost in death.
As ever I remain,
Your humblest servant,
(main text decoded 1462 DR from the recovered journals of Randal Haldane, Candlekeep. inner text decoded from identical copy using secondary cipher, 1475 DR Silverymoon.)
nothing left to report
- unidentified chakram
- starry gnosis still a mystery
- wand of bane, 2x scroll of cure moderate wounds, 2x scroll of cure serious wounds, potion of undetectable alignment, 3x scroll of lesser restoration to Quintus
- 3x potion of cure light wounds, 3x arrow of orc slaying, lens of detection to Tanner
- 3x potion of cure light wounds, dagger +1 to Fingal
- scroll of cure moderate wounds, scroll of cure serious wounds, slippers of spider climbing, potion of undectable alignment to Jon
- circlet of silver and gold wire (2750 gp) remains in Jon’s bag for convenience
- cash fucking money distributed during session
- Jon: 100%, has used all permanent cards.