The Three Brothers

To the Llewellyn Outfit, via Sancella Gwainillhyr: Uktar 11, 1374 DR
"...titles granted, lands purchased, havens guarded."

My dearest and most favorite evil witch,

I hope you are well, and the newest additions to your grove have been to your satisfaction. I will endeavor to continue to discreetly steer those whom you will find promising your way (after proper vetting, of course—-I’m not of a mind to put you at any risk). May the Mother continue to guide you, and the Beast Lord grant you prowess on your hunts.

Thank you, additionally, for not offering the blood of my companions to satiate your patrons’ primal hunger despite their trespass into lands you and yours have claimed.

I hope our long friendship and correspondence will entitle me to request a small favor of you. As I have been unavoidably detained in recent weeks, and my cohorts have seen fit to continue their adventures in my absence (and without my counsel—-I fear for their well-being), I have lost track of their physical location. My last reliable intelligence places them somewhere on the eastern side of Gwynneth, and Quintus without his treasured spice collection. If it is within your capability and whim, please entice those beasts under your rule to deliver the enclosed note to them. I have included locks of both Quintus’ and Fingal’s hair to aid your furry and feathered allies in their tracking.

I will be in Llewellyn forthwith, and have something for you. I would be pleased to deliver it in person and wish you a fair Moonfeast. I will seek you in the usual places. If I fail, I will leave it with our friend at the Dolphin.

Good Hunting,

Jon

Enclosure:

Decode using 1371/Leafcutter.

HPR comm insecure, remember Saleca square. apologies for missing weeks, called to perm resolve tomb IRIA, est KNGFS ofc. residence and title established as lord jon taneloren, bona fides via BG, where probationary period ended and permits paid. profits obv up. returning to LWYN. if this finds you, i follow shortly. else, will remain at L.

(outer letter plaintext. enclosure block quote decoded 1462 DR by Astor Taneloren from personal records. posterity remains lodged with the Journals of Randal Haldane in Candlekeep.)

Translator’s note: This is the first missive sent after the establishment and recognition of the Taneloren lordship in Baldur’s Gate and Iriaebor, following the growth of the Kingfisher Co. It can be assumed this lordship was granted by favors and bribes, as Jon Taneloren neé Randal Haldane had not a single drop of blue blood in his body, a fact our family has always enjoyed. — Astor Talenloren, 1462

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From Black to Green
Fingal's Journal

Oktar 9

It has been a long time since I have been able to write any thoughts down. After defeating Despayr I wanted to relax. The tail end of that journey was hectic and quite frightening, almost lost a comrade in battle. Travelling through the shadow realm for days was an experience that I would never like to repeat. Despayr wanted to tear the weave for his own gain or something like that.

After slaying the dragon and properly skinning it we set our way back to Wheloon with a new Halfling friend in tow. It was about Eleint 28 or so when we made it back. We lost track of time in the Shadow plane. We spent a few days re-cooperating when a Sargent from the Purple Dragon Knights relayed a message that we were summoned to the Wyvern watch Inn in Suzail, possibly to meet the War Wizard Presmer Stamaraster. I was excited and nervous at the same time; I did not even know what to wear. He told us that they and a company of Purple Dragon Knights would clear the rest of the plane and fix the tear. He thanked us for our work. He told us we were then to meet Alusair in Suzail.

She is a remarkable warrior from the stories I have heard, one that strikes fear into orcs. Alusair personally thanked us for the work we had just done and to show her gratitude she’d take care of anything we needed and said she would officially charter us. I believe this took us all by surprise as I do not think any of us of the original group had thought it would come this far. We had been just a travelling band of adventurers that Harp for about two years. We had needed a name. Being from the Moonshaes, I thought of the name Gall-oglaigh or gallowglass in common as it means Foreign Warriors in Fflolk.

By Marpenoth 3 we headed to deal with a Green Dragon supposedly in the High Forest. This was for Quintus who had received this vision by Tymora. It took roughly a month to get there by boat and caravan, we stopped through Waterdeep for a day and then set to Loudwater. It did not take long for the dragon to appear and oddly enough did not seem as hostile as I would have thought. Instead he wanted to make a deal for the mace that Quintus needed to get from him. We would have to deal with some nearby druids. They needed to be removed according to him, I was not really sure why. Found one group not too long after and dealt with them, two yielded after two were slain. Now we just need to see if more need to be dealt with or not, and return to the dragon.

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A Flame into the Dark
Fingal's Journal entry

After meeting with our new friends we headed back to the Lost Refuge to enter the portal. With us came the ranged warrior Nick Hook, Dorn the Halbardier, and Maeve the sorceress. Jon received a message from Candlekeep, something about needing his presence. We gathered some items for our trip and headed out. Only took a quick couple days this time. With a heavy sigh we entered the portal, Quintus went first.

It was dark, light barely went passed 30 feet before it became a grey shadow and then black. We were warned that light and fire would be hampered in this plane. Once everyone got through there was a short discussion on clearing this place out to make it a base, a temporary one, just in case a need should arise. I thought it futile but agreed anyways. The layout of the Refuge was the exact same in the normal plane, save the statues in the normal one. It gave me the creeps. I walked to the door to the north of us with Hook and Dorn, I opened the door and gagged. The putrid smell of rotting flesh and decay was unexpected. The smell of those undead creatures we encountered two years ago smelled far better. The other two went in while I collected myself. Dorn stepped in and was immediately grappled by a man-tiger with four arms. I knew immediately I was going to hate the shadow plane. The damn thing was tough and what was worse was the macabre nature of the beast. Butcher like. There were meat hooks and dead bodies everywhere. Dorn was even placed on one. It took a while before he was put down by Maeve’s spell. Finally, someone else delivers the final blow for a change.

We continued upward to the stairs which revealed an observatory. Could see nothing but shadow and maybe a bit a head. There was a gatehouse and further down was a vessel docked. Before we left we took another trip back, since we hadn’t expected the high difficulty of enemies. Another few days, we were back in. Down the road revealed to be a river, I had a feeling once we went down there wouldn’t be an easy way back like Q had expected. As we closed in on the vessel and sneaked passed the gatehouse the vessel revealed to be full of skeletons and a shadow creature. I remember I took one of the Shar symbols and placed it on my chest, gave one to Q as well. I decided to bluff my way through, likely the only way to get in without drawing swords every other moment. After exchanging credentials, thanks to Q’s great memory, we played ourselves as underlings of some higher ups and delivering some dominated prisoners. Down the river we went.

The landing took us to a monastery. Departed from the boat and followed torch lit paths. Q got the idea of ringing the bell to signal our presence – it worked as the door opened ahead. Still leading the group, we went inside and found the altar. Standing guard was a mean looking golem. We tried bluffing again but it didn’t work, setting alarm to the golem which began to attack us. The attacks from the other three didn’t seem to hurt it at first, they were firing ranged weapons. I don’t know why either. But Q and I’s attacks seemed to have hurt it a bit. Maeve used a spell to create an image of a dragon to distract it, it had worked. Some of her spells seemed to have a great impact on it. It crumbled to dust.

Behind the altar, there was a little chest. I broke the lock to see the contents. It had a ceremonial dagger, chalice, and platter. They were for sacrifices. I’ll never understand the barbarism of some fanatics.

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The Lost Refuge
Fingal's Journal entry

Eleint 22

The next few days were hectic and dangerous. We arrived at the Lost Refuge and managed to get in. I have to give it to Jon. He is crafty. He managed to take out the entire crew of dark critters in that building at the end. We later learned that he took out the daughter of the dragon Despayr. Oops! After that the alarm was raised and guards poured out of the buildings!

There had to have been at least 15 enemies. Kettlehead took care of 5 or so with his Greater Turn, or something like that. Good move. What I didn’t see was the Will o Wisp that shocked the heck out of me. My sword couldn’t do damage, it took a particular strike I guess. Tanner pulled something from his sleeve and tangled the guards. About 7 or so. We took out our bows and began whittling them down. First with the weaker kobolds. But this one particular asshat annoyed me, I think he was the leader. I aimed a few shots his way and only a couple met. A lot of things just in the way. After a couple fell, Tanner released the spell and we went in. Jon managed to inspire two of their compatriots to our side. They helped a lot.

After taking some damage and getting in a few hits with my sword I felt Tempus guide my strikes, I annihilated one shadow creature and dealt heavy damage to the Will o Wisp. After a brief moment of relief the door opened to a cleric in full plate. Jon used a spell to make an illusion of a wall, I went in. I struck her, but she returned with a severely burning touch. Ouch. She soon fell. The rest of the party follow soon after.

I saw four other figures approach. They looked to be dominated. One was in armor, so I took him out – with non lethal force. He was outcold. We some how managed to persuade the other 3 to our side. After a long day, we decided to sleep in the guard house.

Next day was rainy and dreary, my perfect kind of day. Inside the other building, we found the gate to the shadowrealm. Jon said something about…shadoweave, Mystra…magic…I dunno.

We went up the keep. Encountered some enemies on the way, which scared Jon – he ran like something possessed him. After they fell, we continued up the stairs. I was first, just in case. And in a way, I’m glad, because as soon as I came up the first stair a large Khumat grappled me. It was a lot stronger than me, so I couldn’t get out. His bite was fierce, I never felt such pain. Poe and Murphy started swinging blades at it, which made it ungrapple me. Whew. The next thing I was Poe fall, blood poured out of her body. She was dead before she hit the floor. We started to retreat. As I threw a vial of acid (which did nothing) I saw the prisoners chained to the walls. ‘Oh great.’ We managed to get to the floor down.

Jon again saved the day with Suggesting the Khumat that maybe this wasn’t the best course of action, and released the prisoners, which included Ashala and the former chieftain. We left the damned place. The lizardfolk we met the couple days before met us, and took their kin with them. We wished them luck.

After this we decided to head back to Wheloon to recuperate and gather reinforcements. A dragon was out of our paygrade for just the four of us. We’d need help. It was an easy two day travel. Kethra greeted us at the Silvery Sembian Snail, what a wierd name, and took us to the VIP area to introduce us to our hired guns. Aklar the hexblade, Dorn a halbardier, and a Ranger…whose name escapes me.

Ha, Q “gave cooking lessons” that night with Kethra. Way to go, Kettlehead.

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Out of the Tomb and Back into the Dark
Fingal's Journal entry

Eleint 17, 1374

After clearing out the tomb of any opposition we searched the place for the so called stash. I began to doubt it even existed until someone found it. There was a casket of 20 udderdark wine bottles, gems worth 1000gp, and 6 royal outfits. Turns out those outfits were made of the same material from the cloth we smuggled in. I was already annoyed that none of this was as the merchants described, but I then felt insulted even more. We decided we’d take the outfits, a few bottles of wine, and a gem worth 200gp or so. It was only fair. And if the merchants thought otherwise, I didn’t care. We also scrounged what the dark creatures we slayed had. 4 short swords, 4 daggers, 4 masterwork longbows, 1 composite long bow, leather armor, and a rapier. Jon took the composite bow while we all took the other longbows. I took the daggers; never know when they’ll be useful.

The merchants waited outside for us. They seemed to be in a precarious mood for some reason. I really didn’t trust them and I wondered if they even cared if we lived or not. They agreed to our terms, so thankfully there wasn’t going to be another fight.

We moved onward to the lost refuge and after marching for several hours we decided to camp before night really fell. Tanner found some small hill to encamp. We made sure that we’d be covered should we make a fire and if any rain appeared. I took second watch the went to sleep, third watch with Tanner is where the action started.

Apparently, Jon and Tanner saw movement, which turned out to be lizardfolk. When I awoke, Quintus was scrambling around and I saw Tanner and Jon captive. I didn’t have time to don my armor, and being approached by two ogre size lizards doused the flames of any resistance. I looked around so see if any chance would come up but none ever arrived as they lead us through the swamp.

We were brought to their camp. They had the beginnings of a war party going on. They were gathering for something, war at the least. We were introduced to their leader Kessessek of the Sharptooth tribe. He soon released us after realizing we weren’t under some spell. They’ve had people come through under the domination spells similar to those in the temple. He told us of the Shadowscale tribe and how they fell victim to “darkness” and no longer slayed dragons but became its followers. A Ketsarra lead them now, supposedly the daughter of the dragon. A black dragon. Horns and all. Oh boy.

As Harpers do, we decided to help them out. We take the day and night to recuperate, and leave in the morning. We were talking about the details when Jon and Tanner spotted something in the air flying fast towards Kessessek. An aberration called a grell. It used its tentacles to grapple with Kessessek, it succeeded. Jon quickly through a net around it, preventing it from grappling much more. We had more trouble when several other figures appeared. I wondered where Kessessek’s army went and saw most scurried away. It was just going to be us. Tanner was hit with a few javelins, he was hurt pretty bad. Quintus had enough and casted something called Greater turning, it crumpled all of them to dust. We just had the grell to deal with. After a few good strokes of a sword it was dead. Kessessek thanked us for it.

The lost refuge was our next goal. I shall continue that tale in my next entry.

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To Madde: 18 Eleint, 1374 DR
"...bar the door and burn the house down."

Dearest Sister,

An interlude: two humble smugglers, as I have myself often been, found themselves at the mercy some creatures taking up residence where their secret, illegal warehouse is. ‘Adventurers’ happen by. They enlist said adventurers in the disposal of the creatures. They get the lion’s share of their merchandise back. Scene.

On to the meat of the the past couple of days—we were happened upon by the SharpTooth, a tribe of lizardmen plagued by troubles. One of their formerly allied tribes (then DragonSlayers on account of their prowess in and relish of the slaughter of black dragons—-allegedly) had fallen under the sway of one of their daughters, Tyra. She had/has slain them all and returned them to the world as ShadowScales, of whom the SharpTooth are terrified. They have also captured the tribe elder and the mate of the chief pro-tempore, Kessessek. The ShadowScale, their dark half-dragon mistress, and several serious looking and curiously armed tattooed gents were holed up at ‘the Lost Refuge’. The lizardfolk didn’t know it was called that, but it’s how it appeared on our map.

I will forgive them their trespass of my person (by which, I mean that they clubbed me senseless) since they inadvertently gave us intelligence on the the enemy. I will forgive them their cowardice in sending us in alone as that gave us opportunities for stealth and treachery of which we took good advantage. The literary rules of threes demands that I add another absolution, however I’m in a swamp and not feeling the touch of the Milil in this dank, moist hellscape.

The lizardfolk have witnessed the dominated initiates, whom they refer as dreamwalkers. I think that’s how they connected the Lost Refuge to the ShadowScale problem in the first place. I let Kessessek know that no more dreamwalkers should be hairing up his swamp, and that should they, he could send word via Wheloon and we’d see that it was taken care of. He has a missive with instructions for the gate guards along the Saerloon Road East, sealed by the Kingfisher company wax, should he need it.

This seems more wandery than usual, but I’m short on ink and paper and have been recently struck in the head and blown to bits.

Right, about that. Rather than heading in the front door pretending to be good little initiates, we decided to survey the Lost Refuge first. It has the feel of a church, or a waystation: a central building with a tower on the north end, surrounded on all sides by a 15’ wall. Within the walls was (presumably) a well-tended garden, now gone to seed, mud, and swamp. As I climbed the tower to get a look around, the roof of the main hall had fallen in here and there and afforded me a vantage. In that main hall, the half-dragon I mentioned earlier, ditto the several serious-looking tattooed men, and a swirling betendriled orb of shadow and mist.

Back in Scardale town—-I suppose I was 11 or so and you had not yet joined our merry band—-there was a competing/invading group of ne’er-do-wells. Whereas our operations tended to be benign and informational, this new crew were robbers and rapists and criminals. “Glass houses”, I hear you say. I was young. They were causing more attention to be paid to us than we liked, and were destroying the quid pro quo of our enterprise with the community. They had to go.

Our erstwhile benefactor, while he and I were discussing plans to deal with them said to me:

“Jon, sometimes there’s only one way to effectively deal with those who you can’t defeat by main force. Wait until their home, then bar the door and burn the house down.”

At the time, that seemed harsh, needlessly destructive, and messy to explain. It did indeed prove messy to explain. In the many years since, this phrase has come back to me on occasion. Sometimes in horrifying dreams, sometimes when planning an operation. These words came to me as I sat atop the crumbling main hall, filled to the brim with what I can only describe as certain doom for me and mine.

I dealt the cards, securing the southern exit from the room with the strong bonds of Karpas, the earth elemental in my service. I then loosed Nak, a fire elemental kin to Limnus, into their midst. This was certainly an expensive stratagem, and one about which I hadn’t consulted my compatriots. It may, on the surface, seem like overkill. I can assure you, dear sister, it was exactly the right amount of kill. The room when Nak had finished with it was a wasteland of ashes and stale air.

There was, of course, some blowback through the roof. Despite my careful positioning on the very solid-seeming stone tower and not on the roof proper, the shockwave from the blast tore me from my perch and flung me across the yards, into the wall, and then into the mud. I had to retrieve my boots with a minor sending (still stuck to the side of the tower, staring down at me with a ‘tee-hee’ expression if footwear can be said to stare), and I’m not sure how long I was out. I was able to reconstruct this path of exodus from the ‘Jon-print’ in the ivy and the inconvenient muddy moisture of my socks.

I know that you’ve told me in the past to be careful when trying out new arcana. Lest you chide me when next we meet I acknowledge the wisdom in your words. It was, however, so incredibly convenient to dispose of Evil in this fashion. Worth every penny. Or in this case, every tri-crown.

The light fades, and I need to prepare the keystones for tomorrow. I will continue my tale in the morning.

As ever I remain,
Your humblest servant,
-R

(main text decoded 1462 DR from the recovered journals of Randal Haldane, Candlekeep.)

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The Descent into the Tomb of Chonk
Fingal's Journal entry

12 Eleint 1374?

[Continued from ‘Pulling the Wool’]

What a fight, Kevrin the dour sorcerer was defeated, yet I felt that there would be more to come. It was about 3 bell in the morning, we were exhausted. I remember I was running on fumes, on pure adrenaline. I was used to this from my experience as a guard, so I let the other two sleep while I waited for the Purple Dragon Knights to arrive. I think it was over an hour before they got there. I almost fell asleep standing up, but perked up as they got there.

Things didn’t go very smoothly as they wanted an explanation of what just happened. I was too exhausted to explain to I got Quintus to help. Constal Maximanus Tholl led the group and later told his knights to “investigate and secure the temple.” He ordered a squad to escort us back to our flat(apartment to Q and Jon) that we rented to get some rest, while guarded. I woke up to the sargent pulling us out of bed. With no time to put on armour and arms, I grabbed the nearest clothes: Dark trousers, boots, dark blue shirt, and leather jacket.

We were taken to Redbeard’s manor, a fantastic site to see. He met us in the foyer and said that our claims were backed up. Apparently, they had killed everyone they met with resistance in the temple, including Lady Arthas. 14 Dragon Knights died while trying to kill some sort of abomination. Only a lonely female prisoner survived. This wasn’t to be the end, he offered us 500gp each to continue investigating, up front I should add. We were given a map on some locations to visit, one was a shrine, another a monastery.

We found some interesting items in the temple. Letters that did not seem to go to the destination. One for a tax break, another for a discount on purchasing temple items, last was asking for reinforcements. The most pecilular was the portal we found in the bottom, with a torture room and Arthas’ room. I was a bit uneasy in the former room.

We passed through the portal, and found skeletons heaped around an altar. With another portal…Jon discovered it was broken and would instantly kill whoever stepped through. Thus…the skeletons. We also wasted our time trying to break open a compartment in the altar for some petty items. We left after that.

Jon and Quintus spent the day learning about deities while I went out to get supplies for the upcoming adventure.

With the 500 I spent it on the following:

  • 8 days of rations for 4gp
  • masterwork bastard sword for 335gp that I have slowly been learning to use over the months and took a lot of training to get a hold of properly.
  • found a craftsman selling spring loaded wrist sheathes for 10gp, I put in the dagger (+1) that Jon gave to me. It’ll be handy should my weapon ever drop, and will be hidden from most (DC 12).

251gp left after, which then Jon gave us each 251gp from stuff we looted from the temple and sold. 408gp in Balance.

On 14th of Eleint we set out, heading towards the swamp. We made camp that night, only about 2 miles from the unknown shrine.

15th Eleint:

It was a nice morning, but frosty. I’m glad we invested in quality bedrolls and clothes. We headed out and by midday we were near the Unknown Shrine where we smelled cooking. A gnome and a human were cooking rabbit…all the way in this dangerous swamp with no guards or weapons it looked like. They said they were traveling merchants, which I didn’t really believe. Somehow, we accepted their request to retrieve their belongings from the bandits that had taken over the Tomb. This made me more skeptical of them as they said they don’t exactly have warehouses to store their goods, which meant they had some items Cormyr looked down upon. Supposedly they saw 4 bandits. I thought that to be a fair fight. We left to get there by evening.

As we approached it, Quintus had some concerns of the items. He was worried that it’d be full of poison or something dangerous, and would be sold in Cormyr which meant people would be harmed. He didn’t like that since we’d be helping them out with that. Jon was puzzled on why he thought poison and such, he didn’t care what he found, he was going to take a look and see if he found anything he wanted. As much as I didn’t trust the two travelers, I’m not a person to just up and steal from someone else. It’s their business if they want to sell swords, poison, or whatnot. I have my parameters but if they want to make a gold piece, let them. To end the arguing, we decided to go in and check the crates. No bandits were in sight, but once we neared the door a small creature with hooves “greeted us”. After pointing to the ground he disappeared into the darkness, we guessed it was a signal to wait. We’d play along. Somehow the discussion about the crates kept going. I still didn’t trust the two travelers.

After a while, the damned thing shot an arrow at us, then disappeared. Alerted and ready, we headed in. Ready to rumble.

There was a bridge, and while crossing it Quintus took an arrow that severely wounded him, after taking cover he patched himself up. Jon casted Firehand after discovering arrowslits, we later found that he successfully burned them to crisps. I charged in cautiously on the right door, it was clear which I announced. As we headed in further, we had to dodge arrowslits. It was annoying but we finally made it passed them. Jon surprised us with dashing on the walls with the newly acquired spider slippers.

As I crept towards an opening I saw some glaring eyes with a 7’ body. I was intimidated at first, but with sword in hand I charged and dealt him a solid blow. I believe in the few seconds after Tanner and Jon got a shot in. Grasping with two hands and Tempus giving me a blessing, I swung my sword and cleaved him in half. The Tomb was clear.

I seriously doubted that the two travelers put their items in this tomb, they couldn’t have been that stupid. Now to explore this tomb a bit

[To be Continued]

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To Madde: 15 Eleint, 1374 DR
persecutus est altius mysterium

Dearest Sister,

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.

arcanus mendacium

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.

mysterium revelatum

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.

mysterium solvitur

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.

Components:

  • 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,

R

(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.)

Crunchy Bits

nothing left to report

Unresolved Stuff

  • unidentified chakram
  • starry gnosis still a mystery

Loot

  • 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

Current Status

  • Jon: 100%, has used all permanent cards.
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A yawning, black portal
Cormyr: Tearing of the Weave – Session 2

9 Eleint, 1374 DR — around midnight

Quintus remains in the middle temple where he receives knowledge and lore vaguely related to the Mystran faith. As he attempts to uncover the purpose of the ritual, his friends explore the ancient undercroft below his feet.

Fingal, Jon and Tanner discover the quarters of one of the “Mystran” clerics, a room decorated with a row of human heads. In this room they find a note from Lady Arthas—whom they know serves as head cleric—addressed to someone by the name of Fembrys.

The latest set of petitioners await disposition down in the river dungeon. Don’t steal any of these for your sad hobby, Fembrys, or you’ll find you own head on a wall.
— Lady Arthas

After this disturbing discovery they proceed deeper into the dungeons where they find a locked and trapped door at the end of a hallway. By the grace of Mystra the alarm never sounds as they open the door to discover two more shadow guards on the other side.

Jon strides into the room shrouded in an air of superiority—Fingal and Tanner in guard armor taking up his flanks—as he commands the two guards to check on the prisoners by the docks. After a moment’s hesitation, both guards comply—and to the horror of the three Harpers—walk straight through the yawning, black portal at the end of the room.

The black portal clearly symbolizes Shar. It emanates a chill throughout the room as the three companions quickly assess the situation. They find two doors barred from the other side as well as several other doors. They leave without disturbing anything and head back up the stairs to find their stoic cleric before anything ill befalls him.

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Mystra’s Sacred Trust
intro from the journal of Vandrad, entry from the culinary diary of Quintus Allbright (Cormyr Session 2)

Excerpt from the journal of Vandrad

So it came to pass that I met Quintus Allbright, cleric of Tymora, friend of Mystra and Chauntea.

And he rose from the ground through a rain of arrows and bellowed:

Ho, Brother, I see it. I can see the secret in the gap, in the shadow between the stars. It’s Mystra, she speaks to me, and she commands strike down the non-believers! Jon, throw me a coin. Hold, true believer! Take heart for cometh the Champions of Mystra, to cleanse her home and vanquish the darkness. May her stars burn eternal!

With these roaring words, I felt the Lady’s embrace stir my heart and took arms beside Allbright. Making quick work of the vile creature. Then we turned our attention to what lay beneath the Mystran shroud. Would that I had never ventured further to see the depth of their crimes.

Quintus’ diary

Gratitude to Tymora for keeping my wits keen. Gratitude to Mystra for suffering my presence in her temple. Gratitude to Chauntea for seeing me safely hence.

Allbright?! Where did he get Allbright?! Eh well, now that he’s screaming it across the countryside, guess I’m stuck with it. So um, yeah, so that happened. I didn’t have the heart to tell him, that ONE arrow that parted my hair was actually Jon’s. Oh and Lady Luck, if you not busy with anything, could you watch out for Vandrad? Sure, he’s a pain, but he’s got a good heart.

Phew. So as the seminar began, we were first cleansed in a shower of Mystra’s Rain, and then the lectures began. They spoke of finding Mystra’s Sacred Trust in the gaps between the seven stars. For now, I see only darkness there. Something was off about these priests from the get go, their knowledge of Mystra was paper-thin. I was also growing gravely concerned for my friends as I had a vision of them climbing stairs with an ominous aura about them. So it came as no surprise when they burst through the door to the chamber. I did what I could to keep the priest distracted, and the petitioners from panicking or worse helping the infiltrators. Here I was again, no weapon, no armor… least I had clothes this time. Seems this is going to happen a lot to me. I recall my Tymoran brothers speaking of a way to summon arms and vestments, maybe now’s a good time to give it a try. Well, I gave Tymora a show this time. Then came inside the temple, and Vandrad had it right. Would that we had never gone in there.

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