“Life might be black and white to you adventurers, but to us common folk it’s all just shades of grey.”
Synopsis : In an attempt to recover from long-standing injuries taken during their fight in the Shadowfell against the Gloom Golem, the adventurers journeyed to the City of Bright Sails, making contact with various allies in that city, and meeting with Lady Anabledh Nethwater, Kahli’s sister, who welcomes them all and helps make contact with the the temple of the Shining One. They learn many important facts about local problems in the city, including new gangs of thieves, as well as encountering the actual “Chaos Curse” itself, in the form of an unidentified chaos sorcerer, who is taken into custody.
19th of Kelen, TR 1050 : Green Forest Inn, Thornkeep : The day dawned warm, and foggy, with the snows of winter melting everywhere into slushy mud. After a well-deserved long rest, during which the battered and bruised Bresal has begun to recover from the ordeal of his death, but like several others in the group, he is unable to fully recover from the wounds dealt by the Gloom Golem earlier. The group discussed their options, and decided to return to Green Dagger Farm, recover some of their treasures, and make an expedition to the City of Bright Sails, and seek the blessings of the cult of the Shining One.
Recalling Vesina from the castle, the group traveled back to Green Dagger Farm without event, and returned to their homes, gathering again that evening to make plans and account for their personal wealth. Sirella West had successfully returned, and shared out 200 gp to each member of the adventurer’s group, as their shares from the sale of their tapestries. She told a tale of the so-called “Chaos Curse”, which seemed to be appearing everywhere in the city.
Apparently, the rise of various “chaos cults” was only the beginning; magical explosions of a chaotic nature were erupting all around the city. Random fires, floods and earth tremors; vines covering street cobbles and monsters of various natures appearing from dark alleys to consume travelers, or just destroy random buildings. The adventurers took note.
The group took an accounting of their personal fortunes, recognizing they had more in coin than they could individually carry, or easily pack on a horse. The idea of using the group’s Floatchests was brokered, and Bresal, Sweet, and Scales all chose one from the armory in the Fallen Tower Vaults. Various adventurers packed their coins into sacks to spread among the Floatchests, in preparation for the trip in the morning. Everyone agreed to leave their thousands of accumulated silver coins behind as a sort of “cache” for emergencies, if only because they were so heavy. Various treasures were taken from the vaults as well, in anticipation of the needs to cast the restoration spells, though the bulk of the gems were retained.
Scales approached Garnet “Ironhand”, asking him to craft a private project for himself, to craft a miniature earhorn for a new spell he wanted to use, giving him sufficient raw coins to craft the artifact, but told him to take his time. In addition, the group gave him most of their accumulated Droskari Metal Alloy “Thralls” for a future project.
The group traveled later in the afternoon, dragging their Floatchests along behind them, and bidding the farm folk farewell for a time. Passing through Thonrkeep, they took a quick detour to visit with Iliara Starcloak at the Goldenfire Order’s tower. Bresal bought a handful of incense to re-summon Callum. He also spoke with her regarding her apprentice Timber, and talked about “The Night”, hinting that the mysterious hag that attacked him had used iliara’s wiles against him, hinting the hag thought the two might be a couple… a thought she had never posited before…
Heading on through the slushy and muddy roads, the group headed south-west out of Thornkeep, passing close by the Briarwarren, and Triumph Quarry, which looked to be slowly beginning to prepare for the new spring season. Following the Road of Claws further, they recognized the ragged nature of the road, more like a trail than a road, as the way had long been avoided with the proximity of the Pit of Chains.
The night drew on, and despite the roads and its poor condition, the adventurers managed to reach the village of Timberstar in the late evening. The travel-weary group made directly for the local inn, the “Boar’s Bones”, finding the place fairly packed with local huntsmen. Settling in, they ordered a round of stew, bread and cheese, with the locally brewed “Pinesap Ale” to wash it all down. They ordered a handful of rooms for the night, and the halflings who operated the inn, made them as comfortable as possible, as the mud dried on their clothing.
Rumors were rife in the inn regarding the events in Mornhaven, and talk was of the return of the timber-wrights in a few days, which would make the village a bustling place once more. There was practically no discussion regarding the plans or activities of Thornkeep, hinting on their long separation from that region due to the nearby goblin tribes.
21st of Kelen : Warm and foggy once more, the snow continued to melt all day. The adventurers broke their fast on pottage from the inn cauldron, and more “Pinesap Ale”. The place was deserted in the morning, and after preparing their horses, the group headed back out.
The road here proved well-traveled, and well-kept, and the adventurers made good time, despite the muddy conditions. The forests quickly began to thin, with numerous clearings and the mark of the timberwrights everywhere along the trail. After several hours, the group broke from the Smoke Glens into the fields north of Mornhaven, within sight of the small fortress known as “Firehammer Hold”, held by the Grey Feathers, mercenaries often in the employ of the Crown, and led by one of the Lords of Shem, Lord Nimos Firearrow, who held the nearby region on his own merits. The fortress was small, but looked imposing, and surrounding its front gate was a small village and extensive fields.
The group then traveled south-west along the main track leading past well-kept farms, woodlots and pastures of the citizens of the Barony of Seaholme. The farms were the opposite of what they had grown used to in Thornkeep; extensive affairs with large, open fields, rather than the usual garden farms with orchards and a handful of livestock huddled in a worn barn. The wealth of the local baron was impressive, laid-out before them.
They smelled Mornhaven before they saw it as a smudge on the horizon. Salt air and the cry of gulls called to them, replaced by the smell of more than 10,000 souls crammed together in the port city for the winter. The morning fogs in the forests were quickly replaced by a warm, sunny day, wet with melting snow and mud. As they approached the city, the brown pall hanging low over the city, filled with wood smoke and warm air trapped against the higher winds. Travelers became more frequent; carts, horses and herded livestock began to crowd the road, though most folk gave the adventurers and their three floating silvery orbs a wide berth.
Eventually they reached the walls of the city, and curved around to the south-east, passing through the less popular Shadowgate, largely because it was common for travelers to use it rather than the northern gate, due to less caravans and trade passing through it. They reached the village of Shadows, passing through the thorp quickly, and into the city of Mornhaven beyond.
The sights and smells and noise of the city assaulted them; the months of “country living” had done its job well, dulling them to the vibrancy of the of the city life most had once been accustomed to. Everywhere were people, moving about, conducting trade and enjoying the wonders of a warm day after the long winter. Kahli hailed a young lad wielding a lantern on a tall pole, and tossing him a silver, told him to inform the good Lady Nethwater that her sister and her companions were travelling to visit with her tonight.
Passing by the Woodland, and below the castle that dominated the town, they eventually passed from the Royal Quarter, and into the Crown Court and the bustling Common Market of the Market Quarter. The group discussed their options as they went, noticing the swath they seemed to create in the city streets; their bizarre and wealthy appearances, and three floating silvery orbs suggesting their professions. They agreed to make their way to Kahli’s sister’s manor in the north-west part of the city, Lady Anabledh Nethwater, who would likely accept their stay for a few nights until they could take their bearings of the community and its situation, and move forward in their private plans.
Making their way into the Bridgegate Quarter, south of the Adventurer’s Quarter, they were startled by a sudden explosion in the distance, that caught their attentions. Screams came from the area, and from around the corner came a half-orc mercenary wreathed in flames, who grabbed a soldier form a local band of the Harbour Rats, and the unsuspecting warrior burst into flames himself.. The adventurers quickly moved forward, some dismounting, with Reina gathering their loose reins.
Bresal cast a Sleep spell into the fray, and the burning Harbour Rat promptly crumpled, while the half-orc fled before the adventurers. Sweet approached the half-orc, trying to subdue him, as did a mounted Kahli, while the figure fled back down the street before them. Sweet suddenly burst into flames, but also began to exude a cloud of rust-red vapors, that seemed to poison everyone around her. A hallfling near the half-orc also burst into flames, but Scales cut around through a hole in one wall, and successfully cast Dispel Magic on the man, ending the effect.
While one guard of the group pulled his companion from the chaos of the street, the other two closed on the half-orc mercenary, readying their crossbows. Kahli called for them to hold their fire, as she approached them on horseback.
One man in the streets beyond, who had not tried to flee the scene, suddenly burst into blue lightning, and shot a bolt of energy down a side street from his body, striking one local trying to flee, killing them outright.
Suddenly one woman near the side of the street began to shout and scream, as she floated up off the street. Kahli raced over on her horse, pulled out her rope, and tossed it up to the floating woman.
Sweet heard a figure around the corner from the latest incident, and just caught a figure trying to hide in the shadows of the nearby building, rather than flee outright.
Ricochet ran over to the lightning caster, and pulling the Heartripper Blade as his primary weapon, since he wanted to subdue the man, rather than kill him with Tinderstrike.’s flames. He quickly knocked the man unconscious, and looked around, taking note of the floating woman.
Bresal covered the half-orc’s potential retreat.
The guards closed on the mercenary and both he and the halfling were told to surrender, which they did, allowing Bresal to proceed on through the nearby stable and join his companions.
Ricochet dashed over to the building base below the floating woman, and scampered up the wall swiftly to get to her, while she caught the rope and held onto Rico for dear life.
Sweet and Scales, promptly joined by an exhausted Bresal, engaged in fisticuffs with the strange shadowy individual, which Sweet identified as a dark-skinned elf, one of the legendary drow, indeed! The figure landed solid punches against her, each covered in shimmering magical force, with a look of sheer madness covering its face.
The guards subdued and began tying up both halfling and half-orc in the street, while Reina moved along the street leading the other horses, and examined the downed, unconscious man. The other burned guard seemed to be pout of danger, and his companion followed along behind Reina, keeping watch around them, with his crossbow cocked and ready.
The adventurers managed to finally subdue the mad dark-elf, but he continued to send out waves of magical force against everyone that moved close to him, until her was knocked unconscious, when the magic ceased. The battle seemed over.
The guards began to question everyone, and another hand of troops moved down the street, drawn by the chaos on the streets, eventually listening to the adventurers as they tried to sort out the situation. Sweet took the lead, and began walking them all through the series of events before them, eventually explaining it well enough, that the Harbour Rats welcomed the adventurers help in subduing the unknown sorcerer, and saving many people.
The guards proceeded to “subdue” him further, recognizing that his ability to create chaos was innate as long as he was conscious, breaking his jaw and otherwise silencing him for some time. They bound him, and carried him away as swiftly as they could, to the castle prisons. Bresal gave his name and the address of his shop in the Fish Quarter, should the Harbour Rats have any further questions, allowing the adventurers to continue on their journey.
The group then made their way through the streets, and across the central Bridgeway, paying the nominal toll of a copper piece each to cross the only bridge across the Ambarin River, south of Cultan Ford. Passing north-west along a side street through the neighborhood, they eventually made their way to the north-west wall, and Nethwater Manor, the home of Kahli’s sister.
The group were welcomed, finding servants waiting for them, and they were warmly greeted by Lady Nethwater herself, who explained that quarters in the “guest house” were available for them. Kahli was taken aside, while servants brought the adventurers to a fair-sized house near the stables to the right of the main courtyard of the manor. Within, the adventurers found ample food and wine waiting for them, including private rooms on the second level with simple, but comfortable, furnishings, much like an inn. There was also a small kitchen with a few simple stores, a private chapel dedicated to the Shining One, and a central courtyard. Also, they were offered warm baths.
Kahli and her sister visited the main house, sitting in the study, while wine was brought for them. Once alone, Lady Anabledh confronted her sister, with her usual calm, measured voice, starting with “What have you been up to sister?”. Kahli explained a little about recent issues in Thornkeep, but really sought access to the priests of Nolom to cure her companions who were afflicted by the energy-draining attacks of the Gloom Golem. Lady Anabledh said she would petition the temple on the adventurers behalf, and have them dispatch one of the high priests to resolve the issue at mid-day on the morrow.
Kahli asked after the recent rumors of the so-called “Chaos Curse”, relating what had just happened in the streets, and Lady Anabledh verified the rumors as true; what had begun with these strange chaos cults in the early days of winter, have recently begun to take a nasty turn; deaths, missing persons and worse have begun to appear.
Also of particular note, she mentioned the rise of a new drug of late, whose effects were very similar to what the adventurers had encountered in Thornkeep, the dreaded Dream Fever, Shiver, an unknown and relatively cheap drug sweeping the poorer quarters of the city, like the Bridgegate and Fish Quarters.
Kahli also requested a messenger be dispatched in the morning to her own holding in Whiterock Manor, which Lady Anabledh agreed to. Further, she offered a feast to honor her sister and her guests the following evening, which Kahli accepted, but admitted they would not stay much longer than that as an imposition on her clan as guests. Reina was told to write a letter to her family for dispatch on the morrow, to which she settled in happily to inform her clan.
Servants took away everyone’s clothing and boots for cleaning and reapirs, leaving them warm robes and comfortable sheep-skin slippers. Everyone settled in for a good, safe night’s rest.
22nd of Kelen : Everyone awoke to a cool, rainy morning, the last vestiges of snow being swept away by the coastal rains, leaving muddy slush in the corners of the buildings. Steaming warm pottage was brought to the adventurers, along with warmed cider and all their clothing and boots cleaned and repaired. Sweet commented on the kindness and comfort afforded one by having servants, and suggested they never leave… Kahli told them that there would be a priest brought by midday, and that a feast was prepared for them all that night, so they should stay at least one more day before sorting out other personal matters. They all agreed, and separated on various personal tasks in the city.
Sweet headed back out to the village of Shadows, stopping by the shrine in the Royal Quarter, before heading out to thorp. Stopping and talking with the handful of mercenary soldiers at the Stonepost, she found many mercenaries have pulled out of the city, joining the war to the north, at Starfall.
Proceeding into the Shadowgate Inn, she found the high priest of the Gray Slayer holding court as usual, with the veterans of the city sharing their best and favorite war stories. Pulling out her holy symbol of the Gray Slayer, she joined them, listening carefully and then spent several hours among them. Eventually, she introduced herself to Sword Brother Sava, and inquired after training opportunities, finding that the followers gathered at first dawn in the shrine, where they practice and worship; Sweet could join them all at any time.
The rest of her time was spent taking with various members of the inn, discovering that while indeed many mercenaries were involved in the northern skirmishing over Starfall, many more younger, inexperienced mercenaries had been hired by Rikard Coalsilver, who disappeared for a time, before returning with heavy pouches and no tale of their journeys. She then hurried to return to the manor.
Bresal visited his own shop, checking in on matters, then traveled to the town Mangai building, and quickly settled his outstanding taxes on his shop. He then visited the Mage’s Guild of Mornhaven, meeting with a minor journeyman, who answered Bresal’s questions, after he presented his membership in the Goldenfire Order. They explained that he could make a general petition regarding research, magic item sales, or their creation, but whether or not local masters (mavari) chose to assist, the matter was considered a private matter between members of the the Shek-Pvar He too then hurried back to Nethwater Manor.
Scales spent the day trying to make contact with his recent allies, such as Vard Glamour, meeting with Camilla Glamour, his sister, finding her a pleasant person, though somewhat distracted by her brother’s long disappearance. He also checked in with his infochant, Gurin Rush, finding out about the various new gangs in the city, such as the Yellow Knives and the God’s Bones. He then asked Gurin to look into the Dockyards Quarter for himself, and report back.
Eventually, everyone returned to the manor, and at mid-day, and were introduced to Mistress Alara Dawnmaiden, who proceeded to remove the curses attached to the adventurers, succeeding.
With her departure, the group began discussing their next activities, making a few plans before the group met again for the evening feast in their honor.