Original game date: June 1, 2019
The game resumes with Fortune’s Irregulars in Silverymoon. While the others are esconced in the Jaunty Apothecary, Saul has ventured on a solo mission to the Moonwood where he has undergone testing with the Circle of Elemental Shepherds and Ander has gone to The Fortune Hall to meet with Osman Moonfinger.
Saul emerges from the Tomb of Testing to rejoin the other druids. In addition to Tovull the Dragonborn, there is Nastasha (older female human), Zek (male Forest Gnome), Argus (grim male half-elf), Tanstafa (female elf). Dernoth the Revenant emerges behind Saul.
A great and primordial evil has crossed this one’s path.
Saul is invited to join in communion with the Circle, with elemental magic flowing across each and then merging into a stream that passes over and joins them all.
He sees a great forest taking root in cold sands. Rivers flowing with blood. Advancing decay. Then the pale face of a beautiful man, his face twisted with horribly sinister mirth. He looks at Saul and smiles, his white teeth stained with blood. The face lunges, fangs bared.
Saul is left with two puncture wounds on his neck and loses 1 permanent hit point.
Gulthias is not just any vampire; he is the ur-vampire, Primordial undeath, the progenitor of all that the Circle fights against. That his corporeal form is loose once more in the world is of the greatest concern. Saul is destined to confront him; but he must not rush into such a battle prematurely, he must prepare himself.
Saul says farewell to Tovull and the others, and Tovull tells him that when it is time, the Circle will be there to help him. Saul then begins making his way back to Silverymoon, flying through the night.
The Seer of Silverymoon
An advisor to Laeral Silverhand, Osman Moonfinger, is a member of the Star Chamber. Originally hailing from the far south, he is dark skinned, tall, with wild white hair and a deep resonant voice. He is clad in a dark purplish robe with a star pattern, the stars seeming to twinkle and shift.
When Ander arrives at The Fortune Hall, he is almost immediately greeted by a lovely half-elf hostess (Lorin), who is expecting someone of his description. She brings him over to a table where Osman is engaged in a game of Wheel of Fortune (roulette).
Ah, the young prodigy arrives at last. Please join me. Do you play games of chance?
Osman is curious to meet the young prodigy. He is somewhat tense from the negotiations with the dwarves and ensuring that all goes well, which once settled, should allow them to turn their focus to the Cult of the Dragon.
Osman frequents The Fortune Hall, and appears to enjoy the vice of gambling, using his diviner ability to cheat, though he sees it as ‘steering’ things in the right direction.
That is our great responsibility, to steer fate in positive directions, yes?
He donates a portion of his winnings to the Church of Tymora.
One must be careful of course, not to upset the Lady of Fate, who is a most capricious mistress.
Eventually they leave the casino and teleport to Osman’s private chambers. Using Ander‘s descriptions of Rezmir and the flying castle as guidance, Osman uses scrying to see their current location, revealing it flying toward The Hoarcrust, a giant glacial peak in the Spine of the World.
Osman is pleased. They have high hopes for Ander, are very impressed how he’s ended up in such a central position to the action.
The medallion marks the First Enlightenment. Next there is the Robe. Few are called to it, and Ander would be by far the youngest ever, and the fastest to attain it. But it is being seriously considered.
Their conversation complete, Ander is returned to Jaunty Apothecary for the evening.
The Band’s Back Together
Morning dawns with a first major snowfall in Silverymoon, with all of Fortune’s Irregulars in the common room of the Jaunty Apothocary. Howell, the daytime steward of the establishment is overseeing a fine breakfast.
The meal is interrupted by the arrival of a child bearing a message for them from the wizard Galadrin, in response to Ander‘s offer. Fortune’s Irregulars is invited to his tower for a very pressing concern.
An austere old elf, Galadrin has recently discovered that his home village of Trion’Del has been attacked by a force of hobgoblins and his only remaining blood relative, a grand daughter (Briannan), has been taken captive along with others. Please, time is of the essence! I fear something foul will be done to her. You must agree to leave on the morrow, or I will find someone else.
The hobgoblins reside in the foothills of the Nether Mountains but have been inactive for generations, after the Red Legions were left decimated by the Great Orc Horde during the Wars of the Silver Marches. The raid on the small Moonwood communities caught the elves off guard. Galadrin will pay handsomely for his grand-daughter’s safe return – he is a potion maker of no small skill. He gives them a locket that contains a picture of his granddaughter.
The party agrees to return at dawn the next day and mount of a rescue. With the afternoon free, Aesar heads to Herald’s Holdfast to try and solve the mystery of the 39 steps, while the others pick up their commissions at The Wyrmworks and do more shopping.
Aesar Gets A Lead
A visit to the library yields no information about 39 steps, though Aesar learns a little about the northern white daffodil. Leaving the library, he encounters Master Lorelio Harpell who approaches Aesar to tell him the school will host a banquet in honour of Roark Kincaid. He asks how long Aesar has known Roark, and also how long he intends to stay at the Holdfast. Conversing about his old friend, Lorelio mentions Roark’s affection for one of the Holdfast’s more obscure locations, The Garden Tower.
39 Steps… White daffodil…
In a sleepy corner of the Holdfast, the Garden Tower has three sets of steps, two with 40, but the middle set has only 39 steps. The walls feature beautiful stained-glass windows featuring fields of flowers. The stairs are also carved with flower work so that the stairs seem like a cascade of flowers. A single white daffodil in the windows shines light down on a matching daffodil on the stairs.
The stairs collapse downward to open a tunnel that Aesar can enter. It’s a short passage that reveals a circular room hidden in the center of the tower. The room features a large comfy reading chair and a desk on which sit 5 large leather-bound volumes. There is a space indicating one is missing between the fourth and sixth. The desk is enclosed in shimmering magic. Wood panels cover the walls above the desk and feature a text written in Common, Sylvan, Draconic, Celestial and Primordial characters.
Memorizing the text, Aesar departs with homework to do.
The Black Network
When Vorai returns to Black & Sons Fishing Company the next day, he is told that he should visit The Silver Tap (a small bar in the harbor area, catering to fishermen) an hour after night fall to meet the main Zhentarim agent in the city. Order himself a flagon of Sundabar Mead.
When Vorai does so, the elderly bartender (Shemp), asks for his assistance bringing a cask up from the basement. In the basement, behind a secret door, there is a heavy-set half-orc dozing. Ivory initially appears behind a screen until she sees that he works directly for Xylon. There is an intake of breath and then she kicks everyone but Vorai out of the room.
Well now, what does that gold-draped flying postule want in Silverymoon?
Ivory reveals herself after assuring herself of Vorai‘s reliability. She is willing to risk it for the help of someone who appears competent.
There is tension in Silverymoon with the Peace Conference soon to take place. The Zhentarim want the meeting to go well, so that the dwarfs can settle their differences and help with the Cult of the Dragon. Ivory is under orders to make sure it goes smoothly but she has been frustrated by the stubborn dwarves.
Olbryn Barrowshield (Diplomatic Representative of Mithril Hall) and King Blok Bouldershoulder are already in the city for negotiations, the latter is accompanied by his mother, the Dowager Queen Bryma Bouldershoulder. With two more expected to arrive within days (Darvik Warcrown, Prince of Mirabar) and King Harbromm of Citadel Adbar).
The two who have arrived are allies, and yet King Bruenor’s Representative, Olbryn Barrowshield, is being strangely obstinate, almost provocative and has offended King Blok by demanding he be treated like an equal King in the negotiations, and so the meeting has not gotten off to a good start. Ivory knows that strangers, unknown to her (and she prides herself on knowing everyone in Silverymoon), have been seen coming and going, but she lacks the resources to track them down. It could be nothing, but her gut says its something. She cannot always get away from the Jaunty Apothecary and would be grateful for Vorai‘s assistance.
A Double Ambush
On the journey north-east, the party encounters an ambush set by the hobgoblins for the advancing retinue of King Harbromm of Citadel Adbar after Saul takes an aerial view of the area. The King is accompanied by a retired general and mentor, Kenrik Hardrubble, as well as a War Cleric, Arnn Hardrubble. The Commander of his personal bodyguard is Hamlik Hammerson. He also has a sorcerer, Ingva Stonebrew and 50 dwarf soldiers.
When Saul alerts them to the ambush, plans are made to spring it on their terms. Kenrik Hardrubble says he will stay by the King’s side, momentarily confusing Hamlik before he defers to his elder. Kenrik is a doppelganger in disguise and figures next to the king will be the most protected position. A force of dwarfs splits off and heads into the hills to circle around and take the waiting hobgoblins from the rear, while the king’s party continues down the road and springs the ambush. Meanwhile, unaware of what is transpiring, Fortune’s Irregulars continue to make their way down the road from the opposite direction.
A great battle ensues, with the hobgoblins making use of armored war machines the likes of which no one has seen before. At the cost of numerous dwarf soldiers, the attackers are defeated. Chief advisor and General Kenrik Hardrubble is killed in the battle and revealed to be a doppelganger.
King Harbromm is very grateful for the help of Fortune’s Irregulars, and offers to share the road back to Silverymoon. He is quite distressed to learn the truth about Kenrik, and more so when Vorai shares his suspisions that more doppelgangers may be in play, working to create strife among the dwarf kingdoms.
The dwarfs will need to rest and see to their injured troops; if Fortune’s Irregulars wrap up their business before they need to depart, the dwarfs will be honoured to share the road with them.