Original game date: June 22, 2019
The game resumes with the party on the road east of Silverymoon, in the foothills of the Nether Mountain. Having helped the dwarf King Harbromm and his party avoid a nasty ambush by a legion of hobgoblins, they now go to investigate the hobgoblins’ lair with the intention of rescuing a damsel, the elf maid Briannan, granddaughter of the wizard Galadrin.
Before they depart, King Harbromm again invites the party to share the road with them after they are done their business. He also discusses the doppelganger menace again, filling them in on some of the backstory to the current problems among the dwarf kingdoms.
Prince Darvik Warcrown was supposed to marry Augustina Battlehammer of Mithril Hall, but the plight troth was meant to include a great sheet of purest mithril. Battlehammer reneged on the deal, claiming the mithril was stolen. (Indeed, it was, by Salizan Stremp). From there, things deteriorated further. The Harbromms of Citadel Adbar tried to mediate, but when their ambassador tried to cross the territory of the Bouldershoulders, they were accused of being spies and rebuffed! Utter balderdash! Harbromm was confused and angry, and Kenrik Hardrubble counselled a forceful response. Kenrik took a squad of guards to bring the Bouldershoulder Diplomatic Legate to the throne room, but he attempted to flee and fell to his death.
Into the Nether Hills
Using the locket they were given as a focus, Ander is able to divine that Briannan is being kept further up in the hills. Questioning hobgoblin captives confirms their base is in that direction.
The party begins making their way in that direction. Failing to perceive some goblin scounts, they are forced to give chase as the goblins dash for safety and shout an alarm. The gate is slammed shut before any of Fortune’s Irregulars make it there, and they watch in frustration as the ramparts fill with hobgoblins.
They face a stout fort that appears to block the entry to a cave system leading back into the mountains. On either side of the gatehouse sits a large iron box.
One pen contains a chimera and the other a wyvern. The hobgoblins are under-manned since many of their number had participated in the ambush. They send immediately for reinforcements deeper in the caves, while releasing their beasts to delay the party. Ultimately their leader, Argot the Bloody, asks them what they want and is willing to release Briannan (and possibly others).
The party successfully negotiates Briannan‘s release, and depart with some misgivings, believing they have discovered a growing threat to the region.
Returning to Silverymoon
On the road home, Fortune’s Irregulars continues to bond with the dwarfs of Citadel Adbar and discuss working together to try and suss out other doppelgangers. At their urging, King Harbromm‘s party takes up rooms at The Jaunty Apothecary.
The venerable elf wizard is very pleased to see his granddaugher unharmed, his stoicism briefly stirred to joy. He rewards them with:
1 each from the uncommon list
1 Potion of Fire Giant Strength
1 Potion of Invulnerability
1 Potion of Vitality
Meeting the Lady of Silverymoon
The party settles in but are soon summoned to the palace to see Lady Laeral Silverhand.
They are shown through the palace and brought to see Laeral out on a veranda overlooking the city, where she is conferring with Osman Moonfinger and Mediator Aurum (a visiting dignitary who will host the Peace Conference).
Fortune’s Irregulars are given a proper welcome to the city. Laeral explains that she’s heard that a second great meeting will soon take place in the city of Baldur’s Gate to update everyone on the growing menace of the Cult of the Dragon. She councils against pursuing the Well of Dragons any further, knowing that it is located atop The Hoarcrust is enough. She offers to take them with her when she travels by teleport to Baldur’s Gate.
In the meantime she hopes that they will enjoy her city. The party tells what they’ve learned of the doppelgangers and she thanks them for the information and any further assistance they might offer. It is vital that the dwarfs come to peace so that they might help form the front line agains the Cult. They also warn her of the growing hobgoblin threat, and their war machines.
Aesar brings up seeking aid from the metallic dragons, and Mediator Aurum replies that it shall be his foremost task once the dwarfs are settled.
Back to School
Aesar pops back over to Herald’s Holdfast to spend a bit of time in his secret room. Having spent some time contemplating the murals and translating the text, he is ready. Stepping into the room he is able to read aloud the following poem:
Forget the path well trodden,
That will not help you on your way.
Forge a blazing trail
For others to follow another day.
Never shy from opportunity
Throw yourself through every door.
For this life is an adventure,
Now go about, Explore.
The greatest of treasures assembled,
Artifacts of legend long sought.
None but the most clever,
Will avoid being caught.
As he completes the lines, the text flares and then the shimmering translucent field that covers the desk flows towards Aesar and settles over him before fading away as a kind of divine geas takes hold. He knows immediately and intuitively that he is now bound to a quest.
The Last Words of Roark Kincaid
Knowing he needs to get back to the others, he takes up just one book to investigate it and chooses the newest one. Opening it, he reads The Life of Roark Kincaid. He scans through it, realizing it is an account of Roark finding the secret room (The Heart Room) and joining the quest. Many adventures and attempts to find the right Apprentice (which seems to be a part of the compulsion). He reads of his treasure hunting with Maximillian De Rigueur, his longest lasting apprentice, as well as his time with Zora Fel and Vosz Draken. Together they found a fourth “Enigma Stone” (some kind of puzzle cube), which seems to be something important. He reads of Max‘s later betrayal, how he had somehow gained access to The Heart Room and stolen one of the journals, the fifth book, written by Corrin of Oghma.
The last pages are a message directly to Aesar where he apologizes, but explains he saw something in Aesar that spoke to him, though perhaps it was the damn compulsive nature of this quest. Roark gives the location of a safe deposit box “containing all four Enigma Stones} in a bank in Baldur’s Gate. He broke off the number on the key (#3481), which hopefully Aesar has, if not, he’ll need to get more creative. He says that Corrin of Oghma had found his passion in books and had done meticulous research into potential locations of Grand Dungeons. He must retrieve it, but Max is dangerous, be careful.
The Doppelganger Plot
Unraveling the mystery begins with surveillance, with Vorai observing The Silver Shield. Based on reported odd behaviour, the party suspects that Olbryn Barrowshield (Diplomatic Representative of Mithril Hall) may be a doppelganger. Vorai notices a plain young woman approach the establishment, who he recognizes from Ivory’s sketches of strange faces. Following her inside at a safe distance, he sees Olbryn coming down the stairs at the back of the room, but stop when he spots the young woman, turning around and heading back up. She crosses the room and heads up the stairs behind him. It is quick, but Vorai is certain they make a switch, the doppelganger masquerading as Olbryn switching out with a new one.
Vorai follows the young woman out into the streets, where she loses him in the residential streets of Southbank.
The next day, Vorai returns to The Silver Shield to observe Olbryn, only to find him preparing to leave with his retinue and head to The Jaunty Apothecary to pay his respects to King Harbromm of Citadel Adbar.
Vorai is forced to tail them back from whence he came.
As the conroi from Mithril Hall draws up before the The Jaunty, the rest of Fortune’s Irregulars quickly realize that the doppelganger is likely to detect King Harbromm‘s thoughts and learn of his compatriot’s death. They begin to position themselves at the exits to block an escape.
This proves to be the case, and “Olbryn Barrowshield” suddenly jumps to his feet, tossing aside his cup – You try to murder me! Treachery! Guards, protect me!