Year of the Shadows

Session Eighteen Notes

In the Name of Tyr

Oh man, this was one of those sessions where it looked for a time that everything might be over, but then it turned out not only that the campaign was continuing on, but that it had taken a dramatic turn that made things even more awesome than ever.

  • So we picked up with Phloyd, William, and Theran fleeing High Horn at full gallop, tearing off down the high mountain road. The Stormhorns loomed up to either side of the party as they fled, a chill mist hanging in the air.

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  • They’d been riding no more than a quarter-hour when they spotted a large group of riders coming up fast behind them. A pursuit party from High Horn! They rode light warhorses and were closing the gap quickly. Knowing from previous experience that, with Sir William and his destrier, they’d get caught out eventually, the party reined in and prepared for a fight.
  • As the riders drew closer, Phloyd produced his wand of wonder yet again and pointed it in their direction. His ringing cry of “Zabbalas!” was nearly drowned out by the loud farting noise that blasted from the tip of the wand, along with a massive cloud of sulfuric yellow gas. The pursuers rode right into the lingering gas cloud, and only six emerged from the other side. Those who made it through drove their horses on, and William hefted his lance and counter-charged. Phloyd drew back, anxious to protect Theran, who was still quite weak from his ordeal.
  • William’s charge proved ill-advised, as the Baron’s men had spears of their own. Steel clashed on steel, and William was quickly in over his head. Phloyd, nearly out of spells, was desperate. He brandished his wand one more time. “Zabbalas!” With a slight “pop” Phloyd turned invisible. Interesting. Could it be that the wand was trying to tell him something?
  • Phloyd told Theran to ride hard, and sent his donkey along with the monk, then watched, unable to do anything, as William was hacked down before his eyes. The cavalier fought the good fight, but these were some of the Duke’s best men, after all. The stinking cloud was beginning to dissipate, and the balance of guardsmen (including their Purple Dragon captain) rode up. Sparing William’s corpse only a moment’s contemptuous glance, the captain ordered his men on: “We must find the gnome and the monk!” Phloyd read the captain’s mind as he rode by and discerned that he was going to ride as far as the Three Feathers Inn at the foot of the pass.
  • Rushing forward, Phloyd found William in a bad way. His plate armor was covered in blood, and blood was forming a swiftly-widening pool beneath him. Flipping up the visor on William’s helm, Phloyd saw the knight’s face was paper white. This called for healing skills well beyond what he was capable of. One destination fixed itself in the little gnome’s mind: the Shrine of Nevron. As much as he wanted to make for Fontmere Abbey, he knew it was too far away, especially with the main road no longer safe. However, he was quite sure that the Shrine very close by, just on the other side of these peaks, in fact.
  • With Gagejolly’s help, Phloyd managed to heft William’s dead weight up over his saddle. He then led Gagejolly carefully up into the mountains. It took hours of following ravines and canyons, often having to double back at dead-ends and drop-offs, but, finally, Phloyd was looking down onto a clearing and a cave mouth.
  • Leaving Gagejolly and William for the moment, the still-invisible gnome stole down into the clearing. He saw a well-traveled footpath on one end of the clearing, and a massive bronze sculpture of a set of scales on the other. About 20 feet beyond the monument was a modest cave opening. All around, the rock had been inscribed with visitors’ runic inscriptions; sometimes just names, other times prayers offered up to Tyr. Phloyd approached the cave mouth and listened. He could hear the sound of dripping water, but nothing else.
  • Judging the clearing to be safe enough, he returned to Gagejolly and carefully led the horse down the steep slope. A lesser steed would have balked, or lost its footing, but Gagejolly undertook his task with aplomb. Phloyd led the horse, still bearing WIlliam’s dead body, into the cave. It was high-ceilinged and long. At the far end, a great mass of crystals grew out of the limestone wall, and a deep pool rippled at the formation’s feet. Still more inscriptions were carved into the rock wall all around, and icons and symbols of Tyr had been crammed into every nook and cranny. Cautiously, Phloyd led Gagejolly to the pool’s edge, then pulled the knight down from the saddle.
  • Filling his skin with water from the pool, Phloyd tipped the liquid into WIlliam’s mouth. Although he could not swallow the water, the knight’s pallor began to fade and his eyelids began to flutter. Phloyd gave William another sip, and now the knight, who had been lying dead just seconds ago, was alive again, drinking the water down. It was a miaracle!
  • William sat up, blinking and looking around, confused. Phloyd realized he was still invisible, and canceled the effect. “Welcome back, my friend!” said the gnome. He could immediately see a change had come over William. His eyes seemed kinder, his features less severe. As he stood up again, he carried himself differently—somehow prouder, more commanding. He even looked a bit stronger and more powerful.

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  • [Mechanically, I gave Tim the option, since he was drinking from a spring sacred to his god and had a compatible alignment, to switch from Fighter to Paladin. Tim was on it like white on rice.]
  • As Phloyd and William were still marveling at the miracle that had taken place, the crystal formation began to glow with a soft white light. Then, a shaft of light shot from the crystals towards the ceiling, illuminating the whole chamber. A soft voice, neither male nor female, spoke inside their heads:

Listen seekers, for I am the Oracle of Nevron and I know why you have come. You seek the true heir to this kingdom. She is in grave danger. Look for her in the west, where the waters flow…where the bird meets the lion.

  • As it was growing dark and William was still quite weak, the duo elected to overnight in the cave. Phloyd was still nervous, but William was quite sure they’d be safe and secure from any threats while inside. He was right, and when he awoke in the morning he felt nearly back to full health. He had even learned that he could channel the divine blessing of his god to speed his recovery. This, combined with burning some of the healing incense they’d bought in Arabel, set the knight back in Gagejolly’s saddle, Phloyd clinging on behind, ready to continue the quest.
  • The PCs had discussed what the oracle could have meant. They felt that the bit about the “bird meeting the lion” had to refer to a griffon, but they could not discern the significance of this reference. However, William was aware of a small keep called Eagle Peak located out in the Marches along the main road to Proskur. That might be a good starting point.
  • Gagejolly picked his way down the footpath, which ran in switchbacks through the pine-forested foothills for about 10 miles before coming out at the foot of High Horn Pass. Situated at the intersection of the main road and the path was a fortified inn: the Three Feathers. Of Theran or their other mounts, there was no sign, but three horses and a mule were hitched to the post outside.
  • As they approached the inn, William began to get a pain in his temples: he could now sense that someone with evil intentions lurked within. Not wanting to press their luck, the PCs elected to give the inn a miss and continue on to the south.
  • Their travels took them along a desolate trade road with little in the way of civilization in evidence. They rode all day and still had not seen any sign of Eagle Peak, so they moved off the road and found a small box canyon among the base of the foothills in which to make camp. William allowed Phloyd to sleep the balance of the night, as Phloyd had done for William in the cave the night before. Just before dawn, William spotted flickering candle flames floating up out of the dark, about four feet off the ground. He awoke Phloyd, and they listened to the noise of heavy footsteps and clanking gear get closer. Then Phloyd heard words he recognized, words spoken in the Dwarven tongue. “Claim jumpers!” one was saying. Phloyd lit his staff and saw 10 hill dwarf miners squinting back. He quickly explained the circumstances of their camp, and how they meant no harm, and the dwarves let the PCs go on their way, watching impatiently as they struck camp.
  • The party thus got an early start on the day, although they did stop again so that Phloyd could memorize his spells. By noon, they had spotted the spire of Eagle Peak on the horizon. They stopped and William and Gagejolly waited in an out-of-way dip in the ground as Phloyd went on ahead to scout things out.
  • The gnome made himself invisible and, crossing the keep’s drawbridge, also took on wraithform. Slipping past the guards and through the downed portcullis, Phloyd saw the livery of Duke Bhereu everywhere. He began exploring the keep, moving through barracks and storerooms and mess halls. He ventured down into the dungeons and saw two men, apparently peasants, in the holding cell but did not reveal himself to them. He went to the top of the keep and looked out from its turreted towers, which gave a commanding view of the surrounding plains for many miles in every direction.
  • He also noted one of the turrets seemed a bit different from the others, as it was accessed by a short stairway quite separate from the usual parapet entries on the other turrets. Intrigued, he investigated the door of this turret and found it to be barred from the inside. Using his slim-jim, he un-barred the door and opened it. Two crossbow bolts flew over his head from inside!
  • Phloyd dodged out of the way and tumbled into the room. It was richly appointed: a large canopy bed sat opposite the door. Against the south wall was a three-foot-high, glass-doored cabinet. Atop the cabinet was a small chest. Against the north wall was a desk and chair. An open footlocker was positioned between the desk and bed. Looking under the bed, Phloyd spotted two small crossbows set an angle in the floor—the source of those deadly bolts. Strings ran from the crossbow triggers up onto the bed. Someone had purposely fired the crossbows!
  • Looking closely at the bed, Phloyd could just make out the shape of someone sitting among the down comforters, remaining very still and quiet. Without another moment’s hesitation, he cast color spray, then whipped out his wand of negation and zapped the bed’s occupant with the wand’s cold, gray light. The color spray knocked the man out, and the wand canceled his ring of invisibility’s effects.
  • Phloyd was looking at a human male dressed mostly in black, quietly slumbering now. Even in his unconscious state, he exuded a palpable aura of deadly menace. Phloyd quickly pulled him off the bed and tied him up in a chair, a gag in his mouth. His first instinct then was to flee, but he decided to remain and go through the room’s contents. In the small chest, which he unlocked using a small key taken from a string hanging around the man’s neck, he found a fairly large bag containing a couple heavy metal objects, which he didn’t look at just yet. Using his detect magic spell, he found two small vials hidden in the desk’s drawer. He also determined that the man in black wore magical garb: bracers, his cloak, his dagger, and his ring, which Phloyd had taken already. He also found a box with 10 poisoned crossbow bolts, as well as several cloaks and a set of throwing daggers. Clearly this was not a nice man.
  • Stripping the man of his remaining magical gear, Phloyd set up the two crossbows, newly-loaded with poison darts, so that their triggers would fire if the chair the man was tied to was moved at all. He then headed out onto the parapet and leapt off directly over the drawbridge, using his staff of feather fall to slow his descent. Still invisible, he scurried back to William’s hiding spot.
  • Looking in the bag, the duo emitted a collective gasp: it was nothing less than the Royal Scepter and Orb of Cormyr! These relics were always housed at Fontmere Abbey and were used in royal coronations; without them, by tradition, no one could be crowned monarch of Cormyr. “I wish I’d killed that guy now,” muttered Phloyd, truly shocked. Nonetheless, the man had provided one key morsel of information: before leaving, Phloyd had read his mind with ESP and discerned where the princess was being held. He had seen a small castle near a fork in a river, a griffon perched upon one of the towers. When he told this to William, the paladin made an educated guess that this “griffon castle” was located at a fork of the Laine River just south of the Farsea Marshes. The PCs made ready to depart on this, the most deadly portion of a quest that had already technically killed one of them…

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Comments

Excellent write up and a great adventure! Now to figure out how to activate that ring of invisibility…

Session Eighteen Notes
sirlarkins sirlarkins

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