Year of the Shadows

Session Seventeen Notes

The King Is Dead!

“You have selected regicide. If you know the name of the king or queen being murdered, press ‘1’.”

  • The tone for the evening was set with a bit of logistical dice-rolling right up front. I had told the players that there would be a bit of in-game downtime, but to brace themselves for a big event coming up. I then left it up to the dice to decide when that event would occur. As it turned out, the PCs had a six week break after returning to their home towns, plenty of time for Phloyd to study a bunch of spells under his master, Praetorius. Unfortunately, Alex chose all non-Illusion spells, which meant that Phloyd, as a specialist, only had slightly better than 50/50 odds of learning a given spell. Still, statistically speaking, that should have seen him adding three spells to his book. Instead, Phloyd only managed to learn one, and it was the weakest one on the wishlist: locate object.


  • The sadness of this failure parade was only enhanced when the big news did arrive: all across Cormyr, word was spreading like wildfire that King Azoun IV, after more than 20 years on the throne, was dead! Killed in a hunting accident, it was said. Every Cormyrian village and town built great bonfires in their squares and threw bundles of incense into the flames, the scented smoke meant to spirit the dead monarch to his afterlife. Black flags hung from sills and poles, and there was great sorrow.
  • Back in Eveningstar, Sir William (who had been learnin’ his letters during his downtime) caught sight of a raven alighting on a willow tree outside his mother’s tavern. The bird give a cry, dropped a rolled-up piece of parchment, and flew off. Curious, William retrieved and unfurled the paper and used his newly-acquired skills to read the scrawled message, which was addressed to him! “If you value the memory of our king and the cause of the Purple Dragons, come to the Three Feathers Inn as soon as you are able.”
  • William had heard of the Three Feathers—it was in Espar, about two days’ ride from where he was. Anxious to get back on the road, he decided to follow the letter’s instructions, but not before swinging by Praetorius’s tower in Tyrluk (handily on the way to Espar) to look in on his friend Phloyd.
  • Phloyd, naturally, was game to go as well. He bid his master farewell (somewhat gratefully—it hadn’t been easy failing to learn all those spells under his stern gaze), and off the duo rode for “the balcony of Cormyr.”

[Sidebar: are we just going to assume Phloyd left Bidichops at Praetorius’s tower? He’s been less and less of an asset as your collective power has grown, and I often forget he’s even supposed to be there.]

  • Arriving at the Three Feathers, William was pleasantly surprised to find one of his old war buddies, a stout fellow by the name of Rolfe, had taken his war winnings and bought the establishment and was now running it. The two comrades-in-arms shared a warm reunion in the nearly-empty common room as Phloyd eyed the only other occupant—an itinerant tinker in a hooded cloak—suspiciously.
  • As William and Phloyd settled in over a “shepherd’s lunch,” they discussed the death of Azoun. Coming so soon after the death of Alusair Nicacea, they couldn’t help but wonder about the possibility of foul play. “Enemies are everywhere,” said Phloyd, pointedly looking at the tinker.
  • At that point, the tinker rose and threw back his hood. It was no tinker, but rather Vangerdahast himself! The High Court Wizard of Cormyr, it transpired, had been the one to send the letter, based on a recommendation from his friend Praetorius. Vangerdahast, too, shared the PCs’ suspicions, and was looking for folks who were both loyal to the crown and low-profile enough to do some snooping, yet also capable of getting themselves out of any jams they might end up in.
  • Vangerdahast had a theory that Azoun’s brother, Lord Edrin, was behind the king’s death—although judged an accident, the arrow that struck him clearly carried some sort of baneful enchantment—and, furthermore, that Duke Bhereu, Marshall of Cormyr, was in cahoots with Edrin. Princess Tanalesta, the king’s heir, had departed on a pilgrimage to The Shrine of Nevron to pay honor to her departed sister, and Azoun had died just two days later. It was too much to be a coincidence, especially as Edrin had attempted to assert his claim on the throne immediately after.
  • With Duke Bhereu backing Edrin, the Purple Dragons were split in their loyalties, and the Royal Council lacked the muscle to banish or otherwise neutralize Edrin, so a compromise was struck wherein Edrin would function as regent until Tanalesta returned from her pilgrimage. Now Vangerdahast was worried that Edrin would see to it that the princess never returned. He wanted the PCs to first assess his own suspicions regarding Duke Bhereu, and then find the princess and return her safely to Suzail. As the Shrine of Nevron was located not far from Bhereu’s fastness at High Horn, the PCs would be ideally placed to do both.
  • Vangerdahast cautioned that no one save Rolfe and William Menote of Fontmere Abbey was to be trusted, and told the PCs to seek refuge either at the Three Feathers or at Fontmere should the need arise. The heroes agreed to take on the quest (Sir William quite enthusiastically so) and made arrangements to depart at once.
  • It was the middle of Ches, nearly the equinox, and spring had come to the lowlands, but as the party followed the road up towards High Horn, the weather got progressively colder and more unpleasant. Four thousand feet up, it was still winter.
  • Arriving at Bhereu’s fastness, Phloyd registered with the guards at the front, giving false names and claiming to be from Sembia, just passing through on mercantile business. Entering the muddy bailey, the PCs headed for the central citadel, a massive 60-foot stone keep, sturdily fortified. Phloyd surreptitiously went invisible as they crossed the courtyard, so that only Sir William seemed to be presenting himself to the stern-faced Purple Dragons that guarded the reinforced entrance to the citadel.
  • William stated that he wished to come and pay his respects to Duke Bhereu on the loss of the king; the guards merely laughed, especially when William described himself as a “former” Purple Dragon. Just then, a knight with close-cropped blonde hair and icy blue eyes opened the citadel door, inquiring as to the meaning of William’s visit. Sir William restated his case, and the knight let William in, Phloyd slipping in behind him.
  • The PCs were sensing that they may have just walked into a trap, particularly when the knight, walking ahead of William, turned down a side hall rather than proceeding on to a grand staircase up ahead. Their fears were well-founded: like lightning, the knight spun around and threw a net at William, one that struck him with disproportionate force and quickly bound his limbs to his sides, causing him to topple over.
  • The knight summoned more guards, and they conveyed William through a trap door, down a spiral stair, and into the chamber of the citadel’s jailer. The knight, identified as Sir Bracken, told the jailer to “throw this one in a cell like we did the other one—when the Duke gets back, we can decide what to do with them.”
  • As the guards moved to take off the magical net and divest William of his equipment, there was a tense moment where William very nearly reached for his sword. Phloyd, still invisible, looked on horrified, afraid that his companion might try and take on a half-dozen Purple Dragons at once. The moment passed, and William reluctantly allowed the guards to take his stuff.
  • William was conveyed to a torture chamber and thrown into a stinking cell carved into the weeping limestone bedrock. Phloyd noted that two of the Dragons took William’s gear through a secret door, while the rest followed Sir Bracken back up the stairs. So too did Phloyd. He used ESP to scan Sir Bracken’s thoughts, and picked up something about the Duke intercepting the princess. Clearly, Bhereu was away because he had set off to kidnap Tanalesta!
  • Returning to the chambers below, it was child’s play for Phloyd to retrieve the keys from the slumbering jailer, then free William. They looked for and quickly found the “other” prisoner Bracken had referred to. He was a white-robed monk, and he was very nearly dead. His robes were stained with dried blood, and he was essentially comatose, well beyond the amateur healing efforts of the knight and the gnome.
  • William suggested using the now-confiscated healing elixir he had purchased in Arabel, and a plan was hatched to retrieve his goods; not only would they get the elixir, but William would get his armor and weapons back. Passing through the sliding panel in the wall, Phloyd and William followed a long corridor that ended in a steep flight of stairs and a trapdoor in the ceiling. Phloyd used his magic to become an invisible wraith and seeped up through the trapdoor, which turned out to be covered by a heavy animal pelt rug. Coming out from under the rug, Phloyd saw that he was in the barracks for the castle guards, men loyal to Bhereu who wore his gold lion as their livery.
  • The half-dozen guards were sitting at a long table, some resting their feet on an iron-bound chest underneath. It looked large enough to hold all of William’s possessions, and Phloyd elected to get proactive. Dropping both his invisibility and his wraithform, he became visible and cast his trademark color spray—which, despite rolling a d30 for the number of targets affected, only knocked out one guard. Suffice to say, Alex was fairly certain this was to be the end of Phloyd.
  • A brief fight ensued as the guards jumped to their feet and drew steel, shouting to raise the alarm as they did so. Two more blasts of color spray as Phloyd nimbly dodged through their legs, avoiding their swings, and the barracks were once again silent. William rushed up and helped Phloyd bar the two doors. Reluctantly, they killed the slumbering guards, and then they quickly retrieved the trunk and headed back to the torture chamber.
  • Without magic, there was no way to bar either the trapdoor or the sliding panel; it was only a matter of minutes before guards would come pouring down the secret passage and into the torture chamber. Quickly, they administered the healing elixir to the dying monk. “No time to talk, we have to move!” whispered Phloyd as the revived monk blinked bemusedly.
  • With shouts from guards echoing down the corridor, Phloyd drew out his new deck of illusions and threw down a card depicting a knight and four retainers. And, verily, a knight and four retainers appeared before them, completely believable in every way. “What are you lookin’ at?” grumbled one of the men, and Phloyd laughed delightedly.
  • With nowhere else to go, the PCs were obliged to kick down the door to the jailer’s chambers and attack him. William, true to his cavalier ways, felt naked without his harness on and had wanted to suit up first, but his plate armor would have delayed them far too long, even with Phloyd’s assistance putting it on. As it turned out, the jailer put up a decent fight but was no match for our heroes, so William needn’t have worried. As the jailer sank to the floor, blood gurgling from his rent throat, the sound of angry shouting came from the torture chamber beyond—the guards had come through the sliding panel and found what they clearly assumed to be the culprits behind the murder of their brethren, and a standoff was ensuing.
  • Ascending the stairs and peeking out, the PCs saw guards running to and fro in the halls of the citadel. William and Phloyd, with the monk (who was named Theran) in tow, carefully slipped up the grand staircase to the second floor of the citadel. They found this area deserted, as all guards had been called to secure the grounds, and they stole through the Duke’s private bath, study, and dining hall, looking for a way out. In the study, Phloyd pocketed the Duke’s records of account as well as two scrolls: one that was musty and crumbling and obviously long-neglected, and another, fresher scroll found in a concealed drawer.
  • As they made their way through the chambers, Theran informed the PCs that Fontmere Abbey had come under attack from an army of brigands. William Menote had dispatched Theran on the abbey’s swiftest horse to carry word to High Horn, but Theran was nearly killed during the breakout when he was struck by a bandit’s arrow. Arriving at High Horn a day later and near death, he found not succor and aid but instead a cold jail cell. This tale confirmed Duke Bhereu’s treachery, despite William’s reluctance to believe it.
  • After failing to break into what they presumed were the Duke’s private chambers (stymied by a magically locked door again!), Phloyd used his glass cutter to excise a nice big part of a fancy stained glass window at the end of the main corridor. The trio slipped out onto a ledge about 40 feet above the courtyard and inched along until they were above the stables. Several guards in the bailey spotted them and the alarm was raised. Phloyd had his companions take hold of each end of his magic walking stick…and they jumped.
  • The stick proved able to support their weight, and they floated gently down even as a party of castle guards led by a Purple Dragon rushed to intercept and arrest them. Ah, but Phloyd had another trick up his sleeve! With a flourish of his free hand, he withdrew his wand of wonder and intoned the power word, pointing the wand at the guards. They were indeed stricken, although this time not by a lightning bolt. No, instead, they stopped in their tracks, screaming in shock and pain, as leafy buds began erupting all over their bodies.
  • Phloyd, William, and Theran rushed into the stables and secured their horses, mounted up, and galloped out, sparing a glance back at the now leaf-covered guards writhing in the mud of the courtyard. Cries were raised from the towers, but it was too late: the heroes made their escape, clattering out across the stone bridge of High Horn and bound for the West Marches and the Shrine of Nevron. Hopefully, it wasn’t too late to rescue the princess…



Another great adventure!

Regarding Bidichops – Yeah, Phloyd reluctantly left him behind with Praetorius. The road was getting far too dangerous for his small companion and he felt Bidichops was better off with his master in Tyrluk. Phloyd promises Bidichops he’ll return after all this is over and they’ll go out for milkshakes.

Session Seventeen Notes
sirlarkins sirlarkins

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