A long trek goodnight

3rd session

5th Kythorn

2nd session - Brewing storm

Mirtul 30th – This unexpected night of chaos started after PC’s finished their daily grinding, and when they have been returned and chained back into their cave. At first, even though they were in a cave, they felt the wind raising. Warm and somewhat moist wind started to blow in the middle of the clearing where the orcs made their camp. It made everyone feel unusually hot, although it was only end of Mirtul (May), while it was thrashing smaller things around the camp. Steadily darkening sky warned of a prairies-like storm. Clouds were gathering and filling the sky, streaking in from the north. Few heavy rain drops barely fell on the ground, when the lightning ripped the sky, somewhere far to the north. The rain swept across the surrounding woods and verged in a downpour, splattering on the clearing in front of the cave. Deeper towards north of Neverwinter forest, lightning streaks across the horizon, illuminating very nervous orc guards in front of the cave. Thunder, then more lightning and another glimpse of now almost panicked guards, mixed with distant rumbling. Rumbling which was becoming closer by the minute. More thunder and lightning, torrents of rain and gusts of wind. Suddenly, an intense flash of light and sound overwhelmed their senses – lightning has struck the very centre of the encampment – Agatha has arrived!

A distant, horrible noise, like the wail of thousands of lost souls, echoed through the camp. Perhaps this can help explain frantic and rash actions of PC’s. They managed to set themselves free, and first thing they did was to disable crazed Cyricist deNiktal. Frightened and outnumbered, Talberon quickly surveyed the situation and offered to join forces with the PC’s, and even Zestia understood that it was the most prudent thing to do, although she was filled with hatred towards both her Zhentarim captors. Outside, chaos reigned supreme, with orcs running around shouting wildly. Others lay on the ground screaming and pounding their fists into the soil. Quickly, the PC’s scrambled for and scavenged small balls of beeswax which deNiktal has somehow hidden on himself. Even with balls of beeswax stuffed into their ears, PC’s could feel a burning ring in their ears and pangs of headache. Despite everything, PC’s along with Zestia and Talberon manage to overpower orcs guarding the entrance, which were fighting among themselves, obviously affected by the banshee’s wails.

Outside, they can see that Hezaq has left his tower. He’s trying to smile to his orcs, some of whom are trying to kill one another, some of whom are battering their heads against whatever they can, and still some of whom are laying motionless on the ground. Hezaq has a wooden staff covered with green moss or perhaps mould in his left hand. He begins drawing circles in the air. A dome of sickly green energy forms around his tower, the altar, the statue, the whipping posts, the treadmills, the well and the orc huts nearest to the far end of the camp. He draws another circle in the air and a new dome of energy forms over the cave, the ever-burning smith’s fire before the cave and the orc huts nearest to PC’s. Hezaq begins to smile triumphantly. He draws a third circle in the air, in the direction of the orc huts to the north side of the camp. Another dome of green energy forms and merges with the first two domes.

Kasya falls to her knees, and before Edgar can help her up, she has a vision of Agatha in her mind. Ancient banshee directs Kasya to lead the rest of the group towards the statue, to find the wand hidden there, and to throw the wand into the well on the other side of the clearing. Inside the protective barrier, Hezaq smiles wildly despite obvious strain to keep his protective barriers. His magic has stopped Agatha, and PC’s can see that still conscious and living orcs inside the energy dome have calmed down and are getting to their feet down, while those in the south huts outside the energy dome continue to be raving mad. Almost a dozen orcs rush the PC’s and after a desperate struggle, Edgar’s enchantments and Talberon’s destructive magic rule the field. PC’s follow Agatha’s instructions, and after locating and throwing the wand into the well, they all run back into the cave. Last one to enter is Kasya, who notices Hezaq drawing another circle in the air, toward the group of orc huts to the south side of the camp. This time, however, his staff explodes in yellow flame and smoke, surprising and obviously injuring him. He shakes his still smoking hand in pain, but decides then to ignore it and looks to the huts on the south edge of the camp. His dome of energy develops cracks everywhere and simply disappears. Orcs begin dropping over right and left and presumably dead. Hezaq cringes in pain and blanches to such an extent that his green face turns yellow. He seems to be helpless and rapidly moving in the direction of being beyond all help. Agatha apparently has arrived. She levels a finger in Hezaq’s direction and blasts him with a huge fireball that also levels the whipping posts, the well and both treadmills. The sheer force of the explosion blasts Kasya back into the cave, right next to Bryce. Outside the cave, explosions, wails, screams and thunders continue for what seem an eternity.

Finally, after some time ground stops shaking and storm disappears almost as suddenly as it appeared. Scrambling to their feet, William, Bryce, Edgar, Kasya, Zestia and Talberon cautiously leave the cave and witness scene of total destruction. Each and every building, structure and hut have been reduced to a smoking rubble. Mutilated orc bodies litter the field. Fighting with nausea triggered by the smell of still burning orc corpses, PC’s find a secret tunnel leading from the now dried-out well, towards the ruins of now destroyed Hezaq’s tower. Bryce bypasses few old traps, and they manage to find majority of their weapons and equipment in the cellar beneath the ruined tower. After retrieving their things, William leads the group towards south of the clearing, easily locating and following a trail orcs left behind. Thanks to half-orcs honed senses, they manage to get back on the Neverwinter-Conyberry road not far from the place they have been ambushed. Murmuring thanks to the Morninglord, the group continues towards Conyberry and they arrive there late evening on Kythorn 1st.

In Conyberry, PC’s are met with distrust, but after some negotiations (convincing) by Edgar, they are allowed to spend the night (actually two nights) in Conyberry Hall. There, PC’s meet with remnants of the Shield Furies Mercenary Co. from Daggerford, and learn of the potential danger (blood-sucking creature attacking non-elves) in the High Forest. While waiting for the “Shining Mug” caravan (due to arrive late on Kythorn 2nd), PC’s try to replenish their supplies and do various minor things. Kasya makes everyone except for William to take a bath, Bryce finds out that Verpol actually did pass through Conyberry about 5-6 days earlier. Both Zestia and Kasya are offered an “alternative way to bolster their income”, which they refused. Zestia flirts with Edgar, but he does not seem to notice that. Also, they find out that Everlund Pass is under almost 6 feet of snow and won’t be passable for some time to come, and that the only way to Silverymoon is over Longsaddle and Nesme. PC’s part ways with Talberon, despite Zestia’s protests that he should “be killed, as worthless Zhent scum he is…” Finally they hook up with loud mouths of “The Shining Mug Company”. The members of this group are braggarts who were big-mouthing the PCs with tales of their own bravado, trying to impress the inexperienced adventurers with their own glory. By the time they finally reached Triboar (2 days later), PC’s were already so fed up with those braggarts, that they almost wished for an orc attack, just to make them shut up!

1st session - This time it's for real

Mirtul 22nd was a cold, foggy day, with light drizzle and lots of walking and confusion amid the PC’s. Party has met Ormyl, and got the quest from him to deliver strange blue stones, with unknown magical properties to Lady Alustriel in Silverymoon. As a bonus, they found out that Verpol left the city during the night and went in the general direction of Silverymoon as well. Kasya managed to get drunk for the first time in her life, and probably because of that fate played with her (again) so tomorrow she met a mad beggar (doomsayer?) and promptly run away from his crazy ramblings (some would even dare to call them prophecies). Edgar established contact with Bargan Orccleaver, a grim dwarf caravan leader, and agreed for the party to journey with his “Shielded beard” coster (caravan). Upon detailed advices of Bargan, PC’s acquired a wagon, lots and lots of wilderness/outdoors equipment and food, and in the early morning on Mirtul 24th, they finally left Neverwinter. Since guards were under standing orders not to let them go outside the city (they were involved in a murder investigation, after all) it took some bluffing, convincing, creative truth-bending and finally intimidation by Kasya, of all people, but they managed to leave The City of Skilled Hands.

Road to Conyberry was muddy, dull and most of all – exhausting. In order to be “able” to travel with dwarves, Bargan made all PC’s train hard each and every day (night). Since PC’s were unprepared for such a harsh training, they almost collapsed and it took lot’s of diplomacy and skill from Edgar to convince Bargan to let them stay with dwarves. Finally, after PC’s showed their ineptness third night in a row, Bargan lost nerves and left with dwarven caravan early in the morning. PC’s continued to trudge towards Conyberry, but their journey was interrupted first by their horse breaking a leg (which they quickly cured by magic), and then by being ambushed by several dozens of orcs (Mirtul 27th). Orc quickly led them deeper into the Neverwinter forest, and after a several hours forced march towards north, they reached orc camp. Bryce, William and Edgar were stripped naked, tied to a pole and whipped until they passed out. Even an outburst by Kasya, where she transformed for a few seconds into something resembling golden white fire elemental, did not prevent Hezaq, from giving male PC’s a harsh lesson in discipline. Hezaq was an ogre mage, mad as a hatter, but all orcs obeyed and respected him.

Unconscious male PC’s, along with Kasya, were brought to a nearby cave, where their wounds were tended by an orc shaman. There they met Zestia, a daughter of a shaman of barbarian Black Raven tribe. Also present were Talberon, low level Zhent mage, and de Niktal, priest of Cyric (slightly crazy, naturally). Through the course of several days which they spent there, PC’s learned that Zestia was kidnapped from her tribe by Manshoon, and that he has placed her in custody and put de Niktal and Talberon as her (body)guards. Namely, several months ago, Manshoon came into possession of an ancient Netherese parchment. From this parchment, he believes to have learned that an ancient Neth mage of unimaginable power, sensing that his days were drawing to an end, vested his magic in the future. According to Manshoon’s theory, this Netherese magic was woven into the developing life force of a distant, great great granddaughter who would be born centuries upon centuries after the mage’s passing. Manshoon also interpreted the parchment to mean that the reborn Neth magic would manifest itself in the first son born of this enchanted great, great granddaughter in the making, provided the mating were to take place under the moon during the Midsummerfest in the Year of the Risen Elfkin, few years from now.

Now Hezaq was one of the Northern attackers who helped destruction of Zhentil Keep. He was among the captured, but his unusual and often strange magical abilities, together with the fact that he is a much higher level wizard than one would expect from an ogre mage, drew Manshoon’s attention, and the Zhentarim archmage not only spared Hezaq but quickly elevated him through the upper ranks of the Zhentarim. Unfortunately for Manshoon, Hezaq is quite insane. At this point, he enters the story. With one of his unusual brands of magic, Hezaq has managed to be able to pry into Manshoon’s things at times without being detected. Hezaq also has read the Netherese parchment and interprets part of it differently from Manshoon. Hezaq has no means of knowing whether Zestia is the intended vessel of magic, but he’s confident Manshoon could make no mistake in such a matter. However, Hezaq was able to correctly translate an old rune in the parchment that Manshoon misunderstood. Hezaq read that the mating couple must first be powdered with ground meal from the hard seeds of sage-weed, a popular ingredient in Neth magic and also one among the ogre mages of his homeland. Manshoon is unaware that sage-weed exists, because it usually is found only in the remote North. Hezaq also knows that sage-weed meal is only effective in old Neth magic when it has been milled by humans, if members of other races mill the seeds, the powder that is produced is non-magical. And some time ago, he learned that the banshee Agatha has a hidden meadow in Neverwinter Woods, where sage-weed flowers in Spring and produces ripe seed in Summer. The major point where Hezaq’s understanding and Manshoon’s diverge is the date when the mating with the vessel of magic must take place. Manshoon believes that date will come in few years and Hezaq is convinced that this year, the Year of the Tankard, is the fateful year. So, when Manshoon was off to Zhentil Keep recently, Hezaq captured Zestia along with Talberon and de Niktal, who attend to her, and transported all of them magically to his hidden encampment inside Neverwinter Woods, where he also has used a dweomer to conceal his own band of several hundred orcs.

So, male PC’s were forced to work the millstones, grinding the sage-weed, while Kasya and Zestia were kept on the side. Few uneventful days passed, and among preparations for the escape Kasya had a vision inside a dream, sensing Agatha’s furious arrival.

0 Session - If you can't convince 'em, confuse 'em

Edgar, Kasya and William entered Neverwinter with their caravan. They immediately set off for Moonstone Mask to search for Kasya’s sister Oriana (also known by her “artistic” name Kristiana). After some information gathering inside and outside of the Mask, they finally go to house her sister is renting. They find an entrance door left slightly ajar, and proceed inside, to find 3 Luskanites led by Verpol Essturton holding Kristiana/Oriana and her thief lover Bryce captured. A fight ensues, and luckily PC’s yell “Guards!” several times during the fight, as fight is going bad for them and they risk to be overpowered by the Luskanites. Guards burst in, all the Luskans manage to flee, so the guards promptly arrest everyone on scene (4 PC’s), and find Kristiana/Oriana dead.

The PC’s are brought in for questioning, and after detailed examination, and finally one excellent bluff story by Bryce, they were released next morning. They continue to argue (and get to know each other), first outside the guard/militia hall, and then go to the Fallen tower. They rent two rooms there and Bryce, Kasya and Edgar went into the rooms to argue some more, while William remained bellow and retold the innkeeper what happened last night. Very soon, half of the city knew of events last night (either by guards, neighbours or the innkeeper).

Despite emotional breakdown, and amidst tears Bryce was still able to detect several times that they are being followed and kept under surveillance by guards/militia. Finally, session ended when PC’s were found and approached by Huloth, who passed them a message from Ormyl: “I’ve heard of events last night. I ask all who were participating last night to visit me” (effectively all PC’s). Session ended there, among tears, accusations and explanations, and with a great desire expressed by PC’s to hunt and kill this Verpol guy.


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