13th of Kythorn of the year 1492
With the morning started, Fogo start everyone off with a wonderful large breakfast for everyone. Fwoosh was disappointed with all the holes in his new tent, but as he was putting it away, Avery Mended the holes. While everyone was settling the camp, Dancer hunted down the bandit tracks. The tracks were easily found and led west. Not wanting to attract too many predators, Fogo buried all bandits in a large pile using his Mold Earth magic.
The party then got the camp put away, the wagon and horses ready, and headed out to where they were told the graves had been found. They now had to decide which direction to go, continue heading to the graves and backtrack and find the bandit hideout. Fogo pushed heavily for the graves concerned that there might be captive lives at risk while Dancer pushed for the hideout noting that there could be evidence as well as captives there. The group chose Fogo’s path this time.
The rest of the distance was uneventful as they continued to head east and eventually a bit north to get to where they were told the graves had been found. As they approached, they could see the silhouette of three very large birds that appeared to be eating something on the ground. As the continued to get closer they could see that they were three giant vultures and there were three humans standing next to them, all watching closely. One of them in a fine set of plate stepped forward and motioned to the party to stop.
“Please wait a moment while we finish performing a sacred sky burial for our fallen brother-at-arms.”
Treyton Glemitsk (Feathergale Knight)
Those that were outside the wagon could see that the birds were eating something from inside two of the graves. The loud crunching noises made it clear that they were consuming flesh and bones completely. The knight moved a bit closer to put himself between the graves and the party.
“Excuse me sir.”
“Just give us a moment, we are almost finished. Once we are finished you can do what you want here. Let us finish what we started.”
“The problem is that we are looking for some of these dead bodies and we are fine with them getting their food here but…”
“These are members of our knighthood that died here so we are taking care of the proper burial.”
It did not take long for the birds to finish eating what was assumed to be bodies from two of the graves.
“I appreciate you honoring our ritual. We were surprised that our knights had been killed, and it took us some time to find out where they had been killed. Their vultures had come back to the Spire, and we did not know where they were.”
“Which Spire would that be?”
“It is the knights of the Feathergale, our Spire is slightly to the west and north of here. We patrol the area for brigands and other evil doers, and it seems that our knights got involved in what appears to be some sort of kidnapping by some sort of evil earth cult.”
“Are you a paladin order?”
“Then you might be able to help us. We are looking for a trade caravan that was last seen in Beliard.”
“That might have been what happened here. When we see brigands, we attack when we can. From what we know from information we had gotten, that there was an ambush further north of here and that they had been traveling via the river. Our knights had somehow thought they had them here, but there were more than they thought and were killed.”
The conversation continued with the party still wanting to explore the graves. More information was shared, but there was still one nagging point.
“I wonder who made the graves? This does seem to be out of the ordinary.”
“If it were the earth cultists, they are form believers that things should be put back into the earth, and even for foes they hated, they would still bury them.”
“There is the pirate base, and then there is the earth cult. You are welcome to come back to the Spire with us, or just investigate here.”
Deciding to investigate at the graves first and then head to Spire for more information and possible allies. When asked about other cultist, the knight claimed to only know about the evil earth cultists. He knew about brigands, pirates, orcs, and the Uthgardt barbarians in the area, but not much about cultists. He knots that it was their 10th anniversary of their society and invited the group to the Spire to enjoy celebration.
When asked about the hippogriffs they had seen, he told them that the Feathergale knights do patrols over the entire value and regularly help save formers and merchants from bandits and orc raids. When asked about why they had not heard of the knighthood, the party was told that their knight-commander came from Waterdeep and because what they used for mounts it was very difficult to go to any of the small towns since the mounts would eat horses and most other beasts of burden. Helping those in the more rural areas was more in line with the knighthood. He expressed his concern about the Iceshield orcs that continue to encroach into the eastern side of the hills and knew that they had built several war lodges on the western side of the High Forest.
As the questions continued, he pushed them to speak to his knight-commander Thurl Merosska back at the Spire and attend the party that they will be having. When mentioned they their mission seemed to be looking for trouble. He warned them about the ogres, trolls, and even hill giants. He mentioned that there are a lot of evil flying creatures to including manticores. The group explained a lot of what they had been doing and what different missions they had accomplished. The three then flew off on their vultures heading in the direction of where they had said the Spire was.
Once the knights were gone, the group went over to the remaining six graves to look. The two open graves were mostly empty except for a few pieces of lingering flesh and bone that the vultures missed. After digging out the rest of the graves they found two people dressed in the livery of Mirabar, a tradesman of some type, and three people unusually dressed in some sort of unique stone armor. It was not an armor type they had seen before, and none of them were even sure how one would wear it properly. No weapons were found in any of the graves. Looking around the area further, Avery was able to find a confusing collection of tracks, a broken arrow, and discarded javelin and the tatters of a grey cloak. He was also able to find some tracks going north as well as east from the grave location. Dancer decided to dig in deeper and look for tattoos on the bodies. One of the ones in stony armor had a tattoo of the Drow Earth symbol over his heart. Dancer tried to convince them to take the piece of skin he had peeled off, but they just had Fwoosh make a copy and left the piece of skin back in the grave.
Drow Earth Symbol
The topic of the pirates and bandits were brought up that maybe they were both related to the cults and that is how some of the delegation evidence showed up in Womford. They were hoping to be able to find out more about from the knights once they get to the Spire. They traveled for a few hours and decided to camp for the night instead of continuing in the dark. After setting up camp they had their regular watches and were able to pass the night without incident.
14th of Kythorn of the year 1492
After hearing tales of manticores and other large flying creatures, Vladimir made sure he counted four horses in the morning, and they were all still there. Nothing had bothered them all night long. It did not take long for them to put away the camp and get the wagon ready. It only took a few hours before they found the mouth of the valley leading to the Spire. They saw a giant vulture in the air above them. It had just chased away a pair of antlered birds that seemed to be stalking their wagon.
The vulture rider indicated for them to follow the western side of the valley to get to the Spire. They could see the tall Spire. The very top was about 500 feet from the bottom of the valley. The tower itself was over 100 feet tall itself. They could see that there was a drawbridge attached to the Spire that separated it from the side of the valley. The entry to the valley was narrow and without the directions they had received, they would probably never have found it. There were constant gusts of heavy winds filling the valley making travel unpleasant with the air always pushing against you.
Another surprise was that while there was a drawbridge to the tower, there was not much of a trail leading away from it. It seemed that there was little ground traffic to the Spire. There were a pair of hippogriff riders that were flying high patrolling the area. The two flew over briefly to look at the wagon and then flew off somewhere else. The drawbridge was down as they approached. Their wagon would not fit on it, and they would need to decide who went into the Spire, and who stayed behind guarding the wagon and horses.
Avery, Fwoosh, and Vladimir headed in while the rest stayed behind to stay with the wagon. They were met by a female knight Savra Belabranta. When asked about what threats they might face by staying at the end of the drawbridge she told them that it was unlikely that anything overground or in the air probably would not approach them, but they suspected that there was an ankheg nest somewhere in the valley, and if there was, then there is also probably an ankheg queen as well.
With Savra leading the way, the three of them went up the spiral staircase until they got to the banquet hall. She explained that she had only been a member for about a year and had been recruited in Waterdeep. She told them that she was told that the knighthood had built the tower at some point in the past. The room was filled with knights and initiates. Food was piled high on the tables, and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves at the feast. A heavily armed and armored man was sitting at the head of a large table. Savra introduced them to the knight-commander Thurl Merosska.
“Welcome to Feathergale Spire, retreat of the Feathergale Society. I am Thurl Merosska, the lord commander. How can I help you and enjoy the food.”
“We heard you are celebrating your tenth year?”
Looking around, there also seemed to be a couple of priests and some men that were not armored but seemed to be militant in their movements. In a corner the group could see a half elf playing the flute with a small group accompanying him. It was less music and more noise, but it seemed that everyone just ignored them and the noise they were making. Avery approached one of the unarmored men.
Half-Elf Flute Player
“Pardon me good sir, do you mind if I ask your vocation?”
“I am part of the Feathergale Society.”
“Do you work magic?”
“Just being alive is magic. Being part of the air is magic.”
Unarmored Feathergale Man
While that was happening, Vladimir spoke with Thurl. Asking about some food for his friends, Thurl ordered a feast to be brought out for the others outside. When asked about the aerial patrols, he explained that they were well known among the more rural people such as farmers and such. He expressed his favorable impression of the Paladins of Samular.
“We have heard that you have been engaged with the earth cultists.”
“Ah, evil men, evil men. We know where their main camp is, well it is a ruined temple more than anything else. There are not enough of us to really take care of it. We are airborne knights, not ground troops.”
“That does post some complications.”
They are earth people, they are ground troops, counter to us.”
“As it so happens, that we fancy ourselves a group of a particular thorn in the sides of the earth cultists.”
“I am glad to hear that. I would be happy to tell you exactly where they are and if you could get rid of them, I would reward greatly.”
“That sounds great.”
The discussion went further on about their concerns and that they were looking for a trade delegation that they suspect had been ambushed. Thurl revealed that they had captured one of the earth cultists and were able to get information out of him. Which is how they knew where the knights had been killed. He gave them the location of where they thought the ambush took place as well as the location of the earth cultist temple. He also brought up that there were also the pirates that seemed to have been involved and was also concerned about the pirate base on the River Dessarin in the foothills of the Sumber Hills. He did mention that only some of them were handed over to the earth cultist whereas the rest the pirates kept and brought those to their keep on the river.
The knight-commander also asked the three of them to explain more about what they have been doing. He seemed fascinated with the stories and all that they had accomplished. When asked about the Bleeding Eye, he did not seem to know anything about them, or that organization? They also brought up the water cultists they had found and that there might be some relationship between the groups. Thurl kept asking questions since the stories they were telling was not very sequential, nor did it make sense many times. He also was interested in why they were pursuing the missing delegation.
Outside a feast for a dozen was brought out to the three guarding the wagon. The initiates that dropped off the food were interested in the three, especially since all three of them were from unusual races. Fogo was happy to oblige and told the initiates about the group. They continued to ask the rest about their past and more about them. Fogo was fascinated with the ritual that he had seen to which the initiates explained more about it. When asked about how they were involved, they explained that there are recruiters in many large towns and some of the process they went through. Dancer seemed confused about how militant orders worked and keep asking odd questions that confused the initiates a fair amount. Angelica impressed them by her ability to sprout wings and fly around for a minute. With the discussions completed, the Initiates head back in leaving the food behind.
“If you take out either location, it would be nice if you brought some prisoners back.”
“It has not been a priority yet, but we will see what we can do.”
“Cultists are kind of like ant nests. If you kick one, many more hiding will come out. So, if you could bring some back that would be great.”
Thurl explained about having survived in storm which changed his life and combined with the politics in Waterdeep are complex, and many times hostile, he moved here with a few of his knights.
“I just mentioned your coming from Waterdeep because it seems like you have taken a very moral stance against the cultists.”
“Someone needs to. We also take a strong moral stance against all evil.”
“Would you describe yourselves as paladins?”
‘We say knights. Paladin implies some sort of religious order. We are not religious.”
“You do not follow a god?”
“No necessarily. We worship the knighthood. We are just here to do what we feel is right.”
Vladimir kept looking into their possible religious connections, but Thurl kept denying it. When asked about their funding and the fact that they were able to build the Spire, he explained that the nobles of Waterdeep were very wealthy. Fwoosh was enamored with the large windows and the height that they were at. It was then that Fwoosh asked about going to the top of the tower. Thurl agreed but needed a few minutes to prepare. It was not long when they were able to start the trek upwards followed by the half-elf and one of the priests. The top was a large green space with four small platforms that jutted out, each one in an ordinal direction.
“We have a test of courage here. It is part of becoming an initiate.”
“Is it to jump off?”
“You must have a leap of faith and if the knights will save you before you hit the ground. Would you like to take the test of courage?”
Vladimir walked to the edge and jumped off. Back at the wagon the shrill whistle from above the tower caused the three there to look up and were horrified as they saw someone fall from the top. When looking closer, Angelica realized that it was Vladimir. The three panicked running to the drawbridge. Dancer began ring the bell at the end of the drawbridge with a lot of vigor. They saw Vladimir’s limp and possibly dead body get carried back up to the top by a Giant Vulture and its rider. Dancer set up with his bow while Fogo and Angelica ran across the drawbridge where they were met by a knight.
“Woah, what is going on?”
“We just saw our friend fall of the top of the tower and saw what looked like his limp body being carried back to the top.”
“It is a test of courage, and he failed.”
Explaining more about the ritual he seemed to persuade Fogo that Vladimir was probably okay. It was then that Fwoosh jumped off. It was now that the others could see that has the jumper got close to the ground a knight would fly by and cast some sort of magic on them which slows their fall almost completely. Avery did not want to be left out but mentioned that he could handle it but could cheat.
“That would not be much of a test of courage then would it be?”
Handing his spell focus, Avery walked off as well, but was not able to remain conscious either and had to be saved by a knight. Thurl welcomed them to come back at any time but warned them they might consider walking so that they would all be able to stay inside the tower next time. He warned them about the ankhegs as well. On the wat down, Vladimir tried having a conversation with the priest that had accompanied them.
“So, you did not want to jump off as well?”
“I do not need the test of courage.”
“I thought everyone had to go through it.”
“Some of us do not need to.”
“You are just that courageous?”
“When you are already one with the air, it has no meaning to leap off. There is no meaning for a leap of faith such as that when you already have your faith.”
“What faith gives you the wings to allow you to be in the air so confidently?”
“There are many ways of flying, relying on someone else to save you is not real courage. Leaping off knowing that someone will save is not courage.”
“You must be a lot of fun at parties.”
“I am not here to have fun, nor party.”
Finally, back at the entrance the group was back together again. Fogo was still in a bit of a panic, but they were able to convince him that everything was okay. Vladimir shared a lot of the details that he learned, and the group began strategizing on what they should do next. Deciding that camping in front of the Spire might be the safest place for them since getting to the edge of the valley before the sun sets would be impossible. Setting up camp and watches they got ready for the evening. Dancer suggested that in the morning that they attempt to get the knights to carry them to their next location instead of taking the wagon everywhere. It was also suggested that they send a message to the Dwarves back in Red Larch to see if they can assist them or at least add in reinforcements somewhere. Fogo brought up that he could send an Animal Messenger in the morning to get a message to Red Larch and the Dwarves.
With night having arrived, the completed their dinner and started their watches and waited for the morning.
15th of Kythorn of the year 1492
It was during Angelica’s watch early in the morning before first light that she was startled by a sudden rush of sound and air as many large flying creatures seemed to have departed out of the Spire. As she looked over, she could see that most of the windows had light in them which slowly flickered out. It was not much after that that morning arrived and the rest got up. With the drawbridge up, Vladimir rang the bell. It took a while, and someone finally yelled across the chasm at Vladmir. It was the priest that Vladimir had words with yesterday.
“What do you want?”
“We were hoping to get some assistance before we leave. We were hoping to get a message of rather high importance back to Red Larch.”
“How are we supposed to do that?”
“We were hoping you might be able to send someone on a mount to get fly close enough to the town that they could deliver it.”
“All the knights left first thing this morning. They got word of an orc raid on a farm east of the hills. There are no knights here right now.”
“There are no knights to send a message?”
“There are no mounts left here. Even the patrol left. There are no patrols right now in the valley.”
“Well, okay. Then we will find another way to send our message.”
With that path cut off for messages, they now had to rely on Fog’s Animal Messenger. Taking the camp down and moving to the entrance of the valley their day got started. While on the trail, Fogo crafted his message that he was going to send. Once it was ready, he cast his magic repeatedly until he had four identical messages being sent to Theldor Darkaxe.
“Delegation found. Earth cultists. Send soldiers and healers. Hug southern hills until x. Path goes north. Will mark terrain. We arrive Kythorn 16. From Vlad”
And this is where the session ended.
Founding and fall: Although the dwarfs of Besilmer had, in −4420 DR, settled overground under the leadership of Torhild Flametongue, they suffered constant attack from trolls and giants, which led to the construction of the underground fortress city of Tyar-Besil around −4320 DR.
Torhild Flametongue was killed in combat against a hill giant at Stone Bridge, and this led to the fleeing of the dwarves in the area, and later, to the complete abandonment of Tyar-Besil by −4160 DR.
Drow History: While much of the Drow history is shrouded in shadows, many times manipulated and even deleted, we do know that they were a large city under the Sumber Hills occupied by the Drow. It is said that it sat somewhere between the Underdark and the surface, but still hundreds of feet below the surface. Because of its location, we are not sure of its purpose, and some devious purpose it would have had. Drow is meticulous in their planning, and rarely do anything that is not to their benefit. When and why, it was abandoned is unknown, but the Drow themselves have little recorded history of that excursion and city. It is almost as if a division of the Drow moved there for some separate purpose, either driven away, or for some other nefarious plan. Any location where they were Drow, there will also be multiple entrances to the Underdark.
Drow Ruins and the Construction of Tyar-Besil: The Dwarven excavations of their own city, while underground, did not reach the same depths as the Drow city, but there were the occasional connections between the two. It is said that vaulted chambers with alters worshiping dark and evil gods were found more than once. When found, these were all sealed off to keep the residents of Tyar-Besil safe from whatever had been found within.
Rediscovery: Tyar-Besil was rediscovered in 893 DR by an adventuring company called the Knights of the Silver Horn. Over the subsequent six years, the adventuring company continued to return to the ruined city and were able to construct strongholds at the hidden entrances to Tyar-Besil to protect it.
When the orc realm of Uruth Ukrypt gained power, leading to the Orcfastings War, the First and Second Trollwars, and drow raids, the human population of the Dessarin Valley was almost wiped out, and the Knights of the Silver Horn had disappeared. Their former strongholds, protecting the hidden entrances to Tyar-Besil, became known as the Haunted Keeps.
Layers: It is interesting to look at the depths of all the ruins. One top sits the haunted keeps built six hundred years ago, which included many Dwarven settlements and ruins of that period, many of which are being found today. Below there are the mines that are still active by many Dwarven miners, and then Tyar-Besil which dates back over 6,000 years ago, followed by the unnamed Drow city that should be over 10,000 years old, and finally the Underdark.
The found the graves, the met the Feathergale Society, and now they are planning an assault on the evil earth cultists base. What could go wrong?