19th of Kythorn of the year 1492

Getting a small amount of healing for each other, they began taking stock of what has happened and what they should be doing?  Some moved to guard the stairs and the rest went to release the prisoners.  Focusing on Imar, and then moving to the dwarves and unknown humans Dancer and Fwoosh worked as quickly as possible to get people freed.  Fogo and ISAC worked on the commoners in two rooms. Dancer seemed more shocked by Fogo’s and Imar’s naked parts being exposed and kept urging them to wear something like the bag that had been over their head before.

Yllanys and Atticus (better known as Ace) talked among themselves as they waited to be freed. Calling out to the party to get some attention to themselves, they hoped to be earlier in the queue.  It did not take too long before everyone was freed, and they were able to have a conversation about their captors.

Atticus and Yllanys warned the group that there were many more of the water cultists. They knew that they were water cultists since they all talked about it openly in front of the prisoners.  The five dwarves were with Atticus and Yllanys all came from the delegation and had been captured about two weeks ago.

The group considered casting some more Water Walking to get people out and trying to understand the timing of it, Dancer ran ahead and checked out the entrance to the underground river (still having his Water Walking enabled) and found that there were several lights outside the tunnel moving around. Running back and warning the group that there might be visitors soon.

Fwoosh turned invisible and ran up the stairs to scout the alternate way out while the rest of the party started getting ready for combat. While this was occurring, a group of invisible cultists appeared at the water’s edge, and two water serpents leaped from the water turning into fat blue looking men. It was also then that Fwoosh ran into a group of cultists going down the stairs.

Water Cultist Male Priest

Water Cultist Female Priest

Fat Blue Men

Water Cultists with Shark Swords

Some of the party with their new companions blocked the stairs as Fwoosh came running down pursued by those above while the rest attempted to maneuver around to defend against those that had appeared suddenly.  It was a rough battle with several of the party members being wounded sufficiently to be knocked unconscious, but eventually they were able to prevail, but not before the female priest fled further down the river being pursued by Fwoosh and Dancer.

It was during this combat on the stairs that Vladimir suddenly froze for a moment as a vision filled his senses.

In the cloak of night, where secrets hide,

A gnome wizard runs, with fear as his guide.

His fire bolts streak across the sky,

Chased by a beast, where shadows lie.

On open plains, under a moonless shroud,

Their chase is silent; yet speaks aloud.

The gnome weaves spells in desperate flight,

Against a creature born of night.

Half-man, half-boar, a monstrous sight,

Eyes burning with a feral light.

It snarls and charges, relentless in its quest,

A nightmare unleashed, without rest.

Through the dark, they race and reel,

Magic and muscle, a deadly wheel.

Fire meets fury under starlit dome,

A battle waged far from home.

Bolts of fire, the gnome does cast,

Illuminating night, in every blast.

Yet on he runs, his breath grows thin,

With every step, less chance to win.

In a clash of wills, the night turns red,

Spells cast in vain, a sense of dread.

The gnome falls under hoof and claw,

A tragic end, the seer saw.

The creature stands, in victory grim,

Covered in blood, every limb.

In the silent plains, under night’s cold hue,

A tale of sorrow, dark and true.

Then, it turns, its gaze meets mine,

Across the veil of time and sign.

In its eyes, a message clear,

A warning from a realm so near.

Vladimir screamed out Avery’s name in a harsh sorrowful screech and with renewed aggression attacked those on the stairs. Pursuing the female priest, Fwoosh and Dancer kept attempting to shoot arrows in the dark they never knew if they were able to hit or not until the stopped following hundreds of feet of pursuit.  ISAC has by this time followed his urges to continue down following that path being followed by Dancer to ensure he was okay.

High above the cascading waters of a majestic, thundering waterfall, a shimmering and iridescent portal materializes, offering a tantalizing glimpse into something that is not in this world. It appears as a swirling vortex of opalescent mist, with hues of deep azure, aquamarine, and frosted silver intertwining in an ethereal dance. Its edges seem to ripple like the surface of a tranquil pond, emanating a faint, melodic hum that resonates through the surrounding air. Occasional shimmering motes of water droplets arc and weave around the portal, as if dancing in joyous anticipation of the mysteries beyond. As the portal hovers above the thundering waterfall, a perpetual rainbow arches gracefully around it, casting prismatic reflections onto the cascading waters below. The sound of rushing water melds harmoniously with the distant echoes of the location on the other side of the portal, creating an otherworldly symphony that beckons adventurers to venture through the veil and explore the realm beyond.

The portal was something unimaginable, frightening, and awe-inspiring at the same time.  After staring at it for what seemed hours, ISAC took out his golden statue and reach forward with it. As the statue got closer, the portal began to stretch and bend as if also reaching out to the statue.  Just as the two were about to touch the portal snapped back dimmer, darker, and somewhat subdued, although still swirling with all the colors it has before, just not as bright.

The rest of the party started looting the bodies while keeping an eye on the stairs. Trying to outfit those with weapons and armor for those that could use them to be better prepared. Vladimir sat down in a corner and began writing in his book.

“Moved to pirate castle. Avery killed in assault by boar-man. Some Mirabar delegates found. Still escaping. I’m sorry”

“Find any delegation members?”

“Five. Suspect more at earth temple.”

“When can you get them?”

But Vladimir had run out of words for today, so he was not able to reply. Dancer was able to drag ISAC back to the rest and everyone was together once again.  

With more time available the party was able to start chatting with the members of the captured delegation. They described the attack as very sudden as shortly departing Beliard.  The delegation had been moving slowly along the trail on their way to Summit Hall when large stones flew in and started killing the guards.  That was followed by the hill giants closing in with a group of men in stone plate with spikes.

It was panic and the group was overwhelmed quickly with all the guards being killed from what they could see. Everyone else was captured and knocked unconscious.  They next awoke on a ship sometime later and upon their arrival at the keep were all dragged off into the prison area. There was a discussion about who would get what prisoners.  They could not see who was making the negotiation, but the group was broken up into smaller sets and most of the delegation including all the leaders were sent elsewhere.  The seven of them that were left at the keep were used as slaves around the keep.

Atticus and Yllanys worked in the kitchen, while the dwarves who had skills as a craftsman were used to work on repairing weapons and armor for the bandits. Atticus shared some of the numbers that he poorly remembered so the party might be better prepared for what was left.  

They described the apparent pecking order of the enemies.  There seemed to be three groups.  The bandits were run by Jolliver, there was a female water cultist priest that controlled all the local cultists, and then there was Shoalar. The bandit leader and the female priest were in contention for control while both seemed to report to Shoalar who manages the pirates and the ships related to them.  They also talked about that people had been taken away, for a sacrifice or something else, they were not sure, but every time it occurred, the cultists would all talk about “the portal”.

Yllanys asked if they had seen the sage.  He expressed concern for him. When asked about the layout, the two described as best they could remember about the rest of the keep.  Imar explained he had been sent here by the Knights of Samular and told them there was some sort of illusion wall off the side of the sea wall that prevented anyone from the river from being able to see the keep.

Upon the return of Dancer and ISAC, Vladimir took all the remaining original party members aside and sadly told them that he thought that Avery might be dead. Fogo was the most shocked and just sat down on the blood-stained floor lamenting the loss of a friend again.

And this is where the session ended.

History Lesson

This is your host David Bourgh-Ettin continuing to review the peoples, history, and geography of the savage frontier.  This week we will reviewing a little more history, specifically the Trollwars and their impact on Waterdeep, but more importantly the Dessarin Valley.

Age of War Lords (932 to 1032 DR)

After some four decades of peace, two threats arose to challenge Waterdeep’s prosperity—orcs and trolls. In the Year of the Red Rain (927DR), a shaman named Wund arose among the orc tribes of the Sword Mountains. On the eve of the Feast of the Moon, as Wund had prophesied, blood red thunderclouds engulfed the Sword Mountains. For three days the slopes ran wet with blood, leaving behind the sickening stench of rot and decay. All manner of plagues quickly swept through the region. Many orcs (and other folk) died by the White Hand of Yutrus, including every tribal chieftain, but the spawn of Gruumsh who survived the crucible of plagues grew stronger.

In the immediate aftermath of the Blood Plagues, Wund established a monastic order known as the Brotherhood of the Scarlet Scourge. Members of the order organized the surviving orc tribes into a united realm under the spiritual guidance of the brotherhood. The most powerful chieftain, a massive, unintelligent tusker named Uruth, was crowned king by Wund.

The first signs of Waterdeep’s impending peril unfolded in the Year of Fireslaughter (932DR). Gangs of trolls, driven out of the Sword Mountains by the orc tribes of the region, began attacking Nimoar’s Hold with increasing regularity. In response, the aging Nimoar led his forces northward against the Everlasting Ones in what became known as the First Trollwar, burning miles of land bare in the process.

In the Year of the Sky Raiders (936DR), the armies of Uruth Ukrypt swept down the eastern slopes of the Sword Mountains. The armies of Waterdeep battled the orcs of Uruth Ukrypt in a series of pitched battles known as the Orcfastings War. Early orc victories in the Battle of Whirling Blades, the Battle of Sarcrag, and the Battle of Withered Fields drove Waterdeep’s forces back to the gates of Nimoar’s Hold. However, a timely feint by the Duke of Calandor enabled Nimoar’s forces to break the orcs’ siege of the hold in the Battle of Burning Cliffs.

Over the next five days, Waterdeep’s armies won four successive battles, shattering the might of Uruth Ukrypt’s armies. King Uruth fell in the Battle of the Westwood, but it was the death of Wund that precipitated the Horderout.

In the aftermath of the Orcfastings War, Nimoar died of old age, and the mantle of “War Lord” passed to Gharl, his most accomplished general. The orcs of Uruth Ukrypt retreated to their high steadings. Orc plans to attack Waterdeep in the Year of Cold Claws (940DR) faltered thanks to Palarandusk, a great gold Wyrm. This proved fortunate for the defenders of Waterdeep, for once again the Everlasting Ones began raiding, marking the beginning of the Second Trollwar.

For a dozen years, the defenders of Waterdeep battled gangs of trolls throughout the Dessarin River valley. Beginning with Amphail the Just, who reigned for a year, six warriors claimed the mantle of War Lord of Waterdeep during this period, only to fall in never-ending battle with the trolls.

In the Year of the Rings Royal (952DR), the human realms and holdings of the North united and finally ended the war, destroying or scattering the hordes of Everlasting Ones. Two heroes of that war were Ahghairon, thereafter recognized as the premier wizard of the Savage North, and Samular Caradoon, a Tyrran knight who attracted a large following to his banner. In the aftermath of the war, Ahghairon was elevated to the position of official advisor of the War Lord of Waterdeep, and Samular went on to form the Holy Order of Samular, a knighthood still active in Waterdeep to this day.

After fighting and winning three wars in the span of two decades, the city of Waterdeep emerged as a preeminent power in the North. Construction of Castle Waterdeep began in the Year of the Deadly Duo (963 DR), just north of the city walls. Over the next decade, the city’s walls were expanded to abut the wall around the ruins of Halaster’s Hold and replaced with high stone fortifications. In the Year of the Haunting Harpy (974DR), the castle was finally completed and Laroun, Waterdeep’s first female War Lord, took residence therein.

Laroun ruled long and well, seeing to Waterdeep’s continued prosperity and defense. By the Year of the Bold Barbarian (1007DR), the city walls had been expanded once again, absorbing the ruins of Halaster’s Hold, cloaked in wards by Ahghairon. Waterdeep’s master mage also built his tower in this year, at the time outside the city’s walls. In the Year of Three Signs (1010DR), Laroun officially established the Free City of Waterdeep, with herself as “Warlord” (or ruler).

In the Year of Lathander’s Light (1024DR), a daring band of Waterdhavian adventurers known as the Dawnbringer Company incited the orcs of Uruth Ukrypt by plundering their sacred crypt, known as the Ukrypt. Discovered in the act, the band fled the wrath of the Scarlet Scourge. In response, the Brotherhood of the Scarlet Scourge mustered the first orc horde in generations to emerge from the Sword Mountains. Bent on destroying the City of Splendors, the Broken Bone horde instead fell prey to Lhammaruntosz, the “Claws of the Coast.”

Enraged by its defeat, the Brotherhood of the Scarlet Scourge plotted revenge against the city of Waterdeep. In the Year of Crimson Magics (1026DR), the Brotherhood mustered another orc horde from the depths of the Sword Mountains. The Black Claw horde encircled the plateau on which the city lay and then repeatedly assaulted the City of Splendors. Warlord Laroun died defending Waterdeep during one of the desperate battles to hold the city’s walls.

Laroun’s title passed to Raurlor, leader of the city’s army, despite the reservations of Ahghairon. The Black Claw horde would have undoubtedly overrun the City of Splendors if not for the daring of an elite company of veterans who traveled through Halaster’s Underhalls, beyond the city walls, and then fell on the orc encampment from the rear. The defeats of two successive hordes shattered both the kingdom of Uruth Ukrypt and the order that sustained it. The orcs of the Sword Mountains disintegrated into warring tribes.

In the Year of Warlords (1030DR), Raurlor began to increase Waterdeep’s standing army and navy to a size not seen since the fall of Phalorm. Over the next two years, he turned the city into a garrison and military encampment, brooking no dissent from the populace. In the Year of the Nightmaidens (1032DR), Raurlor proclaimed the Empire of the North, but Ahghairon defied him, transforming the Warlord’s blade into a viper that poisoned its wielder; Raurlor died at the mage’s feet, and Ahghairon took power.

Campaign Notes

The party rescued Fogo, found Imar, learned a little about the keep and the water cultists, but also learned that Avery was most likely dead.  They have two dozen commoners and some of the delegation to still get out of the keep with an unknown number of bandits and possibly cultists in their way.