Shadowlight

Session 1!

5th Day of Ches, Loudwater

Brocc sings a tale of lovers, torn apart by an evil overlord, but by the end of the song they are reunited and the evil overthrown. A few of the locals in the tavern give a short clap before returning to their lunchtime meal of beer and boar. Brocc shrugs and moves off the small stage and over to Alkin.

The two discuss various things, Alkin seems keen on setting out on high adventure, to vanquish great evil and do great good. He has hear rumours of ruins in the High Forest and the Fallen lands, but nothing specific.

Meanwhile Zelthas and Scrag are sitting across the way, also discussing doing good, but from a different perspective. They have recently arrived in Loudwater, following the trail of some women, but she left town before they arrived with a band of ruffians. Now they hear rumours of some protection racket starting up in town from the owner of the general store. Where there is a protection racket there is money, and possibly reward, which seems to be what motivates the thuggish half-orc.

Oakheart, a strange shifter, who looks distinctly out of place in the tavern, likely to be much more at home in the forest approaches their table. Rather bluntly he asks Scrag where he from, and seems disappointed (or perhaps relieved) when he discovered he is not from the High Forest, but from Luskan. Clearly a druid, and lacking in social skills he simply plonks himself at the table, although he does agree to buy the next round, so all is not lost.

Milvus, a giant (over 7’ tall) goliath then enters the tavern. Many look his way with some stares, but soon most return to their drinks. Oakheart again bluntly introduces himself to the goliath, before basically inviting him to join the others. He says he is in town looking for some human’s who might have passed through. He refuses to elaborate, and with such a vague description the others just shrug to themselves.

Meanwhile Brocc is going around asking for tips – he doesn’t expect much as its the evenings when he makes most of his money. He uses it as an excuse to get closer to the group of strangers and enquires after there health.

Find the Gang

The decision is made to talk to the general store owner again. Zelthas, Scrag and Brocc set off, leaving the others behind for a moment. They find out that a menacing tiefling called Narrows is the only person seen, although it is inferred that others are about, and that their leader is someone called the ‘Lady of Shadows’. It isn’t clear if she is a real person, or perhaps refers to the goddess Shar.

Talking to a couple of other shop owners, and a beaten up bloke in a tavern reveals the gang are based in an abandoned tenement in the north west of town. They return for the others and decide to check it out, a bit later when it is darker.

Milvus wanders around town, trying to talk to people about the ‘humans’ he is searching for, but more manages to scare people than find things out.

As evening approaches and dusk falls the group of six head to the tenement. They find a boarded up door, that on closer examination has been made to look boarded up but contains a small latch allowing it to be opened. The door leads to a dusty dark corridor. At the end is another old looking door, this time with a lock. Zelthas easily picks the lock, sliding his tools back into his pocket.

Wandering down the next corridor Oakheart stops the group. He spots a large trap on the floor, loose floorboards possibly covering a pit. With the aid of Scrag, Zelthis disables the trap, and the group moves on to the large iron doors at the end of the corridor.

Voices are heard beyond, but attempts to open these doors end in failure, as the voices stop, obviously aware that we are here. Milvus and Scrag charge the half unlocked door, blasting it open.

Fight!

The fight is surprisingly fast. Most of the people in the room are minions, taken down quickly. Two elven archers are at the back of the room, one taken down very quickly by a devastating attack from Scrag, the other lasts longer but eventually goes down. Likewise Narrows, the tiefling, doesn’t last very long either.

Oakheart is the only one who noticed the ‘Lady of Shadows’, who then quickly disappears again, but continues to pepper the party with attacks. At the climax of the fight she is cornered at the top of a stairwell, but then escapes out of an upstairs window.

Clues

A check of the rooms reveals a caged area in the back of one room. A bloody note is found scratched on the corner of some cloth, reading “Save us please, we are being sold as slaves to the snakemen! They plan to sell us to Zelbross bandits”.

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Session 2
The party follow Zark, and head to Zelbross

The battle against the Loudwater gang was over, and the room was searched. A rather small amount of gold and silver was found (89gp, 230sp ~ 18gp each).

Some strange arcane tiles were found on the floor of the room. The tiles appeared to be something that might be used for a teleportation spell, linking two places with a portal together. It was decided to disrupt the use of the tiles as a possible destination by lifting one of the tiles and taking it with us. Brocc intends to study the runes and try to work out exactly how they might be used.

Zark Alert!

Outside everything looks normal until Oakheart spots a small humanoid observing the party from behind some crates. We wander down the street as if we hadn’t noticed and then surprise him. It turns out to be a short dwarf with a large belt of daggers. Brocc recognises him as Zark, a local of Loudwater who is often involved in dodgy dealings.

He denies any knowledge of the gang, but it is obvious he is lying. Despite threats he doesn’t seem inclined to tell much, but Brocc assures the others he knows where the dwarf lives, so they decide to let him go, promising to keep an eye on him.

This they do straight away, with Zelthas following the dwarf as he makes his way through the back streets of Loudwater to the river docks. He boards a barge being loaded with barrels by two humans. Zelthas drops silently into the water and up onto the back of the barge, finding himself at a porthole with a view of the interior he observes Zark jotting something down in a journal or ledger, before a snake like humanoid is seen entering.

Zark chats to the snakeman, indicating that he feels their business relationship might be at an end, but the snakeman seems to think there is more trade to be had. Zark eventually leaves the barge, and it sets off down river, presumably heading for Zelbross.

Making his way back to the group after watching the barge leave he discusses what he has seen. Oakheart easily identifies the creature as one of the lizard folk, a reptilian race of swamp dwelling creatures. With Zelbross over 50 miles away, and the barge having a good head start the group has to wait till morning before it can set out, gathering there horses just before dawn.

Prior to sleep Brocc dropped in on a tavern were a guardsman he knew would be drinking. He let the guardsman know about the abandoned tenement, hoping that the Loudwater patrol would secure the location and hopefully stop the lady of shadows from returning. He just hoped that the rumours of the involvement of the patrol in the gangs’ activities weren’t true.

They quickly attempt to hire a skiff, but at 100gp for 10 days it is too rich for the party, who decide they will have to stick to their horses.

Zelbross Reached

7th Day of Ches

The journey to Zelbross took them the best part of 2 days, but the time went fast as they concentrated on the task ahead. They approached the remains of the town late afternoon. Most of the town was little more than rubble, but an old temple building appeared to have survived better than most, with most of its walls still standing, although the roof was long gone. Wagon tracks lead straight to the temple, and the group advanced slowly.

The temple turned out to be the base for the bandits, as the group was surrounded on all sides by crossbow wielding gang members. The lizard man appeared, blasting the ground around the group turning it to slushy marshland, making movement hard.

Milvus took an early battering, but his resilience showed through as he regained his feet and started to take down the bandits. Once Scrag had determined the strength of the foes he faced he started to take out the main combatants, finally putting and end to the lizard man in face to face combat. Everyone else did there part, with Zelthas’s strange chaotic magic making its mark yet again.

The battle was won, but what answers would the ruins of Zelbross reveal?

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Session 3
The trail goes cold…

With the battle over the gang begin to explore the now safe ruins. A quick search of the bodies reveals a small amount of gold (35gp). The lizardfolk creature has a set of keys on a ring, which we take with us as we investigate the rooms around the ruins.

One room to the south has a sturdy looking door, but the keys soon provide access. Within appears to be the spoils of bandit raids; various barrels of goods, mostly food stuffs such as flour. There is also a chest which contains 250gp and a pair of gauntlets of ogre power.

Expecting to find some slaves in the other rooms we continue on, and find in the lower west building a group of small children behind locked bars. Again the keys open the bars and we free the children, unshackling them. The children look in reasonable health, if a little under nourished, so trail rations are handed out.

We talk to the children and try to find out what has happened. They are all from various farms around Loudwater, and tell similar stories of being captured by the bandits, thrown into barrels and then travelling by water to this ruin. When asked about any particular people they saw all mention the lizardfolk man, but a few mention a lady with long waist length raven hair, who the bandits talked to near the Dire Woods. She looked like some kind of priestess.

The children say that there used to be more of them, but that some had already been taken away, possibly to Najara or even to Cormyr. There was mention of a Eladrin child amongst them, but most seem to have been human.

We also interrogated one of the surviving bandits, who managed to trap herself behind a barred gate. She seems to know little beyond what we have already established, but is suitably cowed when Milvus rips the door from its hinges to get her out.

Food is foraged from the surrounding areas by Milvus and Oakheart and we set up camp for the night. The following day we set off back to Loudwater, each horse taking one or two children, the prisoner being forced to walk, tied to a saddle. After two long days travel we make it back to Loudwater and hand the children and the prisoner over to the Loudwater Patrol.

We decide to find Zark and ask him some very specific questions about the slavery. He knows of the priestess, who was in town about 14 days ago. She seemed to be investigating the town, working out who its movers and shakers were, and taking to various groups, including Zark and the Lady of Shadows.

He also reveals that the Lady of Shadows is a Shade, a humanoid creature originating from Nethril.

Brocc mentioned to everyone that the only real movers and shakers he knows of are probably Zark himself, the Lady Moonfire (Loudwater mayor) and Curuvar the Brazen, a wizard of some renown in Loudwater.

The group decide to go and find Curuvar, who often drinks at the Green Tankard. Once they ‘introduce’ themselves and begin talking he confirms that he was approached by the priestess ‘Madreen’. She asked many interesting questions about the town, interested in any seats of powers, large gangs, and its military strength. Curuvar worked out she was a priestess of Shar.

Curuvar suggests that if we are searching for answers we should consider a trip to the Spellgard, where the Lady of Spellgard is said to answer a single question for each person she deems worth. Spellgard is a large ruin, and may still yet contain hidden treasures, and unknown dangers. Some say she favours those who work to rebuilt the ruins, others talk of different tasks that gain her favour. Curuvar visited the ruins but nothing much happened and he got bored and left. He points out that many people stay at the Monastery of the Precipice, a place for people searching out the Lady and her answers.

Unsure what to do next the group decide to stake out Zark, and the tenement building to see if the Lady of Shadows returns. Zelthasand Scrag follow Zark, with the others going to the tenement building.

Zark ends up down by the river docks, again loading a barge with the help of two humans. Suddenly one of the dock workers topples over, falling into the river. Seconds later the other follows. From the shadows emerges a mysterious figure, The Lady of Shadows presumably, surrounded in a dark veil. She approaches Zark, and talks to him. Zelthas and Scrag try to get a bit closer but are spotted, at which the lady darts down the quay, out onto a jetty and dives into the water.

Zark refuses to answer their questions unless Zelthas and Scrag help hide the bodies, so while Scrag takes on to the tenement building Zark tells Zelthas that the Lady and her remaining crew are abandoning Loudwater and heading to the Thunderspire, an underground trading post in the Thunder Peaks. It appears she still has some kind of base in town.

The group discusses the prospect of heading to either Spellgard or Cormyr, with the favour being to head to Cormyr. The decision to follow the Lady of Shadows is finally reached, with only the route to be chosen. The more direct route is to head directly south through Najara, but the safer route is to keep to the trade routes and go via Daggerford.

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Session 4
Coming to Cormyr…

We finally decide to set off to Cormyr, picking the most direct route possible. We head off past the marshes of Najara, and down round the mountains, finally ending up at Arabel.

Arabel is a large city, bigger than some of our group have ever seen. The presence of the purple cloaks of Cormyr is a reminder that if we are to function as a group properly we should probably get a charter. We do that the following day, peacebonding our weapons. We call ourselves the Grey Vale Wanderers, for want of a better name. (100gp expense)

Brocc takes to the taverns, chatting to people till he finds someone who has hear of the Thunderspire Peak and can offer directions. After paying or the information he gives us directions to follow, which take us into the heart of the mountains. He warns us that a Hobgoblin group called the Blood Reavers work out of the place, a gang of slave traders. We also learn that the spire used to be ‘organised’ by a cabal of wizard, but has been taken over by shades.

The thunderspire is still a good few days off, and as we travel Oakheart gets the feeling we are being followed. He thought he spotted a fire in the distance one night, and when he spotted it again the following night was doubly sure.

Zethias, Scrag, and a panther form Oakheart track back along our path hoping to find out who is following. After an hour they finally come across a quickly abandoned camp, and suspect the camp owners have lopped round and are now heading towards our current camp.

Meanwhile the others are sitting in camp, wondering what is happening. Brocc has scaled a tree, hoping to see what is going on but in the darkness not seeing much. Finally the sound of horses is heard, and a group of strangers come close to camp. “Brocc, are you there” calls a familiar voice, that of Brocc’s good friend, and one time mentor Erdan. It turns out he has been following Brocc for some time, hoping to catch up. He is heading to Sembia with two comrades, Brale and Dirk, with plans he hopes are going to cause the shades a great amount of hurt.

Zembia and Oakheart finally arrive back, and after calming everyone down Brocc introduces everyone. The night is spent talking and telling tall tales, before watches are set. The following morning Erdan and his friends set off for Sembia. Before he leaves he tells Brocc to think about joining with him and the Harpers, and to be careful in the Thunderspire. Brocc promises to look him up in Silverymoon when they get back, and will consider his offer.

The group continues its journey, and while making their way through a pass are set upon by a group of hobgoblins. Oakheart sets up his wall of thorns which removes two creatures from the fight, but the archers atop the canyon sides cause us no end of trouble. Finally Oakheart manages to pull one over the edge to a horrible death, and another is blasted by the others till finally they run.

A small amount of gold is found amongst bodies (46gp) and group carries on. After following the rest of the instructions they find themselves at a large cave entrance. They light torches, and set off inside. The cave narrows, turning into a nature passageway before a doorway is cut into the rock on one side. Light filters from under the doorway, and sounds come from inside, insults appear to be passed back and forth between two groups, one rough and coarse, the other, a single voice, high pitched and smaller sounding.

Zethias suggests Milvus goes first, so he knocks down the door and attacks the first person he sees! Combat ensues, against a large group of hobgoblins, one of whom keeps blasting the group with some kind of force effect, knocking them backward and to the floor. Zethias’ chaotic powers yet again have unpredictable results, but eventually start to take down the enemy before eventually only the plate wearing hobgoblin is left, who finally surrenders.

We await next session to see what the hobgoblin has to say for himself…

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