The Hidden Hand

Session 40
The heroic return to Baldur's Gate (hope we had boat insurance"

Behind a concealed and elaborately trapped door, set behind the throne of the Thieves guild lies a bare stone passage with a number of “interesting” features buried beneath the stonework. The corridor leads to a heavy but utilitarian door with no lock; anyone who got as far as this door wouldn’t be phased by anything as petty as simple tumblers and springs. Behind the door is s simple, stuffy looking study. The study is plain, especially compared to the ostentation of the hall it connects to, and the desks and shelves stacked high with ledgers and documents make it plain that this room is first and formost a room of business.

Behind the desk, organising stacks of paper, sits the lady known as Cat; her studiousness at odds with her public persona. In her hand is a sheet of low quality message paper, guild script scrawled messily over it.

“Garrad passed this through our Swordsmith Street safehouse?” she asks vaguely without looking up, still reading.

“Apparently”. The voice comes from a large man, unnoticeable until he speaks. He stands in the shadows between two bookcases, not so much hiding as seemingly part of the gloom itself. “Dropped off the note, asked after any news about that Diker chap, then headed out”

“Our Garrad is certainly……..enthusiastic in his writing” Cat says after another moment. “His use of punctuation especially…” a small wince as a particularly over emphasised description. “almost makes one wish the guild hadn’t gone to the cost of teaching him literacy.”

She puts the paper down on her desk, other hand going to massage her temples.

“You’ve read this”. She says; a flat statement. The letter had been delivered sealed with the heavy wax used to secure private documents with Garrad’s mark scrawled in place of a proper signet. That and some others had likewise been sealed in the heavy leather pouches the guild used for moving confidential messages, again with a heavy wax stamp enclosing it.

None of which would have been any obstacle for the man in the shadows. A simple grunt of assent is all that’s needed.

“Care to summarise for me” Cat asks, turning finally to look in the man’s direction.

“Sure. Where’d you get up to?”

“They’d just let that Devlin escape again and were back on the air ship we’d pointed them towards”

“Ahh, yes. They sighted Devlin’s ship heading back here to Balders Gate so they decided to persue, and they caught up with them just outside the city outskirts. By Garrad’s account, that crazy storm was caused by Devlin’s air ship, and it was that which caused their ship to crash into the docking platform”

“The “accident”…?” A raised eyebrow from Cat

“Can’t be traced to us at all. We’re clear” the man confirms. “Garrad’s description here is a bit….excitable here, but it seems that big brute Gregg and the sorcerer Polgara lost their minds or were possessed or something, and began attacking the crew. Some kind of storm elemental and wailing ghosts or zombies or wrights or something begin attacking as well and are really making work of the crew before that Paladin Delamore turns up with a friend in tow. Seems he’d been handily in the docking tower at the time”

“I don’t believe in coincidences, [i]especially[/i] convenient ones” Cat interjects

“I know” the man says, barest flicker of shadow giving the impression or raised hand “and I have Sallow Sal investigating that now. Anyway, they manage to drive off or kill the storm elemental, kill the ghosts and subdue Gregg and Polgara. All this time, the other air ship’s been hovering over this, but is sails away now.”

“Heading to Comryr” Cat says, gesturing at another stack of documents on her desk

“By all accounts” The man agrees “And Lord Brass seems to be mixed all up in it, right up to his eyebrows. He’s the one who pushed for the army to head out towards Cormyr anyway

“leaving those Flaming Fist hoodlums to run my city. Most likely into the ground” Cat frowns.

“A worrying development” the man confirms “We’re keeping our eyes on it. Anyway, they carry their two possessed friends over to Gilthin’s house, looking to get answers about whatever’s got them controlled, but they’re attacked by some shadows while they’re there, and no, I don’t know anything about [i]these[/i]shadows so don’t ask. That wizard Belgarath is already at Gilthin’s and between them they manage to fight the shadows off and come up with a plan to find more information. Garrad’s was to come to us, Not sure what the others are planning”

“He’s turned into such a reliable guild envoy for us, hasn’t he” Cat says contemplatively, leaning back in here chair. “He seems to be enjoying this adventuring life far too much though, I fear we’ve lost him from the guild. Still, we’ve gained a man in this Purple Eclipse company, and I have a feeling they’re going to be shaking a lot of Baldur’s Gate’s alliances and power blocs before they’re done. A more then even trade in the end”

“Probably a better place for the lad as well” The man says “His lack of enthusiasm for the job always left his talents going to waste”

“Where’s he now anyway” Cat asks

“Him and his old crew are doing a tour of all the guild friendly bars and dives. Kind of a welcome home tour. Assuming he doesn’t get himself shived, he should be reporting in again in a few days”

“good good” Cat says half distractedly, already moving onto another pile of documents “let him know I so look forward to his next report” a slight pause “but, maybe suggest to him less punctuation this time?”

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Interlude 3

The antechamber outside the throne room of Cormyr was vast and seemed, to Delamor, to be a cold and uninviting place. Attendants and burly guards waited near the doors to the throne room itself, and both Delamor and his father had given up their weapons before being permitted this far. Delamor felt almost naked without his sword, but had felt he could hardly refuse. His father waited with him, and seemed as ill at ease as he. Probably more so, reflected Delamor.

The doors to the throne room opened slightly, and one of the attendants bent his head to hear whispers from inside. The attendant nodded, then gestured for Delamor and his father to come forward. “You may enter”, he said. The doors were thrown wide, and Delamor strode forward, his father at his side.

The chamber was vast and sunlight streamed in from high windows, illuminating the most valuable statues and paintings from the royal collection where they decorated the walls and alcoves of Cormyr’s seat of power. The King stood to one side of the room, surrounded by armoured knights and nobles, poring over a sheaf of maps where they lay on a large, round table. His finger stabbed down on the map in anger, and his hands gestured wildly as he questioned the assembled audience on the disposition of his forces.

Delamor drew near, and his King looked around at him, stopping in mid-sentence. Bowing deeply, Delamor and his father waited for the king to speak. “Well, goodman Delamor, it seems that you may have more answers for me than the assembled aristocracy of my kingdom. Tell us what you know of this Diker Thane, and what in the name of Cyric he’s doing attacking my kingdom.”

Delamor: "Your Majesty. I’m afraid I know not alot about Diker Thane but, what I do know is most grevious. If you can spare the time I shall tell you all I know and of the efforts of the Company of the Purple Eclipse to put a stop to his deeds. I can only extend my apologies now that we have had not had more success. [goes into an indepth explaination of the other adventure log entries on here. Covering as much as possible while making each individual member of the group better than even they may believe themselves to be].

“Sire, it is my hope that some plans the Company of the Purple Eclipse have in motion at the moment and strategies that I would hope to discuss with you and your most trusted advisors can further delay whatever plans he has in place.”

“I surely do not wish to step on the toes of those generals and lords that have earned their place beside you with many years of loyal service and toil for the kingdom. Perhaps if you would permit myself and my associate a more private audience with you and your immediate advisors we could answer questions more directly and help form a battle and diplomatic strategy that will see overall success”.

[Assume we retire to a private room]

“Firstly, your majesty we have discovered that Thane can only be defeated when weapons called the Narselkin have been gathered together and the Company of the Purple Eclipse should by now have ownership of 2 out of the 3. It is my belief that the last of these weapons are in the mountains to the north and this is why the armies up there are having the troubles they are. I have asked a trusted member of the Company to lead a stealthy group into Diker’s Earthmote and keep tabs on things reporting back to us regularly via magical means. In the meantime, I have asked my trusted friend Aradon to lead the Company’s army on the battlefield. A core group of the Company, including the trusted and valuable swordmage Athon Bewick, Gregg the rugged barbarian of [insert Gregg’s birthplace], the sorcerous Belgarath, the gentleman rogue Garad Ellerton, and myself will attempt to claim the third and final Narselkin.

These are only my first thoughts on the matter and any advice and assistance you or your general and lords may give is of course greatly appreciated with the understanding that neither the kingdom nor the Company’s agents have time for long delays and debate."

The King pursed his lips as he considered Delamor’s news. “My generals would have me believe that we are close to being overwhelmed by the sorcerous dragons of this Diker Thane, and now you say he is backed by the power of Szass Tamm in foul Thay. These are dark days indeed.” He eyed Delamor’s father closely. “I think perhaps you and I will talk once your son is gone, friend. But it can wait.”

The King turned back to Delamor. “If your spies can indeed infiltrate Thane’s earthmote it may well give us the advantage we badly need. But I cannot put all our faith in such a delicate plan. I tell you truly, friend Delamor, Cormyr cannot withstand this siege for long if things continue as they do. I am sending word to our allies, asking for reinforcements. Perhaps you will carry our message to Baldur’s Gate? I believe you have the means to reach it quickly.”

The kings handed Delamor a sealed scroll and gestured to a door in the rear of his private chamber.

“It would be unfair to send you off to defend Cormyr without the necessary tools to complete the job, so see my armourer before you go. Through that door, down the stairs and into his workshop. You may choose what items you think will aid you most.”

[replace your old items with the new ones you told me about]

“Also, before you rejoin your companions in your quest for the missing sword, I have someone who might prove of worth to you. I’ll introduce you in the morning before you leave. I think you’ll find him interesting.”

Delamor: “I look forward to it Your Majesty. If I could beg a favour or two beyond what you have already seen fit to grant. Firstly, I’d like to arrange a pardon for my father as the crime he was accused of was not his but, that of a crooked guardsman. I believe Aradon when he returns from the wars could provide you with some evidence of this. Secondly, the Company of the Purple Eclipse is due to renew its charter and if it were issued by Your Majesty it would lend additional credence to our tasks. Thirdly and lastly, I ask of you a fast strong horse that may see me along my way in the morning as I believe there are allies to be had between here and Baldur’s Gate with which I have some prior experience. If I leave first thing in the morning I expect I should be able to arrive back in Balder’s gate shortly, after Athon returns from the mission I sent him on before returning to Cormyr.”

The King stayed silent for some time, before finally answering Delamor’s requests. “Your father and I will discuss his case when you are on your way. He has certainly shown himself to be useful and trustworthy in our present travails, which stands in his favour.” He paused, catching the eye of Delamor’s father, and an understanding seemed to pass between them. He turned back to Delamor. “Take a horse from my stables in the morning. If you have allies to gain and errands to run be about them quickly. The companion I spoke of will travel directly to Baldur’s Gate, and will meet you at the main west entrance of Baldur’s Gate. You’ll know him when you see him.”

Delamor listened to the king’s response with silence and grace. When he had finished Delamor took his leave, his father remaining behind to consult with the King, and went out into the city seeking converts to the way of Sehanine (with particular attention to lovers, bards, and thieves).

[Glenn – Interlude 4 can be about what Delamor does on the way to Baldur’s Gate, so you can start it however you wish]

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Belgarath's Return

Belgarath did feel some sadness upon leaving the party of his friends when they travelled to the Moonshae Islands and sending his sister Polgara to aid his friends.
He decided to stay in Baldur’s Gate and spend some time studying with Gilthen and discussing Arcane Knowledge and learning more about history and magical skills, at this time he decided he wanted to take on an adept and advertised locally, with one such woman called Nithander who showed some potential in the arcane skills.

He spent much time with her studying several hours a day, he developed his own skills further and started educating Nithander, while in baldur’s gate he became friendly with the local Thieve’s guild and in paticular a rogue called Sthiss. After helping Sthiss with a certain problem involving some local merchants and getting fair price for fur trading for the guild and some fierce buying, selling and street fighting, and saving Sthiss’s life with his sorcery skills, Belgarath was allowed a somewhat surprising and unusual move of membership to the Guild of Golden Fleece.
Over the time spent working with his new, but somewhat shady friends he has earnt much respect and friendship not to mention learning basic skills of the rogue and rogue style of skills and attack in melee. Belgarath has now been accepted as a member of the guild and has vowed to help his friends when he can and use his new friends in the hunt for Devlin and Diker Thain.

Conpleting his time and thanking Gilthen, he has now decided to return to his friends, and has been gathering information on their whereabouts ready to return, Nithander has been sent to meet Polgara and for the both of them to travel to Spellguard and helping with the rebuilding (Polgara’s paragon path Spellguard Wizard), Belgarath will take his place back his friends and continue the hunt for Devlin, Diker Thain and trying to thwart their plans of evilness.
Belgarath now returns a changed and wiser adventurer………

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Interlude 2
Interlude 2

Delamor has been poring over the maps laid over the table for several hours, familiarising himself with the movements of the undead horde that has descended from the mountains upon his beloved Cormyr. As he ponders what Szass Tamm and his loyal henchman Diker Thane aim to achieve, beyond general death and mayhem, with these attacks, he hears footsteps on the stairs leading to his study. A familiar voice echoes up the stairwell.

“Look, I’m not saying you didn’t have it under control, or that the wyvern would have definitely killed you if I hadn’t leapt on to its back and distracted it for a moment, but I still think that a ‘thank-you’ isn’t too much to ask.” Delamor looked up from his studies. Aradon.

Sure enough, his old comrade was even now entering the room, walking backwards and holding his arms wide in the very image of peaceful argument. And, a moment later, hands on hips and having none of Aradon’s reason, Zyanne strode into view.

“If anything, Aradon, your leaping on its back threw off my aim, meaning that you owe me an apology.” Aradon made as if to argue further, but by now Zyanne had seen Delamor. The thief cut off any further disagreement with a curt motion and raised an eyebrow. “You took your damn time.”

“I came as soon as your request for reinforcements came through. We’ve ended up wrapped up in some interesting and annoying politics in Baldur’s Gate. Even as we speak Athon is leading the other core members and a new rogueish character in a mission to gain the 2nd Narselkin and hopefully rescue your father at the same time. Speaking of fathers I understand mine has been released to work with you in defending the kingdom. Any idea where I might find him?” asked Delamor.

“Downstairs, with his ‘escort’. I don’t think he knows you’ve arrived. Shall we?”

Delamor followed his comrades down the stairwell and into the main hall of the building. Following Aradon’s lead into a sideroom, Delamor saw his father sitting on a leather armchair, reading reports. A burly and bored guard stood next to him. His father looked up, and he almost leapt to his feet to embrace his son.

“My boy! How goes the world outside Cormyr?”

Delamor approached his father and clasped his hand firmly. “Far more interesting than your cell must have been all these years. It is good that they have finally seen fit to let you out even if it has been under escort.” Delamor inclined his head politely acknowledging the guards presence and took an insightful measure of the man. Facing back towards his father he said, “Perhaps when this war is over we can finally return with Aradon to Wheloon and clear both your names. We can speak of more personal matters later but, for now I’ve been reviewing the charts and other documents but, I’d really like to hear how things are going from the mouth of those that have been out there.”

“Well, the dracoliches started appearing a few weeks ago, coming down out of the mountains and burning a few villages. The Royal Family sent a token force out to patrol the area. They camped close to the only village in the area that hadn’t been razed to the ground, hoping to catch the undead beasts while they attacked the next logical target.”

Aradon took up the story. “The force was annihilated overnight. The dracoliches attacked the village, and then ten times their number joined them from who knows where, descended on the patrol, two hundred men strong, and killed them all. After that, the Royal Family took things a little more seriously. A militia was raised, and the army started gathering folk from outlying towns and villages, drawing them into the defensible cities. Since then, the undead dragons have laid siege to our cities, but have not yet taken any. If I had to hazard a guess, I would say they do not want to, and their purpose is something else.”

Zyanne spoke up. “Szass Tamm directs them, and Diker’s Earthmote appeared once our forces were withdrawn into the cities to achieve who knows what in the mountains. From what you’ve said, it’s possible that he seeks the third sword up there, intending to get his hands on it before you do. The dracoliches keep Cormyr busy while he plunders the mountains, no doubt looting the dragons lairs he finds there in an effort to find the sword. Still, I think this is more than that. He could achieve the same result by stealth. No: there’s something more to this. Szass Tamm wants Cormyr pinned to its cities for some reason. I believe the Royal Family has sent couriers with requests for aid in all directions. They have high hopes that aid will raise the sieges and allow them to fight back on a more aggressive footing.”

Delamor nods sagely. “I think you are right. It could be just ego that makes Szazz Tamm attack so openly hoping to scare all the fight out of the goodly people before they can make a move but, given the history of his history of subtefuge in the past with Devlin and the citizens of Netheril it is likely a feint of some kind. You three have all been out there and seen the front lines. What hope do you think a small force may have in infiltrating the earthmote itself? Perhaps while another elite force goes after the third Narselkin? If we can put spies upon the earthmote who can communicate back information of upcoming action or just the layout of the mote perhaps they can meet up with the other force once the 3rd Narselkin has been found and we can put an end to Diker Thane’s part in these awful occurances.”

After a quick meal with his father and his friends, including his newest, his father’s “bodyguard” Hamesh Delamor set about putting some plans into motion. He sent off a messenger to arrange a meeting with the Royal Family asking his father and Hamesh come with him he also selected from the roles two devout members of the Company of the Purple Eclipse to accompany him first to the capital and then on a recruiting drive. He asked Zyanne to form as stealthy a squad as she could so that she could lead it into the very heart of Diker Thane’s territory and Earthmote, supplying her with one of the captured message pads which he has had one of the Company’s wizards retune to work for its members and not for Diker Thane himself. “Aradon, my friend, it is you that shall lead the armies and guide them to whatever victories you can. Remember though that the main goal is to protect that which we have and not necessarily to capture new lands. Coordinate your efforts with the Purple Knights of Cormyr and whatever additional allies we can procure for you on our travels”.

Delamor and Aradon working together later did all they could to recruit as many goodly clerists as they could to their side. Knowing beyond all doubt that the radiance of Sehanine and Amaunator combined would be the best weapon against Szass Tamm and his undead armies.

Delamor and Aradon held a joint religious ceremony at midnight and at noon the next day celebrating both their dieties and praying for their help in this struggle against the undead, an affront to both the god and the goddess.

Delamor also chose to donate to the Company of the Purple Eclipse and to the local church of Sehanine all of his personal wealth, including magic items, excepting only the Orb of Sehanine which he has taken upon his travels to act as a beacon for himself and a symbol for what he hopes will be many newly found allies to gather around.

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Interlude 1
Delamor's Travels

Delamor stepped on the teleportation square and saw the familiar hazing of his surroundings swim into view. A moment passed, and he found himself somewhere new.

The headquarters of the Purple Eclipse in Cormyr had been recently refurbished, he noticed. The large conference room in which the connecting square had been installed was dominated by an ornate oak table, around which were seated twenty chairs. One of the chairs was occupied by a worried-looking young wizard. Delamor’s memory could not quite recall his name, but he well remembered the occasion of their meeting in Spellgard.

“Thank Kord you’re here”, said the young man with obvious relief. “I take it you got our message?”

Delamor nodded, and motioned for the wizard to continue. “The dragons began attacking soon after an earthmote was sighted in the northern reaches of the kingdom. They razed many villages to the ground in a single night. After that the Royal Family made great haste in organising the defences of the greater cities, and have managed to hold off the dragons for the time being, but their numbers seem to increase daily. We have been helping where we can, but our forces are stretched.”

Delamor looked out of one of the windows into the far distance across the landscape of Cormyr. Somewhere over the horizon black smoke plumed upwards.

“We’ve only a skeleton staff here maintaining the centre of things, but I hope your father will join us soon.”

Delamor: look of shock appearing on his face “Father, they let father out of prison? My heart swells with joy at the same time as my mind fills with worry and suspicion. It is important that we do all we can to help in this battle but, we must also ensure that Cormyr’s allies are encouraged to join the fray. Best start by bringing me the rolls so that I may ascertain what resources are available. What of Aradon and Zyanne? It has been many months since I’ve seen either my friend or my love.”

“Your father was released along with many other prisoners as part of a militia force to help with the defence of the cities. He travels under supervision, but has been assigned to help organise our forces. The Royal Family is somewhat desperate for men.”

“Aradon himself is leading a patrol, but should be back later today. Zyanne is with him. Some other ‘old friends’ of yours are expected. The Durano clan of halflings have sent word that they’re joining us, and sent a message to you personally that ‘the curse has been lifted’, whatever that means. They’re bringing fifty of their kin to aid us, and they will join the 75 men we’ve been able to recruit in your absence. Some are little more than militia, but some have excellent skills in weaponry, magic and the ways of healing. Our losses are few in number compared to the regular forces, and I think you’ll find more than a few people have heard of the Purple Eclipse in Cormyr.”

“To be honest, we’re hard pressed, but holding our own right now. Aradon and Zyanne believe that this is the work of Diker Thane and his undead master, but the Earthmote has been sighted over the mountains in the north, and rumours of a pitched battle between the undead dragons at Thane’s command and live ones in the mountains have reached us. Is Thane searching for something there? The Royal Family have heard of your exploits in foiling Thane’s plans, and thought you might be able to shed some light on the matter.”

Delamor: nods slowly Thane is the only one I can think of that would command undead dragons in this way (history check to make sure?)and it is true that the founding members of the Company have been busy working on trying to counter his influence in the west. Hopefully, very soon we will be two thirds of the way to being appropriately armed to take Thane down. I have no doubt that the ruler of Thay is looking to expand his holdings and is attempting to shatter the larger cities and kingdoms that may be able to stop him. We’ll need to arrange a meeting with the Generals in charge of the armies and any available ambassadors that Cormyr still has available. We maybe able to combat this villian both on the front lines and in the throne rooms of the “goodly” nations (The Dales, Sembia, Evereska(including the Gray Vale))… mayhaps even with the help of the not so goodly (Netheril) for as they say the enemy of my enemy is my friend. I personally have made some little progress in Waterdeep, Candlekeep, and the Grey Vale. If we can arrange the appropriate meetings post haste we may be able to gather more reinforcements and mayhaps with that in place the founding members can seek out the last of the Narselkin and fight this evil at it’s source.

“Perhaps you can speak to the Royal Family on these matters yourself. I will send a messenger to their court telling them you have come. I am sure that, after you have refreshed yourself and perhaps consulted with your comrades and your father, the Court would welcome your visit and your insight.”

END OF INTERLUDE ONE

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Blessed Be Kord
Or.. oops.. should have prayed harder

sitting upon a celestrial mountain top is the disembodied soul of a dragonborn warrior

“Damn it.. I totally cocked that up… still in every battle of every war there must be a victor and it appears I taught that barbarian a little too well of the ways of Kord. Having helped them get all the way to the Narselkin and intentionally forfeiting the coward Devlin’s way of killing them all in their sleep I led them into his “trap”. I can’t believe I let my hatred and tribal feuds convince me that this Devlin was in anyway honourable. We entered the room with another of his clockwork monstrousities and a few of his henchmen and he immediately set about monologuing. Wanting only to see my companions squirm. I must admit if I had not already given my word I would have tried to strike him down then and there with the sacred lightning of Kord. As it panned out our wizard cast sleep upon the lot of the enemy and the battle was commenced. I waited for each of my companions in turn to enter the fray before moving in and somewhat amateurishly basking in my moment of glory. Felling all my companions but, spreading them out too much for my much practiced and recently improved dragon’s breath to reach any of them. I again let hatred overcome common sense and charged the now prone barbarian. Should have simply forced him to rebuke violence but, I had to show off. Needless to say he stood up and bloodied me in one fell chop. Garad the thief deciding it was now safe to approach me then snuck one of his daggers into the arm joint of my scale mail and put me into so much pain that I passed out. Next thing I know I’m watching the entire rest of the battle play out from up here, Gregg having beheaded me as soon as he was given the chance. Needless to say the battle did not go their way and they struggled some without their favourite healer amoung them. They were nearly all bloodied and exhausted and Garad seemed more intent with stabbing things than we did with saving the lovely Polgara from losing the last of her lifesblood out upon the floor. Athon though being the leader he is orderred Garad to feed the young lady a healing potion and the battle wound to a closure. The group made their way to the shore line and the last I cared to watch was on it’s way back to Baldur’s Gate. I hope they catch up with that coward Devlin and straggle him with his own teleportation torc."

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Session 39

The splintered plank of wood serving as the bartop creaked as the newcomers leaned on it, gesturing to the barkeep at the other end, idly smearing some grease around the patch of plank in front of him. Garrad, in the centre of the group, looks round at their surroundings as they wait, thinking back to the last time he was here. He ’d been just another street runner then, running with his gang, staying one step ahead of the law and trying not to attract the attentions of the Thieves Guild leaders too much.

It was kind of strange that, despite how many things had changed since then, that was basically what they were doing now as well.

The Rusty Bucket was a dive in a district of dives. Garrad knew that Fat Ron, him of the exposed girth and beligerant attitude, took great pains in maintain ing his bar’s rundown and unwelcoming appearance. Rumor had it that he even imported some of the more exotic stains and piles specifically, though he always strenuously denied it. In any case, a place as disreputable and overtly dangerous as the Bucket was a place only those willing to take their life into their own hands with every step or drink, and who never expected or wanted to see a member of the Watch ever, would even set foot in.

“In other words” Garrad thought whimsically, “perfect”

“so, anyway” Clubber Liang said, waving his mug of beer vaguely towards Garrad "you’s was tellin’ us about ’dis cave you found on ’dis island, right?

“ohh yah” Garrad said, thinking back. The evening was well advanced; his plan to drag all his old cronies round their old dives no he was back in Baldur’s gate had taken then through many of his old haunts, and things were becoming fuzzy, recollecting specifics was becoming harder and harder.

Still, in Garads experience, the truth had a nasty habit of getting in the way of a good story, especially one you’re busy telling to the Watchman who’s just interrupted you mid job.

“Where’d I get up to last time?” Garrad said, taking a swig of beer to add a moments extra thinking time.

“Some big guys and cave elves!” Ron shouted from the back, obviously paying too much attention to the stories and not enough to drinking.

“Right, those big bastards and their Drow mates. So, we kill them all an..”

“A lot of your stories involve you killing everything Garrad, normally in caves” Ron interjects “I thought you left us to go steal treasure”

“Lotsa things in caves needing stabbing Ron” Garrad replies sagely, “and they’re normally there ‘cos they’re guarding some ancient treasure or somesuch.”

“Stands to reason” Ol’ Bill, the groups resident old man and normal purveyor or tall stories says “Why else would all them monsters live down there otherwise?”

That being settled, Garrad continued “Anyway, past that cave was a big ol’ hall, walls covered in fancy looking decorations, obviously constructed. There was some bedding and tents dotted round, obviously from the Drow we had just bumped into. We were about to go see if their tents had any assets that could stand to be redistributed when some more of them showed up from outta the gloom. I guess we were to eager to put the boot in as we got dragged into a kinda ambush by even more of them, as well as a gods damned vampire”

Ohhs and Ahhs from the gathered group, and Garrad continues

“This vampire’s got some kind of animated suits of armor with him as well, tough bastards that took a lotta stabbing to take down, and all them Drow running about didn’t help matters either. So, we’re all hacking away at them, me stabbing what I can, Gregg treating them suits like a big tree and trying to chop ’em in two with his axe, and Polgara, Athon and Boltagar trying to keep the Drow at arms length while we deal with the suits. Eventually, the suits are lying in parts on the floor, the Drow are all dead or running, and the vampire is backing towards that cauldron of blood of hers….”

“Wait” Ron says “this vampire had a Cauldron of blood as well?”

“Whadday mean as well?” Garrad says, thrown off his stride by Ron and desperately trying to recollect what happened where. “I haven’t told you about another vampire with a cauldron of blood……have I?”

“Sure you have Garrad” Bill says, nodding sagely “that lady vampire down below the local crypts”

Hazy images of the crypts, and the many, many stairs surface hazily in Garrad’s mind, and he grimaces, trying to separate all the different things he’d run into since leaving Baldurs Gate.

“There was definitely some Drow” he says “I remember there being far too many tents for the group we killed in the cave, and I’m sure there was some kind of vampire, but you’re right, I don’t think he had a cauldron of blood…..he did have a hidden sarcophagus though!” Garrad continues, latching onto a brief flash of the ornate tomb with all the desperation of a drowning man finding a floating log. “That’s right, we finished off the Drow and his animated bodygards, and were making quick work of him, but he ran away into what turned out to be his chambers.”

Everybody in the group perked up at this. They all knew that posh guys, and vampires were always posh, kept their best stuff in their personal chambers. traipsing round dank dungeons, stabbing innumerable creatures and enemies was all well and good, but there had to be a [i]point[/i] to it all, and as far as this group was concerned, that point should at the very least be 24 carat gold, preferably with inlaid diamonds.

“We didn’t actually find much of anything though, other than some musty old scrolls and whatnot. But, you all know what that means…”

“Secret door” Ol’ Bill states sagely.

“Secret….TRAPdoor!” Ron says, jumping in, seeing Garrad’s smile.

“Under the carpet” the rest chime in, joining in the game. They’d all seen far too many “hidden” safe rooms to be fooled by a simple trapdoor-under-rug trick.

“Secret trapdoor” Garrad says, nodding “hidden under the carpet. At the bottom of the stairs is an ornamental baisen with, it turned out, one of those magical swords I was telling you about earlier. Polgara pulls it out and decides to keep it for herself, but most of the rest of the party are more interested in what’s down the next set of stairs, as we still haven’t found that damned vampire. Lo and behold, bottom of teh next flight; big ol’ ornate sarcophagus, and obvious signs of the entrance being used recently. Gregg does his strongman impressing, tears toe door off, and we find the Vampire, comatose inside. We weren’t sure what the best way to kill a vampire was, so we set fire to the place”

Noting the winces of his listeners, he quickly adds “[i]after[/i] ensuring anything valuable was already claimed, then headed back up.”

“Mission accomplished, we headed back thet way we came, through that gods awful troll piss-pool, and the” shudder “massive death spider room. We got to the entrance to the cave when….”Garrad trails off, noticing the gleam of metal and the red flash of a Watch tunic through the partly opened door

“And I think that’s out cue to depart” Fat Ron, looking suddenly more alert, kicks a solid looking barrel behind the bar aside, revealing a cunningly concealed door, and gestures to the group.

“Come on then you lot, git yer arses outta me place a’for thems watch finds yous. I’ll be damned if I let thems use you as an excuse to try and shuts me down again”.

Grinning, slapping coins on the counter as they file past, Garrad and party head out the back door of the Rusty Bucket, heading towards their next stop and making sure to stay one step ahead of the watch.

“Hey, Garrad” Ron calls, “how’d that Boltagar fellow work out? I don’t remember you mentioning him much”

“Heh” Garrad replies, “not [i]that’s[/i] an interesting tale. Buy me a pint in the Scarlet Wench and I’ll tell it to you”…

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Session 38
"How many more times can we be lucky in battle?"

From the Chronicles of Athon Bewick

Carrying on down the dark cavernous paths, I began to wonder if we would ever see daylight again, my thought were broken when we came to a large mound of rubble, we could hear something on the other side but couldn’t be sure what it was. Gerrard volunteered to scout up, he scurried up and vanished into the gloominess. He came back a few minutes and told us of a large room, with some kind of idol at the mouth of the room, something larger in the middle, but what concerned us was the Hydra and the what sounded like Hellguards accompanying it.

Realising we were still too tired from our previous encounter, we retired to lick our wounds. Later on, we returned galvanised and ready for the forthcoming battle. Gerrard volunteered to scout back into the room, once again he vanished into the gloom. However, instead of his fleet footed return, we heard a crashing sound, followed by some expletive, followed by a rushing of feet, followed by a slightly mournful voice “I’m glad I found, I’ve been looking for you”, the roar that followed did not inspire confidence.

We rushed into battle (running over the first idol, slowed us down slightly but not enoughP) and found Gerrard already battered and bleeding from almost all over his body. The Hellguards did not seem to pose a problem initially, I dispatched one with a cyclone of flame before turning my attention to the Hydra, Polgara had found herself next to one and Gregg went to help. What followed seemed to be the longest time I recalled at that time when Gregg seemed to have lost the skill of hitting anything. The fight with the Hydra was slightly more protracted but in the end we were victorious (even with Gerrard running away at one stage). Boltagar de-consecrated the idols in the room and then we were left with a glowing sigil on the floor barring our exit. Boltagar put his faith before him and was able to cross. Polgara increased her resistance to fire and crossed (albeit singing her dress) but it has to said Gerrard was able to disarm the trap and we then carried on.

Another long corridor then ended in a spiral staircase which led down, taking me further from the daylight I had started to crave, I wasn’t even sure what day of the week it was..

Leading down the stairs, Boltagar suddenly stopped and was seemingly dragged forward, looking round the bottom of the stairs I saw to large hulking creatures, once again battle was joined.

These hulks had the power to daze and confuse us which made the opening stages of the battle quite difficult to marshall, Polgara was pushed to the far side of the room where she then made the acquaintaince of two Drow that we hadn’t seen but we all had our own problems in that fight. Boltagar let the fury of his God against the hulks and threw them to the ground but once again it seemed like our fighting skills had deserted us. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Polgara fall to a Drow blade and then they started to advance on us as well as we were fighting the hulks.

This battle was continuing when one of the Drow tried to move past Gregg, and in a show of violence of a level I’ve rarely seen from Gregg, he cleaved the Drow in half in one blow. Boltagar, who had been standing close by was suddenly covered in blood. The other Drow looked visibly shaken but continues to fight. Polgara had been healed by this stage and was trying to maneuver into position as she started to blast away at the opposition. Gerrard, once again started to retreat from the action as Gregg delivered another pounding blow to the other Drow. Polgara, gaining confidence delivered a lightning attack to a group of creatures, her exuberance was slightly dented when she proceeded to hitself with the attack.

Ultimately we prevailed once again, but nearly everyone had suffered severe injuries as we looked round the room.

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Session 37 - I think

The Secret Diary of a Barbarian.

Our Adventurers found themselves in a long coridor leading up to a room.
Werely they moved into the room to fine piles of bones and corpses stack up around the side of the room.
Once they reached the centre the iron portcullis slamed down and on the other side of the room an hourglass spun and began to filter the sand through the count down was on.
We managed to turn the hour glass so that it wouldnt run out thinking we had solved the trap, unfortunatly we were still traped inside the room.
I started to look around the room and found a shifting plate the must of actived the doors. Garad took a look but determined that the plate was only the trigger not a way to reopen the doors.
A few minutes past and balthagor walked over to the door and turn the hourglass again.
“what the worst that could happen”
We waited for it to run out, Then the door slid up maybe the cleric was right about something we has traped ourselves in here.
Balthagor turned round with a grin on his face. “See Kord will guide..”
Before he finished a large spider pounced down the ramp as the door finshed opening, the spider pushing him out the way as more spiders entered the chamber.
Smaller spider filled the room and started to layout a large pattern of sticky web. This started to cause us problems as the spider were more nimble around the web then we were.
The thought dawned that the amount of bone here was because of their trap hidden behind this one.
The little spider were no problem for Gregg as he swung his axe in a sweeping motion clearing away spiders and web.
Athon’s Flame attack caused the spider to shrivel and burst and Polgara lightening zaped the large critters.
While Boltagar and Garad stood by the door keeping the largest of all the spiders we had every seen busy.
Once the swarms had been dealt with the large spider taken down swiftly.
It seemed the sandtimer was a delay for when the people caught were exhausted and lost hope of getting out the spiders would clear up what remained for there meal.

After the spiders were defeated we decided to press on into the next room where we greeted by a foul stench.
“For Kord” Balthagor charged with Gregg in quick purcuit into the room filled with the foul smelling trogs.
Gregg made quick work of one of them while Garad and Athon took to the rest polgara release a huge arc of lightening shocking one of the troglodytes as it was Stunned Gregg pressed his advantage
cleaving a large gash into the side of the creature as its guts spilled out the side the smell only got worse.
“Keep them in one piece if you can Gregg and dont get any of that on me” Athon yell to Gregg
With Garad quick knife play slashing and cutting his way through the troglodytes opening up wounds which Athon sealed with a large flame burst from his sword scorching the earth and everything in its
path.
After the last trog fell the smell remained.
“Its a dead end where now?” Garad questioned.
Gregg pointed to a hole in the ground.
“What What it is?”
“It seems to be their toliet” Replied Athon
“The Tablet Still points North this must be the way” Said Gregg
“Garad go investigate, your the more nimble of us”
Garad Swam down the hole through the sewage after holding his breath all the way only managing to swallow a little bit of it.
It opened up into another cavern, taking another deep breath he swam back and gave us the all clear.
But the foul smell that came off him was awful.
We all swam through Baltagar bring up the rear with his fresh air sack and manging to purify the water before he got in.
On the Other side the natural caveran lead to a opening in the wall ahead of the adventurers, Creeping around the twist and turns of the passage they heard sounds of Grimlocks.
Garad took it apon himself to scout out ahead only to be followed by Polgara who was stealth enough so he didnt notice her untill she unleashed a barrage of lightening bolt from over his head.
Shocked Garad quick sensed what had happened and a large rubbling found him on the end of a mighty charge of an Iron Gorgon.
Polgara tried to retreat back to saftey only to get herself traped by her miss placed teleport to only to find that she was surrounded by the 3 grimlocks and a strange creature the grell.
The grimlock swipped out with there club all 3 catching her badly beaten and screaming for help the rest of the party quick followed up only to find an Iron giant in the way as the Gorgon swung Gregg
duck around the arm with quick footwork and scraping off some of the metal.
Gregg throw a potion to Polgara and knocked all the grimlocks back cuting one in half.
As Polgara got to her feet the Grell lashed out with it tenticale but she managed to dodge back and fired off another lightening bolt shocking the grell and Gregg followed up with a nasty swing cutting
one of the tenticales clean off.

The Iron Gorgon still causing trouble for Garad, It kept pounding him into the ground repeatedly untill he fell uncounious but with Boltagar close by he wasnt in any danger of dying.
Athon managed to slay the Iron Gorgon with some teleporting and Lightening quick slashes it fell back as Gregg and Polgara finished the last Grimlock the only thing left was the Grell only a few tenticales
left it lashed out again only to lose more as Gregg and Athon cut it down to size, as it tryed to flee Polgara summoned up the power to cast a mighty bolt which finished of the Grell.

“That wasnt so hard” She said to Garad.
He Scowled back as Boltagar tended to his wounds
“Leave it to me next time and warn a guy before you do that kinda shit”

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Session 36 - Into the Darkness..

This week’s episode from Polgara’s point of view started bizarrely with the Dungeonmaster forgetting the all important action points to help our intrepid heroes.

Nevertheless after the last episode of following the clockwork like figures into the passageways of the cave, our intrepid heroes came across a two path junction amongst the dark, dank setting where Garrad who had now fully recovered scouted ahead with the aid of Polgara’s Falcon.
Unfortunately for the party, Garrad the Rogue proved to move rather without thinking making noise upon entering a cavern laden with gold coins and two strange hanging balls.
Just at this moment Gregg the Barbarian stumbled into the cavern as his eyes lit up with excitement at seeing all the gold coins, his brain excited by what he saw he was about to pick up some coins but was stopped by Garrad who explained it was an illusion. At that moment 3 large cumbersome Trolls appeared from nowhere (2 Ice Trolls and 1 Blade Rager Troll)and the balls changed into 2 Willo the Wisps. Battle commenced.

One of the Ice Trolls started the mayhem by attacking Gregg while the willo the wisps attacked Polgara’s falcon unsuccessfully, hearing the noise of battle Athon the Swordmage suddenly changed places with Gregg in the heat of combat to aid his friend and attacks the troll before teleporting and attacking one of the Wisps. Enraged by what he sees, the Blade Rager Troll attacks Garrad as the Ice Trolls team up against Athon and Garrad, unfortunately Garrad is pushed into the pit falling 10 feet by the strength of one of the Trolls, Garrad takes damage but seems alive and well.
At this point the party all enter the melee, Athon is struck and dazed as Polgara fires a missile of energy which hits the wall and not the intended target, she looks very angry at this moment Boltagar enters the fray and breathes a cone of dragon breath hitting two of the trolls and healing party members simultaneously.
The battle is now in full flow with Athon and Gregg attacking the Blade Rager Troll, the Trolls seem to team up and attack Athon, Gregg is also knocked into the pit joining Garrad 10 feet below the combat scene. Meanwhile Athon and Polgara attack the Trolls with lightning attacks as Garrad climbs from the pit and kills one of the Wisps, before looking to hit something else in the combat, at this point Polgara is dazed by the remaining Wisp. Garrad can be heard whinging about getting his combat advantage by positioning in combat, the Blade Rager Troll is furious and attacks Polgara but she teleports away from damage just as one of the Ice Trolls collpases to the ground under the weight of the party onslaught. Athon moves in with a fire based attack to finish the life of the Two Ice Trolls, Athon is fighting well in battle and hits a critical for the 3rd time in the combat as he sees Garrad finish the remaining Wisp. Polgara, Boltagar and Gregg all strike out at the Blade Rager Troll as its dies and leaves a nasty surprise by exploding into shards of metal which fly across the cavern. The Battle is over.

The party search the cavern, Garrad finds sword carvings engraved on the cavern walls as Gregg decides to have a sleep and lays down and falls into sleep. Polgara has other ideas and walks off down the passageway along the other path with her falcon flying on ahead to scout , meanwhile Garrad follows with Boltagar as Athon kicks Gregg awake with Gregg reacting poorly to shove Athon away. The party advance into a new chamber with Garrad leading the way and they discover some lifeless bodies who have had their insides sucked out of them, this alerts the senses of the party to a potential bad situation.
Polgara moves forward and accidently steps on a trap which closes two iron doors each end of the chamber, she walks forward and examines an hourglass which seems to control the door mechanism at the sametime Garrad and Gregg discover plates in the floor meaning more traps. Boltagar decides to check the water for a way out as Gregg examines one door and Garrad decides to break the hourglass, gas enters the chamber as the doors open and we are not alone as spiders enter the chamber. The party find themselves being attack by Faze Spiders and Spider Swarms, immediately Gregg, Athon, Polgara and Boltagar are all immobilized as Garrad strikes out, Athon manages to free himself and critical hits and kills a Faze Spider. Polgara is still struggling to be free as Gregg critical hits and then follows up with another critical hit on a Faze Spider, Gregg seems in his element striking away as Polgara casts a mass protection spell to aid the party in the battle. At this point Garrad is hit and falls unconscious seeing this Gregg strikes out again and critical hits a spider swarm which is then followed up by Boltagar hitting the swarm, Polgara casts a spell of energy and hits the spider swarm before being hit herself and poisoned again along with Gregg.

The Battle is looking to draw to a close, as Boltagar strikes and forces a spider into the water meanwhile Athon strikes out and kills his target, with Gregg striking out and finsishing the last of the spiders. The chamber is now filled with much death, the human bodies with their insides sucked away, the mass of dead spiders, the weary party look around to see what may happen next? Will the party have time to rest? Are there hidden clues or treasures?

This is Polgara’s story from the inside the caverns.

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