May 29, 1482
The party spends a lot of time discussing the journal and its implications. They decide to visit the wild elves and update them on the situation in Ossington. The heroes travel to where they met the elves before, and after a short while Vesley arrives and slowly leads them to the hidden glade.
Yellis and Zarn are there, and are happy to hear the news. They agree to keep away from the villagers for now to allow them to get back on their feet. Yellis says that they’ll stay away for a few months and meet the villagers at the traditional yearly meeting when it comes around again.
In the evening, Thilvara returns. She had left to speak with others of their kind, and brings some news.
She says, “The different tribes of Wild Elves range all through the northern forest, from here to Lake Ilman. There is some communication between us, and they have been hearing strange things. The creature clans of the Hallrag Fells are flush with gold, and had a gathering at the Black Oasis. Thurik Rotten Eye has raised an army of gnolls – Rotten Eye and War Dancer mostly, with some Red Skulls. Smartist Grimgrinder of the Smartist kobolds have come down from the mountains to join them. And now the Splithead orcs have a new leader called Glasha, and her tribe has been raiding Endsport and the northern border. War is coming to this land.”
With no other path apparent, the heroes decide to return to Exridge.
May 30 – June 9
The party briefly returns to Ossington, then departs for Exridge.
“Eight hundred years ago, the great dwarven smith Durgeddin the Black was driven from his home by a horde of fierce orcs and trolls. They plundered his ancestral halls and slew all they could catch. Fleeing his enemies, Durgeddin led the destitute remnants of his clan in search of a new home. After years of wandering, the dwarves discovered a great cavern system beneath the Graypeak Mountains.
There Durgeddin and his followers founded the secret stronghold of Khundrukar—the Glitterhame, and their forges shaped some of the mightiest weapons of legend – Echo, the Ghost Blade. Thunderguard, hammer of the Mountain Lords. Dawnkeeper, spear of the Wulfblood himself.
A hundred years later, one of Durgeddin’s clansmen was captured by orcs during a raid, and a powerful orc tribe learned the secret of their enemy’s stronghold. The orcish chieftains raised a great army and marched on Khundrukar. In a hard-fought siege lasting months, the orcs tunneled around the dwarven defenses and stormed the place, putting all within to the sword. The monsters abandoned the scene, carrying off wagonloads of booty.
In the years since that great battle, legends say various goblin or orc bands have occupied the Glitterhame and used the dwarf-hold as a base for their raids. At other times, the caverns have lain empty except for the mindless and bloodthirsty monsters that haunt such places. Today legends of Durgeddin’s vengeance, the Smith’s War, and the extraordinary blades he forged still surface from time to time across the lands."
The heroes arrive in Exridge to see the city draped in gray and black mourning banners. Word quickly reaches them that yesterday, Auberon Lycus, First of the The Holy Church of Pelor passed away from his illness. Much discussion is had concerning the impact this may have, and whether Belak or The Sparrow may have been involved.
Travelling to the temple of Pelor, the group checks in with Captain Cortes, and learn that Zud Doriglar is preparing a meeting of the Lord’s Council at the Knight’s House on the other side of the inner city.
The party meets with Zud, who informs them that Ontharr Frume, Leosin Erlanthar, and Selebon Hogsbottom are all on their way to Exridge. They were all down south dealing with some trouble with the Cult of the Dragon, but should arrive on the 16th.
With nearly a week of free time, the party members set out on individual pursuits.
While Tarathan makes himself available to the Radiant Servants, Gareth, Razar-De, and Venix take the opportunity to do some research in the Great Library. They hire a scribe by the name of Wendil, who navigates the archives in search of any mention of “Belak the Outcast”, “Gulthias”, a tree which grows underground, or a “sunless citadel”.
Some luck is had – Multiple histories and records exist of the vampire Gulthias. The story is short on exact particulars, but more than a hundred years ago a party of heroes set out from the village of Oakhurst to confront a powerful vampire in his lair. At some point they climbed a mountain to a “castle in the sky”, and staked the vampire within.
This reference to a “castle in the sky” causes some excitement, as the same phrase was used earlier by the Golden Stag. Oakhurst is proposed as the group’s next destination.
Drianna spends most of her time at the business offices for Thornehart, Inc. Maedove “The Dove” Oriver has been taking care of things, and has hired Wump as a runner and general assistant. Wump is more than happy to tell the story of how he escaped the Carnath Roadhouse and made his way here, and is excited to have the opportunity to assist with solving “some for real mysteries”.
Maedove also has a letter she was unsuccessfully trying to deliver to Drianna, in reference to Jamna Gleamsilver:
Hope this find you well and prosperous. Business is good, word has traveled up that you’re doing good things in the south so we’ve had a few new nibbles of interest.
I had to have a good long think about this halfling you mention. I knew I have some family settled in some small villages in the Midwoods called Gleamsilver. I think they’re a distant aunt’s relations, so this Jamna would be a distant cousin by my reckoning.
Armed with this, I went and talked to my (much closer) cousin Belfrey, who came, via Wolfspear, to Exridge from up around there and he recollects them quite well. Not into what we at Thornehart Inc. might call “legitimate business” if you catch my drift. Quite the opposite, as he remembers several Gleamsilvers as hanging for one offense or another. Belfrey thinks his sister’s husband’s uncle (on their father’s side) once owned a shop or tavern that saw some of the Gleamsilvers’ come around asking for protection money. Rumors of Black Network connections, that kind of family, you know?
I’ll try to get something else to you if something comes to light, but the first response to you in Greenest came back undeliverable – I guess you’d already moved on. Let me know if this is important enough to be worth spending a bit on a Sending. I’ll expense it!
The heroes grudgingly submit to Wump’s request that they all get together for dinner. There is much discussion of current events. Wump reveals to Drianna that he looked into the Sparrow, and found out he was in Exridge back on May 2, and performed for the First – shortly before the First fell ill.
Tarathan, performing some routine duties with the Servants, overhears rumors that King Arendor Exridge IV has fallen ill now as well.
The Lord’s Council meets during the day, and in the evening Zud gathers the party to meet with them. Many topics are discussed:
- The Council thanks the heroes for their work against the Cult of the Dragon. Ontharr tells them that with the deaths of Frulam Mondath and Dral Borngray, the Cult seems to be collapsing from within. Leaderless, the different raiding bands seem to have spun off on their own with little cohesion.
- Who is Belak? Who is Gulthias? Where is the Sunless Citadel? Oakhurst is proposed as worthy of investigation to follow up the connection to Gulthias. Oakhurst is a small, remote village of no real import. No one has connections there, it’s out of the way and of no real political or military import. It’s about 10 days away by horse.
- What are these fruit? What do they do, and who may have eaten them?
- Is the Sparrow the PCs met the true Jozan Lostcaller? And if so, where is he and what is his part in all of this? Ontharr explains that The Sparrow just performed for Tammen’s birthday on May 31. Both the King and Prince Tammen were present. The Queen and the princess Elenda were busy elsewhere during the performance. Now, the King is ill. If he dies, Margery will become Queen regent and Tammen will succeed the King even though Elendra is older. Elendra is brilliant, and would make a formidable Queen regnant, but tradition says the title goes to sons. Or to the church if there are no sons. There is discussion as to whether or not the King and Prince received the strange fruit from the Sparrow, and what effects it may have on them.
- Leosin speaks about the First’s death. A synod will be called to replace him, and Second Aldgus Haspar is favored to be the new First. Haspar comes from the north, and is a hard-line member of the church who views divine magic as the only acceptable form of magic and “has been known to burn a witch or two.”
- Who is this “…fall” person? Is this the Red Woman from Rezmir’s letter?
Time becomes an issue, as the heroes want to get to Oakhurst and return as quickly as possible, before the King dies or the synod begins. Leosin offers to arrange a druidic ritual that would transform the party to hawks so they could fly to Oakhurst in three days, but would have to arrange their own return transport. Someone proposes that they could make arrangements for horses to be delivered to Oakhurst so they are ready when the party wants to return.
A decision is made to travel to Oakhurst, but no decision is made as to how.