19 Eleint 1487
The coming of age ceremony has wound to an awkward close, and the party is together in the Nightstone Inn, drinking. Between the supplies of Morag, the innkeeper, and Envar’s stash of port, there is plenty of alcohol to go around. Oak’s father has already retired for the night.
Oak had planted her staff of the woodlands in the town square earlier, producing a tree full of ripe pomegranates to add to the feasting. The tables are still littered with the pithy white remains of the difficult to eat fruit, and but the small bursts of unfamiliar sweetness were appreciated by Nightstone’s inhabitants. “They’re difficult to eat, very sweet, but kind of annoying—just like me,” Oak explained. “Tough.”
Between the alcohol, the amulet, and the assurances of the party of her safety (and imminent retribution against Lorcan), Muse has begun to loosen up. She no longer looks over her shoulder every few minutes, and no more buildings have caught fire as a result of her tale telling. She reaches out to Muse and Envar, asking what the plan is? What do we do next, now we know?
Envar has some ideas. “We need to get you somewhere safe. I am owed a few favors from the priests of Corellon in Silverymoon; you can stay there. As while you can’t be scryed on, it’s easy to find us, and find you that way.”
“Can Ferrindale stay there with me?” Muse asks.
“I wanna kick some demon ass!” Ferrin puts in immediately. “I’m not letting you stay like this!”
“Hiding out indefinitely won’t fix anything,” Envar says.
“You have the good fortune—or maybe the bad fortune—of being under contract with a demon we already have beef with,” Atarah says. “It’s one more good reason on the list of reasons why he’s going to die, and then you’ll be free of him.”
“Oh. I guess I’m in good hands.”
Tranled, somewhat the worse for wear with drink, perks up a little. “Oh. Right. It’s Lorcan who holds your contract.” Muse nods. “Hiding from Lorcan isn’t going to do you any good. You can’t fight someone like him either. He’ll squash you like a bug. Honestly, you should just accept your fate. Fighting him will only drag you down into a darker and darker place, until you’re eventually ground to dust—”
“Tranled, do us a favor—” Envar cuts in, “Go somewhere dark and write some bad poetry.”
“You mock me!”
“But I actually understand what we’re facing! And giving Muse false hope isn’t helping her, it’s hurting her.” Tranled stares at Muse. “I’m telling you— you’re going to die if you fight Lorcan.”
Muse begins to cry.
Atarah slams her mug onto the table. “Or—you could run. Like you did. Just, keep running.”
“It’s better than dying.”
“You did both.”
“Wasn’t my idea.”
“Why are you here, Tranled?” Atarah says, cutting over his every attempt at explaining why he’s in Nightstone, or with the party. Why, she wants to know, is he on this plane. “Why are you here_, Tranled? Why are you *_here*?”
“I— I don’t know, why are any of us here?! Maybe the whole thing is pointless!”
“Just part of the cosmic dance,” Envar adds.
“So if we’re all going to die anyways, we might as well do it for something.” Atarah snaps.
“It’s a pointless battle. Augh!” Tranled runs his hands through his hair in with a frustrated growl. “I didn’t want to be here! But trying to put a falsely chipper attitude about the whole thing isn’t going to change the reality of it!”
“And being grim about it won’t either!”
“…I think,” Oak says, “What would be best is, Tranled, if you go… and come back when you have a better attitude about what we’re trying to do here.”
“So that’s it, you want to get rid of me now?”
That is not what Oak is saying.
“Are you even going to help us?” Atarah snaps again. “Or are you going to run again, when we need you?”
“I—I don’t know—”
“Then figure it out,” Envar says. “Quickly.”
“I don’t… I don’t know myself anymore. I don’t know what to think.”
“Yeah, we know,” Atarah says, more gently. “But none of us can figure you out for you.”
“We’re not defined by what we think, but by what we do,” Envar says.
Atarah continues, “You don’t even have to know the reasons for it, just make a choice and stick with it! What do you want to be? Not what you are or what you were but— make a choice about who you want to be. That’s what our Oaths are for! To give us a goal—”
“Your Oath!” Tranled cuts in.
“_OUR_ Oaths!” Atarah snaps right back.
“It wasn’t mine—”
“You chose it!”
“Yeah—I was trying to be like you and it was a mistake—”
“So— Choose again! Own up to it, say “I fucked up” and keep going! And be better. That’s what it’s for!”
“You know what? I do know where I want to be.” Tranled growls. “I want to not be in this room anymore.” He shoves his chair back from the table and leaves, slamming the door open and calling up his mount.
Atarah yells after him. “I’m coming back for you—”
“He’ll be back,” Envar says quietly.
Muse isn’t crying any longer, but she is looking worried and scared. “Is it true? Am I going to turn out like him?”
“No!” The rest of the party says immediately, emphatically.
Oak asks if there’s any more port, and Ferrindale reassures Muse that she is much smarter and it’s not going to be like that. Atarah emphasizes it’s not about how smart you are—it’s about making a choice about who you want to be, and aiming for it, and making sure the people around you help you—and if they don’t, they were shitty friends anyway. And she stomps off into the night as well.
Oak and Envar affirm Muse will be fine, she is being loaned the amulet and they will get her someplace safe. The amulet prevents teleportation, but they can easily get to Silverymoon via the portal Oak creates in large trees.
More port? More port!
The evening continues with drinking and celebrating. Ferrindale displays to Muse that now they can do this cool trick they couldn’t do the last time they were together. It is very impressive; Ferrindale is a Stilt Master.
As usual with Oak, the drunker she gets the stickier her fingers become. Gold goes missing. She acquires a bag of humanoid teeth, some sheet music, and then Envar’s flute also goes missing and Oak now has a flute to play the music with!
Oak begins to play—it is a very beautiful song. Ferrin, attracted instantly to music, comes over to see what it is. It’s designed as a vocal piece, a line of melody and a single line of harmony, but easily adapted.
The night wears on and eventually folk wander off to bed, to rise late, with hangovers.
20 Eleint 1487
Envar is the first awake as usual, after his elven meditations. He pitches in with the continuing efforts to rebuild Nightstone while the rest of the party is still asleep, helping with construction tasks. He has learned, since they arrived, the town is short on adult labor, as many of the lost ones during the previous year’s tragedy were adults, fed to the goblin boss’s pet giant rats.
Lady Catalina Auraest, who traveled to Nightstone with her daughter Atarah and Atarah’s next-younger sister Corona, comes to see him before most of the rest of the party is awake. Envar is in a open-walled workshop bordering the main town square near the general store, a space shared by carpenters and blacksmiths with a forge and anvil at one end and lumber at the other.
“Good morning! Is there anything we can help you with?” says Lady Auraest.
Envar shrugs and gestures, finding some rope needing coiling properly— Catalina and Corona begin working on that, and while they do, Catalina speaks. She has heard much about Envar and is thankful Atarah has such competent friends. She speaks of how the family is preparing to deal with the Summerheart problem—calling in favors and gathering information. She offers Envar advice: Pit Fiends can cast Fireball at will, it is advised the party finds something to counter or resist that.
“I have a favor to ask of you,” Catalina eventually says. “I know your time is valuable, and I am happy to compensate you with gold or other favors—”
“Money is of little consequence,” Envar says, and Catalina nods, as though she was expecting this answer.
“Nevertheless, you will have my gratitude. I’d like to introduce my daughter, Corona,” Catalina says, and beckons Corona forward. Corona is sixteen, also an aasimar, of shorter stature and slightly more square, stubborn features than her sister, but long limbed and rangy. Her white-blond hair is cut short at the chin and her eyes tending towards green instead of Atarah’s blue. She wears clothing much like Atarah’s, in browns and blues, good quality cloth and leathers but practical adventuring gear. She has the same stubborn tilt to her chin as her older sister.
“I can talk, Mama,” Corona says, and bows politely to Envar. “Ser Envar. I have heard from the stories of this group you are the Master of Archery. I would like to ask you to be my instructor, and teach me to be a proper instructor.”
“How much experience do you have?” Envar asks.
Corona has won several local competitions near her home, and is a decent hunter, she says.
“So you’ve shot at targets and rabbits.” Envar sounds dubious.
“Yes. But I can get better! If you teach me. I won’t slow you down. I won’t even talk much.” She shows off her shortbow, and Envar looks it over with a disapproving expression.
Envar has her set up a hay bale target in the square and shoot at fifty, and then a hundred paces while he and Catalina look on. She does well at the shorter distance, but the longer one gives her some trouble with the wind. Eventually Envar calls her back over.
“You have my attention.” Envar says. “You’ll need to travel with us, of course.”
Corona agrees eagerly and Envar sets her to menial apprentice-type tasks until the rest of the party wakes up. Atarah eventually comes and helps with the construction efforts, as soon as she is properly awake, and after her mother has left. “Hey, squirt,” she greets Corona affectionately.
When Oak first appears that morning, Envar glances at her, notes her hungover state and his still-missing flute, and immediately goes over to bang forcefully on the anvil for a minute or two. Atarah starts swearing, startled out of the woodwork she’d been working on—”What the— what are you—?”
Oak winces and shrinks down, clearly in pain, and contemplating hangover cures with hot peppers. After a little bit, Envar takes pity and casts Lesser Restoration to cleanse the hangover. He’s had his petty revenge, after all. Though he does instruct Corona, only half-joking, to hit the anvil anytime Oak comes within twenty paces.
The party discusses where they need to go next; Silverymoon first, and anything they cannot find or accomplish there, Oak will take them the day after to Waterdeep to finish their search. It is a little after midday when Oak recovers wits sufficiently to take them through the trees to Silverymoon.
Before they leave, Atarah leaves a note with Destiny, Tranled’s sister, asking her to let him know the party intends to travel to Silverymoon and then Waterdeep in search of more information. None of them have heard from him since last night.
Korotir declines to go “shopping” or visit the prissy elven town; he will stay in Nightstone for a little while longer to see if Tranled returns, and then go to his people in Neverwinter. Atarah offers to bring him back a smoothie.
On their way through the Tree Portal, Envar spots his people, the elves of Ardeep forest, watching from further in, and does not give into the temptation to walk through the portal backwards flipping them off. He merely nods at them, and vanishes.
Silverymoon is home to beautiful art and culture and knowledge. There is a major temple to Corellon and Lathander here, and it is there the party goes to after arranging for the rooms for the night they know they’ll need, as Oak cannot open another portal until after the next dawn. The city is enchanted with civil magics: calming and cleaning effects, “a pleasant vibe.” Oak doesn’t know what to do with herself absent her near-constant panicky energy.
“It’s like I drank tea—but I didn’t drink any tea!”
The party makes sure they are clean and presentable; Envar in his nice clothing, Atarah in her polished mithril and orichalcum armor, and they all head to the Northbank and temple district of Silverymoon.
Along the way, from the tree walkways above them, someone yelps. “Oh no— Wait— Aaah!”
They plummet to the ground; Oak leaps toward the falling form with her giant-rune active to fly. She slows the figure’s fall but they still hit the ground with a lethal-sounding crunch.
And then hop up, brushing themselves off. “I’m ok! I’m ok. I should have remembered that.” It is an elven male acting decidedly un-elflike, with dark reddish curly hair and bright green eyes, ragged in appearance. “Everything’s fine, nothing to see here—”
As he heads towards the nearest staircase, calling up it, “I’m fine!” Oak immediately runs after him, curiosity at full strength.
The rest of the party stares after her.
“Well, we’ve lost Oak,” Envar comments.
“That calming effect didn’t last long,” Atarah adds. “She knows where we’re going—See you later, Oak!”
Oak comes up to the man, who is grumbling about “Whoever thought it was a good idea to—Ah! Hi!”
“How did you survive that?”
“Uh… I’m sturdy?”
“No, how did you survive that?”
“Aaah… Hello? It’s nice to meet you? My name is Felgolos?”
Oak introduces herself as well, totally disregarding his personal space to examine him. She peers at his eyes. “You’re not an elf, are you?”
Felgolos is inching backwards. “Oh, uh. You’re a Tabaxi, aren’t you?” He hasn’t met many tabaxi. She keeps pestering for what he is, and Felgolos asks her how she feels about the Zhentarim. She shrugs. Felgolos is not supposed to talk about this. “If someone asks about the wagons it wasn’t me. No, wait, I’m not supposed to talk about—Oh. Uh—”
“I just want to know about how you survived the fall?”
“Oh? The fall? I’m a dragon.” He freezes. “Wait, I wasn’t supposed to say—”
“A dragon! You’re a dragon! A brass dragon?” she guesses.
“I can’t talk about this here?”
“How about somewhere else? Come meet me later, I’ll tell you anything you want to know about tabaxi.”
Felgolos agrees, and they arrange to meet up for drinks later. He keeps heading up the stairs, and Oak skips down them, saying, “I met a dragon, I met a dragon! And he wasn’t a douchebag!”
She catches back up with the party very quickly. “I met a dragon!”
Envar, Corona, Muse, and Ferrindale have split off to go to the Temple of Corellon, while Atarah headed off to the Temple of Lathander.
Corellon’s temple looks like it contains a starfield, continually lit by moonlight. It is designed so well with the trees growing around and through it, one’s mind can never decide if they walk through a forest or a building. The Keeper of the temple recognizes Envar as the Bearer of a Moonblade as soon as they enter, and approaches with greetings.
Envar explains why they have come. “I have a companion who needs somewhere….safe… and quiet to stay for awhile. There are some… complications.”
The Keeper understands; they have dealt with this sort of situation before. They ask further clarifying questions; what kind of creature are they hiding from, are there any bounties outstanding, and between Envar and Muse and Ferrindale, they relay the relevant information. The Keeper assures Muse they are safe here beneath the protection of Corellon. Muse may speak freely here.
Priestess Flethi is the magical contact at the temple; they will add additional protections against fiends and are happy to send or receive messages for Muse while the party is out taking out Lorcan. Are there any further magical services Envar requires while he is in the temple?
Envar asks about fire-resistance magics; the temple can offer potions and advises as to the use of physical shields against them. Flethi also speaks of looking for the red line the caster uses to target the fireballs to help guard against them.
They also ask Priestess Flethi about the runes Atarah saw in her dreams of her father; they had copied them out.
The Priestess says she will need to do some research to discover their precise use, but she knows enough to know they are dangerous, and restricted information. The temple charges a fee of a thousand gold for this service, however. The runes are not exactly harmless.
Ferrindale pipes up immediately, “I’ll pay it.”
Flethi nods. “Then come back tomorrow, and I will have the information you seek. And any further information on the context of these runes will let me tell you much more about them.”
Envar doesn’t feel it’s his information to share, but he will go find Atarah and ask her.
Flethi also says, as Ferrindale is retrieving the gold, that as they are the ones paying, they will have first access to whatever information she finds. Even though the group held the knowledge of the runes in common, they probably don’t understand the full extent of what they could mean, and it is… dangerous knowledge. Flethi would like to meet with Ferrindale privately first, so that they can make a complete decision on what to share, or not.
Ferrindale understands. And, “Please, take care of Muse.”
Meanwhile, Atarah and Oak went to the temple of Lathander, Rhyester’s Matins. Oak is still very excited about the dragon.
“Atarah! That guy, that fell, and didn’t die? He’s a dragon!”
“No shit? What’s a dragon doing in Silverymoon?”
“I don’t know but we’re having drinks later!” Oak pauses. “Wait, is that a date? Am I having a date with a dragon?”
“I think you’re having a date with a dragon.”
“Weird! I’m not… attracted to him? Oh well. We’re having drinks!”
Rhyester’s Matins is a tall building made almost completely out of glasteel, facing into the rising sun. Prisms and stained glass are set into the walls, spreading colored light across the inside. The altar, at the far end, is situated so that the light converges on it.
Atarah is mistaken for a follower of Lathander in her shiny armor by the attendant priest, Morningmaster Kuth.
“Ah… I’m not, actually?” She stumbles over an explanation. “It’s more like… he’s my divine… grandfather?”
“Ah, you’re one of the Auraests, aren’t you? They had been staying with us for awhile, while in hiding, but I believe that’s over with now?”
Atarah nods. “I’m Atarah, the second born.” Kuth wonders who the first is— Aelius—but he’s never heard of Aelius. Atarah thinks that’s probably a good thing; Aelius doesn’t want to be known. She explains she’s come to petition Lathander to accept her temporarily as his paladin.
“Temporarily? Usually an Oath is for life.”
“I am a paladin of my father—of Summerheart. But he has been captured by a powerful demon, a demon I intend to slay. But they have done something to him to prevent him from granting me power, so I come to ask Lathander if he will, so Summerheart can be freed.”
Kuth nods. “Have you gone to Neverwinter?”
“Uh. I’ve been there a few times, yes?”
“Come with me.” Kuth leads them to a back office, one wall of which is covered in cubbyholes. Some of them contain letters and papers, and it is one of these he retrieves. “Atarah, yes…. Here. The Temple in Neverwinter had copies of your father’s Will sent to the other Lathander temples, in case—”
“I know what happened to my father, he’s not dead.” Atarah is vehement about the fact Summerheart is not dead.
“It’s complicated,” Oak puts in, with reassurances for Atarah.
“Yes, well. I can tell you… gods never truly die. They can be divided, or mixed up with each other, or —”
“I know what happened to my father. Please. I just— I just want Lathander’s blessing, to help my father.”
“There is a ritual we can do, to make a new Paladin. Come back by dawn, and we can perform it. Is there anyone you would like to witness it?”
Atarah nods, and says she will invite the rest of the party—those who are here, in any case. Oak, Envar, Ferrindale… her sister, Corona. “But will Lathander accept me…?”
“We will find out during the ritual,” Kuth says.
This is not exactly the assurance Atarah wanted.
Oak asks about knowing how gods are split and recombined — does Kuth know how? Has that happened before?
Kuth doesn’t know. Most of those occurrences happen on the Astral Plane, and they have not witnessed them. They only know it has happened historically. On the Material Plane, wars have been fought over powerful artifacts believed to be able to help or harm those processes, but whether they do… only the Gods know. And the Gods — all of them, good or evil — are banned by mutual accord to not step foot onto the Material Plane. They sometimes send avatars and champions, such as Summerheart or powerful demons, to do their work on the Material Plane instead.
Oak asks if the Astral Plane is the best place to attempt such a rebuilding of a god? Kuth nods—any of the Outer Realms, really; each of them have different metaphysical properties and some are better than others, depending on the god or what is happening there already.
Atarah asks if Lathander’s order has any advice on fighting demons.
Kuth says yes: Demons can only be destroyed in the Outer Planes. Defeating them on the Material Plane sends their souls back to their home Planes where they regenerate. At least the more powerful ones. Minions will die anywhere.
Oak asks if Kuth is familiar with the places where one can shift to the various planes—He is, and in fact has studied them extensively. The Temple keeps a map of such places, which can be copied (magically) for a fee.
Atarah heads back into the main sanctuary to pray and prepare herself for another Vigil, and Oak follows Kuth down the hall to the scribes and cartographers. Kuth leaves her there to do his own preparations for the Paladin ritual.
Cartographer Coothbert can do several different qualities of maps— a basic one, for fifty gold, a very detailed one with all the demiplanes they know of for five hundred, or one woven of attuned materials that works as a focus for plane-shifting for thirty thousand. Oak opts for the middle option.
It is a magical preparation, and Cartographer Coothbert lays out the ink and does the magical equivalent of screen printing, and then seals the resultant map against weather and dirt, rolls it up and puts it into a very large scroll case for Oak.
On her way out, Oak returns the letter she accidentally grabbed of Kuth’s desk earlier. “Sorry about that!”
Envar arrives to the Matins, and asks Atarah if she will come give the Corellon priestess the context of the runes. She agrees and after speaking to Flethi, and assuring herself of the priestess’s trustworthiness and discretion (Envar vouches for her), tells the story of how she came to know of the runes, who was being contained, and what was happening to them— Summerheart and Lorcan. Atarah wants to know how to break the circle.
Ferrindale adds, “Basically her parents split but only one of them—” causing Atarah to splutter “What…!? That’s… not… ” and Oak to giggle, “Ooh, too soon.” Envar hides a smile behind a disapproving look.
Flethi nods and thanks them for the information, and goes off to research.
Preparing to disperse again, Atarah offers Oak a necklace to wear on her “date” but Oak isn’t sure any more it is a date? Maybe it is. Maybe it isn’t! They’re just going to talk. Oak doesn’t want to wear the necklace it feels weird, and offers it back.
“You mean it’s weird because someone gave it to you?” Envar quips.
“Nothing. Come along, Corona.” And Envar wanders off.
The party leaves Atarah to her vigil, and Oak to her date. Envar takes Corona to a practice field and has her shoot targets till her fingers bleed—to develop those calluses, and because one may not have time in a battle to put on a glove. She appears to have a very high pain tolerance, because she doesn’t stop and keeps going until Envar notices it is affecting her shooting and calls an end to it. He wants to see how serious she is. (Atarah had reminded him this family has stubbornness issues.)
Envar assures her when she asks she is, in fact, improving. Slightly.
“When are we going to learn the cool stuff, like arcing arrows and hitting things you can’t see?”
“When you can shoot a damn sight better than that.”
Corona sighs. “That’s fair.”
She shadows Envar for the rest of the day— nearly literally.
Oak asks Ferrindale on the way back to their lodgings what they know about the Zhentarim? Smugglers and “legitimate businessmen” mostly. Not exactly the Robin-Hood kind. Most ruling authorities tend to ignore their activities so long as they stay within bounds, though, and it’s fairly easy to locate them through their iconography. Oak thinks Felgolos might be Zhentarim.
Felgolos appears on time, knocking at the door. His hair has been tidied and pulled back into a ponytail, and he’s wearing nicer clothes than he was in earlier.
Oak is excited. “Hello again!”
“Uh, Hi! So… we were going to have dinner, right? So, my friends tell me there’s a nice place to eat… uh. Called the Moonlit Veil? So I thought we could go there?” He definitely thought it was a date.
Felgolos does not jump over the rail—at first— because elves walk down stairs on their normal elven legs. Oak comments, “Well… if you want to jump, I can survive the fall.”
“What, do you have slow fall or something?”
“Oh cool!” and Felgolos jumps without consulting her further. Oak shrugs and jumps after him, activating her giant rune to drift gently to the ground. Felgolos ends up six inches deep into the dirt and complaining about ankles and shins. “…I thought you had Slow fall!”
Oak casts Cure Wounds on him and they continue on to dinner.
The restaurant is the kind of very nice place where the waitstaff (mostly human, in this case) have towels over their arms. Oak orders mint tea, and asks why Felgolos is in disguise?
“Oh, well… you’re not a bounty hunter, right? It’s not, exactly, a disguise… some dragons just know how to change shape. It’s a skill; not every dragon can do it. And I know how to turn into a person. Why, have you met any other dragons?”
“Oh, yes, but it was never very good because they were all—”
“Chromatics! Ugh, Chromatics are the worst!” Felgolos doesn’t know why there are so many chromatics, something about survival rates. He’s seventy two, when Oak asks. (Only a few years older than Oak!). He’s a bronze dragon. Lightning and stuff (complete with finger guns and lightning pew-pew noises and bitty sparks).
Oak can do cool stuff too, and makes the drinks in the glasses dance. Felgolos is entranced. Oak asks what Felgolos is doing in the city?
“Oh, hanging out with some other… people. I had a bad time… Some of my friends and siblings say I have poor risk management— I mean, they call me the Flying Disaster? And I got captured by cloud giants but my new friends saved me so now it’s like a life debt thing and I’m hanging out with them for awhile.” They aren’t here right now, though. Felgolos doesn’t hang out with invisible people, that would be weird. (If Oak is hanging out with invisible people she doesn’t know it. Felgolos thinks this is very deep).
The conversation moves on to whether Oak has fought any dragons— once or twice, but she and her party will be hunting an evil blue dragon soon, one who’s kidnapped their friends. Iymrith.
“Why, have you heard of her? Don’t hurt yourself,” Oak adds when Felgolos starts making pained faces.
“I’m not supposed to talk about it!”
“You know something about her! You are going to tell me everything,” Oak says as Felgolos continues making pained awkward faces.
“Aaah… Ummm…. Ok. Maybe we… should talk about something that won’t get me killed?” He stage whispers, “She’s scary!”
“Yes, I know, that’s why we’re going to go kill her.”
“Oh! Ok, then.” Felgolos is suddenly much more relaxed. “Well… that’s good. Maybe I could come with you when you’re going to do that… do you, like, have a calendar or something on when?”
Oak does not keep a calendar. But Atarah does! Dates are important to her. Felgolos asks if he can be pencilled in on that one. “I… I may have killed her son. Uh… You know, sometimes when you’re flying and someone else is flying and you need your wings to fly… It was… like heat of the moment, and I may have ripped his wings off and it all went downhill from there. I felt really bad about it later! Even though blue dragons are bad news. We’re both immune to each others’ lightning at least—can we talk about something else?”
“When did you kill him?”
“That sounds like the same thing…. Uh. Two days ago.”
Felgolos again asserts he shouldn’t be telling her any of this, she’s not a bounty hunter right? Right. She won’t tell. He’s laying low for now, clearing bounties from him from the Zhentarim. They…. Foolishly… thought he was attacking their caravans carrying slaves and drugs and stuff but it definitely wasn’t him, nope, it was some other lightning breathing blue dragon…. Who’s dead now! Definitely unrelated.
Felgolos doesn’t interact with a lot of people. It’s clear. Oak is a tabaxi, been one her whole life! This is very cool to Felgolos. The conversation continues in this sort of manner for the rest of the evening, and eventually the two end up outside of Silverymoon and its wards as Felgolos offers o take Oak flying on his back as a dragon. After a ride, she shifts to a giant eagle and joins him for a little while.
Before they part, Felgolos and Oak trade contact information so he can come fight Iymrith with them—Felgolos is usually with a sorceress named Zalira, he can get messages from her. Oak has a friend who can do that too.
21 Eleint 1487
The next morning is the dawn light ceremony of Atarah’s Oath re-affirming, to Lathander this time. Atarah is still uncertain. Her prayers during the vigil night have all been along the lines of, “I know I am not who You would have Chosen to be your Paladin. But—you did Choose my Papa. And he Chose me. Please, please— help me get him back.”
Envar lays his hand on her shoulder before she goes into the ritual and says, “You’ll be fine. He’ll accept you.” (Guidance) and Ferrindale gives her a broad wink and a thumbs up (Inspiration).
As the sun rises behind the altar, the light fills the entire room. A beam lances off the altar and strikes Atarah, and she feels the wellspring of divine energy at her fingers. Gold dawn light halos her as she steps back down away from the altar. The ache in her chest she’s carried for the last weeks fades away into relief and slightly manic energy.
“Aah… I think the answer was Yes. Let’s go kill some Pit Fiends!”
From Lathander’s temple they head straight over to Corellon’s. Flethi greets them, and whisks Ferrindale away to her private office to share the information she’s gathered from her research. Atarah, “It’s my dad!”
Oak and Atarah practically pounce on Ferrindale as soon as they come back to the main room. “So! What did she find out?”
Ferrindale gives them a pretty good summary of what the priestess found out, only leaving out a few details. Atarah asks more and more questions until eventually Ferrin tells Flethi she can tell the rest of the party what they were told already.
“Oooh Kay! Now that I’ve brightened everyone’s morning… I’ve got places to be. And I will catch you later!” Ferrindale takes off at speed to find Muse, somewhere in the complex.
Muse never heard chanting in the Slarkethel memories—the incantation Ferrindale recalls was part of Atarah’s dream that Ilwar ‘helped’ with and Ferrindale entered. But Ferrindale explains the situation anyways. “I know he was kind of a jerk to you the other day, but he’s still my friend. If I can stop him being lost to darkness — literally rather than figuratively — I intend to do something about that.”
“I mean, we all die at some point… but yeah. That sounds… really bad.” Muse shakes her head. She remembers mostly things from her own life, or the crew… but the stuff with Tranled didn’t mean anything to her, so she didn’t pay attention. “It’s like waking up from a dream.”
“I had a dream I wrote a really great song and when I woke up it was gone!”
“Exactly!” Muse agrees. “But… maybe you’re not giving Tranled enough credit? I mean, sure, he was a bit mean, but you’re asking him to face down a monster from his childhood. And… uh. That can make us feel like we’re kids again — small and powerless. I kinda get where he’s coming from. Anyways… ‘you wanna go to hell?’ isn’t exactly a good pickup line.”
“I’m working on that.”
“Maybe… you guys could track down some of the Fallen Oak society here on the Sword Coast? I have some information on that I could give you to track down people locally, instead of… you know. Giving Lorcan the home turf advantage if you don’t have to.”
“I’m not the brains of this operation—” Ferrindale says. “I’m just going with whatever they tell me is going to be advantageous.”
“Since… I mean, you remember how I used to be… since I was captured because I didn’t think out clearly what I was going to do, so I’ve started trying to plan ahead of time, now. I’m not perfect, I still have my impulses, but I kinda had to learn by running into a brick wall.” She sighs. “Lorcan had a plan, the Fallen Oak Society had a plan, I didn’t have a plan. And so, they got me.”
“Yeeaaah… I’ve… sorta seen that in action.”
“Sorry, I’m not trying to damp down your free spirit, it’s what I love about you. But.” She shrugs. “Man, when did I become such a drag! Look, this place is gorgeous. It’s beautiful. I love it here. If I had to hide out anywhere in the world, I’m glad it’s here. So I will be here, chilling out, sipping martinis while you guys go take care of whatever it is— and when it’s all sorted out, we can get back to being wild and crazy together, ok? No plans.”
“The plan is success! And fun!” Ferrindale grins.
Meanwhile the rest of the party is discussing the gathered information, and what will happen afterwards.
…And depending on how forgiving Summerheart was feeling….
Atarah states her dad is very forgiving — A lot more forgiving than she is. Oak thinks Tranled yet needs to be redeemed— but that is a choice only he can make, Atarah says. It’s a hard sell. The party can only encourage him, even though in the past he hasn’t much been listening.
“I shouldn’t have said what I said, what I said while he was drunk. While I was drunk,” Atarah says, scrubbing at her face with a groan. “I meant it— but I could have said it better. Should have said it better. Just… make a choice.”
“Maybe he’ll forget it,” Envar says.
“I don’t know… did you see how much of the bottle was left?” Atarah asks, only joking a little.
Envar shrugs. “People get drunk and forget things.” Atarah isn’t sure that’s any better.
With the decision made to go to Neverwinter to acquire more information and sell off their excess magical items to the artificer Gart Deepden, the party collects Ferrindale and reassembles. Before they leave, Atarah makes sure to trade in the shield she bought the last time they were in Silverymoon for one with Lathander symbolism instead. Oak finds Felgolos to say goodbye.
Oak opens the portal to the forests just outside Neverwinter.
They immediately spot a knight on horseback. He appears injured, and there is a broken lute strapped to his back. The shield hanging from his tack has Order of the Gauntlet—Atarah’s faction— magery etched into it. He is riding away from the forests, heading into Neverwinter.
“Knight of the Gauntlet!” Atarah hails him. The knight turns, and spotting them, smiles.
“Hail. Good fortune to all of you.”
“You look in need of aid,” Atarah says, holding up a hand that now glows again with divine magic. The knight is instantly relieved, “Yes, please,” and Atarah lays her hand on his knee.
Oak pats Atarah on the back, proud. “You’re using magic again!” Atarah grins back, slightly giddy.
The knight must have been hit harder than he thought, he hadn’t seen them when he rode by. (“We’re very quiet,” Envar says.) He notes their weapons, and asks if they are men (and women) at-arms?
“Yes,” Atarah says, “I am of the Gauntlet as well. A Paladin of Lathander,” though she winces slightly at the god’s name.
“I am Ser Jordeth Havelstone,” the knight introduces himself. Envar inquires as to his injuries? “There was a frost giant scouting party— two of them. One of them has been slain, but not before my squire was killed as well. I have just returned from burying them. The other giant was wounded, but made off in that direction— “ he gestures, and Envar inquires further, it was only a an hour or so ago. He believes the giant is making for the coast, to meet up with the frost giant ships that lurk out to sea.
“I don’t feel right leaving a giant rampaging about,” Envar says.
“One giant, already wounded? We can handle them,” Atarah says, patting the hilt of her sword.
“My squire would rest easier if we put this one down,” says Ser Jordeth. “I would appreciate your help.”
“Alright,” Oak says, “But then we’re going to go straight and finish what we came here to do.”
“It’s only one giant,” Envar says.
Atarah summons her mount—but Rivka appears differently this time. No longer a sabertooth tiger, Rivka has gained the wings and foreparts of a harpy eagle: she is now a gryphon. She offers the rest of the party a ride behind her—Ferrindale climbs on, Envar would rather run, and Corona asks Oak if she might ride with her instead? As Oak transforms into a giant eagle.
The giant’s trail is ridiculously easy to pick up, between the knocked over trees and very large footprints. They catch up with him after an hour of fast travel, as he is about to break from the forests into a stretch of grassy plains broken by large rock outcroppings sloping down to the beach.
Envar looses arrows at the giant to get its attention, so it stops running and faces them, but the giant ignores them. Just before he would break into the plains, the giant drops down into the trees and the group loses sight of him.
Envar spots him looking up, holding a net, and readies another arrow to shoot at the giant as soon as he stands again. The arrow gives him a new nose piercing, but doesn’t stop him from flinging a net over Oak as she passes overhead with Corona on her back.
The net pins Oak’s wings to her sides, but Corona still manages to get a shot off through the net and hits the giant.
A second net is flung in Atarah and Rivka’s direction, but it misses.
Oak drops her wildshape and grabs Corona, then casts Freedom of Movement on herself, freeing them from the net. The giant rune she bears activates and floats them gently to the ground, taking no injuries.
Atarah stands in her stirrups and hollers down at the giant, “Maybe you haven’t heard! King Hekaton lives, and rules, and he is friends with the Small Folk! You can surrender to us and leave peacefully, or you can suffer Hekaton’s wrath! Which would you prefer?”
The giant pauses, fishing the arrow out of his nose.
Atarah keeps going while he thinks. “Because, I have a lot of people here who would like nothing better than to kill you. You wouldn’t be the first giant to fall at our hands. If you’d like to keep your life, I advise you to surrender.”
Out past the beach, there are a few more frost giants waiting in their boat. They begin jeering and yelling at the party, “Crush the smallfolk!” They are too far away to be heard further.
The giant finally puts up his hands. “Alright. Don’t attack. Don’t… Kill? No Kill?”
Atarah makes a gesture, asking the rest of the party to hold their actions. They do, though it takes a stern look from Atarah to get Corona to back down.
The giant says something in his native tongue, which none of them understand. He switches back to Common. “Speak… Giant?”
They shake their heads. Atarah asks “Do you speak this language?” repeating it in Celestial and Dwarvish, the only other languages she knows. The giant doesn’t know those either.
The giant says, “You… speak Hekaton. Why?”
“He’s alive. Hekaton is at home.”
The party affirms loudly, no, “Hekaton lives. Hekaton rules! With Sarissa.”
The giant nods and gestures at the boat. “Me, go home.”
Atarah says, “No killing Small Folk. Hekaton angry. Tell them, Hekaton lives.”
The giant walks cautiously away, watching the party, who watches him warily back.
Corona sidles up to Envar and asks why we are letting the giant leave? Didn’t he just kill a lot of people?
Envar explains sometimes it’s better to not kill, otherwise none of the other giants would be informed of their King’s return, and there would only be more raids.
Corona gestures at the giants in the boat. “We could take them!”
Envar sighs. “Put your bow away.”
Ser Jordreth catches up with them, and Corona gestures to him. “But, he’s Gauntlet! We take care of our own!”
Oak speaks up. “Child. We are not in charge of life or death.”
“Nor are all of us Order of the Gauntlet. More good can be done by breaking the cycle of violence than continuing it.” Envar explains.
“Write that one down,” Oak says, and Corona hurries to comply.
Atarah lands in front of Ser Jordreth and absorbs his unhappiness, explaining about the treaty and how they were working with Princess Sarissa. Jordreth thinks they all should die, and Atarah says genocide is not warranted.
“Take all of your high-minded morals and tell Aryanna’s parents about this!”
She will. “Where are they? I will tell them…. Look. I’ve lost people to giants too, it sucks. But to keep more people from dying, we have to let them know about their King, the one who can actually control them— he’s enforcing the treat. Otherwise we’ll just keep fighting them over and over and over again, to more deaths.”
“I prefer justice when it is swift.”
“The right choice isn’t always the easy one,” Envar says. Atarah agrees vehemently.
Jordreth isn’t convinced. He quiets down, but Oak can see he is still not satisfied by Atarah’s paladin ethics about retributive killing. She can tell he is only waiting for them to leave before he plans on going to pick a fight with the remaining giants.
“It’s not worth it,” she tells him. “It is not worth the deaths to come.”
“I asked for help—this is not what I wanted,” he says.
“No, we may not have given you exactly what you wanted, but what we did was the best for the long run.”
“Killing them is what they deserve,” Jordreth says.
“Giants are a full sentient race of creatures, with a range of personalities, types and morals just like us. They have their own government, and we have brokered a treaty with them that will be enforced. But in order for that to happen, we have to hold up our end of it. If you kill that one, the message of the treaty, the news, is not passed on, and the deaths will continue.” Oak explains.
Jordreth huffs and mounts up.
“Uh… I… can maybe… do something about that. Your squire. I can try to bring them back? I have magic that can do that.” Ferrindale puts in.
“Oh! You’re a powerful wizard?”
“Uh. Bard. I can’t guarantee it will work, but trying is better than not trying, right?”
Jordreth agrees. Oak’s fur is on end; resurrections feel wrong, now. Ser Jordreth leads them back to the location he buried the squire, and Oak at least moves the earth away and moves the body to the surface, but refuses to participate in the ritual.
Ser Jordreth prays. “You’re too young. You have a lot to live for. Please come back to us. If you can hear us, please come back.”
Atarah kneels. “Tell me about your squire.”
“Aryanna was—is—a very caring person. A people-pleaser, always wanted to make everyone around her happy. But there was a lot of tragedy in her life; she decided joining the Gauntlet was the best way to make sure other people could have their own happiness. She was training under me to become a Knight. A decent fighter… But maybe a better musician.”
“Does her family live?” Atarah keeps prompting Ser Jordreth for tales and stories of the squire, showing how she is remembered and known and loved and wanted. Look at how you are remembered, come back, you can do still more.
Ferrindale starts playing a song for Aryanna, something she would have loved, on the lute. Something cheerful and happy. “C’mon lil girl, there’s a lot more world out there left for ya. Don’t leave us hanging.”
Envar cleans and mends the squire’s broken lute.
A ghostly image of the Squire lays down into the body and the girl gasps another breath, sitting up and dislodging crumbs of Earth. Atarah immediately leans over and lays on hands, pouring more healing into her and Envar offers her a hand up with Cure Wounds.
“Phew! Wow. That giant hit me hard. Uh. Sorry to freak everyone out,” Aryanna says. “Looks like we really attracted some attention. Uh. Hi. I’m Aryanna, how are you doing?” She greets politely.
The party introduces themselves.
“Welcome back,” Atarah says.
“Uh. Yeah. How long was I out?”
Atarah shrugs. “Like an hour or two. It was a giant, he hit you hard.” The girl looks a little flabbergasted. “I’ll let Ser Jordreth tell you all about it. You’re doing great.”
“Well, we should hit the road,” Envar says brightly.
“Thanks a lot!” Aryanna says. “Hope to run into you again!”
Oak, still disturbed, leaves without comment.
“Enjoy yourself out there! Stay safe!” Ferrindale says as the party leaves.
Outside Neverwinter is a very familiar encampment of Orcs against the walls. Korotir comes out to greet the party. Two frost giant heads are prominently displayed on pikes outside the encampment.
Atarah throws up her hands. “We left you alone for two days. You were there for the treaty!…. I am trying to be a good paladin, I swear.”
Oak explains they are going to go shopping again and he doesn’t want to come, does he? Korotir nods. “Thank you for respecting my culture.”
Atarah leads the way to Gart’s shop again, where they ring the bell and wait for him to emerge. They have brought him bits from their fight against the Kraken cultists and tanned merrowskin. The bits are not terribly well preserved, having been in the bag of holding, but Gart can still making something of it. The party makes a decent amount of gold from the transactions, somewhere in the vicinity of thirteen thousand.
Atarah asks if he can answer some questions, now that they’ve brought him so much interesting items. Gart will do so, for free, even!
“So… we may have a spirit in need of a home soon, and I was wondering… how does one go about making a sentient weapon?”
Gart balks. Some things are proprietary knowledge.
Atarah backpedals— “I don’t need, like, technical details, just— it’s possible, right? Is it a property intrinsic to the forging of the weapon, or can you like, put something in it?”
Gart temporizes. “Ah. There are a lot of misconceptions about this sort of thing. I can tell one of you, but I’d have to take you on as an apprentice. It’s… complicated.”
“We don’t need to know details… We just need to know that it’s possible… and if we were in a position to want to make it happen, what would we need to do in order to enable someone with the skill to do it,” Envar says.
“You’d need someone with the skill to do it—present. I have that skill.”
“Do you want to take a trip with us?” Atarah asks.
Oak drags the rest of the party away, “For, uh, just one moment. I need to talk to them.”
“Guys,” she hisses. “I have that spellbook. We could trade it for the information—?”
“That’s up to you. I just… I wanted to give our mutual friend the option.” Atarah says.
“Maybe… we should talk to our mutual friend first. Before we explore this more,” Oak says. Envar agrees. “Because if…they don’t want a sentient weapon?”
“What’s in the spellbook?” Ferrindale asks.
Oak doesn’t know. It belonged to Schultz, she assumes it’s good stuff, something that Gart would want.
Atarah shrugs. “But. It is a possibility. That those sorts of things can be made on purpose, instead of… accidentally. I know sometimes they’re made only accidentally.”
The party agrees. It’s on the table, at leas.
Oak breaks up the huddle and asks if Gart can do anything with this? And she breaks out a jar of blood she took from a half-orc Kraken cultist. It’s just regular blood, nothing he can use he declares after testing it. Oak will keep it then.
“Is there anything else you’d like to offer in trade?” Gart asks.
“Oh, about the sentient weapon.” Envar muses. “We need to go and discuss it with other interested parties further before coming back with an offer.”
“But it’s good to know it’s a possibility,” Atarah puts in.
Gart accepts this. “I will tell you, you will need me or someone as skilled as I am present, and my services are for hire. I can take care of myself in a fight.” There’s not much more he can tell them about the process.
Atarah and Envar discuss options to the side about controlling the where of the event involved, ways of identifying the item and keeping it safe before bringing it back, instead of something happening uncontrollably. It seems the safest bet.
Oak thanks Gart, and he thanks her, only a little sarcastically, for the bucket of disgusting cultist goo. Atarah asks if he has a wishlist? Dragon parts. He can always use dragon parts. And since a big issue with dragons is transportation, he has a logistics chain that can handle harvesting in situ.
Talking about it, the party realizes they have no way of preserving future… icky things… and purchases a “Bag of Colding” — a preservation-enchanted Bag of Holding— for future harvesting.
Gart also warns them against other crafters, they can be squirrelly. “There’s some guy down in Waterdeep who’s a couple bolts short of a full wagon, if you know what I mean.”
“Lucky for you we don’t know of any others!” Atarah laughs as they leave. Time to find Korotir, and Tranled, and take the next steps.