18 Nightal 1486
As the King arrives, Taal (the groveling drow mage) vanishes. Natalia notices but is too late casting Silence – does not stop Taal’s spell. She calls out to the rest. The remaining drow warriors raise crossbows or otherwise attack whoever is nearest.
The king shouts “’Ware!” and throws his hammer, hitting both the drow running for Tranled and ‘accidentally’ hitting Tranled as well. The dwarves with the King down one drow, Natalia’s spiritual weapon menaces the rest.
Tranled gets back to his feet, yelling in Dwarvish and then Common to Stop! “Drow – you will die here this day if you do not lay down arms!” “Dwarves – Stop! Save these men so they can tell you how they got in!”
Envar drops another drow with an arrow and Tranled facepalms. Tranled shoves a drow into Korotir, who knocks the man down and holds him with a shield to the chest.
Natalia’s spirit guardians flare and swipe at something near the door; Natalia dispels magic to reveal Taal the mage making a run for it. Envar takes a shot at the fleeing Taal and Nik races to catch up, but once down the corridors, Taal vanishes in a cloud of smoke. Nik fails to find where he’s gone, and neither can Envar.
The King wishes to slay the remaining drow outright, but Korotir refuses. “This one’s mine now.”
“Then you are responsible for him. You may keep your prisoner.” Natalia explains they’d like to question the drow with truth-telling magics, but a dwarven cleric who has accompanied the King explains that Drow are all tortured their entire lives; they do not even know themselves and thus anything that leaves their mouths cannot be trusted. All the same…
Tranled notices Atarah, still paralyzed and covered in spider gore, and feeds her a potion of poison-resist. She gets up, stiffly, thanks Tranled with a gory shoulder-check (“Eugh. Prestidigitation!”), and stomps over to the rest of the group with the dead priestess.
The party asks how the fight at the gates has gone?
Titan is back! Riding with Harshnag, the friendly frost giant. The two approach Gauntlgrym, knowing that is where the party had intended to end up, and spot three fire giants and assorted drow forces sieging the gates.
“They’re definitely here, this is what it looks like wherever they go,” Titan quips.
The Destruction Orb explodes, knocking many of the Fire Giants down and outright killing half the drow, but Titan and Harshnag took cover. Harshnag lobs Titan at one of the Fire Giants and heads over to take out the other three. Titan blinds the Giant he landed on, eventually killing it, dramatically. With great flair. Which no one sees.
The remaining drow flee, and Titan bangs on the gates. They want in, and they’ve, you know, saved the city so. The guards are skeptical but Titan persists. “So, I was hoping for a triumphant return with a very large giant friend. Do me a solid.”
Titan and Harshnag are escorted inside, where they meet up with the rest of the party. There is banter.
“I just killed a Fire Giant. By myself! It was amazing. Atarah you look awful, what have you been doing?”
“I killed a spider demon.”
Titan is rendered momentarily speechless. He recovers quickly and explains that Harshnag wants their help Saving The World! The party… mostly… agrees? But first Atarah is not doing anything until after the solstice (and a bath), and Nik wants the party to come investigate where the drow mage disappeared. They don’t find anything new, unfortunately, just a blank piece of corridor.
Tranled declares he has a present for Natalia, but firsts demonstrates magical consent by asking if he can touch her to cast guidance. She agrees, and he then produces an auto-crossbow for her. Natalia is… politely thankful.
The party manages their prisoners and takes a short rest to get cleaned up. Atarah goes in search of the cleric from earlier to ask if there’s a sun-aspected holy place anywhere nearby. The cleric doesn’t know, but she gets a vision of a Temple of Lathander and the knowledge that it is in Neverwinter from Summerheart.
Atarah goes with Korotir and Envar to the prisoner’s cell – she casts Zone of Truth and stands by while they torture information out of the drow. (Another dark side point is added to her tally.)
The drow knows little, and would much rather die, but he does tell them what he knows under the influence of Zone of Truth. They came to acquire the Fire Titan in the Forge for the Fire Giant Duke Zalto, who wishes to reforge all the Vonindod into an artifact that can destroy the dragons. The drow got in through a secret passageway where Taal disappeared; touch the elbow of the statue nearby and a door will open that leads into the Underdark. That’s all he knows, and Korotir puts him out of his misery.
The party investigates the information and discovers it to be truthful, finding the secret passageway. They will tell the King about it but will not say it came from the Drow, to keep it from being biased against.
19 Nightal 1486
The day before the Solstice. Atarah is restless and wants to leave but they have an Audience with the King first. They tell him about the secret passageway, he thanks them for their assistance yesterday and presents Natalia with a flat wood chest. Back in their lodgings, later, Natalia opens the chest to discover three steins made of black stone and mithril filigree with the names “Nik” “Atarah” and “Natalia” engraved on them and filled with gold coins. Korotir is annoyed, grabs Titan, and heads out to Voldrick’s residence, telling the rogue about the boots of flying they acquired with Voldrick. Titan is all for stealing them. Korotir kicks down the door, “Voldrick, we’re here for the boots. They’re ours—” but Voldrick is not there. They ransack the room anyways and find the boots. Titan immediately dons them.
Atarah is even more restless and packs up everyone’s gear while Natalia goes shopping with Tranled… she wants to trade in the staff recovered from the priestess for something less… evil looking. The jeweler contact gives them a paltry offer, and Tranled says they’ll take it elsewhere.
Atarah hustles everyone out of Gauntlgrym; they make it to Neverwinter by sunset. Tranled takes everyone out for something called “pizza” while Atarah searches for the temple. Titan regales everyone with tales of what he’s been up to while away, and Nik sells him on Death Dog Venom. Atarah returns triumphant, Titan interrogates Envar: “Firstly, when did you learn magic?!”
The party decides to go on a pub crawl! Tranled makes back all the money he spent on pizza and drinks via shrewd gambling (and probably betting on the inevitable fights or arm-wrestling or other physical displays of prowess Atarah and Korotir get into). Natalia is the designated healer – doesn’t drink.
20 Nightal 1486
Atarah is up before dawn (if she ever slept at all), along with Envar. The rest of the party, except for Natalia, is recovering from various levels of hangover – Kushme is being used as a pillow, Nik is hanging from the rafters, Tranled needs a sauna – but Atarah liberally lays-on-hands to get everyone back on their feet and chivvy them out to the Temple (if they wanted to come).
The Temple of Lathander in Neverwinter is a domed building on the southwest shore of the Blacklake. The walls are pale stone, the roof red tiles. The inside is filled with sunlight, no matter the weather outside; it streams through skylights and stained glass windows, pools in rippled patterns across the floor, is echoed in mosaics and polished brass fittings until the inside is glowing with warm golden light. At the far end is the altar with the symbol of Lathander set in stained glass above it – a rising sun over rolling hills – lit by a profusion of beeswax candles.
A scattered handful of Priests and acolytes tend the altar, intoning the services of the Dawn Rites, chanting and intoning prayers in the Celestial language.
As the sun fully crests the horizon, there is a nearly-visible ripple the vibrates the Temple; not quite sound, not quite physical, but something still easily sensed. It is the cleansing magical tide of sunrise. As it passes, there’s a new light source, off to one side in an antechamber to the temple’s Great Hall – a flare of zenith-bright sun.
Atarah had been waiting for it. The second it appears, she is off and running, dodging around worshippers and furniture. She drops her pack and armor to the ground and flings herself at a tall blond man, yelling, “Papa!”
The man catches her and swings her around as if she weighed no more than a child, then wraps her in a tight hug. They both have white blonde hair, and where Atarah’s eyes are pale ice, his are the deep blue of a cloudless sky. He is clearly her father, in build and height and face. But the soul behind those eyes is far more tempered than Atarah, and bears the calmer wisdom of years and pain.
Peace and calm radiates from him; a different sort of peace from that in the Shadowtop Cathedral. Where there it was a quiet, still sort of feeling, the man’s spirit is different: active and engaging, inviting – the peace of the hearth rather than the sanctum. He does not glow so much as the space around him always seems brightly lit, and when he turns to greet the rest of the party with a broad smile, they feel as though they are coming home. As though they were children again, one without fears or worries, because here is their guardian.
He greets each of the party by their full, proper names before Atarah has a chance to introduce anyone – and whatever one’s feelings are on their name, in his voice it carries respect and affection – something to be worn without shame. “Welcome, greetings! I’m glad to meet all of you. I am Pyrrhus Auraest, called Summerheart.”
Nik doesn’t respond to his full name, and Titan is confused by Summerheart calling him “Alton” but responds when Pyrrhus asks for tales of their adventures. He’s heard some from Atarah, of course, but he’d like to hear it from them. Atarah is giddily smiling and standing as close as she can to her Papa, rendered sunnily silent.
Pyrrhus listens attentively during Titan’s full story, theatrics and all. No one usually lets him get all the way through. Pyrrhus asks for a demonstration of some of Titan’s moves – since he’s clearly, by his stories, very skilled. Titan blusters a bit, but Pyrrhus summons armor and stands at the end of the hall, beckoning. “Come on. Show me.”
Titan manages to ping an axe off Pyrrhus’s armor with an acrobatic display, which impresses both Pyrrhus and the rest of the party. Titan is congratulated, and Korotir and Tranled eagerly line up to be next.
Tranled feels a presence looming over him and a fiendish voice whispering to him. “Get out. Stop fraternizing with… these.” He starts feeling really nauseous and heads out to find a privy – in the middle of his hand-to-hand spar with Titan, Pyrrhus pauses, turns to Tranled and commands, “No.”
The whispering and the presence vanishes.
Korotir and Pyrrhus square up to spar; Atarah offers her dad her sword – his sword – but he declines. “No, the Arbiter blade is yours now. I’ve got my own.” He draws blades of fire and light from his palms. Korotir wants one too but they don’t work that way. They spar – Korotir barely hits, once, but it’s enough to shove Pyrrhus back and nearly knock him down. Pyrrhus recovers and returns the favor, knocking Korotir down after making the Temple ring from the force of the blow on the Giantbreaker shield.
After the spar, Pyrrhus notices Tranled returned from the privy. “If they ever give you a hard time again, I can help you. Just ask.”
“How do I contact you?” “Through Atarah is the easiest, right now. Stick with her.”
Pyrrhus has information to give them. He explains about the Left Hand:"
The Left Hand is a group, almost a cult of Orcus. They deal heavily in blood magic and necromancy. They’re very focused on ‘legacy’. Which usually means either cheating death, or making sure that other people’s legacy is wiped out. They like to go after noble houses, corrupting them and using their wealth to fund more blackmail. That’s what happened to the Margasters. I believe you met Othovir, who was fleeing that whole situation. That poor family…
They’re taking a particular interest in this group since most of you are a noble bloodline in one way or another. Korotir is de facto leader of a growing tribe of Ulgen. Natalia and Atarah you know. Tranled is the Bael Turath and will decide their future, for good or for ill. And Titan… well, Titan’s giftings are a very well-kept secret. That’s why the Left Hand isn’t after him.
Your bloodlines are the reason for the bounty on you and my family. My family’s existence is an insult to them. And, assuming they haven’t changed their tactics, that’s what is happening to the Cuvelier family…"
Tranled is concerned about his heritage, but Pyrrhus reassures him. “Your bloodline does not define you. It is your own choices that define your future, none other.”
Tranled has already made choices. He explains a bit about his Fiend Lord patron, and the party asks lots of questions. Pyrrhus reassures Tranled that he is on holy ground: Lorcan cannot see or hear or interfere with anything that happens here.
Tranled breaks down sobbing. He never wanted the Pact. Especially doesn’t want the fire magic – fire is what killed his parents and he hates using it. He doesn’t want his Patron. Pyrrhus says his Patron doesn’t define him.
Atarah yanks off her holy symbol and asks her Papa to bless it; to give it the same kind of effect as holy ground does so Tranled doesn’t have to deal with his patron’s interference any more. Pyrrhus smiles – “Exactly what I was thinking,” and blesses the amulet. Atarah immediately hands it to Tranled. It’ll block the Fiend Lord’s senses as long as he wears it.
There is more discussion on the Left Hand. Pyrrhus addresses Natalia, reassuring her.
“Natalia, it’s normal for you to be worried. We will keep your mother safe. You are right where you need to be, with the people you need to have around you. The Left Hand are not martially powerful. They’re a sickness, so what you need is medicine, not the sword. They tend to operate over long time scales, this has likely been going on for years, and it may take years more for their plan to come to fruition. It’s fortunate you have been away, because your presence could have forced them to take action. I know this is hard for you to hear. But you need to wait until you know who their agent is. Then you’ll be able to strike swiftly and unexpectedly.”
He tells them when they do know who the agent is, to go to Yartar and find his old friend Kolbaz, tell him Pyrrhus is calling in a favor. Kolbaz is a Harper with a teleportation ritual – he can get them inside Waterdeep to strike quickly and before the Left Hand knows they are there.
Towards the end of the discussion, Tranled asks Pyrrhus if he can be Tranled’s patron, instead. Atarah is excited for a new brother!
Pyrrhus smiles and offers a hand to the tiefling. “Tranled. Will you be one of my children?”
Tranled’s eyes widen, glancing between Pyrrhus and Atarah. “Yes!”
“Then, come with me. Excuse us, please.” Pyrrhus bows to the group and leads Tranled towards the altar. A portal opens in the giant mosaic of Lathander’s holy symbol, and Pyrrhus draws Tranled through it, into another plane.