30 Uktar 1486
Tranled, released from his missions with the Snail, catches up with the party the evening of the fight on the Bridge, making a very dramatic entrance by jumping off his vulture. They spend the evening catching up and healing, to finish their journey to Noanar’s Hold the next day.
The Feast of the Moon, 1486
The vultures are skittish and harder to handle after the bridge fight, but eventually settle down and the party continues their journey, arriving in Noanar’s Hold in the early evening. Voldrick and Titan “volunteer” to stay with and guard the (expensive) vultures on the outskirts of town where they won’t scare anyone.
The rest of the party heads into the town to find an inn and get rooms, a handcart for lugging the delivery, etc. They find the White Hart Inn, which is built for many more people than it is currently holding (the party). The Innkeeper, Narth, is an apathetic guy, who other than demanding payment in a monotone voice and telling the party to stay out of certain rooms belonging to the only other lodgers, doesn’t talk much.
Atarah gets Natalia and their rooms settled, runs into the other three lodgers coming out of their rooms. They’re dressed in hunting leathers, and leave without acknowledging the party. Nik asks Narth where all the people are. He only says the Hold has fallen on hard times lately, and no one leaves.
Tranled requires sauna time.
1 Nightal 1486
At breakfast, the party sees only two of the hunters returning. One of them has a serious wound (by a rapier like the ones they carry) and refuses Atarah’s attempt to heal it. Nik asks “Who killed your brother?” – they do not answer and go straight up to their rooms. Natalia thinks she recognizes them as nobles from Waterdeep – the Devaross brothers.
The party shrugs – not our business – and decides to go get Orthovir’s delivery completed. On the way out of the tavern, one of the brothers yells at a loitering Tranled to stay out of their business.
Back to the Vultures with a handcart to collect the gear, they don’t notice anything unusual. The woods are full of chirping songbirds, there’s game and scavengers. Nothing out of place. They collect the saddles and start towards the keep, up a series of switchback trails.
The keep is tall and solid, with no windows – there are the frames of them, but they’ve been bricked up. There is only a solid wood door and a knocker. Everyone stares at it until Atarah, impatient, bangs on the door.
A very grumpy, elderly dwarf answered and allowed them to put Orthovir’s saddles inside. Nik annoys him by asking for a signed receipt for the saddles; they learn the dwarf’s name is Amreth Nolabar.
The anteroom of the keep is coated in thick dust except for a small path that is clearly made by the dwarf, and the walls are covered in cobwebby hunting trophies: animal heads, mostly. There’s a prominent portrait of a noble in plate mail (no resemblance to the dwarf). Party is suspicious, but, task completed, start back down the trail back to town.
Halfway down, a two-headed dog jumps out of the bushes and latches onto Natalia’s leg. Envar stabs it, Nik stuns it with a blow to the head, and Atarah ends it. She attempts to pry the jaws off of Natalia’s leg and discovers the bite is poisonous. She manages to shake it off quickly, but it’s set in in Natalia and none of Atarah’s limited spells will remove it. Nor are Natalia’s spells working.
Korotir, Atarah, and Envar load Natalia into the cart and decide to seek help in a temple in the town, if there is one, while Tranled and Nik stay behind to study the corpse of the two-headed dog and see what they can learn of it.
Banks of fog start rolling down the mountains, covering the trail and reducing visibility. Korotir feels the presence of Orcus, is unnerved. Then, there is total silence. Supernatural silence.
Envar notices it first, eerily silent boulders rolling down the trail towards them. A landslide! He gets the others attention and they all try to get out of the way of the tumbling rocks and debris. Only Envar manages it, grabbing Natalia from the cart and dodging into the woods to the side of the trail. The other two, battered by rocks, feel themselves wrapped by ropes and dragged from the area. Kushme is left behind, hiding beneath an outcropping.
Further up the hill, Tranled and Nik are also wrapped in silence, but manage to notice horseman bearing down on them. Nik dodges the lasso tossed at him, but Tranled is not so fortunate and is dragged into the forest.
The horseman circles around and comes back at Nik, as another two-headed dog (Death Dogs) lunges out of the bushes. It bites him but doesn’t get locked down. The horseman, a skeletal creature with stringy hair and glowing eyes, speaks:
“We have cheated death. We have conquered that which calls to you. If you serve Orcus, you will never die. Join us!”
Nik declines. He punches the skeletal warhorse in the ribs, downing it, and flees in the direction Tranled was dragged.
Envar, still holding Natalia, is running, trying to get down the hill. The skeletal Wight rides up beside him. Envar slashes and misses, tries to find a place to make a stand. The Wight calls to him. “We can give you revenge. Rimedal will be here soon. Your greatest prey. Join us. Kneel.”
Envar says nothing but attacks again, getting a good hit on the wight and the warhorse. The horse screams and rears, flailing at Envar with its hooves as another Deathdog darts out from beneath and bites at him.
Korotir, dragged away from the rest of the party, finally gets loose from the ropes around him. Another Wight, with a Deathdog companion, confronts him. The dog bites at him. The wight calls to him as well. “Orcus is displeased with your cowardly abuse of inheritance. We will kill you, take back the shield, and paint the mountains red with blood.”
“Funny that you call me a coward when Orcus is a conqueror of cowards. Get off your horse and fight me. Just us.”
The wight does so, grinning, and casts Compel Duel on him. Korotir takes the first hit from the wight’s longsword, then hits back with the flail and shoves him down with his shield.
“I will never yield!” yells the Wight.
“Looks like you already are.” Korotir hits him again, growls, “Now stay down!”
The wight tries to get back up but Korotir smashes him back down with a final blow of the flail, shattering the creature’s skeletal form into disparate broken bones. Korotir snarls at the Deathdog, which had been thinking about attacking but now, frightened, runs off. Kushme arrives, and Korotir tells the cat to find Atarah. They run off into the fog together.
The wight dragging Atarah stops after a time, and she struggles to her feet as the creature circles her on his warhorse. The ropes are still tangled around her.
“Daughter of Summerheart,” the wight snarls at her. He charges, tries to cut her down from horseback. Atarah gets out of the ropes and draws her sword.
“Get down here and fight me proper,” Atarah tells him, casting compel duel of her own. The wight dropped from his horse and approached. Atarah hit him twice with all the might she could summon from Summerheart behind the blows. The wight fell to pieces in an explosion of divine sunlight, easily seen in the fog.
“Daughter of Summerheart. You’d better believe I am.” Atarah grabbed the warhorses’ reins and hauled herself up.
Korotir and Kushme emerged from the woods and Atarah gave the half-orc a hand up as well. Riding double, they turned the skeletal horse in the direction of Envar and Natalia and charged.
Tranled got hit by trees, but manages to get out of his ropes as well and stand as the wight that was dragging him wheels back around. The wight tempts him:
“You didn’t think just anyone could become a warlock, did you? Lorcan chose you because you are the last remains of Bael Turath. Join the Left Hand and we will give you your inheritance as Tiefling King.”
Tranled misty steps out of there, heading towards the flash of light in the fog. The wight gives chase.
Nik is running, trying to find Tranled, when a wave of fear crashes through the fog. He sees the thing he fears most in this world, which appears as a figure in white robes: hooded and cowled. He turns, runs faster. It pursues.
Envar found a place to make a stand; Natalia is under cover and he is standing guard over her, slashing at the Deathdog trying to drag her out. He kills it, narrowly missing being shot by the Wight’s arrows.
Tranled also falls prey to the wave of fear. The image of his Fiend Lord appears. “Tranled…”
“Oh, uh. This is not really a good time… if we could, maybe, talk later?”
“Your parents died because they refused the call of the Left Hand. They were more experienced than you. You will not survive disappointing us. Serve the Hand.”
“No!” Tranled denies it, spits poison in the face of his Lord, and turns – running the other way. He passes Nik (“Tag, you’re it”) but the wight that was chasing him gets in a hit. As he runs, the vision of his dead mother appears to Tranled, tells him how disappointed she is in him…
Nik snaps out of the fear and comes back to fight the Wight. It takes a hit and then flees into the forest, along with the first Wight to deal with Nik.
Atarah and Korotir are yelling for Envar; he hears them and responds, then dives for cover with Natalia. Atarah and Korotir burst from the woods and charge Envar’s wight. The two skeletal horses crash together in a splinter of bone, and between the two of them and Kushme, the wight is defeated.
The party regathers, some cowed, some triumphant, and make it back down to the village, bearing four recovered saddles (because really, the wights won’t need them anymore and it would be a shame to leave Orthovir’s good work out in the woods).
It turns out there is no temple in the town, no healers but themselves, but Narth says there’s druids who can heal in the woods to the east, in the Shadowtop Cathedral. Since they had business that direction anyways, they resolve to go there next. Natalia is stable; ill but no longer terribly wounded. But her magics are still unavailable.
In the Inn, Atarah asks Titan to unlock the door of the missing Devaross’ brother’s room, to see if they can solve some of the mystery. All they find are wills from his other two brothers, leaving everything to the dead one (Ranthar). Titan opens the other rooms and finds similar arrangements in each. They have no other valuables aside from a handful of currency.
They can’t leave the town under the thrall of the wights, so the party decides to air-drop onto the keep via Vultures and break in. They search the keep but find no wights, only the crotchety old dwarf. He was the castellan for the hold back when the Hunt Lords made their pact with Orcus, and remained in that capacity. The party clears the keep of valuables and then burns it to the ground.
2 through 4 Nightal 1486
They spend the next few days ensuring the wights do not come back and checking the countryside for signs of them. None are found, nor do the wights return….