Elminster the Sage

The Company of the Silver Coin
Amber the Ranger

Book 1
Chapter 5 - Sessrenglade Ruins and the Death of Colatto (1359DR, 20th Flamerule)

After forty minutes of waiting we began to become concerned for our friend. We gave it another ten minutes to be sure and then went looking for him. As the others slowly moved forward I took the form of an eagle and began a search from the air

It was clear that Bazil had been spotted. Most of the orc encampment, which numbered over a hundred, were searching the lands on the far side of the camp from our position where a tell-tale track in the tall grass cut towards a small forest. Moneetha and Baldric stayed back with the horses behind the last piece of decent cover before the camp; an old dry-stone wall, while Amber, Colatto, Primrose and Faergil moved via the same small forest for a closer look. Confident that Bazil would out-fox the orcs and head back for the place were he had left us, I remained in the air looking for him. It took a while but soon I spotted a disturbance in the tall grass made by the careful passage of an invisible creature, it could only be him. I led him back to where Baldric and Moneetha waited. Now we only had the problem of finding Amber, Colatto, Primrose and Faergil before they found the orcs.

Shifting my form to that of a wolf I began to follow Amber's trail into the forest, Bazil close behind. Unfortunately the rescue party engaged the orcs before we could reach them. Within seconds we were all involved in the melee. It wasn't a long or pretty fight. Despite their overwhelming numbers the orcs were no match for the spells and steel of my companions and were cut down by the dozen. Looking back at the dead bodies and damage caused to the woods and grasslands I cannot say that I was proud of the Company of the Silver Coin that day. When it was all over Bazil was able to explain that, employing his mastery of stealthy movement and aided by his ring of invisibility (acquired from a Shadow Dragon's horde during The Wolf Lord War), he had crept into the camp. The orcs were mostly asleep and from their tents flew black banners with a red design similar to the one he had seen in his dream in The Vale of Lost Voices. Suspecting that these creatures were in the employee of the drow he crept into the orc-chief's tent to investigate. Around the neck of the orc within was a red, tear-shaped crystal, a magical communication device identical to the one that the orcs we had encountered in Battledale had possessed.

Unfortunately on the way out of the camp he had been discovered and made for the forest to loose his pursuers. During his flight from the camp Bazil had spotted a tent of a different design from the others pitched away from the rest which he believed might belong to drow. Carefully we went to investigate. The tent had a powerful magical aura that resisted Baldric's attempts to dispel it. Boldly Colatto attempted to enter the tent and was instantly struck down dead! It happened so suddenly that it took a few seconds for the truth of what had occurred to sink in. Unwilling to believe that one of our companions, particularly one as robust as Colatto could be cut down so effortlessly we desperately searched around for someway to cheat death or at least prove whether he was truly dead. Powerful healing miracles were brought into play with no effect. When that failed we turned to prayer for answers and finally resorted to summoning his departed spirit, the arrival of which dispelled any doubt to Colatto's condition. Understandably a black mood fell over the group at this point. Faergil studied the glyphs on the tent and concluded that Colatto had been slain by a Symbol of Death! A dark and powerful dweomer indeed...

We began to make preparations to leave at once, an attempt was made to burn the tent and Baldric promised the group that he would bring Colatto back from the after-life as soon as it was within his power. Amber was not prepared to wait that long and spoke of taking Colatto's corpse directly to the nearest city large enough to have a priest capable of resurrecting our comrade, the tone of her voice alone was enough to silence any possible objection to her suggestion. It was then that Primrose unwittingly employed the powers of Tymora's Blade and literally wished Colatto back to life. Baldric quickly came to the realisation that the halfling's sword was one of the legendary Luck Blades, which has the power to make it's owner's wishes a reality. Needless to say he was awe-struck. If there was still any doubt about or resentment to Primrose travelling with us it abruptly ended at that point. Colatto and Amber both professed eternal gratitude to the diminutive warrior and Baldric began to treat her with a new respect.

During all this Faergil had found a crudely drawn map in the tent of the orc leader. The keep and watchtower that overlooked the camp were clearly and deliberately marked. An investigation by Colatto and Amber revealed a single set of human footprints heading towards the castle. Concerned that this was another attempt to recruit evil begins from the lower planes we followed the tracks up the hill to the castle and then through it and on to the watchtower. The castle itself was a decaying monument to paranoia and cruelty and, according to Moneetha, was stained with evil. It's walk ways were filled with murder holes ready to rain death down on the head of the castle's enemies and the skeletal remains of a man still hung in a cage in the courtyard. Unfortunately we set of some form of magical alarm, a screaming skull that hung above the courtyard, and our quarry was ready for us. He began with a lightning bolt, hurled down from the top of the tower, which stood behind the castle, before we had reached it. Faergil was so badly injured that he was forced to flee the battlefield. Baldric was also stopped in his tracks and elected to play dead. Our enemy pressed home his advantage by summoning a giant warrior out of the very ground, an earth elemental! Moneetha was the first to engage the elemental, her sword clattered harmlessly off it and she received a bone splintering punch for her efforts. Tymora was with us and Baldric, despite his injuries, was able to dispel the magics that had brought it to this plane, leaving our way to the tower clear. Baldric then began to employ a series of minor healing spells to his injuries while Bazil and Colatto headed for the top of the tower, the former by nimbly scaling the side of the building the later by taking on the form of a Swift and flying up. Amber, Primrose, Moneetha and myself took a more mundane approach, quickly ascending the steps to the front door. While Amber headed down to make sure there was nothing nasty waiting to come up after us the remaining three of us headed for the stairs in an attempt to meet up with Basil and Colatto and catch the wizard in a double pronged attack from above and below.

Chapter 6

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