Elminster the Sage

The Company of the Silver Coin
Amber the Ranger

Book 1
Chapter 7- Azagartha Nimune (1359DR, 21st-22nd Flamerule)

Before too long the forest became too dense to make riding practical. Though the forest was peaceful it was clearly not untouched by mortal hand and occasionally we passed paths, tracks and the broken remains of walls, and in the late afternoon our path crossed with a small band of human and elven deer-hunters. It was a glorious summers day to be travelling. Primrose shared some travelling songs with us, we talked of our travels and I was able to gather a few rare herbs. At evening we made camp, keeping the fire small and using divine magic to sustain it so as not to insult any Treants. Amber went hunting and brought us back a deer that served for that night's meal and the next morning's breakfast. After eating I gave in to the siren call of the forest which had whispered in my ears all day and went to explore the woods and the wonders they contained for an hour or two. I asked Amber if she would like to join me, she was polite enough in turning me down but I couldn't help but be concerned for her. Over the last ride or two she had been more then willing to pitch in to any fight which came our way but the rest of the time seemed to keep the group in general and myself in particular at arms length.

The next morning began the traditional way for the Company of the Silver Coin, with prayer and study. Primrose and Baldric spoke at length about her sword, with Baldric voicing his belief that the beautiful, black-haired priestess who gave her the blade may have been a manifestation of Tymora herself. Later I would learn that Tymora's avatar normally appeared with golden hair and for her to appear with dark hair was an ill omen. Baldric also, with Primrose's permission, experimented with the sword to see if it would focus the power of his miracles. The results were inconclusive.

Once we had broken camp for what we hoped would be the last day of travel to find Azagartha Nimune I began a long prayer to Silvanus to send us a guide to led us through the forest to the head of the Deeping Stream. My entreaty was answered by the arrival of a chorus of disembodied voices that revealed themselves to be a small a band of Pixies. The leader, Pushkim, agreed that they would take us to our destination though they didn't know of the human we sought. If the previous day's journey was pleasant, the presence of our sylvan guides made that day's even more so, their carefree company lifting all our spirits. I felt honoured indeed that they had answered my call for aid, of all the inhabitants of the wild places only the ancient Treants and the slender Dryads were closer to Silvanus. While the day's travel was without danger one incident brought concern when the Pixies noticed Colatto's Cloak of Form-Shifting. According to Puskin it was 'telling them' it wasn't a threat but all the same they were suspicious of it. The sun set before we reached our destination but our guides assured us it wasn't far so we pushed on.

We hadn't gone much further when we heard a blood-chilling cry from up ahead. Amber, Moneetha, Baldric, Primrose, Faergil and Colatto rushed ahead with weapons either drawn or readied, I was a step or two behind while Bazil stayed with the horses. What we found were at least a dozen of the biggest spiders we had ever encountered, the span of their legs were at least twelve feet across and their black bodies, which reflected what moonlight shone through the trees, were suspended eight feet above the ground. They seemed to be clustered around and attacking something but I couldn't make out what passed the forest of legs. My companions leapt into the melee with swords, flails and the Art. I called upon the divine power of Silvanus to incapacitate these creatures without killing them but it was no use, they were too far removed from the wellspring of nature to be within His dominion. Nor were these creatures defenceless against physical attack as they shrugged of the injuries of my companion's blows and returned with vicious spearing thrusts with their front legs. The battle had barely begun when everything was plunged into darkness so absolute that not even those of us blessed with "the elven sight" could see. From his position by the horses Bazil could see a dome of blackness extending back through the forest and up into the sky. We all recognised this magic and, along with the presence of the spiders, it strongly suggested the work of the drow. Quickly Bazil produced one of the stones that we had enchanted with the power of light and threw it into the dome, negating both of the magics. Then, using the power of his ring he slipped into the forest in search for the drow responsible. As my companions valiantly pressed the attack I sought to thwart another spell of darkness by calling upon Silvanus to bring light as bright as the sun. In the rays of this light the spiders were revealed in all their hideous glory, their armoured shells seemed almost to be metallic and had vicious serrated edges while their long legs were spear-like and employed like thrusting swords with deadly effect. The initial target also became clear to me, though I imagine that some of my companions had seen him already, a lizard-man like being about four feet in height, with surpassingly delicate hands, a blunt snout and a head crest who stood defensively over what looked like a downed human. The battle was being won, only two of the spiders were still alive though many of my companions had received vicious wounds in the process. Though it pained me to kill even such perverted creatures it was clear they had to be finished off before one of our number suffered serious injury or perished. I called upon the divine might of Silvanus once more and the earth beside one spider, which was battling Primrose, formed into a maw which bit deeply and then dragged it beneath the ground. The last spider turned and fled but was struck asunder by Faergil's magical staff.

Quickly I called upon the divine power of Silvanus again to tend to my friend's injuries and then went to get the horses and speak with our Pixie friends. Baldric and Colatto approached the lizard man. Though he clearly understood the common-tongue he seemed unable to speak himself, however the Art of Colatto revealed that this unusual being communicated by emitting subtle odours. The lizard-like being told Colatto that we would not be able to pronounce his name but his companions called him Dragonbait, while his fallen friend was Alias. Cautiously he allowed Baldric to examine Alias, a human warrior from her garb with copper coloured hair and an elaborate azure tattoo on her sword arm, watching closely all the while. Quickly Baldric discovered that she was under the effects of drow sleeping poison. By now Bazil had given up on his attempts to find the drow we suspected was near-by and joined up with us. With Colatto acting as translator we discovered that Dragonbait and Alias were helping Azagartha Nimune, searching the forest for signs of trouble. Dragonbait agreed to take us to Bristar, a small elven village beside the source of the Deeping Stream; Lake Eredruie, but he would not take us to Nimune until he had had time to speak with Alias. He allowed Baldric to load the young woman onto his horse 'Storm' and, after I thanked the Pixies for their aid and companionship and bid them a heart-felt farewell, we set off. After a surprisingly short amount of time Alias began to come round. Baldric's quick attempt to stop her falling off the horses prompted a knee-jerk response from Dragonbait who, despite his comparatively small size, threw the plate-mail-clad priest away from the horse. This in turn almost prompted a violent response from Amber, who had been so calm and level headed during our meeting with the Company of the Bloody Moon not so long ago. This time it was Colatto who diffused the situation. Alias and her companion quickly conferred and agreed to take us not only to the village but, if they could, to see the magess.

The source of the Deeping Stream was a small, calm lake with still waters that reflected the silver disk of the waxing moon. The village of Bristar was a small hamlet, well spread and interspersed with plants and trees, as was the elven style. The streets were deserted at this late hour. Our new companions led us up a small hill towards a humble cottage that reminded me a lot of the one I had grown-up in. As we approached a graceful snowy-owl landed a little way before us and changed it's form to that of a beautiful, red-haired woman clad, as far as I could tell by the moon-light, in reds and browns. We had found Azagartha Nimune at last. She offered us the simple hospitality of her cottage and a cup of tea. Faergil and she renewed their old friendship and we broke the sorry news of Kolanthian and Kolanthia's deaths. She confirmed that for the last two years she had been in hiding both from the drow and the lord of Highmoon who under the sway of his half-elven Herald had declared the Casting-Out on the Moonshadows. Further more she explained how years ago, while travelling in the lands of the drow, she had briefly shared the thoughts of a drow matriarch who had received what she called a "Dreaming" a vision of vengeance against the Seldarine, the elven gods. In turn we showed her a copy of the drow message we had been given, told her of our journey into The Vale of Lost Voices and our recent encounter with the Red Wizard. She knew nothing of "The Eight" or "The Rite of Knowledge" and little of the Bane-Blades except that their power against creatures of the lower-planes was a matter of legend. This made sense that we would need them if the drow, perhaps working with the Red Wizards, were attempting to recruit an army of such entities. She encouraged us to discuss the dreams we had within The Vale, suggesting there might be truths there we could learn. I agreed and, in an attempt to encourage my friends, described mine again, as did Colatto. Faergil spoke of his dream for the first time, how his had been killed, burnt, torn apart from the inside out magical truths too great for his mortal body to contain. From the look in his eyes as he spoke I could understand why he had tried not to think of this and I was once more impressed by the elve's courage. Amber joined Moneetha in saying she had not dreamt at all that night.

Of the Legacy of Shrinshee she knew more. Shrinshee was a legend, the high mage of Myth-Drannor, and possibly the greatest elven mage who had ever lived, perhaps the greatest mage of any race. One of her last acts was to create a portal to another plane, though Azagartha didn't know whether it was to the lower planes or to the elven heavens. Amber voiced what I imagine many of us thought; could the drow, supported by an army of fiends, be preparing to storm the very gates of the Seldarine? The portal had been in an ancient elven retreat, now long abandoned which, over the passage of time had been corrupted by a forgotten god, Moander, until it had become known as The Darkwatch. Darkwatch; as I sat there in the cottage that night the name was enough to chill me. A Doom seemed to hang about it. Chauntea had said that our path would take us there and had given me a token of her power but still I was scared. Some fear which I could not place… While none of us had heard of the god of decay until then it was clear from the tone of her voice that Alias knew more about him then she would like. Azagartha encouraged us to visit the sage Rauntides who lived near-by and might be able to tell us more about Moander and what became of Arianne Maerdrym and the Bane-Blades. She was also able to give some more intelligence about Highmoon, information that attracted Colatto's attention. A red headed merchant called Garalan had gained some political power there of late and was believed to be a friend of The Herald, Scoril. After asking Azagartha for a more detailed description Colatto informed us that Garalan's appearance matched that of the illusion worn by The Red Wizard and he was eager to re-aquatint himself. By now it was well into the night and our host was tiring. She suggested that we rest and decide our next step in the light of day. Though Dragonbait was confident that we hadn't been followed by the drow that had led the spider attack I wasn't prepared to take any chances. Discarding my humanity for the form of a wolf, I slipped out of the cottage to keep watch while my companions, old and new, took a well-earned sleep...

Chapter 8...

DM's Notes

I used the following references:
Volos Guide to the Dalelands: Information on Bristar, Eredruie,
Forgotten Realms box sets (both past and present): Stats for Azagartha Nimune
Heroes Lorebook: Stats for Alias and Dragonbait
Azure Bonds (Novel): Roleplaying tips for Alias and Dragonbait, general background information.
Plus other sourcebooks that might give too much away if mentioned!

There was a alot of travelling through silvan woods and I wanted the characters to enjoy the journey. The southern woods are not in the least bit intimidating; they have a 'elven' feel about them.
Once Baldric realised that Primrose's blade was a 'Luck Blade' - The Tears of Tymora, he wanted to investigate if it could help the casting of Tymoran miracles. As Nick said, the results were inconclusive...
One thing I will say, is that when it comes to magic items I rarely stick by the rules. Magic was designed to break all rules IMHO.
I wasn't expected Thorn to cast his Call Woodland Beings (or whatever) spell, so had to come up with something quickly. The sprites worked OK, and gave me a chance to explore Collatos mysterious cloak (remember, I 'play' with magic items...) Watch this space is all I'm prepared to say (my players read these notes!).
The spiders were Sword Spiders and are particularly nasty. Fortunately the party dispatched them with relative ease. As for Alias and Dragonbait; well, I wanted a 'known' NPC and they worked pretty well - I think.
Azagartha Nimune is a minor written NPC (her stats are in the Forgotten Realms Box), and she was friendly with a couple of the games first PCs - now long dead. She was also the mentor of Faergil.
It was a night of explanations and the PCs received quite a lot of information -and a number of new questions.
The biggest question is What is the Legacy of Shrinshee. Again Watch This Space (though it might be a while...)

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