Elminster the Sage

The Company of the Silver Coin
Amber the Ranger

Book 1
Chapter 9- Assault on the Tower (1359DR, 24-25th Flamerule)

It was not the first time I had fought Tanar'ri. Early in my travels a bandit-mage had summoned the least of their legion, Manes, to battle us. They had proved to be immune to weapons not forged by the Art, something that we didn't possess at the time, but I had invested an oaken club with a small fraction of Silvanus's power and driven them off. The second time was during the Time of Troubles. While staying with druids of the High Forest I had been set upon by Tanar'ri from Hellgate Keep; a six-armed woman with the lower body of a serpent, leading several ape-like followers. I had been helpless against their unholy might and it was only the arrival of my father that had saved my life. Even as I watched the Herald in the doorway I felt doubt about our chances wrapping its icy fingers around my heart.

Scoril stepped boldly into the room. Her appearance, though we knew it to be a lie, was that of a half moon-elf woman with pale, blue-tinted skin, golden eyes and long, white hair. Four men clad in the grey colours of Deependale guards, though we suspected that they were four of her Tanar'ri servants, followed her in. A sixth figure hung back in the night beyond, Colatto's sharp eyes recognised the Red Wizard Garalan in his merchant's guise.

With righteous indignation Amber and Moneetha went forward to meet the intruders before they could get too far into the room. The Herald didn't seem to notice them, giving them no more attention then a man would a pair of field mice which tried to bar his path, and called upon Rhauntides to hand over Azagartha as an enemy of Highmoon. The sage met her challenge with bold words, telling her it was unwise for her and her kind to come to his tower 'un-summoned'. Scoril's beautiful face contorted with rage, her eyes began to blaze with a baleful fire and her cloak was thrown from her shoulders as a pair of large, bat-like wings began to unfurl on her back.

Baldric responded quickly invoking the power of Tymora to weaken the resistance to magic that Scoril, as a Tanar'ri, enjoyed. Though Scoril was able to throw off the effect she was for a moment distracted and Moneetha lunged, attempting to plunge her elven blade into the succubus's chest. The four guards reacted with a speed that was almost impossible to follow. In less then an instant they too had shed their human forms to appear as nightmarish creatures; they were nine feet tall and had flesh the same shade of black-ish green as a decaying corpse, a wild mane of hair framed a bird-like face and tumbled down their back. Cruel talons extended from their figures which, thanks too their unnaturally long arms, dragged along the floor. Similar barbed claws sprouted from their toes. Two were right in front of Scoril without seeming to cross the distance between them while the other two engaged Amber and Moneetha with the same lightning speed, slashing with both hands and feet and stabbing with their beaks. Amber and Moneetha reeled under the fury of the assault but stood their ground; valiantly counter-attacking but unable to lay blade upon the nimble bird-creatures. Meanwhile Colatto, who had moved in to protect Primrose, had cast one of his defensive spells and now there were five of him, the original and four illusions.

A heartbeat latter Azagartha unleashed a flurry of magical darts into Scoril but she seemed uneffected. . Faergil unleashed a spell of his own, one he had recently learnt from Azagartha, and a cone of blizzard-like winds leapt from his hands striking the succubus, two of the bird-like Tanar'ri and then out through the door way to engulf the Red Wizard. This time Scoril, and the wizard Garalan, cried out in pain but the other two seemed to be completely uneffected. The two bird-creatures which protecting Scoril darted across the room to kill the elf before he could do it again but were intercepted by Alias and Dragonbait before they could get to him. Sharnil Tharn had seemed to disappear but it was now time for her mentor to act. With a word he animated the four golems which began to grind slowly into motion. Pulling back his cloak the sage revealed his belt. It is strange how our minds can be distracted by details, even in the midst of battle. For the first time I noticed that he was not wearing a belt decorated by stars at all but had a band of miniature stars which encircled his waist. Simultaneously he summoned a globe of magical protection around himself and anyone nearby and created a hole in the wall of his tower, beside the fireplace, which led to the outside world!

Baldric had by now invoked Tymora'a aid to reinforce himself and guide his hand. Bazil, ever loyal to Amber, had managed to outflank the bird-creature that attacked her and tried to plunge his short-sword into its flank but it was too quick. I myself had been entreating Silvanus to use His dominion over time to guide Amber to a future favourable to us, a powerful but short-lived miracle. Distracted by my prey I was probably the last in the room to notice a cloud of evil smoke starting to form in the air above our heads, apparently at the call of Scoril, and begin to draw itself into a near-human figure. The bird-creatures renewed their attack, Dragonbait and Amber had to endure multiple, cruel hits, Alias was saved by her magical armour but Moneetha went down under a hail of blows, her flesh ripped from her.. The bird-creature that had attacked her stopped to begin feasting on our fallen comrade until Amber turned her attacks on it and, guided by Silvanus, one struck home. Unnoticed at the time the bird-creature that Amber had turned away from sprayed a thin mist from its chest at her though it had no immediate effect.

Both Colatto and Faergil unleashed spells on the succubus, a storm of mystical darts and a bolt of lightning but to no effect while I entreated Silvanus once more to help Colatto as He had helped Amber. By now the smoke had formed into a solid figure, which I would later learn, was a Balor Tanar-ri. If the bird-creatures were nightmares made flesh then this being was something that no mere night terror could prepare us for. It was a muscular male figure over twelve feet in height with skin the colour of hot coals and a pair of wings which grew from its shoulders. In one hand it held a sword with a blade shaped like a lightning bolt while in the other it had a flaming cat-o-nine-tails, the barbed blades of which seemed to dance with their own unholy life. The room didn't seem to big enough to contain this fiend and it cast a cloak of fear over all that saw it. With a wicked and satisfied smile the succubus faded from sight.

The new arrival lashed out with its whip snaring the downed paladin and dragging her towards itself. Quickly Bazil leapt forwards and sliced off one of Moneetha's fingers so he could get her Resurrected latter. Before he could snatch it up the Balor brought the lightning-bolt shaped sword down onto Bazil. There was a flash of lightning and the halfling was blown, smouldering across the room. I would like to think that the Balor, if it knew any other emotion but hate, was surprised as Bazil bounced back to his feet. Bazil the Quick's stamina was almost as famous as his speed.

By now the golems had joined the melee and were battling the four bird-creatures, taking the pressure off Alias, Dragonbait and Amber who was able to snatch up the severed finger that Bazil had not had a chance to grab. Colatto called upon Primrose to use Tymora's Blade to wish the Tanar'ri away. Perhaps in an attempt to increase the sword's power, perhaps because he believed that Colatto had just made her a prime target Baldric evoked a powerful miracle of protection onto the halfling. In a confidant voice that carried across the chaos of the battle Primrose wished that "these creatures were returned to their own plane". For a moment I was foolish enough to feel relieved but the Wish didn't come and the Tanar'ri were still there.

Rhauntides, the doubt in his voice was clear to all, shouted at everyone to escape while he kept them occupied. He tried to confuse them with a magical fog, to paralyse one of the bird-creatures and dismiss the Balor back to its infernal domain but the Tanar'ri's magical resistance protected them. Faergil and Bazil ran for the new exit Rhauntides had created and I began to back that way myself, looking to see who was following. Baldric called upon Tymora again and placed a curse on the Balor's blade, a curse which came into play a few moments latter when the fiend struck at Primrose only to have the damage inflicted upon one of the Tanar'ri's own - wounding it severely. Rhauntides demonstrated his skills again and unleashed three more spells, with the first he sort to trap the Balor in a magical web with partial success, then he invoked a word of power in an attempt to stun it but to no avail. With his final spell he tore the floor of his tower asunder and from the very rock the tower stood on formed an Earth Elemental.

It was then I heard my name called. The voice was so distorted by pain I almost didn't recognise it as Amber's. She lay on the floor writhing in agony as spores carried in the bird-creature's fog sent what appeared to be roots or shoot growing out of her flesh. As I ran over to her side my mind raced as to what I could do. While they appeared to be plants I was under no doubt that they were creations of infernal magic and would not respond to Silvanus's will. But if they were magic from the lower planes...Quickly I found a vial of holy-water used in a simple miracle of blessing, one of the first miracles a priest learns, and sprinkled its contents over Amber. My desperate hunch paid off and the shoots dissolved in the blessed water. As I helped the still groggy Amber to her feet we heard Bazil's voice from outside; Faergil was in trouble. Upon getting outside the elf had been set upon by Scoril's fifth Tanar'ri bird-creature receiving vicious wounds. Blindly he had lashed out with a spell, firing a spread of ice-rays from each finger but the Tanar'ri had shrugged it off.

As Amber, Primrose and I headed for the exit we were over taken by a swift, Colatto had used the Art to take the form of a bird and was heading outside to find the Red Wizard. Flying past Faergil and the others Colatto followed the edge of Rhauntides's tower around to the front. Finding no trace of the wizard he continued his circuit back to where Amber, Primrose and myself had now reached Faergil. Seeing certain death staring him in the face Faergil called out to his patron deity for succour, perhaps he was answered since a second latter Amber launched herself into the Tanar'ri. Her skill as a swordswoman was no match for the bird creature's unnatural speed and it avoided her blows but now it had more targets to choose from. It attacked in all directions striking at Amber, Bazil, who leapt out of the way, and Faergil who collapsed. With the bird-creature outside I had a few options which were denied to me in the tower and, as I had with the monstrous-spiders a few nights before I called upon the power of Silvanus to reshape the ground into a gigantic maw. Even then it was only because I targeted the ground directly beneath the fiend that it's speed didn't save it and the earth maw worried on the Tanar'ri's legs like a dog on a rabbit. Amber took advantage of the bird-creature's distraction to leap across the pit formed by the thrashing ground and, grabbing Faergil, she and Bazil made a run for it. Primrose followed suite but overcome by fear she fled into the forest.

In the tower behind me the Balor had dumped the remains of Moneetha, little more then scorched ashes given form by her plate-mail, from his whip before lashing out at Baldric. Baldric was held in its flaming embrace for barely a moment before the Earth Elemental wrenched him free - his skin flayed by the cruel barbs of the whip. At the same time Azagartha launched a burst of magical darts at it but with no effect. I certainly felt no surprise, just a little disappointment, when the bird-creature pulled itself free of the maw injured but alive. However I was a surprised when five large, grey creatures, which I had never seen before but knew instantly, thanks to the link I shared with Silvanus, to be hippopotamus rained out of the sky around it. Ever resourceful Colatto had flown above the Tanar'ri and changed into the heaviest shape he could manage. Unfortunately the bird-creature had been able to employ its great speed to weave between Colatto and his four illusionary duplicates and again avoided any harm.

Quickly I glanced back into the room. The stone golems were losing the fight with the bird-creatures and bravely Baldric had gone to help them out, flailing away with Twin-Death. Unfortunately I found that not only was the Balor free of the web but the burning web had set the ceiling afire. For a second my eyes locked with that of the Balor and I felt a terrible, reason destroying fear spread through me. Luckily the magical defences of my Harper Pin were enough to save me and I shook off its effects in time to see Azagartha be snared in the beast's whip. I knew I had to get to Azagartha; she had been Korlanthian's friend and aly and had shown us nothing but kindness since we had met by moonlight two nights previously. I had been lucky in the battle so far and, trusting to luck and Silvanus again, I ran back into the room to save her.

The fire was spreading rapidly as Rhauntides's bookcases caught alight. I was not the only one coming to Azagartha's rescue, Alias was charging in from a different direction. The Balor saw her and throwing aside its sword, now useless thanks to Baldric, punched her with enough force to send her flying back. Taking advantage of the Balor's divided attention I grab for Azagartha. My dragon heritage served me well; the whip's flames meant nothing to me and I had the strength to tear her free from its embrace. She was a dead weight in my arms, flesh and clothing had been either burnt away or fussed together by the heat of the whip and her red hair was no more. Everything I saw told me she was dead but I could not bring myself to give up on such a noble woman. Dragging her to a side wall I called upon Silvanus to heal her injuries but it was no use, her body was now just an empty shell of burnt flesh.

Outside, Colatto, now back in his human form was facing off against the bird-creature. His illusionary duplicates were saving his life but they were quickly running out. Using the Art he conjured a crystal arrow which flew at the Tanar'ri, shattering on contact to cover it in acid. Bazil and Amber, carrying Faergil had found the horses. As Amber bound the elf's injuries Bazil located Faergil's portable hole. From inside he fished out the healing potions we had found in the tower of Vaintar the Bold as well as the keg of waters Faergil had taken from Lake Eredruie that restored those of elven blood. A strangled, male cry snapped me out of my regrets over Azagartha and back to the ugly reality of the fight. Baldric was reeling away from a bat-winged female figure, his skin ashen. The succubus had kissed him and stolen part of his life force. Then my eye was drawn to something else, something which made me forget about the battle for a moment.

Moneetha's armour was walking across the battlefield towards the succubus sword in hand. A strange blue/white light seemed to be escaping from the joins in her armour and a pair of white flame-like eyes shone from the visor like beacons. It appeared that even death was not a barrier to the paladin's crusade against the forces of evil! Scoril noticed the armour a few seconds later and turned to face it. One of the golems crumbled to dust and a bird-creature leapt forwards. Still unsteady on his feet Baldric swung around to meet it, there was an exchange of blows and the Luckbringer collapsed. Running over to my fallen comrade I began to drag him from the battle but in doing so left myself open to the bird-creature which ripped into my exposed back and flank as I retreated. I owe my life to the fact that it was attacked by Rhauntide's elemental. As I approached the exit I sensed something above me and, as it flew past the Balor struck. Perhaps it realised that flame didn't bother me because instead of its whip it struck with a fist the size of my head. The blow was agonising but worse still was the sensation of pure fear that race through me, ten times as bad as when our eyes met. The fear smashed past my own defences and those of the Harper Pin. I almost dropped Baldric and ran blindly but something sprang up from within the recesses of my memory, something which scattered the black waters of fear which drowned my mind; the memory of a tenday I spent surrounded by the beauty and safety of The Unicorn Run. I staggered on.

Barely I was aware through the smoke and my pain that the Earth Elemental was destroyed, by the Balor I think. I almost ran into Rhauntides. No longer having to control the elemental he summoned a massive, double handed blade of pure light before directing two more spells at the Balor. The first was an intense beam of light that shone with every colour of the rainbow but it seemed to have no effect, the second was a blast of arctic wind similar to the one Faergil had employed. I heard the Balor cry out with what was either rage or agony but I didn't look back to see what had happened. Then I was outside. A badly injured Colatto seemed to be facing off against the bird-creature in hand-to-hand combat. As I dragged Baldric past the fight something metallic landed at my feet; Colatto had thrown me his Perapt of Wound Closure that I pinned to Baldric's clothes. Its magic went into action straight away and the bleeding from the priest's many injuries stopped before my eyes.

With my "elven sight" I saw Bazil and Amber waving from the forest and I set off in their direction. Amber met me a little over half way and helped me carry Baldric. We glanced back in time to see Colatto bring down the Tanar'ri with his bare hands! My heart leapt at the amazing triumph only to have it fall again as Colatto ran back into the tower, now burning strongly. Thanks to potions and healing waters Amber and Bazil looked better then when they had left the fight and Faergil was conscious, if barely. There was no sign of Primrose, Alias, Dragonbait or Sharnil Tharm. I quickly brought Baldric back to consciousness with a little of Silvanus's divine power but he was still weak and could barely stand. We waited as long as we dared for the others before leading the horses away from the scene of the battle into the forest. No one spoke, my mind was numb from ten minutes of constant terror and I followed on behind the rest. A pair of ear-splitting screeches from behind us focused our attention on the here and now, we instantly knew what it meant on some instinctive level; the Tanar'ri were hunting us...

Gathering my shredded wits together I called upon Silvanus to give us shelter. They may have been fiends but I was still an Initiate of The Oak Father and I would be damned if I would be trapped while in his domain. Silvanus answered my prayers and formed a secret corridor through the forest into which I led my companions. Inside it was like being in an alley of trees so tightly packed that you couldn't see past them. In silence we waited. We knew that someone would have to find our missing friends before the bird-creatures did, Bazil volunteered. Before he left I invoked the most powerful miracle of healing I could to take care of the worst of his injuries. During this time Colatto realising that he could not save anyone in the tower had resumed the form of a swift and flown into Highmoon in an attempt to get help. When the night-watchman he had found had tried to take him to see the Lord, Colatto had decide to not risk that Scoril or Garalan were already there and headed back to the forest. Using his ranger skill he quickly found both Primrose and our trail but had become confused when it appeared to go into a tree. Basil made it back to the scene of the battle but before he could look for survivors was spotted, despite the power of his ring, by the bird-creatures. As the halfling fled back into the forest and it become apparent that they were easily able to track him.

Back in our hide-away Baldric had, thanks to the miracle he had placed on Bazil earlier that evening became aware of his plight. Amber and I ventured forth to try and save our friend. No sooner had we stepped out than we almost fell over Colatto and Primrose. Leaving Primrose to look after Faergil and Baldric, Colatto joined us. Reasoning, correctly, that it was the magic of the ring that was drawing them to him Bazil deactivated its power and relied on his own mastery of stealth and evasion to loose them. Not long after that he found the three of us looking vainly around for him. Amber, Bazil and Colatto, using their knowledge of stealth, and myself becoming one with the forest as a wolf we made our way back to the hide-away. Colatto told us that while in the tower he had heard a woman's scream and believed it to be Sharnil, I told them about Moneetha's Revenant returning to battle the succubus and shared my hope that it was Scoril he had heard instead. We debated where to go and what to do next. We knew we couldn't wait around, despite the severity of our injuries. Someone suggested we go back to the village where we had met Azagartha but Colatto pointed out that we couldn't risk leading the Tanar'ri back there. Bazil and Baldric studied the halfling's maps and a path was plotted.

Leaving the safety of our magical hide-away we headed west through the forest, some of us leading our horses, others lashed to them for support. Somewhere ahead lay the mountains and beyond them Cormyr, Home. From there we could alert King Azoun to the evil which stalked the lands and hopefully get a boat across the Sea of Fallen Stars on the trail of Arraine Maerdryrn, a woman from the past who held the keys to our future...

So ends the the first book of 'The Legacy of Ages'

Book 2

DM's Notes

I used the following references:
Volo Guide to the Dalelands: Excellent Information on Highmoon, Rhauntides. Invaluable!
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.

I actually wanted to complete the adventure the previous week, but it was very late so I held off. I was expecting this final encounter to last a couple of hours at most but it ended up taking the whole evening to resolve. I suppose I was expecting the PCs to run straight away, how wrong was I!
The players had wound themselves up at the end of last weeks game when Demons (sorry, Tanar'ri) arrived, so we were all ready for action.
It was a very tough fight. It was meant to be. I pulled no punches with this one, especially when the characters dallied.
The four 'guards' were Vrock Tanar'ri and the fact that they always act first really made life difficult for the players. The Succubus backed off and turned Ethereal for a while. Only returning to summon a Balor Tanar'ri (Ouch) then drain Baldric from 8th to 7th level. He lost over 134,000 experience points in one shot as he was a mere 5,000ish xp from 9th!
I killed Azagartha Nimune about half way through the fight (I like killing off written NPCs - watch out Elminster!) and I think that shocked a couple of the players.
Moneetha the Paladin was the next to go. She had been a PC, but the player could no long play so we were carrying the character to some extent. I wanted her death to be something special, and truth be told, did not want her being casually resurrected. She returned as some Holy Revenant to protect her friends from the evil.
I'm not sure that Collato would have ever seen a Hippo, so shouldn't have been about to Polymorph into one, but hey it was funny, so I let it go!
After about 10-11 rounds of combat the characters realised they were up against a superior foe and started the retreat. They were severely wounded and just wanted out of there..
Collato was the only one that managed to kill a (previously wounded) Vrock, with a Vampiric Touch spell. I remember Roy doing a victory lap around the kitchen table when I declared the demon was dead!
The players still don't know the fates of Alias, Dragonbait, Rhauntides the sage, or Sharnil Tharn
By the end of the game, the players knew where they wanted to go and so the first book came to a close.

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