Elminster the Sage

The Company of the Silver Coin
Amber the Ranger

Book 2
Chapter 3- The World Serpent Inn and the Tears of the Lady (1359DR, 30th Flamerule and Midsummer)

View a map of Arabel

Amber, Bazil, Colatto, Faergil and Primrose found themselves standing in what appeared to be the same street they had been a second before but the Wild Goose's sign had changed to that of a green serpent swallowing it's own tail.

Stepping through the inn's front door they were confronted by a long passage filled with a strange, blue mist. Plain wooden doors lined it's sides and ahead they could see what appeared to be the light of an entrance way, Heading down the corridor they began to notice that the wooden doors that they passed didn't seem to be fixed in space. Instead they were drifting slowly along the wall; some of them seemed even to overlap.

The corridor opened up into a vast chamber. It was alive with all the usual sounds of a drinking room but that is where the word "usual" stopped. The room seemed to be made from the same blue mist that had filled the corridor, apart from several fluted columns that were made of a luminous white stone. In the centre of the chamber was a circular bar that was illuminated from above by a shaft of light and tended by a corpulent man who seemed to radiate joy and good will from every pore. The rest of the bar-staff consisted of gnomes. As my companions arrived The World Serpent Inn had at least fifty other patrons; many were races they recognised, elves, dwarves, etc., if rather exotically dressed as if from far-off lands. Others were beings which many would call "monsters" and still other were beings the like of which they had never seen. Later my friends would describe seeing Illithids, Efreeti, what looked like a drunken beholder except it's tentacles were overly long and ended in crab-like pincers, a 12 foot giant with blue skin and a being which looked like a cross between a 9 foot eel and a giant spider. All the beings in the bar were freely drinking and talking.

Heading over to the bar Bazil ordered the other a round of drinks. The bar man, Mitchifier, was pleased to see new faces and eager to hear any tales Bazil had to tell. The others kept close to the bar, Amber particularly on the look out for danger. Despite the cosmopolitan nature of the bar's patron my friends did feel like they were drawing attention from two groups. One group was a small band of cruel looking humanoids who were similar to beings we had once fought on a brief trip to The Astral Plane. The second groups were a pair of Illithids.

Bazil's tales were interrupted by raised voices; three Efreeti, muscular humanoids standing 12 feet tall with charcoal-coloured skin and flaming eyes, were accusing a brightly dressed halfling of cheating them. The halfling began to cheerfully explaining that they were mistaken and, seeing our interest began to wink at Bazil. When Bazil refused to come to the hafling's aid he forced the issue by assuring the Efreet that his comrade by the bar (Bazil, of course) had their money. As one of the Efreeti stayed to keep an eye on the halfling his companions came over to talk with Bazil. Amber interposed and did her best to turn them away, stating flatly that they were not connected to the halfling and didn't have their money. The Efreeti were not happy and the halfling then made his way over for a word with Bazil asking the Efreeti to step away for a few moments. Amber wouldn't let him within arm's reach of her comrade. The halfling told Bazil that her owed the Efreeti 20,000 pieces of gold but that he knew that Bazil could bail him out. Bazil refused to part with his money but was, despite himself, intrigued when offered the opportunity for "magic and adventure". The halfling told Bazil that he had misplaced his dagger, which was valuable enough to pay off the Efreeti, and offered him the chance to go and get it from a tower. The halfling was evasive about where the tower was, simply that it was nearby, or who owned it. Bazil stubbornly wore him down until he was forced to admit that the tower belonged to a being called "Errtu" who was presumably a Fiend as his tower was on the 47th layer of The Abyss!

Bazil decided to turn down the "deal" at which point the halfling, with a look of disappointment, disappeared. As soon as they noticed this the Efreeti rushed over and demanded to know where he had gone, accusing Bazil of hiding him. Bazil refused to take any responsibility for the halfling saying that he didn't even know his name. The Efreeti, drawing their massive scimitars, told my companions that the halfling was non-other then "Brandobaris", the halfling god of thieves and trickery. One took a swipe at Bazil to show they were serious, cutting a shallow but long wound across his chest. Bazil returned the favour with his magical short sword as Amber and Colatto drew their swords and Faergil tried, with some success, to shift the blame to the pie-eyed beholder as Brandobaris had shifted it to them. A second latter the Efreeti who had attacked Bazil turned to ice and all eyes turned to Mitchifier, who now didn't look so jolly. The remaining Efreeti backed down, re-sheathing their weapons and returning to their table. As soon as they had gone Brandobaris reappeared. Casually toppling the frozen Efreet over he scolded Bazil for not being daring enough and headed over to see the Efreets. He paid them off, though Bazil, Amber and the others couldn't see what with. My friends, particularly Bazil, began to check their pockets and pouches in case the divine thief had taken something of theirs to clear his debts.

As soon as the Efreets left Bazil, with the others close behind, went over to join the god in a drink. Bazil asked how a god could owe anyone money, at which Brandobaris happily explained that he didn't; he had broken into The City of Brass, capital city of the Efreet, and borrowed a few of their treasures. The Efreet had been sent to retrieve them but when they had caught up with him he had used his power to confuse them as to what it was they had come for. Brandobaris then tried to lure Bazil into first a game of chance and then a riddle contest. Bazil wasn't eager to take part in either but Amber suggested they have a riddle contest "for fun" (as opposed to for treasure). It was Amber who first worked out that Brandobaris riddle ("Shade of azure, harder then bone. Stays on the outside, will turn to stone") referred to Bazil's goose egg sized sapphire. It had been a gift to Bazil from my father Aurus the Gold who had, as many of the ancient dragon do I'm told, worn it on his hide to replace a missing scale ("Stays on the outside"). Further Bazil had planned to sell it to repair the damage caused to his castle ("will turn to stone"). Inspired by Brandobaris' interest in the gem Bazil offered to trade it with the god for a pair of magical items, which he agreed to do so though he didn't have them with him. Colatto took the opportunity to ask Brandobaris how they could leave the inn, which is another secret that I won't divulge here.

By now Amber had come to the conclusion that with Mitchifier about the World Serpent Inn was safe enough and separated from the group to socialise with the other patrons, particularly a being called Ander from a place called Sigil. From Ander she learnt that Brandobaris had stolen a fallen star from one of the other patrons, the blue skinned giant which he refereed to as an "Arcane", to pay off the Efreet. It was decided that the five would spend the night in the World Serpent.

As Bazil paid for rooms, Mitchifier pointed out that the halfling's magical ring was missing. Suspicion immediately fell on the now departed Brandobaris. The rooms were similar to the World Serpent's taproom in design, seemingly made of blue mist. Faergil insisted on a room that would have fitted some of the inn's larger patrons simply for the novelty of sleeping in a 15-foot bed. Amber, Bazil, Colatto, Faergil and Primrose met up the next "morning", though how they knew the time I'm not sure, for breakfast.

Faergil had learnt that a famous arch-mage, Mordenkainen, (whose name was synonymous with several spells) was staying at the inn. Spotting Mordenkainen at breakfast Faergil went over to speak with him. Faergil was surprised to learn that, even though the arch-mage didn't hail from our plane, he knew of the elf. The arch-mage was an old friend of Elminster, who spoke highly of Faergil's ability. Suspecting that Faergil was going to try to bargain for spells, Mordenkainen enigmatically told him that the elf had no use of any spells that he could provide. Amber was also interested to speak to the arch-mage as Faergil had suggested that the spell "Mordenkainen Faithful Hound" was somehow responsible for her precious Dwindar. The mage was genuinely touched by her thanks and, after they spoke about Dwindar for a short while, gave her a scroll tube to pass on to Faergil.

Breakfast consumed that five departed the wonders of the World Serpent Inn and returned to our plane a few hours after dawn on Midsummer's Day. Colatto and Amber were eager to sample the pleasures of Midsummers Day; Faergil wanted to see if he could purchase any potions and Primrose was eager to go to the Temple of Tymora. Bazil was going to go with her but also wanted to visit the House of Thond, the gem merchants, but first he popped into the attic to let me know what everyone was planning.

I had awaked at dawn with the intention of heading for The King's Forest as soon as I had completed my prayers. The others had yet to return but I was confident that Bazil could extract those in the World Serpent Inn from any trouble they found themselves in and believed that Baldric had spent the night in the Temple of Tymora. Indeed he made an appearance in the attic just as I was about to start to prey looking like someone who had been up all night. What I would later discover was that he had gone to the temple the night before but upon arrival had been asked to pay a piece of silver to enter. This was the first of many changes that had occurred since he had been in Arabel last. Rather then ringing with the sounds of activity as the temple used to on Midsummer's Eve it was quiet and still. The acolyte who admitted him to the temple simply said that "times change" as he escorted Baldric to see the High Hand, the temple's most senior priest. The High Hand, Daramos Lauthyr, was an elderly man who had taken over the reins of power following the attack on the temple by the faithful of Beshaba a couple of years previously. Following the visitation by Tymora herself to the temple during the Time of Troubles Lauthyr had become a man with a vision. He believed that the temple in Arabel should he exalted above all others in the Tymoran faith and that the priests in it needed to be more stringent in their faith. As such he had done away with what he saw as the more fervours (Baldric preferred "traditional") aspects of worship, such as gambling and joyous celebration, in favour of quiet contemplation and study. He was initially pleased to see Baldric as he knew that the King had given my companion leave to build a church near Espar and was eager discuss how Tymora would be venerated there. However, when it became clear that Baldric was not impressed with his reforms the High Hand grew cold and authoritarian.

Taking his leave of Lauthyr but promising to return tomorrow to assist at the temple, Baldric came across a priest he knew from before his adventuring days. Together they retired to the priest's room to talk. The priest was sympathetic towards Baldric's unease but seemed convinced that The High Hand was justified in the changes he had made. When Baldric asked after Brother Doust Sulwood, an adventuring priest who, I believe, had been Baldric's inspiration, the priest answered that he had fallen out of favour with Lauthyr and hadn't been seen for a while. Taking his leave of his friend, Baldric paid a late visit to the workshops of the taper-makers in the hope of finding someone who might know where Brother Doust had gone.

He found an elderly lay-worshiper called Ebal who agreed, with some reservation, to ask around on Baldric's behalf. After a quick prayer by the altar Baldric returned to the Wild Goose and waited. He had barely had a chance to start a late supper when a brunette woman with a mischievous smile asked if she could join him. She introduced herself as Ursula and quickly admitted to being a Strife Bringer, a priestess of Beshaba. If the priests under Lauthyr seemed to be blind to the harm he was doing Tymora's standing in Arabel, Ursula wasn't and wasted no time in getting in some quality gloating before heading on her way.

Baldric had to wait till the small hours before he got any more visitors. By then the taproom was empty and he had to let the man in himself. The man was a young priest called Venda. He had heard of Baldric's visit to the temple and had come to pass on both a message and a warning. He believed that Baldric was in danger from The High Hand, only as few days ago Doust had disappeared and he suspected it was by Lauthyr's orders. However he was not alone, a priestess called "Belvelona the Mystic" wanted to meet him at the monument to King Dhalmas at highsun tomorrow.

Baldric spent the rest of the night considering the news he had learnt, he drifted off at some point but I doubt he got more then a hours sleep and was suffering for it when he came up to the attic to freshen up. We exchanged greetings, I told him that I would be spending the day and night in The King's Forest and he told me that he was going back to the temple, though none of what had occurred during the night. I was a couple of hours into my devotions when Bazil arrived. I had pretty much the same conversation with him as I had had with Baldric.

Bazil was about to leave when he spotted a letter Baldric had left for him. Reading it Bazil seemed puzzled and he re-read it to me. Most of it was normal enough, where he would be during the day and a reminder for Bazil to go to The House of Thond but the last line "It has been a pleasure to ride with you" raised concern. Knowing that the two halflings were planning to visit the temple to Tymora, I told Bazil I would be in town for another three hours and if they discovered that Baldric was in trouble before then I would appreciate it if one of them came back to tell me.

About two and a half hours latter Amber, Bazil and a rather upset looking Primrose returned accompanied by several of the Wild Goose's patrons and started to remove all the tables and chairs from the attic. Though their story was in places a little confusing I learnt from Primrose and Amber that Bazil had shown the note to the pair of them and Faergil who had headed straight for the temple to look for Baldric, Colatto had already left to explore the festival. Arriving at the temple that had found it less then half full due to the entrance fee of a silver coin being demanded by the church. Paying the toll they had entered (apart from Faergil who refused to pay and so stayed outside) and found Baldric among the congregation sitting through a rather dry sermon being given by the High Hand. Noticing Primrose's arrival Baldric made his way over to her in time to see that her sword, the blessed "Tears of Tymora" was crying tears of silver. Primrose came close to panic at the sight and Baldric was galvanised into action. Quietly but firmly he told her to go to the inn and use his money to set up an open-air gambling house so the faithful could have the Tymoran-style celebration which the High Hand had cancelled. He himself would arrive as soon as he could. Primrose shot out of the temple like a hare being chased by wolves, with a worried Bazil and Amber in close pursuit.

Learning what Baldric had said Amber sent Primrose with Bazil to the House of Thond to "obtain funds" while she spoke with Baldric, learning a few of the things that had occurred to Baldric during the night. At the gem merchants Bazil was finally able to cash in the Sembian trade bars he possessed and exchange the many gems that he had collected during our travels; some the groups, some his alone, for money. Linking up with Amber and Colatto again the halflings then headed back for the inn.

Hearing Primrose's tale made my heart go out to the young woman again but I was bound by my oaths of neutrality as a priest of Silvanus not to interfere. This didn't stop me explaining what I would have done if it wasn't for those oaths; that I would have marched straight back to the temple, shown the weeping sword to the faithful and laid the blame for Tymora's sorrow firmly at the feet of the High Hand. Judging by the hug Primrose gave me I think she got the hint, though Amber advised her to wait until Brother Baldric arrived. I also promised that if I came back from the King's Forest tomorrow to find the rest of the company in prison I would stage a jailbreak.

By this stage Baldric had met up with Belvelona the Mystic. She told Baldric that there were more discontent priests within the temple then the High Hand suspected but they needed a leader to rally behind, a role she believed Baldric (one of the heroes of the Wolf Lord War and the man who had saved King Azoun) could fill. Baldric was less sure, believing that Brother Doust was a better choice, but he would do what he could.

A few hours latter then I had hoped I had finished my prayers and, taking the form of a hawk flew out of the attic window. Below me the city was seething with people; entertainers, merchants, actors, preachers and the cities residents out enjoying all the wonders of the day. As I passed over The Watchful Lynx Inn I saw Bazil, Amber and Primrose setting up their gambling den. A man I didn't recognise was helping them but as he was wearing Colatto's magical cloak I guessed that he was the mage in disguise, a practical move on his part in case things went wrong. However, as I turned my back on Arabel I had no doubt that Amber's courage, Primrose's faith and Bazil's wits would be equal to any troubles they faced.

Chapter 4...

DM's Notes

I used the following references:
The Forgotten Realms Hardback: Excellent information on Arabel.
Faiths and Avatars: Information on church of Tymora, Beshaba, and Silvanus
Volos Guide to Cormyr: Useful information on the World Serpent Inn.
Forgotten Realms Box Set: Some basic information on Brandobaris
Dragon CDROM: For some old pictures of Mordenkainen.

This was a hard evening for me as I was (and still am) feeling pretty rough. Darrell was at a Living City meeting for half the evening, so I could devote my attention to the group in the World Serpent.
I threw in a load of weird 'monsters' that I thought they would probably never met, just for colour. The encounters in the World Serpent Inn went well, though I was winging it most of the time. I did have enough information to run an attempt to retrieve the god's dagger from the Abyss, but I suspected that Bazil would turn him down anyway.
Mordenkainen (of Greyhawk fame) was thrown in for a bit of colour, though it was interesting that the characters talked to him.
The characters drank Mango juice and Hock(!) at the Inn; just a couple of the cross-planar drinks available.
Anyone who plays Planescape will recognise Sigil, and Ander was a Tiefling (little horns, cloven hooves, etc)
Theres quite a lot of information in the Realms books on the changes that Daramos has made to the Tymoran church in Arabel, and I wanted to do something with this. The most difficult thing was roleplaying conflict with everyone being good alignment. It was all down to matters of faith.

Return to The Journey...