Elminster the Sage

The Company of the Silver Coin
Amber the Ranger

Book 2
Chapter 4 - The Festival and the Luck Goddess(1359DR, Midsummer)

View a detailed map of Arabel

With the aid of the rest of the company, Baldric's improvised gambling den went into full swing as the morning turned to noon. Aided just a little by Amber offering copper pieces to children to spread the news, games of Traitor's Skulls and Swords and Shields drew revellers eager to invoke The Ladies luck. It was clear from comments made by some of the gamblers that resentment to Lauthyr's "reforms" was common amongst the people but, despite a few nudges from Amber and Colatto, Baldric refrained from using the opportunity as a venue to attack the High Hand directly. As the afternoon wore on the mystic Belvelona arrived with a group of lay-worshippers from the temple, swelling the numbers.

It was not long after that when a dark cloaked woman astride a warhorse rode into view. Over the crowd Baldric recognised the rider as the Strife Bringer Ursula and, guessing her intentions at the last moment, called out to Amber as the warhorse galloped towards him. The Strife Bringer seemed intent on crushing Baldric and anyone which stood between them but hadn't counted on the strength and bravado of Amber who was able to wrestle the warhorse to the ground, throwing the rider. As Amber, aided by Colatto, tried to control the horse Baldric closed in on the priestess. Despite her attempts to goad him, insulting him, his church and the people of Arabel, Baldric did not rise to the bait and sent the Strife Bringer on her way. Amber, never one to hide her opinions, left fly with a few insults at the departing priestess. Ursula threw a slap at her, Amber swatted it aside with her hand but the skin-to-skin contact was enough for the priestess to curse her with "The Hand of Beshaba", for the rest off the day she was subject to appalling strokes of bad fortune.

Barely had this commotion died down when Colatto spotted a familiar and unwelcome face in the crowd, Scoril's Red Wizard in his guise as a merchant. No sooner had Colatto spotted the mage when something seemed to spook him and the spy hurried off along the busy street. Employing the shape-changing powers of his cloak Colatto followed him as he worked his way through the streets of the city until he could observe the gambling area from a different position. Colatto watched the mage watching the rest of The Company for over half an hour before the spy became cautious again and began to move once more. The mage left the more busy areas of the city for some more lightly travelled streets.

Without a crowd for cover Colatto was soon spotted and the mage made a run for it, dashing into and through a tavern called The Ivory Jack. Colatto ran the mage to ground in the alley behind the tavern. The mage had clearly had his bravado dented the last two times he had encountered The Company and rather then spells fell back on threats of retaliation from his "allies" if he were harmed. Colatto pounced on the mage and was in the process of overpowering him when, as he had during our first meeting, the mage spoke a quick phrase and disappeared. In the split-second of his disappearance, when the mage seemed to be caught between two worlds, Colatto say reflected in the Red Wizard's eyes not the alley but a strange, blasted landscape with boiling clouds. Giving some plausible lie to the innkeeper of The Ivory Jack, who had come out to see what the commotion was, Colatto headed back and told everyone what had happened.

As afternoon turned into evening and then the perpetual twilight which marked Midsummer's Night, Baldric's gambling venture went from strength to strength. What is more he succeeded in bringing out The High Hand himself, followed by what appeared to be most of the clergy, lay-worshippers and assorted hangers-on of the temple.

As Baldric had previously arranged, this was the sign for Colatto and Bazil to make their way to the temple. With Bazil taking the lead the pair snuck around the where the temple compound was being extended to make room for additional cloisters. Using his knowledge of the art Colatto turned himself into a mouse and hide in Bazil's pocket while the halfling picked the lock on the back door and harmlessly disrupted the magical glyph that warded it. Silently Bazil entered the temple, he had memorised a map that Baldric had drawn of the building indicating the room where Brother Doust was kept. Keeping to back passages and the minor staircases he made his way up to the second storey. The temple was almost empty, only once he had to hide in an alcove to let a priest pass. The pair reached to corridor which led on to Doust's chamber but they realised that, out of sight around a corner, there was a sentry.

Leaving Colatto, who had now taken the form of a dwarf, at the top of the corridor Bazil headed down. His luck deserted Bazil however as a noise got the guard's attention and the he came to investigate. Bazil was able to find what little cover there was and the first thing the guard saw was Colatto, who played at being lost. With the "intruder" at the other end of the corridor the guard was unprepared for Bazil who quickly tripped him up. Before the sentry could stand Colatto had a sword to his throat and the sentry wisely surrendered. After quickly trussing up the guard and hiding him the pair made contact with Brother Doust through the door, informing him that they were her to rescue him.While Bazil was able to remove the glyphs that warded this door he uncharacteristically botched the lock and couldn't pick it. Colatto changed form again, becoming a horse and kicking down the door.

Believing that the noise would have alerted what few people there were left in the temple, Bazil quickly produced a rope so he and the priest could escape out of a window. Colatto made his own way down by taking the form of a bird.

During this time spectacular and miraculous events had been unfolding outside The Watchful Lynx. Baldric and the High Hand were very publicly debating the role of the church of Tymora. I am told that Baldric's slow and calm speech didn't seem to hold the same strength as Lauthyr's impassioned oratory. Baldric introduced Primrose and had her recount her tale of how she had been given the blessed sword and how it had cried during the Midsummer service but even then Lauthyr came close to making it "proof" that Tymora approved of his changes. Then Baldric suggested that they combine their power to call upon the divine presence of Tymora to show definitively who was right and who was wrong. Lauthyr refused. Now the crowd began to sense fear and doubt in him. The crowd's anger grew and, as often happens in herds, that anger began to feed of itself and turned to violence towards the High Hand.Then Primrose's sword, drawn during the telling of her tale unleashed a dazzling burst of silver light.

For long moments everyone was too stunned to act and stood around, their anger forgotten. It soon become clear that the light had done more then stop a riot. Lauthyr had been blown to the ground; his holy robes blasted off of him and his holy-symbol reduced to molten silver that burnt his chest. More dramatic was the change that had come over Belvelona. She was surrounded in an aura of silver light, a silver which was reflect in her eyes and her hair was now blue; all the signs of possession by the Goddess Tymora!

Through Belvelona, Tymora first spoke to The High Hand, "This has gone on long enough. I cast you from my light" was her judgement, he didn't need to be told twice and fled the scene and, I believe the city. The she turned to Primrose. Returning her sword to her, Tymora told the halfling that "The first time was for thee. The second for my faithful. The third will be for the Realms".

By now Bazil and Colatto had returned with Brother Doust. Bazil lost now time in introducing himself to yet another god, who kindly informed the Master Thief that he was out of favour with Gond - The Wonder Bringer following his attempt to burgle one of his temples in Essembra. This went a long way to explain why so many locks had refused to yield to Bazil's touch over the last few rides. Finally she spoke to Brother Baldric, thanking him for what he had done for her church. She warned him that he still had hard labours ahead of him but, to show her gratitude, she would reveal to him new miracles that he could call upon in times to strife. With that Tymora left the mystic's body, though her hair and eyes remained blue and silver, and the masses headed for the temple for a traditional, Tymorian-style celebration of Midsummer. It went on long into the night.

The next morning, as many (including The Company) recovered from the night's excesses and saw to a few personal needs such as stocking up on supplies, Baldric, Doust, Belvelona and a few other priests met to discuss the future of the temple. Both Doust and Baldric declined taking over as High Hand and put forward Belvelona, who with some hesitation excepted. A scroll was found for Baldric, written upon which was a prayer that undid the damage that the succubus Scoril had done to his soul by her kiss. He also learnt that a large number of the faithful had decided to pledge allegiance to him and were preparing to head for his temple in Espar.

It was about noon when I arrived back from the King's Forest. I had arrived at the sacred stone of the Druid Circle at about dusk after a long but invigorating flight over the King's Forest. The celebrations were well underway and the Druids and Initiates had been joined by the sylvan children; centaurs, satyrs and (of course) dryads to name but a few. Before I allowed myself to join in the wild revelry that served to infuse the forest, which had been so badly damaged during The Wolf Lord War, with new life, growth and vigour, I made my way to meet the Great Druidess Gilee. She was not at all surprised to see the changes which had come over me since we had last met (sometimes I think that I was the only person from my past who didn't know about my dragon heritage). I informed her of what I had learnt about the plans of the drow. The halfling Druidess was initially sceptical that it was a matter which involved the faithful of Silvanus but agreed with me that The Elven Gods had been strong allies of The Oak Father in the past and it would be wrong to turn our backs on them now.

Any doubt that remained evaporated when I told her about the Tanar'ri and the Dark Watch. I informed her that were we attempting to find the lost city of Rucien-Xan, which was said to be beyond the Vilhon Reach. As the area had a strong concentration of Druids I asked if she knew of anyone in the Reach who could point us in the right direction. She warned me that the Druids of the area, The Emerald Enclave, were an independently minded group with a strong ethos of defending the land from mankind's deprivations by any means necessary. However she recommended one of their number; Lady Shadowmoon "the Guardian of Chondal Wood" as a potential source of aid. She also suggested that we could do great good if a way could be found to split the alliance between the Tanar'ri and the Red Wizards, and their Drow allies and we speculated about their reasons for joining forces.

I told Gilee of recent events in Sembia, of the purification of the Circle of the Battledale Seven, the destruction of Nevalarich the Draclich, and the death of my mother. Mentioning her passing reminded me of my mentor Gillian who I had not seen in almost two years but Gilee informed me that he went to Sembia on a personal errand a year before and had not returned, she was beginning to worry. Before dismissing me to enjoy the revels Gilee warned me that I had a dangerous road ahead but the greatest danger came not from drow or Fiends; but from within. She had on occasions before reminded me that I was both a disciple of Silvanus and a man and I would forever have to find balance between the two if I was to fulfil my potential. Now I had the added trouble of the innate "goodness" of the dragon blood that flowed through my veins to contend with.

Leaving the Great Druid of Cormyr I joined the celebrations, catching up with many old friends. Soon I found myself in the company of the dryad of Hullack forest. I apologised for my rudeness at our first meeting in that I never asked her name, which she informed me was A'lil'eth. We danced around the standing stone with the faithful and her dryad sisters and latter we slipped into the quiet arms of the forest and made love. Such a free spirit is not one to stay in one place and by morning she had gone. I said my goodbyes to my brethren, managing to snag a few knick-knacks to use in my prayers and headed back to Arabel and my companions eager to take up the quest once more.

The next chapter will appear as we play it, in one week (11/Feb/2001)

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: Info on Arabel
Forgotten Realms Box Set: Information on Doust Sulwood (former Knight of Myth Drannor - don'tcha know!)
The Vilhon Reach Sourcebook: Information on the Emerald Enclave

I realised before the game that most of the evening would concentrate on Baldric, but hoped that there would be enough for everyone else to do and, suffice to say, they seemed to have fun - mostly heckling Daramos and nearly causing a riot. You know who you are!
I pretty much winged most of the evening, especially breaking into the Church, I wasn't expecting that, not after the problems Bazil had with the Temple of Gond in Essembra (not recorded on the website, but basically Bazil was hired to break into the temple in Espar to steal something. He was spotted, shot(!) at, and he and Baldric have argued over this ever since.)
I wasn't really sure how to deal with Daramos in the end. I knew he had to be punished, but how to go about it? In the end I went for being stripped of office and banished from the Church. I'm not completely satisfied with this, but I suspect this isn't the last we have seen of the ex-Highhand. I didn't want him confessing his sins and rejoining the faithful as it didn't seem dramatic enough.
Ultimately the confrontation between the factions of the church was resolved without violence, which I'm glad of. As I said in my last notes, the conflict was between people with good alignments, so I didn't want it resolved with a brawl.
The whole subplot with Baldric and the church gave me a chance to deal with a number of rules issues. Baldric was due to receive followers, but I never liked the idea of them just turning up without reason. I decided that a number of the clergy would decide follow Baldric to his new church in the village of Espar. Also Darrell had asked me if we could introduce the newer spells from the Players Options:Spell and Magic book, but I didn't just want to bring them in without reason. Tymora has granted him access to these broader miracles as a boon.

Finally, Baldric had been previously level-drained by the Succubus (see Book 1 Chapter 9 for the gory details) and so was looking for a Restoration of some kind. He had been a few thousand xp off 9th level when was drained to 7th. Instead of using the normal (unfair) rules for Restoration, I kept an exact record of the xp he had lost and returned it to him when the spell was cast. Baldric is now 9th level.
The possession of a female priest of Tymora is noted in Faith and Avatars, they are called 'Atalaras'. Primrose' sword is of course a 'Tear of Tymora', one of her blessed Luck Blades, also mentioned in that book.
The erroneously named 'Hand of Beshaba' is actually a Misfortune spell (5th level, Faiths and Avatars). Not a nice spell, but typically Beshaban.
Finally, Roy cracked a great funny. When Baldric was given a scroll of Restoration he realised that there was a very good chance of it failing because of level difference. Roy quipped with "Why don't you wait until you're high-enough level to cast it?!". I suppose you had to be there...

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