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