Elminster the Sage

The Company of the Silver Coin
Amber the Ranger
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Book 2
Chapter 5 - Calantars Way, Suzail and The Undying Gaze (1359DR, 1-5 Eleasias)

View Map of Cormyr

It was past noon when I arrived back at Arabel. The remains of the Midsummer festival had almost been completely been cleared away and life for the cities inhabitants was returning to normal. I ran into most of my comrades at The Wild Goose. From Primrose I learnt what had occurred in my absence. Many of the company spent the day stocking up on supplies. Bazil, in particular, had been busy. After learning that Gond was frowning on him the master thief had begun to make penance and had made arrangements with the local Herald to sponsor a number of apprentices in areas favoured by The Wonderbringer come next Green Grass. Several of the company also paid a visit on The Green Phial, an apothecary. Faergil had sold the owner a potion of levitation he didn't need while Bazil purchased a few potions of healing and both Baldric and Amber needed small sacrifices for their prayers to Tymora and Winstrum.

Considerations of comfort and, more importantly, safety made us spend that night in The World Serpent Inn. Though we had no encounters with Halfling Gods or irrate Efreeti, the Inn lived up to my companions' descriptions.

Baldric, Faergil and Colatto's desire to make sure their prayers and spells were at their full potential delayed our departure the next day till noon. Baldric also paid another visit to the temple where he said farewell for now to those who had decided to go to Espar and to collect several prayer scrolls, vials of holy water and potions to tide him through the many dangers which lay ahead. I took the opportunity to see to my old injuries.

We finally left Arabel via the west gate, circled round and then headed for Suzial via Immersea. Other than being a little too hot it was a perfect day for riding and the countryside was vibrant with colour and life. Once we were a few miles away from the city the landscape took on a more wild appearance, particularly when compared to the cultivated Dalelands we had been travelling through until recently. I was in high spirits and eager for the road, as indeed were many of our horses after two days in the stables of The Wild Goose.

During a brief stop I informed the rest of the company of what Gilee had told me of Lady Shadowmoom of Chondal Wood. Bazil and Colatto poured over the halfling's maps and discovered that as well as being well over a thousand miles away across the Sea of Fallen Stars, Chondal "Wood" was huge to say the least, rivalling Cormanthyr in size. Finding "The Guardian of Chondal Wood" would require a bit of effort.

Faergil also took the opportunity for study, in his case the scroll he had received from the mage Mordenkainen via Amber, it contained one of the many spells which boar the mage's name "MordenkainensFaithful Hound".

Towards evening we passed a patrol of Purple Dragons going towards Arabel and a short while latter we set up camp. We set watches but there were no problems during the night. The next day we continued our journey. While the day was warm and still a familiar smell in the air told me that we could expect a short but energetic shower before the day was over. We passed another patrol early in the day. Amber gave Fleetfoot his head, letting him run off a bit of steam. As we closed on Immersea memories of my first adventure with The Company of the Silvercoin came back to me, memories I shared with Primrose: The Company had hired themselves out as caravan guards for a merchant from Arabel to Immersea (these were unsettling times, the Wolf Lord was starting to test his power and the roads were becoming unsafe to travel). Bandits had waylaid the caravan a little way outside Immersea. The "bandits" turned out to be a band of outlaws driven from Immersea by the local Herald who had seized power and now forced to banditry to support themselves. We agreed to help the outlaws, sneaking into the Herald's castle and confronting the villain. The Herald turned out to be a wizard and we were forced to flee but not before stealing his book of spells. With the book as a rallying point we raised the townsfolk against the petty tyrant and, after they had burnt the book in the street, the people of Immersea stormed the castle. Primrose's questions revealed a rather worrying lapse in my recollection of events, what became of the outlaws and the Herald himself.

It hadn't been far from Immersea where a year or so later, on the march to liberate Arabel from Gondegal, Captain Stringfellow had lead a detachment of Purple Dragons and The Company of the Silver Coin to destroy a pack of ghouls which had taken over an abandoned farm house. We arrived in the fishing village late in the afternoon. Redstone, the home of the famous Wyrnspur family, overlooked the village. While it would have been fun to stay at "The Burning Book" Inn we decided on "Immer Inn" instead. Despite having very low ceilings and walls overly cluttered with copper pans, old kettles and an array of farming implements it was a pleasant Inn made more so by the all pervasive smell of just-baked bread.

The rain had not yet put in an appearance so I decided to go hunting for Felmather, a moss with unusual properties, which is found near the water's edge. My search was aided by some of the local children who were intrigued by my unusual appearance. Once our search was over I repaid the children for their aid by answering their questions and telling them the story of "Marla the Ranger and Aurus the Golden". One girl in particular was taken by the tale and gave me a coloured stone she clearly prized greatly. In return for such a treasure I gave her the last of my Mirenna leaves.

That evening, as the rain fell outside, I asked around the inn about the fate of the outlaws and the Herald. The outlaws had been pardoned and their leader "Marshal" now worked for the king. The Herald, though badly injured, had escaped the villagers and justice and hadn't been heard of since.

The next morning, as we settled down for breakfast, Baldric had something to tell us. Unfortunately before he could more then open his mouth there were shouts from outside. Most of the company, except Faergil and Amber, quickly dashed out to see what the noise was all about and followed a throng of villagers heading to a point just out of town were a grisly discovery had been found in a small copse of trees. It was clearly the remains of someone or something but the injuries were so terrible and the destruction of the body so nearly complete that it was almost impossible to determine what or who it had been. Almost impossible but not quite, a clump of snow white hair hanging from a tree got my mind working and the discovery of a severed hand, delicate with long fingers and black skin, grasping a black dagger, settled it. The victim had been a dark elf. Colatto inspected the remains and the wet ground around them and discovered unpleasantly familiar seedpods and the tracts of a large claw footed humanoid; the attacker had been a Vrock, very likely one of the ones we had faced in the Dales. During the search Colatto had detected a magical aura in bushes nearby and, not wanting to draw attention to it, signalled Bazil to go and have a look. Meanwhile local officials had arrived. Hearing them talk about sending a message to Suzail I volunteered the services of the company.

Since there was nothing else to do we returned to the inn for breakfast where Baldric finally got to tell his tale. In the early hours had had been woken by a presence in his room. He had pretended to still be asleep but the intruder had not fallen for it and an elven voice had asked if he was Brother Baldric. Baldric gave up the pretence, rolled over and replied that he was. In doing so he had spotted a pair of purple/red eyes and as his own eyes became accustomed to the dark he made out the figure of a dark elf no more then four feet from where he lay. The elf identified himself as a member of Clan Taranzanebon (a clan that Baldric had unwittingly aided some years before and they had sworn to aid him in the future) and he had a message from the high-priestess of his people. He warned Baldric that Clan Azanar, of the city of Baraghel, which was situated in caverns under Cormanthar, guided by "The Lost Marshal" (who was apparently not so lost anymore) were out for the blood of the Company of the Silver Coin. Clan Azanar were allied with House Baenre; the first House of the infamous city of Menzobranazon . Together the two were searching for the Legacy of Shrinsee which had been entrusted to the Moonshadow clan, of which our late, lamented comrades Kolanthia and Kolanthian had been members. His message delivered the drow had left but, as we had seen, fate had not let him get too far before his fatal encounter with a Fiend.

After hearing Baldric's story Bazil revealed what he had found in the bushes, an amulet bearing a strange and intricate sigal that reminded me of a twisted spider.

By now a messenger had arrived with a scroll tube for us to deliver to Suzail, which we entrusted to Captain Stringfellow. We saddled up and were about to leave when Baldric suggested calling upon Tymora to aid our horses in the journey, once he had all our consent he called up the blessing of "Unfailing Endurance" which allowed our horses to ride at a full gallop without tiring. Under the effects of Tymora's divine power we practically flew the distance from Immersea to Suzail, the landscape seeming to flash by in a blur of green. Within 2 hours we had passed Hillip and Calantars Bridge soon after. Under normal conditions the journey would have taken two days at least but we reached the walls of the capital of Cormyr before the evening curfew. We made our way along the Promanade, illuminated by flickering Faerie Fire, towards the architectural nightmare that was the royal courts. At the gates the guards challenged us. We told them who we were and that we carried important news for the king from Immersea and further afield. After a short wait while one of the guards went into the courts we were allowed to enter and then taken to a waiting room decorated by tapestries depicting scenes of war and hunting. I have heard it said that the layout of the Royal Courts is its first line of defence against intruders. I don't know if that is true but it certainly is a maze of corridors and passages and rooms and stairs that seem to obey some strange logic which to this day escapes me.

After about half-an-hour we were finally seen by Fandor, the assistant to the royal chamberlain. After reviewing the message we carried from Immersea, Fandar realised the gravity of our situation. Unfortunately King Azoun was busy with representatives of various Sembian Merchant Families, all of which wanted alliances during the civil war, and couldn't see us. Instead he would arrange a meeting with the Royal Wizard Vangerdahast. In the meantime we were escorted once more through the labyrinthine interior of the royal courts to "The Forest Suite" were we could relax after a hard days ride. A little uneasy about the proximity of at least one Fiend to us as we slept in Immersea I used the time to Augur if it was safe to stay in The Courts overnight. Casting and reading the dragon Bones I read that "No place is safe for you at the moment". We were not in the suite for long and were soon taken to see Vangerdahast. We brought him up to speed with what we had discovered since Battledale and the danger it posed to The Realms. When we told him of our intention to go south to The Vilhon Reach and look for Lady Shadowmoon he sent for the sage Alaphondar to see if he could aid us. While we waited for the sage, who had clearly been alseep when he received the call, we told Vangerdahast what we knew of the goings on in Sembia, which he found very interesting and questioned us in detail about.

It was good to see Alaphondar again; I had not seen him since The Company had gone east to Sembia. He listened to our story and discussed what he knew about The Legacy of Shrinshee and the Swords of Demron, which wasn't much. (Though he was able to satisfy my interest in another set of elven blades I had heard of "The MoonBlades", magical swords with which the ancient elves chose their rulers). Then he told us what he knew of the Emerald Enclave. His description of their goals and methods matched closely with Gilee's account. He suggested that Lady Shadowmoon, as a member of "The Cabal" which ruled the Emerald Enclave, could be found on Ilighon, one of two islands known as "The Eyes of Silvanus" but no one set foot on the island without the permission of the Cabal. A rule that was enforced with lethal force. He also told us that Chondath, the most powerful nation in the Reach, had an innate dislike of mages.

We asked Vangerdahast if he could get us a boat to The Reach, after some consideration he struck upon the idea of employing one of the Freesails, privateers in the service of the crown of Cormyr. One of the Freesail vessels, the Undying Gaze, was in port that night and for the right price its captain, Tannor, would probably make the 600 league voyage.

Amber, Bazil, Primrose and Baldric decided to head off at once to arrange passage. Faergil and Colatto were given permission by Vangerdahast to search the archives of the War Wizards for spells. Alaphondar had been very interested in my new form and had a thousand questions to ask me about what it met to be a half-dragons, in return for which he would give us a copy of his map of the Vilhon Reach.

A royal messenger took Amber, Bazil, Primrose and Baldric to the Suzail docks, a deep water affair where large vessels of all shapes and sizes easily navigate. He took them to a ship that had been turned into an Inn called "Shaliber's Ship", though the messenger refused to enter. It was a rowdy place full of unsavoury and unwashed sailors straight out of a fireside story. Amber took an immediate shine to it. They got the bar man to point out Captain Tannor and headed over to engage passage on his ship. Tannor wasn't happy about going to the Reach but agreed to take us as far as the city of Nimpeth and then only if he was paid 1000 pieces of gold and we fought beside his crew against any pirates he encountered. These weren't particularly hard conditions as we had been told the King would pay our passage and we were more then used to combat by land or sea. What did prove to be harder was his refusal to take our horses on the voyage.

Once passage had been booked the four left the tavern to find that their messenger and guide was covered in the contents of one of the Shaliber's Ship's chamber pots, apparently hurling them at representatives of the King was a tradition at the inn. Amber returned to the Royal Courts and spent the night in contemplation in a small groove dedicated to the nature gods. Bazil, Baldric and Primrose headed for Suzail's temple of Tymora where Baldric informed the high-priest of changes which had so dramatically occurred in Arabel as well as picking up a few items for his prayers. Knowing that his time in Cormyr was running out and that she would never forgive him if he passed through without saying hello Bazil headed off to pay a late night call on his mother, the formidable Millicent Stringfellow, bringing along Primrose and Baldric. As ever Millicent was both overjoyed to see her son and annoyed that he had gone so long without paying a visit or sending a letter as well as a thousand other misdemeanours both real and imaginary. She was very taken by Primrose (the fact that they both were devotees of Tymora helped) and from the way Baldric described it to me later it seemed that she almost got him to marry Primrose and Bazil then and there. The three spent the night in Millicent's company and rejoined the group in the morning. Before he left Bazil entrusted her with a sizeable amount of money to sponsor apprentices as he had done in Arabel.

The next morning I encountered Amber at the stables as she came to collect Moneetha's horse to return to Lord Goldeagle. I was readying the rest of the horses for the voyage at the time and was very disheartened to learn that our faithful companions would have to stay behind in Cormry. I bid a sad farewell to each of the horses, particularly gentle hearted Greymane, and promised to return for them as soon as we were able.

The Company re-united (I understand that the mages had met with mixed fortune in their hunt or spells) we headed of to find the Undying Gaze. After examining his new map Bazil informed us that Nimpeth was a good seven hundred miles passed The Eyes of Silvanus! We discussed how to get a message across to the Emerald Enclave without landing on the island, the idea of an animal messenger seemed the best option but nothing definite was decided upon. The vessel that would carry us across the sea was a twin masted caravel, it had no figurehead but had a pair of eyes painted on its prow. A muscular man met us at the gangplank, his tanned skin marked with more then its share of scars. He introduced himself as Nathan, First Mate on the ship. The rest of the crew was cast in a similar mould, all of them carried daggers and I suspected they would see use before our voyage was over. Captain cut a dashing figure in his white shirt, black jerking and tricorn hat. He had a large cutlass and a silver-handled dagger tucked into his belt. His blonde hair was tied back and the scar on his check only enhanced his roguish charm.

With us on board Tannor gave the order to cast off and the Undying Gaze navigated its way confidently through the busy harbour and then made a tight turn away from Suzail and out into the vast, blue expanse of Lake of Dragons and onwards to the Sea of Fallen Stars.

Chapter 6...

DM's Notes

I used the following references:
The Forgotten Realms Hardback: Excellent information on Suzail.
Volos Guide to Cormyr: Info on Arabel, Immersea, Suzail
Pirates of the Fallen Stars: General information on ships, Info on the Freesails
Sea of Fallen Stars: Information on Freesails, maritime customs.

The Vilhon Reach Sourcebook: Information on the Emerald Enclave, Nimpeth and Chondath Wood.

I really wanted to pick the pace up on this one, get the PCs moving. Suffice to say that I didn't succeed as well as I'd hoped.
The roads in Cormyr are now very safe to travel on, so I pretty much wizzed through this part. There were a couple of encounters at Immersea, it's one of those places that the Company have travelled through a couple of times - theres a bit of history there. The Burning Book Inn came about in one of our very early games way back in the Eightys. Roy's Magess had come out after defeating the Herald (a Mage), with his prized spellbook. She held it up and said words to the effect of 'We've defeated the Herald and heres his spellbook' To her dismay the mob of villagers all screamed 'Burn it!!'. Having to give up the spellbook or face a mob, Roy was not impressed...

The encounter with the children was a spur of the moment thing. I always want to remind Nick that his character (Thorn - the Half-Dragon) looks distinctly different. Adults in the Realms are in the most part used to seeing different races and only the most inquisitive ask 'what' he is. Children just come out and say it. 'Are you a demon?' asked the little boy.
The encounter with the Drow elf stemed from one of the first Realms games we ever played, again back in the Eighties. Unknowingly Baldric had helped a Drow Clan, and they promised to help him in the future (Infact this was so long ago Darrell had to be reminded about it!). My notes go back a long way. I didn't run this game originally and, though I wanted to use them, figured that your average Drow clan, wouldn't give a stuff about helping Baldric. I decided that the clan leaders are probably followers of Ellistree - the Drow Goddess of Good Drow. That doesn't mean that the elf Baldric spoke to wasn't chaotic evil though.
As with Immersea, Suzail is a place that they have gone a number of times, and there are a number of NPCs that the characters speak to when in the city. Millicent Stringfellow is the mother of Edd's character. She is a formidable halfling and really gives Bazil a hard time. It's all worried mother stuff - 'have you washed behind your ears?' - that sort of thing. It's always fun to roleplay her, and Edd seems to enjoy it too. This time Bazil took Primrose (the female halfling NPC and his current love) with him. It was a hard time for the young female fighter - under the scrutiny of Bazil's mother. Again alot of fun to play.
Nick mentions Moneetha's horse. Moneetha was the Paladin that travelled with the company until her untimely death in Book 1 Chapter 9. She came from Suzail and the Company have kept her horse to be returned to her father.
The use of the Freesails (privateers in the employ of Cormyr) came in useful. I didn't want the party getting on a merchant vessel simply because none travelled that far south - Nimpeth is in the depths of the Vilhon Reach - perhaps 2000 miles away by ship! Personally I find it a bit hard to imagine King Azoun using Privateers.
I had to stretch the evening a little to ensure that the characters started the sea voyage. Something I considered an appropriate end point for the evening's game.

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