Elminster the Sage

The Company of the Silver Coin
Amber the Ranger

Book 3
Chapter 2 - Primrose's Secret (1359DR, 19th Elient - Higharvestide)

The next ride in Nimpeth was just as hot as we had come to expect but the humidity that marked the first few days of our stay evaporated leaving the air dry.

For the next few days life continued quietly, Baldric and myself quickly dealt with our own and our companion's injuries. Faergil spent his time studying Woren's spell books, though he kept his distance from the mysterious black bound tome for fear of any magical traps. Bazil replenished his supply of crossbow bolts and found buyers for the treasures we had found in the tunnels beneath the city. He also found time to make copies of any useful maps he could find and experiment with a ring he had removed from Woren's body believing (correctly as it tuned out) it was magical. Baldric spent a lot of time in The Citadel's library. I also believe he found a natural pool and through it called upon the power of Tymora to look across the sea to Cormyr and observe how things were progressing at the site of his temple.

Colatto immersed himself in the running of his city. He had a polite audience with the Hlondeth ambassador and found time to informed Duke Folkwain of his decision to send a detachment of The Crushed Grape to Lachom to fight the fire-giants; a detachment that Folkwain would be leading. This raised the question that of whether the soldiers would leave before or after The festival of the Rotting Dance. Colatto said he would announce his decision in the next few days. Colatto also summoned the seven major noble houses of Nimpeth (who form "The Council") and the thirty-six lesser noble houses to appear before him. The heads of the major houses were, I'm told, a colourful bunch of characters particularly the one-eyed Christian Zaxta, also known as "The Cruel", and Duchess Wallic, who Mourenes suspected of being a spy for Chondath. The meeting was short and cannot in all honesty be said to be Colatto's finest diplomatic hour. Zaxta seemed hostile towards Colatto from the start but when the new lord announced that, as The Citadel was a "slave-free-zone", all the slaves that the assembled nobles had brought with them were now free things went down hill. Colatto was forced to back down and apologise in order to avoid civil war and Zaxta left head held high.

I had been away from The Citadel for most of this time spying on the church of Tempus. Between the shape-changing powers and influence over animals I enjoy as a priest of Silvanus there were a number of tricks I could employ to keep a close eye and ear on events within the temple. As I had suspected and feared The High Battle-Lord was definitely preparing for an expedition. He would be leading a detachment of twenty knights and priests and was eager to leave. His departure would not be before The Rotting Dance, though I got the impression he would have liked to go earlier, and he was concerned about being followed. There was also talk of "The Blood Hall" and a General Denwith but at the time they meant little to me. I also tried to investigate the field of anti-magic we had encountered during our meeting with the High Battle-Lord. Sending a few magical spies into his office revealed that the "anti-magic" wasn't always there, my guess was that it was generated by something he carried with him most likely the spiked battle glove that had stood on the desk. I could also find no trace of Woren in the compound, alive, dead or undead.

The third night after the death of Woren was one of the few that I wasn't keeping an eye on the temple. My enjoyment of a restful sleep was shattered by a blood-chilling scream from nearby. The scream was high-pitched, most probably a woman. Running out into the corridor I found both Faergil and Baldric having come out of their rooms as well. There were, as far as I knew, only two women on that level of The Citadel, Primrose and the Hlondeth ambassador. Suggesting to Baldric that he check on Primrose and Bazil I dashed off with Faergil to the ambassador's room. We had barely gone a dozen paces when we heard Baldric's cry of "wererat!" from behind us. As we raced back a horrible suspicion seized me, one supported by what we found at the halflings' room. The door way was open and just beyond the threshold Baldric was in a desperate battle with a wererat; four-feet tall, thin with greasy fur, scaly tail and murder in it's eyes. The wererat was wearing Bazil's nighy clothes, his magical bracers and wielding Bazil's magical shortsword and dagger. After the battle with the wererats in Nimpeth's sewers we had talked about the possibility of Bazil and Colatto having contacted lycanthropy but somehow in the events that followed it had been forgotten and tonight was the first night of the full moon. Baldric and the wererat that was Bazil had already traded blows before Faergil and I got to the scene (I had dashed back into my room to grab both my magical staff and The Torc of the Earth Mother). It looked like the wererat was getting the better of the confrontation. Looking beyond the fight to the bed I saw a mass of blood and a limp form. Choosing the right moment I dashed past the flashing blades and flail to reach the bed.

Primrose looked dead to my untrained eye, her chest and stomach torn and slashed almost completely open. Faergil fired a Ray of Enfeeblement at the wererat but it nimbly dodged before pressing an attack on Baldric. The priest had activated the defensive magics of Twin Death and it was enough to deflect the dagger but the shortsword struck home again. He returned with Twin-Death making two solid contacts. From his place of relative safety Faergil cast a second spell, a powerful illusion, and Citadel guards began to file into the room. I wasn't prepared to give up on Primrose and called upon Silvanus to heal her wounds. I felt the familiar life-giving forces flow from my fingers and her wounds began to knit, she was alive, if barely

Semiconscious, Primrose tried to speak. I leant closer and managed to make out two heart-wracking words "My baby..."! Instinctively I placed my hands over the halfling's womb and once again preyed to Silvanus for the power of healing, trying by force of will alone to direct the life-giving power to the unborn child. At the time I had no way of knowing if it helped.
The wererat pressed its murderous attack on Baldric, ignoring Faergil (something I'm sure he was very grateful for). I have heard sages say that lycanthropes attack those they have the strongest emotional bond with in their "real" lives, both positive and negative, and there certainly was a lot of history between Bazil and Baldric. The priest of Tymora was putting up a good fight but was weakening fast. Luckily Faergil's illusionary solders interposed themselves between the combatants giving Baldric space to back out of the fight. Faergil risked a quick dash into the melee to cast a spell of paralysis on the wererat but it was able to shrug of his magic. Unable to reach Baldric the wererat cast around for someone to vent it's murderous lust on. It saw me. There was no way I could defend both Primrose and myself at the same time. As the wererat crossed the room I desperately threw Primrose back towards Baldric who, taken off guard, was knocked to the ground under her weight. The wererat reached me an instant later and attacked with both dagger and shortsword. Each weapon struck home twice before I completed my shape-change. Killing the wererat was not an option even if I was up to the task, it was still Bazil and I could not bring myself to try. Instead I took the form of a gorilla and leapt on the rat, trapping it against my chest and pinning it's scrawny limbs. During this time neither Faergil or Baldric had been inactive. Faergil had gone to get some help. Encountering some guards in the corridor he had sent one to get Colatto and sent the rest to help Baldric and myself. Brother Baldric had done what he could for his injuries and then, entreating the grace of The Lady swung a careful aimed blow at the back of the wererat's head. The swing was true and the wererat was rendered unconscious.

Releasing the wererat I carefully carried Primrose to Brother Baldric's room just as the guards arrived. Baldric securely bound the wererat, making sure to muzzle it, and then brought it across as well. By the time Colatto arrived (thankfully showing no signs of turning into a transforming too) the wererat was awake. It struggled with its bonds but didn't seem to be able to escape. Colatto, Faergil, Brother Baldric and myself quickly discussed what to do now. None of us had magic or divine favour enough to remove the curse of lycanthropy so Colatto sent one of his servants out into the city to find a wizard who could. After some discussion, and a bit of argument, Colatto suggested we put The Torc of the Earth Mother on the wererat to suppress the lycanthropy inflicting Bazil (as it had done for me for me during the Wolf Lord War). I was unsure if the Torc would work for a non-Nature Priest but our luck was in and, after undergoing a most revolting metamorphosis the wererat transformed back into Bazil. Quickly we brought Bazil up to speed on what had happened to him, though I kept quiet about Primrose's revelation, and (with a little protest from Baldric) we untied him. Baldric took temporary custody of The Tears of Tymora.

By then the servant had returned with news that one of the most accomplished mages in the city had been summoned. Colatto went to speak with her. Bazil, after cleaning himself up, went to have a few quiet words with Primrose. We left them to have some privacy. I cannot imagine how agonising that interview was; or perhaps I just don't want to imagine it.

Colatto returned with bad news and a plan. The mage had told him that the only practitioner of The Art in the city powerful enough to help Bazil had been Woren but she had suggested that The High Battle-Lord could perhaps help us. Colatto knew, or at least suspected, that Duke Folkwain was on good terns with the priest and would endeavour to get him to intervene on Bazil's behalf. The Duke would probably be at The Rusty Shackles and Colatto had decided to pay him a visit. To allow him to move through the streets undetected Colatto intended to use his magical cloak only to discover that it seemed to have lost this power. Instead he used a spell of Polymorphing. At the same time Baldric had a plan of his own, but he would need the aid of two other priests of Tymora. To this end he decided to visit the ever-resourceful Mourenes at Admiral Taramont's residence.
Colatto surprised Folkwain telling a rather unflattering version of the meeting of the City Nobles to some of his friends at The Rusty Shackles. The soldier was guilty at being caught by Colatto and eager to please his new lord, agreeing to see the High Battle-Lord straight away. In return Colatto promised that Folkwain and the Comapany of the Crushed Grape would not leave for Lachom until after the festival. Baldric had had less luck; Moureness didn't know of any priests of Tymora in the city and told him that he would have a hard time finding any in the entire Reach. He could, however, find some Belladonna and would bring some to The Citadel in the morning.

The High Battle-Lord arrived that night with a pair of attendants in tow. Colatto met him alone, which suited Baldric and myself fine. Once more Colatto explained the situation but it was clear that the priest saw a situation that he could exploit asking that Colatto use his position as Lord of Nempath to grant the church of Tempus an unnamed boon in return for curing Bazil. Colatto said he would consider the proposal, the priest said he had until sundown tomorrow.

During the High Battle-Lord's brief visit I had been busy. Taking the form of a small lizard I concealed myself near to where the visitor's horses had been stabled so I could eavesdrop on them and then in the form of a night-flying bird I followed them back to the temple. As I suspected they were tight-liped while they remained within The Citadel but spoke more freely once outside the walls. The High Battle-Lord was curious to see if Colatto would grant the boon and also how long Colatto was planning to stay in the city (which meant they had not got wind of our plan to visit Foesmasher). Again The Blood Halls were mentioned, and that a messenger was on his way there.

Breakfast the next morning was a subdued affair but, as it turned out, not an uneventful one. As Colatto, Baldric and myself ate the doors of The Citadel were blown inwards by a pair of tornados that blasted through the fortification until they reached us where upon they dissipated to reveal two figures. The long awaited emissaries of The Emerald Enclave had arrived. One was half-elven man with curly hair and sparkling blue eyes. He was clad in brightly coloured garb and had a swashbuckling air about him. The second was an elven woman, though we could only guess at that at the time as she was clad from head to toe in a hooded grey cloak. Though they didn't introduce themselves initially by the end of their visit we had learnt that they were Ashenford Tornbow and Lady Shadowmoon. Tornbow did most of the talking. He made it clear that Colatto was expected to obey the laws laid down by The Emerald Enclave and if he didn't do so retribution would be swift. Unfortunately this included staying clear of Chondal Wood. Thus began a short burst of negotiation as Baldric and Colatto tried to convince the pair that we had a very pressing and important business in Chondal Wood and Rucien-Xan. I could only listen and offer my companions moral support as Lady Silvermoon had branded me a "pawn of the Harpers" and would not hear me. The visitors left in the same manner they arrived, saying that they would consider our request but until then any attempt to find Rucien-Xan would not be tolerated. Via Colatto Lady Silvermoon also had words of advise for me, The Emerald Enclave had no time for Harpers, I should keep my allegiances hidden or suffer. Now we seemed to have another reason to delay our search for the eleven blades as Baldric and Colatto were unwilling to provoke the Emerald Enclave, Colatto had particular cause for concern as they were effectively holding Nempath hostage.

While these (one sided) negotiations had been going on Bazil had come down to see what all the noise was. I took the opportunity to talk about the events of the previous night. Primrose had told him about the child. Had I been able to save it? I didn't know, only time would tell. He tried to apologise for the injuries he had inflicted on me during the battle but I assured him that I held him totally blameless.

Shortly after breakfast Moureness arrived with the Belladonna. I took the opportunity to ask what The Blood Halls were. He told me that it was the biggest temple to Tempus in The Reach, located in Sespech's capital. As the day wore on the question of lycanthropy became a pressing one. Baldric, Primrose and myself had all been injured by the wererat. The Torc had protected me from infection but were the others carrying the curse? We had Belladonna, which could cure a werecreature if taken before the first transformation, but it carried risks. To help answer the question I looked to the wisdom of Silvanus conveyed via the throwing of dragon-bone talismans. The Augury pronounced that it would be safe to leave Primrose and Baldric (and Colatto, just in case) unguarded that night, a prophecy that I took to mean that my companions were free of lycanthropy. Colatto took the bold step of summoning The High Battle-Lord once again just so he could tell him in person that he was turning down the priest's deal.

The next few days passed uneventfully. Again Baldric and I saw to our companion's wounds. Over the remaining two nights of the full moon Bazil looked very uncomfortable. From personal experience I knew he was feeling the beast, locked away within by the Torc, struggling to be free. Colatto made some arrangements for our visit to see Foesmasher but seemed inclined to delay until we heard from the Emerald Enclave again, no matter how long that took.

Faergil used his magics to investigate several of the new items we had acquired in the defeat of Woren. These included Colatto's Flaming crown, a cloak Bazil had removed from Woren's body (it was charmed to protect the wearer, Bazil agreed to lone it to me while he had the Torc of the Earth Mother) and a wand with the power to use cold and ice as a weapon. I must admit that I had my eye on that wand but when it proved to be only usable by those skilled in The Art it was turned over to Colatto and Faergil. Faergil also confirmed that Colatto's cloak had lost its shape-changing powers but was still housing someone's soul.

Bazil and I tried to get to see the High Battle-Lord in attempt to prove that Captain Stringfellow III was worthy of the aid of the God of War but to no avail. The rest of the time I spent keeping watch on the church. There seemed to have been a change of plans, probably caused by the High Battle-Lord learning of our intended visit to see Foesmasher. Now the expedition would leave on the day of The Rotting Dance, a day before we had originally intended to leave (before The Emerald Enclave's ultimatum). If it was at all possible, I decided, I would disrupt their departure.

It was because of my spying that I was absent from The Citadel the night before the festival was due to start and thus missed an unusual visitor. As my companions were eating supper a rather unsettled servant brought news that an elven lady wished to see us. The elf's name was too long to be easily pronounced but she let my companions refer to her as Lady Kansel'yn. She was a Drow elf, with skin like flawless obsidian, red eyes and silver hair. A devotee of Elistaree, the goddess of dark elves who walked the path of goodness, she had brought a warning: the Drow were making headway in their plans and we didn't have the luxury of time. Colatto and Baldric told her of the ban placed on us by The Emerald Enclave and Lady Kansel'yn produced an obsidian talisman from about her neck saying that it may sway Lady Shadowmoon to let us enter Rucien-Xan. Before she left the drow elf warned us that her evil kin had determined the location of what they sought in the Darkwatch and were preparing to move against the Legacy of Srinshee. If we delayed in our quest for the blades now all would be lost.

Chapter 3...

DM's Notes

I used the following references:
Villion Reach (Politics of the region, information on the Emerald Enclave.)
Faiths and Avatars (Information on Tempus and the Blood Halls)
Elves of Evermeet (Kansel'yn appears in this book)
Moonshae (Information on the Torc of the Goddess)
Pages from the Mages (Spellbooks)

This started off as a bookkeeping session and I wanted to keep the tempo high so that we could move on. I think the evening went better than last weeks.

I wonder if the PCs will ever use that black bound book!

Roy bit of a little more than he could chew with the audiance with the rest of the Nobles, and had to back down before it all got out of hand. Dealing with the issue of slaves in Nimpeth was always going to be a challenge, and this was one of the reasons i chose that city when I developed the plot. Slavery is the lifeblood of Nimpeth, and even though its wine is now its main commodity, the city was built by slaves. They are a part of its culture and have been for generations.

The fight with the wererat was grim, Baldric had a hard time with a vicious creature wielding two nasty magical weapons. There was a real concern that Baldric would be taken down and the creature would again attack Primrose. Baldric used Twin-Death (A Rod of Flailing with additional powers) to fend him off.

The Torc of the Goddess is fully described in the Moonshae sourcebook (rather old now I'm afraid), but basically is makes the wearer immune to Lycanthropy, amongst other things. It was colatto that reminded the group of this and saved them from another two nights of controlling a ravaging Bazil.

Primroses child was something I had planned for a long time, but it was only recently that I decided to use Bazil's lycanthropy to expose it. At the present time the PCs don't know if she lost the child.

The arrival of Emerald Enclave caused potential problems. You really do not want to mess with those guys.

Finally the arrival of the Drow elf was unexpected but there is a danger that they will be too late. I have planned for this, and it will not be nice.

Return to The Journey...