Elminster the Sage

The Company of the Silver Coin
Amber the Ranger
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Book 4
Chapter 1- The City of Dolphins (1359DR, 23rd Marponeth - 2nd Uktar)

Our journey on The Sea Horse, particularly when compared to our voyage on The Undying Gaze, was neither long nor pleasant. The latter was mainly due to the ever-present pounding of drums, a reminder of the many slaves in the rowing deck below working the oars to supplemented the sails.
Many of my companions spent their time below decks; the mighty drommond in which we travelled was large enough for each of us to have a room of their own.

Baldric used the time constructively, writing prayers of power on to scrolls for later use. On the first day of the voyage he offered Primrose the opportunity to undertake a ritual that would allow her to call upon Tymora’s divine aid at the expense of temporarily diminishing his own divine favour. While the ritual didn’t work it did serve to remind me how much Primrose had come to mean to all of us since we met her in Ashabenford Arms. It was now as impossible for me to imagine a Company of the Silvercoin without strong-hearted Primrose as it was to imagine one without Baldric or Bazil.
Faergil also spent a lot of his time in arcane scribblings but he also found time to investigate the magical properties of the Wand of Frost, the many potions he and Bazil had found on our adventures and the three Blades of Demron. This latter was of more interest to me and the few times I was below decks during the day were to learn of his findings.

The potions seemed a good haul, with impressive names like Elixir of Health, Elixir of Youth and so on. Bazil seemed extremely pleased with one potion but wouldn’t let on what it was. As to the swords their powers were many and exotic. They were powerful tools of Good and no one of evil heart could use them. The flaming aura’s of all three would burn things that “were wrong”; undead, extra-planarr in origin or evil through-and-through.

Faervian, The Mage’s Blade, seemed to have three additional powers. One was called “Prismatic Pyre”; once a Ten Day the wielder could command it to fly from his hand to land, point first, up to 50 feet away. It would then emit flames from the hilt that would repel metal and jinx with a spell of slow movement any one without the ability to cast spells. A second ability was called “Armathar’s Armour Rest”. This could be used once a day and allowed the wielder to literally step out of any armour they wore, which would hang suspended in the air for several minutes waiting for the wielder’s return, so they could cast spells unrestricted. Finally a mage could temporarily store up to three touch-ranged spells in the blade that could be unleashed with a successful sword thrust.

Evaelathil, The Scout’s Blade, when held allowed the wielder to manipulate near by flame and, if placed into a fire, would snuff it out (no doubt the origin of the sword’s name “The Flame Bane”). It possessed an ability called “Sense of Nature” that gave the wielder the ability to detect the emotions of sentient beings and some animals within some two hundred feet. It’s third ability was one that we had all felt, anyone who could see the flaming blade perceived the holder as a being of greatness. What we didn’t know until then was this same effect influenced animals, making them docile towards the sword bearer.

Unfortunately many of the powers of Dragathil, The Lovers’ Blade, defied Faergil. He could only determine one ability, called “Forgiving Flames”. This complicated ability could be employed twice a day but needed the wielder to score a good strike with the blade. If successful it would unleash flame against the foe’s head and heart (“love hurts” I guess) and then attempt to trap the target in a beguiling illusion that they had been transported to a place of safety.

These efforts took a lot out of Faergil and he spent at least two days of the voyage confined to his bed.

I spent more time on deck then most of my companions. Baldric had said that the view of the sea, while initially majestic soon gets boring. I cannot agree. The rolling waves are never the same from second to the next. The sea has a strange effect on me; while I’m on land I feel rooted, focused but on the waves a strange introspection soon fills my thoughts, as if my spirit has slipped from my body to explore the depth below.

Since I was on deck more I suppose that I learnt more (or at least more quickly) about life of The Sea Horse. The crew was worked hard and had little time for talking but over the voyage I managed to snatch quick conversations with the sailors here and there. The three pillars on which the ship stood were the captain, the first-mate and the slave-master. Captain Morgalshym was remote and uncommunicative. His Number One, by comparison, had a lot to say, or rather shout. Her name was Namina and she was the only woman in the crew. She was half-elven by birth with the blood of a Sea Elf running through her veins. This gave her a very striking appearance. Her skin was many shapes of blue, almost stripped, with white blotches and her long hair was a very dark green, almost black. She seemed to seethe with barely contained aggression that threatened to explode at any moment. In a rare conversation with one of the crew he told me that Namina had fought her way to her current position and had killed the previous first mate. I considered trying to strike up conversation with her but somehow it never seemed the right time.

The Sea Horse’s slave-master was called Gorvany. He was a huge man whose physique suggested a prodigious strength. As his body was covered in tattoos it was possible that he was an ex-slave himself. As he spent most of his time amongst the oars I saw little of him but heard the crack of his whip far too often.

I also learnt that the crew, while not particularly enamoured with any of The Company, was more nervous of me. Possibly this was because I was a priest of Silvanus but more likely because of my unusual appearance.

It was the ninth day of our journey across The Wizard’s Reach when land came into view. For once most of us were in deck and we gazed out at what we took at the time to be Thay. A haze of smoke obscured the land. As our vessel drew closer we could see many, many pillars of smoke caused it, it seemed that Thay was aflame. A quick enquiry of a nearby sailor informed me that we had been wrong on at least one point, it wasn’t Thay but a land called “The North Coast”. The sailor seemed to take the spectacle completely in his stride.

It was also on that day that Bazil asked me a very difficult, very painful question. He had finally spoken to Primrose about their unborn child and whether she knew if it had survived the wererat’s vicious attack. She had told him that she didn’t know but suspected the worst. Was there any way, he asked me, that by the power of Silvanus I could determine the answer? I could think of no miracle at my disposal that would answer the question and my own knowledge of midwifery didn’t extend much beyond livestock. I suggested that they speak to Baldric, he was a trained healer as well as a priest but Bazil didn’t want to subject Primrose to any additional emotional trauma.

By the tenth day it was clear that our passage was almost at an end. Land seemed to be getting closer and closer by the second. A pod of dolphins had adopted The Sea Horse and were dancing along in its wake, a sight that brought the only smiles I saw to the faces of the crew.

We reached Dethuntle by early afternoon. From the deck of The Sea horse we could see a busy and thriving dock (I counted at least thirty ships) beyond which was an impressive looking city perhaps a little reminiscent of Selgaunt in Sembia. On a knoll overlooking the city we could see a domed palace and beside the knoll we could see five dark towers clumped close together. We also saw dolphins. At the ends of the harbour walls were large, finely carved statues of leaping dolphins. On the palace gates we could just make out a symbol of crossed dolphins, the same symbol that appeared on every flag we could see.

The harbour was too shallow for The Sea Horse so we left the ship as we had arrived, by rowboat. I’m sure many of my companions were glad to be away from it.

We decided that our first order of business was to find an inn and get a meal. Then we would acquire horses and, on the morrow, head north to Aglarond. The kingdom of the Witch-Queen was said to be a wild place with few large settlements except for the capital. However there was no guarantee we would find The Simbul there, her never-ending battle with The Red Wizards meant she moved in secrecy. Her skill at shape changing was known even in Cormyr, it was said that she could become anyone or anything in order to trick The Red Wizards.

I asked one of the sailors who had rowed us ashore if he could recommend a good inn. As we were not seafaring folk, he said, we should try “The Wave Crest” near the north gate. We set off in that direction. As we moved through the busy city streets we became aware of a dangerous undercurrent amongst the cities inhabitance. There was a paranoia that was almost palatable. Everyone was armed and kept a weary eye on their surroundings, assessing their fellows as the prey looks out for a predator and the hunter looks at it’s victim. Initially I thought it was because of their proximity to the infamous Red Wizards but Baldric shared with us that he had heard that Dethuntle had a powerful and active thieves guild. As we moved through the city we passed the five, black towers. They were all part of the same building that, architecturally, was nothing like the rest of the city. There was no sign of stonework; rather it seemed to be formed from single mass of black stone. Also there wasn’t a single dolphin to be seen.

We found the north-gate easily enough and within line of sight we could see the sign of The Wave Crest, majestic waves from which leapt a couple of dolphins. The sign hung above an archway and, venturing through we found ourselves in a high walled courtyard from which there were several exits. One led to the stables and another, the one we took, opened into the taproom. The taproom was large and well populated with patrons. The air of suspicion that hung over the city was thinner here but hadn’t dispersed all together.

Moving to the bar we ordered food, drink and rooms for the night. We had barely finished when we became aware of two people heading over to us. One was an attractive young woman with blond hair and green eyes. Her features suggested an elven heritage. She was dressed in greens and browns, with a grey cloak not unlike those that most of The Company wore (though it didn’t have the lion-shaped clasp) and a sword hung at her hip.

The other was a man in his mid to late thirties. He was a little over six-foot tall with a warriors build and weathered skin. His hair and moustache were dark but beginning to turn grey. Even if he hadn’t have made himself known to us we would have soon noticed him as he wore a set of field-plate armour. The armour was of excellent quality and upon his chest, inlayed in silver was engraved a dragon. He carried his helm in one hand, wore a bastard sword at his hip and wore an expensive cloak.

The man addressed himself to Bazil and enquired if he was in the presence of “Sword Captain Bazildon”, the man’s accent was Cormyain. When Bazil replied that he was the warrior introduced himself as Lionar Baynar Truesilver. The name of Truesilver was instantly recognisable to us Cormyians, it was one of the most noble families in the country with the closest of links to the royal family. Baldric seemed particularly impressed by the man’s noble name. Bazil, I suspect, was perhaps a little put out by the fact that, as a Lionar, Baynar outranked him.

Baynar informed us that he had been sent by The Simbul to escort us to see her and introduced the lady with him as Rubyn Thalassa, a ranger in the service of The Witch-Queen. Bazil asked for proof he was who he claimed to be at which point Baynar produced his signet ring, the mark of an officer in the Purple Dragons.

At Baldric’s suggestion Bazil quickly arranged a private room where we could all eat and hear what the new arrivals had to say. The room was an airy one with statutes and paintings of seascapes and, of course, dolphins. As we ate Baynar explained how he came to be here. A few months ago a notorious agent of The Red Wizards called Zulkor had been captured following the theft of treaties on the Dalelands from the royal library in Suzail. At the same time The Thayvians had managed to open a portal to the Infernal planes in Yuirwood and the Fiends that had emerged were threatening Cormyr. King Azoun had sent Baynar to Aglarond to entreat the aid of The Simbul in finding and closing the gate, which apparently she had done. Then she had sent the knight, with Rubyn, to find us. Unsurprisingly she seemed to know when we would arrive in Delthuntle. Since this was only an extension of our own plans we agreed. Rubyn would secure horses for us and we would leave the next day.

Baynar brought us more grave news from The Heartlands, the Dalelands were overrun with Fiends and Highmoon had fallen into darkness. Rubyn was able to enlighten us on a point too; The Red Wizards had caused the smoke we saw the day before. Unable to conquer the North Coast they had decided that if they couldn’t have it no one would and opening several large rifts to the elemental plane of fire with the intention of destroying the region. As ever The Simbul was there to thwart their plans by sealing the rifts.

Over the meal Baldric asked what temples and shrines there were in the city. Rubyn informed us that there were shrines to, amounts others Tymora and Chauntea as well as The Towers of Mystery. She said the last as if it was self-explanatory but it meant nothing to me. Faergil and Colatto, however, recognised it at once, The Halls was possibly the greatest temple to Azuth, patron god of Wizards, in The Realms and an almost unparalleled depository of magical lore. It was clear where we would be spending the rest of the day.

Up close the Towers of Mystery were just as impressive as when we had seen them from afar. The five towers surrounded a large hall with a low dome and all of it was made of this smooth, continuos black stone. Over the door was the symbol of Azuth, a flaming pointing hand. We headed in and soon found ourselves in a great hall beneath the dome. At the far end was the alter to Azuth at which kneeling figures preyed, their soft chanting seemed to permeate the entire hall but never became intrusive. The walls of the hall were lined with books and the faithful sat at nearby desks reading and, in some cases, scribing. Numerous glowing motes of light that hung in the air provided light and, guided by some arcane intelligence, glided to where they were needed. At one point I saw an acolyte draw a book from a shelf to read and unerringly one of the globes of light positioned itself so illuminate the text. What really got my attention, however, was the ceiling. The inside of the dome was, to my untrained eye at least, a perfect rendition of the night sky with all the stars distinct and the consolations outlined. Baldric pointed out the three red stars that were the harbinger of our current woes and Faergil confirmed that the stars were accurately positioned in the heavens. I learnt during my visit that the stars were the creation of the head of the temple, an arch-mage, and perfectly tracked the movement of their real counterparts.

At the sight of all the books, no doubt stuffed with arcane lore, I imagine all the company had the same thought. Could there be anything about The Legacy of Shrinshee among them? We caught the attention of one of the silver and grey robed acolytes and began to ask a few questions. To Bazil’s disappointment they didn’t sell healing potions but, for a small donation, they would give him a holy-symbol. Colatto and Faergil were informed that the temple didn’t sell spells but would exchange them with a mage who brought a new one to their attention. Similarly we would only be allowed access to the library if we brought some new piece of arcane lore with us.

As you might imagine there were very few spells that The Halls of Mystery didn’t already have but Faergil managed to find one in his spell books, a spell called “Death Mask”, and he was led to a private area to make the exchange. However we could not think of a single shred of arcane lore with which to gain entry to the library.

Baldric and Primrose decided it was time to visit the shrine to Tymora and Bazil elected to go too. Remembering our conversation of the day before I suggested that Bazil might also want to pop into the shrine to Chauntea too. Rubyn headed off to find us some horses.

Left pretty much to my own devices I explored the hall some more. In secluded alcoves there were lectures and debates about The Art being carried out. I listened to one for a few minutes, long enough to realise that it was all completely beyond me. Forgetting the lectures I let my eyes be drawn upwards and I lost myself in the stars. I was still stargazing when Faergil came up to me with news. Through the use of magic the acolyte had copied Death Mask into one of the temples spell books. Then via the same method a new spell was copied back the other way, Faergil now had a copy of “Leomund’s Secure Shelter”, a spell the comfort loving mage had been after since our journey through Thunder Pass. He had also taken the opportunity to talk with the acolyte about the “trapped” spell-book gained from Lord Worren’s collection. The Acolyte had called for an expert, a magess called Fairdeena, who had identified the work as an infamous magical tome called “The Scalamagdrion”. The book took its name from a powerful, magic hating creature trapped in some far off plane. There was a picture of The Scalamagrion in the spellbook and, if someone were to speak the word below the picture, the book would become a portal through which the creature might snatch the mage or, worse still, enter this world. Sensing their interest Faergil struck a deal with the acolytes. He would let them have the book if they copied across the spells to a travelling spell book for him and let him have access to the library. Faergil now intended to spend the rest of the day and all that night at The Halls of Mystery researching The Legacy and would meet us tomorrow morning.

Baynar and I headed back to The Wave Crest and the others soon reappeared. Bazil, Baldric and Primrose had visited the shrines; the shrine to Chauntea in particular seemed a little neglected. Rubyn reported that she had acquired riding horses, a pack animal and the appropriate saddles, etc. It would, she said, take about six days to get to our destination. I was quite looking forward to meeting one of the most famous people in the Realms and had many questions for Rubyn. I asked how it was that one sorceress could hold back the entire nation of Thay. Rubyn attributed it to not simply The Simbul’s legendary magical powers (the true depth of which she kept hidden from everyone, even her famous sisters) but also the fact that she “outsmarted them, every single time”. She also acknowledged that Aglarond’s rough terrain made the movement of armies difficult and that the country had powerful allies, particularly a neighbouring kingdom ruled by witches (Rubyn couldn’t answer my question as the what separated a witch from a sorcerer). Baldric was a little taken aback by how open the ranger was but I found her excellent company. It struck me that, though unlikely, given her shape-changing powers it was not impossible that we were in the company of the Witch-Queen herself! The conversation soon turned to past exploits. Bazil asked Baynar what role he had played during The Wolf-Lord War and we discussed The Vast Swamp and Ravenloft. After a while we left our private room and joined the patrons in the taproom. With the setting of the sun the level of suspicion amongst the regulars seemed to rise.

It was quite late, many of the regulars had left and we were thinking of retiring to our rooms, when someone entered The Wave Crest. It was a human, rather nondescript except that he was no taller then a dwarf and yet something about him set my nerves tingling. My suspicions seemed justified when, after buying a drink, he headed straight up to Bazil and asked for a private word. Bazil replied that he had no secrets from his friends but when the stranger insisted the pair went off to a quiet table. Though I couldn’t hear what they said it certainly appeared that the stranger had a preposition. Initially Bazil seemed to turn the man down but as he walk away the suddenly halfling called him back. The stranger resumed his seat and the pair began to talk in earnest in what can only be described as a conspiratorial manner.

Chapter 2

DM's Notes

I used the following references:
Spellbound - Information on Thay and Aglarond
Dreams of the Red Wizards - More information on Thay and Aglarond

The Fall of Myth Drannor - The Baneblades of Demron
The Seven Sisters - Information on The Simbul
Pages from the Mages - The Scalamagdrion

Like every game of Realms, it got off to a slow start. I do try to speed things up, but it never happens.

I had planned to run a Sahaugin encounter on board the ship, but wanted to introduce John's character (who has just joined us - HELLO!) as quickly as possible, so dropped it at the last moment. We had taken more than enough time sorting things out before play, and dealing with Identify on the Swords.

The reference to Thay opening gates to the Elemental Plane of Fire is an adventure hook in the old 'Dreams of the Red Wizards' supplement. I used it for a bit of local colour.

There is hardly anything official about Delthuntle, however I found this site, which I used for inspiration, adding a few details as I went along.

Most of the evening was winged, including the entire encounter at the Towers of Mystery, I made it up as I went along I do think the starry ceiling and the floating motes of lights worked quite well.

Ian really got his cake and ate it with the Spellbook. He managed to get the spells, avoid the trap, AND research at the Towers! Well played.

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