Elminster the Sage

The Company of the Silver Coin
Amber the Ranger
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Book 4
Chapter 2 - The Plans of the Wizards (1359DR, 2nd - 6th Uktar)

View Faergils Notes

I got into a conversation with the now dwindling number of patrons in The Wavecrest Inn, from them I was able to learn the origin of Delthuntle’s love of dolphins. The port had risen to prosperity thanks to the success of a pirate called “The Dolphin Prince”; a name derived from his flagship “The Dolphin”. Since that time its citizens have see the many dolphins that lived in Delthuntle’s waters as the city’s protectors, particularly against The Sea-Devils who occasionally raided on moonless nights.
Soon it was time for me to follow my companion’s example and head for my room. As I headed for bed Bazil intercepted me with a favour to ask. The stranger wanted Bazil to retrieve his stolen dagger from “Ramelzhar the Coincounter”. Ramelzhar was in the employee of, and in fact lived in the same palace as, Delthuntle’s ruler Tyrnyl Maskhlann. More worryingly Ramelzhar was the leader of “The Three-fingered Ring”, the city’s thieves guild. Bazil had been initially reluctant to help but had then come to suspect that there was more to his would-be patron then met the eye and agreed to have a go. Bazil had learnt that Ramelzhar was guarded by his pet tiger and wanted to know if I could help. Invoking the power of Silvanus I placed a miracle upon Bazil that would temporarily make him unperceivable to animals but warned him that it would only last some twenty minutes, probably not long enough.

I was awoken several hours later by Bazil knocking at my door. The hobbit had a rather odd injury to his face, as if the veins under his skin had burst, but generally looked please with himself. He had successfully retrieved the dagger for the man who had turned out, to neither Bazil’s surprise nor mine, to be Brandobaris, Halfling God of Thieves and Trickery. The facial injury had been caused by poison though Bazil was pretty sure that his superior halfling constitution had saved him from the worst. To be on the safe side I called upon Silvanus’s divine favour to expel any poison that did remain in Bazil’s system and then heal the injury itself. As well as his injuries Bazil had another reason for coming to see me. While in the palace he had overheard a conversation relevant to our quest and wanted to know what “Tsornyl” was. I gave Bazil the brief answer, that it was effectively the resting place of The Legacy of Shrinshee, and with some trepidation asked that in what context it had been used. To my dismay Bazil told me that he had heard what he believed to be a drow voice commenting that they had found Tsornyl. She had gone on to say that “The Eight” (the phrase used in the intercepted drow communiqué that had sent us on this quest to begin with) were preparing for “The Unfolding”. Bazil said there was more but he would wait for morning to tell us all. While in the palace Bazil had encountered the clock trap that he had dreamt about in The Vale of Lost Voices and overcome it. Brandobaris had also confirmed what we all feared but couldn’t bring ourselves to admit; that Primrose had lost her unborn child. As he left Bazil grumbled that Brandobaris hadn’t returned his magical ring of invisibility but had promised to do so soon. How right he was!

After a poor nights sleep (thanks to Bazil’s news) I met up with Baldric, Baynar, Rubyn, and Colatto for breakfast. Rubyn told us that the journey to Velprintalar, the capital of Aglarond would take some six days, about half of which would be spent in the Sylvan forest of Yuirwood. After Bazil’s nocturnal visit I was eager to get under way but before breakfast was over Primrose came running in with a look of barely concealed panic on her face and told me that Bazil had asked to see me. Grabbing some food for the perpetually hungry halfling I headed to Bazil and Primrose’s room. On they way I asked Primrose what the matter was to which she replied that Bazil had “vanished”. This I found a little confusing; if Bazil had gone how could he want to see me? Upon arriving in the hobbits’ room the answer became apparent, or rather didn’t. Bazil was invisible! Brandobaris had returned Bazil’s ring of invisibility during the night but now he could neither remove it or deactivate its power. A quick glance through my magic lens showed that Bazil was otherwise intact. As I did so I notice the ring of feather-fall on Bazil’s other hand and an idea occurred to me. Wearing two magic rings on one hand negated the powers of both, if Bazil put his ring of feather-fall onto the same hand as the ring of invisibility would he reappear? Unfortunately the answer appeared to be no and, short of cutting off Bazil’s finger, there seemed little we could do to make him reappear. Sufficient to say that Primrose was not happy with Bazil’s new state and held him solely responsible.

When Primrose, Bazil and myself rejoined the other for breakfast and the rest of The Company learnt of Bazil’s problem they were all full of ideas to make him visible (or at least let us know where he was). Some more helpful the others but none worked.

A little later then intended we headed back to The Towers of Mystery to collect Faergil. The citys streets were already busy and only became more so with each passing moment. For his own safety Bazil rode on one of the horses rather then risk being trampled under foot. The others stayed outside the Towers with the horses while I went in to collect Faergil. As I entered the building I noticed something that had eluded us the previous day, as soon as you stepped across the threshold the sounds of the outside world became drastically muted. Faergil was still engrossed in his note taking and would have probably spent much longer there if we had let him.

Now all back together we left the City of Dolphins by the north gate but we didn’t leave for Aglarond at once as both Faergil and Bazil had stories to tell.

Faergil had learnt quite a lot about the Shrinshee, much of it new. Only a little of it seemed pertinent to our current enterprise. The Legacy was mentioned but no one seemed to know what it was, only that Shrinshee herself seemed to regret having created it. Particularly as it was to seize The Legacy that Moander, god of rot and decay, had invaded Tsornyl and in doing so created The Darkwatch. Most of Faergil’s information concerned her last appearance in this world. Too long a tale to go into here in detail sufficient to say it was a story of how the ancient wisdom of the elves turned to arrogance and folly and, in doing so, planted the seeds that led to the fall of Myth Drannor.

Bazil told us how, while searching the palace, he had overheard a conversation. It was between three people who he believed to be Ramelzhar, a drow and a “honey voiced” young man who was probably a Red Wizard. Bazil reiterated the news I had heard the night before and revealed more. “Honey voice” had commented that they would soon be able to rise the Demon Lord Eltab in Eltabbar, the capital of Thay, then everything that “Tam” had wrought would be brought crashing down and “Lauzoril” and Eltab (“and Lolth” the drow reminded him) would be supreme. Tam and Lauzoril, Rubyn explained, were prominent Zulkirs and rival Red Wizards. The magic of Shrinshee seemed to be vital to this plan but whether it was needed to summon Eltab or just keep him in line was unclear to me. The Red Wizards were also planning to open another portal to the lower planes and summon more Tanar’ri. This new portal would be located in “The Sunglade”, though the Red Wizards were concerned that The Simbul not find out. As both a ranger and half-elf Rubyn was appalled by this news. The Sunglade was a sacred place to the Green Elves who had one lived in Yuirwood. Now we were faced with a choice, would we head several days out of our way and try to stop the opening of the gate ourselves or rush the news to The Simbul and let her do it. We decided on a compromise, Rubyn would head for Velprintalar and the rest of us to The Sunglade. Baldric used the miracle ‘Easy March’ on all our horses and we set off with full speed.

Riding our horses hard we flew down the track that left the north gate. A patchwork of fields being prepared for winter blurred past, as did the out-lying homesteads and farms and way stations for the local army known, oddly enough, as “The Hobgoblins”. We passed other travellers both heading to and from Delthuntle. The first chills of winter were in the air and a heatless sun hung above us in a pale blue sky, a far cry from the stifling humidity of The Reach. I could smell rain upon the air. At noon we stopped for a quick lunch. It was here that we parted company with Rubyn as she galloped onwards.
By evening we had reached a ridge or shelf that cut across the landscape from east to west. Riding to the top we could see the eaves of Yuirwood about a mile away. Here we made our camp. It was a little exposed but, as Baldric pointed out, we would get a lot wetter at the base of the shelf if it rained then at the top.

The rain in fact held off till the next morning but when it did appear it arrived in force, preceded by peels of thunder and lightning. Prayer and the relearning of spells delayed our departure. When we finally broke camp the torrential rain of the early morning was replaced with persistent drizzle. Faergil had learnt a spell to remove curses and tried it on Bazil’s ring but to no effect.

Riding to within half a mile of the trees we turned the horses to the right and began to ride eastwards. For two days we kept our course. The rain was intermittent. On the second day we began to see signs, on the low lands to our right, of the damage wrought by the Red Wizards and their rifts to the Elemental Plane of Fire. There were vast patches of blackened and charred earth, barren of any plant life, which seemed to spread out across the landscape like a disease. Not all the fires were out. In the forest we could see pillars of smoke rising above the canopy. As I rode I was torn; the gifts of Silvanus could put out many (but by no means all) of the fires but could I afford the time when more Tanar’ri were soon to be summoned to this plane? My reason told me that I had to keep going but my soul found it a bitter potion to swallow.

Almost before we knew it we rode into a thick wall of smoke that stretched from the edge of the shelf to the forest, blocking our path. Within seconds the smoke was stinging our eyes and making it difficult to breathe, Bazil, Colatto, Primrose and Faergil were particularly badly effected though the rest of us endured. At Baldric’s urging were forced the reluctant horses onwards, preying that the wall of smoke wasn’t too thick. As we plunged almost blindly onwards we could hear the crackle and see the glow of fire in the trees to our left. None too soon we burst out of the far side. As we stopped to regain our breath and wash soot from our faces we became aware of movement in the trees, figures (large ones if we could see them from half a mile) weaving through the forest and where they went flames sprang up. This was the last straw. Telling the others to wait for me I invoked Silvanus to shield me from flame and took the shape of a falcon (in my natural form I’m immune to flame but wearing the shape of an animal I have no such protection) and flew off to investigate.

Despite the erratic thermals caused by the fires I quickly closed on the forest. The beings in the forest had elements of both serpent and human though they were neither Naga’s nor Yaun’ti. From the waist down they had the bodies of serpents; from the waste up they were humanoid. They were some ten feet in length, their heads and torsos were a coppery-red colour and their tails a dull red. Their hair (and beards and moustaches in the case of the males) were made of flame and all along their bodies were wispy tendrils that ended in puffs of fire. There were about ten of them, all armed with large spears. It was clear that not only were they spreading the flames but also they were enjoying it. Quickly I returned to my companions and, returning to my true form, explained what I had seen and my intention, in Silvanus’s name, to stop them. The Company agreed. The beings, we figured, had come through the Rifts before The Simbul had sealed them (later we would learn that they were “Salamanders” and were indeed native to the Plane of Fire). Like many extra-planar beings we suspected that they would be impervious to non-enchanted weapons but we were well provided for in that regard. To further increase our chances Baldric and I invoked our respective deities to ward all of us from flame but in doing so we used much of our Divine Favour (and my dwindling supply of mistletoe) for that day. Perhaps at this point I should explain that this miracle works differently if the priest protects himself then if he protects someone else. In both cases the recipient is protected from all but the most intense, non-magical flame. The priest is also immune to magical flame but a massive enough attack (or a multitude of smaller ones) will end the miracle. Another person protected by the miracle, however, is hurt by magical flame but the harm is greatly reduced.

Thus armed we left our horses a safe distance away and advanced towards the forest, stopping about fifty yards from the trees. The salamanders were clearly visible going about their destructive business. Deciding I needed more protection I called upon the power of Silvanus and he transformed my skin to tough but flexible bark. Baldric began to prey to Tymora to give us her blessing in the fight but before he could even get halfway through the incantation Baynar was charging into the fray!
In seconds he had closed the distance to the nearest one and struck at it twice with his sword, the salamander cried out in pain from the wound but didn’t go down. A second later Faergil had his wand out and used one of it’s newly discovered powers; three of the salamanders were suddenly deluged in a highly localised, and brief, storm of the largest hail I had ever seen. The salamanders reeled from the onslaught but didn’t die. Bazil, Colatto and Primrose, weapons draw, waited for Baldric to finish the bless, knowing that to attack before it was completed would exclude them from it’s benefits.
The salamanders now began to react to our presence. The one that Baynar was battling struck at the knight with its spear only to have it turned aside by cunning use of his shield. A second later the salamander managed to snare Baynar’s legs in its coils. Two moved in to join the melee scoring hits with their spears. The salamanders and their weapons were red hot but that had little effect on Baynar thanks to our preparation. More spear thrusts were turned aside by Baynar’s armour but the first salamander was now starting to constrict with a crushing pressure on his legs.

The other seven were quickly moving towards our position. I decided that muscle was what would be needed in this fight and began change shape again, this time taking the form of a gorilla. Faergil unleashed a volley of magical darts at the salamander wrapped around Baynar but still it lived.

Desperately Baldric tried to finish his blessing before they reached us but he was just out of time. Using the same tactic that their fellow had employed on Baynar the salamanders attacked with spears and then looped themselves about us. Baldric, Faergil Colatto, Primrose and myself were caught. While our legs were now immobilised our arms were free and we could fight on. Baldric swung at one with Twin-Death, one head glanced harmlessly off but the other struck home. Colatto and Primrose were both unable to break through their opponent’s defences. The two other salamanders, sensing the danger of Faergil’s Art attacked him with their spears, each one drawing blood. Only the invisible Bazil had avoided being hurt. Unseen by the salamanders he moved up behind the one attacking Primrose and made a double thrust with his two short swords. Kithril defected off the salamander’s hide but The Scout’s Blade struck home. The second he made the attacks Bazil reappeared, a heroic figure with the blazing green sword embedded in the Salamander. His reappearance however was only short-lived as a few moments later he disappeared again.

Fifty yards away Baynar claimed the first kill as he finished off his initial foe and then stuck at one of the other two on him, injuring it.

Faergil blasted one of the three attacking him with a ray of frost. It screamed horribly but, much to the elf’s disappointment didn’t die. Once again Captain Stringfellow briefly reappeared as he slashed Primrose’s foe with both his blades. By now I had finished my transformation. With a mighty swing I brought my staff crashing down on the coils about my waist but the wound inflicted was insufficient to get the salamander to let go. Just in case we were wrong about needing enchanted weapons to hurt them I also bite the salamander (a foolish thing to do if it wasn’t for the miracle of protection from flame) but to no avail.

Throughout the salamanders kept up the pressure, constricting with their tails and stabbing with their spears. Faergil’s magical bracers kept away most of the spear thrusts aimed at him but he was clearly in trouble. Baynar’s skilled swordsmanship had finished off a second salamander, weaken as it was by the Ice Storm, and he pressed the attack on a third, wounding it. Colatto also managed to strike home with The Mage’s Blade but Baldric wasn’t as lucky with Twin Death.

Primrose’s salamander thrust with its spear at where Bazil had been moments before and, more by luck then skill, struck home. In retaliation Primrose struck a pair of deep, cleaving blows with The Tears of Tymora finishing off the salamander. Free of its coils she dashed over to one of the three attacking Faergil. The Tears of Tymora and another volley of magical darts from the elf struck home a split second apart and another salamander was despatched. Bazil moved up to support me and the pair of us stabbed and bashed my opponent. It tried to impale me again on its spear but this time the thrust was turned aside by my wooden skin. At about the same time a spear thrust against Baldric bounced harmlessly off of his elven plate-mail and the battling priest struck back with a solid, double blow from Twin-Death. Just as Baynar dispatched a third salamander another arrived at the fight. He turned aside its spear with his shield but couldn’t avoid the tail.

Despite the assistance of Primrose Faergil was starting to weaken under the relentless attack of the salamanders. Between the pair of us Bazil and myself were able to finish off the one attacking me and the halfling dashed across the melee to attack one of the salamanders worrying Faergil. Primrose swung at the other but missed. Rapidly failing from his injuries Faergil cast a Polymorph spell and, taking the form of a wren flew from the battle while his opponents were distracted by the halflings. Enraged the salamanders turned on their small attackers. Bazil was nimble enough to get out of the way but a vicious thrust sent Primrose reeling.

Both Baldric and Baynar managed to finish off their opponents. Colatto and his salamander had reached a stalemate with neither able to score a telling blow on the other. I moved in to support Colatto, striking the salamander in the flank. It didn’t die but I did get its attention long enough for Colatto to find an opening and run The Mage‘s Blade through the salamander’s body. A moment later the Salamander that had been attacking first Faergil and the Bazil, who was now invisible again, launched an unexpected attack on me. As it’s tail coiled around me I felt my strength begin to ebb. I doubt I would have been able to beat the salamander alone but first Bazil and then Baldric came to my aid finishing it off.

Faergil, who had alighted a safe distance away had by now returned to his normal form and had the satisfaction of finishing of the last salamander, the one battling Primrose, with yet another volley of magical darts.

The battle was over but none of us had escaped unscathed. All of us had both stab wounds from the salamander’s spears and large, purple-black bruises from their tails. Everyone except Baldric and myself also had burns from contact with the salamanders and their weapons.

Baldric and I began to channel the power of Tymora and Silvanus to soothe The Company’s injuries, though it left me drained. Primrose asked Bazil how he was. When she got no response we started to get worried, he had seemed okay the last time we had “seen” him but what if Bazil had subsequently fallen victim to his wounds and collapsed?! Bringing out the lens again I surveyed the battlefield but found no sign of Bazil. Looking further afield I was relived and pleased to spot Bazil using Flame-Bane to extinguish nearby fires.

Faergil busied himself collecting bits of dead salamander (whose flesh was now rapidly cooling and changing from shades of red to a dull black) to use in the creation of magical items at a later time, though he had to borrow Bazil’s magical dagger to do so. Inspired by the sight Faergil at work Bazil experimented with the salamanders’ spears, which were also cooling down, and discovered that they would pierce salamander flesh. We stowed the spears in Faergil’s portable hole for future use.
Wearily we headed back to our horses. I complimented Baynar at his fighting prowess and his sword. The sword, he said, was “Lictor of Arren Truesilver” and had special potency against creatures of chaos.

We rode on through the rest of the afternoon and into the evening, the eaves of Yuirwood always at our left. That evening Faergil decided to try out the spell he had gained from The Towers of Mystery, ‘Leomund’s Secure Shelter’. After a lengthy ritual a rather pleasant looking cottage constructed of wood appeared. Inside we found it to be spacious, clean, and warm and, rather surprisingly, furnished with tables, chairs and beds. Faergil further extolled the virtues of the shelter, it’s doors were magically locked and alarmed, the chimney (yes, it had one of those too) protected by an iron grate and the walls though they might have looked like wood were as hard as stone. Finally there was a magical force that would perform simple tasks at Faergil’s command. The only downside seemed to be that the horses would have to stay outside. While we kept watches that night I’m sure most of us felt secure within the magical cottage. I awoke well before dawn and began a long regime of prayers and devotion to The Oak Father. Baldric and Faergil also spent time in prayer and studying spells respectively. Faergil was eager, following the failure of his curse-removing spell a few days earlier, to try another spell to separate Bazil from the ring. This one was a spell that dispelled magic (we had to remind him not to use it in the magical shelter) but Bazil turned him down saying that he would ask The Simbul for help in a few days.

Leaving the cottage behind, which Faergil told us it would disappear in a few more hours, we carried on. By noon we had reached a stretch of the forest that extended southwards. This was our signal to enter the forest. We would have to head north-east for, we believed, a few days to reach the Sunglade. While our progress slowed immensely once we had entered Yuirwood, the horses could go no more then walking pace, I for one was glad to be once more surrounded by the wonders of Silvanus. The varieties of trees were very similar to those I had grown up among back in Cormyr, oaks, ashes and the like. The trees were thick enough to give us intermittent protection from the rain but not thick enough to unduly annoy my companions. As the day wore on, however, the trees grew more densely packed and we led our horses as often as we rode them.

Night in the forest was dark, with moon and stars hidden by both tree and cloud cover. As we sat about our small campfire some of my companions mentioned seeing a tiny woman with the legs of a cricket and gossamer wings watching us from the branch of a tree. I was disappointed to not to have seen her as she sounded like some type of Sprite. I considered going to look for her until I remembered Rubyn’s warning to us that the Fey of Yuirwood were darker then those we may have encounter else where. At this point Baynar, perhaps a little belatedly, told us that when he and Rubyn had travelled south through the forest a few days ago they had had a run in with trolls. After this my companions were certainly more alert when we camped down for the night. Faergil suggested a spell that summoned a magical watchdog who would bark if any creature larger then a cat came near but Bazil pointed out that it would probably be barking all night at foxes, wild pigs, badgers and the like. Perhaps I should have been more alert too but, as I have said before, it would be a sorry day indeed when I felt unsafe within the dominion of The Oak Father.

Baynar had the first watch. He hadn’t been watching too long before he heard a light, mischievous laughter form beyond the light of the campfire. Before he could react there were a pair of flashes of purple light and first three hulking ogres and then two wicked looking creatures of stone with wings and claws appeared right in the middle of the campsite and it’s sleeping occupants.

Chapter 3...

DM's Notes

I used the following references:
Spellbound - Information on the Red Wizards, Thay and Aglarond. Rubyn, Szass Tam, Lauzoril and Eltab are all mentioned within.
Dreams of the Red Wizards - More information on Thay and Aglarond

The Fall of Myth Drannor - The Baneblades of Demron, The Srinshee
Cormanthyr - The Srinshee, Tsornyl

Things went a little better than last weeks, though still not quite right for me.

The Ring of Invisibility. Brandobaris 'stole' this from Bazil way back in Book 2, Chapter 4 and Bazil has complained about it for some time. I ran Bazils mission to retrieve the dagger separately from everyone else (it took a couple of hours) - hence no write-up. I'll try to get Edd to put finger to keyboard (wish me luck!).
Of course, the real reason that Brandobaris sent him on this mission was so that he could overhear the conversation. The god of trickery just can't help getting involved!
Of course, Bazil got his ring back - but things are never so simple :-)

Most of the notes that Faergil collected were copied from Cormanthyr and The Fall of Myth Drannor sourcebooks.

The information on Eltab and the Red Wizards is official (as it were) and of considerable note. Refer to the Spellbound sourcebook for more information.

The salamander encounter proved quite a tough one especially for Faergil (down to 8hp!)

Leomands Secure Shelter is one spell that Faergil has been after for some time. No more camping in the rain for the company!

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