Elminster the Sage

The Company of the Silver Coin
Amber the Ranger
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Book 4
Chapter 4 - The Purple Dragon (1359DR, 8th-9th Uktar)

I was in a forest and I was lost.
I staggered form tree to tree desperate to make some sense of the maddening maze I found myself in. Somewhere I heard people calling my name. I tried to orientate myself by the voices but they seemed to swirl around me first leading me one way and then another. And with each desperate, futile attempt to find my way I got more and more lost…

That dream ran through my mind that first, long night in Suzail. As I lay awake in a richly appointed room in the Royal Courts I could hear a harsh wind blowing outside. It was a mournful noise but it was better then the nightmare that haunted me during the brief moments I actually managed to sleep.
When the sun finally dawned I felt even more tired then I had before I went to bed. Discreet servants had visited our rooms before dawn and left fresh water and new clothing. The cloths, like everything in the courts, were fit for a King, or at the very least a visiting dignitary. Mine were red and gold in colour. Baynar had invited us to have breakfast in the dining room set aside for the Truesilver family. The dinning room was a grand affair and was decorated by family portraits; there was Acamane Truesilver, the famous mage and Arren Truesilver (fighting a red dragon) whose sword Baynar now carried. There was even a portrait of Baynar as a young man. Rather irritatingly my companions looked well rested and I did my best to put on a brave face.

As we eat, I wasn’t overly hungry but there is no such thing as a half-finished breakfast when Bazil’s around, we made our plans for the day. Vangerdahast had told us that he would arrange an audience with the King but we had no idea when that would be. Baynar had asked a servant to look into the matter but hadn’t heard anything yet. I told my companions that I would pay a visit to the royal stables to check on the horses that had carried us from Essembra to Suzail and that they could find me there if there was news. Bazil and Primrose stated that they would go to see Mrs. Stringfellow. This got Baldric’s attention and he offered to go too. Faergil announced that he was fed up with not looking “wizardy” enough and would accompany the three into the city in an attempt to find a good tailor. Baynar was going to visit his family. Only Colatto seemed to have nothing planned and was content to stay in The Courts to await news.

Leaving breakfast I took the short journey to the stables, the cold northern wind doing a little to clear the cobwebs a broken night and a that unpleasant dream had spun in my head. Did the dream have a meaning? Though they had little in common it reminded me in some way of the dream I had had in The Vale of Lost Voices and there was also the Darkwatch. It seemed that it would only be a matter of days before I would use the lens the Elminster had entrusted me with to guide my friends into it’s grasp. I caught myself thinking that it was perhaps for the best that The Simbul had transported us here, at least it would delay the inevitable. All too soon my feet guided me to the stables. They were an impressive complex with room for well over a hundred horses. People bustled this way and that, leading horses or carrying loads of straw, food or buckets of water. And everywhere rung with the constant, sharp note of iron being beaten into horseshoes. A stable-hand led me to where the horses were stabled. Greymane and the others all looked in excellent shape but one, Amber’s mount Fleetfoot, was gone. A quick enquiry revealed that he had been removed about a Tenday ago. While no one I asked could describe who had collected him I was sure that it was Amber, and that she had returned safely on The Undying Gaze. After checking the remaining horses myself I made arrangements that they should be made ready to leave in the next few days and began a leisurely walk back to the dining room. Colatto was still there and told me that, shortly after we had all gone our separate ways Vangerdahast had paid us a visit. A little put out that we hadn’t deemed it important enough to wait for news of our King he had announced that we had an audience tonight after evenfeast. I took the opportunity to experiment with some of the herbs I had acquired in the last few Rides. From some rosemary stems I concocted an ointment that, if I had got it right (and I was sure that for once I had), would posses an interesting property.

Primrose, Bazil, Faergil and Baldric returned about lunch-time as did Baynar. Baynar told us that he had been informed by a servant that the king had granted him an audience that afternoon. He didn’t tell us what had happened upon his return to the Truesilver residence, presumably private family matters.

The others had had a busy morning. They had headed straight for The Halls of Luck; the invisible Bazil dodging traffic on the crowded streets of Suzail as they went. Life in the Halls of Luck was in full swing when they arrived; from Primrose’s account the temple was part place of worship, part market and part meeting hall. As they had entered they had noticed that a cloth warehouse stood right beside it and Faergil announced that he would pay it a visit later. Once inside Primrose went off to pray before the great silver disk while Baldric volunteered to find Millicent Stringfellow whom, as a lay member of the church could usually b found there. Faergil and, more importantly, Bazil stayed out of the way. They saw Baldric talking to an acolyte, apparently asking after Mrs. Stringfellow but before the acolyte returned another priest walked purposefully over to Baldric and, after a quick discussion the pair headed off, deeper into the temple. After a few minutes Mrs. Stringfellow appeared, apparently responding to Baldric’s summons. At Bazil’s request Faergil headed over, with Bazil following in his wake, and prepared her for the worst. From Faergil’s grim tone of voice Mrs. Stringfellow initially thought the very worst but her expression soon changed from grief to exasperation when she learnt about what had befallen her son. Somehow she managed to get a grip of Bazil and, with a worried Primrose and bemused Faergil in tow, lead him off to a private room where she could give him the benefit of her opinion. It’s fair to say that Mrs. Stringfellow was not at all amused at or even sympathetic towards her son’s plight and blamed him almost exclusively. She was insistent that he not leave Suzail until he was “cured” and put forward the notion that Bazil should cut off his finger, thereby separating him from the ring, and have a priest re-grow it by miraculous means. Bazil wasn’t having any of it and had to fall back on reason, patients and the powers of The Scouts’ Blade (much to Primrose’s annoyance) to soften her views. At last, with all Bazil’s bits intact, they took their leave with Bazil and Primrose promising to come for dinner that afternoon. Back in the main hall they bumped into Baldric and, after he did his best to reassure Millicent, they left. Primrose asked where Baldric had got to but all he would say was that he had received some very troubling news but would wait until we were all back together before he said anything else.
At the cloth warehouse they had been directed to the owner’s shop, “Ossper’s Fine Silks and Cloths”. Following the directions they had been given they found themselves at an opulent looking tailor’s shop where a wealthy looking and rather full figured patroness was trying to convince Ossper, a gnome, that the dress he had made for her “looked fat”. After great length Ossper relented and agreed to take in the dress rather then upset his customer with the truth. Once she had gone Faergil got down to business. What he wanted was a set of robes that had a magical quality, a swirling blue and green pattern. The others didn’t have to be master tailors to realise that Faergil was out of luck but Ossper did offer to create a set of robes form a fine silk that had a shimmering hue. Faergil was satisfied but was disappointed to learn it would take the gnome a Tenday to create the garments. Faergil paid an advance and asked for them to be sent to the Royal Court, though there seemed little chance to return for them.
Their business concluded the four returned to the courts and it was there, over lunch, that Baldric told his tale.

The priest who had come over to him was Brother Winniefiddle. The priest has happy to see Baldric and insisted that he come with him. He took Baldric into a secluded part of the temple and a small room where an inflicted person might recover. Inside where two women. One was little more then a girl and was reading passages from the Holy Scriptures of Tymora in an attempt to soothe the second woman. This second women was lying in bed looking drawn and ill, her unnaturally pale skin in stark contrast to her long raven hair and a broad bandage on the side of her neck. Baldric recognised her almost at once as Pelinae, a bard from Waterdeep. She had been a member of his war band who had defended Espar during the Wolf-Lord War. With a weak and faltering voice she told Baldric that she and a few other of his war band had been in Espar, near the site of his new temple, a few days ago when they had been attacked by another former member of the group called Tassin. Tassin had been a mercenary form the north, hot tempered but a good tactician and deadly with a crossbow. One night he had disappeared and they had assumed that the enemy had killed him. To a degree it looked like they had been right; Tassin was now a vampire! Pelinae had been the only one to survive the attack and had fled to the capital. Now Baldric had a request for us; he wanted to go to Espar to find and destroy Tassin but at the same time he understood that The Legacy of Srinshe was a more pressing matter. It was not an easy choice to make and I couldn’t help but feel sympathy for Baldric’s plight. Less then a week previously I had to choose between stopping to put out the fires in Yuirwood and the quest. I had no love for vampires and their ilk but Espar was to the west and the Darkwatch to the east. We simply couldn’t let ourselves be side tracked any further. Solemnly we discussed the problem but there seemed one inescapable conclusion; time was not on our side. Baldric took the discussion philosophically but it was clear that he felt a great responsibility for the congregation at his temple.
Lunch over, Baynar went to have his audience with the king. The rest of us crowded around Bazil’s maps to try to determine what to do next. We needed to get back into The Dalelands. We quickly ruled out going through Thunder Gap, the weather would soon make it impassable and it was far too close to Highmoon. Instead we set our sight on going north and east via Tilverton and Tilvers Gap and from there deep into the heart of ancient Cormanthor.
Over lunch I had mentioned that Fleetfoot was gone and we wondered if The Undying Gaze was still in port. Primrose and I went to find out. We headed down for the docks. Even the dock fronts of Suzail, capital of Cormyr had that dangerous, lawless edge that characterised every dock-front I had ever been to. It was, of course, a noisy mess of sound and motion but we found our way to the harbour authorities area without any trouble. We quickly learnt The Undying Gaze had arrived in port only yesterday. I found this a little confusing until further questioning revealed that she had been gone only a few days having returned from her long voyage south a Ride before that. All this talk of The Undying Gaze and Amber had put Primrose in a melancholy mood. She wished to know what had become of Amber after her return to Cormyr and suggested we try to find some of the Undying Gaze’s crew. With that thought in mind we headed for The Selibers Ship. The Ship hadn’t changed at all in the three months since we had first set eyes on it. It was still docked in the most disreputable part of the port, an area where press-ganging, kidnapping and murder were an every day fact of life. Once we were aboard and below decks it was clear that the clientele, as far as we could see through the blue haze of fragrant tobacco, hadn’t changed much either. It didn’t take us long to find Captain Tanner, he was entertaining four local beauties who hung on his every word. He soon recognised us and we got into conversation. It appeared that The Undying Gaze had run into Sea Devils (my tact had to reign in my curiosity at the mention of these beings of the ocean) on the return journey, it had been a hard fight and several crewmen were lost but they had been victorious. Amber, Tanner said, had fought as hard as anyone had. When I enquired about how Amber had been he described her as withdrawn, she had done her bit but never connected with the crew. When The Undying Gaze had returned to port she had left at once and they hadn’t heard from her since. “Purposeful” was how he had summed her up. As for Tanner and his crew, they would probably not set sail again until the spring but had had good hunting over the year and plenty of money to keep them in wine, woman and song. Tanner asked me to tell Colatto there was a place for him in his crew if he cared to accept it but, when he learnt that Colatto was now Lord of Nimpeth, Tanner admitted that our companion would probably be too busy.
Our curiosity satisfied we headed back to the courts, stopping briefly so I could pick up a couple of changes of travelling cloths and a few odds and ends. As soon as we returned Bazil and Primrose headed off to have evenfeast with Mrs. Stringfellow, which turned out to be a rather strained affair.

None too soon (fatigue was starting to catch up with me) it was time for our audience with the king. We were escorted from The Royal Courts to the palace and into the audience chamber. The mighty warrior-king Azoun IV sat upon his throne in kingly attire and Vangerdahast stood at his right hand. I outlined briefly what had befallen the company since we had departed for The Vilhon Reach, what we knew of the drow’s plans and how we planned to go to the Darkwatch to thwart them. We also asked if there was anything Azoun and the kingdom of Suzail could do to help us. Azoun told us that all the ways through the Thunder Peaks were overrun with “creatures of chaos” and highly perilous. He had given Baynar leave to come with us and that the Lionar was going to bring his personal guard of knights to supplement our strength. The king was also going to send a company of Purple Dragons to reinforce the garrison at Castle Crag in Tilvers Gap; if we would travel with them they could act as an escort. We thanked the king and, pressing our luck, asked if one or two of the War Wizards could accompany id into the Darkwatch and a potential clash with “The Eight”. King Azoun promised to consider the request. Baldric also took the opportunity to inform the king about the vampire threat to Espar and ask if some Purple Dragons could be sent to protect the populace. Our audience over and thoughts of an early departure in our heads we were about to leave the audience chamber when King Azoun called Captain Stringfellow back. The rest of us waited outside for ten minutes or so until Bazil was finally dismissed. Apparently Azoun had begun, after Vangerdahast had cast a spell allowing the king to see the halfling, by demanding an explanation as to why a captain in his army was invisible. On learning about the ring he had, as Mrs. Stringfellow had that morning, suggested amputation as a means of solving the problem. Luckily for Bazil Vangerdahast pointed out that it was probably not that easy to thwart a god and even if it were no good would come of it. Azoun went on to suggest that Bazil, invisibility aside, might not have been acting in a manner befitting a Sword Captain of the Purple Dragons. After sternly reminding Bazil of his responsibility to maintain the kingdom and the king’ s good name and to act with honour in all things he sent the halfling on his way.
As we headed back to the courts Faergil was able to strike a deal with Vangerdahast, trading the salamander spears for an expensive spell component, a chest built of the most valuable (though like his robes it would be a while before it would be available).

The next morning we made ready to depart. Baldric saw to the last of our injuries. I felt it was my duty to bring the news I had to the Druids of The King’s Forest, and perhaps petition them for aid to do this I would have to briefly split from The Company and meet up with them again on the road to Arabel. Before I left however I went with the others to meet our escort. For those of a martial bent they were a stirring sight. Baynar’s personal guard consisted of twenty light cavalrymen in ring-mail and ten knights clad in field plate riding atop mighty warhorses. All were wearing the silver and black emblem of the Truesilver House and the knights carried lances from which flew his family pendent, snapping in the strong northerly wind. A man Baynar introduced as Sword Captain Peramilus led the thirty strong guards. It seemed clear that there was a strong bond between the two warriors.

A Company of Purple Dragons turned out to consist of one hundred warriors. Unfortunately for us it was one hundred foot soldiers. It was Bazil who pointed out what we all felt, we simply didn’t have time crawl along at their pace if we wanted to get to the Darkwatch in time. As Baynar and Bazil begun to hammer out a compromise Faergil suggested a radical new plan. If Baldric once again used ‘Easy March’ on our horse The Company could get to first Espar and then Tilveton in the time it took the Purple Dragons, escorted by Baynar’s knights to get from Suzail to Tilverton.
Though I couldn’t help but think that it might be a costly and time consuming detour that we could ill afford it looked like Baldric’s prayers would be answered and we were going to Espar…

Chapter 5

DM's Notes

I used the following references:
Volos Guide to Cormyr - Info on Cormyr and Suzail
Cormyr Sourcebook - Info on The Truesilver Family, The Purple Dragons and Suzail.

After last week I wanted to remind the PCs that Suzail is a safe place and a chance to rest, if only for a day. It also proved an opportunity to meet up with old contacts, and of course the irrescrasible Millicent Stringfellow, mother to Bazil. She was not happy with her son's current state of invisibility and ordered that he stay with her. Of course, it took quite a lot of convincing (and the use of Evaethathil!) to convince her otherwise.

Pelinae was an original member of a band led by Baldric during the Wolf Lord War (see The Tale for more information) Baldric has a Temple to Tymora being built in Espar - his home, and a number of people from the Temple in Arabel have followed him there (see book 2, chapter 4)

I winged most of the evening as it was all roleplaying (I dont recall rolling more than one dice all night) and only had a few notes on what was happening around Cormyr, and beyond.

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