Elminster the Sage

The Company of the Silver Coin
Amber the Ranger
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Book 4

Chapter 7- Cold Welcome in Tilverton (1359DR, 14th-18th Uktar)

The four of us flew swiftly north until we reached the city of Arabel. There we turned and followed the Mountain Ride off towards Castle Crag, which we reached by mid-afternoon despite the weather. It was cold and blustery with a light rain.
A little way from the small settlement that crowded around the castle I returned to my true form as did the initiates. While I had been flying I had also been thinking and had a proposition for the three. I didn’t believe it was in Silvanus’s best interest for all of them to come to The Darkwatch with me. I asked for them to decided among themselves who would carry on and who would return to Hullack Forest while I went to enquire if The Company of the Silver Coin had already been through the area. From the guards at the settlement gates I learnt that they had been and gone, leaving the previous morning. Returning to the initiates with this news I was told of their decision, Morag and Allanor would be turning back while Josh would continue on with me. Josh was a young man with a short beard, sandy hair and green eyes. Beneath a travelling cloak he wore leather armour and had a scimitar at his hip. Over the next few days of our travelling together I learnt that he had been a priest of Silvanus for a few years, he hadn’t had the opportunities for advancement that I had. He was a quiet man who saw his role as a steward of the wild places and didn’t approve of “meddling”. We watched as Morag and Allanor took on the forms of wolves and headed back the way we came.
After a few hours rest, as the evening drew in, it was time for us to be on our way too. We took the forms of bats and, heading off after The Company of the Silver Coin, we flew on through the cold of the winter night. As the night turned to day we snatched the briefest of breakfasts and then resumed our journey in the forms of falcons. By noon I could see a large party of riders on the road ahead. As we drew closer it became clear that they were indeed my friends and Baynar’s personal guard. There was also a bird of prey following the horses, a Thunderhawk which I learnt was Faergil’s familiar. We caught up with them by late afternoon but waited until they stopped to make camp before landing and joining the group. It was good to be back with my friends again.

For the last two days The Company had been riding through the unfriendly lands beyond the Gnoll Pass. The journey had been a monotonous one through barren, craggy country in the grip of winter, a journey made even worse by the elements; a cold rain and biting wind. The road had degraded with each mile and they were now riding through mud and puddles. The previous day they had started to get a little worried by my absence, after all I had said I would meet them before Castle Crag, even going to the extent of Faergil trying to use the crystal ball to see where I was.

That night, as we huddled around our small, spluttering campfires swapping stories it was easy to imagine that we were the only living things in the land; small islands of light and noise in an infinite sea of darkness. Despite the cold I slept well after my long journey.

The next day we carried on. Josh doubled up with on of Baynar’s cavalrymen. As he had promised Bazil had taken good care of Greymane. I took Dragathil back off of Bazil. He was glad to be free of it as, unsure of the wisdom of putting it in his Bag of Holding, he had been wearing it across his back.
That day’s travel was much like the last few. We travelled through the cold and exposed foothills of the Thunderpeaks under a weak sun. The ground alternated between bare rock and mud and, where it was out of the sun, was topped with frost. The Thunderpeaks themselves were capped with snow and resounded to the clash of lightning on stone. Shortly before noon we could see something on, or just beside, the trail ahead. Faergil, his eyesight magically enhanced by his familiar, told us that it was the remains of a pyre. As we drew along side it we stopped briefly to investigate. The pyre was at least a few days old and contained the charred remains of goblinoids. Heaped at the foot of the pyre were broken weapons. Taking care of their fallen in this way seemed very out of character for goblins and their kin and we all suspected that it had been the work of a Purple Dragon patrol, almost certainly from Tilverton. Indeed we had only ridden on for an hour or so more when we saw a group of riders, Faergil identified them as thirty Purple Dragons, ahead. In due course our two parties met and Baynar rode forward to talk with their leader, a broad-shoulder warrior called Sword Captain Arak. From Arak we learnt grim news indeed, the road east of Tilverton was impassable, no one travelled it and lived. Eighty Purple Dragons had been lost trying to reopen the road, their mutilated bodies left to be found as a warning. Captain Arak spoke of Dark Elves but there were also rumours of darker things he could not name. Arak also suggested that Lionar Truesilver should pay his respects to Tilverton’s ruler Lady Rowanmantle.
Parting from the knights we road on, ever eastwards, and that afternoon saw us reach the walls of Tilverton.
Nestled at the very edge of Cormyr I had always pictured Tilverton to be a small, frontier town, little more then a garrison with a small community attached. In fact Tilverton was a city at least as large as Arabel. A tall, stone wall surrounded it with numerous watchtowers along its length. Rising above the city wall we could see a tall tower some hundred feet in height. We could also see buildings over the wall in the southern end of the city suggesting it was built on a hill.
The solid looking city gates were closed as we approached, despite the time of day, but were opened at a call from Baynar. Through the gates we passed along a long, arched, stone passageway lined with arrow-slits and murder-holes before coming out into the city. Within the walls Tilveron was a busy place. We rode towards the heart of the city where we found a great market place at the foot of the tower we had seen as we approached. From a guardsman we learnt that this was The Council Tower not, as perhaps many of us had thought, Lady Rowanmantle’s residence. To find The Lady of Tilverton we would have to go to Old Tilverton. Baynar sent his men off to find accommodation in one of the cities barracks, the Lionar informed us that Tilverton normally had eight hundred Purple Dragons garrisoned there, and had a city guard go ahead of us to tell Lady Rowanmantle of our arrival.
Old Tilverton, the part that was on the hill, took up about a quarter of the area of the city. It was surrounded by it’s own wall, clearly older then the great fortification that encompassed the city as a whole. Set into the arch that formed the gateway to this city within a city was a shrine to Lathander, a great, rosy-pink disk that seemed to focus the weak light of the winter sun into the archway. We found Old Tilverton to be much less tightly packed then the new city, there could have been no more then thirty or so buildings and they had plenty of space between them. Directly inside from the gate was the ruin of a keep and across from that the first inn we had seen since our arrival. The inn’s sign depicted an old woman holding her hand up to the side of her moth as if funnelling the words. A local that Baldric asked identified this as “The Whispering Witch” and that Lady Rowanmantle’s residence was the building beyond it. Compared with many a noble’s house Lady Rowanmantle’s was a very modest affair. Quite small it had probably once been a shop and, to Baynar’s dismay, would clearly not be able to put us up for the night.
We headed for the Whispering Witch for a meal and a chance to clean up. The inn looked quiet and a broad-shouldered, bearded gentleman who appeared from the stables as we approached seemed surprised to see us. Leaving the horses in his care we headed in. As I was about to cross the threshold I spotted a discreet symbol carved into the ancient stone work; it was a Harpers’ Mark warning of danger! I was about to mention it when I noticed a second rune nearby that indicated that the former was a false marking; a double bluff. Inside the inn was snug and warm. It was tended by a pair of golden-haired women who were clearly related, sisters perhaps. As we sat down to a warm meal and a drink the other patrons began to notice the presence of an invisible hobbit. They were clearly not impressed and one or two got up and left. This brought over one of our hostesses and, after Faergil had smoothed over the situation with a few gold lions, we got into conversation. She had heard of Captain Stringfellow and Brother Baldric and indeed The Company of the Silver Coin and was full of questions about us and our journey. Perhaps too many questions.
After lunch, while many of my companions were freshening up for an audience with Lady Rowanmantle I headed out to purchase a horse and tack for Josh. When we were ready we went next door to see The Lady of Tilverton. During the short walk Faergil mentioned something that he had been told. He too had done some shopping in Tilverton; he had brought a leather arm guard on which the thunderhawk could land. When he had said he was staying in The Whispering Witch he had been given a worried look. The leatherworker had told him that the sisters who ran the inn were said to be witches and the inn itself was visited by dark powers.
We were met at the door be a pageboy who showed us to a waiting room before announcing us to Lady Rowanmantle. Rowanmantle was a woman in her forties with blue eyes and dark hair that was starting to turn grey. Even indoors she was wearing a suit of chain armour and was every inch the warrior. After taking a moment to finish a letter she greeted Baynar heartily, clearly she was a friend of his father’s. The formalities over we talked with her about the road east, Rowanmantle was able to confirm what we had heard from Sword Captain Arak but was unable to supply us with any new information about the dangers that lay ahead. Threats were not only coming from without the city walls either. The Tilverton Rogues, perhaps Cormyr’s only Thieves Guild, were causing trouble too and, with a heavy heart Rowanmantle was considering sending a communiqué to the king saying that Tilverton was no longer safe. Having heard that the garrison was depleted Baynar gave serious consideration to leaving his personal guard, under the command of Sword Captain Peramilus, to bolster their strength. While we spoke Faergil asked Rowanmantle about her views of the rumours he had heard concerning the Whispering Witch. Her answer was strangely evasive neither confirming nor denying them but saying that she had never had cause to get involved with the sisters in an official capacity.
Our audience over we headed back to the inn. We seemed to have it too ourselves. The sisters, the stable man and an elderly woman we had not seen before were seated around one of the tables and enjoying a quiet meal. We did like wise. Faergil tried to bring Feyondra out of her shell with a discussion on The Art but with only very limited success.
Soon enough it was time for bed. As I was undressing there was a quiet tapping on my door. Intrigued I headed over and opened it to find one of the sisters outside; a Harpers’ Pin clearly displayed on her clothing. As I let her in she introduced herself as Jansabella Nithrin. She had news of the Dalelands and it was almost all of it was bad. The drow had the country in the palm of their hand. They had heard nothing from Ashabenford, their usual source of information, in weeks and the drow were watching the roads for us. Our entry into the city that day had not gone unnoticed as the drow had an understanding with the Thieves’ Guild. She mentioned that The Twisted Tower was under the control of the drow and I reciprocated with the information we had learnt about “The Lost Marshall”. She was able to tell me that both Alias and Dragonbait were alive and at large but Rhauntides was a prisoner of the Herald of Highmoon. Jansabella was surprised to learn that the Herald was a succubus. She also had one very practical piece of advice; we were not safe in Tilverton and should leave, at once.
As she slipped away I pulled on my clothes and rounded up the rest of The Company. We found our horses saddled and waiting for us outside the inn. Brother Baldric renewed the Easy March miracle upon the horses and within minutes we were leading them through the dark, city streets.
As we moved through the newer parts of the city I suddenly heard Bazil’s voice at my ear. He had spotted someone watching us from a rooftop. Remembering Jansabella’s warning I suggested that Bazil do something about our watcher, though I doubt he hadn’t thought about it himself. Bazil headed off noiselessly into the darkness.
At the city gates the guard challenged us. Baynar went forward and, after a whispered conversation in which the guard promised to keep our presence to himself, we left the city. We left Tilverton by the west gate, the one we had entered by, and set off at a slow pace westwards back towards the heart of Cormyr. When we were several hundred yards from the city we left the track and began to circle around to the east. It was a fairly simple ruse we had formulated but it was better then nothing. By then Bazil had returned having incapacitated our watcher with a drugged crossbow bolt. Bazil suggested that Colatto use his hunting skills to hide our tracks. Collato pointed out that one person to hide the tracks of eight horses would be too time consuming. Between the two of us Josh and myself were able to employ the power of Silvanus to miraculously conceal the horses’ tracks.
Soon enough we were on the eastern road and now we rode the horses. We rode until the city lights were hidden behind a rise and then for a few minutes more. The entire operation had been carried out in almost told silence and without any light. For the few members of The Company who lacked infravison it must have been an unnerving experience.
We made camp by the road but, despite the numbing cold, didn’t make a fire. We set watches. Josh and I took the second. Since he lacked infravison Josh spent his watch in the form of a wolf relying on its uncanny senses to detect any trouble. Our watch over we woke up the next pair, Bazil and Primrose.

It seemed that my head had barely touched the ground when I was awoken by Bazil’s voice. Opening my eyes I was disconcerted, to say the least, to see that not only was the camp was wreathed in a heatless, crimson flame but a gigantic spider, at least ten feet in diameter, was standing over me!
Bazil would later tell The Company that he had been patrolling the edge of the camp when he had felt a sharp pain in his foot. Looking down he saw a large, perhaps an inch and a half across, spider by his foot but no sooner had he spotted it than the spider began to grow reaching a gigantic size in seconds. A quick glance around the camp showed him that there were plenty of spiders to go around. Shouting for us all to get up he drew both his magical blades and with a pair of deft thrusts had killed the nearest spider. Before it had fallen he was running to Primrose’s aid, she was lying prone with a spider towering over her. It had been while he closed on the second spider that the red aura had appeared. It wasn’t all red however; where it outlined something magical the flame was white. The second spider had seen and heard him coming. The spider had lunged for him but Bazil had been too quick. In an instant he was in it’s guard and ran it through.
The spiders continued to bite as we reached for weapons. The movements of Baldric, Primrose and Faergil became slow and sluggish as the venom dulled their reactions. Rather then go for a weapon I began to pray. The drow that was no doubt hiding nearby must have guessed my intention as before I could finish both my eight-legged foe and I were plunged into darkness. My own miracle of light was finished a moment later but all it did was negate the darkness; I was no better off then before.
Feyondra and Faergil had better luck and was able to kill the spiders attacking them with a flurry of magical darts and a spray of icy cold respectively. Baldric managed to make contact with one of the heads of Twin-Death but only injured his. I called upon Silvanus once again for his divine light, focusing it into the face of the spider that was manoeuvring into position to bite me again. I was able to blind the spider and in doing so illuminated the campsite. We all cast about; looking for the drow that was no doubt responsible for the attack. It didn’t take us log to spot her floating thirty feet or so above the campsite but we weren’t prepared for the sight of twenty more of her kinfolk surrounding our camp with weapons drawn. Bazil called for us to scatter as he threw himself, fearlessly at one of the drow. Both of his blades drew blood but the dark elf stood his ground and retaliated with shortsword and dagger. Captain Stringfellow was able to evade the short blade but the dagger scored his side. Colatto slashed at a nearby spider before running for the horses. In a tried and true tactic Feargil summoned a number of illusionary decoys. I caught a glimpse of Baynar hacking at a spider but a second later the miracle of light was ended by drow magic and the spiders closed in again with their venomous fangs. I heard my companions cry out as several of them was bitten. I was luckier as, with two rather clumsy dodges I evaded the attack of my initial spider and a new one that had joined it.
Hemmed in by a forest of spider’s legs I heard from somewhere cries of dismay and the panicked whinnying of horses. A snatched glance showed me that a luminous green web was covering the horses and had also trapped Baynar, Colatto and at least two of the spiders. For a second I saw Baynar dispatching one of the spiders then the swollen bodies my two enemies blotted out the view. Instinctively I exhaled a jet of flame from my mouth; the screams of the spiders as they died were terrible. Rolling free of their remains I caught a flare in the corner of my eye as Josh summoned a flame-blade. In another part of our campsite Primrose was driving The Tears of Tymora into another spider with a powerful double-handed strike. Risking that the wind wouldn’t suddenly change direction Faergil cast a spell and enveloped a group of the drow in a poisonous fog. Most staggered out but at least one collapsed to the ground. From somewhere we could hear the sounds of bows being fired.
Bazil squared up to the drow he had wounded but before it could attack again the dark elf was bowled off its feet by what appeared to a wolf. For a moment he didn’t have an opponent and he saw a lithe figure running into the fray a blade in either had. In a flash the newcomer had engaged one of the drow, her first sword strike being turned aside by his black chain mail but the second drawing blood. In the faint starlight the warrior’s identity became clear. It was Amber and the “wolf” was Dwindar!
With most of the spiders dead the drow broke their circle and began to enter the camp. Little more then darting shadows in the dim light as they danced amongst us. As one closed in on me I was able, just, to summon an earthmaw that took a vicious bite out of the drow. The dark elf kept coming and was able to open a ragged gash in my arm with his shortsword. The drow were everywhere, attacking from all sides, drawing blood from my companions again and again. I saw Feyondra have a shortsword and dagger plunged deep into her and for a second I though she was finished until I noticed that they seemed to pass through her as if she wasn’t there. The fight was not all one-sided however and Amber, Baldric; Bazil, Josh and Primrose all managed to give as well as they took. Colatto, hampered by his lack of infravison hurled a fireball into an empty piece of wasteland while Feyondra’s lightning bolt at the floating drow was absorbed by her anti-magic. Again we could hear the firing of bows and some of the drow cried out, struck by arrows. From the direction Amber had come we could see ten figures with bows. Amber had not come alone.
I didn’t rate my changes of beating a drow in close combat so began to shift into the form of a lion. This left me open to an attack by the drow but neither of the injuries he inflicted was telling ones. As I changed I saw Josh being struck, he retaliated with the flame-blade but, though he hit, the dark elf’s anti-magic protected it. Baldric was also hit but his retaliation was more successful. Bazil was now outnumbered two to one but undaunted continued to fight on. Once again Feyondra seemed immune to her assailant’s blows and countered with a burst of magical darts. Faergil tried the same spell on the drow attacking him but to no effect. With a flurry of three, powerful blows Amber dispatched one of the drow while Primrose and Bazil both drove theirs back with blistering offensives. Some of the drow had left the campsite and closed on the archers. As they approached the area was hidden behind an inky darkness. Unconcerned the dark elves slipped in and soon the sounds of battle could be heard in the darkness.
With a cry of “Kithril” Bazil made a single, lightning-fast thrust and drove his shortsword into a drow’s heart, killing it. An instant later those of The Compny who had infravison saw a dark but hot object fall from the sky into the web. The luminous green strands went up in flames in seconds and the terrible cries of our horse filled the air as they broke free and scattered. The drow pressed their attack mercilessly. Feargil had avoided serious injury but his supply of decoys was dwindling by the second. Calling upon his Art Faergil summoned a sphere of violet light that he threw at the drow. His aim was true, for a moment the dark elf was the centre of a violet aura and when it faded he seemed to be moving in slow motion. Baynar, sidelined during most of the fight, came charging out of the flaming web to engage the drow who has been attacking Baldric with a pair of powerful, and lethal, strikes. Colatto launched a deluge of magical darts up at the floating drow but to no effect. Feyondra invoked a spell of light to blind her assailant. All the drow flinched away from the sudden luminescence. It also dispelled the darkness over Amber’s archers. The eight remaining bowmen had discarded their bows and drawn swords. They had a pair of dark elves surrounded but the drow, despite being outnumbered, fought like demons and it was not clear who would be victorious. Seeing the danger her companions were in Amber, and Dwindar, ran to their aid. The light had also revealed that Primrose and Josh were suffering badly, their strength depleted by multiple wounds. Ignoring my own opponent I dived across the melee and pounced on the drow that was fighting Josh. The drow was partially blinded by the light and off-guard; I was able to bowl him to the ground and tear away with tooth and claw. Josh was able to recover his wits in time to place a miracle of protection upon me, transforming my skin into tough wood, and then backed away.
Above the battle the drow priestess spoke a few words that dripped with dark power. There was a thunderous crash and a figure appeared amongst us; tall, lanky with long, clawed arms and the head of a cadaverous bird. V’rock Tanar’ri.

Chapter 8

DM's Notes

I used the following references:
Cormyr Sourcebook - Info on Tilverton and War Wizards
Volos Guide to Cormyr, Cormyr and Tilverton
Drow of the Underdark - Drow and Drow Spells
Code of the Harpers - Harper Runes.

Well it went better than last week, but we certainly didn't get as far as I was expecting...

They were travelling through the harsh northern reaches of Cormyr, exposed to the elements. Not a pleasant journey.

I used lots of information out of the Cormyr Sourcebook for Tilverton including the map. The Harpers Mark was a bluff, intended to throw non-Harpers of the scent and the Inn has a ill reputation...

Lots of Drow spells were used in the fight with the Dark Elves, and there are more to come. The Giant Spiders venom caused Slow effects on failure of a saving throw. Not good at all.

The return of Amber. She left some time ago, and has now returned to help them, in this fight at least. Whether she rejoins the group is another matter. Only time will tell..

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