Elminster the Sage

The Company of the Silver Coin
Amber the Ranger
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Book 4

Chapter 9 - Into the Darkwatch (1359DR, 23rd Uktar - 3rd Nightal)

The words of Thorn Silverburch -
A frigidly cold wind carrying a light powdering of snow blew down from the mountains behind us as we began to descend down towards the foothills. Already the pass we had taken was indiscernible from the rest of the mountain range, with the exception of Amber we would have been hard-pressed to find it again.
Sometimes riding, sometimes leading the horses we made a steady journey downwards during what daylight was left. After about two hours the sun disappeared behind the Thunderpeaks, the mountains’ vast shadow rushed across the land and night fell. Looking back the way we had come in the last moments of the day we saw the setting sun illuminate the mountains with a magnificent, rosy fire.
The night was dark and cold. It took us a while to get a fire burning due to the scarcity of fuel and even then the strong winds constantly threatened to put it out.
The light of the new day was reflected back off the glittering frost that now covered the landscape. The priests amongst us spent a few hours in devotion to our gods, time that Faergil used to relearn a few spells. Baynar also used the time wisely, scouting out ahead a little way to find the easiest path downwards. Despite this it was slow going throughout the day with the mountains never seeming to get any further away. However, by evening, we had just reached the shelter of Cormanthor. We ate well that evening as Amber hunted down a deer.
The next day our journey through the ancient, elven forest began in earnest. Amongst the trees it was cold but not the biting cold we had experienced for the last few days of travel. Even with the perilous mission that lay only a little way ahead being back within the embrace of Cormanthor, even one that was sleeping through the winter months, made my spirit rise and I think those of my companions too. It would have been too easy, if it wasn’t for the problem of the Drow, to slip out of my human form and become one more creature in the forest for days or weeks or a lifetime.
As we travelled Baldric, Josh and myself saw to the last of The Company’s injuries.
By the end of our second day among the trees the forest had become too dense for us to ride. Our immediate destination was Lake Sember. According to Faergil at the lake was an abandoned elven refuge of Semberholme. From his description Semberholme was constructed partially in the trees and partially in underground caves, some water filled, and had been used by the elves during times of danger.
After travelling the elven woods for three days we crested a ridge and before us was a stunning view of Lake Sember, it’s still, silvery waters a perfect mirror in which the forest and sky above was captured. As I watched, for a fleeting second, I thought I could see towers beneath the surface. Regrettably, on that journey, we didn’t find Semberholme but we did find a good place to camp a little way from the lakeside. Amber went off to bath in the lake. While she was gone Colatto took the opportunity to suggest that, since she was the only one of us who could find The Dark Watch, more then any of us she needed to be kept safe. We all knew that Amber would not agree to this, which, I guess is why Colatto had waited for her to be out of the way. Baynar agreed to say close to Amber when things got rough.
I indulged in a little fishing. The lake was well stocked and, with only the most basic of tools, within an hour I had caught half a dozen, freshwater trout which we consumed that night. The night was clear and the moon and stars were captured in the waters of Lake Sember. The baleful light of the red stars that had heralded the beginning of so much danger shone with particular intensity from the mirror-mire. With good food and a good camp that night found us in good spirits and we talked long about the road ahead; about the Drow and their strategies, speculation as to the nature of The Legacy of Srinshee and the dangers of The Dark Watch. It was clear that the knowledge that there were eight, Drow arch-mages and who knew how many bodyguards already in The Dark Watch lay heavily on some of The Company.
For the next two days we followed the lake’s edge. On the second day it snowed. Towards the end of the third day the lake became a river, one that we had to cross. The river, though slow moving, was over one hundred and fifty feet wide and for the most very deep. It would have presented quite an obstacle if there hadn’t been a wide, flat ridge some three feet below the water stretching from one bank to another to create a deep but passable ford. We led the horses across. The far bank was steep but there seemed to be a path, old but distinct, that aided our ascent. Once on the far side we quickly built a hot fire and set to work drying ourselves out. As we did so we became aware of a disquieting feeling in the air, as if unseen, hostile eyes were watching us. The night was drawing in so we decided to camp where we were. Amber announced that she felt us to be close to our goal. We had already decided that we were not going to take the horses into The Dark Watch and Amber suggested that come the morning we take them back over the ford and leave them their. The uneasy feeling of being watched played heavily on my mind, mixing with my concern about The Dark Watch and memories of the Drow ambush that could so easily have ended our mission. Moving a little way from the camp I invoked one of the most powerful miracles I had at my disposal; my spirit slipped from my body and for a few moments was infused with the forest itself for some six miles in all directions. In the short time I had my spirit probed and quested. I could sense no trace of the Drow or their Fiendish allies. I sensed a powerful presence to the north. Bending my mind to it discovered it to be a Green Dragon. Finally I tried to determine if I could feel The Dark Watch and was puzzled by the result; I didn’t find it but at the same time I didn’t not find it, I simply couldn’t tell. This had to be a manifestation of The Dark Watch’s power to trick and mislead. When I returned to the camp I learnt that I wasn’t the only member of The Company who had been prompted to take action by the feeling of unease that filled the darkness; Amber had summoned Dwindar and was scouting the camp’s vicinity for signs of trouble. When Amber returned I shared with The Company all I had learnt. The knowledge that there was a dragon about did nothing to steady my friend’s nerves though my intuition told me that a dragon attack was unlikely. I aired my idea that we might be within six miles of the Dark Watch; Amber disagreed saying it was further then that, possibly a couple of days travel. Before retiring for the night Colatto decided to take Fireheart back over the ford. It took him a little while to return and it is easy to imagine such a loyal mount being unwilling to be left behind.
At dawn the next day Amber gathered together the remaining horses and, using her Gift, explained that we needed them to stay behind. She asked them to wait for us for a “few sleeps” and that we would return for them if we could. Once this was done I led them back over the ford to where Fireheart waited. We pushed on through the forest by foot, totally dependent on Amber for direction. The feeling of unease grew with each passing mile, intensified by the total lack of animal life in the trees around us. Despite the tension in the air the day was without incident. Clearly I had been wrong about The Dark Watch being within six miles of our previous camp but as it turned out not by a great deal. In the early hours of the next morning, as Josh and I watched over a sleeping camp, I noticed movement coming up from the trees to the south. As I watched I saw a low mist floating with what I could only describe as a malicious, purposefully intelligence towards us. It moved like some living creature, tendrils of fog seeming to extend ahead of it, twisting around trees and bushes and seeming to almost pull the body of the mist forwards. When a plant was touched by the fog it seemed to sway and move, as if awakening it. Quickly Josh and I woke the others and they were up just in time for the mist’s inexorable march to bring it into the camp.

I physically braced myself against the touch of the mist. Fingers of blood chilling vapour touched my feet and then my legs and then I was engulfed. The fog was thickest close to the ground; my legs were concealed from the knee down. Even with the elven sight I could see no more then twenty feet, all but the nearest of my companions was an instinct shape in the mist. And then there were the voices, dark mutterings in a fell tongue that seemed to challenge and taunt. All of us had our weapons drawn and the flaming auras of the Blades of Demron suffused the fog with a diffused light that only added to the nightmarish unreality of the campsite.
At Bazil’s suggestion we formed a tight circle, wary of the dangers we instinctively knew were out there just beyond sight, hidden but able to see us. As we stood in our defensive circle old fears welled up inside me. I remembered the dreams from The Vale of Lost Voices and the night in the Royal Courts, dreams of being lost in both mind and body; was it The Dark Watch they had warned of? In those long seconds I felt my resolved hardening, Silvanus had set my feet upon this trail and I would see the task done no matter what the cost.
Seconds stretched into minutes but no danger materialised out of the mists. We discussed what to do next. As it was clear that sleeping was not an option both Bazil and I wanted to push on but Amber and Brother Baldric wanted to wait for sunrise. The idea of sleeping in a tree was suggested and, despite his initial dismissal of the notion Colatto decided to scale the nearest one. Colatto was halfway up the broad, dark trunk when he gave a cry of surprise and pain. A large hollow he had used as a foothold turned out to be a crushing maw ringed with tooth-like thorns that snapped shut on his foot like a bear-trap. Instinctively he tried to wrench his foot free but the grip was too great. Seconds later the pain of the crushing maw was added to by a sharp burning sensation in his foot. Hearing Colatto’s cry we rushed to his aid, both Faergil and Feyondra launched flurries of magical darts into the tree but they seemed to have little or no effect. Invoking the name of The Oak Father I intoned a miracle to paralyse the carnivorous tree but it proved resistant to that too. By then Amber, Josh and Primrose had closed on the tree and were hacking away at it’s trunk with swords and scimitars. Josh’s blade bounced of the truck but The Tears of Tymora and Dragothil cut deep gashes in it. The tree retaliated as thick vines fell down from the branches and snagged around Amber and Primrose’s necks, choking them. A little slower off the mark Bazil and Baynar reached the tree. Bazil hacked away with his shortswords at the vine throttling Primrose but couldn’t cut it. Baynar faired better and with two, powerful strikes severed the vine on Amber. Still up the tree Colatto was fighting with all his strength to stop himself being sucked into it’s maw while at the same time having to endure the burning sensation in his leg. Having failed with is magic missiles Faergil upped-the-ante and launched two burning darts into the tree. The effect was instant; the truck caught aflame and the branches began to trash about in what was clearly pain. Primrose was thrown back to the ground when the vine noose holding her went slack. The force trying to draw Colatto up into the tree stopped but it still had a death grip on his leg and, to make matters worse, flame was racing up the tree towards him. Realising Colatto’s danger Bazil called over to me and I placed a ward on the brave hobbit to guard him from flame. Bazil had intended to scale the tree and prize Colatto loose but Colatto took matters into his own hands and, despite the damage the thorns caused to his leg, tore himself free and jumped down to the ground. Evidently the inside of the tree was full of a powerful acid as Colatto’s right boot had completely dissolved (luckily Amber had a spare pair) and the skin of that foot was badly blistered. As I watched and heard the tree’s demise I could not help but remember one of the tales I had learnt of The Dark Watch, that some of it’s life-hating occupants were originally the elven citizens of Tsornyl, corrupted by the touch of Moander. It wasn’t a pleasant thought but I reminded myself that there was nothing we could do to help them if we were dead. As we backed away from the burning remains of the tree the whispering, which had stopped when Colatto first started to climb the tree, began again with renewed menace and for a few moments it seemed that the trees around us had encroached on our camp.
We stayed awake till dawn. Only Baldric was brave, or foolish, enough to try to sleep in the thick ground fog but in the cold light of day it was clear from his cold, drawn features that he had got no more sleep then those of us who had remained standing.
We broke camp and began our journey into the heart of The Dark Watch. We could not see the sky and could only guess at the time. Indeed time seemed to lose all meaning within The Dark Watch. The air was icy cold and clammy at the same time, a combination that seemed to leach all the heat from your body and make every step an effort. We could see further in the daylight but between the fog and the densely packed trees we could still see no more then thirty to forty feet. The ground under foot was soft and mossy, though we could not see our feet through the thick ground fog we could feel the ground yielding under our weight and filling with icy water that soon soaked our boots through. There was no path and the undergrowth was tough and invariably covered in sharp thorns. Additionally, hidden in the ground fog, there were an uncounted number of roots that our feet invariably found. Even in The Dark Watch Josh and I had the grace of Silvanus but the rest of The Company were constantly fighting their way through bushes and branches and tripping and tumbling on hidden hazards. And all the time there was the overpowering smell of decay and putrefaction and the sensation of being spied upon. The only trace of animal life we saw that day was a fleeting glimpse of some man-serpent hybrid; a Yaun-ti or a Naga perhaps, darting through the branches of a tree.
After fighting our way through the Dark Watch for hours it became clear we needed a rest. No one felt like sitting on the ground, submerging him or herself in the fog, and so we cast around for something to sit on, a fallen log perhaps. We didn’t find a log but Amber spied a cluster of raised tuffets. We headed over to rest, Amber giving one an experimental kick to see how sold it was. In an instant we were fighting for our lives. It happened so fast that all but Amber and Colatto were taken completely off guard. The once solid looking mounds, now revealed to be heaps of damp, rooting vegetable matter, sprouted pairs of thick pseudopodia and started to attack us. One creature, which we later learnt was called a Shambling Mound, attacked Amber. She ducked under one thick limb but was hit by a second. Regaining her balance in a heartbeat Amber retaliated with her swords, delivering three blows in the blink of an eye, the Mound weathered the attacks and kept going. Brother Baldric likewise side-stepped one attack only to receive a hammer blow from a second limb. The third Shambling Mound attacked Primrose. Taken off guard she was caught between the limbs of the Mound, limbs that suddenly deformed and flowed around the hobbit until, in the blink of an eye, she was entombed in a shell of rotting vegetation. Colatto leapt to Primrose’s side and attempted the split the Mound in two with an overhead blow but the strike was poorly judged and slipped harmlessly of the plant creature.
By now the rest of us were recovering from the initial shock of the attack. Faergil unleashed a volley of magical darts into the twisting envelope of plant matter that held Primrose, the darts blasted it but the Mound refused to let Primrose go. I focused on the Mound attacking Amber and, as I had against the tree, tried to paralyses it with the same lack of success. Josh went for a more hands-on approach and summoned a Flameblade. A second later the Mound managed to hit Amber with both of its crude arms and drag her, kicking and swearing, into its body. Almost at the same instant the third Mound managed to trap Brother Baldric. Bazil moved over and joined Colatto hacking at the Mound that still held Primrose while Baynar rushed to attack the one that had just engulfed Amber. All three of my companions found that their sword blades were having little effect on the fibrous bodied of the Shambling Mounds. Seconds after Baynar reached his target it seemed to swell and stretched as Amber exerted her great strength and tore her way free. Almost simultaneously Brother Baldric, guided by the luck of The Lady, found a weakness in the grip of the Mound that held him and slipped free. Both were covered from head to toe in thick, green slime and lay sprawled on the floor for a few moments as they gulped down lung-fulls of air.
I had just finished summoning a Flameblade of my own when I heard Josh, whom had joined Colatto and Bazil in their attempt to free Primrose, calling out that the Mounds didn’t burn! A few moments later, after both heads of Twin-Death had sunk harmlessly into his opponent, Baldric added that bludgeoning weapons were also useless. The Luck-Bringer was barely able to dodge back out of arms’ reach as his Mound lunged for him again. Amber wasn’t so lucky and before she could properly recover from her first smothering the Shambling Mound had got her once again. While she didn’t get a chance to use it she had pulled one of her throwing axes out of her belt. Baynar snatched it up from where Amber had dropped it and hacked at the Mound but, if anything, had less effect with the axe then the with his sword.
Things were looking direr by the moment. The Shambling Mound attacking Baldric had the Luck-Bringer totally on the defensive. Amber was trapped again and, despite a near constant barrage of sword blows and magical darts, the third Mound was still engulfing Primrose. To make things worse it was clear that Primrose’s struggling was getting weaker and more sporadic, she wouldn’t last much longer. I called upon Silvanus again and intoned a powerful prayer, one I had only ever used once before and never in such a way. Life and growth are part of the Cycle of Life but so is death and decay and I directed that power at the Shambling Mound. In a fraction of a second it blackened and liquefied, rotting away to nothing and releasing it’s victim. Now Primrose was safe Josh turned his attention to the Mound attacking Baldric and tried, unsuccessfully, to paralyses it as I had done.
Running low on useful spells Faergil darted up to the Mound attacking Baldric and stabbed at it with his dagger. The blow didn’t harm the Mound but did distract it enough for Baldric to dash over to where Primrose laid and heal some of her injuries. Colatto moved over the join Baynar (who had by now swapped back to using his sword) in attacking the Mound that still had Amber. Their blows must have weaken it as, a moment later, Amber was able to once again rip herself free. Seeing an opening as the Shambling Mound tried to pull itself together I moved in and placed a hand firmly against its clammy, spongy flesh. The power that so often healed my friends can also destroy in equal measure. The Shambling Mound shuddered in pain and for the first time I noticed that it had broad, crude features, not unlike a Treant but lacking the latter’s inner light of wisdom. A moment later is went still and then to collapse in on itself.
Free once again and spitting mad Amber snatched up her swords and charged at the remaining Shambling Mound. She had time to deliver two heavy blows before the Mound sunk back into the ground and seemed to flow away from her and the battle; she had driven it off.
Not wanting to remain where we were we gathered our wits and pushed off into the Dark Watch once more. While washing the slime off of Primrose Bazil made a nasty discovery, the water he was carrying (indeed all our water) had become stagnant and rank. This was nothing compared to Baldric’s discovery as he went through the group to see to our wounds; Feyondra was missing! No one could remember seeing her since the fight with the Shambling Mounds, could she have been engulfed by a forth Mound so quickly we didn’t notice? It seemed unlikely but what was the alternative, that she had wandered away form the group either by accident or purposefully? That seemed just as unlikely. Amber quickly turned to retrace our steps to the site of the attack only to discover she didn’t know where that was. Quickly she and Colatto examined the terrain but had to concede that the spongy layer of decaying matter through which we had trudged since sunrise retained no sign of our passage. Surrounded by the featureless mist and cut of from the sun we could only guess how far and how long we had travelled since the fight. If we were going to find Feyondra it would have to be via the Art or by Divine means. Over the next thirty minutes Colatto, Baldric and myself tried and failed to divine her location, the location of her equipment, of the Shambling Mounds and even Amber’s lost hand-axe (abandoned at the scene of the fight) all to no avail. When these measures failed we had to face the unpleasant question of whether we should commit to an extensive search of the area to find Feyondra or give up on her and continue on to the heart of The Dark Watch. The argument that followed was a bitter one that split The Company. Most, particularly Amber and myself, wanted to press on, to reach The Legacy of Srinshee before The Drow did. Primrose and Colatto were determined that we use every available means to find Feyondra, Colatto in particular refused to take a step until he had reviewed every spell in his and Faergil’s possession. As the argument dragged on and on it became more bitter and personal. Old slights and new frustrations were dragged out and aired. Only Bazil had enough sense to keep out of it all together though I bit my tongue pretty early on. Under any other circumstance I would have applauded Primrose and Colatto’s dogged loyalty but now it just made me angry; couldn’t they see the stakes we were playing for, the lives that would be lost if we didn’t stay focused on our goal? My anger and impatience almost clouding my judgement altogether and I caught myself seriously considering striking out on my own, particularly when I discovered that The Lens could see through the mist. Looking back now I should have anticipated Primrose’s stance based on how she reacted to Colatto’s death in The Lost Vale. That time The Tears of Tymora literally made her wish come true but on this occasion she was as helpless and frustrated as the rest of us.
After I don’t know how long we started on our way again. The lingering resentment of the argument did nothing to ease an already difficult journey. Hungry and thirsty we ate as we walked after I called upon the power of Silvanus to purify our supplies that had been corrupted by exposure to the dark atmosphere of The Dark Watch.
As we had been pushing our way through the Dark Watch Brother Baldric had taken up position at the rear. Due to the thick mist the people at the front of our little expedition couldn’t see the people at the back and visa-versa. For most of the journey Baldric had been running through his repertoire of songs; drinking songs, war songs, The Cormyrian national anthem, etc, so we would know he was still there. Suddenly the Luck-Bringer was cut off in mid verse. Turning about we saw Baldric by hauled towards the foot of a tree by a vine noose about his neck. Reacting quickly Faergil used the Art to fire an arrow of acid at the vine but it seemed to have no effect. Baynar dashed to Baldric’s side but was only able to make one slash at the vine before the priest was yanked by the neck up into the air. Baldric was now suspended with his feet some ten feet above the ground by a noose presumably cast by the same type of murderous tree that had tried to consume Colatto the night before. Even as Baynar looked up another vine sped down towards him and the knight only avoided the same fate as Baldric through quick use of his shield. Amber heaved her second hand-axe at the vine in an attempt to finish what Baynar had started but missed. Colatto was more effective however when by the Art he hurled a ball of fire up into the branches. The effect was immediate; an agonised roar filled the air as the branches caught alight. The vine holding Baldric went limp and he plunged to the, thankfully soft, ground.
We didn’t travel much further after that. The day’s travel had been exhausting, cold and draining of both body and spirit. Although Amber knew our ultimate destination she didn’t know the route and again and again during the day we had been forced to backtrack or taken the long way around. By the time the sunlight began to fade we had walked a great distance to get as far as we had. Once again we were faced with the unenviable choice of either trying to sleep in the claustrophobic ground mists or spend the night standing. It was Baynar who suggested that, once again, we try the sleep in a tree. After Baldric “tested” a likely looking tree with Twin-Death to make sure it wasn’t dangerous Bazil, Primrose, Colatto, Josh and Faergil climbed up into its branches. Despite my talons I have no real talent for climbing trees so instead took the form of an owl and flew up to roost on a limb. While the tree didn’t appear dangerous it was clearly not health; in places its blackened bark was turning to slime and the white, living wood inside was exposed like bones from a festering wound. The tree was literally rotting alive. Baynar, Baldric and Amber decided that tree climbing was not for them, though I’m sure that even in her elven chain Amber would have been strong and agile enough join us, and spent the night sleeping propped up against the trees trunk.
It was sometime during the night when most of us were awakened by a sound of something large moving through the forest. With my owl’s eyes I’m sure that I was the only one of The Company who could make out the hulking form of what looked like a Treant moving amongst the trees. I considered and rejected the idea of trying to make contact with the mighty Tree-Herder; I did not what to imagine what effect life in The Dark Watch could have on such a powerful being. Instead I watched it until it was out of sight, ready to warn the others if it looked to be coming our way. We had barely begun to settle down again when a black, foul smelling mass fell on to Colatto. It transpired that, while we had been making our unusual camp, Colatto had torn a few pages from one of Lord Worren’s spell books and, using it like a scroll, summoned an Invisible Stalker. He had sent the elemental being to find Feyondra and guide her back if she was alive or bring him her body if she were dead. It had brought back her corpse. In the light of Colatto’s light stone, diffused through the mist, Feyondra’s remains were a nightmarish sight. It looked like they had been decomposing for months rather then hours but despite the putrefaction it was possible to recognise the features of the woman who had travelled and fought with us for the last few Rides. Colatto and Baynar set to the grizzly task for burying the War Wizard’s remains.
Somehow we managed to get enough sleep during the night for Faergil and the priests to go some way to renew their Divine Favour and relearn spells, though none of us had the time to do so fully. Food was running very low but Amber retrieved a good, fortifying wine from Faergil’s Portable Hole. Our food was not the only thing to be suffering in the unhealthy atmosphere of The Dark Watch. My companions’ wounds, though only minor, were starting to fester and Baldric spent a few minutes using his training in the Healers’ arts as well as the power of Tymora to clean them.
Without much enthusiasm we continued our journey. Early on Amber told us that she now thought that the heart of The Dark Watch was closer then she had first thought Though I could not have believed it possible the day before the landscape of the Dark Watch actually became grimmer as we travelled through that second morning. Everywhere we looked was death; the trees that stood upright were dying almost before our very eyes and the ground was littered with dead tree trunks like bodies on a fresh battlefield.
At some point on the second day in The Dark Watch, time seemed to have lost all meaning but I think it was before noon, we became aware of figures ahead of us in the mist. At first we could only make out basic details through the ever-present fog. They were eight in number and, judging by their heights, mostly humans but with at least one elf and a hobbit. They had their weapons drawn but then so did we. It was two of the weapons that first gave their identity away I think, one was blazing with a blue flame the other with a rosy-pink flame. They could only be The Mage’s Blade and The Lover’s Blade. The figures moving purposefully towards us…were us. Yet that realisation was nothing compared to what greeted us as they came walking, ready for battle out of the mists. I saw Amber, Primrose, Colatto, Josh, Brother Baldric, Faergil Baynar and myself, as we would look if we had crawled out of our own graves. The eight ruined, decaying apparitions before us were undead!

The words of Colatto -
Normally I let Thorn speak his version of the truth on events that have since passed, but sometimes, the truth as others see it needs to be aired as well. I hope that you can understand that this is only my viewpoint, which is just as valid as Thorns, and just as valid as yours.

My first disagreement with Thorn, is regarding the tree climbing. Yes I objected to sleeping in a tree, pointing out to all and sundry that it is nigh on impossible to rest on a branch that is less than a quarter the width of some-ones back. However, it wasn’t until much later in the journey that the disagreement took place, not at the time of the fogs encroachment.
My attempt at climbing the tree (and the subsequent attack) was a desire to see above the fog, which was providing good ground cover for anything sneaking in on our position. Thorn fails to mention that.
I am grateful to Amber for giving me a boot though; something Thorn and myself now have in common (both being given the boot by Amber, one literally, one figuratively).

The attack by the ‘Shambling Mounds’ was as horrific as it was unexpected. To see your friends consumed by a bush, would in other circumstances be vaguely amusing and a source of merriment for some time, but when your fighting for your life it’s a different matter.
To see Primrose snatched from our midst was heart wrenching. She is perhaps one of the truest people in the company, and one whose opinion is valued highest in my regard (bet you didn’t know that did you? Basil is a fool when it comes to that Lady.)
Even without Primrose’s opinion, when it was discovered that Feyondra was missing, I was bitterly disappointed with the reactions of the group. To so casually dismiss someone after a token effort leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. To discover that people couldn’t spare a half hour for a travelling companion, someone who was prepared to go into the unknown with you is a real wake up call. Callous and cruel in fact, the assumption being that they’d abandon anyone who they thought ‘wasn’t worth the effort’. I came out of my self-imposed retirement as a wizard (did Thorn not tell you I’d retired? thought not….) to cast what magics I could to help locate her, to no avail.
To listen to people you consider friends argue against trying to save someone is quite galling, though the longer I think about it, the less I am surprised by it. These are the same people that are supposedly against slavery, yet when I came to rule in Nimpeth, they counselled against doing anything about the slavery situation there.
In my mind, that’s either double standards, or cowardice of conviction. And I know which one I believe it to be.
Even the ones praised by Thorn ‘for having the sense to stay silent’; don’t they have the courage to speak up? To speak their mind? Cowards.
But I shan’t dwell on it, I now know what action to take should a similar situation occur and that is enough for me.

Till next time.

Colatto McLean Carrifer

Chapter 10...

DM's Notes

I used the following references:
Volos Guide to the Dalelands - Info on the Darkwatch
Cormanthyr - Background information on Semberholme
Eliminster Ecologies - Flora and Fauna of Cormanthor.

The journey into the woods was easy, and I had no intention of slowing things down with an exploration of Semberholme.

Thorn cast Commune with Nature, which gave an idea of what was within 6 miles of him.

The Darkwatch itself has an entry in the Guide to the Dalelands, but I expanded on it. It is a thoroughly nasty place (though if you look close enough you might find Yoda there) - though it isn't really swampy, just decayed.

The trees were 'Hangman Trees' - big ones, and thoroughly nasty too. The encounter with the Shambling Mounds was also bad for the company - those things are dangerous! Loadso HPs, decent AC, 2-16 per hit, and a danger of suffication. And of course reduced damage from weapons. Ouch!

The argument with about Feyondra was a bit grim - and, playing Primrose as an NPC, I'm no doubt to blame for it. But, that's Primrose for you. She's loyal, emotional, and a bit nervous (with a strong heart) of course. The Darkwatch freaked her big time. Though not mentioned by Nick, she was definitely much closer to Bazil, sharing his infinite bravery no doubt.
As you can see from Colatto's (Roy's) additional write-up, the argument was a contentious one...

Nick made the right descision NOT speaking to the Treant...

Lastly the game had a particulary funny moment right at the end. As the visages of the 'other' company came out of the mist, Baldrick (Darrell) realising that they were also the Company of the Silver Coin, said 'Don't attack them' or words to that effect. Followed by his reasoning, summed up in one word - "Timetravel!" numerous Bill and Ted, Delorian and Flux Capacitor japes ensued....

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