Chapter 4- The Slaver King and the City of Song
With the crimson scaled juggernaut less then one hundred feet away Bazil,
rather unnecessarily to my mind, called for us to scatter. Bazil and Primrose
ran in one direction, Baldric a second and myself a third. I caught a
glimpse of Faergil hesitate for a moment (he was still under the effects
of the polymorph spell and weighing the edge changing shape would give
to his escape against the time the change would take) before running for
As I ran I considered my options; since our journey back in time I was
unable to call upon the Earthmaw or invoke a Thorn Spray or a Needle Storm.
The vengeful flames of Silvanus would avail me nothing against a red dragon.
I didn’t have ten minutes to call down a lightning-bolt. There wasn’t
even a handy rainbow for the obscure “Rainbow” prayer. Any
of Silvanus’s children that I called to help would be throwing their
lives away. On the whole not a promising start. Best to play it defensively,
use the bounty of Silvanus to strengthen the true warriors in our group.
By now I was behind a tree. I risked a glance round and my heart, once
gain, skipped a beat. Amber, Baynar and Colatto were running into the
obscuring smoke straight towards the dragon. I was about to start moving
closer to get a better view when I heard the booming voice of the dragon
demand to know what was going on. The voice shock the ground with its
anger but didn’t have the same malice I had heard in the voices
of evil dragons in the past. Puzzled by this, and the lack of the sound
of combat, I began to prey to Silvanus and asked him to reveal to me anyone
of evil heart. Intriguingly the red dragon, a symbol of terror and destruction
the length and the breadth of the Realms, did not appear to be evil. Arriane,
Josiah and Mulag, who had stood their ground ready to take the dragon’s
charge, were now starting to walk (not run I noted) towards him. I decided
to join them and spotting as I did my other companions starting to peer
out from behind cover looking a little confused. As I closed in I heard
the dragon demand to know who had destroyed the village and could just
about heard Colatto’s reply that it was an army of goblinoids. From
the shaking of the ground alone it was clear that the dragon was on the
move again but this time at a walking pace. I heard the dragon telling
someone “Don’t do that again”; apparently Baynar, still
confused by the dragon’s demeanour, had taken an ineffective swing
at a leg. The dragon came to a stop in front of the Maerdrym sisters.
There was clearly recognition and respect on both sides and I heard Arriane
calling the dragon “Garnet”. Garnet spoke, with growing anger,
about what he called the northern massacres, a large tribe of satyrs had
been already killed and the army responsible was marching on Myth Drannor.
Garnet, who was clearly seething with anger, blamed himself. He claimed
responsibility for releasing the Khov Anilessa from what he described
as their “cage” and now was going to make amends the only
was he knew, by challenging the three nycaloths and their army. By now
we were all standing within the shadow cast by Garnet. He towered over
us and, if anything, my initial estimate of his length had been on the
conservative side. Compared to Garnet the green dragon we had fought in
Chondal Forest had been a pussycat. Amber was doing her best to dissuade
Garnet from what certainly seemed to me to be a suicide mission and instead
combine his obvious might with that of the Akh’Velahr and Akh’Faer
to defend Myth Drannor. He replied that he was a dragon, a creature of
instance and those same instincts demanded that he act and act now. Bazil
asked how and when he had released the nycaloths. He replied that every
time he had unwittingly flown over their magical cage he had weakened
its enchantments until they had escaped some three winters ago. With a
sardonic laugh he commented that the creators of the cage had never realised
that one of his kind (a red dragon) could be “made of good heart”
as Master Ammath had to him. After a few seconds the name of his apparent
master rung a bell, it was Faergil’s family name.
It was then that Colatto opened his mouth and, metaphorically, knocked
the rest of The Company’s legs out from under us. He began to agree
with Amber stating that he knew for certain that Myth Drannor was going
to fall. His pronouncement was cut short when he was rendered speechless
by a miracle of Baldric’s. Unfortunately Colatto had managed to
partially resist the miracle, rather then the zone of silence being “attached”
to him it was centred behind the mage so all he had to do was take a few
steps to one side and begin his speech again. Baldric was just as determined
however and invoked the same miracle a second time, this time with full
effect. Mulag and the Maedryms were clearly confused by what was going
on but were concentrating on trying to dissuade Garnet from flying to
his death. Colatto stalked over to Baldric, clearly offended by the priests
actions and began to lay into him with his fists. Possibly trying to retain
the moral high ground Baldric didn’t strike back but instead concentrated,
rather poorly, on trying to defend himself. Seeing Baldric’s plight
and appreciating how he had got into it, Baynar and myself intervened,
grabbing an arm each and dragging Colatto back. It had been quite a while
since I had been with a zone of silence, the product of a fairly common
clerical prayer, and I had forgotten how disconcerting it was, how isolating.
Rendered deaf by the spell the first I was aware of Garnet leaving was
the earth and ash being churned up by the beat of his powerful wings.
I released Colatto but was ready to grab him again if he resumed his attack
on Baldric. Inwardly I was torn. I knew Colatto’s temperament; nothing
was going to turn him from his chosen course of action, confessing all.
I had this one chance to stop him but it would take drastic action, I
would have to silence him forever. Even if I was physically capable of
such a feat (Colatto was a formidable foe, I doubt I could beat him in
a fair fight) did I have the will to do it? I had been able to kill my
own mentor, the man who had been like a father to me, but could I really
kill Colatto? I had known him for two lifetimes, fought beside him in
the Wolf-Lord War and against The Cult of the Dragon. He had taken blows
meant for me in The Dark Watch. No, Silvanus help me, I couldn’t
do it. Looking back now I have to wonder, even if I had been strong enough
and ruthless enough to kill Colatto, would it have simply made the situation
much worse, alienating our new friends and shattering the already strained
unity of The Company. I think it would have but perhaps I want to believe
that to excuse my short-fallings as a Druid. I could have tried to use
the powers of Silvanus to twist his mind and bring him around to my way
of thinking. But no, if anything that would have been worse then killing
him. The die was cast and I, and The Realms, would have to live with the
It was getting dark and the decision had been made to leave Dysrisa and
find a place to camp. Baldric, probably in an attempt to extend the olive
branch to Colatto, dispelled the miracle of silence. I held my breath.
Colatto picked up right where he had left off and told our knew friends,
Arriane in particular, that we were from the future, that, in our history,
Myth Drannor had been destroyed but if they put their minds to it the
city could be saved. The effects were devastating. Arriane, Josiah and
Mulag looked like they had been struck dumb as Colatto went into further
detail. My companions, especially Baldric, implored him to shut up but
he pressed on regardless. Colatto spoke without any hint of self-doubt,
justifying his actions by expounding “personal choice”; that
history hadn’t been written yet and that we were free to act as
we saw fit. I hope you will indulge me when I take a moment from my narrative
to say that I have never liked judging my companions, particularly to
people who were not there at the time and could not truly understand the
conditions their choices were made under. However I cannot do justice
to the events of that evening without elaborating on the thoughts that
passed through my mind and the light they cast Colatto in, for good or
ill. “Personal choice”? It is very hard to argue with someone
who claimed to be championing free will without appearing a tyrant but
to my mind freedom of choice goes hand-in-hand with the responsibility
of using it wisely and I saw little wisdom in Colatto’s actions.
Looking deeper into his words I began to wonder, only a ride ago he had
angrily railed against what he saw was the unfair hand of Fate meddling
in our lives. Could his actions in some way be his method of lashing out
against that same force, a desperate attempt to fight off that feeling
of powerlessness and regain control of his life for and damn the consequences?
Colatto put forward his interpretation of Labelas Enoreth’s message
to Faergil: when he said not for us to get lost in memory we shouldn’t
be bound by what we “knew” to be the future course of events.
His words were, to my ear, ironic; Colatto’s actions were clearly
being guided by his knowledge of the fate of Myth Drannor, he had become
ensnared in the very trap he was purporting to escape.
All to soon his tail was told. You could have cut the atmosphere with
a knife. Arriane took Colatto by the hand and, gently, asked him to come
with her. The pair walked to a discreet distance and began to talk. Josiah
and Mulag stood around moodily, not making eye contact with anyone. My
companions were equally silent, from the looks on their faces I could
see that Colatto’s decision, his apparent disregard for their feelings
in this matter, had wounded them. My eye fell on Faergil. As a Chosen
of Labelas Enaroth he might have the weight to discredit Colatto’s
claims but, though I was fairly certain that I could have talked him into
it, it seemed very unfair to make Faergil betray the elves’ trust.
After ten to fifteen minutes of talking Arriane embraced Colatto and led
him back to us. She told us that Colatto had promised that he would let
her decide how and when our knowledge of the future would be broken to
the people to Myth Drannor and then went to speak with her sister. She
had barely gone when Primrose rounded on Colatto. With anger in her voice
and the trace of tears in her eyes she begged Colatto to make her understand
why he had done what he had. She had thought that only the gods had the
power to dictate the flow of history, did that mean that Colatto had put
himself up among the gods too? Colatto fell back on his mantra of “personal
As much to escape the atmosphere of anger that hung over us as the smoke
of fallen Dysrisa we trudged on for about an hour before making camp.
As we travelled there was a streak of silver above us. Craning our necks
we caught a glimpse of a silver, draconian form flying towards Dysrisa.
Arriane identified it as “Silverlithan”. No sooner had we
stopped that I left my friends to be on my own with my troubled thoughts.
I found the biggest, oldest oak tree I could and prayed to Silvanus to
forgive my weakness. I had foreseen this happening (though I would have
put money on it being Faergil to give us away) but when the crisis came
I had been frozen. I had let sentiment undermine my resolve. It would
have been too easy to blame my half-dragon heritage for my weakness, my
forebears on my father’s side were goodness and compassion personified
and their blood ran in my veins. But no, I would not take that route.
The failure was mine and mine alone to carry. Angrily I remembered how
eager I had been to carry the title and responsibilities of Druid, so
much so I had killed Gillian to achieve it but now, when faced by the
ultimate test, I had fallen short. If Silvanus had answers for me I was
too caught up in self-reproach to hear them.
I spent the night sleeping at the base of the tree and therefore did not
learn straight way of the tales Arriane told. She told us of the Khov
Anilessa, the tale pieced together from her own knowledge and what Garnet
had told her. It was said that they were unleashed by the arch-mages of
Netheril to test the power of the elven mages. Nycaloths were not famous
for their ability to get along but the trio was different, working together
as Strategist, Warrior and Berserker to achieve their goal. In their onslaught
they killed hundreds of elves, satyrs and at least two of the green dragons
that made their lair in Cormanthyr and fought their way to within one
hundred yards of Cormanthor (the original name for Myth Drannor before
in a time before the casting of the Mythal). In the final battle the elven
casualties were staggering but at last the Khov Anilessa were thrown down
by use of the N'Quor'Kaor high magic, and imprisoned them in an invisible
cage above Myth Drannor. But part of the enchantment was that the spell
would be broken when a red dragon of pure heart flew over the Coronal’s
house, something that high magics of th time must have considered impossible.
Arriane then went on to tell us about Garnet, how Master Saevsl Ammath
had obtained the egg of a red dragon. Before it hatched he had used The
Art to draw the evil and malice from the unborn dragon. Since then Garnet
had grown to be one of Myth Drannor’s greatest defenders and the
pair inseparable companions, until now. Baldric made clear his disapproval
of Ammath’s actions. Convincing a dragon to give up its evil ways
might have been one thing but to use magic to twist it’s nature
seemed wrong. It was a sentiment I echoed when I latter heard the tale.
The story also struck an unpleasant cord with me, the magic Ammath used
seemed too much like the power of the accursed Book of Thorns for my comfort.
Throughout the evening, while Arriane drew closer to Colatto, Josiah and
Mulag drew further from the group. Mulag spent most of his time eating
and drinking in silence. Josiah spent a long time gazing into the fire
and poked it with a stick, sending up bursts of sparks. Virtually the
only time she spoke was when she accused The Company of enjoying the power
our knowledge gave us over her and her people. Primrose later told me
that Brother Baldric made a surprisingly eloquent rebuttal to her claims,
highlighting the sense of responsibility he had felt after he realised
we had travelled in time and the conflict between conscious and duty.
Addressing Colatto Josiah told him “it can be an advantage if the
future can be changed. If it can’t it (Colatto’s warning)
will have enslaved us all”. Her words brought to my mind, and I
guess one or two of my friends too, the line from Arriane’s Ballard
about the “Slaver King”.
The new day found my mood somewhat improved. I had convinced myself that
(despite recent evidence to the contrary) what was done was done and couldn’t
be undone. If history was immutable Colatto had done no harm. Indeed his
actions seemed to support this idea as his honestly had simultaneously
endeared him to Arriane (who seemed destined to love him) and alienated
Josiah (who seemed equally destined to dislike him). But if history could
be changed and the fall of Myth Drannor averted what then? My duty was
clear if unpleasant, best only to think of it if the worst happened. Instead
I thought again about The Eight and the Drow’s plans. They were,
after all, why we were here and it wouldn’t pay to get distracted.
But where were they? Perhaps Myth Drannor, if it didn’t descend
into chaos at Colatto’s news, had the resources to track them down.
Since the cat was out of the bag maybe we could get Elminster and the
Harpers to help us locate them. But what were the dark elves up too? It
seemed very odd to me that they would raise an army of Fiends, make alliances
with The Red Wizards and practically declare open war with The Dalelands
(I smiled at Amber’s comment of a few nights previously; that re-capturing
the Twisted Tower seemed to be a national past-time among the Drow) only
to abandon it all to travel back in time. I was more convinced then ever
that they had returned to the past to find something specific and then
would travel back to the future. What could it be? The Nether Scrolls
perhaps? Or maybe the secret of how the Khov Anilessa’s army would
penetrate the mythal? Perhaps they were one in the same? That it was some
form of magic seemed likely, why else send back a group made solely of
arch-mages when from, what little I knew of Drow society, it was the priestess
(and indeed women in general) who wielded the power? Would they try to
make contact with the dark elves of this time or operate independently?
I found most of my companions asleep and began to cook breakfast. Soon
enough our journey continued. It was bitterly cold, I had to wrap my blankets
around me foe extra warmth, but not cold enough to freeze the numbing
mud we walked through. It snowed but only a light sprinkling that hardly
reached the forest floor. About midmorning a sense of unease began to
creep over me, like an electrical charge in the air. I glanced at my companions.
They looked concerned to. Suddenly there was a flash in the sky and a
roll of thunder. Seconds latter the clouds above our heads raced as a
short but intense northerly wind, or perhaps a shock wave, roared by rustling
the limbs of the ancient trees. I suspected that far to the north Garnet
had found the Khov Anilessa.
As we pushed westwards the forest was getting slowly thicker. I began
to notice plants and animals that I would not expect to find in early
winter but then I remembered the unexpected full moons and asked Arriane
what the month was. I was not too surprised to learn that it was not Uctar,
as it had been when we entered The Dark Watch, but Hammer. Doing a little
subtraction I concluded that we had appeared in Elven Court on the first
day of the new year, a significant date but for whom?
As we travelled I learnt more about Myth Drannor from Arriane. Since hearing
that poisons were ineffective there I had been a little concerned how
this effected the various animals that relied on poison for attack or,
like bees, defend themselves. Arriane corrected my misunderstanding; it
was only elves that couldn’t be poisoned within the boundaries of
the mythal. Colatto’s attempts to make a snowman from the small
amount of snow that had settled (a “snow gnome” he called
it) got Arriane talking about another wonder of Myth Drannor, something
she called “Snow Shields”. Snow Shields were invisible, shaped
magical fields that caught snow. As the snow covered the shield it became
visible revealing a statue. I found the idea rather enchanting and asked
her what her favourite snow shield was.Her eyes distant and sparkling
at the memory, Arriane recalled one shaped like a dragon hidden upon a
bridge. The more I leant of Arriane and the city she lived in the more
I was impressed with both. Fate had dealt them a bad hand but I could
not let sentiment undermine me again, history didn’t play favourites
and I couldn’t afford to either. Faergil spent his evenings reading
the spell books Bazil had salvaged for him from the ruins of Dysrisa.
Once or twice on our journey a sharp comment by Brother Baldric reminded
us all that he was still very angry about Colatto’s behaviour.
Two days from Dysriasa we came across a trail that crossed us from north
to south. It was the North Trail that led north to Hillsafar and south
down to The Abbey of the Golden Sheath. The familiarity of both names,
particularly the later, lifted my spirits. The track had been in recent
use, it’s wet, clinging mud had clearly been churned up by wagon
wheels and booted feet. The trained eyes of Amber saw more then I however
and pointed out that many of the foot prints were those of gobliniods
rather then men or elves; scouts for the Khov Anilessa perhaps.
A day latter we came across a second track. Again there were lots of tracks
but these had been made by cloven-hoofed humanoids, satyrs; probably (Josiah
suggested) members of the Dancing Hoof clan seeking sanctuary from the
raiders. Colatto’s indifference to their flight annoyed me a little;
he still had an axe to grind from our encounter with satyrs in Chondal
Wood (even though it was us who had been the invaders in their domain).
It was a couple of days after passing this second track, as we were settling
down for the night, when the comparative peace of the last five days was
shattered. I was trying to get a fire lit when suddenly Amber spray to
her feet, drawing her weapons and calling a warning. Baynar was a second
behind her. Glancing about in surprise I spotted the danger that had crept
up on us, a mixed group of humanoid creatures hiding amongst the trees.
Amber had only taken a few steps towards the interlopers when a blazing
column of flame fell from the darkening sky towards her. She leapt to
one side but was unable to evade it completely, a cry escaped her lips
as her left leg and arm was caught in the flame. As I scrambled to get
to my feet a rain of arrows fell down upon us. Their suits of elven chain
mail protected most of my companions but one found a home in my calf and
Baynar was also wounded. Gritting my teeth I tried to take account off
the enemy. I could just about make out ten to twelve hobgoblins armed
with bows, perhaps the same number of gnolls and five, hulking ogres armed
with great clubs. I kept looking; my suspicion aroused by the flaming
column. Yes there “he” was, the Insect Demon Nishrach. He
was much as had been described. A large insect-man about my height covered
in an armour of chitin the colour of dirty ivory and holding a great,
serrated edged two-handed sword in its long arms (I was a little surprised
to note that, unlike a thri-kreen, he only had two arms and two legs).
His eyes were an unusually shape, I could only call them “crescent
shaped” and seemed to merge with the horns atop of his head.
While the rest of us floundered Amber and Baynar closed on the ogres and,
in a flurry of blows, the pair had sent two toppling to the ground like
rotten logs. The three remanding ogres, clearly enraged the death of two
of their number closed around the warrior and ranger and rained blows
down on then. Despite the ogres’ great strength Amber’s armour
proved too tough and her feet too nimble and she avoided the blows. Baynar
was able to defend himself against one ogre but, possibly missing his
shield (and arm), was caught off guard by a second and took a punishing
I’ve never been a fan of any kind of fight but this kind of close
combat least of all. Taking a risk I began a prayer to Silvanus hoping
to transform the hobgoblin’s bows into snakes. It was a gamble,
if I got hit before finishing the invocation it would be ruined. Primrose
had by now snatched up her sword and was dashing to join the fray while
Brother Baldric unleashed the power of Tymora. A bolt of pure white light
flew between the priest and Baynar, a miraculous blessing called a Luckbolt
that would give superhuman skill to a warrior. At the same time Baldric
shouted at Baynar to head for the Insect Demon. Unfortunately the Insect
Demon was no fool and quickly cast a spell of anti-magic, dispelling the
blessing (as well as temporarily suppressing the enchantment of Baynar’s
sword). The archers unleashed as second volley of arrows into our midst.
An arrow sailed past me and most of my companions were able to dodge or
where wearing enough armour to be safe. However Faergil, Colatto and Arriane
all took minor wounds. Hot on the heels of the arrows came the gnolls.
One ran straight towards me swinging a poleaxe. I saw the blow coming
and fell back before it, taking only a shallow cut to my chest but it
was enough to ruin my invocation. Bazil, Baldric and Colatto were all
wounded in the gnolls’ charge but not seriously. Primrose was less
lucky as an axe blow opened a deep wound in her arm. Arriane took a hit,
ruining the spell she was casting. Josiah was being attacked by two gnolls;
with tremendous dexterity she evaded one but took a flesh wound from the
Amber fought back against the two ogres impaling one with a double thrust
of her longswords and then decapitating the second with a sweep of The
Lover’s Blade, it’s rosy flame forming an arc behind it. Baynar
and the remaining ogre fought on, each drawing flesh blood but unable
to finish the other off.
Josiah was by then leading our fight back against the gnolls cutting down
her two opponents with two acrobatic thrusts of her longsword, one attack
flowing seamlessly into another. Bazil cut down a gnoll with The Scout’s
Blade but his attempt to attack the one threatening Primrose was repulsed.
Primrose was also finding it hard to make an opening in the gnoll’s
guard. Colatto, ignoring his own opponent, closed on the gnoll attacking
Arriane and dispatched it with his bastard sword. He paid the price a
few seconds later as the gnoll he had turned his back on drew blood with
his axe. On his second attempt Mulag was able to force his way through
his opponent’s defences and dispatch it with a crushing blow of
his war hammer. Brother Baldric smashed another gnoll with his mace, injuring
but not killing it. Faergil unleashed a spell at the Insect Demon to destroy
its mind but it seemed to have no effect (something that became a reoccurring
feature of the fight).
Both Colatto and Faergil started to cast spells. The Insect Demon was
slightly quicker and created five illusionary decoys. A second latter
five magical darts leapt from Faergil’s hands, destroying the decoys,
followed an instant later by a lightning bolt hurled by Colatto. The bolt
of electricity crashed into the Insect Demon but seemed to be absorbed
into his sword. Baynar parried a blow from his opponent and, dodging around
the ogre, made straight for the Insect Demon. The ogre lumbered along
in pursuit. A new gnoll charged in to the fight. This one seemed taller
then the rest and his presence seemed to fortify his brethren. Within
moments Baldric, Colatto and Primrose had fresh wounds and Faergil was
sent reeling under an axe blow. Another gnoll had replaced the one attacking
Arriane but she managed to fend it off. This leader made for Josiah, who
was a blur of silver amongst the melee. It turned out to be a fatal choice
as she crippled him with one blow and finished it of with a second. Baldric
once more called upon The Lady, this time to rob The Fiend of its resilience
to magic (a tactic he had used before to great success) but as far as
I could tell it had no effect. With a flash of green flame Bazil finished
off the gnoll attacking Primrose but was driven back when he attacked
the one on Faergil. Mulag had come to Arriane’s aid, driving the
gnoll threatening away her with a blow of his hammer. This gave her space
to cast spells and she unleashed five magical darts of her own. The darts
split into two groups. Three slammed into the Gnoll attacking Colatto,
killing him, while the other two injured Faergil’s assailant.
I had come to the conclusion that there was no way I could try to invoke
the power of Silvanus while in such a chaotic melee. I briefly considered
changing into a wild beast, a lion or grizzly bear perhaps. No, that would
take precious seconds and prevent me from using my Divine Favour until
I changed back (not to mention loosing my resistance to fire, a handy
asset if the Insect Demon called down another column of flame). Instead
I pulled out my oaken club and attacked. I felt the sting of the gnoll’s
axe as I ducked within his guard and delivered a double-handed blow with
all my strength. The gnoll reeled and for a second I thought he would
go down but then he steadied himself and took a firm grip of his poleaxe.
Over my enemy’s shoulder I saw Baldric have more luck, finishing
off his gnoll with a second blow.
Baynar charged straight at the line of archers that separated him from
the Insect Demon. About half the archers, panicking fired at the knight
at almost point blank range. While one arrow hit most went wild and two
even wounded the ogre that was chasing Baynar. The rest of the archers
held their nerve and fired at Amber who was closing rapidly on the last
ogre. Most of their arrows broke against her elven chain. An instant later
Amber was up behind the ogre and finished it off with a blow of her sword
before effortlessly dispatching one of the hobgoblin archers. Baynar dashed
through the archers and reached the Insect Demon. His sword thrust was
true but the blade, robbed of its enchantment, passed through Nishrach
as if it were wisp of smoke. Seeing this Amber forgot about the archers
and lunged at the Insect Demon, Dragathil held in front of her like a
flaming lance. The blade crashed through the Fiend’s armoured shell
and unleashed a spray of black, foul smelling blood.
There were now only three of the dozen or so gnolls left. Arriane called
upon The Art again, unleashing another volley of darts that spread out
about the battlefield and finished all three gnolls off. Now without an
opponent I tried to take stock of the fight. It looked like the skirmish
had swung decisively in our favour. I saw Amber swing again with Dragathil
but this time her enemy parried the strike. The sword in her left, one
of the enchanted blades she had salvaged from the drow battle, found it’s
mark but was as ineffective as Baynars had been. Most of my companions
were moving in to support Amber and Baynar. Colatto, however, was running
at the archers trying to make himself as menacing as possible. Having
seen their (much larger) comrades cut down with ease the Hobgoblins moral
had been broken and they turned to flee. For a moment I considered Colatto;
the battle was not yet over and the fresh bloodstains on his cloths reminded
me that (unlike most of my companions) his sword was the only protection
he had against the blows of our enemies. I could help him but did I want
too? If Baldric and I withheld the renewing powers of our patrons (and
I suspected Baldric would) then, given the violent nature of our travels,
we would be effectively condemning Colatto to a slow death, his great
stamina whittled away a little at a time with each skirmish. But, as I
have said, I never waste time in hating and Colatto’s death (quick
or long) wouldn’t undo the harm he had done. My mind made up I ran
over to Colatto and, calling upon Silvanus, placed a protective barkskin
blessing on him.
Faergil unleashed a pair of flaming darts at the Insect Demon but again
it was unaffected. Baynar, proving that he had guile as well as brawn,
struck at the Fiend’s sword in a valiant attempt to disarm him.
Sparks flew as the two blades scrapped along each other but the Insect
Demon held firm, indeed his counter thrust almost tore Baynar’s
sword from his grasp. Amber swung again with Dragathil, this time opening
a new wound, while dropping the useless sword in her left hand. This might
have been a mistake as the Insect Demon swung at her now unprotected left.
Amber’s elven chain took the brunt of the blow but the sheer force
was enough to crack a few ribs and bring blood to her lips. My companions
who were close to the Insect Demon told me that at this point they heard
the Fiend’s voice, dry and mocking, in their minds. It promised
them that they would not destroy him but rather his masters would destroy
us all. His actions however rather undermined this threat as he was clearly
backing away from Amber and, unknowingly, towards Bazil who launched an
attack from the rear with The Scout’s Blade. As the Insect reeled
from the attack Baynar tried again, unsuccessfully, to knock his sword
from his grasp and Faergil unleashed another, equally ineffective, volley
of magical darts.
After finishing off his gnoll Baldric had been praying to Tymora and
now he strode towards the Insect Demon, his hand virtually seething with
holy power that would drive the Fiend from our world. Before he could
reach him however Amber had drawn her curved elven dagger, the bane of
so many spiders in Elven Court, and drove it deep into the Insect Demon’s
chest, killing it.
In the silence that followed I regarded the remains of the Insect Demon,
perhaps it had been Nishrach who had led the massacre at Dysria or perhaps
there was more then one of his kind about. Either way he had clearly been
impervious to the enchanted weapons of my companions (except of course
The Blades of Demron and Amber’s dagger) which meant that it would
also have been immune to my shillelagh. With a wry smile I remembered
my (over) confidence on the night we had met Arriane and the others. The
blessings of Silvanus, my dragon blood and a dose of luck was all I said
I needed but now I would have to add a magical weapon to the list too.
Now was not the time for such thoughts however. Perhaps rather unnecessarily
to my mind (but then I’m not a military man) Baynar had pursued
the hobgoblins into the forest. Brother Baldric and I set to work healing
our friends. I noticed that Baldric didn’t heal Amber, though whether
that was because I had already treated most of her wounds or because he
was still angry with her I couldn’t tell, and didn’t go anywhere
near Colatto, leaving me to treat the mage’s wounds.
Baynar returned from finishing off the hobgoblins. He had no fresh injuries
but I did what I could for the old ones.
Bazil declared that we had gone some way to avenging the destruction of
Dysrisa. Smeared with dirt and blood (mostly his enemies) and with the
blazing Evaelathil in his grasp Bazil had a striking presence. I had a
fleeting image in my head of him leading elves and men into legendary
battle at the fall of Myth Drannor and, despite his lack of stature, he
looked every inch the hero amongst them. Despite this image, however,
I could not agree with his words; I could see no way in which thirty more
deaths made up for the six hundred at Dysrisa.
Arriane was clearly impressed by my companions’ skill with The Blades
of Demron and asked what we knew of their powers (Colatto had told that
we had carried them for sometime in the future). There were still some
abilities of Dragathil that we had never divined so Arriane explained
that, as “Hate Bane”, the sword was intended to incapacitate
a foe without necessarily killing then. We already knew of it’s
powers to bind an enemy in illusions but it also had a power called “The
Crystal Parry” that would turn a parried weapon into brittle crystal.
The sword was also a Dancing Blade. This meant that the wielder, once
the fight had started, could leave the sword to fight on it’s own.
If Arriane was impressed by our battle prowess then Faergil was, quite
understandably, impressed by Josiah. He enquired if she was one of the
Blade Singers to which she replied she was.
The day after the attack our travels took us to an old, disused track.
In fact it was so disused and over grown I cannot really say how long
we were following it before I realised what it was. Asking Josiah about
the track she replied that it once led straight from Cormanthor to Elven
Court (which explained why no one now used it) and eventually connected
with “The Street of Song”, the main street of Myth Drannor.
Amber asked why it was called The Street of Song and Mulag, with a rather
worn tone in his voice, replied that we would find out soon enough.
We followed the track for several days. At one point Bazil made a point
of pulling Amber and I to one side. He had been thinking about what lay
ahead in Myth Drannor and was not entirely sure that its rulers were going
to let us keep our liberty. Instead they might want to keep us close to
hand to harvest our knowledge of future events. The hobbit was not going
to stand for any attempt to put himself or Primrose in a cage no matter
how golden it might be. After all, Bazil pointed out to me later, it is
amazing what good people were prepared to do in the name of the “greater
good” and the rulers of Myth Drannor were probably those who Srinshee
had claimed were not worthy to hold the Ruler’s Blade. Thank the
gods for Bazil’s suspicious mind, the idea had never occurred to
me. I agreed with Bazil but asked if the worst happened he try not to
kill too many people while making his escape.
I took the opportunity to share with Amber and Bazil my latest thoughts
on what the Drow were up to and latter on I informed most of my companions.
While I had developed a great respect for Arriane, one that was growing
with each day of travel, some instinct told me it wasn’t the right
time to talk about The Eight with her or Josiah and Mulag. As such I didn’t
go out of my way to talk to Colatto about it either.
After five cold days on the trail, as the sun was boiling away into the
west and shortly after noticing a slight rise in temperature, we saw Myth
Drannor for the first time. We spotted it first through a break in the
trees, a graceful, semi-arboreal city. With quickening steps we moved
forward and as we did so more of it came into view. With hungry eyes I
tried to take in as much of The City of Bards as I could. In the trees
were intricately carved wooden hoses connected by wooden walkways. No,
“carved” seemed too crude a term to describe structures with
such graceful curves. They seemed almost to a have flowed into their current
shapes. In the distance I could make out thin towers that seemed too fragile
to support their own weight but gave the impression of being stronger
Below the trees were houses of wood and, though they were no less airy
then the wooden ones, stone too as well as roads, avenues and bridges
of fine, white marble. Above the trees, and intertwining with the branches,
was what looked to my companions without “elven sight” to
be a light mist the colour of moonbeams. To the rest of us however it’s
true beauty was revealed as a multihued aura of white, silver and golden
points of light. Above it all were the stars, their radiance seemingly
magnified to a sharpness I cannot put into words.
Such was the mesmerising splendour of the panorama before me it that I
didn’t at once see the figures moving through it. People of all
races walked, strolled and (yes) skipped along the streets and walkways.
In places they were also floating up into the air to reach the branches
or floating equally nonchalantly down to the streets while here and there
elves flew through the sky like fish in a clear, starry sea. And the music!
It was so all-pervasive that it seemed to make up the very air around
us, entering and effusing my being with every breath.
This was The City of Song of legend, Myth Drannor the fabled City of Bards
from a lost golden age of inter-racial co-operation. And, one way or another,
it was doomed.
I used the following references:
Cormanthyr - Information Myth Drannor, the Ammath Family,
Fall of Myth Drannor - The Khov’ Anilessa, Garnet and Saevel Ammath
and the Blades of Demron
I knew it would come out. Thats the one thing I did predict those years
ago when I dreamed up the plot. And I was right, in every way...There
was some intense role-playing and some anger in the group this evening,
and it was not always pleasant. Colatto's descision to tell all was not
the rest of the groups and it showed. Running a time-travelling campaign
was always going to be a risk, and I thought long and hard before doing
so. I haven't thought of everything and will always have to think on my
feet, assuming the campaign doesn't self-destruct; something I consider
a great possibility at the present time. I have been accused overtly or
otherwise of 'rail-roading' - at least thats the impression I get from
things that have been said. Personally I don't agree with this, the PCs
undertook this quest, and I've rarely (but note: I won't say never) forced
them. If any of them dislike the game, don't play. Because it IS only
a game and I value their friendship more. I can run shallow adventures,
cheapened with simple plots like everyone else. If thats what you demand
then so be it. I've worked long and hard at this - I do take it seriously,
but will stop it as soon as I'm asked to. I'm proud of what I've achieved
so far, and I'm not looking for validation..
Anyway, The Red Dragon Garnet is from the Fall of Myth Drannor sourcebook
and did have a part to play in the release of the Nycaloths. I was somewhat
disappointed to see a couple of the PCs squabble, but considering what
Colatto had just revealed and what the others thought of it, it was inevitable.
The fight was never really meant to be a problem, a few Gnolls, hobgoblins
and ogres isn't really a challenge to 9-12th level characters. The 'Insect
Demon' is a Mezzolith - a lesser Yugoloth.
Many years ago, when I told my players that this would be the last
of my Realms campaigns, I asked them what that wanted from the game. One
(I can't remember who) said that they wanted to see Myth Drannor - arguably
the most famouse 'site' in the Forgotten Realms. I decided to run with
that, but in a completely different way.
Will Myth Drannor fall? Has Colatto cast the stone to make the wide
ripples that will change (or create) history? Its too early to tell. Stick
around and you might find out, though I can't promise anything.
Return to Journey...