Monday, September 30, 2013

Guild Lords of Waterdeep

Surrounded by the grandeur and well to do that was understood to be the Horseman’s Ball, the guild lords raised their mugs of graff, glasses full with rich wine, and thick amber beer to congratulate themselves. The ball may have overshadowed by other disasters tonight, not the least of which being Tauren Tarm’s own Horseman’s Ball, but that did not sour their mirth. No, in fact it underscored their shared purpose.

“It was not that long ago my friends and colleagues,” the speaker began after finishing his drink to the previous toast. The man was distinguished, impeccable; not a hair out of place. He gleamed in the lamp light. “when some of us were unsteady as to whom to trust. Now we are positioned like kings.”

“Like Lords you mean.” Came a correction from a large brooding fellow. His long mane of blonde hair accompanied by the man’s overbearing personality reminded Mister Impeccable of a tundra barbarian.

Mister Impeccable nodded in admission. 

A woman, long and formal in her red dress confidently sauntered into the lamp light. Her beauty was like a visual poison, she was impossible to look and yet impossible to look away from. 

“The Unification is a success as is our vision for Waterdeep after Midsummer.” Said red dress, her voice was even intoxicating but her face showed an obvious distaste for the Time of Troubles. 

“What if Piergerion and his gunslingers return? ... When they return.” Asked the man with no name, his voice was fine, like warm early spring wind. He was new to the Unification and thus was prone to questions.

“Then he will answer for his crimes of treason,” came a response from a second woman - the Governess, who answered the man with no name. Her piercing blue eyes possessed a deep fire though her voice betrayed no venom, just even informed certainty. Known for her brilliance in political affairs, she as well as Mister Impeccable was the most out spoken of the Guild Lords.

Looking around at the men, woman, and two non-humans the Governess continued…

“There have been setbacks and even some strategic losses, but our vision holds true to this day. The Unification brings together many faiths, guilds, and families toward that ultimate vision. That despite what goes on up there…”

Gesturing, she points out beyond the windows of Castle Waterdeep to Mt. Waterdeep and the celestial stairway.

“… government as it SHOULD BE will survive with the guilds under its complete and total control.” 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tales from Greengrass (Secomber)

"Before there is renewal, there must be death."

Lying under blissfully warm bed rolls Max Rinnen and Allene Macgovern watched the sun rise from atop High Hill, the northern most butte of Secomber. It was the first day of spring and the two lovers wished to bring in a new season of birth and renewal with lusty ambition.

Littering the hillside were the leavings of their clothes; villagers looking up at High Hill would see a patchwork of color interrupting the constant lush of the grassy knoll.

A muted glow materialized over the distant forests. Both quietly noted it was not the warm golden sunshine of early morning, but a bitter ashen color as if a wayward wild magic storm descended from the High Forest to mute the morning rays.

They made love again and for several blissful minutes there was nothing around them- just their sweet act.

When they opened their eyes it was like looking through stained glass, everything was various shades and tints of grey. When they opened their ears they could hear great crashing and commotion as if a great gust of wind were rearranging Secomber.

Max and Allene rose up from the privacy of their bed rolls and the sanctuary of their arms to survey the destruction being wrought upon the town below. What they saw paralyzed them in fright.

Hordes of ancient skeletons had taken to the wide streets of Secomber locked in combat with Lord’s Alliance warriors, mages, and cavalry who were anxiously trying to save people from being torn limb from limb. 

Great icy claws bit deeply into Allene’s exposed shoulder causing her to tumble face-first down the hill. Max watched helplessly as Allene toppled clumsily down High Hill and out of site. What was down there Max quickly asked himself; would she be ok? A cold snap from an icy maw closed around his leg broke not only his worried contemplations but also his leg. 

Before Max knew it he was flying helpless through the air. All the world was a spinning soup of pain.

When Allene opened her eyes she found herself  lying in a familiar area of tall grass around a popular natural spring. Behind her the screams and battle cries were much closer, but in front of her however was the most frightening white dragon Allene Macgovern had ever seen.

Protruding out of the beast’s scales and spines were bones of all kinds, it gave gave the dragon an underworldly aura of death; and where there were not random bone fragments, a find powdering of bone dust gave the dragon a chalky color as if the great dragon enjoyed rolling around in the bones of ancient ruins.

Then she remembered. Secomber is built on the ruins of an ancient kingdom

Monday, September 23, 2013

Crossing Sides

Red mist colored the damp morning air. Hettman looked beyond the dead city guard whose throat he just cut and quickly scanned the streets and barracks for movement that foretold his discovery. None came.

Behind him Dwarinom and Benethoe stepped through the magical window entering the dark alley; assassins all ready and alert with deadly weapons in hand. It was early morning; the time of the Black Sun. Each wore soft leather armor stitched with a shadowy thread that made their concealment near seamless; small mithril plates hid under the armor protected their vital areas; while drow crafted boots erased all traces and scent of their passage.

Before the three rogues loomed Castle Waterdeep, huge and by all accounts abandoned which is why it was a perfect place for their own brand of palaver with their host.

Hettman waited for a cloud to pass before the moon then the trio each drank long potions to hasten their pace across the barrack grounds, up the castle steps, down the halls, and finally into a simple office bereft of color, style, or personality. Its only occupant was a distinguished gentleman going beyond adult and entering his elder years. The man stood as if expecting the visitors and welcomed them.

The host brought forth libations before producing a magical black cloth which he spread on a long table before them. From his pocket the host brought forth a light source; neither Hettman nor the Draigos could determine its source only that it was now a fixed light hovering in the room.
“You have something to show me?” asked the host in an authoritarian tone.

Together the three produced small leather bags and produced several gemstones and jewels; some of them magical, some of them worth a king’s ransom. A lich tear, a fiery yellow corundum, a brilliant emerald, and a beljuril.

Lecarre looked down at the treasure, at first he could not look away from such riches but composed himself and regarded the thieves.

“Where are the rest?”

“Late,” came a raspy female voice. From the hall came LadyTsurion a lesser noble who held important connections that Lecarre admired and employed at every chance. She produced a solitary gem- the beautiful Nkonzi Maru.

Finally from deep dark recesses of the simple office two Despana drow rogues materialized, one a battle scarred male while the other a strikingly beautiful woman. They each bowed in silent greeting, and produced two glowing moonstones of exceptional power and beauty. 

Lecarre carefully inspected each gem, jewel, and stone and silently congratulated himself, “You have my sanction, tell your master his reign begins this Greengrass.”

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Tales from Greengrass (Longsaddle)

Ardanac Harpell listened to his clock tick waiting for confirmation of what they all feared, a dragon. Sitting alone in his office in the Ivy Mansion, the chief elder watched his Neverwinter clock tick off the moments while over one hundred of Longsaddle’s farmers and ranchers took shelter below.
Seven thunderous peals of sound vibrated over the countryside, to Ardanac it sounded right above them all. He leaped to his feet and began casting a spell, outside flashes of bright blue lightning briefly turned night into day shaking the mansion with its trail of thunder.

He descended to the Ivy Mansion’s war room. The war room, formerly a dining hall, functioned as a hub for Lord’s Alliance agents and adventurers who sought aid, refuge, and or wanted to exchange information. As he reached the war room Ardanac felt a tingle that made is hair stand on end.

Ian Chandler a healer and second to Kym Tarm commander of the Longriders, approached Ardanac with dire news. “Eriadne has just returned, barely alive but I believe the paladin got to her in time.”

“Did she say anything?”

“No,” came the reply from Nobilius, his grim features- so out of place on the paladin- did not indicate good news.

“It was like her body was dried up,” Nobilius said head heavy with remorse.

Outside the great clangor of sounds blasted again.

“Yes, that horn is right above us. Have your men ready. Healers!”

As Ardanac continued barking orders, Morgun Maerklos sat quietly his eyes rolled up showing the pale whites of his eyes. Using the touch he sent his feelings out trying to gain some information about their foe. A little advanced notice on their enemy’s capabilities allowed for changes in tactics witch is what has kept him and Kym alive this long.

The horns created interference in his mental visions but when that eventually quieted Morgun realized this dragon was different.

“This beast possesses an Aspect!”

“Dear spirits.” Came the reply and the unspoken question was clear on everyone's faces.

“The Aspect of Fate.” 

Children of the Bitch Queen

Gamera and Gurion are the offspring of Umberlee and the Duke of Stygia known as Lakhovas; Stygia is one of the Nine layers of Hell. 

In a time long before the Time of Troubles and the advent of the kingdoms of men; in a scheme to claim Stygia as her home plane Umberlee attempted to seduced the Devil Lakhovas as his Queen and then orchestrate his demise but was ultimately cast out after Lakhovas discovered she acted without the consent of Talos. 

Separated from their mother at birth in a hostile environment the infernal offspring were forced to fend for themselves; ultimately making their home in the cold black bottomless oceans of Stygia. It is here where they grew in strength to become among the biggest threats to the denizens of that plane, but their hunger for power did not stop there.

From time to time the pair would planes travel to the Realms where they would claim the offerings of gold and magic; a means to appease the hellish dragon turtles as not to provoke their wrath. They would not kill the mortals, but allow their evil legacy to spread through the ages. 

Gamera, the larger of the two, its shell is a dull brown color with tips of white on its back and bony spine; Gurion’s carapace is a deep green-blue color with silver highlights across its rocky ridges. Both coloration of their heads, tail, and legs are slightly paler than their shell color.

In general dragon turtles claim vast territories in the open seas, encompassing regions often in excess of hundreds of square miles. However these two offspring of the Bitch Queen are terrible beyond recounting having a territory that extends across the planes. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Great Journey

Salamander Wars-Thay's Time of Trouble

Aznar Thrul wasn’t sure if it was the divine influence of Kossuth or simply a result of no other options remaining that lead the Tharchion MariAgneh to support his plan that day.  The Salamander War had inflicted great losses upon the people of Priador.  It was during times like these that it was hardest for the priest to ask others for faith, to look into the eyes of those burned by the Salamander’s flames and ask them to believe that to defeat their former allies, they would have to fight them with even more fire.   

When the Tharchion spoke in favor of the priest’s plan Aznar realized that in speaking up, he had offered himself up for blame had his plan failed.  Aznar also realized then whatMari Agneh seemed not to know, should his plan prove as successful as it has, Aznar would receive all the credit. 

The FireSky battle of Priador was ending and Aznar and his Kossuth summoned elementals had defeated the Salamanders here that should create the blueprint for victory throughout Thay.  As Aznar surveyed the damage their battle had wrought, he called for his underling Breckinridge.  When the acolyte arrived at Aznar’s command tent, the priest dispensed with formalities and began questioning his underling regarding the five volunteers who had arrived, once victory was assured.

“You are certain that these youths come from families that support Tharchion Agneh?” Aznar asked Breckinridge who was already nodding in the affirmative.  Aznar smiled, a reaction rarely seen by anyone and disquieting to the young acolyte.  “Breckinridge, your days of fighting the Salamanders are over, are you ready to provide our faith even more support for the troubles surely to come in the near future?”  While the young acolyte was pleased to hear his fight with the Salamanders was ending, he wasn’t experienced enough to appreciate all of Aznar’s maneuverings.  “You will be responsible for these five, they are to learn what they can hear, but in two weeks time you will prepare them for a journey to Waterdeep.  I am certain we can provide them with valuable training there.”  As Breckinridge left the command tent, the deep voice of Aznar’s flame elemental rumbled in Ignan tones, “Your flame burns brightly in both battle and politics.”  Aznar looked at his elemental companion and replied, “Tharchion Agneh will expect those families to support her when she turns against me, it is best I control their passions, without making a threat.”
The Five Students from Thay:

Kloss: Barbarian/Fighter

Bial: Newly converted priest

Scorsos: Newly converted priest

Herinois: Female Monk

Zeranon: Ninja/Rogue type

Tales From Greengrass (Heroes Garden)

Lucia Avengar was a scarf dancer, quick-change artist, and singer in the Gypsy-Lord’s choir and tonight the lantern-light was hers; this performance would burn brighter than all the lanterns lit on the High Road. 

She had looked forward to this night since she first found out she would be performing at the Horseman’s Ball for Tauren Tarm. 

Hours of practicing, dancing, the pain in her feet, and choreographing of her performance, with just the right inflection to incite his lust during the crowing ceremony- it all came down to tonight tonight tonight. 

The dancer was fond of her costumes, jewelry and of course magical items, especially ones she could use in her acts and dance routines as it gave her the illusion of the Art when in fact many of her items were baubles and cantrips. Props veiled in fairy fire, continual flame, or some other minor illusion; all except for the precious Nkonzi Maru, a magical gemstone set into a necklace of exquisite beauty and usefulness. 

The Nkonzi Maru belonged to her father Staenor before his hunt back in a time that seemed long ago before the godsfall.

"Keep this safe and it will keep you safe until I return," he said to Lucia before leaving with Hod Dunwood a collector of small renown.  

Staenor never returned of course. 

Thinking of her father and sitting along in her tent in the Heroes Garden Lucia Avengar absently brushed her lustrous raven hair in front of a large mirror. The mirror, one of her favorite magical items, dimly illuminated her beautiful features. Her eyes came into focus when movement suddenly caught her attention- a from the reflection in the mirror. 

A Black Sun thief holding Nkonzi Maru! 

Grabbing a dirk she quickly turned and tried to call out but all she could manage was a short wet cough. 

Drinking Buddies

Lantern light outside burned heavy with fire. Galoban considered the ale in front of him then hoisted the stein to his bearded lips and drank deeply of the warm brew. *Burp* Across a table full of empty cups and steins was D’Ceryx who likewise sat deliberating his own drink.

“There is a chill in the air,” Said D’Ceryx matter of factly, looking at the roaring hearth of the Horselord’s new Cathedral then mustering the courage to imbibe his own drink.

All around the two friends, teams of craftsmen and laborers were applying finishing to the temple and stable yard just in time for Greengrass. With the addition of Brother Rhone to the workforce the temple’s reinforced stone walls and commons will indeed be complete in time for the crowning of the Samular Tet but also for the Horseman's Ball.

“Aye my friend, ‘tis the curse of the north',” Galoban said signifying a break into song but D’Ceryx cut him off in mid note.
“You mean the curse of Frostburn.” D’ceryx said dryly.

At the name of that feared and greatest dragon of the north everyone within earshot stopped and regarded the two drinking pals with shock and alarm.

“Nevermind,” said Galoban in his best ‘nothing to see here’ voice. 

“Aye, you there- good job.” He said pointing, flashing a wide smile to a craftsman, Intier the Indigo by name, who beamed at the open acknowledgement. 

“Keep your voice down my friend," Galoban scolded his friend then took up a cup to toast Intier the Indigo from across the room. Intier the Indigo was having a great day. 

"With Greengrass on the morrow everyone is on high alert especially for that beast. Time is short and everyone knows it; Midsummer is coming," he finished. 

“Do you think your lord will mind my golems serving as defense for the Heroes Garden? It is a good a place as any.” the Gondite said to the bard.

“Nay, but to be sure I’d have you post them along the north wall in sight of the garden for it is not my Lord that raises my concern but his followers that could get spooked.” Galoban said at length motioning to Rhyltha Welewy- a Halfling animal handler then taking up a biscuit from a nearby table Galoban mimicked a dragon scooping up a person and swallowing it whole.

The laughter that followed worked like magic at easing tension in the common room.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Downtime Session Journal Entry

Tauren has a great many projects started, and quite a few irons in the fire. He will be using downtime to finish these projects and loose ends up. The following is a summary of what should be finished in the days leading up to Greengrass.

Samular Crowns of Ascension  The crowns you all already know about. James, after figuring the prices, 10% seemed too low. 19,540 gp is 20%, and that seems more like it to me as far as paying for the craftsmanship.

Dragonhide full platemail +3   I will pay Kraven Moorehead for labor and the finishing materials for this armor and it's matching light shield. This armror is crafted from the ancient linnorm we fought and killed in the crag of Neverwinter. My cost is 7,500 gp. When we pick up play I will have switched over to this armor.

Upgrades to Rusher    Martin Luckjoy will continue his work on Rusher's Horseshoes of Speed and Airwalk, allowing Rusher to airwalk at will, instead x many times a day. My cost for this is 44,000 gp. I know, right?

The Horseman's Cathedral   My new temple is located in the middle of Heroes Garden, close enough to the large pond that you can see it's reflection in the surface. It is made of reinforced double thick stone walls intended to withstand the impact of dragons. Most of it is one story, with a vaulted 15 foot ceiling. At the rear of the large cathedral ( it seats 500 for service, but up to double that number can take refuge in it during times of trouble) a bell tower is adjoined to the cathedral, built with the same reinforcements. However, instead of the typical bells you might expect to find, there is instead a huge horn the size of a man, made of the finest brass by the master crafters of the Crommor noble family. If James will allow I would also like to have one of the net-hurling catapults we used built on top of the bell tower, attached to its stonework. Downtime costs put my cathedral at 5,880 gp, plus 2,000 gp for the horn (thats what I paid for a grand enchanted harp in Neverwinter), and ,say, 1000 gp for the built in catapult, and a team of followers trained in it's use.

The Temple Of Samular Ascension   This is the former temple of Mystra. This project is a renovation, bringing in art and symbology to represent our Pantheon, as opposed to venerating any one of us over another specifically. Give that I built a new temple for about 6,000 gp, I guessed half that should cover repairs and refurbishing. I kind of had a hard time remembering the lay out and how much space the temple took, so I just went with that estimate and deducted 3,000 gp from the party sheet.

All the expenditures above total to 79,880 gp, which I have covered in bank notes (large amounts of coin deposited earlier). In addition, I hope to host the Horseman's Ball at my new temple. I shall spend 6000 gp for food and drink for the party, and another 1000 gp for new gowns and formal attire for myself, Briar, and clergy and important followers.

By Any Means Necessary

For the last hundred years the Umbrusk Noble family has grown in power and prestige by acquiring land in and around Waterdeep and the North. Some land came by equitable trade, others by any means necessary. Early on the family derived their power through coercion and utter strength to make their play for the noble elite in the City of Spendors.

One such acquisition, decades ago, came soon after consulting a Maerklos Oracle regarding a bankrupt mining town in the shadow of Mount Helimbrar north of Waterdeep. Exercising an old Lords of Waterdeep decree, Crelt Umbrusk seized control of the town acquired its citizens as his workforce, and reopened the mines. After a short time the mine became profitable catapulting the growing Umbrusk family into the market of money-lending and beyond into the realm of nobility.


Danrly Bladesemmer at easily in the darkness alone with his thoughts; he was a patient man, as one should be while in the service of the Iron Hand. 

In the days after his marriage to Lady Anja Umbrusk, Danrly had become ever increasingly suspicious of the Umbrusk House. Sitting as it did along Diamond Street the House lacked the selfish ambition the early Umbrusk fathers wielded. 

Of all the members of the Umbrusks, Natalia was the most cunning and possessed an overbearing sense of will that left many scrambling to please her. And by the gods did Danrly desired her. Her obvious and pressing flirtations at the expense of his marriage to Anja only fed his burning desire for her... He would have her by any means necessary.

Footsteps roused Danrly’s thoughts and he sat up at the sound of their approach. The thin sliver of golden light leading from the unlatched door widened as the bedroom door opened revealing the shapely silhouette of Natalia. It was the same as in the past several nights; Danrly would leave the door open for Natalia who came willingly enough to the assassin and to his bed. Only this time she had some explaining to do about her knowledge of and involvement in the Cult of the Black Sun. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Palaver Among Friends 2

 A cold shiver ran down Briar’s spine. Though she had learned to tolerate her sister’s minions, she found no comfort in their presence. The undead-warlord led her up the crumbling steps towards the antechamber. She sensed this was not a social call. Typically Eva would have offered to meet her anywhere she wanted. But Briar could tell this meeting must be important since Eva chose the bone council chambers for this palaver. She had only been here for a matter of minutes, but it had seemed like hours. The night sky might as well been 100 miles away in this ancient tomb. She briefly thought about leaving, but new that Eva would finder her. Worse she may take offense and she did not want to anger her sister. There had already been a confrontation with Kallina, she didn’t want another disagreement within the group.
“Good of you to come” came a whisper from the darkness.
“How could I refuse” smiled Briar wondering if she really had a choice.
“I sense your disquiet my sister, I assure you have nothing to fear here”. Eva materialized from the darkness as if birthed from it. How long had she been their Briar couldn’t help but wonder.
“You know my convictions as well as anyone my dear. I put the safety of my inner circle above everyone else. Our ka-tet is at the center of that circle”. Briar nodded in agreement, she heard Eva’s words and couldn’t help but notice the lack of fluctuation. She used to speak with such passion, but she was different now. Whether it was holding death so close for so long or spending too much time in the presence of these things Briar wasn’t sure. What she did know was that Eva wasn’t lying. She would lay waste to every man, woman, and child in Waterdeep to keep her and the rest of her “circle” safe.
"I don't want you to fear my home" Eva said emotionless.
 Briar failed to hold back a tear as a wave of guilt flooded her heart. She had been so riveted with attaining aspects & vying for Tauren’s affections the she had been oblivious to the changes Eva had gone through. It wasn’t until now, standing in this horrific place, surrounded by the walking dead, without the presence of the moon or the stars did she begin to understand, this was Eva’s eternity.  Briar couldn’t help but wonder why, why would someone choose this type of existence it was unbearable. Briar was startled as Eva suddenly wiped the tear from her cheek. The silken handkerchief was cool and soothing to the touch.
“You needn’t trouble yourself with these thoughts” Eva smiled warmly. “I needed you to come here, that was the only way to get you to understand”.
“Sorry, I don’t understand” Briar said looking puzzled.
“This is my moon well” Eva said gesturing around the unholy temple. “The undead here are my children, I covet there protection as you would the Fey or your animals. And because our nature is one and the same I am constantly faced with my own form lycanthropes…the living”. Briar began to realize the reason for this invitation, Eva knew! She didn’t know what to say. All she could do was wait for Eva to finish.
“For a number of reasons I cannot eliminate all the living, and extermination isn’t the only answer. Exceptions can & should be made from time to time. Nature is balance and”..Eva trailed off mid sentence. Briar notice the expression on Eva’s face had changed from caring teacher to a hostile defender.
“What is it Briar” said looking around? Eva had already started casting and almost instantly a half dozen Specters took up defensive position around Briar.
Briar heard the boot steps as soon as Eva finished her spell. Looking towards the stairs she gasped as a skeletal figure standing close to seven foot tall was moving up the stairs. Wielding a pistol in each hand he walked towards Eva with steady resolve. Tipping his hat he spoke in a rough, raspy common.
“I come to serve the Mistress of Death. How may I be of assistance ma’am”? Eva pointed into the Darkness
“Keep an eye on that bridge for now, I will call you soon”. The pale-stranger turned and was gone as quickly as he arrived.
Eva turned back to Briar “sometimes they come in under someone’s control”. She waved off the Specters. “I want you to have a couple them wedding gifts. Eva produced a scroll, I want you to have this. This spell seems like something you may need. And second take my rune staff of curing. These two items will give you the ability to make an exception I think you can live with, if you choose. After all we shouldn’t have secrets in the family. 
I have tortured you enough; I believe we have an appointment for crown fittings.  

Bring Me Their Heads

Never again will mistress Eva Maerklos be without the protection of her trusted assassins. With their downtime retraining at its end Kight and her Thayan sisters of the cloth have never let Eva out of their sight in the days following the capture by Auril and her frost-touched troglodytes. Night and day these women watched over their mistress’s whereabouts, and activity as well as the gathering of important information.

The husbands had been summarily charged with researching ways into becoming a higher form of undead; should all else fail a lich or other divine spirit. As Greengrass approaches the three nameless priests complete the sixth of seven volumes of Her divine scripture; they eventually came to conclude Jergal is the entity to seek sanction from....

Aside from protecting Eva, Kight and Lakari serve as her personal handmaidens and with this honored title come the specialized tasks of spying on friends or spreading misinformation as in certain fabricated attitudes against the People’s Pantheon. So when it came what happened to Lord Darkness, Delmaria, Mazrikoth, and Nastorrian, the two assassins teacher and student were so tasked.

It occurred to Kight one night shortly before Greengrass, that there was something out of place, some angle of the plan was unaccounted for. Kight considered the outsourcing the Avatar of Auril accomplished to setup and complete her deadly plan, then she realized-- Auril has no dominion over the dead or undead. Then who?......

In Eva's temple Lakari watched from across a burning brazier as her teacher explained the results of weeks of spying and subterfuge.

“Bring me their heads so that I may speak with them.” Eva said in her usual ‘I’ll find out one way or another’

In the long dark hours before midnight, Greengrass, and the near certain dragon attacks, Eva Maerklos stood stoically before the gruesome heads of the half-elf Kagon, the warrior Tunlactun, barbarian chief Ruga, andFawling. Each head proudly displayed for their goddess’s perusal and cross-examination.

We were magically coerced to lead Lilith to your undermountain church of the undead,” said the head of the half-elf from a mouth full of broken teeth.

Auril made a deal with Lilith to remove Lord Darkness and the rest of the crypt things,” said the tough acting warrior-head.

Lilith created a demiplane using the Portal aspect as a prison for your undead servants,” said Fawling his voice no less irritating in death.

The enemy of your enemy is their friend,” said chief Ruga cryptically.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Damian's Dilemma

In the two weeks leading up to Greengrass Damian Agundar watched with mild amazement how Brother Rhone did indeed retain some modicum of influence over the powers of time. For what the Aspect of Earth turned gargoyle was doing for Tauren in the creation of his Samular crown surely would have taken the greatest realms metal worker weeks or months to craft, Brother Rhone took only days. His dominion of the earth and its elements seemed to slow down, or was the creature hastening the time it took Rhone to mold and etch the intricate details of that exquisite crown.

It was but one of the mysteries leading up to the high-holiday, a dilemma that would just have to resolve itself in time.

As Damian invested some of his downtime leading up to Greengrass with the training of his Thayan quintet another quandary presented itself. Despite Storm Keep’s best healing efforts it appeared that Jurgen Artemel was dyeing a slow death. Days would pass as healing the werewolf seemed to be only temporary because soon after the infusion of healing elixirs the man seemed worse off than before- far worse. Damian lamented Jurgen would not likely have the strength to turn the five Thayans in to werewolves before they returned to their homeland but Damian Agundar believed had resources to realize his vision for all of them. 

Tales from Greengrass (Luskan)

“Where am I?” her words seemed far away as if spoken by someone else.

“You are among friends lady, you have been delivered from the undead hands of captivity.” Came a strong voice in response to her question, his far closer than her own voice.

As physical sensation returned to the awakening woman she could feel magical healing energies bringing her conscious and unconscious mind together with her physical self; bring mind, body and soul into alignment.

Heilean Eather opened her eyes to see Kelemvor smiling broadly and standing behind to Aymee Tallmost who sat beside Heilean, eyes held closed in deep concentration. On Heilean’s opposite side was Syndra Wands, Cortland Andrus and Leofric Perth; each of them wore exhausted but relieved expressions as well as recent wounds of battle, some appeared to be serious.

A muffled explosion and resulting tremor broke the moment and at last Aymee opened her weary eyes and spoke. “We are in the roots of the Hosttower Lady Sai, forgotten tunnels left behind by the old people who created the Hosttower.”

Another explosion followed by several lesser thuds and shakes indicated to Heilean that there was a large-scale war going on somewhere outside.   

“W-what?” The sensory overload after weeks of torturous captivity- nothing but pain- confused her more; information was coming in so slowly and too fast all at once.

A slap from Syndra brought Heilean back however; “You were nearly dead Heilean. Hosttower cabalists held you for ransom and when they realized no payment was forthcoming; on the contrary an attack on Luskan was at hand and upon them, they tried killed you. Aymee brought you back to us however- lucky you.” The blood streaked lady of magic smiled crookedly at her friend.

Heilean tried to sit up but before she could she was stopped. “Do not try to move, you are still recovering and need to save up your strength. We still have to get out of here.” Lord Perth said easing her back to a relined position. Heilean allowed herself to be helped and realized for the first time she was on some wheeled-chair device likely from Cortland to expedite a swift retreat through these strange tunnels- these ‘roots’.

More sounds of battle made communication impossible so they wordlessly agreed that it was ok to move.

“We received a raven that bore a magical message; it advised us that the Knights of the Firelance were planning a top secret ironclad attack upon Luskan and when it was going to occur.” The Lord of Battles explained with his usual zest. “Leofric learned of the secret origin of the Hosttower days before so the rest of us decided to coordinate your rescue with the covert Waterdeep attack.”


“It was a maneuver against the Samular Tet; we however would not let this attack on our promise for a benevolent pantheon shake our conviction to the people.” Kelemvor answered. “We have prevailed my love; soon we will ascend the stairs together and restore heavens.”

“Here here!” said Leofric Perth as they approached their method of escape.

Syndra moved silently along; let them have their moment, she feared there would be few moments to like this come. There would be fallout from the destruction of the Hosttower, unforeseeable consequences. What was the old saying? The devil you knew was preferable to the devil you didn’t? It likely did not matter; she possessed the Hosttower arch-lich’s phylactery and while it wasw in her possession the spirit lich trapped inside could not possess another host. It was a gamble but should another more undesirable power rise from the ashes of the Hosttower or the ruins of Luskan the lich could be used to restore balance.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Samular Crowns of Ascension

Samular Lady Eva Maerklos - a fine seven pointed crown made of platinum, with details of humanoid skulls etched into outer face of the crown. The central  point, worn above the forehead, is adorned with a Lich's Weeping stone and is complimented by six black onyx gems, each worth 1,000 gp. This crown was crafted by the jewelers of house Talmost. Component value 12,500 gp

Samular Lord Bordane Agundar - a heavy seven pointed crown forged from
iron, a fine Beljuril gem shines above the brow, with six black pearls adorning the other spikes. Each of the pearls is worth 500 gp, and his crown is the work of house Ilzimmer. Component value 8,000 gp

Samular Lord Damian Agundar - A fine Amartha gemstone dominates the tallest spike of this seven pointed crown made of platinum. Stylized lightning bolts are etched along the base of the crown, and five pearls (each valued at 500 gp) join a starstone the color of swirling seas to decorate the other peaks of the crown. This crown was crafted by house Ilzimmer. Component value 9,000 gp not counting the starstone.

Samular Lady Kallina Kormalis - A brilliant clear emerald
outshines a delicate seven pointed crown of polished platinum, with the brightness of gemstone and metal offset by six black pearls (each worth 500 gp) in the other six points. Her crown is an Ilzimmer design. Component value 9,500 gp.

Samular Lord Arsten Thunderstaff - this seven pointed crown is forged  of platinum, and shows a ruby flashing the red of war set in the forward spike. It is complimented by six garnets (300 gp value each) in the other spikes. This is another Ilzimmer creation. Component value 8,200 gp.

Samular Lady Briar Bellabranta - Out of the collection, this crown is by far the most unique. Carved from a solid five pound moonstone brought to this world by a genie, it may be the masterpiece of house Talmost's jewelers. Cut and polished into the form of an elegant tiara, the forward spike of her crown is set with the sparkle of a brilliant black star sapphire , itself worth 5000 gp. The remaining spikes each hold a black star sapphire worth 1000 gp, combining to make her crown as the moon and stars of the heaven she is to ascend to. Even this most unique gemstone creation is not held by her as dearly as her other gift - the betrothal ring that accompanied Tauren overdue marriage proposal. A simpler arrangement than the crowns, it's design heralded the traditional elegance of a wedding ring. The band of electrum bore no etching or design ( a 3000 gp trinket by itself) but held a flawless brilliant diamond of exquisite value ( 5000 gp). Although it would be hard to appraise the value of a crown carved from a single piece of moonstone, I set it 10,000 gp, equalling the finest of luxury gemstones. This puts her crown component value at 21,000 gp, and her ring at 8,000 gp.

Samular Lord Tauren Tarm - For the Gypsy Lord, a seven pointed crown was shaped from a solid chunk adamantine, metal that falls to the earth from the heavens. Shaped by the hands of a divine elder stone elemental ( description of Brother Rhone) this crowns points are all of equal size and equally spaced apart. Each holds an exquisite fiery yellow corundum worth 4000 gp that sparkle with crimson and gold flashes, the royal colors of his church and following. Component value 29,500 gp.

These crowns are more than fancy jewelry, they are a visual and awe inspiring affirmation of the unity and divinity of the Samular Pantheon. They serve to bolster the faith of their following and swell the ranks of Waterdhavians that have grown to love these gods and propel them to ascension. These factors work together to give each of the Samulars a +1 circumstance bonus to their Leadership feat score. Also, as exhibited by Lord Damian, they hold immobile active ioun stones and starstones.

Tales from Greengrass (The Naming)

Many factious individuals and guilds, once misguided now gathered under the protection of either some foreign cabal, evil sectarian religious group, or the melairkyn in hopes of increasing their own personal power or just simple survival. 

Some of these groups have bolstered their numbers with slaves or by putting weapons in their hands to defend their leaders, while other groups like elect to create elite adventurers to spread their influence and power base- but for some it is just survival. Gone were the old ways and old days of Skullport to an ever changing hierarchy of government that control the portals and therefore possess the real power potential of the under-city.

Far above Skullport is the magical fortress of House Auvryndar, like an enormous clinging spider positioned to fall upon it victim at any moment, a clan meeting has been called bringing together the true Auvryndar bloodline.

“Our spies report House Drodeen is poised to strike and are expected to attack this very evening.” Matron Darien Auvryndar said with an agreeable nod from her venerable husband Domarlynnas who was in fact the very spy Darien was referring to.

The central room of the spider-fortress resembled their house in the inside but on a much smaller scale; like Darien’s surviving family members. Clustered in the parlor in the presence of their Matron Mother and her male-consort were her two children Tevera and Yamon as well as three grandchildren: Tevera’s son and Valsharess Mara and Princess Moria whose parents are believed to have died in Ched Nasad.

The rest of the house drow, Darien lamented, were refugees and thus could not be fully trusted with the fate of the Auvryndar sorcerous bloodline in jeopardy.

“Our house has acquired weapons and magic to help us this day,” Darien remarked nodding to Mara in recognition for the boon she brings to the house. Darien motioned for the women to approach and peruse three small tables each covered with a fine red cloth where various pieces of equipment were arranged.

The first table was obviously drow armor and weapons captured from House Drodeen. (Two suits of +1 studded leather, +2 studded leather, +2 light mace, decorated with holy symbols of Umberlee, +2 banded mail, and +2 heavy steel shield)

On the second table was a mix of armor and items from the surface. (+1 Mage bane long sword, Eleven chainmail, mithril chain shirt, cloak of resistance +2, gloves of endless javelins with a Greater Phoenix ash threat weapon crystal, and four fully charged 5th level wands of magic missile)

The third and final table was also host to items from the Realms above. (+2 keen rapier, +2 ring of protection, +2 bracers of natural armor, +2 cloak of resistance, +2 belt of strength)

As the women of the house disputed over the magic, Tevera’s son waited as was the case when the Matrons got together- they would have their first right of claim and he would see none of it. The young noble regarded Warden Yamon who exchange glances with grandfather Domarlynnas who in turn only offered a sideways shrug conceding to his station.

The young sorcerer waited with reserved anticipation, hoping his naming would be at hand permitting his use of his sorcerous power; too long has he stood in the shadows of his matrons and the women of his house. The witches hungered for magical power and left everyone else starved for it. He was the only surviving male sorcerer in house Auvryndar and that circumstance would never elevate him to the pinnacle of his craft.

After the tables were free from their burden of magic items the drow stood gathered around their Matron Mother regarding the young drow.

“Grandson,” Darien began. Her deep crimson eyes always reminded him of exquisite rubies reflecting the torturous fires of hell. “Today on what the humans call Greengrass, you will be elevated from ward to apprentice sorcerer an honor that allows you to use your birth name. Stand and be known among us Shar Auvryndar.”

One by one the drow of house Auvryndar presented the new apprentice with an item of magic from the tables. From his mother, a ring of protection; Yamon, wielder of the luck blade, uncle and teacher; bracers of natural armor; from Moria, the cloak of resistance; and finally from Mara four wands of magic missile. 

Before he could say a word the attack came. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Haggling

Tauren could feel Mara's pensive preoccupation , and tried to find a way to use it to get the often tight-lipped Drow beauty to speak more openly. 
"Well, you have again shown the depths of a fine purse. I would gladly trade the first parcel for the Amartha, the Beljuril, and the Lichs Weeping's. " 

  Tauren's only read was that she was pleased, but very keen to see what weal the deal would reveal. He continued "I think my own parcel is a little light if I am to claim each of those rarities".
This drew an arched eyebrow.  Certainly the armor and weapons were most fortuitous but it sounded as if there were were some options to be parlayed for. 
"I also have with me a collection of arcane wands. Simple magic missiles they fire, but at a fifth level of discipline, so that each wand shoots three force arrows when used. All the wands are at full charge, and if they would be helpful to your families defenses , I would gladly offer them in exchange for the 8,000 gp deficit". 
Tauren held his breath waiting for her appraisal. This collection of gemstones, along with those he had hoarded over the months, should be enough to finish his plans. Once the djinn has returned with those materials, he could begin assembling the Samular Crowns of Ascension . The group had been unable to agree upon a group or place to trade these arcanist tools, so he felt confident the trade wouldn't go against any one's grain. He stared long into her eyes, trying to get a sense of what she was thinking , or feeling, or something.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

My Precious

The Nephew
Mara Darkheart, who had spent the past two days gathering the most precious gem stones and jewels she could muster sat carefully considered their collective worth. It was not just their apparent worth she weighed in her mind but what their potential value to a human could be. In a society that primarily bartered in metal coin may not fully appreciate the value of gems. Instead surface folk choose to encumber themselves with coinage; something a drow would never willingly allow. There was also a vanity to it she did not fully understand but nevertheless conformed to its trade value.

There were exceptions however, those who did value the exchange of precious jewels and she hoped what she had to offer would be enough to properly outfit her nephew before the emanate attack on the Thayan Enclave or the preemptive attack from House Drodeen.

1,000 gp Gems (one each)
Orl: A gemstone believed unique to the North, where it is found only in “blue caves” such as those at Whaeloon. Orls are found in the softest rock, as sharpedged, spindle-shaped, symmetrical crystals of red (sometimes tawny or orange) hue. Red-hued orls are the most valued, and some orl fanciers prefer to wear the unfaceted, natural crystals rather than faceted cuttings.

Jasmal: A durable, very hard gemstone found in the form of small veins or (very rarely) larger seam deposits in the Thunder Peaks and the Spine of the World. It is so hard that it can hold a cutting edge and can even be worked into small nonmetallic weapons. When polished, jasmals catch sunlight or torchlight and, although
themselves remaining transparent and colorless, give off haloes of amber light. Jasmals are usually cut cabochon, and thus appear as small, glassy globes of orange light when worn on cloaks or tunics.

Tomb Jade: Rare and highly prized in the Realms, this is jade which has been buried for great lengths of time and has turned red or brown. Buried jade can also be turned green if bronze objects are buried near it; jade of such hue is no more valuable than normal jade.

Shou Lung Topaz: A fiery yellow corundum mineral, again only imported to the western Realms by travelers from Shou Lung and the other mysterious nations of the East.

Water Opal: Colorless, clear opal with a play of color. It is rare and valuable in the Realms, where it is used in scrying devices as an ornament. Transparent opals without such a play of color are known as hyalite, and are considered inferior (those variations of this gem which are worth less).

5,000 gp Jewels (one each)
Amaratha: also known as shieldstone, this is a soft, greenish white or very pale green sparkling gemstone. It is thought to be unique to the Realms, and is found there in the form of small lumps or nodules in deep rock strata. Too soft to wear well in exposed settings, it serves magnificently as a gem set in large body jewelry or other protected positions. Shieldstone attracts and absorbs electricity in small jolts, and can be used to protect those who wear it or accompany the wearer.

Beljuril: Presently unknown outside the Realms; found there as smooth surfaced, fist-sized stones, asymmetrical but roughly spherical. Beljurils are durable and very hard; cutting one typically wears out several sets of metal tools, so they are usually worn in pectorals or shoulder-plates which are fashioned with claw settings. Normally a deep, pleasant, seawater green, beljurils periodically blaze with a sparkling, winking, flashing light. This discharge is pleasantly eye catching in a candlelit great hall or a lantern lit dancing grove, but in a dark chamber or murky night, it is dazzling. At random, beljurils absorb some heat, light, and sonic energy from their surroundings usually about once per hour, but rates vary from stone to stone, regardless of size or age and for no known reason— discharge this stored energy in a “flash.” The discharge is silent and cold; the sparks given off are few and do not carry a strong electrical jolt. Beljurils are sometimes used in experiments by mages, alchemists,
and artisans, but have not yet proven useful as a power source. Beljurils are often used for warning lamps or night beacons by the wealthy. Beljurils occur in old rock, usually in blue clay stone.

Emerald: A brilliant green beryl, the emerald cleaves along straight box-like lines, and is often displayed with rectangular cutting in the finished gem. Emeralds are often connected with health, and so are used in producing and ornamenting devices which magically aid health.

The Woman
Kings’ Tears: Sometimes called frozen tears or lich weepings, these are known only in the Realms, and are rare. Clear, teardrop-shaped, smooth surfaced, and awesomely hard, these stones are said to be the crystalized tears of long-dead necromancer kings. In each gem can be seen that which the weeping king loved long ago: in some, women; in some, lands now lost and forgotten or greatly changed with time; in some, dreams. The true nature of these stones and the images seen within them is unknown, but sages value these gems above all others.