Bells rang across the rooftops and down through the cobbled streets heralding the passing of another hour. In the past the bells counted off the hours of the day but since martial law was declared the only thing the bells atop Castle Waterdeep portended was the changing of the guard. It was a comforting sound and reminded Geoffman Gundwynd of times past, before the Time of Troubles and before the Firelance Knights.
Turning his attention away from the sound of the bells Geoffman regarded his partner Tyrinon Cassalanter and the blood and the carnage at the Efreeti Bottle.
From Storm Keep in the North Ward, the Chess Emporium in the Sea Ward, and the Efreeti Bottle in the Castle Ward the two paladins discovered the accounts of events were strangely the same if not the aftermath.
At Storm Keep Boris Nahal, a visiting guest, became very unstable and eventually hostile killing one person before escaping into the city streets. No further information was forthcoming from the former Agundar Estate, other than they were conducting their own investigation.
At the Chess Emporium a woman was attacked and killed by her familiar. The woman, Mirandos by name, was a regular gamer at the Emporium for a time but was always detached from her surroundings and not very social said a witness. One minute she was alive the next her familiar Tebow goes mad strangling its mistress then it was gone.
The Efretti Bottle was somewhat different, yes there was the carnage but here there they reported an undead creature that had a black skull, and before it disappeared into the night it feasted on the genies employed by Hasar Al-Yasan.
After a long and sleepless night Geoffman and Tyrinon tracked the three fugitives beyond the barriers crossing the wider streets and beyond to Mount Waterdeep. It seemed they all, after escaping their sanity, fled to the pitted and exhausted Mountain.
“Three vastly different suspects,” Geoffman Gundwynd was saying; “each going to the same place. What ties them together you think?”
Tyrinon considered. Then with a flash of insight, “It is possible that they were possessed with a sleeper divine power and it has driven them insane. Midsummer being just three days away there could be some mounting pressure in being a divine vessel that has broken their minds.”
“You could be right about that.” Geoffman said. “LOOK OUT!”
Tyrinon turned weapon drawn. The sword sung as it cleared its scabbard. From out of the grey sky a dark shape descended on the two knocking the men off their feet and down the slope of the mountain. Its slam was like being hit with a boulder; it was a gargoyle.
Standing instantly after their fall, both men produced javelins of lightening and hurled them at the fleeing gargoyle. Each javelin taking the creature on the shoulder blades causing the gargoyle to crash down beyond a short peak and out of sight.
The wind was picking up and again the bells of Castle Waterdeep began marking off another hour.
Not wasting a moment the men both drank potions of healing as well as elixirs to hasten their climb and began their ascent. They may not have seen where the creature fell but both men were sure the direction it was going.
“I’m not as young as I used to be,” Said Tyrinon struggling to maintain his breath and his tongue.
“Shut up and climb!” replied Geoffman his tolerance for useless banter was short during times of heightened alert.
Higher and higher they climbed.
As the bells ceased so too did the men happen across their quarry: a man, an imp, a dark stranger, and an insane gargoyle each one acting violently and irrationally. Geoffman and Tyrinon quickly found the cover of an old aerie stable and took witness of the spectacle.
“It would seem you were correct, they all possess divine magic. It HAS driven them mad… wait who is this now?” Geoffman said his voice no louder than a whisper.
From a trail descending from the top of the mountain came a presence the two paladins could not easily accept but nevertheless recognized. The being was tall and impossibly thin, it trailed an ashy tress and the smell was beyond description.
Since Greengrass the collective paladins of Amaunator were visited in visions by who now stood before them. Sometimes at rest and others during battles but each time the visions were of corruption, rot, and disease. It was Moander, the darkbringer- their god’s eternal enemy.
Looking at his new thralls Moander commanded them. His voice dragged its low timbre lazily across the once silent air, but neither paladin could understand his foul tongue.
Without delay Geoffman and Tyrinon brandished their bastard swords, blessed themselves, and charged fearless into the thralls and into Moander.