Jerit McCaugh spent much of the next hour calling upon the various vestiges in his circle of power; none of them could hope to bring back Meghan Gundwynd from death. To Jerit’s surprise one of the individuals who rushed from the keep to save the caravan was in facta pact druid.
In the wake of the godsfall Deloche Silvermane felt a shift in ethos and thus followed a shift in profession to become a binder, but with vestiges that sympathized with Deloche’s divine calling.
Also sitting in the keep’s chapel was Shar, who had sustained almost as many wounds as Harsk and Cren Tosh, remained with Jerit and the pact-druid adding his voice to the choir of prayers. The loss was palpable to say the least with both Shar and Jerit largely impacted by the death of the inquisitor. For Shar it was the loss of a mentor and friend, for Jerit- the affair happened so fast he had difficulties sorting his thoughts.
The ambush also resulted in the loss of over three hundred masterwork swords as well as the death of the Balder’s Gate merchant. As far as the crew of the burned out Mermaid Sword, no one seemed to know.
A short time later the Lord of Aithe, Haembar Cauldyth summoned everyone to his war-room. The hour was late but Lord Haembar was an intelligent warden and who bears a real concern for the Moonshaes and the Ffolk he is responsible for protecting. He longed to put these troubled time behind them all. Lord Haembar is a stout man in his middle years whose brawn has not yet gone to fat; he is charismatic, well-spoken and strong for his age.
Food and beverages were set out, enough for twice their number, but no one –not even Harsk- had the stomach for food, only occasionally would someone pick a fruit or pour a cup of port wine to wet the mouth or removed the taste of death. Grimly Lord Haembar broke the silence.
“There are others,” Haembar said still wearing his mail. “priests and necromancers who serve the Iron Hand, and unfortunately for the Moonshae Ffolk, these vile men have gathered enough strength to challenge all who rule these lands.” Haembar liked to talk with his hands which became swings and gesticulations when he became agitated as he was now.
“It started with the Iron Ring who proved to be well organized and informed; spies bankrolled by Iron Clerics who healed them when I,” pounding his fist across his broad chest for emphasis, “came hunting them down.” Lord Haembar picked up his sword fondly smiling to his reflection as he was reminded of a particularly good hunt.
“Then Deloche informs me of druids slain around the Isles and their moonwells despoiled. I have the word of local serfs and small Ffolk who have seen the twisted fell magic- undead at the command of black-robed priests who proudly call themselves The Risen Cult!” as he said this he spat at the floor.
“I’m not going to lie to you my new friends,” Haembar said, seemingly now composed. “the Moonshae’s need individuals like the four of you to put things back into balance. I ask that you stand and fight for Chauntea.” Lord Haembar looked to everyone in attendance. In fact my sword will ride with you, if you will have it.”
“Father?” said a soft voice from a far entryway. As the owner of the voice entered the chambers almost at once a petite woman appeared in the radiance of the light. Immediately she seemed to command the room with a natural comeliness that came with worldly honesty and loyalty.
“Agenlian,” Haembar said surprised. “my friends this is my daughter Agenlian Starwand.”
“My Lords I am sorry, I… OH!” Agenlian said then saw the drow. Her surprise was obvious in her startled tone as well as her body language as she instinctively reached for an item. Shar did not see what the item could have been but was not surprised at her hostile reaction.
“My apologies again.” Agenlian said for her small lapse of etiquette. “Father are you thinking of going out there again? If you are then I will hold you to your promise.” She said in a no contradiction fashion.
Agenlian was a stunning woman in her late twenties of average height and slim build, Jerit intuited her immediately as an alchemist- mayhap the one Cren Tosh spoke about. Entering the chamber behind Agenlian was an older woman, her sister Jerit correctly surmised.
A short time later the companions agreed to split up and investigate the two contacts the necromancer on the Mermaid Sword gave Meghan: a butcher named Duskerell Thimbottle and a wood carver named Kantivel Chonn.
“I thought I saw the wood carver’s place near where they ambushed us.” Shar said, seemingly redeemed in purpose, ready for judgments to be served.
“Very well, Harsk and I will find Duskerell while you and Jerit inspect the wood carvers?” Cren Tosh posed to Shar and Harsk who each conveyed their silent agreement.
The Woodcarvers shop panned out to be boat repair business and judging from the appearance it sold small used fishing boats as well. Shar noticed that it was shortly after midnight which made a dim glow within in the shop dubious. Outside the streets between Shar and Jerit and the Woodcarver’s had only an occasional passersby but no one lingered.
“Let me do the talking.” Shar said to Jerit. “Put up your cloak so that the color of your skin will not show.” Shar naturally did this by habit so Jerit was familiar with the deception.
Coming around the east side of the shop Shar was able to find a privacy fence and door around the back of the shop that was off its hinges. The door was placed back so that it looked normal under casual inspection. Using magic the two mages were able to silently remove the gate and proceed into the back lot where three rows of five capsized fishing boats sat on sawhorses waiting for repair. They looked like pale coffins in the pale moonlight. To the left of Jerit and Shar were two doors, a bay door and an office entry; the two mages approached the office door. The door had no window, only warped shutters to keep out vermin. All was still when without warning the dubious light from a lamp entered the office. That was Shar’s signal to knock.
Tak. Tak. Tak.
From behind the door hands worked and the shutter opened whereby the viewer was stunned to see what he believed were two drow.
“I thought everyone was dead!” the nervous man said from behind the door. “I have been here alone since the ambush; the weapons are strapped under the boats behind you ready to go.”
“Are they now?” said Jerit revealing himself, “and just where were they supposed to go?”
Not long before midnight the companions debriefed Lord Haembar, Deloche, and Agenlian. Jerit and Shar recovered the lost masterwork weapons from the wood carvers and captured Kantivel Chonn, an Iron Ring spy. The man said the swords were to be sent to Dultann on the other side of Alaron by boat then to a place called Darkhorn Castle where the Iron Ring are.
For Cren Tosh and Harsk the ‘butcher’ proved to be an Iron Cleric in service to Bane. Duskerell had Captain Veldyrina Flaenitarr restrained and was preparing to move her to the nearby moonwell in the Dernall Forest and an individual Duskerell referred to as the Dark Druid.
“Dear spirits,” Deloche said aghast, “We must hurry before this Dark Druid defiles yet another moonwell or I fear Chauntea will forever be severed from the realms.
The Dark Druid and High Hand, Ord Gauntather floated gracefully over the pale waters of themoonwell; his fluidity of movement contrasted his vile words of defilement. Ord was not a ‘druid’- was in fact a clerc who knew by divine word that by spilling the life-blood of Chauntae’s followers into her sacred waters would profane the waters and sever her ties to the Moonshaes. Dark syllables issued form his blood red lips.
At the north point of moonwell Dashiell Clouter, and Catrina Nesher knelt hands and legs restrained before the moonwell; magical ropes and ties prevented anything but simple and total compliance. Behind the two cleric-rangers, Vlakkados and Tyrostarr, the Hooded Menace and Dark Imperceptor; Vlakkados stood with a mace ready to bat Dashiell’s head forward so that when Tyrostarr cut open his throat, Dashiell’s blood would flow unfettered into the moonwell staining its placid waters. Tears streamed down Catrina’s face eventually making a ripple in the moonwell.
Proudly presiding over the affair were Halamather, Arnivon the anti-paladin and Mack Snome; their combined presence enhanced Ord’s ritualistic processes. Minor priests toiled about them serving their menial needs whilst traveling, mostly Bladesemmer or Umbrusk men vying for attention. Ironically it was one of these minor priests that alerted Arnivon of an attack when an arrow pierced his Adam’s apple causing him to vomit blood.
Floating unnoticed above the moonwell Ord Gauntather watched with horror as his immediate plans unraveled before him. Adventurers lead by the Lord Haembar Cauldyth penetrated the grove and joined his cultists in battle. Outnumbered Ord closed his eyes and spoke the words of the dead, he was descending Ord knew but kept his concentration on the magic. He could hear the battle waged around him but still he kept his eyes shut calling out- summoning undead to his aid.
Arnivon was immediately on the defensive, weapons and magic erupted around the anti-paladin confusing his senses. Vlakkados and Tyrostarr were the first to fall after the unfortunate under cleric; it looked like the same party from the Mermaid Sword! Looking around Halamather was gone and now it was just him and Mack.
Closing in around the perimeter of the grove scores of dirt and moss covered skeletons converged answering Ord’s call; slimy worms dripped from the caked soil on their pale frames. It was just the opportunity Arnivon needed. Calling upon the black Pegasus Arnivon mounted the creature, flew up to retrieve Ord, to make his second narrow escape of the night.
“High Hand Gauntather Vlakkados and Tyrostarr are dead and Halamather gone.” Arnivon advised his divine patron.
“It is unfortunate,” Ord said as he set into a comfortable positon on the Pegasus; his undead covering their escape. “But I know where Halamather has gone, to Callidyrr my squire and the seat of the High King where we will strike next.”