Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Zhents Session 19: Back From the Dead

This week’s session begins in a Kellet warehouse with the dragon monks of the Black Orchid chanting, working implements and drawing geometric designs on Tiberius Rancor to bring his spirit back to his mortal body as the other characters kept busy watching the mounts, keeping watch on the ruined town of Kellet or speaking with the other dragon occultists.

In the hours that followed the characters learn these thirteen individuals were monks from the Monastery of the Yellow Rose; they left following a new order set forth by their ‘Oracle’ who led them to Kellet and the location of a dragon attack in hopes another dragon would come out of curiosity. As they waited for a dragon patron they believed would someday come, these men of the Black Orchid would amass dragon iconography and memorize any books left behind after the dragon attack in hopes the next dragon would take one of them on as a servant. They do not raise weapons against a dragon unless that dragon should strike first. They freely trade dragon stories or personal experiences.

Vampire Queen
In coming here during the Time of Troubles the Monks of the Black Orchid have learned some details about the Crypt of Heroes and in doing so discovered the secret history of Daggerdale. Some locations were not in fact originally part of Daggerdale: settlements such as Highstone, Castle Enneth, Kellet were a part of a demiplane ironically called Merrydale. The Crypt of Heroes here in Kellet contained the worldly remains, including a dragon, of those who freed Merrydale from its vampire queen. 

The legends states that Jacklynn Fesric and Lady Dawn, the First Templar of Light, led the goodly folk against the vampires of Highstone. Foildan, the ‘Prince of Thieves’ stole Merrydale from the queen; and Bardolf Brightblade, once slave to the vampire queen before being freed by Lady Dawn. The dwarf would later craft the Sword of the Dales among other weapons… Finally, the celestial dragon who carried the demilplane to Toril and who’s heart beats at the center of the Crypt of Heroes. Finally, the White Necromancer, as far as the monks know, is an unknown benevolent being of Toril.  
In the time that followed, Lucas discovered an old acid cauldron where the monks destroy the tomes once they are memorized. While Dylan received a message carried by a crow (Dylan's harrow card) from Tedric Vexx: “Much of the Ministry is a Lie. Be wary. Loyalty remains with the Zhentarim.” Elsewhere El Guapo finds that the neutral group of riders that defend the Teythemar Trail comes to Kellet and the Monks of the Black Orchid periodically during their patrol routes. Everyone takes pains not to be discovered as the characters rest up and organize a plan.

Tiberius Rancor awakens changed and untrustful of the light with a new perspective on Merrydale and Daggerdale and how that relates to the characters and why they are in Daggerdale just as Dylan and Lucas leave for Dagger Falls the next morning.

Arriving in the early hours the Dylan and Lucas see that the community around the River Tesh serve the trade routes, horses are bread as the flow of caravans seems to be ramping up in the face of warmer weather. Here Lucas realizes “the Keep” harrow card is in fact Dagger Falls. 

As they cross the river they hear a voice, “I just spent the last six months leading orcs against Followers of Helm and now you’re telling me that goblins are under new management in the mountains?!” The question captured the curiosity of Dylan and Lucas and eventually led them to meeting Fulgath (of Fulgath’s Caravan Supplies) and the speaker (who seems to be a clone of) Manshoon, the father of the Zhentarim, happy in his work and off the grid of the Ministry. Everyone thinks he was dead after the events in Hillsfar. 

This all took place at Fulgath’s where Manshoon indicated had leverage against Constable Tren Noemfor and the Gilded Gentleman and that he also said he allowed a small cult of Lathanderites in Dagger Falls to ease the souls of the commonfolk. The goblins in the mountains he was speaking of are without their two giant bosses and seem to be under new ‘druidic’ leadership.

Dylan and Lucas would eventually leave and return with the rest of the characters later that night at the Red Rock where Manshoon waited with every man, orc and child who owed the scoundrel a favor. Here the remaining characters would meet the unknown man in the painting who was largely unconcerned with the Ministry's war and more concerned with profitable trade.

First and foremost, Manshoon said, the Zhentarim was a mercenary company profiting off of trade from the Moonsea to the Sword Coast and not the Ministry’s attack dog or beast of burden. He lamented that the High Precept absconded the Black Network from him for a war against Cormyr. Manshoon in turn asked others what the Minsitry stole from them. This lead Havaok to think of his own harrow reading and The Twin card. Later talk centered on Zhentil Keep and a certain painting- it was then Dylan realized Manshoon could be and was likely his father.
Manshoon- The unknown man in the painting.

After several hours and ales later, Manshoon shared what he knew about the location Order of the Lammasu and Randall Morn. While he has no reason to meddle south of the river, Manshoon's resources tell him that Anthar’s Dell is one of Randall’s meeting locations and that nearby Castle Dunbarton to the south west is a likely location for either one or both.

The characters find Danus Treagh and Hieb Jenton here as well. When confronted they indicated they were lied to by Sumel and believed they were following Havaok's orders through proxy. Havaok warned them that their life was forfeit if he should see them again.

The characters are provided a stable to rest in, away from prying eyes. The next day, (day 8) the characters are reunited with Red Morgan, Ulric Estone and Timrurko who have completed their task of purchasing building materials for the new temple of Bane in Green Orb. However with certain plans having changed they are going to build here among the outlying Dagger Falls community- something that caters to the ‘roguish travelers’. This lead the characters to seek out an armorer tradesman named Wellins who should really just open a shop already.

After some lucrative commerce the characters leave the Dagger Falls vicinity and head south along the Tethyamar Trail. They made great time along the trail and in the darkness of night the characters arrive at Green Orb where Tiberius sees an eerie glow emanating from within an otherwise empty town. A golden illumination that no one else could see…

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