Neverwinter Reclaimed

The Story Thus Far
A blog for your campaign

Our intrepid heroes, summoned to the city of Neverwinter by a mysterious letter, have embarked on a difficult mission to reclaim the city from it’s usurpers. The group was comprised of several disparate members of varying races and backgrounds. Desmond, a displaced wanderer possessing great psychic and martial prowess; Pixil Thunderstroke, a devout priestess of Kord who bears a painful secret; Belgron, a mysterious Tiefling with a penchant for destruction and ties to a powerful devil; and Ugarth, a deadly shot and cunning sneak fleeing a nefarious past. Initially, the group found evidence for the nobility of one of it’s members, Desmond, in an old city records building. After this initial success, the mysterious patron of the group revealed herself. She was Madame Rosene, proprietor of the Driftwood Tavern and leader of a band of rebels calling themselves simply, the Gray Cloaks. Her desire was to put in place a leader who was a true heir to the city and its history. After establishing that Desmond was a true heir, she sent the group on to greater tasks.

Through much danger and bloodshed, the group has been able to secure the help of some powerful factions within the city. The Many Arrows Orcs, who reside in the norther part of the city, were the first to join after the party deposed their current leader. The orcs sent Korgul with the party to represent their interests. The heroes also secured the tacit support of a group of werewolves outside the city known as the Gray Wolves, and the pledge of a group of Netherese led by a Shadar-Kai woman named Sheezra who are interested in securing stronger trade presence in the city. Through their adventuring, the heroes also found support in a weird Shadowfell copy of Neverwinter known as Evernight after ousting a Thayan lich Valindra Shadowmantle and her minions.

The party has learned a little about the current rulership of the city as well. Soman Galt the current mayor of Neverwinter has given the group some work yet it seems at cross purposes to the work the party is doing for the Gray Cloaks. The city is currently guarded by hired mercenaries and the heroes have endeared themselves to the guard captain Torian Vrain. All this seems to be orchestrated by an individual named Dagult Urthandar. Urthandar is a powerful lord in the neighboring city of Waterdeep and his true intentions are not known. Also, a strange cult has been uncovered by the party known as the Ashmadai. The devilish patron of Belgron has guided the party to find and infiltrate the cult. The group, and Belgron in particular, have unfortunately not had much success in the infiltration efforts and have instead scattered the members or driven them deeper underground.

Currently the group is on a mission to secure a shipment of weaponry for the rebel cause. They have met with a Dwarf named Durgal in Helm’s Hold who, is worried about the shipment as it hasn’t arrived.

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Strange Things Afoot in Helm's Hold

After spending the night at the Old Dirty Dwarf, the party awakes the next day to a commotion in the common room. When they investigate, they find that a small crowd of people has gathered to see the party after hearing tales of their exploits on the road. One particularly strange person in the crowd is a tall, gray skinned individual armed with a longspear and a commanding presence. He pushed through the crowd and introduced himself as Salt. He said he was looking for companions and would be willing to lend his spear to a cause if he could share in the spoils. The party provisionally accepted and filled him in on some details of their mission.

Oghma symbolThe innkeeper shooed the crowd away except for one individual, a man in humble clerical vestments displaying a symbol of Oghma

The man introduced himself as Brother Satarin. He serves at the massive temple of Helm that is a centerpiece of the city. He seemed distraught about something but answered some of the questions from the party. He spoke of the Prophet Rohini who was capable of soothing the spellscarred and said that there have been rumors that she has healed them. He said that the Temple of Helm was turned into a place of healing for the worst of the spellscarred victims. Eventually he moved on to his concern, that individuals in the lower wards of the Temple’s facilities had broken free of their restraints and caused pandemonium. Finding no other option, the temple guard sealed the door. Satarin was hoping that the adventurers would be able to descend into the lower wards and quell the uprising.
He then left the group to deliberate.

The group decided to wait till the afternoon to observe one of the appearances of the Prophet Rohini. They found a large crowd gathered at the entrance to the Cathedral of Helm. Some obviously sick and suffering were in the front of the crowd. First Brother Satarin and some attendants came out of the church and began administering rites to the crowd. Then after a short while, a woman dressed in simple white robes emerged from the temple with a contingent of guards. She walked amongst the crowd and laid hands on some of the suffering. Her actions seemed affective as the suffering stopped their cries and moans of pain as she touched them.

After a while she scanned the crowed, locked a curious gaze on Pixil Thunderstroke and beckoned her to approach. When the party made their way through the crowd, she looked at Thunderstroke and said “I’ve seen you in my dreams! Why?” They conversed shortly before the prophet shockingly began to convulse and scream, clutching her head. At that time a foul creature erupted from the ground at the edge of the crowd, killing several instantly from the upheaval and smashing several others with it’s disgusting mandibles. The creatures, the party recognized as the same they had fought the day before, spewed out of the ground around the courtyard.

GajThe party valiantly sprung into action, dispatching many of the beasts but not before they had ravaged several onlookers. Then a massive creature erupted from the yard dealing a swift end to several bystanders. A voice boomed in the minds of all present “You will be reckoned with.” and “We come.” Simple, yet confusing messages, and not easy to contemplate in the thick of battle. Soon the creatures were subdued.

The prophet, who had been dragged away by her guard, composed herself and administered healing to the party, a task which clearly exhausted her. Brother Satarin approached the party and made mention that perhaps the creatures and the uprising in the lower wards could be linked somehow as some of the soldiers that returned from trying to subdue the uprising had returned with injuries that looked similar to ones these creatures inflicted.

The party, still waiting for word about the missing shipment of weapons, decided to focus on this task at hand.

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Delving the Sanitarium
In which the players try to subdue the crazed inmates in the depths of Helm's Hold

After being convinced to delve into the depths of the Sanitarium, the party stepped into the dank stairs leading down. With some trepidation, the party scouted out the area at the foot of the stairs. Perhaps 8 to 12 inches of brownish water covered the floor and the rusty smell of dried blood permeated the corridors. After some exploring the party found evidence of battle, a body, which clearly had been partially eaten, and several empty, unlocked cells. Hoping to find the source of the flooding the party ventured down to a fountain that had been broken. It was there they heard a crazed voice scream “FOOOOOOOD” and a lunatic run from the shadows and attack Korgul. A number of the lunatic’s companions followed him from the shadows and a battle ensued. The party eventually subdued the inmates but not before sustaining some injuries.

Avatar wars  helm by johndowsonThe fountain, broken at it’s base, was spewing water into the corridors. Above the fountain on a pedestal was a statue of Helm adorned in armor. In his right hand he held a sword pointed down to an inscription on the base saying “The Protection of All is Our Burden.” The statues left hand was clutched to it’s chest and a close examination revealed a small pendant carved in the stone that bore the symbol of Kord. A curious and interesting find, but not immediately useful.

After exploring more of the area, they found a pile bones and bodies that had clearly been gnawed on. And behind a locked, barred door, they found a nearly dead individual shivering on a damp cot. The man had wounds festering on his arms and side which were loosely and inadequately bandaged. In his hands was clutched a leather bound book. After spending some time re-wrapping the wounds and administering some food and medicinal herbs to the man, it felt as if he was stabilized.

Korgul, Salt and Belgron took the time to examine what looked like the only exit from the area, a large, ornamental, stone door with the inscription “In death thy burden is lifted” above it. Belgron correctly assumed that uttering the phrase from the statue would open the door.

Meanwhile Desmond and Pixil Thunderstroke continued to attend the dying man. Desmond took the book from the man’s hands and read. The book was a journal. Most of the pages were notes on the treatment this individual was doing for the spellscarred but, toward the end, several entries caught Desmond’s attention. They read…

The number of these wretched seems to multiply by the day… We are constantly needing to physically restrain these poor souls. I feel more like a prison warden than a priest. Alas, these people may be our best chance to learn about the spellplague…

…The physical and mental toll that this work is taking is showing on the guards. Many of them refuse to work down here. Except one. A man named Farron Gond. He seems to enjoy this work…

…I was initially happy to have the consistent help of Gond but I’m beginning to question that his zeal is actually madness…

…I’ve requested that Gond be reassigned, I find his enthusiasm quite strange. The number of dying or insane in this place are enough to drive anyone mad yet Gond seems happier than ever. His face has changed, he looks as if he hasn’t seen a minute of sleep in weeks. He’s grown pale and his eyes are darkening. I feel this is all too much for him…

…The guard captain refuses to re-assign Gond. He says Gond is the only one he doesn’t have to force to take sanitarium duty. Farron showed up to duty today proudly wearing a disgusting pendant around his neck. When I questioned him about it he said it was a gift from his “masters.” I fear the worst…

…My fears are realized…

Pixil Thunderstroke decided at last to expend a healing spell on the victim. After a moment of drowsiness and delirium… the man briefly came to.

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Deeper Into the Depths
Where our Heroes Chase the Deranged Spellscarred Into the Crypts of Helm's Hold

After Pixil’s magical ministrations, the ailing priest came to long enough to thank the party for saving him. He handed a small, beautifully made dagger to Pixil saying that he had saved for a long time to purchase it and that it helped save his life, but perhaps Pixil or her friends could put it to use. The party gratefully took the weapon, sensing it’s magical nature, and continued to the strange exit to the lower floors. Once past the doors, the group found that they were descending into a labyrinthian crypt. Luckily, the creatures they were pursuing had left clear tracks and the heroes easily followed. The tracks guided the party through vast chambers lined with ossuaries and tombs. One chamber in particular housed a massive statue of Helm cradling an unknown individual who was presumably in a deathly repose. As with the statue above, the symbol of Kord (the lightning bolt) could be seen carved subtly into the hand.

The group continued deeper into the crypts. Many of the lower tombs bore evidence of being tampered with, though nothing else seemed out of the ordinary. The ranger Ugarth spotted a strange light coming from a chamber to the side, however, and the party moved to investigate.

It seemed as if one of the spellscarred individuals was frantically waving his hand in the air, fending off an invisible foe. The blue flames from his spell scar causing trails of light in the darkness. When Desmond charged in to subdue the man, he saw the object of the man’s terror. A shadowy figure thrust a ghostly spear into the spellscarred and he fell to the floor dead. He carried a handful of silver treasures which clinked on the ground as he died. His pale glowing scar cast enough light to reveal a large stone box in the middle of the room and many more ghostly figures climbing from it’s hidden depts. The apparition then turned its attention to Desmond and a hateful howl rose from several other of it’s kind from around the room.

The group of heroes valiantly battled the apparitions and eventually turned the tide. But realized they would have to return the stolen treasure to the box and close the lid for the spirits to rest again. With that task accomplished the spirits seemed to cease their raging.

Exhausted, the group decided to take a few hours rest in the chamber. They had the opportunity to read the inscription on the box. It read “The Fallen Heroes of the Battle of Gathian. May They Forever be Remembered”

Grosseye It didn’t take long for the heroes to find the rest of the spellscarred after their short rest. They found a chamber with a pile of rubble in the middle and a gaunt, disturbed looking man sitting on a chair on top of the rubble. On his back was a disgusting cape which looked like it was made from a bed sheet smeared in blood. The man mumbled to himself and would sometimes stand and pace and yell in fits of outrage as he studied a crack in the side of the wall. The party decided to remove the troubled man from his worries and attacked. The man clutched at something around his neck, then cried out “Come to my aid my Masters!” As he cried, his body seemed to burst with blue lava. He took on a phantasmal appearance and lighting speed. The battle was quick but furious. Several more spellscarred leapt into the fray but were cut down. A few brutal blasts from Belgron and some well placed shots by Ugarth cut the leader down.

Some of the party searched the chamber. The others examined the body of the leader. A large amount of treasure was piled in a corner and after some trepidation it was divided amongst the party.

Abolyth pendant
Pixil, Salt, and Belgron looked over the body. Belgron, finding the disgusting cape to have some fairly powerful magical properties, decided it would make a proper addition to his outfit. Pixil found a horrible tentacled pendant around the neck of the body. Wisely, she advised everyone not to touch it. As he was examining it, however, the pendant seemed to draw her in. Luckily, Salt was nearby to pull her back. They decided to leave the wicked thing alone.

The crack in the wall was the next thing to be examined. It seemed to be recently broken open and a crevice sunk back into darkness. Ugarth scouted ahead in rat form and found a strange and unexpected world as the crevice opened into a mossy, damp… forrest?

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The Radiant Heart of Helm's Hold
In Which Our Heroes Find a Verdant Secret Buried Beneath the Crypts

After battling and defeating the spellscarred and their nefarious leader, Farron Gond, the group sent Ugarth into the narrow crack in the wall. In his rat form, Ugarth easily crept through the gap and after a long passage, came to an immense chamber filled with vegetation, glowing funguses, and thick moss. Tall trees climbed to the ceiling while creeks and streams of water ran around their sprawling roots.

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Ugarth crept around a bit more before returning to the waiting party and he found several strange mounds covered in moss and vines near the entrance.

When Ugarth returned, The rest of the party was intrigued and decided to risk the cramped passage.

Once on the other side, the party nervously searched the mounds while Ugarth scouted the perimeter of the chamber. The party found that the mounds were recently deceased spellscarred, their corpses bearing signs of chemical burning and slashes from sharp claws or teeth. The thick mat of moss growing over their bodies, however was a mystery.

Ugarth explored around but didn’t find anything more extraordinary than the strange underground forest itself. He did notice that there was no sign of other living creatures, no bugs, or mice, or even birds.

While others were searching the corpses, Korgul looked toward the center of the stand of trees. On the edge, he saw something. A man? or elf? His skin was a strange shade of green and he wore a patchwork cloak made of leaves and twigs.

A tense few moments followed as the creature approached the heroes, however, he greeted the party with some reserved warmth. He introduced himself as Chartilifax and with a wave of his hand, several large, squat mushrooms sprouted from the ground. Chartilifax motioned for the group to sit, presumably on the mushrooms, and he took a seat on a nearby log.

He seemed to be rather interested in the goings on above ground and his knowledge of current events seemed to be a hundred or more years out of date. When pressed for what he was doing in this place, he seemed oddly evasive. He eventually told the group that he was bound to the place by a being he called Barzarah in punishment for some unclear misdeed. Chartilifax still avoided more probing questions about his purpose in the depths and let slip that he was guarding something.

The group would not let the matter rest. Enraged by their persistence, Chartilifax yelled for the party to leave and when they refused, his anger manifested physically as wings, claws, horns, and teeth sprouted from his body, and it grew several times its normal size. The green color of it’s skin gave way to a shimmering, rusty, copper.

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Chartilifax flew at the group, it’s form now fully manifested into that of a huge copper dragon. gouts of acidic gas bellowed from it’s snarling mouth and the party tumbled in all directions to avoid the attack and take up some semblance of tactical response. The dragon was a fury of claws and teeth, snatching up one adventurer while biting at another. Wild magic sprouted noxious mushrooms which also choked the air with acidic spores.

The vicious battle rendered some near death but the tenacity of the party prevailed. Chartilifax angrily yielded to the party.

Upon their insistence, his formed slacked back into the previous humanoid form and the dragon led the party deeper into the trees. Soon, he stopped at a large rock in a clearing, waved his hands around and the rock slid away under some unknown force.

Pixil Thunderstroke, who had secretly been struggling to bear the pain burning from her spellscar doubled over. With the stone set aside, the pain seemed to double.

Salt led the rest of the group after the dragon who descended into a passage under the turned rock. The walls of the short passage and the room beyond were pulsating with strange red glow. The magical energy was palpable. Chartilifax stopped at a massive cauldron covered in glowing runes, which was visibly spewing wild magical energy. Chartilifax said that the item was known as a Hex Locus , an anchor point for the magic Weave that the goddess Mystra had placed over the world. He did not seem to know of the events that had transpired around a hundred years ago, in which Mystra was slain and the weave sundered. But he did hint that he was (relatively) recently able to draw power from the magic source and it fuled his ability to create this magical place.

Chartilifax pleaded with the group to leave him be and to forget they had found his prison. He asked only that, should the party find Barzarah to remind him of Chartilifax and send aid to protect the place.

Their curiosity at least somewhat sated, the company of heroes left Chartilifax.

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Return To the City

The party left Chartilifax‘s lair and determined they had done what they could. The matter of the pendant around the mad guard’s neck had yet to be resolved. It lay where the party had left it next to the oozing remains of Farron Gond. They decided to try again to pick it up using long sticks to manipulate the object from a distance. It seemed that the power of the horrific artifact still affected the one trying to pick it up. The party decided to leave the object where it lay, then consult the Prophet Rohini for further assistance.

The party exited the crypts without incident. Once in the safety of the church complex, they met with the overjoyed priest Brother Satarin who eagerly took the group to see Rohini. After a brief discussion with the prophet, they decided that storing the object in a silver box would have a good chance of containing the evil power of the thing and perhaps the prophet would be able to ward the object and place it in the box.

The plan was executed expertly. They returned to the object, Rohini made some divine invocation and the item was placed in a silver box and taken by Rohini’s guard. Their task complete, Satarin warmly thanked the adventurers and rewarded them with some fine armor and a small sack of gold.

The party arrived back at the Ol’ Dirty Dwarf inn to find their Dwarf friend, Durgal and 3 other strangers. One stranger was laid out on a bed, clearly wounded and in a feverish coma. The others nervously hovered over their friend clutching wounds of their own.

Pixil Thunderstroke sprang into action to tend the wounds of the man on the bed while the others asked who the newcomers were and what they were doing. Durgal said that they were the guards for the shipment of weapons. They explained that they were on their way when they were attacked by strange creatures just outside of town. They had just escaped with their lives and managed to flee with the shipment.

They hid it outside of town but were unwilling to let anyone know where it was until they could get some more compensation. The party reluctantly gave them some of the gold that they found in the crypt. The next morning, the healthier guards left their friend and led the party and Durgal to the shipment which was hidden in a stand of trees off the road and the party plus the Dwarf continued on their way, leaving the guards to their fate.

The trip back to Neverwinter was fraught with peril. They were caught in the water by a patrol boat which they managed to pay off, Then they fought a number of disgusting creatures in the sewer, including a sentient ooze which seemed to consist entirely of feces and putrescence.

Eventually Durgal was able to lead the party through the sewers to a door guarded by a couple gray cloaked individuals. Once introduced, the group was led into the door which led to a ladder up into what looked much like a warehouse made into a makeshift barracks.

After a while, the familiar Madame Rosene arrived and warmly greeted the party. She seemed ecstatic that the plan had gone off without casualties. She said that they had been making progress with raids on Dagult Urthandar and his operations. She also said that she’d arranged a meeting in a couple of days with the greater group of Gray Cloaks to present Desmond as the rightful heir to the crown.

It seems that now that the gears are in motion and events are moving quickly. The choices made in these tumultuous hours will decide the fate of Neverwinter’s future forever.

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The Best Laid Plans

Happy to be back in the familiar surroundings of Neverwinter, our heroes trotted off to the market to spend some of their treasure and resupply. They found that the market was much better stocked than it had been previously and noticed a couple vendors even selling some wondrous magical items. A rare thing in the remote, forlorn city. They made their purchases and planned to return home when ugarth and Pixil Thunderstroke noticed a squat, cloaked figure spying on the party from behind a cart. A moment passed before Ugarth’s memory cleared and, with a shock, he recognized the person as an old compatriot from Luskan. The figure was a halfling named Grist and his presence in the city meant that it was likely more of his ilk were present in the city as well.

Ugarth signaled to the others that he recognized the halfling. At first he tried to nonchalantly move toward Grist but it was clear that the halfling’s suspicions were roused. With another signal, Ugarth motioned for the party’s help. Pixil moved into another row of market stalls, Salt, Korgul, and Belgron sprinted into flanking positions, and desmond held back, unwilling to risk an altercation with the guards.

The small man, seeing that he’d been found out, spent precious moments hiding behind the cart, then in a panic, took to flight down the market row. Unfortunately for him, a well aimed shot from Ugarth took him in the leg and he fell, sprawling into a stack of boxes. A scream loosed from a small pack of market-goers as the halfling fell and shouts from stall keepers rang up from all around. At first Grist looked like he would jump back to his feet and run again, but Belgron came from around the corner, cutting off his escape. Belgon approched the halfling before the others could arrive and seemed to utter unspeakable, devilish words of destruction, for when Ugarth and Pixil finally arrived, Grist seemed shaken with terror.

They tried to press the Halfling for information, but cries and shouts for guards were erupting all around them. Soon, tell tale sounds of guard whistles could be heard in the near distance. The terrified Halfling sputtered and mumbled, not willing to give any information, but still wanting to be out of the situation. While he didn’t say exactly where he let slip that a group of them were in the city and what’s more, an old enemy of Ugarth’s was indeed leading them. The memories of the sneaking, backstabbing, Halfling Content Not Found: drob were brought back afresh in Ugarth’s mind.

The guards approached as a press of onlookers gathered to see the spectacle. Luckily, Salt was quick to step in and intercept the guards. He explained that the halfling had stolen from the group and they’d just managed to apprehend him before he fled.

Meanwhile, Grist decided he had had enough. With a screech of pain, he pushed the arrow through his leg and his form melted from a small halfling into a tiny rat. Gasps and screams exploded from the crowd and the rat scurried under the nearest stall.

The ensuing mayhem afforded the group a distraction from the guards and they were able to slip away while the guards set to fishing the creature out from under the cluttered market stalls.

When They finally returned to their home, The group found O’Brien and Valen eager to see them. They also had a message from the guard captain Torian Vrain. The message stated that Dagult Urthandar requested their presence for dinner at the moonstone-mask to discuss an important proposition. Wary of what Urthandar could want, they decided to find Vrain and confirm that the invitation was genuine.

Vrain, predictably stationed at one of the main guard posts in the city, confirmed that Urthandar was indeed looking for the group for an important task. He also mentioned that it would be quite lucrative to take him up on his offer. The group decided not to waste time and went to the Moonstone Mask that night…. more to come

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Dinner with the Would-Be King

While unsure of what they’d encounter, the group found their way to the floating mote of earth that carried the Moonstone Mask aloft off the western shore of the city. The bridge connecting the Moonstone Mask was heavily guarded but the guards allowed the party to pass without hassle.

Once inside they were escorted to a private room in the top level of the inn. There they found a long table with a stern Dagult Urthandar sitting on on end speaking to a rather rotund, richly clad individual. The chubby man was flanked by a pair of well armored guards and seemed to have a scoffing demeanor.

Several of the town guard milled about in one side of the large room, and on the other side, next to a great hearth, a group of rather rough characters, wearing primitive hides and furs, seemed to be engaged in watching some sort of wrestling match between two of their ilk.

Before they could greet Urthandar, a booming voice erupted from the rough characters. “Brother!” An impossibly large man stood, bounded on all fours toward the party in a strangely animalistic fashion, then tackled Korgul all in a single, fluid motion. After a second of surprise, he was recognized as Hargin of the Gray Wolf tribe that they had met in their travels in Neverwinter Wood. The large man towed Korgul in a headlock over to the hearth where a mug of ale was thrust into his hand.

The rest of the group approached Urthandar, who, at this point was standing and watching. He motioned for the group to come sit. They were introduced to the chubby man. His name was Ofeen, and he was a partner and proprietor of the famed Seven Suns Trading Company.

After a short time, several serving girls entered the room bearing platters of food and the various groups were seated around the table. Several conversations happen in which the following things are learned…

  • Ofeen is a merchant who is considering investing in new Neverwinter. He is skeptical of Urthandar’s ability to stabilize the region enough for the Seven Suns Trading Company to see a profit.
  • The Gray wolves are being courted by Urthandar to root out and crush the rebellion (presumably the cause that the party is currently working for). After some pressure from Korgul, they further revealed that Urthandar promised to help them with a problem they’ve been having with a rival barbarian tribe known as the Uthgardt. Their shamans have learned a magic that the Gray Wolves have not been able to deal with.
  • Urthandar Wants to hire the party to join in his cause. And their first task is to enter the fabled Castle Never and retrieve the Crown of Neverwinter. He wants to make a grand specticle of their entry into the castle as a way to win the hearts and minds of the people. The party tacitly agreed to the proposition, wanting to feign loyalty to Urthandar.

As the dinner concludes Korgul spoke with the gray wolves once again to convince them not to act on Urthandar’s orders and that the party would try to help them with their problem. They agreed to hold their actions for some time.

After their meeting, the party discreetly contacted Madam Rosenne and informed her of what they’d discussed in the meeting. Rosenne decided to accelerate the meeting she had planned with the rest of the Gray Cloaks.

The next evening. the party joined Rosenne and her retinue and descended back into the sewers to go to the secret meeting place. They travelled for a long while and entered a strange labyrinthian passage which was navigated by their companions. Eventually they arrived at a strange amphitheater where around a hundred people had already congregated.

Rosenne immediately took to the stage which was surrounded by stone seats in tierd rows. She quieted the crowd and gave an impassioned speach. She talked of the mission of those gathered, the dangers of the would be ruler, Urthandar, and their right as citizens of Neverwinter to reclaim their city. She then motioned for Desmond to join her on the stage. She told of his right to succession and talked of his strength and capability as a leader.

With that, Desmond spoke for a few moments, but was interrupted by a rather large man sitting at the edge of the crowd. He challenged Desmond’s claims, saying that he was unfit, untested, and unknown. The two argued back and forth for several minutes but the newcomer would have none of it. He eventually threw down the gauntlet and challenged Desmond to a test of combat.

Desmond accepted and the two began a sparring match. The challenger, known as Tyros, was a formidable fighter and dished out some powerful hits but Desmond’s strong defense mitigated much of the harm. Several well timed attacks by Desmond sent Tyros reeling on several occasions. It was after one of these hits that Thunderstroke noticed a surge of devine magic coming from a bystander. It seemed as if the bystander was healing Tyros. Pixil warned the others and sprang into action. The others followed quickly.

When the bystander saw the group approaching he shouted in surprise and several other people standing near threw back their cloaks to reveal weapons at the ready. Soon the duel turned into an all out melee between the groups. Madam Rosenne moved to calm things but some of the assailants fired at her gravely wounding her.

The battle ended with Desmond and his companions victorious. Some of the assailants had surrendered along with Tyros. It was revealed that Tyros was a well known contender for the support of the Graycloaks and that he was a leader in a sub faction known as the Sons of Algondar. When questioned, the others were revealed to be mercenaries from Luskan payed by Tyros to disrupt the meeting. The crowd that remained was split between wanting Tyros executed for his transgressions and others that wanted him to be imprisoned or exiled. Interestingly, the crowd seemed to defer to Desmond’s judgement. He ruled that Tyros should be let go but placed under guard.

The group left after stabilizing the wounded Rosenne and returned to their home. The next days, they resolved, would be spent searching the Neverwinter Wood for the Uthgardt shaman. No matter what, however, wheels were now in motion that could not easily be stopped.

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Another Jaunt in the Woods
Spellscarred Uthgardt barbarians, Werewolves, and Bears. OH MY!

The party departed the city quickly, spending just enough time to recuperate and re-supply before making the day long trek to the Neverwinter Wood. They journeyed on the East Road until they reached the outskirts of Thundertree then cut North to the forest. Just outside, they crossed paths with what seemed like a displaced troll family. The group decided it was best to dispatch the trolls but after the combat they realized one of them had been carrying an infant. Unsure of what to do, the party left the squalling troll infant to it’s fate and carried on to the edge of the forest.

After a rest for the evening, the party ventured into the forest. Ugarths keen tracking senses quickly picked up the trail of a group travelling north. They soon stumbled into the group as they were lying in wait behind cover. The group they were tracking attacked first inflicting heavy damage from bowmen, and calling in several bears to support the men wielding greataxes in melee. The battle did not go well for the Uthgardt. Although, the party realized what the Gray Wolves had been talking about with regards to the “Strange Magic” that had imbued the Uthgardt. Their assailants attacks had been empowered by a strange, yet increasingly familiar blue flame originating from scars on their bodies. The same type of scars that the spellscarred of Helm’s Hold had been afflicted with.

After the battle the party found a pile of the barbarian’s things nearby. Among them were two Gray Wolf pups not much older than 13 or 14. They were released from their bonds and told the party that they were captured and were being taken to the shaman of the Uthgardt. They explained that there were rumors that the shaman was sacrificing things to some dark god. And that the sacrifices were giving them the strange magical power. After the party explained their intent to kill the Shaman Alassa, the two younglings proposed a plan. They would sprint back to the gray wolf camp, and convince them to attack the following morning at day break. This would draw the main force of uthgardt away and give Desmond and his friends a chance to kill Alassa. They all agreed it was the best chance they had.

Parting ways with the gray wolves, the party marched hard though the night… The unforgiving forest threw many challenges at the group and they killed or avoided several Uthgardt sentries but eventually made their way to the Uthgardt camp.

Soon after the party arrived at the outskirts of the camp, the sun began to peek through the trees. True to their word, the wolves made their attack as was evidenced by the sounding of horns far to the south east. The party hid for a long while as the camp nearly emptied then seized their opportunity and snuck further into the camp when most of the force had left.

The camp’s center was a clearing surrounding a low hill adorned with a circle of ancient standing stones. In the center of the circle a large shard of obsidian jutted out like a wicked black claw. Ominous clouds seemed to circle above the hill. Surrounding the hill was an array of tents and wooden lean-tos. Not far from the circle of stones, two large tents stood, and between them a number of wooden cages held several howling and barking wolves. A larger cage held an angry looking Orc.

On the hill several people busied themselves with some ritual. As the party approached, they saw a couple tough-looking barbarians come down the hill, pull a wolf from its cage, and feed it some draught. The creatures body transformed into a young human who choked and sobbed as they roughly dragged it back toward the hill.

Seeing no good thing to come of what was happening, the party charged into the clearing and felled the two barbarians. Chaos ensued. The shaman ritual performers sprang into action calling out to the woods. Several combattants came out of tents to join the fray. And on the hilltop one young shaman threw herself at the foot of the obsidian shard and opened her own throat gurgling “Use me for your will, oh masters!”

It quickly became apparent that Alassa was at the top of the hill as well. Once the girls blood had spattered the obsidian, Alassa chanted an alien sounding incantation and the dark clouds above filled with lightning. The lightning flashed toward the obsidian spire then arced out to Alassa. For a moment she screamed in pain but soon she began to laugh. Her body swelled to four times its size and electric blue fire coursed over her skin.

She joined the fray then, slashing and stabbing with her claws and swinging a wooden totem around as a bludgeon. Several immense dire bears charged out of the forest as well, called by their shaman masters. The party was locked in dread combat, taking heavy damage and dealing as much in return. Meanwhile, the angry Orc locked in his cage saw the opportunity to escape, he bit through the lashings on his cage, found his trusty staff in the nearby tent, and lept to action, hurling fiery pain at his barbarian captors.

The battle ended with Alassa being overwhelmed by the combined force of the party. Her form collapsed in a disgusting but familiar way into a smouldering pile of bluish goo. It reminded everyone of the mad guard in Helm’s Hold, Farron Gond. As they searched the remains, a glint of silver silver shone in the ooze. Once again they were reminded of Gond and his foul cursed pendant

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The Orc introduced himself as Fazaak. He was a wizard, trained by a Red Wizard deep in the heart of the Neverwinter Wood. His master was more torturer than tutor however. Through various circumstances he had become captured. After hearing Desmond’s story he was intrigued enough to see the story to its conclusion… with perhaps the promise of gold and opportunity to burn things as an added bonus.

Pixel and Belgron decided to examine Alassa’s pendant. It seemed to radiate a charm that Pixel could not resist… She just had to hold the thing. In a fraction of a second she fell forward into the oozing remains of Alassa and clutched at the silver medallion. In her mind she fell for an eternity blackness surrounding her like a dark blanket. Then a booming voice echoed in her ears “Ohhhhhhh… the Masters will have great use for you” Then her eyes crashed open as a stinging pain wracked the hand that once clutched the pendant. Belgron stood over her with a large stick in hand. He had managed to swat the pendant out of her hand and it faintly clinged to the ground in some nearby bushes. Shaken and somewhat disturbed, Pixel joined the rest of the party along with Belgron.

The party found a few useful items among the Uthgardt possessions and decided to follow the sound of battlehorns. They found the battle lines soon enough and with their help were able to turn the tide in favor of the gray wolves. They found a triage camp and decided to rest before heading back to Neverwinter.

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The End

After the death of Lord Urthander. The last of the mercenaries fled the city or surrendered as soon as they got word that their benefactor was killed. The Netherise forces, were not immediately heard from after the events of coup. But it was found that the priests of Amanatour had sealed the gateway to the Shadowfell from which they were supposed to enter the city. The Orc forces were happy to loot from the fallen mercenaries and take their spoils back to Blacklake.

The populace was cast into turmoil in the following weeks. The church of Amanatour and its followers were the first to leave. Next, a portion of the merchants, originally wooed to the city by Urhandar’s promise of security and gold, boarded ship and left. Many of the populace were unwilling to wait for the dust to settle as well. And even more were apprehensive of supporting a ruler who they questioned morally. But, Madame Rosene worked to settle their unease and stem to tide of fear and uncertainty. In the end, the majority of the citizens were happy to have one of their own ruling the city again.

A coronation for Desmond was held soon after. However, the city which Desmond inherited was a broken shell, under duress from threats seen and unseen. And a city now more vulnerable than ever. Word quickly went out that soldiers were needed for the protection of the city. The remaining gray cloaks shored up the city guard. Even a portion of the captured mercenaries, once working for Urthandar, agreed to work for Desmond if their pay continued. Spellscarred refugees from Helm’s hold were the first to heed the summons and fill the ranks of the guard as well.

The Netherise did return in force, demanding that the terms of their agreement be honored. Claiming that they were jilted by Desmond for not freeing their entrance to the city. When they were refused, they attacked the city. Their initial assault was rebuffed but not without a loss. And they were a thorn in the side for years thereafter, raiding and pillaging when and where they could.

The great Chasm to the east of the Protector’s Enclave also proved to be an immediate problem. The guards camped in the eastern part of town were the contingent left to defend the east wall. With their destruction, the wall was left exposed to the horrors that found their way out of the Chasm.

Waterdeep did not ignore the murder, as they saw it, of their lord. They also sent a force to demand restitution and a blockade was set around the harbor. While the force was, brilliantly defended against, mostly through the leadership of the warlord Salt, the blockade proved to be a major problem. With the added stress of dividing forces to re-defend the east wall, Desmond was eventually forced to capitulate. Fortunately, however, none of the remaining Lords of waterdeep shared Urthandar’s obsession for the region and they agreed to a treaty which forced Neverwinter to pay annual taxes and high trade tariffs. Bad blood between the cities remains.

The mayor, Soman Gault was found to be wearing the same strange tentacled amulet that the party had become familiar with. When it was taken from him, he went quite mad and would say nothing but frantically whisper about “The Masters.” He was sent to Helm’s hold to be locked up and was never heard from again.

Belgron
Belgron worked with Desmond for a time, helping to defend the city. However, some time after Desmond’s coronation, he was summoned by his mistress again. She met him, masked and cowled. “Daddy was most displeased that you had not stayed to be his servant,” she said. “Now he’s seen fit to punish us both.” at that she removed her mask revealing a disfigured and hideous face. Her eyes had been plucked out and skin flayed. “Now I can only see through your eyes, my darling… but don’t worry, you’ll find a way to make me beautiful again, won’t you?”

He was not seen in Neverwinter again, perhaps doomed to wander the earth haunted by his mistress. But rumors of the warlock were heard far and wide. Tales of his mischievous deeds and beguiling antics were whispered as warnings to innocent maidens and children for centuries. “Don’t lie or be false,” they would warn. “Or Belgron the Betrayer will will take your face and have the truth from it.”

Desmond
Though he was given a broken city, Desmond’s cunning and wit saved the city from certain ruin. He relied on his allies to continue to stabilize relations with the orcs to the north and the barbarians to the the east in the Neverwinter wood. His With the help of Rosenne and her connections, he was able to garner trade relations with the south. But rumors of his dealings with devils, that his companions killed innocents while assaulting Urthandar tainted the beginning of his rule. But such things were forgotten over time.

He ruled well and brought peace to the region and paved the way for Neverwinter to be restored to it’s former glory. As nobility returned, he shrewdly parcelled out the land around Neverwinter. Then sent forces North to take back the city of Luskan from lawless rabble, re-establishing trade routes and connecting precious resources from the North. He eventually married and sired an heir, thus establishing a line of great leaders. But rumors of a bastard amongst the Gray Wolves were the subject of many a prattling gossip.

Fazaak
Fazaak’s reign over fire became legendary, especially amongst his fellow orcs. In time he gathered a following and a fire cult was born. They became known as the Embers of Kossuth. Not being trusted by the general populace, they set up a community at the base of the volcanic Mount Hotenow. Fazaak, driven by a mad desire for revenge, used his cult to burn the Red Wizards from the forest. He cared not for whatever vile magic they were practicing, only that they be purged from the land. From time to time the ashes and the smell of charred flesh would rain down on Neverwinter carried aloft by winds borne by his fiery rage.

Korgul
Korgul was instrumental in forging a lasting peace between the Many Arrows orcs, Gray Wolf barbarian tribes, and Neverwinter. He was able to convince them all to help with the protection of the city to fend off the Netherise threat and staunch the flow of abominations from the Chasm. Years later, he formed a monastery in the Craigs, mountains in the north of Neverwinter wood. There he trained monks in his fighting style. Those who achieved the highest ranks were given the ultimate gift of lycanthropy. The monks trained there would be renowned for their abilities. The phrase “do not try to flee from a Gray Wolf monk.” Would become a common warning to any thinking to cross ways with them.

Pixil
Pixil continued to learn about the strange storm deity that she had adopted. She learned that the god Helm and Kord were, in fact aspects of the same deity, but, since Helm had presumably been killed, the Kord aspect was beginning to manifest in the world again. As this knowledge began disseminating through the world, a following of acolytes quickly made pilgrimage to Neverwinter. Pixil was revered as the harbinger of Kord and the glory of the Storm Lord. Along with The Prophet Rohini and the priests at Helm’s Hold they established a sanctuary for Spellscarred. Also, perhaps being the only one Barzarah truly trusted, the gold dragon came to her to aid in securing the Hex Locus and freeing Chartilifax from his bonds. They cleansed the area and laid the Neverwinter Nine there as its undying protectors. It was discovered that the Hex Locus could be used to treat the spellscarred. So she remains, a stalwart protector of the Hex Locus and a spiritual leader to thousands.

Salt
Salt stayed on as military adviser to Desmond. Under his leadership the rag-tag army that was left after Urthandar’s death was able to repel two invasions. When most of the turmoil in Neverwinter settled, he led several excursions into the Neverwinter Wood to deal with the Netherise nuisance. What he found was a massive site where the Netherise were reconstructing a kind of ruined city. Perhaps it was best that their deal had fallen through after all. Salt led his excursion force and caught the guard unaware. They were able to activate several strange, black constructs to defend the site but Salt’s forces routed them. When further excursions were made to the site, they found a place full of wondrous artifacts. From the strange nation of Netheril.

Salt eventually led the campaign on Luskan that brought the north under the control of Neverwinter.

Ugarth
Revenge fueled Ugarth’s actions after the retaking of Neverwinter. Some of the Gray Cloaks, inspired by Ugarth’s abilities in tracking and subterfuge, joined up with him. Together with his band, his first mission was to find his old nemesis, Drob, the Halfling. After finding evidence of the Dead Rats in Neverwinter, he dedicated himself to rooting them out. His investigations took him to the north side of town, just across the river to a sewer system under Blacklake. They found a nest of the vile Dead Rats and quickly dispatched as many as they could. But the slippery halfling, Drob managed escape. Ugarth and his companions tracked him North for days before they caught him in a misstep and brought his miserable life to an end.

Returning to Neverwinter, Ugarth took up a position of spymaster for Desmond and renamed his band the Black Cloaks. They were instrumental in the campaign against Luskan by infiltrating the city and bringing down its defenses from the inside. While there they rooted out even more of the Dead Rat leadership and crushed them.

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