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Nov 01 2012

Chronicles of Netheril, October 13th, 2012

Loudwater

While we were asleep, a few days after returning from the spiral gate, we each had a dream featuring Dernan; even Voulge who doesn’t actually sleep and therefore doesn’t dream. In this dream Dernan was asking for our help and wanted us to meet him in a tavern in Waterdeep.

When we woke up we made preparations to leave immediately. Lucky for us we now had a ship capable of flight; it would greatly cut down on our travel time. But before we could depart we had to name our vessel. Doing otherwise would bring extremely bad luck upon us. So we christened her Sky Reaper and set sail with due haste.

Waterdeep

Upon arriving in Waterdeep we moored Sky Reaper at the airship docks and made our way to the tavern in the dream.

While waiting for Dernan to arrive we bought some drinks and talked with the patrons, who were riled up about something. We found out that the local temple of Selûne had recently shut its doors and wasn’t admitting anyone inside for worship. At about the same time a stranger had arrived in town, riding on the back of a silver dragon. The stranger was apparently last seen in the vicinity of the temple.

When Dernan arrived and we had finished catching up, he confirmed the veracity of the rumours told to us by the patrons. He also provided quite a bit more detail about the situation.

Dernan is actually a member of the Church of Selûne; a priest or a monk, we’re not sure. A low ranking member, he saw his standing within the Church rise greatly upon his return with The Last Grasp of Shadowbane. He even had the ear of the High Priestess herself. In the last few days, though, he realised that he was being shut out and kept in the dark about the major happenings in the temple.

Then he was given a vision by Shadowbane, which was in fact a sentient artefact. The sword told him that someone was coming to take it away from the temple, and that this should be prevented. That is why he sent us the dream asking for our help.

Later, he was given a short leave from his duties and had been told by the High Priestess herself to take some time off away from the temple. We had arrived in town not long after that.

Dernan believed that the dragon rider had come to town the take the sword away. The timing was too close to be a coincidence.

We decided to go to the temple right away and see the High Priestess. Dernan was able to gain entrance, but as we were making our way to the central hall to speak with the High Priestess he could somehow feel the sword leaving the temple’s premises.

The High Priestess wouldn’t answer any of our questions. She wasn’t actually refusing to talk; she was pretending that nothing out of the ordinary was happening. We played along and pretended her answers had assuaged our fears and then asked if we could consult the temple archives. We said we were looking for any information that could help us in our mission to stop Netheril’s evil plans.

She granted us access and left us to our task. After a few hours of searching through the archive index for any documents that could be of use we hit the jackpot. In a darkened corner of the archives we found an almost completely hidden alcove. There were thick layers of dust on everything in the alcove; yet one very old scroll, possibly the oldest in the archives, hadn’t a single speck of dust. Someone had consulted it very recently.

According to the scroll there is a secret temple of Selûne hidden high up in the Starmounts. It was built as a hideout from and fortification against the forces of the Church of Shar. It was built high up in the frozen peaks. There was no road or path leading to the temple from the base of the mountain. Seekers had to brave the dangerous and treacherous frozen terrain. There was no way by air either. The winds in the high peaks were so strong and unpredictable that no flying vessel could navigate. Large vessels weren’t responsive enough to react to the rapidly changing winds, and small vessels didn’t have the weight or strength to even face those winds. Only large dragons could approach the Starmount peaks by air. This temple was therefore the dragon rider’s most likely destination.

In a second stroke of good luck, the scroll also indicated the best starting point for the trek to reach the temple by foot. It wasn’t the safest way, because there were none. It was simply the least deadly. The Unicorn River had its source in an underground spring in the Starmounts. If we followed the river all the way to the base of the mountains we might find a way up to the temple.

With this information in hand we left the temple, returned to our ship and departed Waterdeep. Dernan had decided to accompany us.

The Starmounts

The large and dense forest around the Starmounts prevented us from reaching them with our ship. We had to land outside the edge of forest and follow the Unicorn River on foot. But Dernan remained on the ship because he didn’t want to slow us down.

A short way into the forest we came upon an old cabin inhabited and by an even older eladrin druid. This man was ancient even by eladrin standards. When we told him about our mission he offered to help us and drew us a map that would get us through the forest and to the base of the Starmounts as quickly as possible.

Following the map led us to a large clearing. Across the clearing from us was the sheer and un-climbable wall of the mountain. On either side, impenetrable scrub. We were at a dead end.

Just when it seemed like we were stuck, Ash received a vision from Shadowbane. It was beckoning him to enter the clearing and it was quite insistent.

When we reached the centre of the clearing a group of treants appeared out the forest. Since they’re sentient, walking trees, their perfect camouflage had made it impossible for us to see them until they stepped into the clearing. They said that our presence had violated their sacred grove and attacked us.

Shadowbane was still in contact with Ash’s mind, urgently asking him to come to it. The prolonged duration of vision was giving Ash a severe migraine.

To prevent himself from passing out from the pain, Ash channelled it into a rage that he unleashed on the nearest treant. In just a few seconds his attacked left the creature nothing more than a pile of kindling. Turning to the other treants he let out a growl and with a terrifying feral look on his face told them to stand down or they would suffer the same fate. {Rolled a crit on an intimidate check.}

They believed him and complied. And while Ash calmed himself down, the rest of us asked the treants if they knew the way up to the hidden temple. They pulled aside some branches in one of the clearing’s impenetrable forest walls to reveal a hidden path; and then they left. As we entered the path, the vision in Ash’s mind subsided.

After following the path for a few minutes, we came upon an abandoned campsite. From the tracks it would appear that the camp had been made by the dragon rider who took the sword. Lying on the ground in the camp we found a torn piece of black cloth. Upon it was the sigil of Shar with a purple flame; the emblem of worshippers of Shar who were also agents of the Princes of Netheril.

Ash received another vision, but only a quick flash this time. It was of a knight clad in imposing black armour. He had the same emblem painted upon the chest plate of his cuirass.

We continued following the path and when we reached the end we found ourselves in front of a large set of stone doors set against the mountain face. Opening the doors revealed a large, smooth and circular tunnel. The carcass of a dead purple worm could be seen not far in side the entrance.

The tunnel led up into the mountain, so we followed it. Three quarters of the way in a collapse in the main tunnel prevented us from going any further. But a smaller offshoot tunnel led to an exit from the tunnel system. Outside, we found ourselves high up in the mountain peaks. We had bypassed the more dangerous parts of the mountain.

The vision Ash received in the abandoned camp would seem to imply that the Shadovar were after Shadowbane, knew of the hidden temple and that they had reached the Starmounts before us. This is most likely why the sword didn’t want to leave the temple in Waterdeep. Any attempt by the Netherese to steal the sword from Waterdeep could end up being interpreted as an act of war. And an open war with another nation is something Netheril would want to avoid. On the other hand, in a hidden temple forgotten to the rest of the world, the sword would be easy pickings for the Shadovar and their agents.

That we hadn’t seen a trace of them in the tunnel was a good sign. It meant they were taking the long way up and that we still had a chance to get to the hidden temple before them.

The Starmounts – The Hidden Temple

When we reached the top of the mountain, we discovered a grand plateau surrounded by rocky spires. In the flank of one of the spires was a massive stone door. The stranger was standing next to his dragon, in front of the door. He introduced himself as Azaryth.

We explained about our mission and our fight against Netheril, as well as visions that both Dernan and Ash had received. Upon hearing all of this Azaryth opened the temple door so that we could speak with the priests inside.

Having entered the temple and been introduced to the High Priest Mathavar, Ash received another vision. Shadowbane was frantic and screamed in his head.

The shadows are coming! I feel them drawing near! You must free me or it will be too late! There is no time to talk with the guardians here! They served only their own interests and cannot be trusted!

Ash relayed the message and gave Mathavar the torn piece of cloth as proof that the Shadovar were near. This convinced him to hand over the sword. Since the Shadovar were unaware of our presence with might be able to sneak away with it while the Shadovar focused their attention on the temple.

When the priests opened the secret compartment in the altar Shadowbane, which had been a longsword the last time we had seen it, had now become a fullblade. The sword was identical to the Soulsword, except that it had an enmity towards shadow creatures.

It was at this moment that Azaryth’s dragon sounded the alarm; the Shadovar advance force had arrived. Azaryth mounted the large silver serpent and took to the sky to try and slow down the main force’s approach.

Once sealed the main door was impregnable, but the priests could not close it until we had defeated the advance force and left with the sword; otherwise we would be trapped inside the temple. So they went and hid inside the temple complex and we positioned ourselves in the entranceway behind the door. This would block access to the temple and the massive stone walls would protect us against flanking manoeuvres.

We succeeded in defeating the advance force, and since we were facing shades, Ash made sure to use Shadowbane instead of Soulsword. We then left the temple with great haste and used the hidden tunnel and the forest path to reach our ship unobserved. We departed the area immediately.

To Sembia

After telling Dernan of our adventure, he mentioned he needed to speak to some of his contacts in the city of Urmlaspyr in southern Sembia. Although this meant travelling very near to the border of Netheril we decided to take him with our ship. The Netherese would never expect us to take the sword so close to their lands. And since Dernan’s contacts were Bedine, it would allow us to call in a few favours.

During the trip, Ash received a telepathic message from both Shadowbane AND Soul Sword.

“When the time comes, as we are one, take us – and plunge us into a tear of Selûne – for to bathe in it shall grant us vorpal might!”