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Nov 01 2012

Chronicles of Netheril, October 27th, 2012

Urmlaspyr

During the trip to Urmlaspyr we discovered a note hidden in our possessions.

Brightest Light,

Greetings and warmest regards in these troubled times. Your successes in our past endeavours lead us now to a mission of utmost importance.

We have long been aware of a separatist movement within the borders of Sembia. Much of the once-proud nation is firmly under the control of the Shades of Netheril, but there are pockets of resistance not only within the cities and trade ports, but also within the Shadow Caravans that cross Faerûn to deliver goods and supplies. These Shadow Caravans also broker information to and from interested parties the world over, if only one knows how to inquire.

Your skills are much needed, although not in a martial capacity. Tenderness is wildly desired and a casual approach is required, lest we ward off our contacts. We would like you to keep an eye on a particular female in the Shadow Caravan. While we cannot reveal her name at this time, we can tell you with confidence that this guide is of slight build and wears a wickedly spiked shiv tattoo upon her right shoulder.

Root out this guide and make good with your powers of persuasion. She does not need to be brought into the fold, merely shown that the services she renders would be wisely shared.

As always, may the gods watch over your efforts. Whatever additional assistance you require will be left to your discretion and ability to gather. And most importantly, do not forget: The dove speaks of bitter water in that well, and so listens to wiser heads like Sarkyn.

M.

Whoever wrote this note was a clearly a Harper, because the note contains Harper code.

dove: Refers to a legendary Harper agent. The presence of this term means that spying/Reconnoitring will be necessary.

bitter water in that well: The writer of the note needs to speak with us as soon as possible.

listens to wiser heads: Magics will be encountered. We should prepare.

Sarkyn: The author of the note is trustworthy.

Upon our arrival Urmlaspyr a messenger delivered to us another note; this one from Ashurta.

Hail and well-met my friends! I thank you again for aiding us in disabling the Spiral Gate.

Time is stretched far too thin for me and my friends. Our resources are woefully low and inadequate for our needs in a particular endeavour. Although I may lead the Sand Kings for the time being, it is only with the efforts of those as intrepid as yourselves that we enjoy the successes we are fortunate enough to find.

I write to you from beneath the sight of Cormyr, although I do not reside in the kingdom itself. Find the purple banner above the kingdom of sand and beneath the heel of shade and you will find me.

I must speak with you inside of the next two days. Ride hard, my friends, and be prepared – the journey to follow will be swift and dangerous, with little time for preparations beyond our hastily-spoken missive.

Find me, that we may one day soon find the blazing warmth of freedom from Netheril.

Your companion in the sand,

Ashurta

The location of the meeting was concealed using a code phrase. Once we deciphered it we knew where to go. {We deciphered the code via a knowledge check; and I can’t remember what the location was.}

When we arrived at the meeting place, Ashurta got straight to the point; she needed our help again. The Sand Kings were losing their fight against Netheril and needed to strike back hard in order to slow down the Netherese.

A direct attack would fail utterly; Netheril was too well defended. But an indirect attack could succeed quite well. The Bedine had found a way to enter Shade Enclave unnoticed; but preparing the needed portal would be quite dangerous, and that is where our assistance was needed.

Caravans made regular supply runs between Netheril and Sembia. One such caravan, led by a man named Durean Sakkora, passed near Urmlaspyr on its way to Shade Enclave. Its destination was a hidden location where it would open a portal into the floating city.

The Bedine had agents working in the caravan. Through secret acts of sabotage by those agents, and open raids by the Sand Kings the caravan had been seriously delayed. To make up the time Durean would take a detour to the Ordulin Maelstrom. There his spellcaster Muriel, secretly a Bedine agent, would be able to perform a special ritual in the ruins of the city to open a connection to the Shade Enclave portal.

The Shade Enclave portal was locked to prevent unauthorized access to the city. But as the leader of a supply caravan, Durean had a copy of the access key. Muriel had secretly modified the portal ritual so that as she performed it the access key would be copied to a scroll in Ashurta’s possession.

With this key in their possession, a Sand King strike force could bypass all of Shade Enclave’s security and strike at its heart. Such a feat would only be possible once since the Netherese would undoubtedly close the portal to prevent future incursions. But it would still be a great victory for the Bedine.

The trip to the Maelstrom would be a dangerous one. So before going in that direction, Durean would stop by Urmlaspyr to hire more guards for his caravan. Our task was to get hired by Durean and then ensure Muriel was able to perform the ritual.

The Caravan

Getting hired as extra security was quite easy. Durean was a bit suspicious at first; after all, why would such illustrious adventurers as us be interested in caravan duty. It was simple enough to convince him that we were simply looking for a relatively quiet assignment that would nonetheless earn us a nice profit.

We spent most of the trip getting acquainted with the caravan members and gaining their trust. This was also a necessary step in determining the identity of the various Bedine agents. {This was done as an extended skill challenge and roleplay encounter. I won’t go into the details as it would take many pages.}

After spending some time conversing with Muriel we were able to gain her trust, and we discovered that she was in fact a Harper. The Harpers wanted Ashurta’s plan to succeed, because it could potentially greatly destabilize Netheril.

Ordulin Maelstrom

As we approached the outskirts of the Maelstrom we found ourselves at a significant weak point in divide between Toril and the Shadowfell. As a result we crossed half-way between both realms and became engulfed in shadowy darkness.

At this point, Ash took a position at the front of the caravan. Shadowbane was urging him to strike at the shadows, and once he released it from its sheath, the sword began emitting arcs of radiance that dissipated the shadows. This allowed the caravan to continue on its way and reach the Ordulin Maelstrom.

In the Maelstrom we could see better than earlier, but there were shadows swirling all over. We heard a loud shriek as one of the guards was killed by a swirl of darkness. A wave of shadow creatures was approaching the caravan from up ahead. {Not creatures with the shadow origin, but actual shadows in the shapes of various creatures.}

We were able to defeat the creatures and Durean asked us to ride ahead with Muriel to start opening the portal. He wanted it open and waiting when he arrived, so that the caravan could go straight in.

Muriel led us to the ruins of an ancient laboratory. Inside was a large aperture where the portal would eventually appear. Muriel gave each of us a special Portal Rod and immediately began performing the ritual; but couldn’t actually open the portal until the rods had been inserted in alcoves at the back of the lab. Until the rods were inserted, the portal would not be stable enough to sustain itself.

The main experiment room in the lab contained large crystal pillars. On our way to the rear of the lab, our presence release monsters that had been trapped in the pillars.

Rather than fight the creatures, we instead made a mad rush to the alcoves and inserted the rods. The monsters, being unable to reach us in the alcoves, turned their attention to Muriel. She was quite safe, having erected an impenetrable shield around herself. Unfortunately, the extra effort required to maintain the shield meant she couldn’t fully concentrate on opening the portal.

She would need our help in completing the ritual, but the presence of the monsters made it difficult for us to get within range of the portal aperture to help her. We were forced to fight the monsters more than we wished, but when we completed the ritual, they all vanished.

With the portal now open, we left the laboratory and hid in the ruins. When the caravan reached the portal Durean would assume that we had died performing the ritual and that our bodies had been consumed in the blast of energy as the portal opened.

Once the caravan had finished going through the portal we came out of our hiding spot and started the trip back to Urmlaspyr. Once there Muriel went her own way and we reported back to Ashurta.