Dale Reckoning 13xx – The Watcher
In the morning after the well-fought (?) battle, our heroes plot their next move…
Cera returns to her well-appointed stateroom in the Northern Mist™, the second-most respected inn in Neverwinter to convalesce after suffering injuries from the loathsome Beholder©. With two handmaidens at her beck and call, she orders them to prepare the bath and wine for her pleasure. She intends to make good use of her time by perusing the tome she claimed from the mage.
With the bath ready, she un…
… the tome with invisible tendrils of force, she flips the through the pages and quickly discovers it to be a grimoire of sorts. Even with her arcane talent, the language that marks the faded parchment eludes her understanding, but her mind has already turned to someone who can read the infernal script within.
Our warriors make way to the Moonstone Mask™, the most respected inn in all of Neverwinter to process recent events. But before they do so, Sarvin must rest, leaving his armour to the street urchins he has recruited, while Shiar broods at the bar in the common room. Lying motionless upon the stool and with the occasional shot, our Elven Ranger is soon ready to venture the streets alone to find out more of the fallen mage from the eve before.
The warmth of the Mask’s hearth quickly gives way to unnatural cold as Shiar makes his way through the streets, lined by many beggars and invalids looking for succor at the closest city watch precinct they can find. Pushing through the crowd and making his way inside, our shaven archer eyes a familiar man. Hailing him from afar, Toor Reebs turns his gaze from the quartermaster to meet his questions. Understanding the situation involves the commotion from last night, he directs him below, to the cellar turned morgue. With permission from the quartermaster, our expert hunter forages the barrel filled with the mage’s belongings, finding a suspiciously empty leather bag, whose dimensions could fit the prize her elven acquaintance took before taking to parts unknown.
Meeting again with a guarded Sarvin in his quarters, they surmise from her haughty demeanor that she would most likely be taking transient residence in the most opulent space she could find. Surprisingly, she is not in Madame Ophala’s guestbook, and they take this to mean she must take exception to the Mask. Asking the locals for two days, they find out that the trade roads to Mirabar have become dangerous of late, hill giants coming down from their mountain homes not to pillage, but seemingly to settle in new homes. Rumors from mercenaries go that they came from the Fire Mountains in the east, which forms a portion of The Crags, named for the Dwarven Kingdom from ages past that dwelled there and the battles they fought with fire giants.
Eventually, after braving the cold and the first snowfall in Neverwinter’s known history, they find the Northern Mist™. Slavishly attended by the master of the establishment, they find out that their quarry resides here, but she has demanded that none disturb her morning victuals. With only time to kill, our two heroes try their luck and skill in Siegerunner™, the latest card game from the cabal of Flights of Fantasy. They make short work of the pretenders and nobles who test their hand against them, the spectral images of their cards rising up to take the seven lords they require for victory.
Soon enough, Cera comes down the stairs and spots the two, and no sooner are silent exchanges made and they find a private quarter to discuss their business. Cera parts with the tome for a map that would direct her to the Fire Mountains, where she expects to find the strongest creatures that Neverwinter has to offer, while the two are given free reign over the tome. Sadly, the grimoire’s contents betray little when they have Count Chouculous the Profane appraise the contents, but their course is clear with the other effects of the mage: There is a meeting of his cult in the Fire Mountains.
Both groups prepare separately for the journey; they pack light to make good speed and expect the journey to last two rides. Cera packs for three rides while Sarvin and Shiar prepare for just one, expecting to hunt in the bountiful forests. Knowing from Count Chouculous that Lord Nasher has sent a hundred men into the Neverwinter forest to make their way to the mountains, our two warriors follow their tracks, hoping to find out more about the perils that threaten Neverwinter. A ride into their trek, they reach the forest and find tracks that hint the force split into separate groups. Following their general direction, they eventually find the unfortunate corpse of one of the soldiers, and scorch marks of violent battle. Alternating between hunting and making progress with their trek, Shiar spies Cera in the woods, making her own way to their destination. The exchange is decidedly one-sided as the sorceress ignores the ranger’s hails.
Cera for her part had quite the arduous journey. With but the map to guide her, she makes poor progress without training in navigation scouting. Circling around more than once, she exhausts her supplies before reaching the forest borders in the foothills.
Before her arrival, the two made a good nuisance of themselves to the cultists by taking up a commanding view of the area, and even finding one of their supply caches, making good use of it themselves. Eventually they capture a cultist and begin the process of breaking him down for interrogation. All good things must come to an end as eventually the incoming cultists discover their missing supplies and a mysterious figure walks down the mountain to investigate. To make matters worse, they expose themselves just enough when Cera finally escapes her woodland prison and meet up with the Masked Lord’s operatives.
No sooner has Sarvin met up with Cera does an attack come from behind them, as one of the errant rocks in the rolling hills disappears, replaced by the same figure from before. A quick and tense fight ensues as this warrior uses bow, spell and eventually blade to good effect, injuring Cera greatly, but even he is overwhelmed by their numbers and skill.
They learn little from his corpse, but their previous prisoner eventually breaks upon seeing the corpse of the warrior. They learn that the cultists are indeed gathering within the Fire Mountains, but the approach is guarded by the fire giants. Not wishing to confront such formidable creatures head on and in such meager numbers, they suspect that the old Dwarf Fortress™ may prove to be a promising entryway…