Campaign of the Month: May 2009

Forgotten Realms: The Savage North

First Days in Brynn Shander

The fourth and fifth sessions.

Having learned not only that Theren’s father, Morden Moonblade, had once spent some time in Brynn Shander but also that he had made friends with a local witch as well, the heroes set off to the Falconer’s Rest saloon to find the mysterious Szelrina. Beautiful and unnaturally tanned given the climate, the smoky-eyed saloon girl leads the heroes up to her private chambers, where she speaks with them. At Theren’s request, Szelrina agrees to show him his father’s death; she performs a ritual that clouds the heroes’ minds, but when the haze clears they find themselves not in the saloon but rather standing on an ice-covered plateau with a geyser of hot water erupting from one edge, melting the ice they stand on and causing cracks to form beneath their feet. Moreover, Theren’s face is replaced with that of his father, Morden Moonblade, and they have only moments to adjust to their surroundings before they are set upon by three imps, who lead a charge in front of a young barbarian man. As they fight off the imps and subdue the barbarian, they realize that the latter foe appears to be merely a bewitched, younger version of the barbarian that Zereb and Harold had seen hanging in the cage above Brynn Shander. At the moment of their enemies’ defeat, a rough-looking Blackhand appears suddenly (as though he had been invisible) to drive a dagger into Theren’s heart. As Theren sinks to the ground, he gazes into the Blackhand’s fiery eyes as his killer whispered, “For Yeenoghu.”

At that moment, the world spins and the heroes find themselves once more in Szelrina’s chambers. With this new knowledge, they set out to go talk to the barbarian. Still hanging in his cage, the barbarian speaks with the heroes until the guards attempt to break up their conversation. While Harold and Sardon distract the guards, Malkyr stealthily climbs up the wall, onto the parapet, out onto the cage, and then quietly unlocks the cage, freeing the barbarian (who identified himself as Keldar). In silence, with the guards distracted, Keldar and Malkyr drop to the ground and skulk off into the shadows. Around this time, the guards notice that Keldar was missing and raise an alarm, telling the heroes to get back to their inn (apparently, Keldar had escaped before, as they assumed he’d broken out on his own now).

The heroes reconvene in an alley well away from the search to quickly question Keldar on his role in Morden’s death. Reluctant to answer until he learned that Theren was Morden’s son, Keldar reveals that when Morden came North he hired Keldar to serve as his guide around Icewind Dale. The two of them, along with Morden’s apprentice, Azard, traveled to several of the towns in the Ten Towns area, accumulating a number of followers who were experts on the strange happenings in the area. Their last journey north was to Hellfrost Glacier, though the Moonblade Expedition never reached its destination. According to Keldar, they were set upon by devils, and the next thing Keldar remembered was awakening near an icy plateau, alone, frozen, and half-dead, with no sign of Morden or his comrades. Keldar, obviously wracked with guilt, tells the heroes that he does not know of Morden’s final fate, but he did encounter a cadre of elves that came to the North, supposedly to bury one of their own (corroborating Rolgar Callahan’s story from before).

With this new information, the heroes decide that their best bet for learning more about the Moonblade Expedition was to break into the house of the Blackhand leader and steal the maps to the site of this elven burial. The heroes steal a horse for Keldar, instructing him to lead the Blackhands on a chase and meet them far outside of town, where he will then guide them on to the location listed on the map. As Keldar rides off, the heroes approach Andrez’s house, bluff their way past the townsfolk standing guard outside the building, and enter the home. Unfortunately, their luck ran out as they encountered the Blackhands, and a tussle broke out. After dispatching the Blackhands and confiscating some valuables from the house, the heroes discover the map to a place called “Morden’s Oasis.”

Stealing away in the wee hours of the morning, the heroes ride out and eventually meet up with Keldar. Using Keldar’s expertise, the heroes journey north, arriving at a spot that looks eerily similar to the icy plateau in their earlier vision. Instead, they are confronted with a beautiful oasis, with tall, fruit-bearing trees hanging over a steaming hot lake. Greenery grows all around the lake in a most unnatural fashion for a place this far North, and clearly there is elven magic at work. After some investigation, Theren discovers a set of trees that looks identical to those outside the Moonblade estate in Myth Drannor, and after some manipulation they manage to uncover a secret entrance into a rocky outcropping at the side of the oasis. At that moment, a brisk wind blows in, whipping up debris from the ground which swirls and forms into several elves, who launch an attack on the heroes. During the battle, the very land reaches out to smite the heroes, but eventually they prevail, rendering the defenders inert and causing them to collapse into piles of dead leaves and twigs.

From behind the doors into the outcropping, the heroes can hear the sounds of laughter and celebration. As the doors open, they are confronted with a wondrous scene. The door appears to be a portal into an ancient elf city in the midst of a celebration. The heroes are welcomed inside, and as they go in they discover that they are apparently transported to a rediscovered city of Valynar, a city of ancient Myth Drannor thought lost eons ago. According to the locals, the city (and the portal to it) was discovered by Morden Moonblade, whom they all honor and revere. Upon further investigation, however, things are not all as they seem. No one in town seems to know where Morden Moonblade lives, although they are all quite sure he has an estate in town. They are also quite sure that he will be arriving soon, as he is the guest of honor in their festivities. The locals encourage the heroes to feast and make merry, and they assure the heroes that Morden will have plenty of time to speak with them when he arrives. As the heroes grow more suspicious, Theren goes to a the local library to see if he can learn more. Upon opening the books, each one of them is revealed to be blank, and with this revelation the book crumbles into a pile of dead leaves. The illusion revealed, a city guardsman that had been following them fires an arrow at Theren, which streaks toward its target as the scene fades to black…



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