Year: 1372 DR
Day: Hammer 27
Location: City of Melvaunt in The Moonsea region
It had been a long, cold Winter in the Moonsea region. Eager to reach friendlier shores, Camthalion, dragon-blooded elf sorcerer, and his new traveling companion, Euranna, Priestess of Corellon, had been traveling through the region when they met Pavel, a servant of the merchant house Nanther who had been searching roadside inns for adventurers. Pavel gave them a scroll bearing a seal that would allow free entry to the city of Melvaunt. The servant explained that the son of the merchant, Worsten Nanther, has disappeared and he had been charged with finding competent adventurers to aid in the investigation. At roughly the same time, Vicas, a Witch from the Dalelands, was found by a woman named Mina, also charged with finding adventurers, yet the inn she visited was devoid of travelers save Vicas and so she gave the scroll to him with the plea of finding the missing son of Worsten.
Vicas, Camthalion and Euranna arrived on a rainy night to Melvaunt, the City of Swords. Vicas arrived shortly before the elves. They were all given a cold reception by the unfortunate guards who stood watch in the rainstorm. With the seal they were granted entry after dark into the city which normally would not be permitted. Vicas stabled his horse and sought information at a tavern called The Crow’s Nest. Ongom, a large man with a noticeable lisp, greeted Vicas and brought him into the tavern.
Vicas noticed an assortment of revelers gathered around a man telling stories of piracy on the Moonsea. The man was a mixed heritage, bearded human wearing a tricorn hat over long, dark hair braided with crow feathers. This was Pluarty Crow, owner of The Crow’s Nest tavern. Ongom told Vicas that he would have some stew brought to him and asked another man sitting at a nearby table to fetch some from the kitchen. The man was Mardrog, a warrior who had taken to working at the Crow’s Nest until more mercenary work could be found. Unknown to Ongom, Mardrog had just been informed his services were no longer needed at the tavern earlier in the day. Mardrog still did one last service to the tavern and brought Vicas his stew.
Over some small talk, Mardrog learned Vicas was in the city to look into the disappearance of the merchant’s son. All eyes soon went to two elves who had walked into the room, escorted by Ongom who proudly announced “We got Elfish!” to Pluarty Crow. The two elves were seated at a table and Pluary came over to introduce himself to the very attractive (17 and 18 Charisma) newcomers. A bottle of Elvish wine was ordered up by Pluarty as the elves asked about recent happenings in the city. Vicas and Mardrog overheared the discussion and introduced themselves. Pluarty enlightened all of them to what he knew. Not only was the scion of House Nanther missing, but the scions of five other noble houses as well!
Pluarty explained the nature of the body politic in the city was heavily tied in with the merchant houses. Since most citizens work in some capacity for one house or another, a civil war could erupt over the accusations that rival houses are behind the disappearances. Paid thugs wander the streets looking for those missing, but mostly are just causing more trouble by hurling insults (and sometimes fists) for those working for a rival house.
Vicas, Mardrog, Euranna and Camthalion decided it would be in their best interests to pool their resources on the investigation and agreed to go see Worsten Nanther in the morning. Due to Ongom mentioning that rooms were available for the elves, Pluarty reluctantly agreed to allow them to stay in the several rooms he kept reserved for special guests (Mardrog slept one more night in the shack around the back of the tavern). Pluarty also offered to make introductions or provide
what help he could for the adventurers but on two conditions. First, that they return and tell him what they learn so he might have a new story to tell his patrons. Second, he must remain neutral in whatever happens as it could bode ill for his business.
On the morning the group took in a less than scrumptious (yet free) breakfast prepared by Ongom as they discussed their plans. Since Mardrog knew the city quite well and offered to guided them, after a quick stop to buy daggers, to the House of Nanther. Upon their arrival, they were ushered in to a parlor of the manor house. Worsten Nanther, a heavy set man with a golden, ibis headed cane, met with them and offered 1,000 platinum pieces for the safe return of his son,
After some questioning they learned the following:
-In addition to his son, Oreal Nanther, Argens Bruil, Kalman Leiyraghon, Elaint Marsk and Kara Calaudra, each one a young member of a merchant house, are missing as well.
-Some of the other houses have publically announced their own investigations into the matter. Others throw veiled threats if their respective heir is not returned. It is because of conflicting interests among the city’s mercenaries that Worsten decided to call upon outsiders.
-Oreal had “foolish notions” that the houses could cooperate together. Worsten dismissed this as youthful optimism.
-Oreal was known to have trained, against his father’s wishes, with rangers that would wander through the city from time to time.
-Oreal was last seen in his room five nights ago. After the group inspected Oreal’s room, they uncovered what they suspected were crude iron artifacts of savage humanoid make hidden under his bed. Worsten had no idea where his son could have gotten them. Vicas deciphered some Orcish runes that made reference to a burning eye.
-It is possible, although unlikely, that assassins from Zhentil Keep or Mulmaster were involved, but there have been no signs to indicate this.
-The greatest enemies of House Nanther are House Leiyraghon and House Bruil.
The group left House Nanther and decided they should either go investigate the city watch or the other merchant houses. They decided on the houses first and chose House Leiyraghon. Mardrog led them to a sprawling, unwelcoming estate. The gates were closed and a heavily armored guard sternly watched their approach. The guard told the group his master was not receiving visitors today. When they said they were investigating the missing scions, the guard told them again his master was not to be disturbed and was conducting his own investigation. Camthalion moved close to the man, summoned a small amount of magical frost energy between his fingers and attempted to
intimidate the guard. His efforts failed to arouse any sense of fear in the guard and Cam walked away with the others soon following.
They next visited House Bruil. Unlike the Leiyraghon estate, the Bruil estate stood open to callers and the party was met by an elderly chamber maid whose wrinkled face greatly amused Euranna. The “raisin lady” fetched her master, the shrewd and miserly Vanth Bruil. Here
-Vanth chose his grandson, Argens, over his son, Halmuth, as his heir.
-Argens was last seen five days ago and disappeared the same night as Oreal Nanther.
-Argens had under gone training to be “Holy Warrior” at the temple of Tyr where he often volunteered. Vanth disapproved because there was no profit to be found in such things and hoped his grandson would come to see the error of his ways.
When they were curtly dismissed by Vanth, the old chambermaid ushered the party out towards the gate. Before she shut it on them a plea from Euranna encouraged the woman to reveal that once a month for the past three months, Argens would not be seen for up to three days and sometimes his clothes had odd stains, tears and dried blood. She assumed these were simply byproducts of youthful indiscretions.
Next, rather than visit the other houses or the city watch, the party headed to the Temple of Tyr. It was a small temple that had only been built about a year before. Jens Galt, a loud bear of a man serves as head o the temple. He happily told the group about Argen’s periodic adventures into the land of Thar and the combat wounds he and his friends would return with as a result. Among them were several other human youths and a female half-elf with a raven commonly seen perched on her shoulder. Jens confirmed that Argens had recently been called and trained as a Paladin of Tyr. Lastly, they learned Argens was seen in the company of Dorn Crownshield, a dwarf adventurer of local renown.
As the group left the Temple of Tyr, Euranna and Camthalion noticed they were being followed by several rough looking humans. They quietly informed the others and Mardrog lead them into a quieter part of the city were they could prepare themselves for a fight. Shortly after they arrived on a desolate street, the thugs managed to make themselves scarce. The heroes began to cast spells on themselves of protection and Vicas cast an Enlarge Person spell on Mardrog. With
only a few seconds to spare the ruffians emerged from around a corner and informed the party they had best leave the city before they got hurt.
After some tough talk and the thugs rapped their clubs upon their wooden shield and advanced. Archers sprang up from a nearby roof began to open fire on Euranna and the now 12 foot tall Mardrog. The melee was later joined by another thug who attacked Vicas after he had invisibly gotten into position from behind him. Witch Hexes were thrown by Vicas, clerical blessings cast upon the party by Euranna, Mardrog took the clubs in stride from the thugs and returned with his
own attacks while Camthalion launched Flaming Hands and Scorching Rays at the archers. The heroes began to gain the upper hand and the leader of the thugs was put to sleep from a Slumber Hex by Vicas. The last of the archers turned and ran, leaping down onto a porch of the house and then down into the alleyway. Camthalion and Mardrog gave chase (much to the surprise of the tenants of the houses seeing a large man run by the second story window). The archer had a head
start and managed to evade the elf and the fighter who reluctantly returned to where Euranna and Vicas had tied up the sleeping thug leader. As the inhabitants of the nearby houses emerged and called for the city watch, the group gathered what they could from the dead thugs’ bodies (including several empty potion vials which caused some comments of concern), then made a hasty exit down the street with their captured foe slung over Mardrog’s shoulder.
Their captive attacker was uncooperative. What little he did reveal told that his gang had been paid to intimidate the group, drive them from the city, or, if needed, kill them. Camthalion, approached the thug with an icy manifestation of power (the same as he did with the
guard at Leiyraghon manor) and attempted to intimidate the thug into saying who paid to have them killed. The thug was unimpressed by Camthalion and promptly told him to get his fingers out of his face. In a moment of frustration, the sorcerer released the Ray of Frost. While the pain caused the thug to wince, it did not make him to reveal any further information.
The captured thug was brought to the city guard and they explained to the guard captain of the attack. The captain seemed nonchalant about the whole affair but did mention they had seen the handiwork of the group when they found the bodies of the other gang members. Once the guard captain heard it was a matter of self defense and recognized the thug as a known criminal, he happily took the man off their hands after recording sworn statements from the party members.
Between the fight and walking back and forth across the city all morning, the group broke for lunch at The Crow’s Nest. Pluarty Crow saw to their lunch personally and added it onto their ever growing tab. Over the discussion at lunch, Pluarty was asked about any rangers that would come through the city. He knew of one, a half-orc named Haravak, but he knew of no way to contact him nor his current whereabouts. They also asked him if he knew about Dorn Crownshield.
Dorn is a respected and noble dwarven warrior and a “good bloke” according to Pluary, who has worked for several of the merchant houses as a mercenary. Dorn commonly spends his down time at The Frothy Beard, a well known hang out for the dwarves in the city, but has paid visits to The Crow’s Nest from time to time.
The Frothy Beard was the next stop after lunch. The group entered to the stares of a few dwarves having their midday repast and the bartender asked what business brought them to his bar. They showed the bartender the crude iron artifacts found in Oreal Nanther’s room. The bartender confirmed they were definitely of orcish make. After asking about Dorn, they learned he was last in the bar about four or five days ago, boasting about taking his “younglings” on their first
“real” adventure into Thar.
With this information the party felt they had best get their horses to continue their investigation into the Gray Land of Thar. Home of fog clouded marshes, moors and rocky hills where orcs, goblins, ogres and unnatural things are known to dwell. Euranna and Vicas also knew that there were ruins scattered about Thar where a young band of adventurers might easily have uncovered the orc artifacts that Oreal had hidden in his bed chamber. In particular, one ruin called Xul-Jurak, was the stuff of local legend as a fortress used as a gathering point by the orcs for assaults upon the nearby human settlements. It has been destroyed, rebuilt, destroyed, rebuilt, over and over for generations, often by feuding orc tribes themselves than armies of other races.
Preparations were made for an expedition into Thar. Hopefully a clue would turn up as they travelled the Northern Road towards the town of Glister which was about five days away. The cold weather chilled the party but the rain had gone, leaving occasional fog which left the party damp throughout their multi day travel. The road became more of a rough trail the further on they went. Patrols are practically unheard of on the Northern Road and no other travelers, friendly or hostile, were encountered. On the third day, outcroppings of a long ruined settlement began coming into view as a hideous cry echoed across the moors. “Grahhoooo!” the sound went and through the fog a scene of battle appeared. Amid the ruins were six rotting orc corpses surrounding the body of a male dwarf. Of more pressing concern was the source of the “Graahhooo!” A large creature, a mixture of hair and feathers, the size of a bear but with the head of an owl, was feasting away on the meaty remains of the orcs and the dwarf.