Black Swords and Smörgåsbords
The party's adventure began with shopping in Easthaven before setting out on the long road to Caer Dineval. They visited The Uphill Climb tavern. There, the tavernkeeper Roark and a note from a concerned commoner hinted at something amiss with the town speaker, Crannoc Siever, who was reportedly ill and sequestered in Caer Dineval. Lacking leads to the Duergar threat, they inquired at the keep where a guard named Thoob who led them into the Caer. They met Kadroth, the tiefling acting as Siever's right hand. Kadroth, a member of the Black Swords cult devoted to Levistus, offered an alliance against the Duergar. Meanwhile, Crank explored the guard tower, learning of connections between the cult and the wizard Avarice. Kadroth invited the party to consult with Hethyl, a old soothsayer shield dwarf who prophesied doom for Ten Towns and a chance at salvation through the party's efforts. She died after revealing her visions. The party schemed to discover the true Speaker Siever's status, manipulating the situation with disguises. They learned that Siever, a disgusting blowhard in his own, had become a prisoner in his own keep. Hazel spoke with the servant girl Mere about a hopeful paladin recruit named Huarwar. Despite a harsh outlook, Huarwar expressed some gratitude by giving Hazel a pendant for his mother. Late at night, the party investigated a cistern beneath Caer Dineval, finding a shrine to Levistus and rooms holding corpses. They walked in on Avarice, who had fashioned a study and bedroom in a side room. She was dismissive of Kadroth and amused by the scenario, though ultimately, she was mostly terse in telling the party to leave her alone. In the final chamber, Oona discovered imprisoned Caer servants, vowing to free them. Avarice certainly overheard their activities.
Shopping in Easthaven
- The party started in Easthaven, doing some shopping. Tetro had picked up an illuminator's tattoo from a pair of Reghed tribesmen he had ran into who thought him a spirit animal. At Peona's Potions, Oona and Fern each purchased two potions of healing, and Tetro bought a periapt of wound closure tucked away on a shelf.
- The 8 hour trek, on foot, from Easthaven to Caer Dineval was uneventful and bleak. Few travelers were met on the road. Perhaps the winter is worsening. Perhaps the Caers are more remote than they thought. Perhaps both. Arriving in late afternoon, the party noted that Dinev's Rest, the local inn, was abandoned and in disrepair. Looming at the top of the hill and overlooking Lac Dinneshere was the Caer itself. A local look quizzically at the group and suggested they stop by the one tavern, The Uphill Climb.
- #BlackSwords At The Uphill Climb, the tavernkeeper Roark reluctantly served the guests. The large tavern, a prominent structure in and of itself, was nearly devoid of patrons - just a dour old man and a quiet couple with a young child. When asking about lodging, Roark said he couldn't have room to spare. When asking about vitals, the innkeeper brought chowder but no ale; shipments of such goods had all but died this last month. The town's speaker, Crannoc Siever, had fallen "ill" and kept to himself in the Caer. Roark didn't want to talk about it. The quiet couple eventually slipped over a note before leaving in a hurry. The note stated that the speaker was not ill and that something odd was afoot in the Caer.
- #ADuergarPlot The party was also interested in the Duergar threat, to which Roark admitted he hadn't heard of but that the northernmost town of Caer Konig had problems with unseen thieves. He expressed doubt that the thieves would get caught, because the villagers were spread too thin to form a proper militia and because Konig's Speaker, "war hero" Trovus, was a drunken mess.
The Black Swords
- #BlackSwords #ADuergarPlot Thoob grimly greeted the party through a slit at the barricaded wooden gates of Caer Dineval. The speaker was ill he said. A bit of lackluster deception with Hazel posing as a doctor didn't move the black-hooded guard. What perked his interest was talk of the Duergar. "This would appease the master. I will come back to you." The party was left unattended for a while, during which Tetro boosted Crank up the eastern ramparts. Thoob did return and led the party though the barbican's gatehouse, past the raised courtyard, and into the great hall of the keep. Passing a tiefling servant girl, Mere, that Thoob hassled to clean up dishes, the party was led to a sumptuous sitting room to meet Kadroth.
- #BlackSwords #ADuergarPlot Kadroth was a middle-aged tiefling man in well-kept garb. He assuaged the party that he was the right hand of Speaker Crannoc Siever, that the poor speaker had kept to his bedchambers due to a malaise of the mind. Insight proved that he was indeed acting as the right hand to an extent, but that his "care" for the speaker was a equivocal at best. Nevertheless the party heard him out, as his men had indeed tracked the Duergar menace and located an outpost. Kadroth, clutching his black sword chardalyn pendant and extolling the virtue of stopping the duergar threat, was happy to arrange an alliance. He boasted that he had a wizard named Avarice under his command - though the insightful could tell he feared the conjurer - and that he would gladly assist the party if Sunblight Fortress's whereabouts were uncovered. When pressed about the "faith" of these apparent cultists, Kadroth praised the Archdevil Levistus, Lord of Stygia, the 5th level of the Nine Hells. Levistus spoke to him, he claimed. Levistus, patron of the desperate and forgotten, had brought salvation to most members in his fold. Kadroth was merely his envoy. The cult was named after their lord: the cult of the Black Swords.
- #BlackSwords Crank, meanwhile, had snooped through a guard tower. Overhearing some dialogue, he heard that the Black Swords cultists had performed burial rites for a tiefling named Faith. One cultist wondered if she was related to that albino witch Avarice, to which another replied that Faith was much sweeter than the frightful wizard. As a guard came upstairs, Crank surprised him. A bit of smooth talking had the cultist lead Crank to the main hall, where others had since gathered as a meal was soon to be served by the caer's incumbent chef, Karou Chorizo.
- #BlackSwords Kadroth had gleefully urged the party to speak with their soothsayer, the old and heartlessHethyl Arkorran. Hethyl knew each party member by name. She had dreaded this day, as she knew it would be her last. She was to die, and her soul was bound for the Nine Hells. She did so only after prophesying carnage at Ten Towns at the hands of the Duergar and the party's role in mitigating it. "Try, try, try... amidst countless screams." With a deep-set hatred for Duergar, she envisioned Sunblight Fortress nestled in the mountains: one entrance by ground, yet exhausts open to the sky as well. The fortress hosted a forge powered by a red dragon's still-beating heart, and a great weapon was being forged from black ice for Xardorok Sunblight's paranoid campaign to raze and conquer Icewind Dale. Hethyl's near-blind eyes grew dim after the conversation. Her heart stopped, and she fell dead.
- #BlackSwords Thoob was elated that Hethyl died. Master Kadroth was jealous of her status in the cult, and Thoob hastily left to tell the master the good news. The party took a chance to deliberate. They needed to find the true Speaker, and they debated how far they could trust the hospitality of the Black Swords. Asking the servant girl Mere, she led them to the speaker's room, and immediately they were told off by a Black Swords guard. With dinner calling, they needed to hatch a plan.
- #BlackSwords As Oona and Crank entertained the excitable dullard Thoob over one of Chef Karou Chorizo's 50 trout recipes, Fern and Azgul would make use of spare robes and disguises. Fern would pose as Mere and bring the speaker his dinner. Hazel preoccupied Mere in the kitchen, persuading her to leave the cult if she could find a place to go. Tetro was eyeing the chef's delectable knucklehead trout preparation. With a harsh yell from Thoob for Mere to bring the speaker his trout, the two Meres were about to collide. Some clever talk from Hazel stalled the inevitable. Fern, as Mere, took a plate of fish from the cook. Tetro took the real Mere's fish off her hands, offering to deliver it himself. He, of course, just ate it.
- #BlackSwords Speaker Crannoc Siever had a luxurious room. It was downright kingly. He, on the other hand, was not. With Fern as Mere and Azgul as a new cultist, the two spoke with Crannoc about the Black Swords' takeover of the keep two months back. Crannoc seemingly sold out his men, hoping to profit from giving the position over to Kadroth, but the bargain bit him in the ass. He was now living in a gilded cage, signing his name off on Ten Towns documents as Kadroth managed the day-to-day affairs. He beseeched the new cultist, Azgul, to rebel and let him take control. He also kept asking Mere for fish sauce.
- Hazel asked Mere about Huarwar Mulphoon. The young tiefling gushed a bit about the new recruit who stated he wished to become a paladin. They took dinner to Huarwar at the upper floor of the gatehouse. Huarwar, along with an older tiefling named Fel were brusque and ill-humored. Huarwar does not seem to be the boy his mother remembered. Or, perhaps, he had come to terms with giving up his soul for a chance at life. Levistus found him near death in a snow field. As Huarwar grasped a black sword necklace in the snow, he was given the strength to live. In his mind, he owes Levistus. Nobody else came to save him after all. Here, in the Caer, they take care of strays - just like Mere - and Huarwar seemed grimly set to continue in that service. After Hazel chided him, he gave her a walrus scrimshaw pendant of his to bring to his mother. That would secure the potions of healing reward. Huarwar even mustered up a small "thanks".
The Cistern of Caer Dineval
- #BlackSwords The party was comfortable enough to take the Black Swords up on an offer of lodging. It was past midnight when they heard a hatch bang shut. Investigating, they worked their way down into the caer's cistern, which was partially torch lit. A small rowboat helped navigate. They first found a room of wrapped corpses: Hethyl, Faith, and several other Black Swords cultists who had suffered battle wounds.
- #BlackSwords Down a hallway, they came upon a shrine to Levistus, a frozen mannequin in a column of ice wrapped in chain. Behind it was brown mold, a volatile substance keeping it cold. Avarice was in a room to the side of the shrine. She rebuffed Crank and told him to get out, telling them that Kadroth wouldn't like them snooping around. She seemed almost amused and irreverent of Kadroth himself, though.
- #BlackSwords Unsealing a marble slab that opened to the rear area of the cistern, Oona and Fern rowed down, seeing a final room. Meanwhile, Azgul caught a glimpse of metal in the water. His unseen servant pulled up a chain of bloated, but otherwise preserved corpses - the former guardsmen of Caer Dineval. As Oona entered the back room, which reeked of filth, a man jumped on her back attempting to grapple her. She tossed him off like a sack of potatoes and then looked at her surroundings. Five of the Caer's former servants were imprisoned here. She swore to free them and brought news to the party - loudly. The wizard Avarice surely overhead them.
Total XP: 5850
- 50 ~ Caer Dineval EXPLORED
- 100 ~ #BlackSwords Explored the keep at Caer Dineval.
- 100 ~ #BlackSwords Found Huarwar Mulphoon.
- Breastplate ~ off a corpse in the cistern Azgul
❮ 18 · Chronicles · 20 ❯
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