Adventure Date: May 31, 2008
Last Updated: November 4, 2008
A Complete History of the Time of the "Darkness Rising" and a True Account of the Inspiring Words, Astounding Feats and Valiant Deeds of "The Seekers Of Faerun" by The Venerated Sage - Elminster the Younger
DR TBD - Shadowdale
My attempt to reveal the truth behind the many songs and legends surrounding the Seekers of Faerun has been greatly aided by the Journal of Neon Wilde. Apparently he took up writing a diary shortly after the raid on Galath's Roost and continued the practise for many years. Unfortunately, only incomplete pieces of this journal survive to the present day. Many of the pages have been bludgeoned, pierced or singed by flame during one misfortune or another. However, the entries describing the latter half of the raid on the Roost do survive and I present them below with minimal editorial comment. I have translated the script from the original Elven so that this history may be more widely read by the scholars of the Dalelands. Your Humble Servant - EtY
Aleena is sleeping peacefully now on the pile of hay. The morning sun is gleaming through the many cracks between the barn boards, giving me just enough light to continue scribing my story. What would my mother say if she were to find me now, pen and parchment in hand, diligently scribing?
Ah! Aleena I have never met a girl like you before, so beautiful, so bountiful and so willing at the same time. You have such lusty appetites; appetites that the Wilde elf-man is very happy to satisfy. The life of a True Hero has its rewards after all. But my mind is drifting… I must get back to my true purpose, which is to faithfully record the events of this adventure that I have been drawn into.
Kilzadi once said that I was a mysterious fellow, but I think that he is the most mysterious of all of the Seekers. He's not at all how I imagined a mage to be. He doesn't give the air of great learning but instead is more of a rough and tumble sort. Kilzadi had a good idea. He fashioned a bloody likeness of Russell the Pseudo-Dragon out of the remains of the Stirges and proceeded to try once again to convince the talking Head in the pool that we had indeed eliminated its tormentor. The likeness was pretty good and Kilzadi argued long and hard with the Head but it was hopeless. "That is not the creature that torments me. Be gone from my sight or shall destroy you all!" the Head screeched. We made a hasty retreat back up the stairs.
So we concocted a plan to attack and destroy the talking Head and started gamely back down the stairs. I thought that we were just asking for more trouble than we needed, so I made sure that I was near the back of the line. About half way down the stairs, the Head bellows and a great green billowing cloud of gas rose up. Swan and Okul were engulfed by the cloud. Quick as lightening I hollered, "Run away!" and then sprinted back up the stairs. I could see Kilzadi's face look back at me in utter disbelief just before his visage was engulfed by the green gas. Swan, Okul, Risca and Gideon plunged downward to engage the foe. Kilzadi rushed up the stairs obviously ill as his face was greener than the cloud. He kneeled on the ground and proceeded to vomit. "Neon… barf… you… barf… coward… baaaaarf", he belched. Kilzadi's rebuke and sounds of the growing struggle from below make me feel a bit guilty, so I decided to wander out of earshot over to the tree where we had met Russell earlier. I called out for Russell many times. Maybe the little imp could provide some information or otherwise help us with our struggle against the Head. But he wasn't around. My mind wandered and I thought about the time some months ago when the old man in the Velvet Veil told me the rhyme: "Seek the fruit of the vine, to find the gold that once was mine". I bet the fruit of the vine has something to do with wine and nothing to do with the pool with the bellowing Head. Surely Kilzadi will see the wisdom in our retreat. If the rest of the party is killed or maimed then we can find the wine, find the treasure and get out of here. A two way split would be much more rewarding than a six way split. [This rather bald admission of cowardice and duplicity contrasts sharply with the fearless, swashbuckling image of Wilde that has passed down to modern times. Its passages like this that inclines me believe that the writings in the journal do not exaggerate Wilde's role. - EtY]
Kilzadi called me back to the top of the stairs; the cloud had cleared and Kilzadi was looking much healthier. "You first", he ordered jerking his head in the direction of the depths. The Seekers below had made great progress in the battle below I later learned that they had already dispatched one of two Mephits - this was what the Head is really called. The air was heavy with the smell of burning oil that Okul and Swan had hurled at the Mephits. Risca was in a rage and swung wildly with his Dwarven war-axe. Okul shouted, "This is my last flask of oil", as he lit it and hurled it toward the pool. The Mephit was engulfed in flame and descended into the pool to escape. Swan rushed to the edge of the water and spotted a silvery shape darting in the depths. The shape rose up ready for battle again. Swan plugged it with an arrow but the wound in the watery shape closed immediately after impact. The Mephit let loose with an acid spray directly in the face of the Risca, the barbarian, and felled him. Gideon saw him fall but was tending the wounds of Okul and so could not get to him quickly. Kilzadi let loose with a firebolt and I tried an arrow but it was no more effective than Swan's. The water creature was staggered but not defeated. Finally, Okul strode forward yelling, "Enough of this!", and impaled the creature on the end of his great spear. He hoisted it high above his head; wriggling like a great tuna run through with a fishing javelin. Okul flung the Mephit against the wall of the cavern with great force and it did not move any more.
We searched the pool of course. Swan went driving to the bottom of the pool and found some interesting pink and blue rocks. They proved to be worthless but Swan thought they were pretty and decided to keep them. We resumed our search of the cavern; Swan and I leading… a finely honed scouting team. I noticed a secret door that led to a tunnel protected with a very simple swinging gate trap. I took out my tool kit and tinkered with the mechanism. Somehow I read the swing of the gate wrong and the bloody thing sprung on me knocking me out cold. After Gideon brought me to, Swan explained how she used the pretty pink and blue rocks to jam the hinges and disarm the trap… clever girl. The tunnel beyond the trap led to a ladder that went up to another entrance to the caverns.
The Seekers turned back into the dark to continue the search and we had to skirt around the assassin vine that we encountered earlier. Risca mentioned how the fruit of the assassin makes good wine and how the fruit is very valuable. The wine is some sort of Dwarven delicacy. Very interesting, this reminds me to propose to Risca that the two of us return to the vine after our adventuring is done. Perhaps there is a commercial opportunity that we could pursue together.
We followed the stream to the far end of the caverns and found that it led to a small green pool. Set into the wall near the pool were cut in shelves and cavities. Searching these shelves we found little other than broken wine bottles. "This is it!" I thought. Swan too sensed that this could be important and waded into the pool and found narrow cracks lining the bottom. Something seemed to be below the cracks in the bottom. "Let me at it." Risca growled and splashed into the pool with her. The water was not deep but deep enough to be up to chest of the stout dwarf. He was about to swing with his War Axe when a low hiss sounded behind us. I swung with my bow as fast as lightning, but Okul was faster. And I turned just in time to see a huge snake, without a head, its body spewing a fountain of blood and its head rolling off into the dark. Okul had dispatched it with his Great Spear with little more than a shrug of his broad shoulders.
There were no more interruptions as Risca pounded a hole in the bottom of the pool and all hands pulled an old wood chest up and out of the water. It was loaded with loot! This must be Galath's long lost treasure. [From the writings of Gideon Fireforged - The Seekers found these items in Galath's chest: a moonstone gem, a white pearl, a silver clasp, a broadsword with a crystal of Life Stealing power, an Iron Ward Diamond and Gloves as well as many coins - EtY]. We gathered up the items and Risca and Okul divided the coins between two large sacks so that they could be easily carted and dropped at a moment's notice. We planned to get out of there with our gains. There was a door at the back of the cavern but it led to a Giant Bees nest so we turned around to go out the way we came.
On the way out, we passed another Giant Ants' nest covered with large white eggs. "Let's clean out the ants!" Risca said enthusiastically. I don't know what's with these guys. They just can't leave well enough alone. It's not like this is the bloody Lost Treasure Trove of Cormanthor. But they seemed to want to fight. So I snuck up on one of the eggs and dealt it a mighty death blow with one arrow. Of course after a little of this, the Queen Ant pops up with two smaller Ants. Risca and Okul stepped bravely forward to meet the main threat. The Queen seemed to really like chewing on Risca, so he soon needed one of Gideon's cures. Swan and I have one of the small Ants to ourselves on one side of the cavern. The little bugger seems to like Swan, going after her and ignoring me. Swan put on a brilliant display of diving and tumbling to avoid the worst that the Ant could deal out. Finally, the ant zigged when it should have zagged and Swan put an arrow into one of its compound eyes and right out the back of its head. Kilzadi and Gideon dispatched the other small Ant on the other side of the cave. The two warriors brought down the Queen spraying themselves with green Ant guts that provided a festive contrast to the wash of red serpent blood.
That was enough fun for one day; so we decided to check on our Drow prisoners (they were still there) and rest for the night. We decided to camp outside at the top of the ladder out we found at the end of the tunnel. Swan came up through the trap door last and Risca was helping her by holding some of her equipment. Swan got stuck for a moment at the trap door opening by her ample bosom. "I'll hold on to those", Kilzadi quipped, which drew chuckles from the male Seekers and turned Swan a lovely shade of pink. There was much merriment as we set up the camp for the night.
Finally we set the watches and prepared for the night's rest when Swan, overcoming her shyness, said, "Recently I fear the night; it does not bring me rest and interrupts my sleep with unsettling dreams". She then recounted her dream with great passion and immense fear for what may befall her friends and all of Faerun.
In her dream she was alone, and all around her the land of Faerun was smothered completely by a rising darkness. A shooting star left a silver trail across the heavens, illuminating the land around her. Off in the distance, she could see her mother and father as well as other folk of Deepingdale valiantly trying to stave off hordes of Drow that have them surrounded. One by one they fall victim against the dark elf onslaught in a futile and losing battle. The star fell to the earth and the Drow are sent flying as the star crashed into the ground in a blinding silver light. As her eyes focused, she saw a bastard sword made of silver impaled into the soil. The Drow did not approach the silver blade, not initially. But then the mass of those behind began to surge forward, pushing those in front closer to Swan, within striking distance. A beautiful female Drow struck out at her, but Swan avoided her weakened strike, and flung her behind and into the light. Swan kept the rest at bay with her sword and turned to face the dark elf behind and was struck by what a beautiful face she has, her long flowing white hair billowing down around her. The Drow stood there transfixed; her white irises glazed open, her slim lithe body trembling before the silver sword, calling to her. Her hand hovered hesitantly over the hilt of the silver blade; her face betrayed the turmoil in her soul.
This was one of those eerie moments in life when every hair on your body stands on end. I had almost exactly the same dream, only it was the folk of Harrowdale facing the Drow. Every one of the Seekers had listened with rapt attention as Swan recited her story, and now one by we all admitted to having exactly the same dream or something very similar to it. What strange power could be at work here? The only one of us who did not admit to the dream was Risca. Perhaps dreaming is something that is beyond the ken of his barbaric fur-ball species.
I can't help but day-dream about Swan. The deep passion she speaks with and the suppleness of her lithe form are thrilling. Bedding her will bring fine rewards! It will require patience to seduce her, but seduce her I will.
The evening was bitter cold; a reminder that winter is coming. Despite the cold everyone was in good humor when we broke camp in the morning. Even Gideon was happy that the adventure had yielded benefits beyond delivering justice and capturing raiders. We questioned the prisoners further and found that they follow Veridian, son of Loth. The Veridian faction of the Drow seems to be a odds with the Loth faction. The autumn sun slowly burned the morning mist and we could see the nearby hill top emerge that Swan and I had visited when we first arrived at the Roost. "Let's search the hill again", Gideon suggested, "we did not have time to be thorough". Swan and I scouted up first but the others followed quickly. The remains of old camps were there as before, the blood trail on closer inspection proved to be a wine trail. There were hoof marks coming up the hill but few leaving. Satyrs? Horses? Then Kilzadi beckoned us close. "There is a physic residue of a great ring here. This may be a portal to another place."
We became aware of noise coming from the direction of the broken tower and we turned and saw a party on horseback riding easily through the mist and toward the hill we stood upon. They spotted us before we could hide, dismounted and prepared to charge the hill. "We must stand and fight!" Gideon roared. The easy cheerfulness of the Seekers gave way to a grim determination to defeat yet another foe. The enemy was mixed group of humans and half-orcs some of whom were clearly already wounded as they favored one limb or another as they advanced upon our position. Okul saw that one them was robed, possibly a wizard, so he pointed toward that figure and urged, "Loose the volley of arrows upon him." We fired even though the distance was great and it worked as Swan's arrow pieced the wizard through the throat. The orc-humans used their bows in return. The arrows fell among us; Risca shrugged off a hit and Kilzadi took a horrible strike that knocked him backwards, but he remained on his feet. In the next exchange of arrows, I was hit and the earth beneath me slammed into my face as I lost consciousness.
I regained my senses a short time later looking up into Gideon's eyes, his faced lined with concern. "Come on lad, get up. We will defeat this foe as surely as we defeated the others." And then he ran off to aid another. I got to my feet and saw that the wizard we had downed was getting to his feet as well. The enemy had a healer with them too. I raised my bow to fire at him, but in my weakened state I somehow got tangled in the bowstring. Okul fared better though striking the wizard's head with a sling bullet and took him down again.
The leading half-orcs and humans dropped their bows to draw axes and charged up the hill. Okul and Risca closed ranks to meet the onslaught. Risca, frothing at the mouth, hurled foul Dwarven curses at the foe and actually begged them to come closer so that his axe could taste their blood. Okul was at the ready, none would pass him lest they be served up on the spit of the Great Spear. The rest of the battle was a blur. I can only remember a few sharp images: Gideon calling upon the power of Kossuth to aid the Seekers, Swan sneaking ahead and around to put an arrow through a bandit's neck, Kilzadi dismissing the opposing cleric with a sneer and an arrow flame from his outstretched hand, Risca joyful as his axe became slick with the red of the enemy blood, and the large half-orc chieftain lifted high off the ground, his eyes bugged out as he shuddered on Okul's blade. And then the battle was over as quickly as it had begun. Every member of the Seekers was staying alive. [Wilde's attitude towards his new found companions seems to range from them being a pack of dolts whose only purpose is to kill him off, to a deep admiration for their courage and fighting prowess. - EtY]
After the battle we healed the opposing cleric and a half-orc so to take them alive and add them to our collection of prisoners. We started to take stock of the attackers' arms and equipment that was strewn about. But very soon, we saw the approach of another band of men on horseback. What foul hand sends more brigands to torment us in our time of victory? But it turned out to be only a collection of the Riders of Mistledale, led by that pompous oaf, Jarrod Rold, and his half-wit wizard friend. I strode boldly up to greet them, but Gideon sensing my attitude restrained me with a firm hand upon my shoulder and insisted that he do the talking. Rold claimed they were following a wine trail from Zolkul's manor where a stable boy was kidnapped and a prize stallion taken. This had happened about a month ago so clearly they were "hot on the tail" of the villains. If these are the defenders that Mistledale has to rely on, then the good citizens will need more than a good dose of the luck of the Lady Tymora to survive the Drow. I did manage to get in a few wisecracks at Rold's expense, really good jabs. I think Swan looked at me with great admiration when I did that. Somehow, I think she doesn't like people in positions of authority very much.
Anyway, despite my best attempts Gideon managed to win the trust of the Rider's. I'm not sure why he cares about the Riders so much. Maybe he thinks the "Voice of God" speaks out of Jarrod Rold's ass. Kilzadi also seemed to hit it off with the Rider's wizard. They had a scheme where they used "Read Thoughts" on scroll so they could understand what our captured cleric was really thinking when Gideon interrogated him. Very smart. Gideon starts asking him questions and the cleric comes out with some story about how it was our group that attacked them! Gideon kept calm and only a flick of his eyelids betrayed his desire to call down redemptive power of Kossuth's Fire to cleanse this foolish cleric. The mind reading ploy worked and Gideon and Kilzadi squeezed lots of information out of the prisoner. Gideon's control amazes me still. He is a remarkable cleric who I ... [Unfortunately, Wilde's remarks on the sterling character of Gideon Fireforged are lost to posterity, since these passages in the journal are marred by a large ink-stain. The Seekers of Faerun did learn much from the interview on the mount at Galath's Roost, and I will remark upon these findings briefly. The cleric was a follower of the evil deity Bane and had the eye symbol of Bane tattooed upon his left hand. The band of brigands was heading to the portal with stolen goods including valuable rugs. The portal opened every ten days. The symbol of Bane on the clerics hand would somehow allow passage through the portal. The same symbol was found on the hands of some of the dead bandits, but it was not known whether a severed hand would allow passage through the portal or whether a live hand was needed. The brigands were heading to Zentil's Keep, a large spiked fortress carved out of the mountains in the land of Moonsea. After the interview on the mount, Jarrod Rold asked the Seekers of Faerun to undertake a quest, to pass through the portal and return the prized stallion, Axel, and the kidnapped groom, Walter Little. The Councillor Zander Wolcott of Ashabenford offered a reward of 100gp each for their safe return. The Seekers agreed but refused to undertake the quest immediately, and returned to Ashabenford first so that they could better prepare for this task. - EtY]
[After the ink-stain, Wilde continues… - EtY]
I just thought of a good lyric…
Feel Faerun breakin'
And darkness risin'
And we're stayin' alive, stayin' alive.
Ah, ha, ha, ha,
That's pretty good. Maybe I should be a minstrel after all. Ah! Aleena is finally stirring. She is calling out to me softly... Ninniach... Ninniach. [Wilde's Elven first name, translated as Rainbow, pronounced Neen-nyach - EtY]. Well, Aleena needs some attention. A Hero's work is never done. I have more lyrics to scribe first, same song...
Well, you can tell by the way I use my walk,
I'm a woman's man, no time to talk.
Music soft and woman warm.
I've had a horn since I was born.
Ah, ha, ha, ha,
I'm stayin' alive, stayin' alive.
Oh! I'm good, but enough for now.