Adventure Date: October 3, 2008
Last Updated: November 4, 2008
Ten pairs of eager young eyes stared intently at the old man napping in the large armchair - the crackle of the fire in the hearth the only audible sound in the den. The children formed a semi circle around the foot of the chair, but none dared to disturb the sleeping occupant for fear of a strike from the ever-vigilant nursemaid's large wooden spoon.
For this was the last of the Revered One's - the last living survivor of the Zhentarim citadel - who was liberated from captivity by the Seekers of Faerun - and he had earned the right to an undisturbed sleep.
A visit a fortnight ago by two members of that legendary group - the seemingly ever youthful scout (only betrayed by the occasional strand of silver in her mane) and the surly dwarven barbarian - had rekindled in these children the desire to hear more tales from that mystical time of dread and wonder and thus the vigil around the chair - each child trying to will the old man to wakefulness.
One could be forgiven for not believing that this shriveled shell used to be the vibrant young stable groom Walter Little - his translucent skin was creased by age and his back was hunched over by the creaking passage of a century. However, his grip was still strong and his eyes were still clear and lucid.
And those same eyes now stared back at the children and with a conspiratorial wink, he cleared his throat.
"Well who do we have here? Why have you gathered so my young lords and ladies? Would you hear more tales of the exploits of the Seekers of Faerun? Hmmm ... I'm not sure if I recall such tales ..." he teased as he feigned forgetfulness. The children, on cue, groaned their displeasure and begged for even a short story, as they had done a hundred times previously.
"Well ... perhaps I could recount my rescue from the Zhentarim citadel ... that is, if that meets with the pleasure of the group ..." to which the children cheered, as it was one of their most favourite tales.
At that moment the nursemaid appeared in the archway leading into the room, but any admonishments about his need to sleep were cut short by his gnarled upraised hand. "Ersula - how can I say no to such inquisitive children? I promise it will only be a short story … and now, could you fetch a tankard of something sweet and wet for an old man … thank you my dear." So dismissed, the exasperated Ersula turned on her heal and left the room for the kitchen, while Walter returned his attention to the children.
"Alright then, gather around and I will regale you with the dreaded details of my ordeal ..."
The fire was slowly burning down, allowing the darkness of night to invade the room and menacing shadows seemed to dance across the walls to the delight of all. Ersula deftly stepped into the room, placed a tankard of ale by the elbow of the old man and retreated to the archway leading into the hallway beyond. There she stopped and leaned up against the wall and awaited for the story to begin ... as she never tired of hearing about the exploits of her famous great grandfather ...
"Following my abduction by the raiders - a group of foul half-orcs, vicious thugs and dark acolytes of Bane - my captors and I passed through a magical portal behind the ruins of Galath's Roost. Thus was I ferried to the Zhentarim citadel where I was thrown into a dark dank cell and I was certain that I would be soon draped over the sinister altar of Bane - my blood next to be offered up to that vile god.
I was held in that cell with others prisoners - simple farming folk snatched from our peaceful countryside - without the benefit of the sun or the moon and the passage of time became a blur - no one was certain how long we had been imprisoned - a score of days or a score of months.
To pass the time, my cellmates spoke of all manner of horrors that lurked within the citadel - of invisible rogues who rivaled the deadly skills of the assassins of Calimport, of blood mad werewolves and of the unholy undead. We all fell into despair, for who could defeat such an enemy?
Then one day the sounds of battle could be heard coming from the other side of the door of the antechamber of our cell block. Our two half-orc guards rose from their table drawing their weapons and dousing the only source of light - a lone lantern. In that absolute darkness, we could not tell what the guards were up to, but all of a sudden the door was flung open and they rushed out of the antechamber. The light in the corridor was too dim for us to clearly see, but within seconds of the door being opened a rod of light (I believe they are called sunrods) was tossed into the antechamber - temporarily blinding us all.
Swan Battlestar - the enchanting elven scout - quickly entered and surveyed the situation. She moved like a cat - her hips swaying hypnotically back and forth as she strode from one cell to the next ..."
Walter paused - lost in his reverie - which was only broken when Ersula cleared her throat loudly. Embarrassed, Walter took a swallow of ale and continued with the tale, a bit of red colouring his cheeks.
"Now, where was I … ah yes … When she came to us, she opened our cell door and assured us that we were all safe - that the Seekers of Faerun were there to save us all! She ordered us to stay in the cell until her return. And then she abruptly turned on her heel and sprinted back into battle.
Only after did I learn the details of our rescue from none other than Neon Wilde - that rapscallion of whom the bards sing so lustily. Though let me tell you, he was not as tall as the tales described …"
For a moment, it appeared that Walter would once again lose his train of thought, his eyes appearing to focus on some invisible point in the distance … but abruptly he took up the telling of the tale.
"According to Neon, prior to our rescue, the Seekers had fought a pitched battle on the main level of the citadel, seemingly scores of raiders challenging them at every turn! The deadly dark blade of Risca Foraker and the devastating spear of Okul Tarmikos kept the raiders at bay while Swan and Neon decimated their numbers with a hail of arrows. Kilzadi Litecaster's command of the mystical energies allowed him to smite their enemies with the cleansing flames of Kossuth, while Gideon Fireforged used the gifts of Kossuth to keep his companions in the fight.
After the defeat of a werewolf, of a devilishly clever gnome weaponsmith and an unsuccessful ambush by a score of raiders, the cowardly Captain of the raiders - adorned in plate armour and wielding a silver bastardsword - and her lackey wizard fled into the bowels of the citadel.
Though the Seekers were exhausted in all senses of the word, they decided to pursue their enemies and put an end to battle once and for all. However, before venturing any further, they decided to explore the rest of the upper level of the citadel and hunt down any remaining raiders.
The details of that search are of no real consequence, except the dispatching of a raider by the mighty Okul …"
At this point Walter leaned forward a little as he continued.
"The Seekers were aware that a Zhent raider had escaped following the failed ambush and they were determined to find him to ensure that he could do no further harm. In the end, they tracked this raider to a secret room leading off a storeroom in the kitchen. The sharp ears of Swan and Neon both detected the ramblings of the raider as they listened at the secret door and he was given the option to surrender. His response - once the secret door was opened - was a fruitless lunging attack with his bastard sword. Okul easily avoided this clumsy attack and spun around as he stepped forward so that he was inside the reach of the overextended raider. He feinted towards the raider's middle with his spear and the raider tried to cut his swing short to bring his bastard sword to bear to deflect this apparently deadly strike, but his weapon met with nothing but air as Okul shifted his strike upward at the last minute. Completely off balance, the raider's arms were thrown wide as he attempted to regain his balance and that was all the opening Okul needed - his spear struck so true that there was literally nothing left of that poor soul's head ..."
At this, all of the children drew back with gasps, their faces wrinkled with disgust despite the fact that they all knew every detail of the tale and this was not a surprise - but they dutifully feigned surprise to encourage Walter to go on, which he happily did.
"Even blind Risca (remember children that Risca fell victim to a Machiavellian magical trap when opening a chest in the gnome weaponsmith's workshop) smiled as he recognized the sound of an instantaneous death - a smile that made the gentler souls of the group very uncomfortable.
Once satisfied that no other enemies lurked in the halls, the Seekers ventured down the spiral staircase - the same spiral staircase that the Captain and wizard had fled down.
When the Seekers arrived on the lower level, it was not immediately evident where their quarry was cowering. Then, during a bit of reconnoiter by Neon, he realized that the enemy awaited our heroes on a sublevel below - accessible by only a narrow stairway - but their true numbers were still a mystery.
Then Kilzadi and Swan hatched a brilliant plan - Kilzadi used one of the scrolls in his possession to shrink Swan so that she would be better able to hide herself within the murky shadows and Swan quaffed a potion to temporarily give herself the climbing abilities of a spider. She clambered up the walls to the ceiling of the stairway and crept slowly down to the sublevel. As she approached the end of the stairway, her skin began to crawl - she could physically feel the presence of evil and smartly decided to go no further. From that vantage point, she could see their enemy - another score or so of raiders arrayed at the base of the stairs, with two acolytes and a high priest of Bane, the wizard and the Captain standing in the back. Three mysterious levers could be seen against the back wall and a corresponding series of three grates in the middle of the floor.
Swan realized that she needed to incapacitate some of the enemy if they were to have a chance of vanquishing their foes. Though this would reveal her presence and put her in harm's way, she fearlessly launched two thunder arrows into the raiders midst, trying to deafen those enemies practised in the art of magic. She was successful in stunning two raiders, but she fell victim to the hail of crossbow bolts fired in response by the raiders.
What ensued was the swirl of blood and chaos of battle. I can tell you that Neon - at great risk to himself - dragged Swan up to the top of the stairs and to safety, where she was revived.
In the meanwhile, the levers were pulled lifting the grates to allow three abominations to exit the pits below - these ghouls hungrily lunged towards our heroes but Gideon managed to channel the holy power of Kossuth to turn back these undead servants of Bane! However, to the dismay of all Gideon's success was shortlived. The Head Priest of Bane was able to regain control of the ghouls and redirect them back towards the Seekers. Thankfully, in the end, these unholy terrors were vanquished before they could wreak havoc with their paralyzing touch. However, those were not the only minions summoned to do the bidding of the raiders.
Risca - blinded earlier by a fiendish trap - was preparing to wade into battle when he was struck by an invisible opponent. The wizard had summoned an Imp to harass our heroes, but ironically the Imp attacked the one Seeker against whom its invisibility was useless. Back and forth the battle raged - Risca would swing wildly, narrowly missing the Imp and the Imp would strike before becoming invisible again. The other Seekers tried to help their companion, but their efforts were next to useless as the invisibility thwarted their efforts. Finally, despite his blindness, Risca landed a devastating blow with his dark blade which almost slew the Imp, but before Risca could finish it, the Imp disappeared - the spell which had held it on this plane had dissipated and it wanted no more of the wild dwarf."
It was at this point that the precocious Nuria - a girl of only 9 summers - interrupted Walter's narrative with a question. "Begging your pardon, sir, but my father's cousin has heard tell from Elminster the Younger himself that it was Okul who struck the killing blow and that the other Seekers just let Risca think he struck the final blow to buoy his spirits …" Her voice petered off as the old man's eyes considered her for a moment and the eyes of her peers stared at her accusingly - sure that her impertinent question would end the tale prematurely.
To the surprise of all, a grin cracked Walter's face, as he replied to Nuria's question.
"Aye, I have heard such things as well and I would not be surprised if it were true. I only recount to you what was told to me by Neon and I should visit with dear Eliminster so that the legends are passed down accurately from generation to generation. Now … though the Seekers were a close knit group - always looking out for one another in any way they could - whether it was in battle or as a friend, no one can truly know another and that day, two Seekers showed that they were more than what they appeared - Kilzadi and Neon.
Despite having depleted almost all of his magical reserves, Kilzadi proved himself more than just a frail magic user. His crossbow bolts exacted a heavy toll amongst the raiders - though obviously they did not have the same panache of his mighty firebolts! However, it was not the skill of Kilzadi with the crossbow that was surprising, but his durability. Kilzadi suffered a terrible blow from a raider - one that would have slain a common magic user two or three times over - but not only did Kilzadi survive the blow, but according to Gideon who tended to his wounds, Kilzadi appeared to have much more fight left in him … a mystery even to his companions was Kilzadi.
Now … Neon surprised his companions not only with his skills with his blade - which cut a swath through the raiders - but also with the enthusiasm with which he entered into hand to hand combat. Kilzadi joked that a doppelganger must have taken the place of their companion, for this could not be the same person who 'strategically retreated' during the battle at the ruins of Galath's Roost. Swan came to the defense of Neon, claiming she knew he had the heart of a lion, even if it wasn't always evident … Okul and Risca both claimed to have positively influenced and inspired their lusty companion in the ways of melee combat. And Gideon … he did not posit a theory, just his pleasure that Neon was helping to spread the glory of Kossuth and vanquish the tide of darkness!"
Walter paused there, bringing the tankard up to his lips and swirling the sweet ale in his mouth before swallowing it.
"Now, please, do not misunderstand me … the Seekers were not infallible or invincible - far from it. Risca and Okul succumbed to the fear generated by the acolytes of Bane and Gideon was not able to overcome the Head Cleric's mastery of the undead. However, it is the fact that the Seekers overcame these trials to become victorious that makes them heroes - that is what makes them legends …"
Walter sat up at that point - the fire in the hearth had burned low and Ersula made a move towards the armchair and the children rose up, as he was apparently done with his tale. It was then that Walter shared another conspiratorial wink with the children.
"But now … would you like to hear how the Captain was finally defeated?" The children cheered with glee as they gathered back around the chair. "Okul and the Captain fought a pitched battle - neither one able to truly gain an advantage. However, as Kilzadi would later note, those damn tassels at the end of Okul's spear were actually quite useful and had a function. Though Okul was not able to strike true for much of the battle, the tassels at the end of his spear would temporarily blind and annoy the Captain if he was able to get a strike near her upper torso - to the point where later on in their battle, the Captain began involuntarily swiping and batting at the tassels. It was during one of these instances that the Captain left her guard open. Okul, taking full advantage of the distraction, thrust forward and the tip of his spear exploded through her chest killing the Captain instantly. It was then that Kilzadi noticed the second function of the tassels - the tassels absorbed much of the blood so that Okul could maintain a firm grip on the haft of the spear - which he dislodged from her chest with a vicious twist and jerk. And perhaps it was the sight of the Captain slain in such a manner that turned the innards of the Cleric of Bane cold and elicited from him the sobbing cries for mercy …"
Once again, Walter became lost in his memories, chuckling to himself at the remembered misfortunes of his captors at the hands of the Seekers.
It was then that Ersula ushered the children out of the room and all hoped that the following night they would have an opportunity to hear more of the exploits of the Seekers of Faerun, but for now, the children resigned themselves to sleep ….