By Jamey Martin
The Dungeon in the Desert
Making their way back to the mainland and then onward to Elturel, on the trail of the CoT, it came to pass that the band stumbled through a magical gate that landed them in some immense dungeon complex laden with vicious traps, terrible monsters, and much treasure. While seeking an exit, the band stumbled upon a a map of ancient Netheril (at it's zenith) which was painted upon a chamber wall. Needless to say perhaps, Corwin took the time to make a rough and hasty copy.
At last emerging from the dungeon, the band found themselves in the crumbled remains of some ancient city in the Anauroch, the southeastern reaches if the mountain range stretching along the eastern horizon were any indication. Corwin mused that, for all they knew, they might be standing in the ruins of Orolin -- "not to be confused with Ordulin" -- the capital of old Asram.
So, with full waterskins, but little food, the band struck out in a south, southeasterly direction. Luckily, when the survival skills of the islanders proved to be insufficient, Dawnpriestess Salleece called upon the might of Lathander and furnished them with food enough to sustain them in their journey.
En route to Ordulin the band heard the news of Zhentil Keep's destruction, and eventually made a brief stop in Hap. There they found that the construction of the new shrine was complete, and quite beautiful. It was now stewarded over by the Dawnpriestess Cathalandra Dovaer, who had been sent by the Dawn Tower but both Mumfrey and the folk of Hap had not but good to say of her. Also, the War Chancellor had heard the demands of Silas Genk and complied wholeheartedly, sending a War Watcher, one Elphron Pharlyn and a few assistants to oversee the well being of the hamlet with the aid of Silas.
Despite the preconceptions of those who never bothered to sound Tyros out on the matter, i.e.. everyone but Corwin, the Anauroch was not scorching hot, at least not this late in the year, but rather it was growing quite cold actually. Cold and dry. And absolutely freezing come nightfall.
For over a week the band travelled until it last reached the western reaches of the Moran River. Not long after it came to pass that Hector had a dream ... he and his companions were making their way south, skirting the foothills of the mountain range. As they passed a great column of rock that shot some 100' out of the earth, the heavens rumbled and dark clouds began together about it's summit. Standing at the apex of the column stood the Nameless Fiend, it's cloak fluttering in the wind and two of it's dog-faced terrors crouched at it's feet. The mage felt the Fiend's gaze fall upon him, and then shot awake in a cold sweat.
But a day or two later, the band travelled through an area that was near identical to that in his dream, and for a moment Hector even saw the Nameless Fiend standing alone atop the column of stone, but by the time he called the attention of the others to it, it had vanished. That night however, the band's camp was attack by one of the Fiend's dog-faced terrors. And while it was easily set to flight, it left nightmares in the minds of those who beheld it's terrible gaze, and continued to return on subsequent nights, until at length even the Reacher had begun to show the signs of fatigue. In the end, the dog-faced terror was either slain or banished, as with the previous year, but not before it had claimed the life of the fearless aetheling, Illyass Vandervin.
And so the band continued their gruelling journey, briefly crossing paths with a great blue wyrm that ate Airovistus, until, while in the south-eastern reaches of the south-eastern reaches of the Great Waste, they came across a roving band of Lathanderites and Harpers led by the Morninglord Apollonius. They were part of a larger group that had been stationed at the remains of Harrowsmouth to ward the ruins against CoT incursion, thus insuring that Sammaster the Mad's phylactery was never unearthed, nor his remains ever recovered from their well warded tomb.
Having thus come into to some suitable gear and provisions, the group continued on their way until they at last reached the city of Tilverton, which was virtually overflowing with Purple Dragons readying to liberate Daggerdale come spring. And with the a few layers of snowfall already on the ground, the band decided that they would winter there. Before winter was out however, the dog-faced terror had returned to inflict it's night-terrors and, ultimately, to bare young Delleah off into the unknown.
It was thus resolved that matter of Hector's soul, the contract for its possession, could no longer be ignored. It made a mockery of any thought of redemption or renewal. If the contract rested within the Ruins of the Lost, it must be found and destroyed. If the Fiend himself guarded it, he must then be overcome. And so the Dawnpriestess Salleece, who had grown quite fond of Delleah over the course of their travels, promised Hector her own full support, and also her aid in pleading the matter to the High Morninglord of the Dawn Tower once they arrived back in Ordulin.
While indebted to the band, the Brothers of Doom, Stradidar and the Reacher, had other matters to attend to, and so agreed to accompany them only so far as Ordulin, where the band would introduce them to some of the thinkers involved in all of this Tiamat business.
Gathering up the necessary coin and gear, the band shared their own news of Tyros' betrayal and Delleah's "death". One old timer cursed Hector for ever coming to Hap, perhaps merely stating out loud what was on everyone else's mind, but Cathalandra intervened and helped to easy the situation. Soon enough, the band departed again for Ordulin.
As they ventured over Blackfeather Bridge a paunchy merchant-wizard happened to recognize the Brothers of Doom. Apparently, he was once part of an adventuring company that accompanied the Moonshaevians into the ruins of Myth Drannor, but he somehow became separated from the party and for a long, long time was trapped with the ruins. He blamed the Brothers of Doom for this, and thus launched a sudden and immediate attack upon seeing them. Conjuring forth a number of heat based creatures, and ultimately a fire elemental to hold off the band and surrounding guardsmen and other interested parties, the conjuror then used his might to vanish with Stradidar and the Reacher. Thus, when at last the battle had ended, and the various members of the band had pulled themselves out of the River Ashaba, the legendary heroes were nowhere to be found. In fact, they reappeared in the middle of the arena at Hillsfar, but that is another story.
And so, after finally arriving back in Ordulin and pleading their case to the High Morninglord, the mission to retrieve the rights to Hector's soul was given official approval, and the band was joined by none other than the Morninglord Cuthbert of Marsember and the Dawnwarrior Arellius. Hector also took on another student, a mature man this time, already skilled in the Art, and one of Lathander's faithful. His name was Draynor. He had a bit of a foppish twist, and both he and Hector became such good friends in the days leading up to the journey to retrieve his soul, that Draynor elected to accompany him.
It was during this time that Tyros arrived back in Ordulin with a grizzled, stubbly looking man of average height and muscular build, and "some slight and dainty half-elf trollop". Making their way to the Six Candles Inn, Tyros and his new companions found Hrek and the rest of the gang giving Barlow a hard time, declaring the ex-Zhentilar a traitorous coward and demanding that the innkeeper hand all of the goods Tyros had left here over to them. When Tyros interrupted them, Hrek flew at him and a duel broke out. It was quickly brought to an end however, by Barlow, who spoke toward Tyros' good character and warned that any further threats or violence would quickly be brought to the attention of the Guard.
With order thus restored, Tyros demanded to know what all of this "traitorous coward" business was about. After a bit of verbal friction, Harmoth related the tale of Tyros' betrayal, following which the Calauntan let out a mirthless laugh and set to explaining how he had been taken captive by the CoT as soon as they arrived in the Moonshaes, during the ambush in Aithelar. He awakened to find himself in some CoT base, somewhere on the island of Corwell. He met the acquaintance of the High Priestess of Tiamat, and when she failed to seduce him to her cause, she had Bry'th and a number of other goons take him out to the middle of a vast swamp, beat him to a pulp, and then leave him for dead. Fortunately, he was found and nursed back to health by a hermit named Caedwell. When at last he regained his strength, the hermit gifted him with a simple shield and spear, and he eventually made his way out of the swamp and over to the City of Splendours. It was there that he met the acquaintance of his friends, Ohrorc and the beautiful and deadly Lilandryllacia. The three of them were hired to guide some rich merchant's brat to Shadowdale, hardly an uneventful journey, but the long and the short of it was that they reached the Dale and wintered there. With first thaw, they departed for Hap, where they received an interesting reception. Some local calling himself the "War Watcher" even sought to forbid Tyros access to his belongings in the tower ... which led to some bumps and bruises, and which will, no doubt, lead to even more grief in days to come.
Of them all, Corwin was the most forthcoming with apologies, while Hrek the coolest and least forthcoming. All however accepted Tyros' story, for the time being, and even found his friends to be good company. After much talk, especially regarding their experiences at the hands of the minions of the Nameless Fiend, and particularly of the loss of Delleah, Tyros agreed to accompany the band out to the Ruins of the Lost, with both Ohrorc and Lil deciding to chip in their aid as well.
When all was said and done a gathered force consisting of Morninglord Cuthbert, Dawnpriestess Salleece, Dawnwarrior Arellius, Draynor, Hrek, Hector, Harmoth, Corwin, Tyros, Lil (wizard/fighter), and Ohrorc (fighter) departed Ordulin, bound for Yhaunn, and ultimately the Eastern Shaar and the Ruins of the Lost.
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