By Bryant Alexander
Not Exactly Two Weeks Notice
The last time we ran out of here, I was dragging myself because I was one battered bat. This time, I was dragging Grolsch. I wasn’t sure this was much of an improvement. It was a good thing he had the Boots of Levitation. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be dragging him so easily.
“We’re not turning this one over to Lord Morn,” Aeryn remarked.
“Did we get any ears?” Grolsch murmured.
He was really out of it. But not as out of it as the one we weren’t turning over to Lord Morn. Armand got to carry the new drow prisoner. Dreya had to carry poor Lobelia. As first adventures went, this really sucked.
“We might have another problem,” Armand said. “I don’t know if the vampires can track our guest.”
He had an unfortunate point. I really didn’t want to see those vampires again. Seeing them again might really, really suck.
“I think the best thing we can do is go for help,” Armand said. “We’re not turning this one over to Lord Morn because as far as I can tell, he’s screwing up big time. He’s giving Xora the run of the place and he’s invited the Zhents in! Remember the town we passed through? The bodies without blood and the bodies that were just missing? Now we have an idea what they did with it. They’re making an army of undead. And the empty alcoves we passed? Those missing bodies might be more vampires. There could be another dozen vampires behind us.”
I really wished Armand would stop being so cheerful.
“Might I suggest going to Cormyr?” Aeryn said.
“I was going to say that,” Armand said. “I’m surprised you don’t object. We get to visit your family.”
“We’ve got to deal with the Von Denns,” Aeryn said. “And Tanaquil has enough troubles.”
“That or Silverymoon,” Armand said. “Silverymoon is just too far away.”
“And Cormyr has a tradition of being a friend of the Dalelands,” Aeryn said. “I can’t see Silverymoon being too concerned with things happening so far away.”
“And Dreya needs to warn her people,” Armand said. “Prepare them for the storm. I suggest we go back to Daggerdale and retrieve our horses.”
Indeed. I wasn’t overly attached to my horse, but I didn’t relish the idea of walking or even winging to Cormyr. And while the rest of us could just buy new horses if necessary, Armand’s horse wasn’t easily replaced.
“Once the druid recovers,” Armand continued, “you need to cast Restoration on her. We don’t want her to expire of vampire bites.”
“No, the drow are bad enough,” I said. “Vampire drow would be worse.”
Once we were outside, we put as much distance as we could manage between us and the caverns.
“Shall we camp in the trees?” Aeryn suggested.
“You can stay in a tree,” Armand said. “Grolsch is not well.”
Even if we tied Grolsch to a branch so he couldn’t roll off, the thought of orc-drool dripping from the treetops made me shudder. Grolsch was staying in a tent tonight. Besides, Pain and Suffering would make good blankets for him.
It was decided that I should take first watch and then devote myself to sleeping. I could have gotten by on four hours sleep, but no one wanted to take the chance of me dozing off during my daily prayers and not getting my usual complement of spells. Aeryn was more than willing to take two watches. Armand was considering sharing with me and then pulling a second shift with Aeryn.
“Don’t take this the wrong way,” Aeryn said. “But having you on watch just means we don’t have to wake you.”
“I’m just trying to decide,” Armand said, “if I’m taking first or first and second.”
“I can watch pretty well,” Aeryn said. “You just have to sleep in your armor. I know it’s not comfortable.”
Sometime later, during first watch…
“My cat hears something,” Armand said.
Cinnabar stalked off into the trees. Something out there gave off a low throated growl. Suffering got up from Grolsch’s side and slunk off. Armand clunked off after the animals. Something out there yelped and there was a distant crashing noise.
I stood watch and waited. After a while, I began to wonder if I should go out after them. Then I heard Armand’s voice again.
“No bite cat’s tail!”
I understood when his hunting party came back into a sight. A wolf cub was attempting to pounce on Cinnabar’s tail. The big cat was giving the cub the usual disdainful look cats give clueless canines.
“No big deal,” Armand reported. “We just found a puppy.”
The puppy licked Grolsch. Big mistake. Half-orcs were not made for licking. Suffering chased the puppy around the camp, in a friendly way. The puppy yipped a lot, but who would try sneaking up on us with a dire wolf running in circles around us?
Sometime later, I woke up Aeryn for her shift.
“Anything interesting?” she asked.
“Puppy,” I reported.
“What?” Aeryn asked.
“Good night,” I said.
She would discover the cub soon enough on her own. I laid out my bedding, crawled in, put my head down, closed my eyes… and Aeryn tapped my shoulder.
“It’s transformed,” she said. “Could you do a Detect Evil on it? Oh, wait. I can use my sword.”
I got up and watched Aeryn point her sword at the cub. Her sword didn’t detect anything evil about it. Suffering was obviously feeling maternal. She growled until Aeryn stopped pointing the pointy thing at the puppy.
I decided to go back to sleep.
“Note,” Aeryn said, “that it was hugely important for Armand to be on watch.”
I noted it and went to bed again. I even slept peacefully until morning. I said my daily prayers and cast Restoration on Grolsch. The puppy seemed oddly intent on me. Aeryn tossed a silver coin at it. It grabbed the coin out of the air and ran with it. Obviously, the cub wasn’t a werewolf or it wouldn’t have touched the silver. Armand tried tossing a stick. The puppy sniffed it, but if it opened its mouth to pick up the stick, it would’ve dropped the coin.
I tried Detect Thoughts on the cub and drew a blank.
“It’s not thinking,” I said. “There are some males who are capable of simply not thinking about anything…”
I had a better idea. I cast Speak With Animals.
“Hello,” I said.
“Hello,” the cub said around its coin.
“Have you always been a wolf?” I asked.
“This week?” he said. “No.”
“What were you before?” I asked.
“A llama,” the cub said.
That startled me back into speaking Common.
“He says he used to be a llama,” I reported to the others.
“I think we’ve just met the newest party member,” Aeryn said.
“I’m hungry,” the cub said.
“What’s your name?” I asked.
“Muffle,” said the cub. “I’m hungry. And none of that dried junk.”
“Have you ever heard ‘beggars can’t be choosers’?” I asked.
“I’ll hunt my own,” Muffle decided.
“I won’t stop you,” I said.
Muffle scampered off to hunt, followed closely by Suffering, followed not so closely by Pain. If beggars can’t be choosers, why bother to beg?
“Grolsch,” Armand said. “Wanna cast Restoration on the drow? We don’t want her to expire of vampire bites.”
Now that Grolsch was Restored, he could do Lesser Restoration for the drow. She needed a lot of Restoration, but at least we were slowly dragging her back to life.
A deer yelped in the woods. At least, we’d thought it was just a deer until the doggies returned, dragging an elk with them. The puppy rode triumphant on top of their kill. Once they started tearing into their meal, the cub seemed to be trying to match Pain and Suffering’s appetites.
I wasn’t the only one wondering if dragging the drow back to life was a good thing.
“We could kill her and reincarnate her as a squirrel,” Aeryn suggested. “No! An elf!”
“He likes her black skin,” I muttered.
Aeryn rolled her eyes.
“Can we give her ears to Lord Morn and keep the rest of her?” I suggested.
Armand gave me a look.
“Tomorrow I’ll cast a Restoration on her,” I offered.
“Waste of a spell,” Aeryn said.
Muffle growled at our prisoner. Interesting. We had a drow-detector. And any puppy that didn’t like drow was a good puppy, indeed. Muffle was a bit noisy, though, and I was planning on going into town with Aeryn. We were hoping to get in and out quietly, not noisily. Besides, Suffering wanted to follow Muffle. Of course, someone else could go with Aeryn other than me…
“I don’t trust you not to kill her,” Armand said.
“We haven’t killed her yet,” Aeryn said.
“You said ‘yet’,” Armand noticed.
If only he listened so well on watch…
“Just hold him,” I said. “Who wins, you or the puppy?”
Me and Aeryn made it back into Dagger Falls without being obvious. The stable hands were very glad to see us. Armand’s horse hadn’t taken to confinement very well.
“Should’ve kept him in an open air pavilion,” I said. “Oh. Wait. It is an open air pavilion now.”
It cost us a little extra to pay for everything the dire horse had kicked apart, but it was worth it. And while the stable hands may’ve been glad to see us, Lord Morn wasn’t as thrilled. As it turned out, it was a good thing Armand stayed out of town. The guards had gotten the impression that their Lord was less than pleased with Armand. It wasn’t like Armand hadn’t warned Lord Morn in advance that he was going to take a turn with Xora.
We’d thought that Lord Morn would be interested in our new intelligence. He was upset that we didn’t finish the mission. Never mind that the mission would’ve finished us, instead. Xora snickered.
“On your knees,” Aeryn snarled at her.
The low temperature was getting lower…
“We don’t work with drow,” I explained to Lord Morn. “We don’t work with Zhents. If you work with drow and Zhents, we don’t work with you, either.”
Okay, so we weren’t exactly giving two weeks notice here. At least we were being honest with him. Now that we’d demonstrated such a high degree of diplomacy, Aeryn took me by the elbow and led the way to a nearby tavern where we could share a couple drinks and converse with the local cleric of Tyr, Tunfer the Stout, a man who had a much better grasp of the situation than Lord Morn. Tunfer wasn’t too surprised that Lord Morn had fallen for Xora. It seems he’d always been known for having strange tastes.
The most interesting thing I heard, though, was the rumor that a certain couple appeared to have a very open marriage.
“Do you see rings on my fingers?” Aeryn asked.
We next headed to a clothier’s shop. If we were taking our new prisoner on the road with us, we needed to dress her for traveling. We pretended we were shopping for me. We could make the minor adjustments necessary to make our purchases fit her. It just felt weird buying clothes for a drow.
Finally, we returned to our camp.
“We may have another problem,” Armand said. “My anti-scrying device is not doing too well.”
He held out a blackened, cracked crystal ball.
“Wanna stop by Elminster’s?” Aeryn asked.
“Unless it’s on the way, no,” Armand said.
“We can warn Shadowdale,” Aeryn said.
“They don’t like drow, either,” Armand nodded.
Armand apologized to Lobelia for what she’d gone through and paid for her passage back to Waterdeep. She slapped him. She couldn’t hurt him physically, of course, but it still hurt him. We hadn’t meant to come so close to getting her killed. We hadn’t meant to come so close to getting us killed. Sometimes these things happen.
We rode south. The puppy decided to join me on my saddle. I was beginning to wonder if someone up there had noticed I was the only party member without an animal companion. Suffering trailed along behind us. Aeryn was scouting out ahead of us. Any moment now, she’d run into something and come scampering back, crying for help…
A giant spider appeared out of thin air next to me.
“Spiders!” me and Aeryn shouted in unison.
The giant spider next to me wasn’t alone. There was another spider next to Aeryn, another next to Armand, and one on the other side of the road for Grolsch. Suffering charged the one by me. I pulled out my Wand of Searing Light. Lightning crackled behind me. My spider tried to join me on the horse. There wasn’t room for both of us, so it tried to bite me down to size. I blasted it, but it didn’t seem to mind the Searing Light as much as I minded being bitten.
The cub jumped onto the spider’s back. A spark leaped from the cub to zap the spider. The nearby growling had to be Grolsch in bear-form. He’d proven effective against these things before. Between me, Suffering, and Muffle, we actually got the spider off my horse. It disappeared back to wherever it’d come from.
Armand was having a little difficulty. He was trying to juggle the prisoner and a weapon without dropping either. I had to reposition the horse if I wanted to shoot the spider and not nail Armand, too. The cub jumped onto the spider and gave it a good electric jolt. Dreya skillfully dropped her war hammer onto her foot. Aeryn dropped out of the sky to give the spider a nice stab. Armand shot off some magic missiles and the spider finally curled up and died.
“Pretty spiders…,” our prisoner murmured dazedly.
Pretty dead spider, actually… At least, one of them was dead. The others had vanished and would probably be back again.
“It’s watching me…,” Armand remarked.
“Everyone watches you,” Aeryn said. “That’s why you’ve got this complex.”
Are you paranoid if everyone really is out to get you? Considering what kind of enemies we’d acquired since I joined this party, I wondered how many enemies were still after them from previous indiscretions.
We traveled on. For a change of pace, Aeryn called a halt without yelling for help. She’d discovered a body hidden in the underbrush. There wasn’t much left for us to examine. There was enough flesh left on the bones for us to determine that it had once been female. The neck looked like it’d been slit… but what caught my attention were the scraps of robes stuck to the shrubbery. They looked an awful lot like the patterns on the robes I was wearing.
“I think this might have been one of my sisters,” I said.
“One of your order?” Aeryn asked.
“…yes…,” I said.
“Oh, god, Moonshine,” Aeryn said. “I’m so sorry.”
“I’ll… be performing rites,” I said.
Armand kind of rolled his eyes. I knew from experience that he considered rites and rituals to be time wasters, but he kept his mouth shut, which was what really counted. The puppy started growling. I had a feeling I knew why.
“Something evil was here,” I said.
“Is it long gone?” Armand asked.
Aeryn tried a Detect Magic but didn’t turn up anything. I wouldn’t have expected her to. My sister cleric had probably been killed by that slice at her throat. The rest of the damage was probably the work of scavengers.
Armand started filing his fingernails. I suppose his nails did need filing, even if this was an awfully insensitive time for him to be doing it. Meantime, the puppy found us another clue: A satchel. Once Aeryn checked it over for traps, we found that it contained scrolls, all bearing the seal of Sehanine Moonbow.
“This is the temple mail delivery,” I said.
I didn’t want to go through everyone’s personal correspondences, but there had to be a further clue in here. What could a temple mail deliverer have had that was worth killing for? One letter made a vague reference to an important item, an artifact called Moonshine’s Daughter that was supposed to be in Cormyr but was meant to go to Archendale. The letter didn’t go into specifics, but I had the distinct impression that the artifact was supposed to be accompanying the letter. I’d heard of Moonshine’s Daughter. I couldn’t remember what it was, but a sister had just died for it.
“Someone has run off with Moonshine’s Daughter,” I said.
“I can’t even say that without laughing,” Aeryn said.
“Shouldn’t she be allowed to marry who she wants to?” Armand asked.
The drow did laugh. Aeryn slapped her for me.
“You’re not my type,” the drow said.
She would mistake that for foreplay. Grolsch, at least, seemed to have some idea of which way the tracks were leading. Aeryn appeared to have a fairly good idea of which way the perpetrator had gone, too.
“As long as someone here has a track,” I said, “let’s go after the artifact.”
We trooped along through the woods and up a hill into a large clearing.
“Worked stone,” Grolsch pointed out. “Ew.”
Right. Worked stone wasn’t natural anymore. The bits and pieces looked elven. Unlike Grolsch, I’d take an elven ruin over a pile of manure any day. It looked like there might have once been several dozen buildings around this central hill. The strange thing was that the steep, worn staircase we found leading down into the hill looked… dwarven.
“Civilized people working with elves,” Dreya said.
We tied the horses up. We weren’t taking them down stairs, especially not stairs as steep as these. In fact, we decided we should leave the doggies and the kitty up here, too. We did not want to end up in another situation where we couldn’t get them out.
“Chain and gag her,” Aeryn recommended.
So far, the drow hadn’t managed much more than the occasional mumble or murmur. We’d managed to get her name, Dessa sik-Morcane, out of her, but not much else. She was a cleric of Lolth, the Spider Who No Longer Answers. I could think of Dreya as a fellow cleric first and a dwarf second. Dessa was just a drow whose goddess had deserted her.
“Can you get them to guard her?” Aeryn asked Grolsch.
“Maybe,” Grolsch said vaguely.
“She can’t get too far,” Armand said. “Set her up in a tent.”
“Tether her,” I suggested.
“I don’t want her gagged,” Armand said. “She has to be able to eat and drink.”
“If she starts yelling…,” Aeryn said.
Armand made Dessa a deal.
“If you make a fuss,” he said, “my familiar will rip your throat out.”
With that settled, we descended. About fifteen feet down, we found a round door that was apparently dwarven made. It said ‘Torune Crypt’. We could only guess that it was a reference to an old clan. I could just imagine the day some ancient dwarves said, ‘what if we tried rectangular doors and round wheels?’
There was a handle set in the middle of this round door. Aeryn gave it a once over.
“Watch out, guys,” she said.
She’d found a shiny substance on the handle: contact poison. Given that contact poison didn’t keep for great lengths of time, we could safely assume that it was recently applied. Aeryn wiped it off, only to find that the handle didn’t work. A little searching revealed a hidden lever on the left wall. When she pulled it, the door slid away, handle and all.
We were left facing a long, wide, musty, cold corridor. There were little alcoves lining the corridor. The urns were an odd touch, since Dreya said the dwarves no longer cremated their dead. We were definitely wandering into someplace ancient… The cub followed us down. He might prove useful, and he would be easier to carry out than our other four footed friends.
Aeryn discovered a pile of rubbish. Of course, most piles of rubbish didn’t have nearly invisible lines of string running out of either end, running to the urns on either side of the corridor. Aeryn carefully cut the string. She gave the mound an experimental prod, but nothing happened.
A little further along, we came upon a defaced statue that Dreya identified as Dumathoin, dwarven Guardian of the dead. This was certainly the right place for him, but he wasn’t doing a great job. The urns in the alcoves near him were shattered and someone had chiseled out one of Dumathoin’s eyes. At least we didn’t have to worry about this statue animating. If it hadn’t come to life after this was done to it, we weren’t likely to offend it enough for it to attack us.
The corridor ended in two locked doors.
“There’s voices behind the door,” Aeryn whispered.
She had her rapier ready when she popped the doors open. We found two orcs. One of them looked surprised to see us. The other one was still studying his cards. Given that the average orc counted ‘one, two, three, many’, my guess was he was trying to figure out which was the ‘many’ card he needed for a straight. While he was trying to work it out, Aeryn killed him and Armand killed his friend.
Aeryn and Armand looked disgusted.
“I wasted a shield spell for that?” they both complained.
“I doubt that either of these schmucks has Moonshine’s Daughter,” I said.
“Stop saying that!” Aeryn said.
“That’s its name!” I said. “Moonshine’s Daughter.”
“Sounds like an elf princess’ bastard,” Armand said.
Between the two orcs, we found six copper pieces. Armand let Dreya have them. She wasn’t overly impressed.
“I was hoping for keys,” Aeryn muttered.
Another corridor led out of this room. We crept down the corridor until it opened into a room filled with orcs. Aeryn fired off a lightning bolt. I couldn’t see how many were in there from where I was standing, but all I saw were orcs. I stepped aside so Armand could charge past me. I wasn’t going to waste a spell on grunts.
A foaming orc charged at the party with an axe. He looked to be the biggest threat in the bunch. There was a female orc wearing robes who was conjuring up some kind of mist, but it looked more like something for them to hide in than something that might harm us. An orc was poking a spear in Aeryn’s general direction, but she was far too slippery to get poked by an orc as clumsy as that one.
While Armand engaged the foaming orc barbarian, a lesser orc vanished into the mist. I swung my staff at an orc but missed it. The most I’d expected to do was knock it down, anyways. Aeryn and Armand were killing the orcs quickly enough without my help. The female tried Burning Hands, but she didn’t get to keep it up for very long.
With everything cleared, we had about eleven dead orcs. An examination of the bodies turned up thirty copper, fifty seven silver, nine gold, and three bloodstones. One had a masterwork falchion that would be worth saving, there were four Cure Light potions and a magic breastplate.
But not Moonshine’s Daughter.
The content of Moonshine's Journals is the property and copyright of Bryant Alexander, and are not to be published or redistributed without permission.
Return to the Moonshine's Journals main page
Return to Campaign Logs