The frustration on Rinn’s face is obvious as she tells us about the mission to Bargewright while pondering Kline's fate in the Elemental Plane. Not knowing how to proceed, she vents her frustration by throwing her dagger at the wall behind Drak’Thal’s head.
Frustration and uncertainty grip me as well, though for a very different reason. Bargewright. My mind immediately shifts to a vision of Inglor, Drak’Thal and I on the tower, my arrow aimed at the cleric’s uncovered eye. Much has changed since that day. Drak’Thal and I have reached an understanding and even a friendship of sorts. We will be fine. Perhaps it would be pleasant as well to see Chilaska and the cobbler again, assuming he still lives. But do I really wish to return to that shit stain of a town and help the faction that leads it? Assisting the black network would surely raise questions about my commitment to the Harpers’ cause, especially after the failure to rescue Bruldenthar from Sacred Stone; I must at least inform my superiors of the mission. But it is Rinn who has asked for my assistance, not her faction. Among all the Keepers, I am perhaps closest to her. She has helped raise me from the dead. She knows more of the darkness of my past than any save Eärwen, and Aegnor who dragged my nearly lifeless corpse to the surface after the disaster in the Lowerdark. I owe her more than my life. Betraying her confidence would put both of our lives at risk and, if she ever discovered the truth, ruin the friendship we have built. Do I risk that to help the faction that has given me both a purpose and another chance at love?
While internally conflicted, I calmly tell everyone, “There is little for us to do here. If we must start early in the morning, perhaps we should head to Wyrmwood today and spend the night at our faction houses.” Upon hearing this, Traelle seems extremely confused and then angry for inexplicable reasons. I suspect that this might be a lingering effect of some psychic damage inflicted upon her over the previous tenday. Perhaps she needs healing beyond what Tyr and Talos can provide. Drak’Thal, however, is more enthusiastic about the suggestion. Sensing the possibility for some fun in the fighting pits, he seconds my suggestion. The rest of the Keepers, including a calmer Traelle, very quickly agree. We finish breakfast and head to Wyrmwood via the Southern Road with Drak’Thal on his warhorse and Traelle riding a conjured giant bat which continually tries to bite the cleric’s steed along the way. Using techniques taught to us by Þórunn, Rinn and I easily keep pace with the animals and the swift-footed monk and we soon arrive in the city and agree to visit Gilmore’s shop.
The five of us enter the shop and see Gilmore helping another group of customers. He spies us immediately and, with a smile and lustful look at Drak’Thal, pushes past the other shoppers and says “Friends, friends come on in.” He turns first to the object of his obsession and asks, “Come to get that drink?” Noticeably uncomfortable, our cleric responds, “Not yet. We have plans.” But, after Drak’Thal admits he had no desire to purchase goods, Gilmore signals his assistant Shelley to help the rest of us and convinces the dwarf to accompany him for their long-anticipated drink.
In the shop, Rinn asks Shelley for a small diamond to help her focus her spellcasting. The assistant finds her one before turning to Þórunn and complementing the unicorn on her new robes. While Þórunn does not need to purchase anything, she does introduce herself. Shelley then turns to me. Concerned about our upcoming trip to the druid meeting at the Fire Cult stronghold of Scarlet Moon Hall, I ask if the shop carries any unique arrows, especially those tipped with silver. Shelley informs me of two new types of arrows, one that relies on lightening and the other that accelerates as it flies to its target before striking with an even greater force that what I applied and knocking the target back. The lightening arrows tempt me. How would Drak’Thal respond to seeing a servant of Corellon wielding the power of the tempest? I settle for a set of silver-tipped and force arrows and immediately hand them to Traelle to place in the bag of holding. The purchase almost completely wipes out my gold but it will be worth it once we arrive on the southern continent. After my transaction is complete, I ask Þórunn if she would like to accompany me to the Ivy District so that she might find her elf companions from the Ceremony of Lateu'quor She readily agrees, and the four of us head to the Ivy District after informing Shelley where Drak’Thal might find us.
[Gilmore leads Drak’Thal to The Whistling Pig. Immediately recognized by the bartender, Gilmore orders drinks and then leads the dwarf to a balcony that overlooks the Coins where the two have a long and intimate conversation. Gilmore appears to know of Drak’Thal’s past and that our group and Kline are involved in some conspiracy against the growing darkness in the land. Kline, Gilmore says, is a friend he would like to make so that he might be able to profit from the looming danger and chaos. Trusting the merchant due to his sincerity (and probably relieved that the merchant understands his love of Traelle), Drak’Thal agrees to introduce the two. Gilmore then asks the cleric for a story. This time, Drak’Thal tells the truth and ends with the phrase “and that’s how I ended up with the ship.” Thrilled with the account and sincerity, Gilmore returns to the shop with Drak’Thal where Shelley informs them that the rest of the Keepers have gone to the Ivy District.]
Rinn, Traelle, Þórunn, and I enter the Ivy District. Immediately, I smile at the site of the natural beauty in the architecture of my people. We proceed directly to the tavern where Kline, my parents, and I had earlier met to discuss arrangements for the feast. I announce to my companions that I will be briefly heading to the temple of the Seldarine. I climb its steps and marvel once again at its beauty in comparison to the rest of the city. I walk to the main altar to Corellon in the center of the spire, kneel, grasp my Fellowship of the Forgotten Flower pin, and begin to pray for the safety of Kline. I do not expect much for the Seldarine are not known to assist in the affairs of mortals—especially those of non-Elves—but am pleasantly surprised when I raise my head and see that the flowers on the trees surrounding the altar have blossomed into a glorious vision of azure and silver, the colors of Corellon. Comforted by the vision, I head back to the tavern where I find Rinn and Traelle drinking.
Þórunn has disappeared—gone, I assume, to indulge her elf-fetish in the house of Galynna and Haren, the couple who brought her so much joy after the earlier feast. From the rumors that have circulated about those two, I can only imagine the decadence and depravity at work but I hope it makes her as happy as it did the last time. In the last tenday, she has seemed to have found some peace and friendship among the Keepers. She even joined Rinn and I in the common room while we read. She has led a difficult life and deserves whatever joy she can now find.
Traelle, Rinn, and I make our way to the main entrance to the Ivy District so that we might find Drak’Thal. After a few minutes, we see a bouncing and jovial dwarf who seems more than somewhat inebriated. We greet him and he tells me that we can find a fighting pit in the Puddles district near the docks. After he assures me that he is sober enough to fight, we begin the long walk. A few minutes into the journey, I pull Rinn aside and ask her for more information about the mission to Bargewright. Apparently, we will be escorting a trade caravan that does not necessarily contain stolen goods. However, an unknown group of bandits keeps disrupting the caravans near the town of Yar Tar. Our task is to protect this shipment and ensure its safe arrival. She then warns me, “I know you aren’t fond of thieves and people in my faction but if you trust me, I hope you won’t make trouble for me.” I cryptically reply, “It isn’t your faction that I’m concerned about.” Our conversation soon shifts to my visit to the temple. I tell her that I prayed for the safety of Kline and that the Seldarine surprisingly seemed to respond. Hearing the name Kline, Drak’Thal informs us that Gilmore would like to meet the Wolf when he returns. We agree with Drak’Thal’s assessment of Gilmore’s character and agree to set up a meeting. Sometime later, Rinn and Drak’Thal start to talk and Traelle asks me a question about my faith. She is surprised that I would venture into a temple but I remind her that I was raised by priests and that though I may not be vocal about my faith like others—I quickly glance at Drak’Thal—I still worship my creators.
After some time, we finally arrive in the Puddles. Not much has changed since I lived on rats in the district’s alleys. We walk up to the Two Shepherds tavern and enter. Inside we find a boisterous and joyful dwarf named McGregor. McGregor’s sense of humor has all the subtlety I have come to expect of dwarves. His laughter is loud and brutish and he delights in the most ribald of puns. He tells us the price of admission to the pits: a joke. Drak’Thal, surprisingly has little to offer and I, unsurprisingly, remain silent. We wait quietly for what seems like an eternity until finally Traelle speaks up. “Did you hear about the rogue that masturbated with Mage Hand?” she asks. “They called it 'The Familiar'." I and, I assume, Drak’Thal and Rinn stare at Paladin after this unexpected moment of levity. McGregor immediately lets out his loudest laugh yet. Drak’Thal tells another joke but McGregor dismisses it immediately and I quickly forget it. The price of admission paid by a Paladin’s masturbation joke, we are given the password to enter the pits: another joke. The three of us venture down into the pits while Rinn makes her way to balcony overlooking the arena. When we arrive at the gate, I tell the guard the password: “Cheap circumcision is a total rip off.” He responds with a curt, “I’ve never stopped rubbing it in my face.” I smile and he opens the gate and we get our first glimpse into the arena. Inside we see a halfling beating the shit out of a goliath with his bare hands. We are next.
We enter the arena. I see Rinn sitting in the stands above us. A gigantic Frost Giant appears and summons a Nightmare which quickly moves to distract me. Severely damaged by the steed’s hooves, and unable to safely withdraw or fire an arrow, I pull out my new scimitar and trusty shortsword. With my first swing, I sanctify the new blade in the nightmare’s celestial flesh before immediately plunging my shortsword into the gash. The steed and I continue our dance for some time while the giant concentrates on hitting Drak’Thal and Traelle with boulders it seems to conjure out of nothing. As soon as I vanquish the Nightmare, I turn to face the giant, raise my bow, and shoot a fire arrow. He retaliates by throwing a boulder at me and then drops another boulder on Traelle’s head before splitting it with its axe. Drak’Thal’s magic harms the creature the most but eventually my arrows knock the creature to one knee. With its last breath, the giant swings his axe as if in a whirlwind that knocks all three of us unconscious. Yet, even as he swings, Drak’Thal’s spell apparently knocks him unconscious as well; it is a draw. We exchange respectful glances with the Giant and climb out the pit where we are greeted by Rinn. McGregor hands us each 25 gold and offers us free drinks at the bar which we happily accept.
While Drak’Thal returns to the ship for whatever purpose [destroying random artifacts in service to Talos], Rinn, Traelle, and I return to our faction houses. As I walk to the Harpers’ house, I contemplate what I will tell it about my upcoming mission. I make a decision. When I arrive, I greet the clerk and convey to him all that I know about our upcoming mission. I have, for the first time, betrayed Rinn’s confidence.
In the morning the Keepers (including a much more limber looking Þórunn) assemble at Eastgate with a caravan of five wagons led by a mysterious man named Haeler. After speaking with the Zhentarim representative, Rinn takes Þórunn aside and tells her something before coming to me. Feeling guilty about my betrayal the previous night, I am unable to really face her. She starts to talk but I understand little. I manage to gather that she is not going with us. This will make everything more difficult. Unable to process the information, I mumble something and let her move onto Traelle and Drak’Thal. Soon, the caravan departs down the High Road with Haeler at its head and I slightly behind.
For the first eleven days, little happens as we walk and ride. The most interesting development each day is seeing which type of creature Traelle manages to conjure up to ride on for the day. The rest of us have had the pleasure of watching her attempt to ride a camel, bat, goat, axebeak, owl, lizard, at least one actual horse, and perhaps her favorite, a giant boa constrictor. At night, Drak’Thal casts a spell to feed the camp which earns him the gratitude of Haeler. On our 11th night on the road, we are suddenly attacked while everyone but Þórunn sleeps. The rest of us immediately awaken to discover that Arrows fly into the circle of wagons and hit one of the wagons which is quickly engulfed in flames. at least one wagon has caught on fire due to the arrows launched by our unseen adversary. Soon, the volley of arrows halts and Haeler and the Keepers put out the fire. Haeler approaches the charred wagon and finds a burned corpse. He and Þórunn bury the body.
We travel for two additional days. On the first, Traelle rides a crocodile but the following day all the rest of us see is her attempt to conjure up her daily steed and then some muttering to herself about water. We continue down the Triboar Trail until we come to the village of Wolfpine. We see the same statue of six adventurers that we encountered on our first trip south almost 200 days ago and then set up camp near the center of the town. Drak’Thal, Traelle, and I drink and have a few moments of fun discussing the Paladin’s early joke but otherwise our visit to the hamlet is uneventful.
The next morning, we start again with Traelle once more riding on owl. Six additional days pass without incident but on our 20th night on the road, we are awoken again when flaming arrows engulf the wagons. This time, however, the volley doesn’t stop and sixteen Terami bandits plus a mysterious man on horseback line up and prepare to attack the caravan. Together the four Keepers, Haeler, and eight thugs defend the camp. While I and the thugs shoot the bandits from a distance, Haeler, Drak’Thal, Þórunn, and Traelle, still on her trusty giant snake, charge. Traelle, it is clear, seems to recognize these bandits and is drawn to their leader. One by one, the camp’s defenders slay the bandits while Traelle, Drak’Thal, and I concentrate our attacks on the leader who had ridden to the front lines to confront our Paladin. Soon though, the coward realizes that our might is too strong and flees into the woods. He has escaped but his sixteen followers lie dead in front of us. As I lower my bow, my thoughts turn northward to Rinn.
[Rather than heading to the Lyceum, Rinn returns to Glassmoor Manor where she informs a slightly confused Taranath that we spent last night in Wyrmwood. Several days pass until Rinn is awoken by Taranath pounding on her door to tell her that something has happened in the city that demands her attention. Rinn rides straight to the Lyceum and enters the room with the portal. Inside she finds Adelin still kneeling in concentration to maintain the portal which is now pulsating. King Bronzehammer approaches the rogue and as he speaks, Kline runs through the portal and collapses on the floor. As he falls, he drops what looks like one of the orbs used by the elemental cults; it rolls to the back of the room. Immediately behind him, an Earth Elemental leaps through the portal and prepares to attack the fallen Wolf. Adelin collapses as the portal closes. Rinn immediately runs to it and stabs it with her dagger to protect Kline. King Bronzehammer rushes to the collapsed Adelin and stabilizes her before turning to face the elemental. Kline stands and immediately attacks the elemental which promptly attacks him back and pulls him back by his one surviving wing. The melee continues for some time but eventually Rinn, Bronzehammer, and the severely wounded Kline slay the creature. As it falls, so too does Kline….]