Keepers of the Realm

Session 12: Death Approaches (From Daggerford to Rivergard)

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This shall likely be my last journal entry for I suspect that I will be dead within a few hours—killed by either the monsters at Rivergard Keep or, more likely, Drak’Thal in a justified fit of rage at my role in the execution of his friend Elric. These momentous past few days have dealt significant damage to my body, soul, and relationship with my fellow Keepers. If death comes, I hope it will be swift but I know that is more than my actions deserve. 

 

Six days ago, I eagerly awaited Traelle’s reply to Drak’Thal after the latter’s swift defeat by a Minotaur. Disappointingly, she decided to not employ the same level of mockery that the Talos-worshipper has repeatedly used against her. I suspect that the Paladin is too noble to win this fight between Tyr and Talos but I hope her resistance holds in the coming weeks for she is the only good member of the Keepers who has been able to stand up to the Dwarf.  After Þórunn collected her winnings from her bet against the dwarf, we left the Clean Chin. While Drak’Thal returned to the Silver Floor Inn to heal from his defeat, Rinn, Traelle, Þórunn, and I continued to investigate the city.  Seeking both guidance and friendship, I searched for a Harpers agent but found no signs of one in the entire city.  I did, however, find a Drow beggar. I approached him,  gave him five gold, and then asked him what brought him out of the Underdark.  He explained that he had come to the city aboard a ship to escape from the evil beneath the surface. Disgusted with the worship of Lolth, he was glad that he did not know of an Underdark entrance near Daggerford.  Despite the war on his kind that elves of my stature have conducted, he showed me both kindness and respect.  His rejection of Lolth and her evil gave me evidence for what I have long suspected: that our war is a cosmic struggle between Lolth and the rest of the Seldarine, not one that should be waged against the Drow unthinkingly by my kin.  If that is the last of my dark brothers I have seen, at least our exchange was hopeful.  

After a brief stop by the fletcher’s shop to investigate the mysterious fire and ice arrows, the four of us stopped near the River Gate. I briefly contemplated approaching The Gauntlet’s Fiend to continue my investigation of Drak’Thal.  Since the events of Bargewright, the dwarf has slowly driven me crazy with suspicion.  After all that has happened, my fears seem misguided but, at the time, the cleric’s actions seemed far too suspicious to go uninvestigated. Perhaps I have been blinded by my hatred of the Orc-God but everything I have learned about the cleric indicate that he is not a dwarf to be trusted. His efforts to convert Traelle suggest a man far too committed to spreading evil. Indeed, before Elric’s execution, the doomed barkeep informed us that Drak’Thal had inspired much of Daggerford to switch its allegiance from Tymora to the one-eyed god. He has also repeatedly risked the Keepers’ lives. In the Feathergale Spire, he risked angering Commander Merosska while the rest of us slept.  When we found him in the next morning naked in a bird cage, I thought that he had gotten a just punishment for his unwarranted hostility but, after hearing of the Commander’s true nature from Kline, I grew suspicious that something more nefarious was going on between the two—especially after having watched him stalk and kill a man with no evidence of wrongdoing.  Given the nature of the rest of the Keepers, I assumed that Drak’Thal was the one trying to stay at the Bargewright Inn without paying for his room. What would Nalaskur have done to us if I had not paid for that room? The Zhentarim are not known for tolerating those that steal from them. In Beliard, his obvious glee at the severed head of Merosska quelled my fears that the cleric was collaborating with that enemy but I remained concerned that he cared little for the mission’s success. Even today, I remain confident that if one of these cults made him an offer, he would quickly betray us—especially after Elric’s execution. Something must be done to ensure that he does not harm the mission—even if that means my death.  

Despite my lingering suspicions, I resolved to wait until Drak’Thal had contacted his faction before I approached the Gauntlet—if only I had remained silent even longer. Returning to the Inn, Traelle, Rinn, Þórunn, and I found an innkeeper annoyed that Drak’Thal was sleeping in the common room. Since I still wished to investigate his belongings, I invited the dwarf to share my room that evening. He agreed and then suggested that we visit the Gauntlet to discuss securing passage to Rivergard.  As we approached the dock on which The Gauntlet’s Fiend was tethered, two guards addressed us.  Though they initially appeared not to recognize the dwarf, the guards eventually brought the Captain to see us.  After a tense but revealing exchange about the cleric’s past efforts to steal the ship, the captain escorted Drak’Thal to the deck of The Gauntlet’s Fiend. Those of us who remained starting discussing the town, weather, and sea with the guards; we learned that this land suffered from the same natural calamities as Kieria plus the seas had been unnaturally hostile lately.  It was after this conversation that I made my fateful mistake: assuming that the Order knew all about Drak’Thal’s past, I asked the guards about the cleric’s association with the tavern-owner.  Apparently the Order had been unaware that the two were friends.  The guards offered to trade additional information with me but after hearing Traelle’s advice, I wisely declined; alas, it was already too late for Elric. 

 

I do not know what Dark’Thal did aboard the ship but when he returned, he was missing an eyepatch but had gained a tattered piece of cloth and access to a small sailing ship to take us to Rivergard. Whether out of kindness or horror at the sight of the swirling storm in the cleric’s eye I do not know, but Rinn offered the dwarf a replacement eyepatch.  The Keepers then splintered as Drak’Thal, I assume, went to pray at the Shrine of Talos and Þórunn, Rinn, and I returned to the shops. I do not know what became of Traelle; if she was anything other than a Paladin of Tyr, I would be suspicious of such a disappearance but thankfully duplicity seems beyond her nature.  After my companions purchased a root to ease seasickness, we returned to the Lady Luck Tavern and were soon joined by Drak’Thal and Traelle. Unaware that his secret connection to Drak’Thal had been revealed, Elric was in jovial spirits throughout the night. If I had only warned him that the Order knew of his relationship to Drak’Thal, we could have smuggled him out of the city.  But I remained suspicious of the two and spent the night drinking and rolling dice with Rinn—who defeated me for the first time—instead. Though we did not talk much that evening, I remain intrigued by the thief’s story; if I survive Riverguard and this growing conflict with Drak’Thal, I shall have to offer to help her track her sister’s killer.  Perhaps a spy in the Harpers’ network has some information on the hilt she carries. I thought briefly about discussing our mutual interest in stories with Þórunn but the monk was far too drunk to do so that evening.  Elric, it seems, had a connection to the Monastery of the Yellow Rose and had secured a cask of Blueberry Wine.  After drinking two glasses, she became staggeringly drunk; I doubt she remembers anything that happened that evening.  At the end of the night, we helped Þórunn back to her bed and returned to our chambers.  As Drak’Thal fell asleep, I read The Dragon and the Witch; when he started snoring, I, hoping to find some evidence of his duplicity, investigated his pack. I found nothing. 

In the morning, I wished to return to the fighting pit but Drak’Thal demanded that we leave immediately for Rivergard.  I agreed but insisted that we stop in the market so I could purchase the fire arrows before we approached the Keep. Unfortunately, at the market, a horror awaited us.  Rinn’s keen eyes spotted a scaffolding on which the captain of The Gauntlet’s Fiend was hanging Elric, apparently for simply being associated with Drak’Thal.  Rinn immediately informed the group about the events unfolding in front of us.  Infuriated at the loss of his only friend, Drak’Thal demanded to know how the Order had discovered Elric’s secret.  Stunned that the Order would so swiftly execute a man just for knowing Drak’Thal, I immediately admitted that I had mentioned Elric’s name to the guards.  Rinn graciously came to my defense but could not undo the damage. Increasingly furious, Drak’Thal led us to the small ship that would bear us Riverguard.  He quickly unfurled the sails and we fled the city. 


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On the surface, our journey was largely uneventful though I suspect that the dwarf was intentionally rocking the ship to cause maximum discomfort to those of us who had not consumed the root purchased by Rinn and Þórunn. I would not blame him if he was for I deserve far more. Each night, we anchored the ship and ventured to the shore to sleep and each night my meditation has been haunted by one additional face: Elric’s.  During the day, I rarely spoke.  Alone in my thoughts, I contemplated On our second night, Drak’Thal and I talked for the first time since his friend’s death. I am ashamed to admit that I responded poorly to the dwarf’s anger and pain and made the entire situation worse.  Unwilling to acknowledge my role in another innocent’s death, I attempted to shift blame onto Drak’Thal for involving his friend in his criminal enterprises and then Elric himself for associating with a pirate. Such words rightfully enraged Drak’Thal even more and he has sworn to kill all the Keepers and refused to heal any of us.  This concerns me the most. Traelle, Rinn, and Þórunn share none of the responsibility for Elric’s death.  If Drak’Thal kills me or allows me to die, so be it but I cannot let him punish my fellow Keepers for my actions. Beyond Drak’Thal’s obvious anger and pain and my increasing guilt, the voyage was mostly successful.   During the third evening, a Bulette attacked but, after some initial difficulty, we quickly destroyed the creature.  While Þórunn and Rinn’s root saved them from seasickness, both Traelle and I vomited multiple times.  On the third day at sea, Traelle slipped on some vomit and fell overboard into the icy water. Though she could have likely saved herself, I stupidly jumped in to save her.  

We arrived at Rivergard five days after Elric’s execution. Drak’Thal decided to sail the ship in front of the Keep so that we could scout for a better landing place.  As we neared the a giant sea tower, we saw a heavy chain blocking entrance into the Blue River which runs through the Keep. Almost immediately, we noticed that we had been spotted by soldiers; we had lost the element of surprise.  Suddenly, a man with long black hair called out to demand why we had sailed so near the Keep. Captain Drak’Thal informed him that we were there to investigate the Keep.  Identifying himself as Reash, the man informed us that the Keep housed an order entitled The Blue Gauntlet and asked why we wanted to investigate its headquarters.  Frantically trying to figure out how to answer the question safely, we remained silent.  As the Blue Gauntlet’s soldiers raised their crossbows, Þórunn, in a moment of brilliance, noted that she was a historian investigating four ruined keeps built by the Silverhorn Knights.  Skeptical of the claim, Reash asked for more information.  She mentioned that we had already investigated the Feathergale Spire and were now seeking to investigate Riverguard. I have no idea if Reash believed the story but at least initially the lie appeared to work.  The soldiers lowered the chain and let us dock just inside the gate.  As we sailed inside the Keep, we hid our Keepers insignias to better hide our identities. Reash and a handful of soldiers came to meet us and escorted us to a Great Hall filled with nautical-themed banners. 

We were brought before commander of the Keep and the Blue Gauntlet.  He immediately doubted our story.  Þórunn repeated the lie she had told Reash.  The commander demanded evidence so Þórunn handed him a page of her notebook.  Apparently satisfied that she was a historian, the commander proceeded to ask how she had met the rest of us. After Þórunn explained that we had joined her on her travels, the commander asked Traelle, Drak’Thal, and Þórunn to write where they had met each other on a scrap of paper; they did so and returned the slips of paper to the Commander. Whatever they wrote, it did not alleviate the commander’s suspicions.  Almost immediately, the guards shut the doors behind us while the commander  turned into a wereboar and charged at our deceitful monk.  Sensing that the dagger- wielding woman next to the commander represented the greatest danger, I immediately cast Hunter’s Mark on her and fired an arrow.  She retaliated by shooting a ball of energy at me that seemed to damage both my body and soul. She then transformed into the form of a hideous sea serpent with a layer of water surrounding her that seemed nearly impossible for my arrows and fire spells to penetrate. Meanwhile, Rinn, Drak’Thal, and Þórunn surrounded the wereboar while Traelle attempted to attack the serpent; she, however, was waylaid by a pirate wielding a shark-toothed sword and clam-shell shield.  Even with the aid of Drak’Thal’s magical ally, the Keepers struggled to kill the Commander and his pirates.  Feeling incredibly weakened, I attempted to hide behind the melee but was unsuccessful as the serpent woman again hit me the ball of soul-destroying energy. As my attacks on her failed, I turned my attention to the pirates so that Traelle could attack the serpent woman with her sword.  One by one we wore our enemies down until only the serpent woman remained; as she transformed back into her human form, however, Traelle severed her head from her body. As the serpent woman fell on the floor, her body continued to convulse. We had won but at least for me the cost was high.  As he had promised, Drak’Thal had not healed a single Keeper in the entire battle. 

While investigating the bodies, Rinn and I found some gold and a strange orb while Þórunn found reports from bandits and smugglers allied with the Blue Gauntlet.  Traelle investigated the order of the Blue Gauntlet and discovered that it was nothing more than a disguise for filthy bandits.  

 

While everyone else took a short rest, I sat down to write what I assume will be my final journal entry.  Now I see that Drak’Thal is alone and resolve to put my fate in his hands.  I begin to approach the dwarf with an apology and an offer. 

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