A few pages torn from Alatar's journal…
During our feast with the Feathergale Knights, a solider rushed into the room and announced that a Manticore the knights had apparently been hunting had been spotted in the clouds. Merosska offered his ring as a reward to the person or persons who slew the beast and returned with its head. Experienced in the fighting of Manticores (most of us that is), we followed a group of knights to the top of the spire. There we found four gigantic buzzards that were to bear the knights in the hunts. After a brief moment of uncertainty, we decided to ride with the fighters. We split into two groups—a Knight, Drak’Thal, and I rode on one while another Knight, Rinn, Traelle, and Þórunn rode on another. We had difficulty finding the beast due to the area’s unnatural cloud cover but we did manage to slightly damage the beast. The two other buzzards and their Knightly riders, succumbed to the beast’s attacks and fell from the sky. Both birds carrying the Keepers remained in the air but we soon lost sight of the accursed beast. Then Drak’Thal, in a key moment of insight, suggested that perhaps the Manticore had gone to the lair in which we had fought the earlier Manticore. The Feathergale Knight landed the buzzard near the mouth of the cave. We entered. Within twelve seconds, we dispatched the beast when the Knight shot it with two iron bolts and Drak’Thal called on the power of Talos to electrocute the creature. I cut off its head and gave it to the solider and we returned to the Spire’s Pinnacle to reclaim our reward. Rinn, Traelle, and Þórunn never got a chance to battle the beast. Drak’Thal took the ring and I was rewarded with 30 gold.
Since it was late in the evening Commander Merosska, offered us a room for the night in one of the four rooms on the Spire’s Third Floor. We accepted the offer but asked if we could indulge in a post-fight ale first. He agreed. Before we left the Spire’s pinnacle Traelle asked if she could look through the spyglass. Savra made it clear that looking through the spyglass would be a poor choice. Guards led us down the stairs into our room where we found four beds for five people. Drak’Thal quickly solved any potential sleeping arrangement dilemmas. After briefly discussing what we had encountered in the Spire, Rinn suggested that we sneak back to the pinnacle to look through the spyglass. Drak’Thal, apparently drunk, happily agreed to go. The Paladin and I argued against it because the Commander had done nothing to suggest he was untrustworthy and it seemed unwise to risk angering our hosts. Our efforts proved pointless. Traelle laid down on her bed and I opened my book of the genealogical history of the Miribar Kings. I must have quickly fallen asleep but I do remember hearing Drak’Thal, dropping most of his equipment (including what sounded like chainmail) fall to the floor and Þórunn, for some reason, agree to go with the Dwarf and Rinn. From there, I know only what I have heard. I awoke sometime later when Rinn and Þórunn returned to the room but as they entered I heard a Knight interrogate Drak’Thal. I could not make out what was said but he never returned that night. Þórunn left again, presumably to find Drak’Thal, but I was not awake when she returned to the room.
A Feathergale Knight woke us in the morning. Realizing that Drak’Thal had not returned, Þórunn collected his discarded equipment. We returned to the Great Hall on the second floor for breakfast. While there, I tried to ask a Knight about the map I had earlier found on the Griffin rider but he was not able to assist. I had hoped he would recognize the map and give some indication that he knew the rider from whose body I had taken it but, alas, he said nothing. Eventually, we spoke with the Commander. Þórunn asked about our missing companion but the Commander was more interested in determining whether we had visited the pinnacle and looked through the spyglass. Rinn, wisely I believe, told him she had returned up there and accidently knocked the spyglass from its position. I do not know if she was telling the truth. Regardless, the Commander accepted the excuse and told us we could find Drak’Thal in an animal pen on the bottom floor of the spire. We found our companion locked in a cage and mostly naked except for the animal shit he had slept in the night before. After he tried to clean himself off, Þórunn returned his clothes. With all of us fully clothed, we, after much debate, resolved to leave the tower to discuss our plans outside the range of the Knights. We did so and decided to trek back through the Sighing Valley to the Cairn Road.
For the next several days, we traveled through the valley. The return journey required much less time. Unfortunately, on the trip my nightmares of the black skull ceased and allowed for my usual nightmares to return. I may no longer wake up screaming in the night but my meditation remains just as plagued by horror. Eventually, we made our way back to the Cairn Road. After some debate over whether we should venture out into the wilderness (Þórunn must know this territory better than she has suggested because she seemed certain that we would soon come across a place where we could contact both Kline and our faction leaders), we decided to return to Red Larch.
Upon entering Red Larch, we first made our way to the Swinging Sword Inn where Kaylessa informed us both that we had a letter waiting us from Commander Bladeseeker and that we owed 250 gold for the stabling of our oxen and cart. Traelle paid the fee out of the 2000 gold she had collected for us for the selling the Griffin egg to the Fearthergale Knights. We read the passive-aggressive letter from Kline in which he complained about not getting specific enough details. We wrote a reply and then each went our own way. I assume my fellow Keepers visited their faction leaders. I tried to visit Vallivoe’s but a small child told me to come back in the morning. Annoyed after traveling all day, I was sadly rude to the poor boy. I traveled to the All Faiths Shrine where I prayed to the gods of my people and returned to the Inn. Then, a few of us went over to the tavern. While walking over, we felt the Earth quake; it quickly passed and no one in the tavern seemed to notice the tremor.
Once again seeking solace in drink, I ordered four of the strongest drinks at the Helm. After hearing the cost, I only purchased two. I retreated into the darkest corner of the inn but the pesky Rinn found me. She asked to join me; I begrudgingly relented. We drank; she got drunk far faster than I did. We played dice; I won her loaf of bread on the first throw. I ordered another drink. Alas, it did not help anymore than the second. At some point (the details are a little unclear), Drak’Thal joined us but he quickly outdrank both Rinn and I. Neither Traelle nor Þórunn seemed to partake in the merriment. Despite only wanting to drink to escape the lingering Underdark, I enjoyed the evening. Someone must have helped me back to the inn because I woke up the next morning in my room.
The next morning we all again went our separate ways. I visited Vallivoe’s where I sent a message to the Harpers and purchased some much needed supplies and a lute; perhaps it will help me reclaim some of what I have lost. I asked about a map but Vallivoe did not have one. She suggested we could find one at the Bargewright Inn down the Cairn Road. I did, however, give her a gold coin to repay the small boy for my rudeness the night before. I returned to the Inn to find everyone but Þórunn. We discussed our plans and discovered that Rinn was also told to go to the Bargewright Inn for some mysterious reason. We resolved to travel there in search of a map and from there make our way to Summit Hall which we know is also in the East. We quickly found Þórunn at the tavern and, before we left town, I sent my own letter to Kline.
We made our way southeast along the Cairn road for a full day. Seeking some meat to eat with the stale bread I had won from Rinn the night before, I killed a rabbit once we had stopped for the night. Drak’Thal came with me to hunt and he must have had a delayed reaction to the previous night’s drink because he completely failed to even find a rabbit. I ate the rabbit, strummed my new lute a bit, kept watch in a tree as everyone else slept. Nothing appeared. I went to sleep at the start of the third watch. As I lay asleep, three apparently young and weak Manticores attacked. We quickly obliterated them but as the battle concluded, Drak’Thal cast a thunderous spell that knocked Þórunn unconscious. No permanent damage was done as she was quickly healed but such an action suggests that he was acquired more of his God’s evil than I had suspected. After healing Þórunn, I raised my bow against Drak’Thal but he did not seem impressed. That is his loss because if he does that again, he will actually need that eye patch.
Today will likely be a long march to Bargewright Inn for I am exhausted.