The Journal of Micar’eyl Auvrymtor: Herding the Insane
So we’re taking a few days of R&R time at Helm’s Hold after that battle with the werewolves. Of course I’m trying to make good use of the time. I get a meeting with Alisara Callum, the Chief Speaker of the town council, and I make a pitch to her that the council should put the Bregan D’aerthe on retainer against the day when Dagger’s Mintarn mercenaries try to take over the city. That way the council has their own troops who are far superior to these surface soldiers. Callum doesn’t turn me down flat but says she’ll have to think about it. Apparently this place is so poor that even hiring some fine drow troops will significantly strain their budget.
The others who traveled with me are all off doing their own things. I think Marcus was asking about meeting with the leader of the Mintarns, and Valtha was trying to do some research in the Oghmanyte archives. Neither come back looking completely happy, but then I rarely see a smile out of either one of them anyway. Valtha mentions that a lot of the books are still stored in crates. Some book-lovers these guys are! Lends credence to the idea they’re all a bunch of frauds.
Branwen strikes out too, and she wasn’t doing anything but trying to find some book preservation methods. I’m like, “Why don’t you write your own book about all this philosophical stuff?” She’s like, maybe someday, which, allow me to translate, means never.
Just when we’re all starting to feel rested and like people again, Horst shows up traveling with that human adventurer Luusi. Horst says he wanted to get out of Neverwinter for a while while things cool down for him, and he doesn’t know how long ‘a while’ will be. Luusi says she had some kind of squabble at the House of a Thousand Faces. People, if you want to leave Neverwinter there are nicer destinations than this hell hole. I tell Luusi we’re going to take a look at Neverwinter Woods after we leave here, and she says there’s a rumor that Netheril and Thay are at war there over Shadowfell trade routes.
Anwyay, that night Marcus is accompanied by that priestess Seipora. It’s funny, but he acts really surprised to see Luusi. I wonder if there’s something going on between them? Anyway, Marcus is all paranoid about being overhead and goes as far as paying off that Fletcher girl so we can talk in her house and away from the crowd.
So once we’re all situated, Marcus gets serious and tells us he has personal business in Helm’s Hold. He needs some help with it, and he wants to know what we’re signing up for. He tells us he doesn’t use his family name in Neverwinter since there is history there. His real name is Marcus de Tylmarande. Apparently his ancestor was some famous traitor named Aribeth de Tylmarande. It sounds vaguely familiar to me, but Branwen recognizes the name immediately. The two of them clue in the rest of us. Apparently Aribeth was a paladin who was Lord Nasher’s right hand and helped some nameless hero cure a disease called the Wailing Death. The sarrukh used some kind of magic they used to send her nightmares after her lover was executed by Nasher.
The execution has its own backstory where the Luskans had infiltrated Helm’s Hold to spread the Wailing Death. Aribeth’s lover was a stooge who was too dumb to realize he was being played. Afterwards, the mob demanded that he pay for that. The execution and then the nightmares turned Aribeth and she switched sides and joined the sarrukh, who had taken over the Arcane Brotherhood and used Luskan to invade Neverwinter. Marcus claims she repented in the end, but Nasher Alagondar had her executed anyway. His family’s been branded traitors ever since. I seriously don’t know why Marcus seems to think that Nasher is the bad guy in this convoluted story, but his tone kind of implies that.
Valtha asks why they don’t just change their name, which fits with what she said to me before, but Marcus just shrugs it off.
Anyway while Marcus was away, his sister Seldra got into trouble. That whole “Lost Heir” business last year where some woman showed up leading a force and claiming to be Nasher’s heir? That was Seldra. Her ultimate plan was to drive out Dagult Neverember, but she failed and then came down with the Spellplague. They had her shipped off to Helm’s Hold instead of imprisoned or executed, which frankly sounds rather decent of Neverember to me. You would think Marcus would have some gratitude.
I know you’re wondering what any of that has to do with the huge side trip of exposition on the dubious traitors in their lineage. Keep wondering, because I sure don’t know.
So anyway, Marcus naturally wants to free his sister. The urgency of this is enhanced because Seipora says everyone is being turned into foulspawn. Rohini (the Oghmanyte prophet) is controlling most of the priests. Marcus’s plan is to escape through the tunnels from the Sanatorium beneath the cathedral. It has connections to the catacombs where the old Helmites buried their dead. According to those old maps he found, the catacombs connect to some abandoned sewer tunnels beneath Scar Alley.
We debate what to do. Marcus wants to rescue just his sister, but Seipora wants to rescue everyone. I am forced to agree. Grabbing Seldra and running will solve Marcus’s problem, but it will leave all of us fugitives from Helm’s Hold with some powerful, angry enemies on our back. I advise the political method. We should find some factions around town and prep them that if we can bring evidence that the Cathedral folks are up to no good, then they kick the Prophet out. Then we’re the heroes, and maybe I can even make some mercenary sales out of it. Luusi and Seipora are both game to come with us.
We have a debate about how to handle this. Who do we want to bring in? The Order of Blue Flame is a world-spanning organization that’s supposed to help people with the Spellplague. They have a Commander Accordant in town named Pieron Astorio, but Rohini has kept them at arm’s length. Branwen will appraoch him. There’s also a local group called the Heirs of Azure, led by Halas Dalren. Valtha, Horst, and Seipora will approach him at the Hungry Flame. I’ll go back and talk to Alisara Callum, and Marcus will approach the leader of the Mintans, Captain Dunfield.
In my meeting with Alisara she’s pretty cautious and skeptical because she was the one who brought the Oghmanytes here in the first place, but she’s reasonable enough to not throw me in a cell for raising the question, and keeps an open mind if I’m able to prove the claim. Until then she wants us to be discrete. Everybody else’s meetings seem to get a similar answer.
We decide to be tricky. Horst will do a ritual to create the howling of wolves throughout the city. It will encourage everyone to take refuge inside the temple. When they do, we slip in with the crowd and head below while the guards are busy looking outward for werewolves. It works like a charm and soon we get below. The orderlies put up a fight, but the most dangerous person there is this giant of a monster with three eyes. Also, some of the patients turn into foulspawn and attack when we try to rescue them. There is some pretty haunting singing from one of the rooms. I think it’s like, ’Songs of the Far Realm", straight out of the heads of aberrations.
We eventually beat down all the foes and find a total of seven patients (including Seldra) who are still intact and non-monstrous enough we can rescue them. They’re still pretty out of it, though, and each of us has to take responsibility for herding one patient around which does not make traveling any quicker or easier.
We begin navigating the catacombs, aided by this ghost paladin that Valtha summons up and makes an awful lot of promises to. But it is not enough. We come to a place where the carved tunnels of the crypts give way to more natural caverns. We pass plaguechanged ghouls with their mouths in their stomachs. We smell the foul fetid air of the Underdark.
I figure we could make it, though we’d probably lose some patients along the way, but the others insist on turning around and having another try at the catacombs. Marcus starts to talk about having someone run ahead alone to draw the attentions of the monsters so the rest of us can slip through, and you know he’s thinking about going it himself. Luusi somehow decides this is obviously her job and runs off. I run after her and catch up quickly. Everybody else sticks with the rescued patients. She’s all, “this is a suicide mission” and I tell her it isn’t anymore because now I’m here and I don’t plan on dying.
I know, Micar’eyl why are you sticking your neck out for this human? Well she was being stupid, and she’s part of my band for this expedition, and the Bregan D’aerthe don’t leave members of their band behind because they’re doing something stupid. I will suitably discipline her later.
Somehow, with a lot of close calls all around and a lot of running, we manage to make it through the catacombs and emerge into the sewers. Praise Lloth, no doubt it was the Spider Queen’s reluctance to see my soul devoured by a rival that saw me through. Only Lloth can eat my soul!
Valtha navigates us on further past patrols and checkpoints of goblins and kobolds who are all spellscarred. It appears that the kobolds and goblins are fighting a war. Horst theorizes they came for treatment at Helm’s Hold and ended up being used as troops and put into the warrens. We take a break to discuss what to do.
I’m trying to work out that tune I heard in the Sanitarium, and Branwen completely freaks and tells me to never sing or hum it again. Apparently it’s part of the tune that whatever force is in the chasm (which I guess we are assuming at this point to be the Abolethic Sovereignty though no one has actually witnessed a fish in person and reported to us) is driving into the heads of people on the wall. Okay, obviously she has a point. This song is tapping into a source of power that can literally eat your brain. On the other hand, it’s tapping into a source of power that could literally eat your brain! If I could somehow master enough parts of the song without falling victim to it, I could increase my own power as a bard. I suppose this isn’t the time or place to do more with it, but I will keep my options open once I have some spare time in a safe place.
One one of the patients turns on Branwen and talks about fighting on the Wall and making Dreamthief dolls. “I dream your dreams for you now.” He loves Branwen. So apparently those dolls were channeling the crazy to the people int he Sanatorium. Branwen looks sickened, but it is a pretty neat piece of magic.
Anyway, my argument that we should approach the kobolds because they aren’t as stupid as goblins carries the day and we approach a kobold patrol and ask to be taken to their leader. We meet a kobold on a throne named Ixenmiirik with wings of blue fire. There is a dark creeper with a spellscar beside him. That kobold is so cute on that throne that I can’t help put squeal! I mean, he’s like a little kobold doll I played with as a child, complete with wings made of blue yarn.
I didn’t know at the time, but apparently Horst was quick on the draw with a charm spell and charmed Ixenmirik. So obviously he warms right up to us and to Horst in particular. Ixenmirik seems to have let his minor power (king of the kobolds is better than being king of the ants, but not by much) go to this head and drones on about how he’s going to be a dragon someday. Evidently he wants to get rid of his Spellplague wings and get draconic wings in their place. I’m all, your wings are beautiful as they are, little kobold doll! He does not seem to agree, though.
Anyway, he demands we all hail his “draconic majesty.” The others stumble through some speeches and then I do this killer song I’ve been working on that is actually meant for tavern advertising but I adapt on the fly because I’m awesome. But of course, there’s always a catch. Before he lets us go he wants us to go kill some goblins and bring back their heads.
So we go kill a bunch of goblins and their pet wolves and bring back their heads! Done.
The king has Orghul the dark creeper show us to the surface. We talk to him on the way, and he says Baga (evidently the goblin leader) and Ixinmirik are both fools. He tells us there’s something in the deep crypts guarded by “the green elf” that is the focus of all this aberrant power. He guards things in the forest beneath the earth where he hunts his prey. It was weird to hear Orghul gender the elf as “he”, because I just naturally assumed that the mastermind and most powerful being in the area would be a “she”. You know, as you do.
Apparently Orghul’s spellscar power is to see the unseen, which sounds incredibly useful. I offers to get him hired with Bregan D’Aerthe, and he’s unenthusiastic but sort of takes me up on it. We’ll find a place for him, but whether that place is in the cannon fodder or the bands we care about is up to him.
Marcus talks to his sister Seldra. He asks how she’s holding up and she says she’s okay. She asks where she will go. Branwen says that the Order of Blue Fire offers the only genuine help for the Spellplague. Seldra says that no, it is controlled by sharns. Sharns are like, some ancient aberrant things with elf brains. What in the Abyss do they have to do with the Order of Blue Fire? Random madwoman babbling?
Seldra goes on to say that it wasn’t the Spellplague that drove her mad, it was the crown she wore during her “Lost Heir” ruse. Some guy named Tolivast stole the crown and did something to it. Tolivast is thin with red robes and raises the dead. Thayan wizard, anyone? But apparently he got killed during the uprising so there are no leads there.
She says, "Ammon knows… Ammon helped me. " This Ammon guy tried to get the crown back, but it was too late and she was already crazy. He stopped her from killing everyone in Neverwinter. He sent her to Helm’s Hold, but the prophet made it worse. It’s not just the Spellplague. That crown did something to her.
At this point I call a magic user’s conference with Horst and Valtha. It seems like Seldra is crazy in a different way than the rest of these patients. We theorize that the crown might be Thayan magic that has driven her mad, but is also helping her fight off the influence of the Abolethic Sovereignty. Potentially Valtha could drive out the aberrant magic by strengthening the necromancy. Marcus seems doubtful but I think he’ll come around if no other solution seems to present itself.
To sum up the rest briefly, we surface inside Helm’s Hold. Mintarn mercenaries have spears in our face. They take us to the Captain. We take all the evidence to the council. The council votes to remove Rohini and she refuses to leave, plunging Helm’s Hold into a state of civil war. On the plus side, I convince them to hire the Bregan D’Aerthe for the conflict. Score a sale!
I have a little talk with Luusi about these suicidal stunts she keeps pulling on her adventures. Ah, so embarrassing I can barely write it, but I tell her about how a lot of the new recruits to the Bregan D’Aerthe are suicidal and we help them through it. I don’t want to see her go the same way. So I tell her she should consider herself charmed and that we’re friends now, and we’ll do something fun when we get back to Neverwinter. Lloth avert your eyes from my shame, I don’t know why I’m letting myself become emotionally involved with this idiot, but when you’re running for your lives together you get to know a person. Soooooo embarrassing. I must be really desperate for companionship the way I’ve been acting lately.
|Marcus de Tylmarande||Sanatorium|