The Four arrive in Beliard, a bit weary, particularly Templeton, but the pleasantness of the town raises your spirits to some extent. As you enter the village, though you look battle-worn and dusty, the townsfolks don’t seem to pay you much mind. They must be used to travelers.
Upon further inspection, the town seems a bit smaller than Red Larch. At least, there doesn’t seem to be the breadth of businesses you encountered there. The town center has a small square with somewhat active stalls. Surrounding the square are a tanner, a smith and numerous stables. However, the largest building by far, clearly a building that has been added onto many times over, is a prominently signed inn – The Watchful Knight.
Templeton brushes the dust off his traveling clothes and notices the wingwear he is wearing. ‘Gentlemen, to avoid any inappropriate associations I urge you to remove your wingwear for now and stow it away in a pack. We will not need it in town and I don’t want anyone who knows what it is to spot it on us.’ Templeton removes the wingwear and stows it in his backpack. He straightens his tussled mop of hair and says, ‘Now on to more important things. I have had about enough of this walking through the wilds nonsense. Follow me to The Watchful Knight. There is properly cooked food and good drink in our future lads.’
With that Templeton heads straight to The Watchful Knight. He will enter the establishment and immediately enquire about food and drink for himself and his traveling companions. He also would like to book a room for the night that has access to a hot bath and Waterdavian soaps.
As we sit and eat our food and drink, Templeton will listen intently to the other conversations in the inn and tray to take measure of anyone in the dining room, the innkeeper, and the staff.
Puck nods his readily and removes his wingwear and stows it. ’Let’s also keep in mind that we will need mounts. Once we’ve had a chance to rest and reconnoiter a bit, we should go to the stables an inquire about horses. Perhaps there will be another caravan that we might join as well. This is rough country.’
Kareep ditches the shield from Feathergale Spire in the morning and keeps cloaked and hooded in Beliard and the Watchful Knight. The only thing he is interested in purchasing is a shield and possibly healing potions. He asks Templeton to make the transaction for him for the shield as he does not wish to cause any problems. He will be quiet and respectful if approached by any townsfolk.
You enter The Watchful Knight in the early evening hours. The tavern room is quite sizable and seems to be filling up quickly. You find yourselves a table off to the side and soon a hearty serving woman arrives to take your orders of food and rooms. (2gp each for good rooms, drink and meals).
The majority of the patrons seem to be in relatively good spirits and hail from a variety of venues, both local and distant. There seem to be plenty of local workers and farmers as well as caravan guards and such. There does seem to be another ‘class’ of folks as well. Overhearing conversations, you get the sense that a number of older guards and caravan-related folks that seem to have settled locally as well.
You do catch sight of the proprieter of the inn, one Neshor Fleurdin. He seems busy, focused but reasonably jovial.
After filling his belly, drinking more than his fill, taking a bath, and changing into some clean clothes Templeton sets about working the room. He wants to have a conversation with Neshor Fleurdin and some of the caravan folks. He is going to ask about ask about the caravan from Mirabar. How long ago did it leave Beliard? Any word on its fate as it is overdue? Was it headed south towards summit hall? He also wants to inquire about some services in town. In particular he is looking for a temple and a brothel. Or even better a temple that is a brothel.
Kareep will have a good meal but when Templeton returns to work the tavern after his bath, he will stay in their room. Kareep will cast primeval awareness before going to sleep. Kareep’s casting of Primeval Awareness reveals nothing untoward.
While waiting for Neshor, Templeton works the room for other information, he does hear one other account of interest. A cattle drover by the name of Eann says he met the caravan about 10 miles south of town. Apparently they got at least that far.
Eann also says later that day he saw a group of warriors in sky-blue armor and white cloaks, flying on giant vultures fly overhead heading south in the same direction as the caravan.
After insisting speaking with Neshor himself, a serving maiden eventually retrieves him. He sits down at your table, sitting with a straight back, and inquires politely, ‘Yes, Mr. Daltrey, how can I help you. Ah, you are inquiring about the Waterdaevian delegation that has gone missing? Well, I certainly spoke to them before they left. They were well stocked and provisioned. They seemed like capable folk with clear goals. They were headed south along the Dessarin Road, of course, with clear intent to deliver the body of a fallen knight to Summit Hall.’
‘In addition, I have heard Senya, one of my serving maidens, speak of seeing a strange monk wearing a golden mask observing the Mirabarrans when they stayed here at The Knight. She says the monk left some hours before the caravan departed south. No one has seen any of them since.’
‘Is there anything else, Mr. Templeton? Ah, brothels and temples. Ah, well… I can certainly arrange for a visitor this evening, but there is no brothel in town, I’m afraid. There is a small temple to Lathander, the God of Birth and Renewal just outside of town.’
Neshor responds, ‘Everything I have heard suggests the caravan never made it to Summit Hall. But, of course, I can’t verify such rumors.’
‘Of course, you can speak with Senya when her shift is over… I don’t want her distracted while working of course.’
‘The Lathander Temple is just outside of town on the Dessarin Road as you would head to Summit Hall.’
‘There is no formal book shop in Beliard, but my father, Old Man Nestor, is a bit of a collector. I can introduce you if you like, in the morning.’
He nods and takes the gold.
‘Thank you, Neshor. I would be honored to meet your father in the morning. That would be delightful. I know that there were Mirabar dwarves amongst the caravan. But did you know if there were any Waterdhavian nobility amongst the caravan when it left Beliard? A woman perhaps?’
Before leaving, Neshor responds, ‘I do seem to remember mention of a Waterdhavian contingent. However, I never spoke with anyone directly from Waterdeep.’
Sometime later, after the dinner rush, a young woman approaches and shyly says her name is Senya. ‘Yes, sir? You had a question?’
‘Ah, hello. You must be Senya. It’s a pleasure to meet you my dear. My name is Templeton Daltrey of The Waterdeep Daltrey’s. Please now that things have cleared out a bit let’s move over to a place with a bit more privacy.’
Templeton will usher her over to a booth in the corner – somewhere out of easy earshot and eyeshot of others.
After they are seated he will continue, ‘I am here in town looking for a lost caravan from Mirabar. Neshor tells me you saw a suspicious fellow in a mask watching the caravan before it left town. I was hoping that you could do me favor and think really hard about that masked man and describe him to me.’ As she describes the masked monk to Templeton he is going to wink at her and say, ‘Don’t be alarmed I am going to cast a magical spell to create an image as you describe it.’ As she describes the monk Templeton will use minor illusion to create a scale image of the man only 1 foot tall standing on the table in such a way as to avoid anyone else in the tavern from seeing. He will further refine the image as she describes it to try to get a really good picture of what this monk looked like. He will ask about other distinguishing marks besides the golden mask. Any tattoos or symbols on his robes. In particular he will use his illusion magic to show her the air cult symbol and the other symbols he knows and ask if she recognizes any of those symbols as part of his garb or saw anyone else with those markings.
Does she remember anything the strange man did? Did he speak to anyone? Does she remember anything else that was strange or memorable about the Mirabar Delegation. Was there a Waterdahiavn noblewoman present?
Senya arrives some time later and follows you to the back of the room. She seems fascinated by the illusion and engages enthusiastically. After 20 minutes or so, given your passive insight, you end up with an image that you believe might be a bit hyperbolic. Senya’s memory does not seem precise, she has changed her mind a couple of times throughout the process, and you think she is taken with the ability to form an image via magic.
The image is of a very tall and thin humanoid figure in a long, deeply hooded black robe. The face is largely obscured, but seems to look like a grotesque, golden-faced gargoyle.
You inquire to get more details about it speaking or something else, but Senya is unable to provide any other details.
She has no other knowledge about other contingents in the caravan. All nobles ‘look the same’ to her.
Templeton smiles, ‘Thank you my dear Senya. You have been very helpful.’ Templeton slides 4 gold coins over the table to her. As she reaches for the coins he gently touches her hand with his own and looks into her eyes. ‘I am in room 42. If you join me later this evening you will find I have more than just illusion magic at my command…’ He uses his invisible mage hand to caress her cheek. “Magic can be quite useful when engaged in pleasures of the flesh. You could stand to earn a few more coins as well.”
Her eyes turn to confusion and then to fury. She picks up your mug of beer and sprays it into your face. She then shoves the coins back your direction, ‘I am a married woman, Mr. Templeton. I do not appreciate being approached in such a manner.’
She then stalks away.
Templeton wipes the beer from his face. And thinks, if I had a copper coin for every time that happened I would be a rich man. Oh wait I am a rich man! He cleans himself off and retires for the evening.
Everyone woke up the next day. Neshor introduced Puck and Templeton to his father, old man Nestor. But he seemed a bit dim witted and addled by age. The stop at the Lathander temple proved useful with each party member purchasing a potion of healing. Quintus and Templeton each purchased a horse and Puck purchased a pony. The master treasure list was updated.
The following morning, you head south along The Dessarin Road. You come across the small Lathander Temple and purchase potions. They are thankful for your “donation”.
The Dessarin Road leads south through the barren Sumber Hills. You don’t meet any other travelers this day, but you find evidence that the trail supports traffic—wagon ruts and mule droppings prove that people come this way on a regular basis. You find nothing else until near the end of the day when you are about fifteen miles south of Beliard. Kareep catches sight of a cloud of ravens and vultures circling a mile or so west of the trail.
In a small dell a mile off the road, you find the clear remains of a battle. A dozen dead soldiers lie on the ground, dressed in black surcoats bearing the emblem of a red axe. Templeton recognizes the emblem as that of Mirabar.
Most of the soldiers appear to have died from battle injuries, although some lie in small craters or jumbles of broken rock. Abandoned and looted wagons lie nearby. A couple of broken trunks sit on the ground by the wagons. Two rock cairns—one large and one small—stand atop a hillside nearby.
Templeton looks through the broken trunks and finds little of value. The trunks have largely been emptied and only have some torn clothing as a lingering remainder.
Quintus carefully uncovers the large cairn first. He pulls off large rocks and unveils the body of a bugbear. He grunts in surprise and continues pulling away rocks. Eventually, Quintus uncovers the bodies of five dead bugbears in all. They are dressed in worn black leather armor with a strange triangular symbol – an exact replica of the one you found in the caverns beneath Red Larch.
The smaller cairn uncovers more quickly and contains only one body – that of a human woman in monk’s robes, with a strange golden mask shaped like a gargoyle face.
Using his knowledge in magic as well as the Detect Magic spell, Puck determines that there is the barest hint of lingering elemental-based magic. He thinks that perhaps the reason the carrion birds are just arriving, even though the battle was at least a week ago, is that the now fading magic kept them at bay for a while.
Further, the piles of rock and craters, as Templeton surmised, were the result of powerful earth-based battle magic.
Kareep looks around and after a couple of minutes comes across a clear set of tracks heading west into the hills. You estimate there was likely 30-35 bugbears and medium-sized humanoids heading that direction.
Templeton surveys the scene and shakes his head in disgust. He covers his nose with a beautiful silk handkerchief embroidered with the letters TD to avoid the foul stench of the rotting bodies. “This golden masked monk is female. There is at least one more at large. The serving wench spotted a man wearing such a mask.” Templeton bends down and removes the golden mask and robes. He asks Puck to scan them for magic before tucking them into his pack. “This might prove useful later. It seems that in addition to hurricane monks we are facing some sort of black earth monks. These like to wear golden masks for some reason.”
‘This mark here.’ Templeton points to the symbol on the bugbear armor. ‘We have seen this before. It was worn by LaRock’s men. He was the one who eluded us and clearly used powerful earth magic to escape. It seems quite clear that the evidence before us combined with the letter on Thurl’s desk point to the responsible party for this attack actually being the black earth cult. Thurl and his Feathergale Knights simply took the opportunity to attack after the bugbear assault most likely. I believe we should track these bugbears back to wherever they came from and try to find any survivors.’
As best Quintus can ascertain, he believes the caravan was likely ambushed on the road and chased this direction into the hands of a larger ambush. Quintus knows Bugbears can be quite stealthy and enjoy ambushing, so perhaps they waited in ambush while others, the wielders of magic(?), chased them this direction.
Quintus also knows that though Bugbears like to bully the weak (goblins, hobgoblins and such), they will fight for powerful masters if bloodshed and booty is assured.
The only aspect of this battle that seems out of place to Quintus is that the bodies of the bugbears were encased in a cairn. They are known to normally leave wounded allies behind without a second thought. Burying their dead is certainly not one of their normal practices.
There isn’t so much a trail as clear tracks to follow. the group clearly wasn’t trying to hide its passage, and now that you have a good eye on the tracks, kareep can follow easily – even from 30-40 feet in the air if he wishes.
The horses could be lead easily. riding them is possible too though there is some small risk of injury.
After getting a small distance from the chaotic scuffling of the battle, Kareep flies low to the ground a few hundred feet ahead and expertly evaluates the tracks heading west.
After a few moments, Kareep chirps and calls the other to him. ‘There are 10 bugbear tracks and 18 humanoid tracks heading due west. These tracks are close to two tendays old. We are lucky there is has been little rain of late. The details might have been lost otherwise.’
At this point, the sun is beginning to set and you will have to make camp soon. Where do you want to camp?
Kareep does an excellent job of finding a secluded spot with a small cave to give you all cover from potential roving eyes through the night. The night proceeds uneventfully.
In the morning, Kareep picks up the trail where he left off. You travel for about 10 miles due west through the hills. With Kareep’s guidance you travel quickly and quietly. Near the end of the day, you come over a small esker and see the tracks lead down a short skree slope to the edge of a large river. Kareep knows this is the same river you flew over as you were headed to Beliard.
After investigating the riverbank, Kareep declares that there are several “gouges” at the water’s edge where the tracks end. Apparently, the bugbears and humanoids launched into the river with multiple keelboats headed south along the river’s course.
After discussion regarding the possibility of building our own raft or sending someone back to purchase a boat, it was decided to press on by foot. You actually don’t know whether the river is navigable by raft. You see evidence of keelboats here on the river’s edge – which are agile boats capable of carrying cargo. you suspect that some trade does happen along the river, but you have no idea whether a hand-built raft would hold up – particularly with horses on it.
Could Kareep guide the party and the horses south on a parallel course with the river (might be a mile east if necessary). My goal would be to scout ahead a ways down the river, then double back. Then lead the group south for about the same distance parallel to the river. Perhaps repeat this pattern a few times.
I want to study the marks on the river’s edge so I can try to find where they get off down river.
Kareep again finds an excellent spot to camp for the night. you find yourselves unmolested for the night.
The following day you head south following the river’s path. Kareep scouts ahead and then returns, finding you a safe path for the day. by the time the sun is near setting, you have traveled about 10 miles or so. There has been no sign of the bugbears or others.
You are ready to make camp again. Well done. Again, the evening passes uneventfully. you pack up, well-rested, onward to another day’s travel south along the river’s edge. the day itself passes quickly as you travel through the hills with kareep’s expert guidance.
roughly an hour before dusk, something in the distance breaks the regularity of hill terrain on the other side of the river. kareep catches sight of it first. he carefully leads the way and you find yourself on the opposite bank from a large stone keep that seems to be built partially into the embankment. there is access to the base of the keep via the river and you catch sight of a single moored keelboat. it’s hard to tell, but it also seems likely there is land-based access on the opposite of the keep as well.
The keep looks very old, but does seem to be in reasonably good repair. It’s hard to tell much more than that without getting closer.
Having been watching the river throughout your journey south, Kareep is dubious there is any ford in the river safe enough for the horses – at least from what you’ve seen so far. Perhaps further south? perhaps not.
Kareep, go ahead and give me one more survival check to find a place to camp.