- Fo, Human Monk, Level 2
- Brûne, Human Paladin, Level 1
- Vrae’ree Everhurden, Drow Wizard, Level 1
Employed by Lord Dagult Neverember, the Company has been on the road for about several days. They set out from Neverwinter for Phandalin to deliver a holy relic to the newly founded church of Torm. The trip was an easy one, allowing them to arrive in Phandalin in three days. They remained in Phandalin for a day to rest and resupply. Then they were back on the road, headed towards the town of Greenest in the South. They knew that Waterdeep was on the way, and they planned to stop there before continuing along the Trade Way South into the Western Heartlands and along the Uldoon Trail to Greenest.
Vrae’ree Everhurden saw the ground give way beneath Fo. He was powerless to prevent his mount from suffering the same fate. He knew right away that it was a sinkhole. Being from the Underdark, Vrae’ree had an understanding of such things. Sinkholes like this usually occur where the rock below the land surface is limestone or other carbonate rock, salt beds, or in other rocks, such as gypsum, that can be dissolved naturally by circulating ground water. Understanding this made the situation no less dangerous.
The Dark Elf coiled his body, and pushed with his legs, leaping away from the falling horse. He tumbled in mid-air, landing lightly on his feet at the edge of the sinkhole. He crouched to ensure that the ground here was solid, and peered down into the darkness.
Vrae’ree’s Drow darkvision made it possible to see that Fo had rolled out of the way of the horse. The horse had obviously broken its front legs in the fall, and perhaps injured its spine as well. It was thrashing around and bawling in pain. Fo had mercy on the beast, moving forward and cradling it’s massive head in his arms. With a single twist, the monk broke the horse’s neck and ended its torment.
Fo glanced around. Although the hole eight feet above him let in some dim light, he was surrounded by darkness. He could not see further than an arm’s length from him. He thought he could hear movement. He glanced to the right, and then the left. Yes, something was moving in the darkness around him.
“Look out!” shouted Vrae’ree. He pointed and spoke the words that sent a small mote of fire down into the darkness of the pit. It lit up the small cave for a moment, revealing two men dressed in leather armor, cloaks, and strange leather masks. Their garb was all jet black, helping them to cling to the shadows of the cave. They moved with the grace of hunting cats, prowling in the darkness around Fo.
The Fire Bolt hit one of the Men In Black. The flame licked across the surface of his cloak and armor, rolling away and dissipating into smoke. However, the flare of light gave Fo a glimpse of his enemies. He lashed out at them, missing with each strike. The Men in Black continued to circle Fo, stepping lithely out of the way of his unarmed strikes, and then striking with practiced speed like a serpent. Fo grunted with each cut from their blades. He knew if this kept up there would be no hope for him.
Vrae’ree spoke another arcane word. A frigid beam of blue-white light streaked toward one of the Men in Black. Again, the cave was lit for only a moment. The Ray of Frost had no effect on the man. It merely sizzled away and turned into mist. Fo dashed forward, ramming his quarterstaff into the cave floor and vaulting into the air. He kicked one of the men in the chest, sending him into the nearby rubble. Fo landed and turned, assuming a defensive stance. He felt his elbow nudge the hard, wet rock behind him. He had his back to the wall, and decided that was a good thing.
One of the men gazed up at the Drow Wizard, and produced a throwing knife from within his black cloak. With a flick, the blade spun through the air and struck Vrae’ree in the middle of his chest. The Drow cried out in anguish, and collapsed on the ground.
Fo’s eyes were adjusting somewhat to the dim light of the cave. He saw that the other man was up again, and both were circling him in slow, practiced paces. They were obviously well trained fighters, and skilled in cooperative tactics. They each seemed to compliment the other. Fo felt like a rabbit being hunted by wolves. Pack tactics often win out against solitary prey.
Just then, Fo heard loud singing from somewhere above. He recognized Brune’s voice, and glanced up to see the paladin toss a lit torch into the pit. The torch hit the ground between the men and Fo. The monk smiled and attacked the closest enemy. He connected with flurry of blows, and then followed up with a strike from his quarterstaff. Even as the man he was pummeling went down on his knees, the other one attacked from behind. Fo felt the thin blade slash across his shoulder and down along his ribs. He grunted in pain again, spinning to face his enemy just as three glowing darts of magical force hit the man simultaneously in the chest, blowing him backwards and into the rubble once again.
Fo looked up to see Brune kneeling next to Vrae’ree. Apparently the paladin had used some of his magical ability to heal wounds. Surely that blade should have killed the wizard, but thankfully Brune had other plans. The Drow smiled ruefully, coughing as he spoke.
“Magic Missile,” he said sheepishly. Then he groaned as Brune removed the blade from his chest. Pressing a small piece of rigid material to the wound, he then applied pressure on the wound with a clean and absorbent cloth. Brune eyed the Drow seriously, telling him to stay still and hold the bandage in place.
Then the Paladin stood, raising a javelin and assessing the situation in the pit. The torch was still flickering, providing illumination. He could see Fo exchanging blows with the dark-clad fighters. He noticed the second fighter standing up from the rubble to Fo’s left. With a mighty heave, Brune launched the weapon towards the fighter engaging Fo. His aim was true. The javelin struck the black-clad man in the hip, piercing flesh and bone. He cried out in pain, and bent over to grab at the shaft, allowing Fo an opportunity.
Fo smashed his quarterstaff into the top of the injured man’s head, following the strike up with a roundhouse kick. Fo felt the man’s skull give way, and watched as he slumped lifeless to the rough floor of the cave. Fo turned and rushed at the other man. His cloak and armor was still smoldering from the effects of the Magic Missiles. Within mere moments, Fo had mortally wounded this one as well. The battle was over.
Brune reported that he and Deiter had dealt with the Kobolds and all was well on the road. Both Brune and Fo combined their efforts to see to the Drow’s stab wound, and then took some time to investigate the cave. It was small, and apparently being used as a storage area. The only way out of the room was a small natural fissure in the west side. It was large enough for a man-sized humanoid to squeeze through and seemed to lead to a narrow passage that snaked off further to the West.
The cave itself contained ten large crates filled with non-perishable foods like dried beef and fruits, salted fish, grains, bread, brine pickled vegetables, waxed eggs, and rounds of cheese. There were also six chestnut casks of mead and five oak barrels of wine. Along with these was a sizable stock of weapons similar to those used by the Kobolds and Goblins the night before. All of these supplies were hoisted from the cave a little while later with the assistance of the wagon drivers, a block and tackle, and a hoist on one of the wagons.
While loading the crates of supplies on to the wagon from the cave, one of the drivers remarks that the crates are all marked with different trade stamps. After a short explanation, the man explains that most all of the crates are marked with symbols belonging to merchants from small towns ranging from Waterdeep to Baldur’s Gate
The two black-clad fighters were human. They wore medallions marked with a five pointed star and the icon of a dragon. Vrae’ree and Brune both came to the agreement that this was a symbol very close to that of Tiamat, servant of Bane. When the wagon drivers saw the symbol, they crossed themselves and claimed that it resembled the symbol used by the Church of Asmodeus.
As Fo searched through the belongings of the two cultists, he discovered that one of them had a black iron key on a chain around his neck. Making no mention of this to his companions, he slipped it into the folds of his tunic.
Curious as to how the men shrugged off the effects of his Fire Bolt and Ray of Frost, Vrae’ree asked for his companions to bring the cloak of one of the enemy to him at the edge of the pit. After a few moments of concentration, the Drow removed a small pearl and am owl’s feather from the pockets of his cloak. He spoke a few arcane phrases, and gestured over the dark black cloak. Reaching down slowly, he lightly touched the dark material. Both material components were consumed, fading away as small wisps of smoke.
Vrae’ree looked up to his companions. His voice was weak. “The cloak is not magical. It is the garb worn by these cultists who have sworn an oath to the Nemesis of the Gods, the Dark Queen Tiamat. Their faith protected them from the effects of my magic.”
Brune shook his head. “Cult of Tiamat. Ugly ones those. Their dogma is madness. They seek only power, at any cost. They work tirelessly toward the day when Tiamat will banish the gods from Faerûn and unite the world under her rule. Toward this goal, they follow her commands unquestioningly and are willing to sacrifice themselves in her service.”
Fo shook his head and scowled. “Unrighteous.”
When Vrae’ree spread out the cultist’s cloak to cast Identify upon it, a small scroll case falls to the floor. Opening it with care, the Dark Elf Mage found a letter that may prove useful to the Company.