CATALYST: THE RELIC FOUND

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As it is written: “At Winter Solstice within the Year of the Scarlet Witch wise men shall gather to stand between Darkness and Light.”

21 Nightal, 1491 DR

Last Episode:  WISDOM GAINED

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SCENE ONE: kraag’s lair

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While investigating the newly discovered teleportation circle in the Hall of Mists, the cadre decided to test it out. Their first destination was the Serpent Hills, a dry and desolate land that has once been teaming with life and a hub for trade. They investigated the area and decided that they were itching for a battle. In time, this lead to their discovery of the troll warrens. They boldly invaded the cave and the trolls defended their den. Before long, the monks were in the middle of combat.

Trolls are horrid carnivores. Most creatures avoid them since trolls know no fear and attack unceasingly when hungry. They possess surprising strength and often grapple with their prey.  The trolls’ rubbery hide is colored a moss green, mottled green and gray, or putrid gray. A writhing hairlike mass grows out of their skulls and is usually greenish black or iron gray in color. Their dull, sunken black eyes possess exquisite darkvision . Females are easily distinguished from males; they are both larger and more powerful than their male counterparts.

These Trolls were no exception. The Troll clan was ferocious as they defended their home. The matron of the clan, a huge Troll called Kraag, fought front and center while the rest of the clan surrounded and supported her. The Trolls fought hard, but the monks were too strong and well trained. And their connection to Ki gave them an advantage. The advantage of fire.

Dorn called on his connection to Ki to summon the element of fire to him. His eyes flared with orange energy as he summoned a small blazing ember between his hands. He cast the ember towards the middle of the room, and it burst into life, quickly becoming a fireball. The fireball raged into life, consuming the entire room. The Trolls howled in terror and pain as the flame consumed them. Before long, the Trolls were dead, leaving only the cadre of monks alive in the smoldering cave.

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The cadre decided to stay in the cave, making it a refuge for the time being. Lough did some exploring in the deeper caves, finding a cesspool wallow, a sinkhole containing a Gelatinous Cube, and a shaft that seemed to extend down deep into lower levels of the abandoned mine.

The cadre bided their time until the message from Candlekeep arrived, and Rowen shared her information. Then it was time to go to Surkh through th teleportation circle.

SCENE TWO: the city of SURKH

24 Nightal, 1491 DR

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The City of Lizards lies on the northern shore of the Deepwash, in the shadow of the Deepwing Mountains. Although Surkh maintains cordial relations with the Emerald Enclave, it remains largely isolated from its neighbors. Surkh’s inhabitants make their livings by fishing in the Deepwash, and they fear only the ancient dragon turtle that dwells in the depths. They export the seafood and jewelry to the Sword Coast in exchange for metal weapons and armor.

The Lizardfolk of Surkh have attained a degree of civilization unmatched by their kindred elsewhere in Faerûn. Despite their isolationism, however, their practice of eating both humanoids convicted of serious crimes and the losers of deadly gladiatorial battles engenders fear among the Scaleless Ones (Humanoids) in the surrounding city-states.

After the Rise of Tiamat in 1489, the Temple of the First Lizard became the one and only temple within the city. Led by a priest named Deiros, the temple quickly rose to great power. With the assistance of the newly appointed Lords of Waterdeep by the Cult of the Dragon, trade was strengthened between the Sword Coast and Surkh. Within time, more illicit trade with Thay allowed the city to access arcane knowledge in exchange for slaves, poisons, and cannabinoids.

When the cadre arrived on the teleportation platform, they were suddenly aware that the city had suffered a heinous attack. Looking over the city from the high platform, they were able to see that city was heaped with hundreds … thousands … of dead Lizardfolk. Closer inspection made it seem that the Lizardfolk had summoned their warriors in the center of the city near the Temple of Tiamat, and staged a desperate defense that was obviously a failure. The butchered bodies of warriors were scattered in the center of Surkh like gruesome sacrifices in front of the Temple.

They also noted that a large pile of corpses was gathered off of the center of town. It seemed that the non-warrior citizens had been gathered there and slaughtered, most having there throats cut. The corpses included males, females, and even children. it seemed that none were left alive by whomever attacked the city.

They followed the path of carnage to the center of the city and the temple of Tiamat. Here they found that the doors were propped open by the bodies of Lizardfolk priests dressed in regalia common with Tiamat worshipers. They moved through the corridors of the temple quickly, seeing that slaughtered corpses marked the faild attempts to defend the temple from invaders.

Before long they descended into the hallway right outside of the main worship area. Here they discovered two Lizardfolk who were still alive but badly injured. The others stopped only momentarily to ask the dying priests what had happened to them. The one was beyond help, pin-cushioned with dozens of arrows. However, the other was still well enough to speak in its strange, lisping language.

“Humans from Neverwinter and the Lord’s Alliance. They came to trade and turned on us. They wanted the skull. They said they couldn’t leave any witnesses. They killed them all .. all of them.”

Dorn remained to care for the injured Lizardfolk priest while the others burst into the main chamber.

SCENE THREE: THREE FROM NEVERWINTER

24 Nightal, 1491 DR

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When the cadre entered the main chamber of the temple, they saw a group of men wearing long coats and wide-brimmed hats. These men were just finishing up combat with several Lizardfolk. Dozens of the priests lay dead around the room. The men were armed with broadswords and flintlock pistols, easily recognizable as Witch-Hunters from Neverwinter.

Along with them were three easily recognizable folk heroes from Neverwinter: Vrae’ree Everhurden, Adabon, and Thaed. All three were well known members of the Neverwinter Nine, hand-picked warriors in the employ of Neverember and the Lord’s Alliance.

They could clearly see that the Dark Elf mage held the Skull of Alaundo, the relic from Candlekeep. The Skull of Alaundo is a powerful artifact that was venerated and protected by the monks of Candlekeep. It was stolen many years ago and has recently been found in the possession of priests of Tiamat in the city of Surhk. Legends claim that the skull serves as a container for the soul of Alaundo, preserved there as a last act of the god Savras

The cadre attempted to negotiate with the three heroes, trying to discern what exactly was going on here. Abadon reacted with violence, firing several times at Dorn when he entered the chamber behind the others. Thaed ordered Abadon to stop, and the Elf begrudgingly followed the cleric’s orders.

In time, Vrae’ee explained that they were in Surkh on the orders of the new Lord of Neverwinter, Asmodeus. As They were acting under orders to wipe out the city and then return the skull to Asmodeus. Vrae’ree allowed the cadre to approach and lay hands on the skull in order to complete their quest. As they walked closer, some of them noticed Thaed’s hand slip instinctively to his belt where hung an ancient blade, obviously recognized as the legendary Sword of Kas.

Touching the skull allowed them to hear the Candlekeep monk’s chant known as “the Chant of the Unfulfilled Prophecies.” Over that chant, they could clearly hear a voice speaking into their mind saying, “”Lolth must be dethroned to return Light to Faerun. Seek an audience with King Bruenor Battlehammer to find Lolth’s Chosen One.”

In the end, Shensheng Cibie locked eyes with Vrae’ree, nearly pleading with the Dark Elf to join in the quest against Darkness in Faerûn.

… to be continued …

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