Recap January 2,2021

They agreed and she left them to have their meal and rest before starting the 5 day journey to Candlekeep.

Calmers and Jazulon were about to head back to the Temple when Reya stopped them.

She spoke:

“Everyone of you have heard this tale before. But it may do us all good to hear it once again.

It was over a century past that the great troubles began. Fiends roamed the lands to the north and west of Elturel. Fields were despoiled, livestock slaughtered, homes razed, and people dragged off to a terrible and unknowable fate. Terror gripped the hearts of all.

The city’s cavalry rode across the land, striking down fiends wherever they found them and suffering fearful losses. But it was never enough. For every fiend they destroyed, it seemed as though two more appeared elsewhere.

The ruler of Elturel, the High Rider Thavius Kreeg, asked his people to pray to the gods for aid. To everyone’s astonishment, a mighty angel entered the city the next day. Her name was Zariel, which means Companion of Light. The prayers of Elturel had been heard, and help had come.

Zariel located the gate through which the fiends were entering the natural world, on the Fields of the Dead west of the city. Zariel declared that she would lead the cavalry into Avernus, destroying the infernal host that was amassing there, and striking a great blow against the forces of darkness.

The High Rider sent out the riders of Elturel, now numbering many thousands, with Zariel at their head, riding a golden mastodon. With a great cry, Zariel and her army charged through the gate. The legions of Avernus trembled and buckled, but did not crumble. Zariel was defeated, and the remnants of her army returned to Elturel, overcome with grief at the loss of their glorious general but confident that the lords of the Nine Hells would think twice about threatening Elturel again.

There were great celebrations to honor the valiant knights of the cavalry and we became known as Hellriders from that day on.

And so it seems that the Nine Hells has not only threatened Elturel once more but the Hells have swallowed it whole. For some reason. And they want Baldur’s Gate to be next. I hope we do find some answers from this Sylvira.”

Fisk said she is very knowlegdable on the Nine Hells. If she can figure out the puzzle box we may get closer to figuring out what happened to Elturel.

Calmers asked about the shield of the Hidden Lord

Sylvira may know about the shield as well. It seems connected to all of this.

Oh, said Fisk. We will need to bring a gift in order to be let into the great library of Candlekeep. It can be any book or scroll as long as the library does not have a copy of it. Calmers said I can gift my early schematics of the invention I am working on. Fisk said that should work. I also have a book of recipes from Calimshan that I can give.

Calmers asked the Shield to communicate with the others. The Shield introduced himself to everyone on the group and assured them that Calmers was not crazy.

Calmers went back to the Temple to work on his invention. It would involve a variant of the Absorb Elements spells using the Thaumaturgy cantrip to reduce the sound created when using Thaumaturgy. He gathered all the notes that he considered first draft and added them to his travel bags. Jazulon went back to the Temple to meditate. The rest of the group stayed at Fisk’s house and had a nice meal. They continued to discuss what they could do with the shield and the puzzle box.

They agreed to meet at the Elfsong Tavern and then head out of the Basilisk Gate the next morning. Liara would have the supplies she promised them at the Gate.

They found their horses from Elturel had not disappeared and there was also a wagon led by another horse containing 7 days of rations, food and water.

As the Basilisk Gate opens, Flaming Fist soldiers hold back the tide of Elturgardian refugees. You cut a path through these wretched souls, whose wails intensify as the Basilisk Gate closes behind you. The dirt road cuts through the slums of the Outer City, past the walled neighborhood of Little Calimshan, to the great span of Wyrm’s Crossing.

Two great bridges meet at a tall, rocky island that rises from the middle of the Chionthar River. Buildings and merchant stalls line the sides of both bridges, making it impossible to see the river from the narrow, congested roadway that cuts between those structures.

Wooden drawbridges connect the two bridges to a keep situated atop the island. The flags of Baldur’s Gate and the Flaming Fist wave proudly above this fortress.

The space was crowded and they had to weave through the people leading their horses. Suddenly Jockractes felt a hand on his coin pouch. He went to grab it but found his hand around his coin pouch. He checked to make sure nothing had been taken and then warned the others.

Soon they were on the Coast Way headed south.

As Wyrm’s Crossing and Baldur’s Gate disappear from view, you find yourselves heading down the Coast Way, a dirt road that leads to such distant lands as Tethyr, Amn and Calimshan. Candlekeep lies some one hundred and fifty miles south and west- a five-day journey.

Coming up the road toward you is a human farmer riding on the front of a hay-filled wagon pulled by two draft horses. The farmer gives you a friendly wave as the wagon draws near.

The group set to the sides of the road to let the cart through. As the cart came into the middle of them the farmer spoke in Infernal saying “Get them!”

Tharja was the only one that could understand the farmer and he told his companions to be ready. The Two seasoned looking human fighters jumped out of the hay and the farmer flew into the air transforming into a cambion. The cambion stayed in the air casting Rays of Fire and throwing spears. He was shooting commands at the human fighters telling them to take out the machine man and get the shield.

The group crowded around the human fighters and they could not miss. Jazulon attacked with this fists, Nym with his bow and shortsword and Jockrates The fighters were not able to to get to Calmers before they fell. The cambion flew down and engaged Calmers on the ground. As soon as the two fighters died, the cambion plane shifted away saying you have not seen the last of me.

Tharja told the others what the cambion had said about Calmers and the shield. The Shield of the Hidden Lord said to everyone in the group. Those were members of that secret society are after me. This will not be the last we see them I fear.

They searched the bodies and found, two longswords, two crossbows and a total of 20 bolts. They also found a strange looking coin. (see handout in roll20) Jazulon held it while Tharja used her Arcane knowledge to see about coin. She determined that it was a Soul Coin. Soul Coins each hold one soul. Soul Coins are used as currency in the Nine Hells. Whoever had the coin could tap it into it if there was a soul inside to give them minimal healing. Tharja knew there was more to the coin including how to get a soul into one. They would take the coin to Sylvira also.

They traveled the rest of the day with no issues. They found a nice place just off the side of the road and made camp. It was an uneventful night. As they were breaking camp, it began to rain.

It would rain most of the next three days of their journey.

Over the past four days, the weather on the Coast Way has gradually worsened. Dark clouds release heavy rain until the road runs thick with mud, yet you trudge on, passing by friendly merchant caravans heading north. On the morning of the fifth day, the rain subsides but the dark clouds remain. Ahead, you see a path branch from the wider road, heading to the sea. A raven perches solemnly on a leaning post bearing two signs that point like arms toward the west. One says “The Way of the Lion.” The other says “Candlekeep.”

They went west and followed “The Way of the Lion.

The afternoon sun shone through the clouds to illuminate the gray walls and pale spires of a timeworn fortress that stands majestically atop a rocky promontory overlooking the sea. The trail leads straight to it. At the gatehouse, they were greeted by three monks in purple robes: a human, a shield dwarf, and a sun elf. Around their necks hang holy symbols of Deneir, god of writing, whose symbol is a lit candle above an open eye.

“Welcome to Candlekeep,” says the elf in Common. “A gift is required from those seeking admittance. You must donate a book or scroll that isn’t already in the library’s archives. Please present your gift for inspection.”

Calmers presented the first draft of his schematics for his invention. They three monks passed the document around so they could all read over things. Their holy symbols of Deneir all glowed faintly as they held the schematics.

The elf said “These are good work. Did you do these? Once you have finished your invention, Candlekeep would like to have a copy to add to our main library. Calmers agreed. The group said thank you and the monks let them in.

(see map in roll20)

They entered the Court of Air and as they walked to the Emerald Door, Fisk pointed out the areas of the Court. On their left side there were Stables, Granary Tower, The House of Rest, The Hearth and the House of the Binder. Fisk said that once they talked to Sylvira they could come back and get rooms/beds at the House of Rest. They could get a good meal and drink at the Hearth.

As they approached the Emerald Door an imp with an enormous belly flies over to them and shouted “I have found you!”

Fisk says I knew we would see you eventually. This is Pipyap. He also works for Sylvira. Pipyap said that is correct. But no one appreciates Pipyap. All I do it work work work. No rest for Pipyap. Fisk said let us move on to Sylvira’s towers.

Pipyap agreed and he led them down several streets and to a medium sized tower. He led them to the front door and opening the door, Pipyap welcomed them.

The walls of this circular tower chamber are punctuated by arched windows that are currently shuttered. Bookcases filled with eldritch volumes stand between the windows, while tables are crowded with specimen jars, alchemical equipment, and other clutter. Engraved into the floor of the chamber is a large, nine-pointed star.

A middle-aged tiefling dressed in wizardly robes stands by one of the windows, caught in a fugue of intense contemplation.

“I can’t tell you how pleased I am to see you ,” says the tiefling. “What have you brought me?”

They showed her the puzzle box. She smiled and took the puzzle box. As she turned the box over and over in her hands like she was attempting to solve a rubrics cube she spoke:

“I’ve been suspicious of the High Overseer of Elturel for a long time. But no one wanted to hear my concerns, because Thavius Kreeg was widely regarded as a hero who saved his city from an undead scourge, giving rise to the holy nation of Elturgard.

“Hailed as a savior, Thavius made all citizens of Elturel swear an oath called the Creed Resolute, which binds them to defend the nation of Elturgard. I met him years ago, and my instincts told me he was a charlatan. Afterward, I grew to suspect that he had cut a deal with one or more powerful devils, using the Creed Resolute to bind all Elturel to his dark deal. I wish to prove my theory, and I believe the evidence is locked inside this puzzle box.”

She said she was an expert with puzzle boxes. She then asked Pipyap to bring her the flask of dark liquid. She then poured a small amount into the mazelike troughs carved into the box’s surface. She then tips the box so that the liquid flows in certain directions through the maze-like patterns- until the box’s horn inlays pop loose and it breaks apart.

Inside the box is a stack of nine chain-linked plates, each three inches on a side, cast of dark iron, and stamped with Infernal runes.

Tharja read the Infernal runes for everyone:

Be it known to all that I, Thavius Kreeg, High Overseer of Elturel, have sworn to my master, Zariel, lord of Avernus , to keep the agreements contained in this oath.

I hereby submit to Zariel in all matters and for all time. I will place Her above all creatures, living and dead. I will obey Her all my days and beyond with fear and servility.

I recognize the dispensation of the device cal led the Solar lnsidiator, hereafter called the Companion. In my capacity as High Overseer of Elturel and its vassal territories, I acknowledge that all lands falling under the light of the Companion are forfeit to Zariel. All persons bound by oath to defend Elturel are also considered forfeit. I further recognize that this dispensation will last fifty years, after which the Companion will return whence it came, taking Elturel and its oath-bound defenders with it, if that is Zariel’s wish.

All this is my everlasting pledge.

The room was silent. Suddenly Reya collapsed onto the floor and wept for Elturel. Bound to the city by the Creed Resolute, she aand everyone on the group now understood the pull from the imperative to return to the city.

Reya finally spoke: “If Zariel wants my soul,” says Reya, “she’s welcome to try to take it.”

Everyone in the group agreed with her.

Sylvira then said “You have brought dire news to Candlekeep. I must gather the wisest among us to convene a Crisis Conclave. Rest tonight, for this may be the last night you’re afforded such a luxury.”

Calmers said what about this shield.

She looked at it but would not take it. She gave a small laugh and then said:

“This shield is a symbol of good’s triumph over evil. Gazing at such beauty, one can easily overlook the terrible force bound within it. Gargauth is, I believe, its name, though it calls itself the Hidden Lord. It was a pit fiend sent by Asmodeus to corrupt mortals on the Material Plane, and there it amassed such a following as to rival that of gods. In that way, Gargauth became a sort of demigod, and having worshipers increased its power exponentially. My, how the mighty have fallen!

“This shield has the power to corrupt everything around it. The Hhune family of Baldur’s Gate has kept it for years now. Doubtless they’ll want it back, but this shield should not be taken to any place where thousands of mortals reside. It needs to be locked away in an extradimensional space, away from corruptible souls.”

As soon as she finished her last sentence, the Shield telepathically said to Calmers, “Take me to the Nine Hells, and I’ll swear to serve you faithfully as both a guide and an advisor.”

Calmers asked if Sylvira had an extradimenional space. She said that will be covered in the Conclave tomorrow morning. She then said I need to make the arrangement for the Conclave. You are welcome to use my library under the supervision of Pipyap. Maybe you can find some useful information for the tasks at hand.

They all started to look through the books and each found information on the Nine Hells. (see handout on the Blood War in roll20.

After finishing up they went to get a meal, rest room(s) and then they came back to the library and did more research to try to find more info. Pipyap came to them and said that it was time for them to get some rest in order to be up early for the Conclave. He would send for them and he would also prepare breakfast. (We will roll for more Nine Hells info next session)

He led them out of the tower and said good night.