Excerpt from the Journal of Arranis Amakiir:
Morning, 4 Marpenoth 1489 (Year of the Warrior Princess)
In the morning, Gabriel was able to remove the curse from Asarrian, the elf who was the golden stag. Ruisar graciously supplied his fine clothes to the man so that he would not have to travel naked. A kind thing for him to do. Since Asarrian was unconscious we left him with Green Imsa who asked that we not share Gabriel’s ability to break curses for…. obvious reasons.
As luck would have it, Asarrian woke up later the same day and thanked our group and quickly befriended Imsa. It seems they bonded over being cursed. Discussing Asarrian’s plans for the future caused the day to pass quickly and, before we knew it, we came upon a small tavern…. if it could be called that. At first sight the stable for the animals seemed worn down, dirty, and in ill repair. At second glance, I realized that his was the tavern itself, and the stable was much the same. After fiddling with my wobbly chair for a short while, I decided to cast mending on it, this naturally led me to a progression of mending spells that repaired much of the tavern.
This was how I drew the attention of Rowan, one of three stunningly perfect triplets. His curiosity about the arcane drew him to me, and as an acolyte of Oghma I could not help but share my knowledge with him. He and his companions ended up joining our group at the tavern where we discussed aventuring stories and we learned the other two brothers’ names; Kieran and Kalen. They were all fascinated by my use of magic to protect us at night, but were generally just beautiful, curious, and friendly. Gabriel seemed especially entranced by Kieran, though it may have been a mutual discussion of Lethander. In retrospect a coupling between the two would have made a fascinating study.
Evening, 12 Marpenoth 1489 (Year of the Warrior Princess)
Tolday is our 22nd day on the road. The days have been passing in peace, lately. I have been discussing magic with Rowan and it has kept me busy while Gabriel has become close with Kieran. Ruisar has been training blades with Caval, Asarrian, and Bryson. Kalen has jumped in a few times. As a side note, I really must study the art of swordmanship someday, perhaps even learn to wear plate armor?
Morning, 13 Marpenoth 1489 (Year of the Warrior Princess)
We have entered the Trollclaws area today. The winding river travels from east to west as we head past the ruins of forts long gone. Caval chimed in that we should scout ahead to the Trollclaw Ford ord and the group quickly agreed that this place would make a likely ambush. We started to scout ahead.
We came upon a group of about 200 worshippers who were practicing self-flagellation, a bloody practice. Most likely followers of Loviatar. While there is much to be learned with pain, I do not subscribe to the beliefs of this particular goddess. After Gabriel came up with the idea, Bloom used their religion to aid our cause by suggesting they walk through the brambles and thorns rather than the road. They quickly took to his suggestion, clearing the road for the caravan.
We camped for the night shortly after crossing the river, and the followers of Loviatar passed us in the night. We will have to find a new way to pass them if we want to stay on schedule.
During the night Ruisar heard a cry that caused him to awaken the party. He quickly shouted that we needed to help the crying voice and ran into the woods. Everyone followed, despite my misgivings in leaving behind the protection of my spells. I was curious to see what had enraptured Ruisar in such a manner.
I was surprised. I never expected Ruisar to have been enamored with an elven maiden, but even more fascinating was an arcane circle that seemed to be holding her in place. She said she had been summoned from the beyond which meant she had died previously… I had never seen the like and quickly bent to study it while Ruisar passed a lump of coal to the elf. He then, despite the obvious pain that it put her in, tried to force her from the circle.
I surmised that Ruisar has a weird way of showing affection.
While I wasn’t there, Caval, Gabriel, and Robbie had a similar encounter a little ways away with a lost love of Gabriel’s, a young man named Everyn.
The arcane circle eluded my grasp, I couldn’t understand how it worked or what it did and, to my dismay, Tyjit came running looking for our aid. Apparently the caravan was on fire. I knew I could help there while I was uncertain I could do anything to this arcane ward. Then Bloom asked Cylanestriel, the maiden, if Ironcloak had brought her there, by casting a spell that made him appear as the wizard. She confirmed his theory and we all knew that we would need to return to the caravan to confront him.
As we tried to return to the caravan, Tyjit attacked me! He quickly dissolved from the form of the tabaxi and took the form of one of the three triplets. It later became apparent that all three were doppelgangers, the horror. The group was able to bring down all three of the monsters, who must have read our thoughts and probed our memories. We were shaken, especially Gabriel and Ruisar, but no worse for the wear.
Morning, 14 Marpenoth 1489 (Year of the Warrior Princess)
We are to see Dragonspear Castle in the distance today. It is a truly marvelous place that I simply must visit sometime. There is even said to be a portal to the underworld! I would love to study it. Unfortunately, and despite my and Caval’s enthusiasm, the task of stopping the Cult of the Dragon takes precedence. I suppose it would be difficult to study the castle if the world were destroyed….
But I sidetrack myself. The morning started in an unusual way. Tyjit, the real Tyjit, came to us surreptitiously and informed us that Ironcloak had headed into the forest and asked that no one follow him. That he needed to send a warning to the castle about the “Heroes of the Wide” (which, by the way, is no longer an appropriate name, though a more suitable one still eludes me….. the Heroes of the Golden Stag?). Tyjit also passed a scroll to me, which he claimed to have stolen from the wizard.
We quickly decided to pursue Ironcloak into the woods as he is our best connection to the Cult. We found a still open circle of teleportation that made my eyes grow three times their size. However, since we needed to run into the portal, I did not have the time to learn the sigils of the circle.
This is doubly unfortunate since it seems that we have entered another realm of existence, and a none-too-friendly one.
Our entrance to this realm was heralded by Ironcloak and three trolls and… utter and complete silence. However, despite the magical trap, Ironcloak underestimated the party (especially Bloom’s handy hypnotic spell) and was defeated along with his foul minions, but not before Bloom was grievously injured – his eyes completely destroyed!
But with Ironcloak’s death, our path back to the caravan is gone. The circle is broken and the portal has vanished. Color is drained out of this realm, a darkness and shades of grey bleed into everything and everyone… I have a strong suspicion we are in the Plane of Shadow. If this is correct, then we are in far more dangerous waters than any castle in Faerun.