We stood over the fallen trolls and their filthy hunting hounds. It is at times like this that I wonder about the making of the world, as well as the greater universe of all the planes. Is it true that Good and Evil arise naturally in their opposing heavens and hells, and that the powers therein wage a constant contest for control of this middle ground? Or were all of one mind at firsts, and later many rebelled? Was Good first, with the selfish and jealous and greedy striking out against them? Or is Evil the primal state, where those of benevolent nature strove together to find a better way?
With this conflict in mind I wonder about the souls of trolls. Are they the evil children of an evil god? I feel it is so. But maybe they are the descendants of a primal Goodness, but were seized or corrupted by evil forces beyond their ken. Either way, I pray for their souls to find peace as they escape this world of vileness and filth. For I must believe that our souls are sent beyond this universe when we die. I take it on faith that our destination is the unending bliss under the golden light of the Heaven of the Creator.
We regained out breath and searched the kennel building. Amongst the filth were found a half dozen ermine pelts, three fox pelts, and an exquisite winter wolf cloak. I took the cloak because it reminded me of my angel, Garrick. There was some discussion of giving it to the barbarian, Brock, but I know he’d have probably used it to wipe his butt then thrown it away. He’s disgusting.
Terredon besmirched himself by donning the muck cloak that the nine foot troll was wearing. He is a druid, so he has no pride to lose.
We spoke together about how approach the lodge. Tan Meng revealed to us that the leader of this place might be an old acquaintance of his. We had learned from papers in the swamp castle that Rezmir and company were coming here and expected to meet Tanis the White. Tanis was the name of Tan Meng’s old friend. Apparently she saved him from a life of slavery, and he felt that if we could avoid killing her that it would be a good thing to do. We promised to try.
After a second of gathering our thoughts we asked Gemna to scout around the big lodge building. At one corner she could hear the sounds of an active kitchen and voices, but could make out no meaning. On the second floor she spotted a balcony and could hear arguing going on up there. The language was mingled common, elvish and draconic. She failed to understand that too, but mostly because she knew only one of the languages being spoken.
Gemna came back and got Terredon, who is kind of sneaky even in his elvish form and also understands all three languages, and they climbed onto the balcony. By the time they got there the connected room was empty. It appeared to be a dining room or meeting hall or something. The rest of us followed them up. It wasn’t stealthy per se, but we used what stealth we had and did our best and it all worked out in the end.
The hall had ten big wooden columns (posts) carven with a dragon motif and five gigantic tapestries. I could tell a few details about the tapestries from my time studying and scribing in the Lycaeum.
- A blue dragon attacking a desert caravan in some hellhole called Anauroch.
- A green dragon eating the luckless elves of High Forest.
- Two dragons, black and white, in the ruin filled swamp known as the Mere of Dead Men.
- A red dragon burning a tower or fortification in the city of Waterdeep.
- A sort of abstract image of Tiamat with Waterdeep, Neverwinter, and Baldur’s Gate in her claws.
The tapestries were very valuable, but bulky and difficult to make off with so we left them for now. There are gems woven into them and they seem to depict future events, not historical or fanciful ones.
We started a systematic search of the upper floor going withershins from the door to the hall. We discovered: an abandoned armory (Terredon took a spear for some reason), a filthy bath that dragon hounds had apparently been using to wash unwholesome stuff in, a locked door that we couldn’t pick, and then the finale (although certainly not the last door). I rushed in to find two dragon cultists along with two men at arms (lesser black dragon cultists). The two higher ranked members appeared to be arguing.
They one was, of course, Tanis and the other turned out to be a subordinate named Kusfia. Kusfia seems to be a total asshole, but Tanis consistently hinted that she didn’t want him killed or anything. Looking back I am sure it was a mistake, but we granted not one soul the eternal peace of the afterlife but instead talking with Tanis and left peacefully.
Tanis fed us dinner and told us a lot of information. Her idiot mind has been damaged by an abusive upbringing which has left her deranged. She worships dragons for their beauty, and especially one dragon named Glaziel the Cloudchaser. While she is a high ranking member in a degenerate cult, her retarded ambitions and backward personality make her very little danger to the world at large. I think we should have shown her the mercy of spiritual redemption anyhow, but I resisted the temptation for the sake of Tan Meng. I do not think he actually wishes her suffering to continue, but he has not yet received the enlightenment of the peace granted to our souls beyond the walls of night.
She told us that she had recently been slighted. She was the highest ranking member of the white branch of the dragon cult, and should have been made wormspeaker, but that a dwarf named Verram (not Verrandath, as I mistakenly recorded in an earlier log entry) had been promoted past her. She is intensely bitter to the point of breaking down into childish language when speaking of Verram so we were not able to get any useful information except that we should deliver her soul (not her exact words) her when we see her, which we were planning to do anyhow.
According to Tanis, the dragon cult mostly doesn’t want to summon Tiamat. Further, they know that it is impossible. The current leadership structure is very new and largely considered to be insane by many of, and maybe most of, the cult members. In her words, the great powers can not be summoned from Hell, and Tiamat is not only a great power, she is imprisoned as well. These matters are beyond my ken, but she seemed authoritative on the point, for whatever that means.
Tanis lives in a make believe world where some day this Glaziel will submit to be her mount and she’ll be free of the torments of whatever bullies have plagued her miserable life so far. Glaziel would have to be the dragon that sets the lowest bar for self esteem if she ever lets this miserable turd ride her.
We were also given to know that we are only hours behind Rezmir and company. They have taken the trail to a town called Parnath from which they intend to depart on a flying castle. Denizens of note thereon: one cloud giant (maybe more) and Glaziel the Pathetic. The giant apparently owns the castle perhaps his magic causes it to fly. The weather is cloudy or foggy or whatever you want to call it, presumably an effect created by the giant. We were repeatedly advised that it would be crazy to attack the giant or the dragon.
Tanis gave us a Tiamat cult banner that is supposed to grant us entry to the castle. We wrapped it up on the spear shaft and covered it with a rag. She also seemed very deceptive about her claim of ignorance of the command words for the portals, but her degraded soul felt no shame in lying to us openly. She told us that Rezmir was the portal master of the cult.
So, having made a short rest of dinner and filled our tummies, we departed for the five hour hike down the trail.
Parnath seems foggy and dreary. The people in the streets disappeared quickly and seemed unwilling to talk to us. This rubbed Tan Meng the wrong way, especially when he spotted a shrine dedicated to some idiot woodcutter aspect of Chauntea. He barged in and tried to question the girl he found there and she told him it was too dangerous to talk. He insisted and she repeated her statement before finally fleeing to a house nearby. Tan followed, and a male voice told him to meet at the inn in ten minutes. After some discussion, Tan Meng was convinced and we went in search of breakfast.
We all went to the inn except Garr. In the inn, the Golden Tankard, we were treated as welcome guests, but the general air was of unease. We learned that Lord Marston, whoever that is, and his entourage were expected. They were to stay here hunting stags or boars or something. No rooms could be had in town, but maybe something could be arranged. We ordered some breakfast and drank some dwarven ale.
In the mean time Garr assaulted, at least verbally, the old man and girl that were supposed to come to meet us at the inn. He can write his own journal if he wishes. All I can say is that between him and Tan Meng, I bet those people think we are crazed idiots.
After a long time our breakfast didn’t come and Gemna snooped the kitchen to see what was what. She found our food had been prepared but wasn’t being brought to us. Maybe it was some clever way of sending us a message of trouble, but it went mostly under our noses. We finally got the idea that someone called Captain Ofalstan was coming. This seemed to be an important point to the innkeeper so we went out and met him in the square.
The Captain, wearing expensive looking splint mail, turned out to be a dragon cultist with an escort of five or six black swordsmen and what we took to be a caster but wasn’t. We showed him our banner and asked for the flying castle. He challenged us with a password, saying, “Tiamat, our mother…”. I didn’t know the response so I invoked the holy blessing upon my weapon so that it glowed with sacred golden light. He could tell right away that I was going to smack him.
The fight was quite short. Terredon, as a giant elk (wouldn’t Lord Marston like to see that!) and I in my glory stood against all seven while the rest of our party struck from afar. Garr, who we hadn’t seen since entering the inn, reappeared and struck their line from the flank. We crushed them, but managed to keep the captain alive along with one of his men. We had needed intelligence so this was a great boon.
We learned the following from our captives and the townsfolk:
-The password response is “Tiamat, our mother, our strength”.
-The town was being repressed by the cult, and was now in full revolt. Collaborators were unlikely to prosper.
-The castle flew off about a half an hour before. We will be able to catch it by riding the wyverns in the barn. The castle is made of ice and has both a giant and dragon on it.
-The castle population is entirely dragon cultists. There are maybe fifty, maybe one hundred fifty people on it.
-There are Red Wizards of Thay (including Azbarra Jass) on it. They are plotting with the dragon cult leadership. They are powerful summoners and seem to think that they can do the impossible (summon Tiamat from her prison in Hell).
At last I took a little time to try to calm the townsmen down a bit lest their sense of justice run away with them and they slaughter half their population on a rising tide of bloodlust and vengeance. I cast a zone of truth so that that could attempt to hold an impromptu trial, hoping that some of the collaborators could be shown to have acted out of fear and ignorance instead of greed and malice. Time will tell if my efforts will be rewarded, but I do not think that the captain or his soldier will have a very good time of their trial. I am contented that all of those slain will at least be consigned to an end of earthly torments and suffering, and to an eternity of bliss.