Forgotten Realms - The Northlands and Beyond

The Promise

Bazhur Khan enters the stables, the tracks outside leading him to the understanding that things were not as they appeared. Whether by treachery or confusion, the stranger that had been left in the stables with the elf had been wounded, rushing outside and announcing the elf’s escape from captivity.

Bahzur walks over to where the elf had been standing with Rabe a moment before; looking around on the ground nearby he sees no obvious signs of a struggle. Instead he sees the horse tracks leading out of the two stalls and out of the stable entrance. He also sees Rabe’s tracks leading outside of the entrance, and another set of tracks, which appear to lead near the back of the stables among the stacks of hay.

Bazhur smiles to himself, closing the gates to the stables and drawing his blade and axe.

“Did you know, elf, that in my land even the condemned are shown hospitality? The flesh may commit sins, yes, sadiiq. But the soul will one day return to the world; perhaps even into the body of a loved one, ally, or friend. Because of this, one must show generosity, even to one’s enemies. It is why I gave you water, even though my blades were ever more thirsty for your blood.”

He stands near the center of the stables.

“You have but to slay me to gain your freedom. I will not call out for the others, elf. If you slay me, you may easily don my cloak and escape unseen from this town. These men will not be able to track you without my aid. Slay your last human this day, and know freedom once more.”

After closing the doors and issuing his challenge, he hears nothing for a long moment. The stable is only dimly illuminated by the lanterns hanging on posts on eitheer side of the building. After a moment of uncomfortable silence, he finally sees the elf step from behind the hay stacks in the back and come forward a few steps. He stands in front of the Calishite holding only a dagger.

“Would you at least alllow your opponent his sword or would you claim an honorable combat by defeating one only armed with a dull edged dagger?

The elf’s sword had been taken from him, and it was stowed in the cart in the corner of the stables. The hilt of the sheathed blade stood out from the wares, gleaming in the dim light of the dust-filled stables.

Bazhur nods towards the elf, taking the blade by the hilt, locking his scimitar under it and giving it a toss towards him.

“May I know the place where you wish to be buried, elf? Perhaps a brother or a wife who will wish to claim you after our business. I give my word that it shall be done.”

Bazhur enters a defensive stance, bowing to the elf as he approaches his blade.

The elf calmly walks up and retrieves his longsword, unsheathing it and tossing the scabbard and his dagger aside. He grabs the sword and takes step towards the southerner.

“You cannot hope to win this, human. Allow me to leave and your life will be spared. This is your last chance.”

Bazhur simply stands his ground, allowing his eyes to stand as proof of his intentions.

The elf lunges forward, his blade held high; his feet quickly covering the distance between himself and his Calishite foe – much more quickly than the human had expected.

Bazhur’s axe and blade rose to meet the attack, slicing through the air just beneath the elf’s own blade. The axe met home, cutting deeply into the elf’s shoulder, just below the collar bone. Flesh and bone gave way to steel, although the elf’s momentum still carried him towards the door – and towards freedom.

Bazhur Khan invoked the spirits of fury, pivoting on his heel and following through with his scimitar. The curved blade of fine southern steel found its mark on the elf’s side, slicing across the bottom of his ribs, and turning the elf’s arching leap sidelong. As Bazhur completed his maneuver, he brought the butt of his axe around for a blow to the back of the elf’s head, sending him tumbling to the ground.

Bazhur quickly rushes over to the elf, disarming him with his boot, and kneels over him. He places his blade to the elf’s throat, preparing to give him a merciful death, for fear he will suffer.

“Tell me of your kin, sadiiq. I would grant you the honor of returning to your home. Give me a place, and I will see it done. And may we meet as friends in the next life.”

Bazhur’s eyes convey sincerity and reassurance.

The elf looks up, the light fading from his eyes.

“Everme….”

His body goes limp.

Bazhur makes a sign to the gods of wind, sand and fire.

“Rest now, sadiiq. The gods put us in one another’s path in this life. Perhaps it will be different in the next.”

After ensuring the elf is dead, Bazhur turns and goes to open the doors to the stables. Once they’re open, he returns to the elf, and places him in a more respectful pose, returning his blade to his hand. Bazhur then takes a horse blanket from one of the stalls and places it over him.

After saying a prayer for him, he washes himself of the elf’s blood, and cleans his weapons outside the stables on a stool, waiting for the others.

It was done…

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The Secret Plan Ruined with a Fall

Xilus stood vigil near the elf. Dried blood covered his face and one eye was partial shut from swelling. Xilus had kicked the elf until his foot was numb. Your lucky elf,Xilus thought, I was coming for you. Xilus shook his foot and adjusted his boot. The plan seemed straight forward enough; confirm the elf was inside the cave and then build a fire near the entrance to smoke him out. Xilus agreed to this plan…it would allow him to enter the cave alone. Even as Davrun and Tymel prepared the supplies that morning Xilus knew his friends were wasting their time. Xilus had made up his mind. He would enter the cave and find the elf and kill him. But Xilus was finally coming to realized that plans dont always work out. A simple pit trap had ruined everything. I should have brought a pole… Xilus lamented. Tymel and Davrun apprehend the elf while Xilus struggled to climb out of the hole. He had hoped the elf could put up some kind of struggle, but it was not to be. Xilus arrived to find the elf under the restraints of a spell. At that very moment it was over. As angry as he was at the events of the past weeks he still could not muster the courage to kill in cold blood. Now the elf would be returned to Conyberry and made to stand trial for what he had done.

Xilus spat upon the ground. Unless Xilus mused Unless he tried to flee… Xilus looked over at the elf again and smiled…

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A Heart of Darkness

The forest was silent save for the occasional cracking of branch and bramble underfoot. Tymel and Davrun made their way through the forest back towards the road leading to Conyberry. The girl in Tymel’s arms was barely alive, her breaths getting more shallow by the minute. He paused and knelt down, removing his wineskin once more. In her half conscious state she took in the water as it passed against her dry lips. Underneath the dirt and sweat, he could see this was a beautiful young woman.

Why had he kept her alive so long? Tymel thought. He brushed the matted hair out of her face, attempting to comfort her, but he knew she could not tell the difference.

Tymel stared over at the young paladin at his side. Davrun, in his naivety, had agreed to follow him back to the village, leaving Xilus and the young Rabe Branty with the renegade elf in his lair; the same elf responsible for butchering one of Xilus’ friends and tormenting the citizens of his home village.

Tymel hoisted the young woman back into his arms, and the three of them pressed forward. He knew the consequences of leaving Xilus alone with the elf. He knew Xilus’ rage would drive him and his thirst for revenge would result in the elf’s swift death in the cave.

Tymel stared up through the forest canopy into the light piercing through the gray skies above. Lord Tyr, he prayed to himself. Forgive me for not having the strength to exercise your will. Forgive me for allowing my companion to give in to his thirst for revenge instead of serving justice in your name.

He looked back down at the girl, her head bobbing back and forth in his arms like that of a stuffed doll. How can I serve the lord of justice and not carry out his wishes myself? My duty is to ensure justice is served, even if that means killing a member of the friendly races, he thought to himself. Xilus will have the strength to do it. He will have the strength to do what I cannot. But at what cost?

He looked over to his young friend, Davrun. This young man would seek my counsel and I would lead him astray knowing full well Xilus would allow his anger to consume him. I am not fit to wear the cloth.

A tear formed in his eye. He could see it now. The road was near. This would all be over soon, for better or worse. One way or another, he thought.

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Chapter 2: Fires Rage

Dates: Hammer 11th-12th, 1368

On dusk of Hammer 11th, the party came upon the village of Conyberry, in their pursuit of the elf. The village was eerily quiet and all the homes were dark. Nothing stirred within. Xilus moved forward cautiously surveying the area before finally stopping about 50 yards outside of the village. To his horror, he saw a pole stuck in the ground with a man’s head attached to the top along with another note, which sounded hauntingly familiar; “Leave now or I will kill them all. -e.v.”

Xilus recognized the face of the man as that of Issec, a farmer in his village. A sudden rage filled within Xilus’ heart at this sight. Within moments, a pack of wolves from within the village attacked the party. The group disposed of the wolves and carefully proceeded towards the village. Flute, who had moved ahead to scout out the area during the battle with the wolves, revealed a small platform attached to the house of Issec. Xilus relayed that these platforms were attached as a means of keeping watch over the village. Citizens would stand watch in this platforms when it was their turn to stand guard for the village at night. Flute points out that in the stand, there was a decoy designed much like a scarecrow to appear as a man on watch.

After some deliberating, the party approached Issec’s house and entered. After searching the home, Flute and Xilus found the farmer’s headless corpse in his room. Xilus and Flute informed the party of what they saw and Bazhur helped develop a plan. Guessing that the elf had taken any remaining people alive, and put them in one spot, likely the town hall, the group split up and made their way towards the center of town.

While approaching the town hall from the front and the left flank, an arrow whisked past Davrun’s feet and landed harmlessly on the ground. Seeing a small, cloaked humanoid figure with a bow adjacent to one of the homes, the party took off in pursuit. The figure ran around the back of the building and came into sight of Bazhur and Xilus, who were flanking. Bazhur released a shot into the ground towards the running figure. The figure stopped and threw down his bow. Tymel used a hold person spell to hold the figure in place and the party moved up to identify him. Standing in front of the town hall, they uncloaked the figure to reveal a human boy of about 13 years named Wil Tybel. The boy reveals that the elf has the entire village held hostage in the store room of the town hall. He says the elf forced him to shoot at the party threatening to kill the boy’s father if he didn’t comply.

As the party discovered the identify of the archer, they noticed a billowing cloud of smoke from the town hall and within moments the place was engulfed in flame. Bazhur and Davrun busted down the door. Smoke poured from the entrance choking them. Flames had engulfed the interior of the town hall. Beams were falling and the structure was collapsing. Stanley and Davrun ran into the building and grabbed the beams to make a path to the store room door. Bazhur unlocked the store room door and the villagers ran out screaming in horror.

Davrun and Stanley were injured from the flames, but managed to save the people’s lives. As the rescue was happening, Flute saw a figure running away from the fire at a high speed. He gave chase, but stopped when the figure entered the woods outside of the village.

Moments later a young human rode in on a weakened horse from the south. He helped the party get the villagers to the temple where they would hold up for the night. He revealed himself to be Rabe Branty, a young warrior from the village of Triboar. Seeing the smoke from a distance he rode his horse into the village to see if he could aid. He and the party helped the villagers into the temple, where they held down for the night.

During the night, the village elder revealed the village’s entire winter provisions were in that store room which was now burning to the ground. He bid the party help him, and they promised they would assist. Having verified that the criminal was indeed the elf they were pursuing, they began formulating a plan to locate him and bring him to justice.

During the meeting the boy, Wil Tybel, revealed to the party that he had, in fact, seen the elf for the past week at various times entering and exiting a cave while playing in the forest. The elf had apparently not seen the boy. Finally, the party had a lead on the murderer. Xilus revealed that he knew the cave in question as he’d played there quite often as a child. He, Davrun, Flute, Tymel, and Rabe all agreed to leave for the cave at first light. Bazhur and Stanley would stay back to defend the village in case the elf returned, and also to watch over Dalos.

During the night, Dalos approached Flute requesting his assistance in escaping the party. Fearing punishment from Lord Nasher for creating and then losing the map, he wanted Flute to help him get a horse and escape to Triboar that night. Flute refused and grew suspicious of the merchant. Later in the evening, he attempted to cast a sleep spell on Dalos, which failed for reasons unknown. Flute was going to put him to sleep and search him as he slept.

Flute revealed the fact that the sleep spell did not work on Dalos to the party and Tymel, upon hearing the news, grew angry because Flute tried to violate the man’s rights by searching him unlawfully and unwillingly. Flute, and other members of the party, remained suspicious of the merchant and agreed they must keep a close watch on him.

At first light, Davrun, Tymel, Rabe, Xilus, and Flute all gathered supplies at the general store and left heading north to find the cave. Flute doubled back after informing the party of his intent, and made his way back to the village to watch Dalos from afar.

Davrun, Tymel, Rabe, and Xilus continued their pursuit into the deep forest until they came upon the cave.

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The Lament of Conyberry

In the deepest woods and hollow holes;
Where darkness cries and shadows woe;
He lurks and peers with a watchful eye;
And waits to make a blood red sky

-Anonymous Conyberry villager

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Return to Home

Xilus knew it would be there, even as the door was opened. The grim look upon Flute’s face all but confirmed it. But Xilus had to look. And there upon a bed, tossed like a bag of trash was an old acquaintance…or what remained of him.

Xilus had returned from travels far away to find his father missing. Months of searching had lead him to Neverwinter before the trail ran cold. Now he stood back in his old village and couldnt figure how it all happened. This was not the way it was suppose to happen. How could such slaughter find a small village? How could one deranged elf cause all of this terror?

Xilus made his way outside and looked around. The snow was lightly fallen, the sun was disappearing, the world was silent. ‘Where do we go now?’ Xilus thought. Xilus knew where to go. The town hall was a haven for the small village. If there was any warning to the onslaught that occurred here, the villagers would be there…in the exact place Xilus didnt want to go…

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Light Begins to Fade

Light flurries of snow fall and stick in patches along the frozen ground. In the west, the sun dips below the horizon, leaving behind the graying twilight of dusk. Night is fast approaching. As every moment of light fades from the sky, the window of opportunity for capturing the renegade elf grows smaller.

We are at his mercy, Tymel Greyhammer observes to himself. Like a lion stalking its prey, he is leading us along. The hour of our meeting will be of his own choosing.

The visage of death has stalked the homes of the small village of Conyberry. Riding on the tip of an elven blade, it has come to carry these souls to the planes beyond. The elf knows the only thing that stands between he and freedom are the lives of these poor villagers. By his blade he would butcher every one of them indiscriminately, but knowing the one weakness his pursuers possess is their inability to watch innocents suffer, he will use them as a shield for his own purposes.

Tymel closes his eyes and whispers, “Mighty Tyr, great lord of justice, I come to you in this hour to ask that you empower us. Strengthen our minds so we may see our enemies’ move. Bless our blades and let them find their mark. Let us bring justice for those who have fallen at the hands of this murderer.”

The flurries of snow continue their slow drift from the sky. The light continues to fade and the sands of the hourglass trickle away with it. Time is running out.

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My Thoughts: Flute

Well, I’ve got the party and adventure. Now, to start my song. How should it go? I guess first we need a name. So, what shall we call ourselves? I will listen and watch as we go, and see what we can come up with. I’m not much in a fight, but hopefully I can t least keep the spirits high and distract opponents. My size in battle may be more of a hindrance than helpful. I know they look at me more as a child sometimes, but maybe that can be used to my advantage.

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Winter Jackal

When a jackal hunts, it does so in such a way as to give itself every advantage, and its prey – none. This is not because a jackal is a weak predator – no, the Calishite mused – jackals are decent enough at that. It does so because the jackal is cunning; unlike the lion, wolf or hyena, the jackal hunts alone.

A Calishite’s mood in the northern winter is never pleasant, and the turnings of his mind always return to the familiar; the known. Here, where snow fell in such quantity as the nomad could never have dreamed possible, there was little he could call familiar. His companions were still unknown to him, and the ways of the northern lands seemed strange and foreign to his mind. Yet something in the taunts and traps laid before the feet of his new friend Xilus did have a ring of familiarity to it. The elf who had eluded them once again this day – was using a familiar tactic.

A jackal prefers to hunt small game, as its own slight build gives it more than enough speed to catch all but the quickest of quarry. When it faces other predators, it prefers to evade them rather than take them head on, striking only when its foe is exposed and quickly retreating to safer ground when pressed. This jackal in particular has avoided direct contact with his more numerous, if slightly less skilled pursuers. He has struck them when and where they are most exposed, and when the need arises, he slows them down with his bark and a flash of his teeth. Tactics that he would not have to use if he felt confident of an easy victory. As a hunter, Bazhur understood the delicate balance between hunter and prey, especially when both sides had sharp teeth.

Bazhur Khan’s own teeth clattered involuntarily against the unfamiliar cold, and his eyes kept a wary watch on the dark places around him. Knowing that any true jackal would be long gone now, and well out of range of the blades and bows of his pursuers, he looked to Xilus for the order to seek out the elf, and slay him once and for all.

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The Wolves of Conyberry (Xilus)

The wind howled.

Xilus swung his sword in a high over-head arc before it came crashing down. The corn was no match for the wooden stick and the stalks piled up like dead monsters. Xilus grinned and looked over his shoulder at his friend Tomlin who had just slayed a small but dangerous dragon. The seeds and flesh of the dragon covered the ground with an orange stain.

“Good job Master Tomlin! That dragon didnt know what hit him!”

Tomlin stabbed his wooden sword into the orange carcass and stomped it with his foot. “I am the greatest dragon slayer in Conyberry history!”

The boys laughed and looked for more dragons to slay. Xilus noticed a particularly large orange dragon and moved to slay the beast. Before he could make his move, Xilus heard the corn behind him crashing down.

The wind howled again, louder this time.

“Get outta my crop, you blasted kids!”

Xilus dropped his wooden sword and bolted for the fence.

“Tomlin, its Farmer Issec!”

Tomlin bolted as well, the boys running as fast as their small feet would allow. They made it to the fence at near the same moment and dove through the slats with the Farmer’s oak stick barely missing their rear ends.

“Tomlin your father will hear of this mischievous! Xilus you too! What kind of name is that anyway?

Xilus stood up and brushed the stalks and corn strings from his clothes. “Old man I hope you die!”

Farmer Issec smashed his stick across the fence. The boys flinched and ran away down the road.

The wind howled. I will kill them all. The priests had returned, carrying a body and a note. I will kill them all if you follow me. I hope you die old man. The wind is howling. Farmer Issec is staring at Xilus, but he cant see. He will never see again. The wind…its not the wind howling…

Its the wolves…

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