The Crimson Legend

Between Acts

19th Highsun 1479 DR

It is good to be writing at my study in Keep Crimson for a change. We returned this morning after spending an eventful last night in the wilderness.

After discovering the heart of the cultists underground layer, we realized that one of their members (revealed later to be their leader) had fled when he heard us. We managed to pick up his trail outside the exit of the cave, and followed him to where he was making camp. The skirmish was brief, ended by one of Kiirian’s expertly placed arrows. After a brief interrogation, Lord Crimson decided to dispense justice on the spot. And there can be no doubt that the man’s fate was truly justice; the evil priest was unrepentant to the final moment. The only interesting bit of information he offered was something vague about the ‘Isle of Dread’. The baffling demonic symbol that Kiirian showed him elicited those words.

My years of study of history, lore and geography bring to mind many islands that might be described as dreadful, though the priest spoke as if it were a proper noun. I mentioned it to Tellian upon our return, and he thinks there may be another reference to such an island in the Keep’s library. When he has a chance to point me in the right direction, I will investigate.

In the meantime, I have handed over the evil texts we recovered from the ruins to Tellian. The evil is truly palpable, and I felt a physical relief to be rid of them; an uneasiness remains while they are close, however. I hope they might offer more information than the tight-lipped leader, but fear they may be too evil to risk reading.

20th Highsun 1479 DR

Tellian, that marvel of a sage, has produced an adventurer’s journal describing a trip to what we believe is the same Isle of Dread! It outlines the island’s location and provides vague hints about the mysteries that might lie at the heart of the island.

He has also recognized the development of my arcane abilities and offered to teach me some spells that were previously beyond me. I am glad to learn what he has to teach, but fear that this may be the limit of his arcane abilities. If I wish to learn more of the arcane arts it will be from another source.

Much studying to do. More on the journal and plans later.

20th Highsun 1479 DR

Kiirian is pushing for a trip to the island, though I fear he might not appreciate the costs to Lord Nathaniel and his fiefdom. Personally, I feel the taste of adventuring has awoken quite an appetite; I am eager to see whether this journal is at all accurate. Some of the creatures it describes have been thought to be dead for millennia, though the journal is clearly less than two centuries old – it contains references to the Time of Troubles and has an unmistakable old Amnian dialect.

Kiirian has also continued to inquire about the texts we recovered. Thankfully I believe they would be unintelligible to him (unless he possesses some magical reading ability about which I do not know – I wouldn’t be too surprised), and I think Tellian has just about convinced him that no good would come of it. I must say I almost wish I hadn’t brought them back, and will be glad when they are destroyed.

22nd Highsun 1479 DR

Evil texts destroyed. Shadow lifted. On road to Waterdeep, with intention to hire ship to Isle of Dread. Traveling has been oddly fun, though I have already twice read through the books I brought and wish I had more. Still a few days away from Waterdeep, though it is interesting to see the changes in people and villages as we approach.

26th Highsun 1479 DR

Waterdeep is an unbelievable metropolis. After reading numerous accounts and discussing the city Lord Nathaniel’s steward, I had some idea of what to expect. However, I was still completely unprepared for the sights, smells and sounds that result from housing more than one hundred thousand people and the greatest commercial hub on the continent. City of Wonders indeed.

As soon as the dock district was visible, there was never any doubt that we had come to the right place to hire a ship. The steward put us in touch with one ‘Fat Joe’, on our second day here. Apparently he is fairly trustworthy; he was certainly intrigued by our proposition. Terms were reached on splitting profits from the venture, and he expects to be ready to sail two mornings hence. I wish there were more time to explore the city before we leave, but perhaps Lord Nathaniel will permit me to stay for a while on our return journey.

Tomorrow I hope to have a bit of time to explore the city – especially its libraries!

30th Highsun 1479 DR

We embarked yesterday on the Golden Dove as arranged. The two days in Waterdeep were such a whirlwind that I was unable to record anything until now. A few highlights are:

1. The library. My association with Lord Nathaniel was able to get me access, and I would gladly have spent months in there. I could never have realized the limited selection housed at Keep Crimson until I saw what was available in a major city. Spent most of my time researching the ‘Isle of Dread’ and doing some back-research on the cave system we recently explored.
2. The merchants’ quarter. It seemed anything you could possibly want to purchase was available for the right price. A great many shopkeeps were claiming to hawk magic wares; a few of them even seemed to have some genuinely magical merchandise. I managed to purchase a scroll with an interesting-looking spell that I will transcribe to my spellbook later on the journey.
3. The mercantile nature of the city and its general excitement ultimately led to Lord Nathaniel, Capt. Kiirian and myself making a personal investment in the cargo of the Golden Dove. Fat Joe was happy to have partners backing his capital, and I must say that from all of the research I can find it appears that we should do quite well. I have no experience in trade, but if the natives of the island are as deprived of necessities such as wool and steel while rich in pearls and gems as the journal suggests, then I’m sure we can reach a mutually profitable arrangement. Of course, this all depends on the islanders being friendly / open to trade as is reported.

So far the ship voyage hasn’t been too disagreeable. The constant motion has already become quite natural, and I’m sure I will soon view my cramped hammock as comfortable enough. Of course, we have always been in sight of land so far, and have seen numerous ships fishing or plying their trade along the sword coast.

12th Eleint 1479 DR

After a couple of weeks at sea, the excitement of a ship-voyage has quite worn off. Lord Nathaniel has had a miserable journey, though he stoically claims he feels no sea-sickness. He is quite clearly lying, as even the most seasoned sailors must be feeling something through all of the weather we have been passing through! I had read about the autumnal stormy season, but passing by the hulks of ships crashed onto shoals has made the danger feel quite real.

In fact, the storm last night was easily the worst so far. I came below-decks to aid with the water-removal, but the shouting above and careening turns made it clear that I was missing some drama. I heard later from the first-mate that Capt. Kiirian actually had a hand in saving the ship from crashing into a reef – an occurrence that could have easily claimed our lives in such a tempest. Fat Joe had nothing to say about it this morning, though you can tell by his treatment of Capt. Kiirian that he is thankful the ship was saved. Capt. Kiirian’s actions have also won him tremendous respect among the crew. Who is this taciturn elf who has proven himself a master archer, and sailor? What other abilities or secrets from his past is he hiding?

Far Joe says we are nearing the latitudes where the waters should be calmer even this late in the year. After that, it should be less than a week of easy sailing to where this isle supposedly lies. While I have grown quite accustomed to the bunk, rolling motion and constant shenanigans of the crew, I shall certainly not miss the stale water and awful food. I must learn a spell to fix those things before I get on a boat again…

18th Eleint 1479 DR

Land ho! We shall soon find out whether this island is anywhere near as mysterious as the journal makes it out to be. I only hope the village of friendly natives he describes are still friendly (not to mention open to trade)…

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Act I, Scene V
Another day of encounters has passed and I find myself again questioning the motives of these cultists. I suspected foul deeds were occurring after our first encounter with the undead. Several hordes later, and after witnessing the depraved torturing of two of my men, I am sure that these fiends are out trying to recruit more innocent men towards their cause. No, recruit is too benign a term for what they do. Turn would be more appropriate.

Cleric by benji248

We soon arrived at a dilapidated cell hosting a legion of bones and one suspiciously hale woman. She remonstrated vividly about how she had been captured, neglecting to mention why she would be the only one spared and laughing nervously all the while. I might have been inclined to authorize her release except that her eyes continued to dart in a furtive, untrustworthy manner. There even seemed to be some force compelling me to believe her, to accept her pleas as just and reasonable and as soon as I felt this force I knew that some sort of magic was involved. Captain Kiirian Norandael and Olfred Tass instinctively recognized this as well and we told her that she had better tell the truth if we were to make any progress.

D3 dark cultist concept

Expecting some sort of a confession was a grave mistake on my end. At the first sign of our suspicion she transformed into a hissing creature whose noises alerted us to avert our eyes immediately, and some quick thinking reminded us to brandish our recently acquired mirror. It was oddly fortuitous that we should have the means for our salvation at hand right when it was needed, but I have come to accept such fortune as a counterweight to all the hardship that I expect we will face. But I digress.

Medusa the olympians 12768939 600 800

Captain Kiirian Norandael held the mirror towards the opening in the cell and was met with sounds of hardening stone as the Medusa was undone by her own power. We then moved upstairs and heard the sounds of more acolytes plotting in the first adjacent room. Olfred Tass cleverly nominated that we make an illusion of the medusa to surprise these foes and the plan worked very well. All five of these delusional cultists were summarily executed as their pitiful cries and moans of fear were cut short by a barrage of arrows and rays of frost.

Wizard rayoffrost

After we outsmarted another horde of zombies we came upon a large room with motionless skeleton warriors and a large dais at the head. Enough of our party’s combined lore helped us realize that the platform was connected to these creatures and that we should deal with them before plucking their gems. Kiirian and I joked about “gloriously” dragging them one by one down the hall to bash their vacant skulls in—-not monotonous or boring in the slightest way. Sadly, this jest proved to be our ultimate plan as we realized that these skeletons would activate if they were hit in close proximity to their brethren. Somewhere, Kiirian claims, is a lich who designed this trap with the utmost care and optimism and who was watching us assiduously as we dismantled it after only two minutes of deliberation.

Undead soldier by eronzki999

He was then wailing about how the guild for responsible undead use by liches in dungeons was going to “have his hide” for this one and that his promotion to arch-lich would continue to be a distant dream. The levity was much appreciated. I had read accounts of ritualistic zombification before I began this journey, but seeing the tools and culprits firsthand has awakened a new revulsion in me. Somewhere in the depths of my soul I have always believed that evil is a conscious choice, and that one can always choose death before serving the gods whose mission it is to sow chaos and torture in the world. Having seen the eyes of the dead look hauntingly into mine, having briefly glimpsed the potential of past lives and the almost pleading moan emanating from their gruesome visages I now know the true potential of evil. Somehow, I know that it is not enough that these thralls be put out of their misery. There must be some method of returning them to their former selves, regardless of the amount of research and knowledge required. Part of me knows I must look into this ritual further, but as for now there are more pressing matters.

Magic circle by vylen

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Act I, Scene iv

16th Highsun 1479 DR

We’ve spent a day and a half investigating the valley, and the entirety of the exploration has so far been devoted to a single cave. With many other caves to explore, we have made only a small step toward restoring peace to the region. However, it has become clear that there is a greater evil stirring beneath the veneer of sporadic goblinoid violence.

Returning to the cave this morning, we dispatched with more belligerent gnolls before encountering a group protecting their young. They laid down their weapons and were shown mercy by Lord Nathaniel. On their way out, they delivered some disturbing news – a cult of Talos has resumed activity in the valley. I warned the others that this could spell trouble involving the undead, but left the worst unsaid. After all, no need to remind them of the sheer destruction caused last century by a few of Talos’ necromancers and “Lords of the Tempest” – it is documented that it required the intervention of the King’s Archmage and many scholars suspect that Elminster himself was involved in some way. Deneir send it is not the Lords of Tempest returned, or even liches or the Circle of Rust and the Worm.

In the leader’s chamber I discovered a hidden door. Given the nature of our mission, we did not hesitate before lighting a torch and pressing onward. In the first room we encountered a gelatinous cube – the sort of abomination I had read of but never expected to see myself. It engulfed Lord Nathaniel, but ultimately succumbed to our onslaught. Afterward, we paused to tend to Lord Nathaniel’s wounds, a decision which proved wise given what we found in the hallway beyond.

The hallway echoed loudly and revealed our presence. Moments later we were assailed by a large pack of zombies – while we may have doubted the gnolls’ honesty, we could no longer question whether Talos’ cultists have been working here. We managed to defeat the zombies by keeping them at a distance – the ball bearings I brought served to trip most of them up. Once again Kiirian demonstrated his deadliness with a bow, though Lord Nathaniel was equally lethal with the magic-imbued sword we uncovered yesterday.

Suffering only minor wounds, we (perhaps somewhat audaciously) unbarred what turned out to be a burial chamber. We could all feel the evil in the room, but explored undeterred. Searching the exterior of the coffins didn’t reveal anything of note. However, the source of the evil was found to be a wight which leaped to attack us. I managed to jump back and spray it with flame, though I received a sword cut to my leg. Lord Nathaniel bravely stood toe-to-toe with it, but was nearly overcome by its sinister energy. After Nathaniel fell, Kiirian took up his sword and managed to drop the weakened spirit. Mercifully it was the only such spirit in the room, allowing us to revive Lord Nathaniel (and heal myself) and make our way back to camp for some much needed rest.

Further thoughts:

Although it has been only two days, I feel as though I am already growing in comfort and strength with the arcane energies I have been practicing for months. No, it has been well over a year now. I suspect that calling upon the Weave in the stress of combat has forced me to concentrate in a manner of which I had previously been incapable. Indeed, I have already thought of an interesting new spell: by combining my trick of reading magical scripts and the identifying magic Tellian taught me, I think I will be able to decipher unfamiliar tongues.

I would also note that I am (hopefully) becoming less of a burden to the others – I resisted wounds more successfully today, and it turns out that some of the knowledge picked up from years of study is proving useful. It should also be said that the three of us have become a much smoother team. There are no longer any hesitations in combat, and a real spirit of fraternity is developing. Hopefully this fraternity will continue; although I put on a brave face for my Lord, I genuinely fear that our fellowship will face truly nefarious tests in the days to come.

O.T.

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Act I, scene 3
Caves of Chaos

16th Highsun, 1479 DR

Eva,

…I am continuing my letter while Olfred is examining some boots that look almost as Elvish as some of the imitations we used to sell. Are you continuing that practice, now that I am no longer there to spin tales of my homelands?

I was recently able to convince a camp of gnolls that fighting was not in their best interest. After some questioning, we were able to unearth something of the mystery of these caves. As it happens, those who have been raiding Lord Nathaniel’s lands belong to a cult which worships the god Gruumsh. While Olfred knows something of these cultists, I feel much is still unanswered. I am keeping both eyes open for the mark.

Lord Nathaniel, as a gesture of good will, allowed the gnolls to leave in peace. Nathaniel, as I mentioned earlier, is a brave and serious man, and I recognize a sort of rage in him. Whether this comes from his god or some inner turmoil, I am not sure. In an attempt to lighten the expedition, I recently challenged the young lord to a contest to see which of us could fell more of the gnolls who try to stop our descent. You will be glad to hear that we are presently tied.

It was in fact Olfred who got the latest kill, and brought down the gnoll leader. I must say, he has committed himself quite impressively considering this is his first time in serious combat. It certainly comes more naturally to some. His illusions put Ivan’s to shame and have already gotten us out of some tricky binds.

I’m afraid must stop here. I am afraid the party is eager to press on into a hidden passageway Olfred has just discovered.

Give everyone my love.

Kiri

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Act I, Scene II
Our initial foray into the caves has proven eventful, to say the least.Kiirian prudently decided to lay traps at the entrance after spotting three gnolls, traps which proved effective in summarily dispatching them. As we crept down the ensuing hallway, I had the vague feeling that distant shouting would signal a much tougher test. Any questions I had about the combat abilities of my companions must now be dispelled given our second encounter. Kiirian fired his arrows with great precision and alacrity, and Olfred seems to have gained a solid grasp of the arcane since I last saw him. Even so, the five gnolls quickly dispatched with our illusion and rendered Olfred unconscious in a manner of seconds. My own shield was barely able to deflect their attacks at times as I was struck by their ferocity from range. Just when the situation seemed its most dire, I somehow lost my memory. Perhaps a shout from Kirian roused me, but when I came to I saw the backside of a gnoll who was unaware of my renewed presence in battle. Perhaps it was the spirit of the Warbringer that took over, but I felt the conservative urge to heal myself as craven and almost instinctively swung my hammer at the creature’s face.

Miraculously, Kirian, Olfred and I were able to deal with the remaining gnolls and decided to retreat and break camp. We then returned to find three new sentries by the entrance whom we dealt with in similar fashion. The vigilance of these gnolls makes me wonder what secrets they are harboring within the caves, and I feel the excitement and pull from adventure once again consuming me.

Some of the eagerness that I noticed in myself and my companions has faded after our grueling encounter. Perhaps this is the onset of that fabled grim courage that accompanies more experienced travelers. Only time will tell. Still, I feel the strength that comes with solidarity and a growing respect for the fighter and mage that have already proven formidable combatants. Even though only meeting them recently, it feels as though there is some previous connection between us through shared experience that I cannot describe. Some divine texts speak of a cycle of death and rebirth that throws us into endless contact with the same people from previous lives. I know not yet whether this would be a curse or a blessing, or whether I believe it to be true.
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Act I, scene 1
Caves of Chaos

15th Highsun, 1479 DR

After deliberating for some days on how to deal with the recent spurt of trouble from the cave system to the west of Keep Crimson, a restless Lord Nathaniel decided to tackle the matter himself. I was brought along to attempt to determine if there was anything unnatural about the creatures and activity of the ravine, and Lord Nathaniel’s elven guest who came to consult Tallian has also graciously offered his services. Kiirian I believe is his name – the ravine is en route to his homeland anyhow. The elf apparently holds rank in some mercenary company, a fact I easily believe after seeing him wield that longbow.

We reached the caves in the late afternoon after a day of travel. There was a somewhat unsettling atmosphere in the vicinity, though Lord Nathaniel’s retainers were the only ones who seemed affected. Lord Nathaniel himself seemed too eager to notice, and I suppose I must have been too. Leaving the retainers outside to make camp, we decided to enter the first cave we came across. Inside, we encountered three gnolls keeping watch. We managed to take them by surprise, but they evaded the traps we laid and managed to hit Kiirian with an arrow. The last survivor fled down a passage, but Lord Nathaniel stopped him with a well placed bullet.

It was a bit bizarre at first to use magic in self-defense, but it came very naturally after the gnolls cried out and let fly. I suppose that’s what all the studies have been for. Regardless, Lord Nathaniel must be protected. Anyways, it has been good to see a bit of Alecrast other than Keep Crimson for a change.

I’m writing this as we paused to patch Kiirian up. Didn’t find anything of note in the room or on the gnolls – just a few coins. No signs of anything supernatural yet. Looks like Kiirian is set to go now though, so we’ll proceed to explore…

O.T.

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Welcome to your Adventure Log!
A blog for your campaign

Every campaign gets an Adventure Log, a blog for your adventures!

While the wiki is great for organizing your campaign world, it’s not the best way to chronicle your adventures. For that purpose, you need a blog!

The Adventure Log will allow you to chronologically order the happenings of your campaign. It serves as the record of what has passed. After each gaming session, come to the Adventure Log and write up what happened. In time, it will grow into a great story!

Best of all, each Adventure Log post is also a wiki page! You can link back and forth with your wiki, characters, and so forth as you wish.

One final tip: Before you jump in and try to write up the entire history for your campaign, take a deep breath. Rather than spending days writing and getting exhausted, I would suggest writing a quick “Story So Far” with only a summary. Then, get back to gaming! Grow your Adventure Log over time, rather than all at once.

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