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)…