The Rise of the Maleficarum
We returned to the Lonesome Tankard and met with Lord Winter and Lord Gunthar. They paid for our food and lodgings out of gratitude for our actions. Lord Winter seemed shocked at the mention of this Whisper character, but Gunthar thought that Whisper’s tomb may be worth exploring. It was clear, however, that Gunthar had more pressing concerns on his mind. A delegation led by Lord Romantle was scheduled to arrive from Suzail the next morning, and the contingent of Purple Dragons guarding Eveningstar were to depart and return to Suzail with Romantle’s delegation. Gunthar also explained that several caravans had recently been raided, and asked us to accompany the caravan bound for the Crossroads, which was scheduled to leave in two days. We turned in, resolving to explore the tomb of Whisper in the morning.
As we made our way through the town the next morning, we noticed a gathering crowd in front of the marketplace. As we drew closer, we noticed that Gunthar, Lord Winter, and a man we assumed to be Lord Romantle surrounded by Purple Dragons and beset by a screaming throng of people. The loudest was a woman screaming about Black Network agents being among us. She pointed right at me as she said it. I ran up to her to “explain” her error, but I was distracted by an explosion behind me. Some kind of wizard had killed several peasants, and Cas looked seriously wounded. I turned back to the woman, and she cast a Heat Metal spell on my armor. As I shrugged off my mail, Kalin closed in behind the woman, a Banite cleric, and cut her down! Meanwhile, several thugs had attacked Lord Winter, but the Purple Dragons repelled the clumsy attack. My companions and I, aided by an axe-wielding human named Reikonnen, cleared the streets and tended to the wounded.
The crisis averted, at least temporarily, we opted to head out to the tombs. Reikonnen offered to accompany us. He looked capable enough, and had an excellent beard to boot, so we agreed to join together. We found the tomb under guard by men who claimed to be part of the local militia. Suspicious, Kalin and I challenged the two goons, and they attacked us. We moved to engage them while Cas and Reikonnen lingered behind the treeline. To our surprise, a hidden bowman started firing at us! Unable to see the shooter, I ran forward into the mouth of the tombs, where I fought with two more thugs. My friends and I dispatched the pitiful humans, then we went back towards the trees where we had left Cas. I found his unconscious form lying in the woods, and I was able to revive him with the healing arts I learned with the Sonnlinor.
Having dispatched the so-called guards, we explored the tombs. Cas found an iron door that was rigged with poison darts, but he was cleverly able to disarm the trap. Opening the door, we found a crypt, and another Banite cleric. She tried to Command me, but the All-Father’s might protected me from her spell. The Banite had other tricks up her sleeve, and she unleashed two skeleton warriors upon us. Calling upon the forge fire of Moradin, I repelled the undead warriors, leaving my companions free to focus on the Banite. Inexplicably, my companions all opted to jump up on the table in front of the Banite rather than surround her and cut her down. I watched in horror as each of my friends attempted to leap onto the table, and fell prone on the ground before the evil cleric. Cas was the only one who managed to stick his landing, but the cleric cut him down for his efforts. Eventually, we defeated the Banite, and we found a note addressed to someone called Nethir. The note indicated that Stage 3 of “the operation” was starting, although that meant nothing to us. We also found Whisper’s tomb empty. Examining the other tombs, we came to realize that we were in the family crypt of the Winters, the lords of Eveningstar.
We dragged Cas’s limp body back to the temple of Lathandar, where the priests revived him. We started to talk with Geldi, one of the priests, but our conversation was interrupted by a summons to dinner at the Lord’s estate. Lords Winter and Romantle, Gunthar, and several others were in attendance, along with another Cormyrian noble, Lord Rainard Merlier. Lord Winter admitted that Whisper was actually a member of the Winter family, and a stain on its honor. Conversation over dinner was strained, and we learned from Lord Romantle that Nethir was a member of the Black Network from Dark Hold. I argued in vain with the nobles about pulling the Purple Dragons out of Eveningstar, as the town’s militia is ill-equipped to deal with the current serious threat. After the meal, Winter, Romantle and Merlier excused themselves for a private chat. I imagine they were discussing how much their silks cost, or something equally useless. When they returned, Lord Winter proposed a toast, suggesting in no uncertain terms that the Cormyrians should stand united and support their crown. A few moments after we toasted, Lord Romantle started to cough and foam at the mouth! Lord Winter shouted for guards, and general human chaos ensued. I went to Romantle’s aid, though I suspected that his drink was spiked with a fast-acting poison. My fears were confirmed when the Lord died mere moments after the symptoms started. With the estate locked down, it seemed we’d be getting little rest this night.