The Diary of Genora Amcathra: Storm King’s Thunder Part 4, An Unexpected Friend

Day 6) 15 Mirtul, 1490 DR

It was wonderful to wake up again, and to know we had conquered the nightmare of the evening before. Had a quiet brunch with Miros and Oren in the common room. Miros was grateful,  and since we are getting back on the road soon, he suggested if we head up to Amphail ever, we should give his regards to Arleosa Starhenge at the Stag-Horned Flagon. When he heard we were leaving, Oren was eager to join us, so we accepted his offer. He has no real aims in joining us besides adventure, but he has asked that if we go by Daggerford we stop by to check up on his sister Lily Hardcheese, who works at the Happy Cow tavern there.

After we had eaten we went to see the Abbot, who had been asking for us. I was keen to speak to him as I had just learnt that the giant prisoners were to be executed! When we arrived we found Naxene, Zi Liang and Lifferlas there with him. Since the guards had already claimed all the credit for last night’s victory, the Abbot, in his wisdom, asked us for the truth. We all told him the events from our perspective. Thankfully he was on our side. Not only that but we were able to convince him of Zi Liang’s helpfulness. Hopefully she can get a promotion and actually make a difference in the defence of the town. I also wrote a letter to Daddy, not only to let him know what has happened to me but also to tell him the true story of what happened here, so that the guards don’t take all the glory.

Before we left with the Abbot to interrogate the giants, we said goodbye to the others. Naxene thanked us and told us to seek out the help of the enemies of the giants, the dragons. She suggested we talk to Chazlauth Yarghorn, a dragon expert in Waterdeep. Lifferlas told us to look for his creator, Aerglas. Last seen heading into the High Forest, to meet Turlang the treant at the Shadowtop Cathedral. Perhaps he has the power to help us defend the land against the marauding giants. Zi Liang seemed to have made a solemn decision, and asked us to take her black pearl pendant to Cauldar Marskyl, head butler of House Thann, in Waterdeep. She said to us that he would give us her inheritance. I tried to give it back, but she insisted. She is determined to live her life as an ascetic, and so wants her worldly goods to go to good people like me. I hope I can do something good with what she has given me. I also hope this doesn’t put my family in an interesting political situation regarding House Thann…

The Abbot escorted us past the guards to the field where the giants were kept. I stood on the chest of the one lying down and talked directly into his face. I asked them obliquely about the food they were taking back, and from what they told me I was able to figure out that their leader Guh was starving them and taking all the food for herself. It seems as if she is trying to be the biggest giant of all… perhaps for this upcoming convocation of giants which I believe must be coming up? Either way, they offered to escort us to Guh in Grudd Haug. I asked the Abbot to keep them a little longer and to not execute them, but instead to release them to me to be my escorts. Thankfully, he assented, and when I come back for them we will buy a herd of livestock to take as a gift.

But in the meantime we will go a couple of days up the river first. A contact of Umbero has been here the whole time, and it turns out he was helping up last night, from the shadows, with arrow fire. His name is Shalvus Martholio and he has asked us to escort him to his superiors in the Bargewright Inn, two days up the Dessarin River. We told him we would do so after the journey to Grudd Haug if he could wait that long.

We got kitted out with new gear, an improvement on some of our damaged things, and got healing potions and mounts for all of us. Then we headed out with our two giant guides, with a herd of five cows as a gift for Guh, their leader.

Day 7) 16 Mirtul, 1490 DR

Two days since we set out and we are frustratingly lost.  The giants are now squabbling amongst themselves about which was the right way to go. Aukanthi and Rillix, our best scouts, have no idea where the nearest spot of civilization is. I hope the others aren’t frustrated at me… this was my idea after all…

Oren is a bit of a pain really. He tricks the giants all the time, which he finds entertaining but we find sad and pathetic. The poor creatures are so stupid, I don’t know how he can find it so funny. I try my best to keep him occupied with herding the cows and that seems to suit him the best, when he can stick to it.

Hopefully not much longer til Grudd Haug…

Day 8) 17 Mirtul, 1490 DR

Well! That was an exercise in impotence. I write to you now from the safety of a strangely neat and tidy ruin of a dwarven city. We are hiding out and camping here because of the right mess we made of the whole situation.

We were all tired of each others’ company by the time the giants started pushing and shoving in their argument about which was the right direction. Just as I was about to intervene, three massive ettins crested the hill we were on and charged for our herd of cows. Our two giants and our herd of cows scattered. It was touch and go for a moment, as Oren got knocked out, and then Ninya. Thank goodness for my newfound healing powers. Once we got the first ettin down, it got a lot easier for Aukanthi to manage the battlefield while Ninya and Umbero struck with deadly force. I didn’t have much to do besides revive any fallen companions!

Source: Wizards

We were far too hurt to chase either giants or cows by that stage, so we gave up and rode as quick as we could to the place Rillix found for us. And now here we are, resting up. The ruins are secure, tidy, and the air is good. Very strange, but we need the rest.

Day 9) 18 Mirtul, 1490 DR

Woke up in the middle of the night to see the ceiling staring at me. I shook it off, and opening my eyes properly, saw that the face was gone. I went back to sleep. But in the morning we all reported similar things, and a feeling of being watched. We decided to leave at once, though we were grateful for the peaceful, if spooky, campsite.

But as we reached the door we saw a rat. It was almost as if it were speaking to us, and then when as a joke I started to talk back to it, its squeaks seemed to be in answer to my questions. On a lark, we decided to follow it, as it seemed to be trying to guide us.

Deeper in we found whole colonies of small mammals living in peace together. Aukanthi observed that we all seemed to be laughing more freely. I put it down to surviving the folly of my grand plans. We walked into one final room and then the rat scurried away and our torches went out.

There came a great voice: “WHAT DOES A DRAGON EAT?”

“Whatever it should wish to, I suppose,” I answered shakily.

“FIRECRACKERS!” the voice rejoined, and in a fit of laughter, the copper dragon lit the chamber and we could see him in all his terrifying, hilarrious mass.

Source: Wizards (Monster Manual 5e)

His name is Yarglithimax and he lives here in peace and comfort with his friends the small animals. Apparently there are many other ruins around here with others of his race, and they have ample supply of ettins to eat. The dragon shared jokes and riddles with us, and got on best with Oren. We passed the day with him in jollity. Finally, as we spoke of returning to our quest, two things happened. Oren declared he was going to stay with the dragon. We were sad to lose his help (well, as much as there was, though I will miss the Unseen Servant he has the power to summon up. I wonder if I can learn that spell?) but ultimately we were happy for him as he and Yarglithimax seem to entertain each other very much.

As for the second thing, Yarglithimax gave us a treasure that is useless to him but of great use to us. It is a dwarven-made boat, with a great many runes on it, which folds right down into a small chest. It is fairly heavy for me, but Aukanthi carries it as if it were nothing. Getting a funny feeling from the boat, I asked Yarglithimax was it does. He says it has religious runes on it that make the riders feel guilty if they are not living up to dwarven standards. Odd! He was entertained though when I told him that we were going to escort a man of dubious morals upriver in it.

And so with his gift and a request to bring him back a good joke or riddle, we left Yarglithimax, and Oren too. I hope the dragon doesn’t tire of the halfling too fast!

Day 13) 22 Mirtul, 1490 DR

After an uneventful journey back from the wilderness, we arrived in Goldenfields. We kept our arrival as low-key as possible, since we had failed in our first task. We stocked up on supplies and informed Shalvus that we were ready to escort him up the Dessarin River to Bargewright Inn. Sadly when we all popped into the boat, he didn’t seem to react, but I notice Aukanthi started sharpening his battleaxe more and rubbing his chin where no beard can ever grow, what with him being a goliath. The day is pleasant enough, hopefully the weather stays good as we have a journey of two days to see through til we reach the Inn.

The Diary of Genora Amcathra: Storm King’s Thunder Part 3, Goldenfields Forever

Day 2) 11 Mirtul, 1490 DR, continued

Once we got to the bat caves, we realised the terrible mistake the villagers had made in coming here. The entrance showed long-term signs of goblin use. The villagers must have come in here and stumbled straight into the horde, who then captured the refugees and went on to pillage the village. Worried for their safety, we rushed straight in and ended up facing a bunch of goblins and ogres. After a short fight, one of the goblins ran away and we gave chase. He lead us straight to the cavern where the chief sat – or soon cowered as we made our grand entrance.

Using the advantage we had, I intimidated him into returning the prisoners to us for free. It didn’t quite work, so we had to fulfil a quest for him instead. I decided this was acceptable, as it’s always better to avoid bloodshed. Unfortunately we perhaps chose the wrong quest. We took on a metal eating ooze which left our armour and weapons worse for wear. I do wonder if paying the ransom might have been cheaper in the end…

Either way we managed to rescue the refugees (those who were still alive at least) and return them to the village. We were well received by the grateful survivors and as we exchanged their lost belongings where we could, they paid us back as much as they could, replacing our ruined clothing and some of our equipment. We were also requested to send word to the relatives of the people who died in the attacks. I managed to convince the final member of the Seven Snakes to ditch the Zhentarim and join us. He has joined us! His name is Umbero Calabra. I’m not sure how much we can trust him, though if we keep him motivated he hopefully will not try to betray us. We were just deciding on where to start when all of a sudden the screaming start again!

There was a giant castle once again floating above us! But this one was different. It was smaller and had a wizard’s hat on top. A great stairway made of cloud descended down. We had to climb, as we could not leave this mystery unsolved. Ninya was the only one able to make it to the top with any energy left, though at least Aukanthi and I were not suffering the same vertigo as poor Umbero.

We entered the castle. It was huge. Inside was a table which we could all comfortably stand under without stooping. We looked around for a bit, then I called out. There was no response for a while, and then suddenly ‘HELLOOOOO!’. A giant wizard was descending through the ceiling.

He introduced himself as Zephyros and I introduced myself to him. ‘YOU ARE THE ONE!’ he declared. I felt my heart beat speed up, and I dared to hope it might be true that there was some special destiny for me. He turned to Ninya and she introduced herself. ‘YOU ARE THE ONE!’ Hmm. Well. He said the same thing to Aukanthi. Umbero introduced himself last, but all Zephyros said to him was ‘Hi.’

He has said he will take us wherever we wish to go! I don’t know why he is doing this, but we are grateful to him, as we have a long way to go to tell all the people we have to tell about their departed loved ones.

Day 3) 12 Mirtul, 1490 DR

We have not seen our mysterious benefactor all day. Our flight continues. It is cold and draughty, but we are moving so much faster than any legs could take us, humanoid or equine. Umbero is not coping too well. Hopefully this doesn’t take too long.

Day 4) 13 Mirtul, 1490 DR

Finally some action! It was another boring day of watching the distant landscape go by while shivering from the cold, until giant vultures bearing bird-helmeted riders appeared and landed on our cloud. They demanded to see Zephyros so I called up to him. To my surprise, he emerged!

The cultists demanded that he give fealty to the evil elemental god of air. I burst in at this juncture to point out to them that this was a really dumb idea. I’m a fan of the ground for one, and Zephyros is a cloud giant, so he needs water as well as air. Not too mention these cultists probably drink water to survive. Anyway, I pointed out to them that if they really wanted to live on a plane of nothing but air, that already existed! They thought about it for a moment. I suggested they go find a wizard in Waterdeep that can send them there. Surprisingly, I managed to convince them and they left without any violence! They gave me a gift of 10 pinches of pixie dust. Apparently there’s a chance it could make me fly. Only a chance? I wonder what it does otherwise?

Source: Wizards (Storm King’s Thunder Campaign Guide)

Day 5) 14 Mirtul, 1490 DR

We arrived in Goldenfields at dawn. The castle flew off slowly, raising its staircase… I’m not sure if we’ll ever see Zephyros again. But we went up to the gatehouse of the great walled farm. The guards were very friendly and just let us straight in. It was rather strange. But the kind reception continued as we stopped at the first store in town. The nice woman there was selling cornucopias and produce. I told her I wanted to bring a gift to a man who had lost his parents, so she gave us a cornucopia for free. So kind!

When we got to the inn, the person we were seeking was there. It was Miros Xelbrin, the son of the old couple who Rillix used to live with. We sat him down and informed him of the bad news. He took it rather well, all things considered. I asked him if he wanted Rillix back too, but he said Rillix would do whatever he felt like.

He had a number of people to introduce us to, once we told him of the giant attack. Turns out two hill giants had tried to attack a few weeks before, but were met with too much resistance, so they left. We met Oren, a halfling living in the inn, who had nothing much relevant to say but was fun and a little hungover. Though he did mention that he had heard of frost giants raiding dragon hordes in the northeast. It’s funny, but the giants seem to be collecting trophies. The nightstone in Nightstone, dragon treasures on the glaciers… what could be their trophy here? And are they competing against each other, perhaps? The timing seems too convenient.

Next we met Lifferlas, who Miros had not told us anything of except his name. He is a talking tree! He was kind, even though he couldn’t remember my name. He told me to carve my initials into his trunk, which is scarred with the marks of all his friends over the many years. He was able to tell us something of the different types of giants out there. There are six: hill, stone, fire, frost, cloud and storm.

Next we met Zi Liang. She is an ascetic living in the abbey in Goldenfields, though when we started to talk about defence of the town she grew angry about the laxness of the town guard. I said I’d try to put in a good word for her. At lunchtime, returning to the inn, we met Naxene Drathkala, the town’s resident wizard. Since Goldenfields is the breadbasket of Waterdeep, the capital sends a wizard to live and work here on regular placements. Naxene was interested to hear what had happened in Nightstone, and we shared information. I also mentioned Zi Liang to her. That afternoon we tried to talk with the captain of the guard, who was always busy napping off his liquid lunch or some other irrelevant activity… but finally when we did get to talk, he seemed to me ineffectual and disinterested. I hope the town doesn’t get attacked again any time soon…

Day 5) 14 Mirtul, 1490 DR, later

I had a dream before the chaos began. I saw a baby. I spoke to it sweetly. It was beautiful. Its irises were so pale, they were nearly white. Not in a bad way. It was beautiful.

My sleep was disturbed by Oren yelling ‘We are under attack!’ We all fell out of the inn, Naxene, Miros and the four of us, and though Oren got badly wounded, we defeated the crowd of goblins, bugbears, and the couple of ogres that pursued him! It was very touch and go for a second. Miros was also hurt, so we sent both him and Oren back into the inn and we set out to ring the abbey bell, since we could not hear any alarm yet.

As we ran past the fields and paddocks towards the abbey we saw livestock being taken by the goblinoids. We made a snap decision that raising the alarm was more important, so we raced to the abbey. Naxene and I used our magic to knock the bell around from far below, and finally it began to ring as we joined Zi Liang and Lifferlas who defended the abbey. The numbers were similar again in this fight, but with the sweeping boughs of Lifferlas to help, it was much easier. Also, as the livestock thieves ran past, Lifferlas’s brothers began to rise from their tranquil sleep, and the animals were soon rescued.

We raced down after them to find an entire section of wall destroyed. Two hill giants were entering through the gap, so we went quickly into action. Giants hit very hard, and Lifferlas and Ninya were gravely wounded. I found the magic in my hands to heal them, though it felt as if it drained me completely of energy. Naxene managed to use her magic to suggest to the one giant to fight the other over a stolen cow. It actually worked! Soon the two giants were crying and cowering, holding their heads, and we managed to take them prisoner. I didn’t know such a thing was possible!

We left Lifferlas, Ninya and Aukanthi in charge of the prisoners while the rest of us ran to man the towers. This time we were finally backed up by the scouts of the town. We were arrayed against an intimidating siege army: four giants, six ogres, and countless goblinoids. But with our huge advantage in ranged attacks, we managed to take out the ogres, who as walking catapults (goblins were their ammunition…) were the most dangerous from that range. We then focussed fire on the giants, and soon their cowardice overtook them and the goblins began to flee too.

I’m not quite sure how we all made it out alive, but here we are.

The Diary of Genora Amcathra: Storm King’s Thunder Part 2, The Seven Snakes minus Six

Day 2) 11 Mirtul, 1490 DR

As the sun rose over Nightstone we entered the keep. We found four guardsmen arguing what to do next over – o horror! – my aunt’s dead body. I was inconsolable for a while, but as I managed to come back to earth, I could hear Aukanthi getting the order of events from the guards. It fell out in this way: the residents of Nightstone saw a giant castle in the sky, and four great big blue skinned brutes began to throw boulders down upon the town. As was the emergency plan, the residents began to move towards the keep, but then the bridge was taken out by a boulder, so they fled out of the town, we can only assume to the nearby bat caves.

As this was being related to us, Kella played her hand. Seven riders arrived in the town square below, and we watched as they killed the wargs we had avoided earlier. As goblins fled from the approaching riders, Kella explained she was an agent of the Zhentarrim, and that she and these seven – the Seven Snakes she called them – were on a mission to assess the town for a Zhentarrim takeover. I kicked up some small fuss over the heriditary laws, when she offered to let me take the keep and be an agent of the Zhentarrim. I usually don’t pay attention to such things, but I am fairly sure my family would not be happy about this, so I diplomatically turned down the offer for now.

We left the keep to survey the town with the Seven Snakes. Suddenly in the distance, orcs were spotted heading towards us. They seemed to be on the run and were injured. We manned the towers and shot from a distance at the approaching band. The blighters moved incredibly fast, threw themselves into the moat and started climbing up into the breach in the bridge. We fell back to a tower as they approached. Aukanthi and the leader of the Seven Snakes guarded the door, meeting the fierce rush of orcs. It was not enough – orcs started climbing the ruined shell of the tower towards those of us on the second level.

I’m not quite sure how we made it through, looking back. Six of the Seven Snakes fell, including their leader. The guards in the keep watched, too scared to help. A band of elven archers, surely those who had been chasing and wounding the orcs before this skirmish, appeared on the edge of the moat and fired innaccurately from a distance. As we finally whittled them down to the chief and the shaman of the orcs, Aukanthi finally fell. It was too late for the headsmen of that tribe though, as they fell under what firepower remained to us. And just in time thankfully, as I threw myself over Aukanthi, and with a strength I didn’t even know I had in me, I summoned up the last of my magical energy to heal him and save his life.

Exhausted, I raised my head only to see the leader of the elves shout ‘You’re welcome!’ and they left. I swear, I will seek out that arrogant cur and teach him to regret those words.

We intend to set out to the bat caves, but we must rest for now. I managed to convince Kella and the final Snake to remain and aid the survivors, saying it might earn them some credit for the Zhentarrim in the rebuild of Nightstone. Either way, they agreed to stay and aid us. After we’ve buried our dead and slept away the worst of our fatigue, we will set out.

Source: Wizards (Storm King’s Thunder Campaign Guide)

The Diary of Genora Amcathra: Storm King’s Thunder Part 1, Down in Goblintown

Yes, that’s right! James and I are starting another D&D campaign right out of the 5th edition book Storm King’s Thunder. Let me leap right into it, after a brief rundown of the major cast members:

  • Genora of House Amcathra of Waterdeep, age 16, human sorceror (Favoured Soul) (not that she knows it at the beginning!), mixed Noble/Waterdhavian Noble background, upholder of family pride, flippant, stubborn and vengeful
Image result for human female waterdeep noble

Art by Melanie Delon (found on Pinterest)

  • Ninya, or Of the Mist the Boots, tabaxi monk (Open Hand) (not really a monk, we just chose that class cos cat people should start able to kick butt without weapons and run and jump insane distances), maidservant (custom Maid background), cheerful and easily distracted (and also fourth wall breaking, though that probably won’t come through in the diary entries, but at the table James basically plays her like a female Deadpool). Hates water.
Image result for khajiit priestess

Source: Elder Scrolls Online

  • Aukanthi ‘Babysitter’ Gathakanathi, goliath fighter (Knight), soldier background. Serious and dry of wit. Outcast of his people for being so short and for wanting to protect other weak fleshy beings who should stand up for themselves.
Image result for male goliath waterdeep d&d

Source: Wizards

The diary of Genora Amcathra

Day 1) 10 Mirtul, 1490 DR

I was ever so grateful to be getting out of Waterdeep. Winter seemed to have passed so slowly, and I wanted to see my aunty Valrosa who resides in Nightstone. So as soon as the weather was good, I took Ninya and four guards with me for the short journey. To aleviate the boredom of the road I flirted with one of the guards, a half-elf. He was much older so tried to balance ignoring me with being careful not to disrespect me. Meanwhile his captain, Aukanthi, rolled his eyes fully in front of me. That one’s ways are very different from one’s own.

He kept saying we ought to be on guard for goblin or orc attacks. I was mid-response, saying that  we were always on guard for goblins around Waterdeep, when suddenly we were surrounded! Not just goblins, but an ogre far larger even than Aukanthi. He and the other three guards rushed forward to face them, while he yelled at Ninya to get me to safety. I’m not unused to Ninya pulling me out of a scrape, but it’s never an easy ride, getting pulled and whipped back and forth at neck-breaking speeds to escape a crowd. It was a tight press though, and Ninya’s progress impeded, she had to unsheathe her claws more often than not. I, meanwhile, unleashed a sonic attack on their ears undiscriminately.

As we broke for the trees of the Ardeep Forest, the ogre threw the body of my half-elven guard over my head. We made it to cover, but goblins kept coming. Suddenly one nearly caught Ninya by surprised, and I was at a loss for how to stop it. I reached one ineffectual hand to reach it and push it out of the way, so far from connecting, only to be surprised when a sharp bolt of fire burst from my extended palm. I screamed and went limp, and Ninya dragged me over a ridge.

We hid there as goblins passed. The light of day began to fade when suddenly we were found – by Aukanthi! The lone survivor of our guards. He was terribly hurt. As I reached for his bloodied forehead with my handkercheif, suddenly my hand glowed again and his wounds healed instantly! The others were talking, but I could hardly hear them over the rush of the sound of my own heart in my ears. I touched my own nose, and my wounds closed up too. So… somehow I know magic now?

Aukanthi suggested we close the distance to Nightstone as it was closer than Waterdeep, so we set out under his guidance. It was not far at all. It was a terrible sight however. The bells of the church rang incessesantly, and there was giant holes in the roofs of the buildings, the keep, and even the bridge linking to the keep that spanned the moat. Aukanthi tried to turn us around, but I insisted on entering. I had to know if Aunty Valrosa was all right.

The first place we were able to sneak into was the church. As we passed through the churchyard we saw giant boulders that seemed to have fallen out of the very sky! Entering the church, we found it was two goblins ringing the bell! I had been hoping it was residents that we could save. The other two ran past me to defeat the invaders, while I helplessly struggled to control the fire from my hands. We rescued the priest’s and church’s property that the goblins were stealing, hoping to restore them to their owners. This we continued to do as we went through the ruined town and found goblins stealing personal items.

Looking out the tower window we saw the town square. The large dark stone that usually resides there was missing, and there were also wargs guarding the wide open space. We avoided that and instead went around the outskirts of the town, entering the tavern from the back entrance. There were goblins partying in one room so we ignored that, and instead investigated why there was a single dead goblin below a hole in the level above us. We went upstairs and found a mendicant monk, Kella, hiding up there. She had been knocked out my a falling boulder but not killed, and woke up to find the town deserted of residents and instead filled with goblins. We said we could help her leave the town, but she said she’s rather stick with us. She had a snake wrapped around her arm. His name is Sssteven. Aukanthi was automatically suspicious of her and took me aside to say so, but I said words to the effect that beggars cannot be choosers!

Image result for kella storm kings thunder

Source: Wizards

We then explored the other buildings in town, trying to find survivors. Most of the time when we met goblins they attacked us before I had a chance to speak, but one called Jilk did talk to me. I didn’t really get anything useful out of him, other than he was content to loot in the absence of the residents of Nightstone. So much for diplomacy. At least we did manage to rescue some chickens and horses from their captives, and we found another companion called Rillix, a tressym (editor: domestic cat with wings!) whose masters had been killed by falling boulders and who, once fed, decided to tag along with us and scout into the remaining buildings for us. Also during this time I found another magic power I apparently have: if I stare long enough at a foreign language, apparently I can make out what it means! Turns out there was a door to a house with a curse on it. Good thing I could read it!

Image result for tressym d&d

Source: Wizards

The town explored, we headed to the ruin of the bridge. Aukanthi took a running jump and nearly fell entirely, but then pulled himself bodily up the edge. Kella made it in one, and Ninya didn’t even try, but caught on to the lower struts with her claws and climbed up nimbly. Aukanthi threw me a rope which I tied around my waist, and I made a running jump too. Suffice to say I didn’t quite make it, and I lost the wind in my lungs and the rest of my dignity as he winched me up over the edge. But at least, in the light of the rising sun, we had made it finally into the keep itself.