The party prepared to depart for the Kingshield to look for the kruthiks and calendula—two of the three ingredients necessary for the antidote to lantanna. We headed out on horses provided by my father, Lord Trowbridge, and rode out of Bashar. After some time spent riding, we reached a clearing where we found a bunch of dead kruthiks. What we actually needed was a fungus called a doom spore, which we discerned was the cause of death of the kruthiks. We also figured out that the doom spore is highly contagious and could easily infect us if we weren’t careful. As a result, we discussed the best way to obtain the doom spore without putting ourselves in danger.
We ultimately decided that Aideena would use her mage hand to pluck a large piece of the spore from the largest kruthik and contain it in a flask that Onath was carrying. Aideena conjured her mage hand and broke off a piece of the spore, but in doing so a burst of the spore was released and we were unfortunately within the blast radius. Luckily Targoth was able to think quickly and used his icy dragon breath to crystallize the spores—not only sparing us from the effects of the spores, but also allowing us to quickly and easily contain them in the flask. Aideena then used fire to sanitize the flask and Targoth volunteered to carry it for the group.
As we were finishing this task, Aideena heard a rustling in the bushes coming from our way out of the clearing. From the ground, vines with huge mouths sprouted from the ground and we fought them. We were eventually able to kill them and by this time it was 2 in the afternoon. The apothecary had told us before we left Bashar that Miden had about 24 hours of so to live. As a result, we didn’t linger in the clearing; we burned the bodies of the kruthiks with no ill effects for us and then quickly made our way towards the northern part of the Kingshield.
We eventually headed into mountains and began to see frost. Not long after this, we reached an area with the sought-after calendula. Unfortunately the area was also the territory of some wolves that we had to fight. While we were engaged in battle against the wolves, the forest began burning because of Aideena’s fire catching the dry and dead trees. Furthermore, we also had to contend with the fact that the wolves were crushing patches of the calendula and rendering it useless for our purposes. Luckily, both Targoth and Aideena were able to grab some of the plant, though not before Aideena crushed some of hers. We ended up killing two of the wolves and severely injuring two others before the situation in the forest began such that we needed to leave. In fact, one of the wolves fled the scene and the other was considering it. Unfortunately, the boys wanted to continue fighting while Aideena and I were urging the party to retreat. We were finally able to convince everyone to leave (or, in Onath’s case, drag him out) and moved away to a safe distance.
At this point, we were faced with a dilemma. Did we return to Bashar and attempt to speak to Liam again and see if we could get a sample of the poison—the third ingredient necessary for the antidote—or did we go after the Borderlanders in order to discover their hideout and hopefully find the poison there?
Ultimately, we decided on a compromise: we would head back to Bashar and talk to Liam, but we wouldn’t spend much time doing it or allow ourselves to get sidetracked. So we headed back to Bashar and made straight for Miden’s estate in order to talk to Liam. However, when we questioned the guards, we discovered that he’d been handed over to the City Watch and was currently in the city jail. We were rather disappointed by this turn of events, but we agreed to go to the jail and see if we could question him there.
When we reached the jail, however, we discovered that the guards were under strict orders to not allow anyone to see the prisoner. Everything we attempted—intimidation, diplomacy, bluffing, and even breaking in—met with utter failure. Finally, after everyone ran out of ideas to get into the prison, we changed tack and decided to seek out the apothecary and see if he had any of the poison or where we might be able to find it.
Since no one was sure of where the apothecary’s shop was located, we headed to the marketplace and asked a woman at the first stall we came to which sold potions and potion ingredients where we might find it. The woman directed us to the shop and we headed there, arriving after they’d closed. Nevertheless, we banged on the door and the apothecary’s assistant opened the door. After a brief conversation, we discovered that the apothecary was at Lord Miden’s estate and that it was unlikely he would have any of the poison anyway. Rather than waste time seeking him out, we decided to head back to the clearing outside of Bashar where we found the two arrows embedded in the tree so that we could find our way to the Borderlanders headquarters.
On our way to the meeting spot, we were attacked by mountain lions but we were able to make quick work of the lions—they mostly ran off when they discovered that we were not easy prey.
We arrived at the clearing after three hours of riding. Inspecting the location, we discovered some footprints—most of which were human, but some were conspicuously larger than a human’s. We decided to follow the footprints and headed into the trees. The footprints led us up a slope and we left our horses and ascended on foot. We eventually reached the foot of a cavern where a group of humans and half-orcs were waiting for us. They shouted a battle cry and the fighting began in earnest.
The fighting was difficult—not least because of the close quarters of the cavern entrance—but we were ultimately successful and discovered 100gp which we divided equally amongst the party, leaving the 6 of us with 16gp each. Targoth also discovered some chemical reagents. I thieved a pouch that, when I stuck my hand in, felt a dust which sent a shiver of fear up my spine. I quickly pulled back before anything too serious happened. Jack had a similar experience, only he was touched by a black poison which covered his hand before he was able to stop it.
We pushed further into the cavern and quickly came to the conclusion that we were at the Borderlanders main headquarters. We began quietly exploring and discovered a kitchen—where we stocked up on rations and Onath snagged two bottles of wine—and a dormitory of sorts. We moved on and discovered another room filled with weapons which matched the weapons we had discovered with the murdered merchant.
In inspected the room with the weapons, we had bypassed a rusty looking door. After we had finished our search, we returned to these doors. Jack was able to quietly unlock the door, but the rusty hinges squeaked so loudly that we were quickly confronted with two guards who demanded to know what we were doing. We made quick work of them and I, in a moment of foolishness, charged into the room. The ground fell out from underneath me and a poisonous mist permeated the air in the room. Luckily, the rest of the group—once the poison had dispersed—was able to rescue me and I was able to recover from the effects of the poison. Part of the group proceeded into the room with caution, while Aideena, Spar and I remained in the hall.
In the room, the rest of the party discovered a chest, a bed, and a desk. Within the chest were a set of chimes that didn’t seem to make noise and 1,000gp. They noticed that the desk was glowing faintly and was covered with runes. It was clear that it was magically warded. The runes appeared to be some kind of made up language, but there were only 7 of them and the 1st and 4th were identical while all the rest were unique. On top of the desk was a map of the area around Bashar and some of the places were clearly marked. Trying to get a closer look, Targoth attempted to pick the map up but was hit by a bolt of energy and was dazed as a result.
It took us a few moments, but we remembered what the two women in the pub in Bashar had told us about a word—liskvek—that might come in handy. The moment the word was uttered, the desk stopped glowing and Targoth was able to pick up the map. It was clear that we’d been to all the places on the map and that they corresponded to the headquarters, the clearing with the arrows, and the cave outside of Orran where we discovered Lady Allexi.
A search of the desk turned up other useful information, including a bribe list and a list of names and ransoms. Targoth also discovered and pocketed an amulet with a dragon talon which he had last seen around Sammash’s neck.
The party left the room and Jack handed the ransom list to me so that I could see if any of the names looked familiar. Still suffering from the effects of the poison, though, I inadvertently dropped it onto the ground where it became soggy and covered in mud. We tried to salvage it by wiping it clean and someone suggested that if we stuck it between the pages of a book we might be able to flatten it and dry it. Aideena pointedly reminded me of the book that the Widow Vesney had given me and I reluctantly pulled it out and tried to quickly stick the paper between the pages of the book. However, the book was revealed to have been mostly hollowed out and, inside contained another book, about the size of a journal, and leather bound.
Before I could spend much time lingering over it, though, we could hear voices and approached another part of the cavern which contained the main core of what remained of the Borderlanders. We began to engage them in combat and amongst them was the 2nd in command, Edela. The battle was over much quicker than we anticipated when Aideena was able to burn the large crossbow that had the potential to do major damage to us and Onath charged and killed Edela. The remainder of the group—particularly Aideena and Targoth—were furious at Onath for not leaving her alive to give us information; Aideena, in particular, threatened Onath with a ball of flame. Doing away with Edela did have its advantages, however, because the remainder of the Borderlanders laid their weapons down and surrendered to us.
We left Onath, Aideena and Spar to keep an eye on them while Targoth, Jack, and I picked one of them to lead us to the torture room. There, to my particular relief, we discovered my sister Lavanya unharmed. Almost as important was the fact that we discovered the stash of poisons that the Borderlanders had—amongst them was lantanna. We also discovered another vial of heartflow, as well as a vial of infernal oil. Additonally, we discovered a scroll for Dark Light as well as 50gp of residium and two healing potions. Lastly, there was a vial of Dark Toxin, which was the same poison that Jack had encountered after our first battle against the Borderlanders.
We questioned the Borderlander who had led us to the torture room and he could only tell us that he had never seen Morage and that Druuk betrayed them and skipped town. He also told us that Morage left for Orran to see if the Borderlanders had any remaining bases down there. We decided to spare the lives of the remaining Borderlanders and left them with a stern warning not to do anything like this again. We then quickly left the cave and headed back to our horses and made the journey back to Bashar.
We arrived in Bashar without incident at about 6am. We headed directly for Miden’s and summoned the apothecary. When he arrived (clearly having been awoken), we gave him the ingredients for the antidote. He was incredibly grateful and told us that it would likely be a few hours before we knew anything for sure. He also told us that he would send word if anything changed.
We then headed for my father’s estate, where we left the horses (near dead, unfortunately), and entered the main hall to find my father and Margot in conversation. Needless to say, he was beside himself with joy to see my sister, as well as discovering that our mission to collect the ingredients had been successful. The fact that we more or less destroyed the Borderlanders in the process was icing on the cake.
We debriefed him on everything we’d learned, including handing over the list of names and ransoms, as well as the bribe list (reluctantly on my part). While retrieving the list, the small journal fell out of the larger book and a dried and pressed calendula fell out as well. I quickly snatched it up, but not before everyone in the room had seen it.
Questions were immediately asked about it, but I refused to discuss the matter. It was clear, however, that my father was attempting to get me to open up. Instead, I kept a tight grip on both items and then put them away so that we could focus on other things. My father mentioned that Saathan had stopped for a moment and left me a letter which he gave to me.
I was somewhat confused by this missive, especially in light of his last one to me.
Given everything that our party had been through together, I didn’t hesitate to show them the letters, hoping they could help me figure out what seemed off about them. We noticed that his name was spelled differently—and that the first letter he’d given me the night of Baron Orran’s party was how it was supposed to be spelled. Yet I also felt that the tone of both letters was much different, the newer letter being much more formal and distant than the first. However, while the second letter held more specifics, it contained information that agreed with the original letter and so I felt that Riven should be our next stop once we’d heard how Miden was doing.