Broken shackles of Shar

Livesession 9 May 2024

We are headed to Waterdeep, flying there with a sense of urgency. Farryn wants to update the people at the Golden Cauldron and check on Glyster for dragon information, particularly about the red dragon in Skullport. He also wants to see if Cross will join us for the Shadowdusks. Farryn wears his boots of flying, Grond has polymorphed into a bat, and Patience and I rely on our own means. We follow the water from the stream inside the mountain to the docks of Waterdeep.

Patience contacts Glyster, who is busy but agrees to meet us at noon in the marketplace. We fly into the harbor, and as we get closer to land, I carefully place the dragon egg in my bag. When we reach the Golden Cauldron, we see some guards and land.

“Hear ye, hear ye—Farryn Flamel has returned!” I announce, feeling a surge of pride. Farryn walks up to a clerk and asks if there is a council meeting planned.

“A council meeting?” the clerk responds, sounding surprised. “They are highly exceptional, held every tenday, and the last one was about an incident.”

Farryn hands over a pouch. “Contribution. Share of the loot.”

I feel a pang of jealousy; my money was stolen, and I only have items to show for our efforts. Farryn then gives a letter to the clerk, the contents of which I don’t know.

We walk to the council members’ boardroom, with Patience following closely behind. The area is filled with small offices, and Farryn approaches a member of the merchant department I recognize—Felix.

“Farryn!” Felix exclaims. “What kind of beautiful things do you have for me?”

Farryn explains that we have slain the Zhentarim in Skullport because they stole items from us. Felix is curious about how they managed to steal the items, and Farryn elaborates on how the vault registered and stored the loot. I greet Felix, but he doesn’t seem to remember me at all. Farryn quickly introduces me and suggests promoting me to acolyte of the Golden Cauldron. Felix explains that a report will need to be submitted and agreed upon by three council members, but it can be arranged by the end of the day.

Farryn mentions the runestone shards we have, which could potentially help him get rid of the spell of Shar. We will need other priests to activate them. He then tells Felix about Morph, the changeling who helped us conquer the Zhentarim on Skull Island. Farryn isn’t sure if we can trust Morph, and I blurt out what Corvax did.

Felix finds it odd that the treasure disappeared and ended up in someone else’s hands. Farryn continues, saying that Jaf’ar made a deal with Shar. Though Jaf’ar looks good now, he is very overpowered. Despite the complexities, we can’t do without Morph and the dark mage.

“Okay,” Felix says, “we can always provide you with extra party members. They have excellent joiners.”

“We don’t know yet,” Farryn replies.

“We say that Skull Island is ready for the taking. Maybe the Golden Cauldron should take hold there,” Farryn suggests.

Felix shakes his head. “There’s not enough capacity to get people there. There have been more attacks—two more—on temples, and the Golden Cauldron prevented those.”

Farryn changes tack. “Can we attempt to create a staff of power again?”

Felix frowns. “It’s precarious. A faction we traded with is not amused. Are there any witnesses to the attack on Skull Island?”

“Yes, the arbiter and some thugs,” Farryn replies.

“So, there is a witness, and it’s the arbiter?”

Farryn nods. “Yes, but he’s very much abused by the Zhentarim. He’s terrified; I don’t think he’ll go back.” He throws two ledgers onto the table. “These are the arbiter’s.”

“So, the Golden Cauldron has a relation with the Zhentarim?” I ask myself. 

“The rest of the information is that the situation around Trollskull Manor hasn’t worsened, and the inspector isn’t on Farryn’s trail anymore,” Felix adds.

As we prepare to leave, Farryn receives a message from Morph. He and the dark mage have observed that the Shadowfell is expanding in Skullport. They want us to send priests to save Skullport.

Farryn quickly replies, “Don’t go to the base or Waterdeep. We have a big problem. Protect Turbulence and Violence.”

Not long after, we receive another update: an ancient red shadow dragon is the source of the Shadowfell spread. “People are safe; we flee to base. Bye.”

Farryn and I exchange a worried look.

Then another message comes through: “P.S. Ancient red shadow dragon is locked in flask. Come to base. Send priests to Skullport. Bye.”

Farryn, exasperated, sends back, “Now at Golden Cauldron. We will go to priest. KWW, WTF. Let the genie not out of the bottle. We will meet Glyster later. The Golden Cauldron is not amused. We ordered some stuff for the simulacrum. Weird way of running things…”

We rush to inform Felix about the new developments. “We need priests sent to Skullport immediately,” Farryn urges.

Felix looks alarmed but nods. “You have a weird way of running a business, Farryn..”

We leave the office of Felix. Our minds are racing with the implications of a red shadow dragon being trapped and the spreading Shadowfell.

I feel an urgent need to rush over, but Farryn insists it’s already happened. “We can’t do anything right now,” he says. “If the Shadowfell came out of the vault, it’s probably not that big. The people are already safe, and the dragon is confined.”

We enter the room of someone who isn’t exactly a fan of Farryn—Allister, a cleric who could potentially cleanse him from Shar using the runestones. Allister listens intently as we explain the situation.

“What’s the damage?” he asks.

“The Shadowfell is growing from the vault on Skull Island,” Farryn explains.

“So, let me get this straight,” Allister says, narrowing his eyes. “You’re saying that the dark mage, your subordinate, created the Shadowfell?”

“Um, yeah. It’s coming down to that,” Farryn admits reluctantly.

We discuss some other things, and I mention the egg. Allister is very intrigued, and at first, he doubts my ability to handle it. But as I tell him more, he gives me credit for my knowledge and preparation, even suggesting I might be more prepared than Farryn for something this risky.

As we leave Allister’s office, he advises, “For cleansing of Shar, you should go to a temple of Lathander, and bring runestone shards.”
“Better not get involved in public relations.” he adds, when we open the door to leave.

Next, we head to Aurinax in the party vault. Aurinax, a dwarf who is actually a dragon, greets us. Farryn introduces Patience and me, emphasizing that if the dark mage returns alone, he’s not to get the treasure. Farryn takes two diamonds.

I ask Aurinax if he can brood on my egg, but he disappoints me with a “no,” explaining he can’t get magma.

Trying to move past my disappointment, I hear Farryn ask if Aurinax knows anything about an ancient red dragon in Skullport. Aurinax doesn’t have specific knowledge but says he’s heard the name before. He also warns that the Shadowfell corrupts everything, especially when we explain the connection between the two.

Farryn then inquires about Morph and his sword, Corvax. Aurinax shakes his head. “I don’t know the sword or the patron.”

We leave Aurinax’s vault, our minds filled with more questions than answers. As we head towards the Temple of Lathander, Farryn and I share a look of determination.

We return to Waterdeep and check a few shops for valuables. Farryn’s eyes light up when we spot a striking red cloak—the Cape of the Mountebank. After some intense bickering and bargaining, we secure it for 9000 gold pieces, down from its original price of 10,000. I’m not interested; it’s a cloak that lets you cast Dimension Door once per day, which isn’t my thing. The cape is a bit big for Farryn, so two women tailor it to fit him precisely. He pays with some gems, and we also purchase ten healing potions.

As noon approaches, we head to the market to meet Glyster. I can’t help but ask if he can brood on my dragon egg, but he, too, cannot.

We then ask if he knows anything about the ancient red dragon in Skullport. Glyster doesn’t have any information, but he’s impressed we defeated it. We explain that it’s now a red ancient shadow dragon, as the Shadowfell corrupted the place where it was created. Glyster was once under Shar’s influence. We saved him to remember with artifacts of his history, but he was long corrupted by the Shadowfell.

“To get Jaf’ar back,” I ponder aloud, “we need to remind him of his life before the corruption.”

Farryn adds, “He chose to return to life and then was made into Shar’s champion.”

Glyster nods. “Most people think they are doing the right thing but are not. Maybe someone mentally stable can control it, but the power takes a long time to develop.”

Farryn and Patience exchange worried glances. “As far as we know,” Patience says, “the dark mage has behaved fine, with the exception of what we hear now. We need him for our battles; it might be too hard to do without him.”

“What do we need to allow?” Farryn muses. “Does the end justify the means? To what degree?” 

Patience adds: “The dark mage’s goal is to lock up Halaster, take his place, and make Undermountain a better place. Maybe he thinks he’s doing well, but that might be Shar talking, and it could turn out for the worse.”

Farryn presses, “What do we do if we confront him, and he takes the evil route?”

“The dark mage is the only way for my egg to hatch,” I add, feeling a pang of desperation.

Patience reassures me, “It’s not the only way. It’ll be alright.”

We thank Glyster for the information, feeling the weight of our decisions pressing down on us. As we walk away, my mind races with thoughts of the challenges ahead and the delicate balance we must maintain within our party.

We reach the temple of Lathander, where Valen greets us warmly. He had been expecting us. Cross hasn’t been at the temple, which is a bit worrying. Farryn hands over the runestones, and Valen assures us that he will assist. “You’ll need many runestones to cleanse,” he explains. “How will you divide them among three people? We have 27 runestones, probably enough to cleanse two people.”

Cross is currently at the temple of Selune. I’m almost tempted to fetch him, but Patience first asks Jaf’ar. After a moment of consideration, Patience says, “Jaf’ar is in dubio; he needs to think about it.”

So, we decide to use 14 shards on Farryn. Valen informs us that the ritual will take four to six hours. While Farryn undergoes the cleansing, I take it upon myself to gather clerics and priests to cleanse the Shadowfell in Skullport.

As I visit various temples, I plead, “In the name of the Golden Cauldron, I ask you to help cleanse the Shadowfell in Skullport where innocent inhabitants live. Please, please help us at your earliest convenience.”

Many priests, paladins, and clerics are convinced to assist. I also find Cross, who expresses his desire to be cleansed and, afterward, to help us with the Shadowdusks.

When I return to the temple, I find Farryn cleansed and looking relieved. We decide to head to Trollskull Manor. Farryn needs to check on something, but afterward, we go back to the base. 

When we return to the base, we are greeted by the sight of the dark mage and Morph busy with some unusual construction. They are arranging heated magma for me, with POES busy at a brazier. The setup looks very DIY, but I can’t help but feel super excited. They even went to another level to get the magma, involving teleportation and an incubator with an adult red dragon in charge. This makeshift contraption is their own creation to help me hatch my dragon egg right here in our base.

Farryn, eager to assist, starts tinkering with the setup. I love it; they’re doing all this for me. It’s so sweet. By the end of the evening, everything is set. A generator is turned on, and the magma is kept hot by the ever-moving water in the base, fueling the heating. I place the egg in the magma, and it slowly sinks into the basin. The dark mage had felt guilty because he discovered he couldn’t create a demi plane after all, so they made this contraption instead. I am very grateful. It will take three to four days for the egg to hatch.

I can hardly contain my excitement. I’m going to have my very own dragon!

After thanking them profusely, I also want to know what happened while we were gone. They explain that the Shadowfell grew and took over Skullport. Then a dragon came, causing the ground to shake, and they managed to trap the dragon in the iron flask we had acquired. Morph was the one who got the dragon inside the bottle.

Patience suggests looking inside the mind of the dark mage, but it appears blank by default. He then asks Morph if she can check his thoughts. Farryn interjects, asking Morph again. We all believe something significant is going on, and it’s a horrible situation. We must not let the dragon out of the flask.

Morph agrees to let Patience check his thoughts and holds his sword, Corvax. It takes a while for the process to complete.

Morph’s expression is a mix of focus and apprehension as Patience delves into his mind. The room is silent, the air thick with tension. After what feels like an eternity, Patience’s eyes snap open.

“While I was looking, memories disappeared,” he says. 

“Okay, give that to someone else,” he instructs, pointing to the iron flask in Morphs hands. I take the flask and hold it tightly.

“Give it back,” Morph asks, looking uneasy.

I look to Farryn for guidance. Farryn shakes his head slightly. “It’s dangerous to have a shadow dragon in the hands of someone who loves the Shadowfell,” he says.

We all tried to find information about Corvax, but even the dark mage thinks it’s not connected to Shar. I reluctantly hand the flask back to Morph, who looks visibly relieved.

The dark mage and Patience delve into a discussion about how Morph’s mind was tampered with. Morph and the dark mage exchange puzzled looks, finding it odd that such a thing could happen unnoticed. “Maybe someone wants to create drama,” I suggest. “Maybe Halaster!”

Farryn didn’t tamper with Morph’s mind, but he mentions the possibility of restoring true memories using the ‘Modify Memory’ scroll.

Patience concludes, “The only thing clear is that someone or something doesn’t want us finding out the truth.”

“Or someone wants to play games with Morph,” adds the dark mage.

“I think we need to continue,” Morph says, trying to move forward from the unsettling discovery.

The dark mage expresses his desire to use Shar’s powers less, feeling conflicted about their influence. We discuss Glyster’s cautionary words and agree to remain vigilant.

Morph shares that his conversations with the dark mage reveal the latter’s intentions to do good and rid the world of the mad mage. However, the golden cauldron is unimpressed with the attack on the Zhentarim and unhappy with the creation of the Shadowfell in our wake.

Farryn suggests, “The Shadowfell is being called upon, and it can only be the dark mage—or possibly Corvax.”

“Did you think I made the wrong choice in dealing with the dragon?” asks the dark mage, seeking reassurance.

Farryn replies thoughtfully, “I think the wrong decision was made when you chose to become Shar’s champion.”

The dark mage asks for more time to control his powers before seeking to cleanse himself. He requests that the party keep his interests in mind and communicate with him if they notice any concerning behavior. We agree to this.

We distribute the healing potions and discuss our elevated status within the golden cauldron, sharing our news with Aurinax and Glyster. We mention that 15 priests have gone down to Skullport to help cleanse the Shadowfell.

Farryn, now free of Shar’s influence, expresses feeling lighter and less burdened. He seems genuinely relieved, a shadow lifted from his spirit.

During dinner, we discuss the future ownership of Skull Island. The golden cauldron doesn’t want it, so we consider offering it to the Xanathar. This could potentially thin out their forces in other areas and spark conflict with the Zhentarim, who will undoubtedly want their base back.

Finally, we divide the loot, ensuring everyone gets their fair share. The atmosphere is a mix of relief and tension, knowing that while some threats have been dealt with, many challenges still lie ahead.

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