Day 7, Ride 3, Month 5, 1372 DR
Because one our shadow-cloaked assailants got away and others might have still been around, we decided to stay awake through the rest of the night. We searched the remains of the attackers and I found a necklace with a circular pendant, its outer ring purple, the rest filled by black. I felt it had a religious importance, but no matter how much I tried to recollect if I had seen the image somewhere before, I couldn’t dig it up. The rest was as clueless as I was. I decided to hold on to it, which, upon further reflection now, may not have been the best idea. There is no way of knowing whether a symbol of an obviously evil and dreadful god didn’t somehow hold some sway over us.
We covered up the traces of our camp but left the fire burning in the hopes it would distract any other, would-be assailants. We made another, fireless camp several hundred yards down the road and we tried to get some rest. When the sun started to come up, I prepared breakfast while the others inspected the body of the assailant we had taken with us. Of all of them, this one was the least mutilated after battle, although his forehead was caved in by my hammer, it was clear he was just a normal human, albeit with a strange, ashen grey skin. He was wearing clothing that seemed not of this time. Old, ancient even, and ceremoniously pompous-looking. The only real armour he wore was an archaic looking breastplate that Ebon decided to take along with him, probably because it looked expensive. Ebon also lifted a small purse off the man, which held strange coins made from various metals.
When the sun was at its zenith we no longer held the Spiderhaunt Woods to our rightand we moved into the southern tip of the Desertmouth Mountains. I went off trail and found a stream of fresh water for our horses to take some rest.
At the end of the afternoon we reached the top of the mountains from where our view offered us the ability to start plotting our next course. We decided to give the horses some more rest after the arduous climb and found a good, sheltered place with a good vantage point up as well as down the road. I took the first few hours of watch while the others slept. The wind picked up and howled through the valleys. Akadi was with us that evening. The night went by without incident.
Day 8, Ride 3, Month 5, 1372 DR
The following day was windy and chilly. Without too much ceremony we broke up camp and continued travel. I remarked that Akadi would be with us that day and Abel responded with ignorance and derision. He shall have to make his way through life without the gods.
The landscape changed when we reached lower ground. We had to make our way through small canyons and crevices. I’ve been very lucky in finding fresh water for us and the horses, and for that I gave thanks that day.
At a certain point my companions pointed off in the distance toward an onrushing sandstorm. I remarked that this what you get when denying the existence of Akadi, and Abel continued his blasphemy. As if in my element, I quickly found shelter for us. I covered Stygos in several of my blankets and tried to keep him calm.
Ebon’s horse panicked and ran out into the storm. Two hours later, when we had ridden out the storm, the first out of Abel’s mouth was a snide, blasphemous comment. Remarkably, Ebon’s horse was still alive, but barely. It took hours getting Ebon’s horse up and walking again. We moved slowly, but we moved.
Hours later, we came upon a city — the city from my vision! The darkness I had seen was there, too, writhing and moving constantly. It was a horrifying image, even more so than in my vision.
Ebon and Thorim spotted a group of people close to the city. It was likely they had seen us as well, but we thought it prudent to make camp and investigate the following day. The fear was that the people would be hostile to us. The watch remained uneventful and we awoke without incident the following morning.
Day 9, Ride 3, Month 5, 1372 DR
During breakfast Ebon revealed he had spied on the camp outside Tilverton and counted less than a dozen campfires. Abel started diguising himself quite convincingly with Ebon’s help. I asked what the likelihood was that he would be recognised and he said he didn’t think it likely. He also thought it unlikely there would be any repercussions for us if he would be recognised, something which Thorim clearly didn’t believe. He also revealed that Abel Silver wasn’t his real name. Something I hadn’t ever considered before.
We carefully headed towards the city and spotted Cormyrian banners. Ebon decided to scout ahead and spotted between thirty to fourty people, mostly soldiers but also sages and wizards. The darkness in the city was deep and eerie.
We were met by a group of purple dragons, which is what Cormyrian knights call themselves, apparently. They asked our business and ended up escorting us to their commander when we told them we were investigating the happenings on order of Lord Morn of Daggerdale. Their commander turned out to be a woman by the name of Caladnei. She was very serious and none too happy with our presence or our attitudes. Well, mostly my attitude. She rubbed me the wrong way, so instinctively started mouthing off, something I regret doing now.
She and hers had been there for a ride and had sent several excursions into the city, only to have the troops return mad and gibbering. She claimed no form of magic was capable of working close to the city, and when I tried the simplest of prayers, Abaddon never responded!
The discussion didn’t prove to be too fruitful but we gave the items we lifted from the ashen men that attacked us. I asked after Heron but nobody knew about him or had spotted someon resembling his description. Ebon managed to swap his horse out with another while Abel and I put our ear to the ground, but unfortunately we both came up empty.