YEAR OF SHADOWS, 1358 DR.
March 12 - Ritter von Bek, Bishop Thecla, Lambert, Perihelion, Selene, and Perki depart Phlan and begin a journey through the central Forgotten Realms to negotiate military and economic agreements with various independent states. On the itinerary: Hillsfar, Mistledale, Shadowdale, the Archclericy of St. Cuthbert, Royal Cormyr, Sembia, Tantras, and Mulmaster. In the group's absence, Phlan will be ruled by Bishop Braccio and the remaining Council members.
March 14 - The party arrives in Hillsfar. It is a bittersweet experience for Perki and Perihelion, who were banished from the city along with all other demihumans several years ago. There presence is tolerated at this time only because of their diplomatic status.
March 15 - The party meets with the First Lord of Hillsfar (Maalthiir). A military alliance between Hillsfar and Phlan (directed against Zhentil Keep) is agreed upon.
March 16 - The party departs Hillsfar for Mistledale.
March 20 - The party arrives in Ashabenford.
March 21 - The party meets with the Council of Six and signs a trade agreement between Phlan and Mistledale, as well as a general statement of "friendship and amity". Mistledale is unwilling to commit to a military alliance. Lambert visits the Abbey of the Golden Sheave (Chauntea) and Oakengrove Abbey (Silvanus) nearby.
March 22 - The group departs Ashabenford for Shadowdale, travelling along the banks of the Ashaba through the forest.
March 26 - The party arrives in Shadowdale.
March 27 - The party meets with Lord Mourngrym and negotiates a trade agreement as well as a defensive alliance against Zhentil Keep. Later that day, Selene attempts to visit Elminster but is turned away by Lhaeo, who informs her that Elminster is on an extended tour of the Plane of Elemental Water.
March 28 - The party departs Shadowdale for Tilverton. They plan to meet with the Bishop of Tilverton before the group travels on to Arabel, where Thecla will be officially invested as Bishop of the Moonsea by Archcleric Vidicor.
March 30 - While camping near the crest of Shadow Gap a few hundred yards from the burned-out ruins of an inn, the group is ambushed by an attack force consisting of invisible Fire Knives thieves, drow priest/mages, clerics of Moander, and Zhentarim mages. Despite the group's valiant efforts, they are quickly overcome and fall unconscious.
April 26 - The party awakens in a large private room in The Windlord's Rest inn in Tilverton. Everyone's equipment is neatly packed in boxes nearby. Each party member notices that his or her right arm has been covered by an ornate, gleaming blue tattoo, marked with strange and arcane symbols!
Perki questions the gnomish innkeeper, who informs him that the party was brought here (unconscious) two days ago by a group of red-hooded men. The men claimed that the party members had been found by the roadside, no doubt victims of a brigand attack. The group is startled to learn that nearly four weeks have elapsed since the ambush in Shadow Gap.
With the exception of the tattoos, the group seems perfectly normal and unharmed. Nothing is missing from their equipment, including magic items, gems, and money. To clear up the mystery, Thecla suggests that the group seek help from the Bishop of Tilverton.
The group then proceeds to the Temple of Cuthbert. At the entrance
to the Temple, they see an elegant coach bearing the arms of the current
Archcleric, Vidicor. As the group approaches the carriage, a voice in the
crowd yells something in an unknown tongue. To their horror, each party
member finds himself overcome by a powerful mental compulsion to attack
the Archcleric! With drawn weapons, the party fights their way through
the Archcleric's guards. Reaching the carriage, von Bek flings open the
door, only to discover a terrified young boy, Kasimir Kugelrohr, nephew
of the Archcleric! In a whiny voice
Kasimir pleads for mercy, telling them that he only "borrowed" his uncle's carriage so he could do some sightseeing.
The knowledge that the Archcleric is not in the carriage seems to break the mental compulsion ordering them to attack. As hordes of temple guards converge on the carriage, von Bek orders the party to surrender rather than risk injuring Lawful Good beings.
After being disarmed, the party is taken into the Temple of Cuthbert. They are led in to the presence of Archcleric Vidicor, who is here in Tilverton on official business. Thecla identifies herself as the Bishop of the Moonsea and tells him the entire story since departing Phlan. Despite Kasimir’s interruptions and pleas for revenge, Thecla convinces the Archcleric of the group's innocence. He absolves the group of any guilt in their forced attack on the carriage.
To clear up the mystery of the "Azure Bonds", the Archcleric prays for
divine guidance. Through the power of Commune, he discerns that the
strange tattoos are composed of five separate symbols. The first
symbol is a dagger wrapped in flames - the emblem of the Fire Knives, an
old thieves' guild once powerful in Arabel but banished by the priests
of Cuthbert. The second symbol is that of a dead god, Moander. The
third symbol is the sign of the Zhentarim, a powerful coalition of evil
priests and mages allied with Zhentil Keep. The fourth symbol is unknown,
but its style resembles that used by certain Red Wizards of Thay. The fifth
tattoo depicts the elvish rune of a name surrounded by flames. Vidicor
informs the horrified party that the name in runes is
The Archcleric informs Thecla that her ordination as Bishop of the Moonsea is out of the question until the magical tattoos have been dispelled. Fatigued by his divination, he offers the group his blessing and a few words of counsel but no other tangible aid before dismissing them. Several clerics in his entourage appear gleeful at the apparent downfall of Thecla.
Back in their rooms at the inn, they discover a message asking them to meet the "Master of Rogues" at Grimwald's Revenge to learn more about their tattoos.
After arriving at the inn, the party is blindfolded and escorted down some stairs and through some winding passages. When the blindfolds are removed, they find themselves in a large, richly decorated room. On a dais across from them sits a fat man wearing tattered but regal robes. The man introduces himself as the "Master of Rogues" in Tilverton. He tells the group that the thieves of Tilverton are divided into two factions: the Tilverton Rogues (his faction), and the Fire Knives. While the Tilverton Rogues practice coexistence with the current clerical government, the Fire Knives seek to assassinate the Archcleric and seize control of Tilverton. It is in his own best interest to aid the party in defeating the Fire Knives. He gives the party a map of the sewers of Tilverton and shows them how to reach the Fire Knives headquarters.
The party travels through the sewers, battling otyughs, trolls, crocodiles, and Fire Knives sentries. Eventually they reach the Fire Knives’ headquarters, where they battle more thieves and monkeys with slings. They discover a partially destroyed laboratory and the body of a mage. They also find a scroll marked "Tyranthraxus", which Selene takes for future reference. They also discover correspondence from a Red Wizard named Dracandros to the Fire Knives mage, Kybor (now deceased).
The group eventually finds the chambers of the Fire Knives’ leader,
who is surrounded by numerous thievish guards and hellhounds. He
boasts that the Azure Bonds were created as an experiment by an Alliance
of the Fire Knives, the Zhentarim, the priests of Moander, a Red Wizard
named Dracandros, and the
Flamed One. The intent was to see if nominally Good individuals could be controlled by others. As a test, he orders von Bek to kill Perki.
Von Bek is able to resist the mental compulsion, and the group attacks the Fire Knives. After a lengthy struggle they are victorious. With the death of the Fire Knives leader, the first Azure Bond vanishes from each party members arm. After looting the Fire Knives headquarters, the group exits the sewers of Tilverton and spends the night at the Temple of St. Cuthbert.
April 27 - The party departs from Tilverton, with the intent
of returning to Phlan. That night, they camp in Tilver's Gap.
Selene studies the scroll pertaining to Tyranthraxus, and finds that Tyranthraxus
can only be destroyed by persons controlling three artifacts: the Gauntlets
of Moander, the Blade of
Lathander, and the Helm of Dragons. The locations of these objects are not given.
Later that night, Selene has a vivid dream. She is standing on a great map of the Forgotten Realms, in the location of Tilver's Gap. Other figures are also standing on the map, taunting her and exclaiming that she must now serve them. On the rise that houses the ruins of Yulash, a cruel woman with a bloodless face, dressed in white, laughs and beckons Selene to come to her. She opens her hand, palm outward, to reveal a living mouth there, which snaps at Selene. At her feet are a pair of silver gauntlets, overgrown with twisting, moving weeds.
To the north is a man standing on the battlements of Zhentil Keep. He is dressed in the ornate battle armor of a high priest of Bane. His face is marked with ceremonial tattoos, and he is dripping with jewelry. He carries a jewel-encrusted mace, which he points at Selene, and in a low voice he commands her to come hence to meet her true masters. At his feet lies a great sword, whose blade glows with the rosy light of dawn.
To the south cackles a bent old man in the robes of a Red Wizard of Thay. Small dragons fly about his head like buzzing gnats, and Selene sees that he is wearing a circlet on his brow, with the image of a dragon in a green gem at its front. The Red Wizard laughs again and points at Selene, beckoning her forward. She sees that the wizard stands atop Haptooth Hill, west of Essembra.
Behind the three, flaming in one place, then another, Selene sees a great, shimmering pool. A being of pure fire appears, then disappears as the pool moves elsewhere. To Phlan, then Hillsfar, then Tilverton, then the Elven Woods. It speaks a single word, "Tyranthraxus", and the heat grows.
Selene awakens in a cold sweat, knowing that this was no ordinary dream, but some message from greater powers.
April 28 - After much discussion about the -meaning of Selene's dream, the group decides to travel to Haptooth Hill and seek out the Red Wizard, Dracandros.
April 30 - The group arrives at Ashabenford.
May 3 - The group reaches Essembra.
May 4 - The group arrives at the village of Hap. They find the village garrisoned by drow fighters and efreeti in the service of Dracandros. After clearing the village of Dracandros' minions, the party enters a cavern leading to the wizard's tower. They find that the ancient fires of Haptooth Hill are not yet dormant, and they battle salamanders and efreeti. In a cooler section of the caverns they discover a drow community working for Dracandros. After battling clerics of Llolth and drow mages, they encounter Crimdrac, a dracolich, who uses the power of the Azure Bond to subdue them.
Crimdrac takes the party to the roof of the wizard's tower, where they encounter Drancandros and fourteen adult dragons of various colors. (Previously, Dracandros has told the assembled dragons that all humans of the Forgotten Realms are irreconcilable enemies of dragonkind and should be visited with a new Flight of the Dragons. The leader of the dragons is unconvinced that all humans are enemies and asks Dracandros to remove his sigil, to see how the humans will behave when unconstrained. Reluctantly, Dracandros agrees to do this.)
When the party arrives, they find Dracandros
surrounded by a horde of dragons. He removes the second Azure Bond, and asks the party to save him from the evil dragons in exchange. Suspecting a trap, Thecla orders the party to put away all weapons and staves, as a sign of peaceful intentions, while Lambert assures the black dragons that humans want to live in peace with dragonkind. His plan in shambles, Dracandros flees inside his tower, while Crimdrac flies away. The dragons swear an oath of friendship with the party, in gratitude for exposing Dracandros' scheme for stirring up war between humans and dragonkind, then fly away.
The party pursues Dracandros through the rooms of his tower, defeating his drow bodyguard and avoiding several magical traps. Cornered in his laboratory, Dracandros is annihilated in a sorcerous duel with Selene and Perihelion. The party loots Dracandros library, treasure room, and laboratory. Perki finds the Helm of Dragons, exactly as described in Selene's dream.
May 5 - The party spends the day resting in Hap, feted by the grateful villagers.
May 6 - The party decides to travel to Yulash in order to remove the Azure Bond of Moander. A few miles outside of Hap, the party is attacked by the dracolich. After a tremendous battle, they destroy Crimdrac and continue on their journey.
May 13 - The party arrives in Yulash. The city lies in ruins, with about 25% controlled by Zhentil Keep, 35% controlled by Hillsfar, and the remainder an open war zone. The party heads for the section of Yulash controlled by Hillsfar and has no difficulty entering the city through a breach in the fortifications. Ritter von Bek makes contact with the commander of the Red Plume mercenaries (Hillsfar elite troops), and explains the group's mission. The Red Plumes allow the party to pass through their lines and enter the disputed city center. There they battle looters, deserters from both sides, and Zhentil Keep patrols, and Zhentarim terror squads.
Eventually the party finds a ruined temple of Helm, covered in green moss and slime and occupied by shambling mounds. Suspecting this might be an outpost of the Cult of Moander, the party enters the ruined temple and destroys the shambling mounds, finding a Wand of Defoliation after the battle. Perki explores the temple and finds a trash-filled midden with steps leading downwards. At the bottom of the pit, he finds a secret door.
The group enters the stinking midden and passes through the secret door.
They find a hidden temple of Moander, and fight their way through vegepygmies,
giant slugs, and shambling mounds. Eventually they reach the chambers of
the High Priest of Moander, Mogion. She uses her Azure Bond to immobilize
the group and then begins a ceremony to open a gate to allow Moander to
return to the Forgotten Realms. When the ceremony is complete, pseudopods
of Moander begin oozing through a dimensional gate. However, the energy
of opening the gate has
consumed the third Azure Bond, and the party is freed of Mogion's control. The party immediately attacks Mogion and the other cultists, as well as the sections of Moander that have come through the gate. Using the Wand of Defoliation, Fireball, and Slow, the party is able to slay Mogion and hold back Moander long enough to escape. However, the gate remains open, and not all pseudopods of Moander are destroyed.
The party manages to fight their way out of Yulash and spends the night far from the strife-torn city. Examining the loot they managed to grab from Mogion, they find the Gauntlets of Moander. That night, their dreams are troubled by thoughts of Moander's return to the Forgotten Realms.
May 14 - The party decides to proceed to Zhentil Keep in order to remove the fourth Azure Bond.
May 15 - The group arrives in Zhentil Keep and are immediately arrested as spies. Even worse, they are identified as the "Heroes of Phlan" and sent to the Temple of Bane for trial.
May 17 - Languishing in the dungeons of Zhentil Keep, the party is surprised when a hooded woman enters their cells, frees them, and returns their confiscated possessions. She takes them deeper into the dungeon to a richly furnished altar room. She tells the party that all their questions will soon be answered.
A few minutes later, the High Priest of Bane, Fzoul Chembryl, strides
into the room. Before he can say anything, the woman uses the power of
the fourth Azure Bond to compel the party to attack Fzoul and then teleports
away. In the ensuing struggle, Fzoul is slain by von Bek but his body immediately
vanishes. This event breaks the compulsion over the party, and the fourth Azure Bond disappears.
Exploring the tunnels beneath Zhentil Keep, the group battles ogres,
otyughs, and manticores. Eventually they reach a room 'marked "Chamber
of the High Inquisitor of Bane". Inside they meet the High Inquisitor,
a beholder named Dexam, as well as the hooded woman. Dexam congratulates
the party for slaying High Priest Fzoul, whom he describes as a heretic
and magic-user. Dexam explains to the party that he placed the fourth
Azure Bond for the purpose of creating a squad of Lawful Good assassins
who could slay Fzoul without the deed being traceable to him. Their usefulness
now ended, he attacks the party. The
hooded woman reveals herself to be a medusa, and hordes of armored minotaurs rush into the room. After a fierce struggle, Perki backstabs the beholder, while the others use mirrors to deflect the medusals gaze. Eventually, the party triumphs and finds the Blade of Lathander among Dexam's treasure.
Searching through Dexam's chambers, Selene finds a set of Gates, one of which is marked "Emergency Exit". Stepping through the gate, the party finds themselves in a small cave several miles east of Zhentil Keep. They continue travelling away from Zhentil Keep toward Phlan until night falls.
That night, Selene has another troubling dream. She finds herself standing on a vast, mist-covered map of the Forgotten Realms. The edges are burning, and smoke turns the air black around her. Across the map rise the great spires of Myth Drannor, ruined and toppled by age and the incursion of fell creatures. From its northwestern corner shoots a flame, which intensifies and forms a huge, manlike outline - Tyranthraxus! The flame speaks, with the intensity of a foundry's fire: "Come to Myth Drannor.”
May 18 - The group decides to heed the dream and go to Myth Drannor, in hopes of slaying Tyranthraxus and removing the last Azure Bond. They set out for Phlan.
May 19 - The party arrives in Phlan and confers with Bishop Braccio. Thecla spends much of the day in prayer at the Cathedral of Cuthbert.
May 20 - The party travels by ship to Hillsfar.
May 23 - The party reaches the Standing Stone and discovers a robed, hooded figure. The figure asks them if they have the Blade of Lathander, the Gauntlets of Moander, and the Helm of Dragons. After being told that the group indeed possesses these artifacts, the figure reveals himself as Elminster, who then instructs the group in how to use the items to destroy Tyranthraxus.
May 24 - The party enters the Elven Wood on the trail to Myth Drannor.
May 25 - The party arrives at the outskirts of the abandoned
elven city. They enter a burial glen and find thri-kreen looting
elven tombs. Outraged, Perihelion and Perki lead the party in destroying
the tomb robbers and returning the bodies to their resting places. The
spirit of an elven cleric rewards the
party by revealing the location of a treasure-trove of magical weapons and items.
As instructed by Elminster, Selene uses the Helm of Dragons to pinpoint Tyranthraxus' location. The Helm points toward a section of Myth Drannor. The party boldly invades the ruins and battles phase spiders, rakshasa, and margoyles.
The Helm eventually leads the party to a partially destroyed temple of Labelas Enoreth, the elven god of longevity. Inside the temple they meet Tyranthraxus, who uses the last Azure Bond to immobilize the party. Gloatingly, he explains that he has manipulated the party into destroying the other members of the New Alliance and bringing him the items that they possessed capable of destroying him. He removes the paralysis and orders the party to give him the Blade, Gauntlets, and Helm or be forever annihilated. The party uses their momentary freedom to attack! While Ritter von Bek attacks Tyranthraxus with the Blade of Lathander, Lambert uses the Gauntlets of Moander to drain dry the Pool of Radiance that is the source of Tyranthraxus' power, and the others hold off the Flamed One's minions. With a cry of anger and pain, Tyranthraxus is destroyed, and the last Azure Bond vanishes. The minions of Tyranthraxus flee, and the party loots the enormous treasure-trove accumulated by the Flamed One. Elminster stops by to offer his congratulations and verifies that Tyranthraxus has indeed been destroyed.
May 26 - The party begins the journey back to Phlan.
June 2 - The party arrives in Phlan, freed from the Azure Bonds
and greatly enhanced in experience and wealth.