In the Shadow of Netheril

Deeper into the Imperial Archives
Rising dead, rising suspicions

When the central door swung open, the party found itself looking into some sort of reading room or library. Bookshelves were set into the walls around the perimeter of the room. Several long wooden tables ran the length of the room, strewn with decaying books and parchment. A few corpses slumped over the tables where they had apparently become so engrossed in their reading that they died.

Ander stepped forward to examine one of the bodies. It wore a plain, tattered robe of coarse fabric. Perhaps in life it was a monk. Ander decided to search it for valuables. As he reached into the corpse’s robes, the skeletal hand shot out and grabbed him by the wrist.

All around the room, the other dead readers began to rise.

The adventurers fought them off without much trouble. With the last undead creature slain, they were free to search the bodies uninterrupted. They discovered that at least one of the readers kept a circular medallion hanging from its neck. The medallion had a thin black outer rim with a deep purple center. Qualin identified it as a holy symbol of the dark goddess Shar, an evil deity popularly worshipped in Netheril.

Further search of the room yielded a small amount of coin and a few books on the theory of magic. At the other end of the room, two doors led out.

The next room turned out to be a massive storeroom the likes of which the adventurers had never seen. Row after row of tall shelves filled with crates stretched hundreds of feet into the distance. Wary after the skeletons in the previous room, Nez reached out with her divine sense. She immediately pointed out three undead creatures similar to the ones from the library. They were wounded and some were crushed under shattered crates. The party made quick work of them.

Then they set about exploring the room. There were far too many crates to search each one, but they remembered the inventory list that they found in the locked desk drawer. The format of the numbers on the crates matched the format on the list. Soon they were able to find the crate in which the Nether Scroll was supposed to be stored. However, to no one’s great surprise, the crate had been pried open and now lay empty. Qualin prepared a ritual to detect magic, while the others located a crate filled with gold. With the ritual complete, the adventurers realized something unsettling: someone had cast a spell on the area around the Nether Scroll’s crate. They guessed it was an alarm spell and reasoned that the caster could not have gone far. Furthermore they began to become suspicious that the antiquities dealer, Noross, may have known more about the missing scroll than he originally let on.

Expecting the caster to return now that the alarm had been tripped, the party shut themselves in the office adjoining the antechamber and set a watch. Yet the night passed uneventfully.

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Ambushed by Bushes
A trade caravan under attack

On the Road to Loudwater

Ander, Nez, and Qualin were contracted to escort a trade caravan belonging to Dobrak Stoneshoulder to the town of Loudwater. They had almost reached their destination when the foliage ahead seemed to move into the road to block their progress. Nez ventured forward and tried to chop away the vegetation with her scimitar. But as soon as she sliced a branch, the bushes came to life and attacked her.

The party fought and defeated the awakened shrubs while an unseen bowman sent poisoned arrows whistling at them. Finally they spotted the shooter, who turned out to be a tiny winged fey creature, similar to an elf in appearance. He shouted a warning at them, saying, “Begone from the forest!” and then disappeared. In talking with Dobrak, the adventurers discovered that there had been other attacks recently but only from wild beasts. This was the first anyone had seen of the flying elf-like bowman.

A Town in Trouble

With no further violent interruptions, the caravan made haste to Loudwater. There Ander discussed with Dobrak the possibility of earning a bounty to remove the threat to the trade routes, and they agreed upon a price of 160 gp in exchange for proof that the threat was ended. Meanwhile, Nez and Qualin sought out the Green Tankard Tavern, along with the rare antiquities dealer, Noross. Noross explained that a possibly valuable artifact had been stolen from his camp before he joined with the caravan. He found it in the ruins of a library, deep in the forest. It was a finely crafted, ornate scroll which he was sure was somehow important. At the very least, he believed it would fetch a fine price. He had planned to take it to a scholar of ancient history named Tarin Beeks, who lives somewhere in town. He requested the party’s help in recovering it.

After a couple mugs of ale, Nez decided to wander the town. She noticed that much of Loudwater remains in ruins since the Spellplague. The streets are lined with burned out shells of buildings, and the earth has split open in some places, swallowing whole blocks. Eventually her meandering route took her to the docks, where she spotted a lively crowd of sailors and dock workers piling into a waterside tavern. She went inside for another ale and gathered the latest rumors from the bartender.

Qualin performed a set of songs for the patrons of the Green Tankard. His music was well-received and earned him some tips and a free room for him and his comrades. At around this time, Nez arrived back at the Green Tankard and the party sat down to discuss the two job offers they had received. Afterward they retired for the night.

The next morning, Ander went to meet with Loudwater’s Captain of the Guard, a veteran by the name of Brock Hammond, in the hopes of gaining more information about the attacks on the trade routes. Hammond was not able to offer much new information. He expressed his thinly veiled discontent with the way Lady Moonfire, the governing official of Loudwater, would not permit him to take patrols out to keep the roads safe. He said the guards were stretched thin without many new recruits and that he would be grateful if the adventurers could put an end to the attacks.

At Qualin’s urging, the party went to the temple to speak with Tarin Beeks. The scholar turned out to be a young, energetic woman surrounded by tall stacks of books and notes. She eagerly shared her knowledge of the Netherese city of Karse, which may have been the ruins Noross described.

Tiny Footsteps and Calamari

The party left through the west gate and retraced its steps to the site of the previous day’s ambush. They searched the area for any sign of the attackers and managed to find some tiny footprints leading north. Eventually they lost the tracks at the banks of the Delimbiyr River. They decided to ford the river. Midway across, a tentacle grabbed Nez’s leg, and the party suddenly found themselves in a battle with a giant octopus. The fight was over almost as soon as it started. The adventurers emerged victorious and with a fresh supply of calamari.

They easily picked up the trail on the opposite side of the river. The trail led them into the High Forest. After a few hours of travel, they arrived at some crumbling stone ruins. One building larger than the others attracted their attention, and they went inside to explore it.

Immediately inside the building, they found a mess of papers and three doors leading to other rooms. The papers were all written in the Common script but not in a language anyone understood. While Ander investigated the side doors, Qualin cast a ritual and prepared to read the papers. Ander found a key and some more papers in a locked drawer. He also found four unknown potions in a storeroom. Qualin completed his ritual and discovered that the papers were written in Netherese. Among other things, they indicated that this building was part of the Imperial Netherese Archives. It was constructed to house rare and powerful artifacts. An inventory found in the locked desk listed the various items stored there. Of particular note was something called a Nether Scroll, perhaps the scroll that Noross lost.

Armed with torches, swords, and this new information, the adventurers entered the central door…

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