A morning fog envelops the coast and the city this morning. The heavy mist breaks as the Circle of Valor reaches the Hawkwinter House. They see Hawkwinter guards standing outside the open gates of the villa. Torchlight and the sound of horses and men fill the courtyard as they broach the main gate. The party sees servants checking the pack animals, and placing the last barrels onto laden wagons.
Lord Hawkwinter is standing at the entry portico of the grand villa in conversation with his daughter, Kyrin as Vilnullas and the others come to a halt in an uncrowded portion of the cobblestone courtyard. Lord Eremoes and Kyrin exchange a few more brief words before coming out to the courtyard to greet the adventurers.
Lord Eremoes comes forward to shake hands with everyone and thank them for their coming. He says, “I am glad to see all of you this morn. I had prepared to lead this venture to speak to the Queen of the Elves myself, but unfortunately other worries in Daggerford and to the South need my direct attention. I shall accompany you on the first leg of your journey. I have turned the negotiations with the elves over to Kyrin. I would ask that you conduct this venture with her as if I were still present. I send her in my stead and would ask that each of you show her the respect that you have given me. She is my heir and will one day lead the Hawkwinter family and its businesses.”Kyrin speaks, “Father, please!… I am fully grown and I can handle a trip without you. You have no need to worry.” She turns to face the group before she speaks again. “I know I can rely upon all of you. I only ask that when we reach the High Forest and you to speak to the Queen of Earlann please tell her of the fine quality of your horses and anything else she may ask of you. I only ask you speak truthfully and plainly, it should help prevent any embarrassing misunderstandings.”
The party agrees to follow Kyrin Hawkwinter to the High Forest. The nobles mount their fine horses along with eight Hawkwinter guards. Two wagons manned by teamsters ride with Kyrin and Eremoes. As the Hawkwinter caravan prepares to ride forth from the city via the South Gate before dawn, six gateguards stop the party. They demand that all male elves in the party dismount and submit to a search their person and their gear. Corthen asks they are being stopped. One of the armed men says that Magister Gilvren has given this order to the Watch and the Waterdeep Guard.
Erith dismounts and demands that the armed men search him as well. Kyrin and Uldred join him in his protest of the soldier’s search. Lord Hawkwinter grows angry but maintains his temper. “What has occurred that a Magister of the Lords would overstep and treat these elves like smugglers or baby snatchers?” he asks.
The guard answers, “A daring elven thief stole great wealth and magic from the Husteem noble family’s ship anchored in the middle of the harbor last night. A deck guard went after the elf but he swam off without surfacing in the harbor even once until he reached the docks. So the Magister has us looking for an elven male. Our orders are to stop and search any male elf’s person, packs, and gear for the stolen items.” The gate guards find nothing on the party and they apologize, saying they had to follow the orders of the Magister. They send the caravan on its way.
Four miles south of the city, the caravan comes to the area known as the Rat Hills. The stench from the huge mounds of refuse is overpowering causing the group to cover their noses to try and block the stench. As the riders pass the four mile long garbage dump the ground shakes once again spooking the pack animals and the draft horses.
Later in the day the Hawkwinter caravan comes to a stone bridge with a guard post of Waterdeep guardsmen. Erith tells his friends that legend has it that the bridge over the River Dessarin is a magical construct created by a powerful mage long ago. Lord Hawkwinter tells the group to stop and rest their mounts and to take a meal while he speaks with the guards. He returns and tells the adventurers that the reports from Daggerford are true. There is a poison in the river and it is killing livestock and vegetation.
It is dark when the riders reach the Roosting Griffin Inn. Everyone sees to their horses at the stables before entering the inn. The innkeeper is a female half elf named Reni Hild. They inquire about rooms and learn that private rooms are 3 gold a night. The heroes pay for rooms and wash before sitting down to the evening meal of lamb chops, cabbage, turnips, flatbread, and plum pudding. Their serving girl is about 15 and her name is Nyla.
A group of eleven tough and battle hardened dwarves come in and sit down at two tables.
Saedellas notices a man off to the side of the common room who seems to be sneaking glances at the party. He realizes it is Sniff, the thief whom the party drove out of Waterdeep. Silvaris goes to his table over to talk with him. He asks Sniff if he is following him and his friends. The nervous rogue tells Silvaris that he left Waterdeep and is just working and that he doesn’t want trouble.
On his way back to rejoin his friends, Silvaris hears one of the dwarves making a rude remark about elves. Silvaris loses his composure and insults the two tables of dwarves. Two of the dwarves stand up to face him. The half-elf innkeeper begins the casting of a spell, but she doesn’t have to complete it. Both Silvaris and the dwarves walk away from the potential brawl. Silvaris sends Dakara, another serving girl, over to the tables with a round of ale for the dwarves to help ease tensions.
The party, tired from a day of riding, beds down for the night. Nolia awakens with a hand clamped across her mouth and a short sword to her throat. The black cloaked figure whispers “Die, half-elf bitch!” Before she can react or silently say a prayer to the Gods, her assailant half turns, his sword biting into her shoulder as a black blade pierces up through his abdomen. The assassin tries to scream, but a gurgle of blood sprays forth from his lips splattering upon Nolia’s face and he collapses onto the bed and atop her. She sees the grinning gold mask of her savior and his garish fool’s attire as he grabs her enchanted Boots of Jumping, before the Jester rolls and tumbles out through the doorway and is gone.Nolia screams. Silvaris, Saedallas, Tellazar, and Erith wake up to her loud shriek. There are assailants in the dark rooms with Saedallas and Tellazar. Saedellas is stabbed with a long sword by an assassin and Corthen wakes up when he is stabbed in the ribs by his attacker. Tellazar is luckier, he manages to dodge the attack of his hired killer. The wizard paralyzes his opponent with a Chromatic Orb and then he slits his assailant’s throat.
Uldred hears a commotion below and heads for the stairs. He sees an ugly baldheaded man armed with a trident leading 15 men into the inn downstairs. The man is yelling for the desecrators to come out. There are another five of his men lying dead at the feet of the dwarves along with five of the dwarves. The party manages to dispatch the darkblades that had come to assassinate them. Saedellas is badly wounded in his skirmish with his foe. Erith leads the others downstairs to aid the dwarves against the invaders in the dining room.
After a particularly bloody fight, the Circle of Valor prevails. The baldheaded priest lies dead along with most of his men but one of them manages to flee into the night. Three others throw down their weapons and beg for quarter. Corthen and Vilnullas gather the prisoners. Uldred speaks to the leader of the dwarves learning he is Tulmgar Hardaxe of the Stoneaxe Clan. The surviving dwarves are Eldmin, Dorok, Felm, Sargar, Ulvas and Yegarr. Nolia checks on the innkeeper and serving girls and finds them unharmed.
Twelve guards wearing the heraldic device of a white griffon holding three arrows on a green background and a noble from Secomber enter the Inn with the one man that escaped the fight. The noble’s name is Baron Agwain. The party takes the prisoners outside and question them. They say they were forced to attack the inn by Yorsag, a priest of Gulkalath. They claim he also forced them to worship Gulkalath with beatings, imprisonment, and death. The sailors tell Corthen that Yorsag brought them on a ship called the Black Tern in the hopes of avenging the defiling of Gulkalath’s shrine by the group. The party turns the prisoners loose and tell them to leave the area and not to return.