Book One: The Dambrath Horror

On the night after a sudden and violent storm, six adventurers find themselves in the Winking Weasel Inn in Maarlith. They overhear the entreaties of an elderly smith, Dalwhin Kell, as he pleads with the barkeep and proprietor, Vashram, to connect him with willing adventurers. When they approach him, Dalwhin tells them that he has seen a meteor fall during the storm’s passage, wreathed in flames of red, green, and gold. Nearing the end of his career, he has one desire: to work meteoric iron once more and craft a weapon that will secure his place in history.

He offers the adventurers a princely sum of gold and weapons forged from the meteor if they are willing to recover it for him. They agree. Garret, a thief, notices a woman in white and copper robes, with a pistol and powder horn embroidered above her left breast. He follows her out of the inn and she offers him money if he will instead aid in retrieving the meteor for her order, the Saltpeter Coterie. While preparing for their journey, the party stumbles upon the shop of Alinser, an elven mage with great power and a taste for coin.

They leave Maarlith and travel east. Near where the meteor fell, they find that a strange color has seeped into the surroundings. The color assaults the eye and sickens the stomach. They are attacked by a pack of wolves, but triumph with the aid of Resh, a wandering fighter. After dispatching the wolves, Bhediya picks an apple that appears to be large and tumorous, apparently an effect of proximity to the meteor.

The party encounters a group of Saltpeters outside of a small farmhouse owned by an unfriendly farmer. Negotiations with the Saltpeters go sour as one of the Saltpeter Farshots fires a preemptive strike from his weapon: a rifle. The group handily defeats the Saltpeters, but when one surrenders, they decide to kill him instead of restraining him. This causes difficulty for Bhediya, a cleric of Selûne, whose holy symbol cracks as a result.

The group is more careful in their next dealings with the Saltpeter leader, Auseus Grey, but he refuses to surrender the meteor. His Saltpeters engage the party in battle, during which Bhediya shifts into a wolf hybrid, revealing that she is a lycanthrope. When it becomes clear that the Saltpeters are losing, one of them gives his life to teleport Auseus to safety. The party secures the meteor and an especially fine oxcart owned by the Coterie.

While returning with the recovered meteor to Dalwhin Kell, the party hears music coming from a stand of trees. They sneak up on the source only to discover that it is a half-elven lutist named Auryn Sevenstrings, who is wandering far from her home of Vaelen. She shares supper with them, but disappears in the middle of the night after stealing a bit of their food.

In Hellerslea, the party delivers the meteor to Dalwhin Kell and relays Auseus’s ranted warnings about the danger it poses. Discomfited, the smith asks them to take a sample of the meteor to his friend, Lira, an alchemist working out of Dambrath’s capital city of Cathyr. He offers to increase his reward, and the group readily accepts.

Not far from the Trade Road, the party encounters a gnoll warband that has waylaid Auryn. They save her, and she repays them by trading her skills as a troubadour to get them free lodgings at the Winking Weasel Inn in Cathyr.

A visit to Lira’s proves fruitless, as her shop has been robbed and her reagents stolen by members of the infamous Knotter’s Row Gang. At her behest, the party travels to the Dyer’s Quarter, ferreting out the location of the gang’s hideout, and infiltrating it. There, they witness a paladin named King being accosted and beaten by members of the gang. They save him, and he joins the party.

The leader of the gang, a criminal named Surrang, offers to let the party purchase the alchemical supplies back from him for an exorbitant price. When they refuse, the exchange turns violent. It is not an easy fight: Surrang is aided by a mysterious man with a blue flame sigil on his robes. The master thief also has a pair of magical boots from the Feywild, and uses these to teleport at will. When he is critically injured, the boots teleport him partially into a wall, apparently killing him.

In the hideout, the party finds a strange statue of a twisted creature, but they put further investigation aside in favor of completing their mission. They recover Surrang’s boots, a simple magical lantern, and the alchemical supplies before returning to Lira.

Reunited with her kit, Lira tells the party that the work of determining the meteor’s nature will take most of the night. Bhediya and King remain with her to watch her shop for potential reprisal from the Knotter’s Row survivors. The others return to the inn. The proprietress, Lura–who is definitely not related to Lira and was certainly not a DM mistake–offers to fence goods for Garret. Auryn seems to know something about the blue flame sigil, saying that it was occasionally graffitied in her home city of Vaelen. She does not know the meaning, but warns that the party is getting involved with matters that are over their heads.

The next day, Lira reveals that the meteor is no metal that she has encountered. It has a porous quality reminiscent of an eggshell’s surface. She warns that Kell is likely in danger. After denaturing the sample in her brazier, she reveals that its properties can likely be neutralized with sufficient heat. The party departs Cathyr, but not before coming across Alinser’s shop, which appears exactly the same as it had in Maarlith.

On the way back to Kell’s home of Hellerslea, which he had marked on a map for them, the party comes across the mutilated and mutated bodies of villagers around a small pond. When they stop to inspect them, the aberrations come to life and attack. They seem driven by a singular mind and feel no pain. The creatures are everywhere in Hellerslea proper, necessitating great care and stealth as the party makes their way to Kell’s smithy. There, they find his apprentice, who is horrifically transformed. After putting the boy out of his misery, they find a note that indicates that Kell has gone to Heller’s Fort, nearby, to be safe from what he characterizes as a plague infecting the village.

Outside of Heller’s Fort, the party is attacked by a monstrous creature that can turn invisible. Saved by the quick thinking of the bard Kelshar, who illuminates the creature with a Faerie Fire spell, the party defeats the grotesque.

The party makes their way into Heller’s Fort, which has been corrupted by the meteor’s presence. They fight a pair of jailers, both transformed by the meteor, one into an oozing puddle of flesh. In the fort’s prison, they find both Kell and the local lord, Landgrave Virigo Rasius. Kell reveals that Auseus Grey had stormed the keep with a force of a hundred Saltpeters, and though casualties were high on both sides, the Saltpeters had triumphed.

Rasius is in no condition to interact with them. The meteor has affected his mind, and he continuously repeats the words of an unfamiliar rhyme. The rhyme proves to be the key to the fort’s storeroom, where the party finds several artifacts hoarded by Rasius’s ancestors.

On their way to the throne chamber at the zenith of the fort, the party discovers a communications orb amidst the corpses of fallen Saltpeters. When it is activated, a woman’s voice comes through, demanding to know what has happened to her men. The tiefling Khymerus cannot resist taunting the woman.

On the battlements, the party clashes with mind-controlled Saltpeters and their flame-throwing cannon. They finally come upon Auseus himself, who uses his newfound attunement to the meteor to transform into a hideous creature with massive tentacles and mind control powers. The party manages to destroy Auseus’s hideous form, reverting him to his human shape and knocking him comatose.

Most of the monstrosities in the castle die when Auseus is knocked unconscious. Rasius and Kell are instantly freed of their madness, though physical ailments like the sloughing flesh of Dalwhin’s cheek remain. They all resolve to get out of the fortress swiftly.

Rasius rallies the remaining servants and has his manor house, which is a safe distance from the keep, prepared. He offers the party a princely reward of powerful artifacts, safe lodging, and his writ. While discussing what to do with the meteor, they are interrupted by the arrival of a thousand-strong force of Saltpeters.

The Saltpeters are led by the no-nonsense Commandant Kria Gant, who was also the voice that Khymerus had interacted with over the communications orb. She is ready to throw the entire lot of adventurers before a firing line for having spilled Saltpeter blood, but Rasius intervenes. Along with Bhediya and King, who are agents of good, he convinces her that the threat of the meteor supercedes petty interpersonal squabbles.

She agrees to let the party live, but tells them they will be working for her now. Kria orders them to Herath, in the far northwest of Dambrath, in order to recruit the dwarves there to denature the meteor, for it will likely require dwarven fire to undo the unnatural material. The party stays for some time with the Saltpeters, during which the tensions between the two groups seem to fade. Kria gives Bhediya the communications orb as they are departing. On their way down the road from Rasius’s manor, the party sees a guarded wagon taking Auseus eastward. Though apparently mindless, he has been repeating one word: “kaorti”.

Most of the party heads for Cathyr to take a ship to Maarlith, while Hamohimo and Garret rush there by land to prepare the way. They encounter another small gnoll warband, but upon defeating these gnolls, they discover that one of them is a robed human instead.

Tensions between Silaqui and Bhediya escalate over the revelation that Bhediya is a werewolf. The two squabble in the streets of Cathyr, drawing unwanted attention. Silaqui pointedly attempts to secure a silvering service for her weapons at a smith in Cathyr manned by a slightly slow apprentice boy. Bhediya purchases a silvered dagger from Alinser and tries to give it to Silaqui as a gesture of peace, but the drow refuses the gift.

In Cathyr, Lura connects the party with a mildly disreputable ship, the Maid of Dolphins, which has clearly paid her a commission. They make their way to the ship, only to find they will be sleeping in the hold, and that the only other passengers are a pair of young women.

The young women seem especially unwilling to socialize with the party, especially after the ship is becalmed. They are clearly fearful of the rough crew, who are likely plotting the worst for them. The calm does not last long, as the ship is caught in one of the last storms of spring.

Silaqui, Kelshar, and Resh awaken on a beach amidst a shipwreck. They do not remember much of the storm and cannot find Khymerus, Bhediya, or King. While trying to get dry, they hear a little girl’s scream. Coming upon a child attacked by shadowy figures and a banshee, the three fight heroically. Just as it seems all is lost, Garret and Hamohimo materialize on the beach and help turn the tide. They rescue the girl.

She is very young, very tired, and very frightened. She tells them that a beast has been hunting her. Emboldened by their recent successes, the party tries to lay an ambush for the beast in the woods, but when they engage it, it is far more powerful than they could have imagined. They turn tail and flee, aided by the girl, Irien, who lights the woods on the fire to buy them some time.

Irien tells the group that her parents are on the other side of the island, and the way there is through the domain of a vicious night hag. The party descend into a cleft beneath the island’s central mountain. They find King in the night hag’s clutches and help him get free while dealing with the hag’s summoned guardians. In order to stop the oncoming beast, King brings down the tunnel behind them with magical vines.

The party finally makes it to Irien’s ‘home’, which is just a ruin. They realize that it has been night ever since the sun first set, far more than twelve hours, and that the girl is connected to the beast on a magical level. When Garret tries to attack the girl, he discovers that he is just a figment of her imagination, as is Hamohimo. The party realizes that they are trapped in a dream just as the beast, the nightwere, arrives.

Silaqui puts aside her hatred and fear of werewolves, trying to encourage the girl to stay calm. She takes off the girl’s silver necklace, only to have it vanish. The party engages the nightwere. At their most hopeless, King attempts to restrain the girl with magic, just before the group topples the creature and the dream ends. The real Irien and Iannet await back in the hold, where Iannet reveals that they are both touched by Selûne. She enchanted the party as a test, although hers spell did not work on Khymerus, due to his demonic ancestry, or Bhediya, who was spared as a cleric of the moon goddess.

The Maid of Dolphins makes it to Maarlith, and the party goes their separate way from the two sisters. However, it is not long before Iannet shows up at the Winking Weasel and begs the party to escort her and her sister out of the city. She reveals that Irien is a werewolf, and will be undergoing her uncontrollable change at the coming full moon. This cannot happen within Maarlith, or it will spell doom for her. The party leaves immediately, unable to spare the time to reconnect with Garret and Hamohimo.

On the Keless Floodplains, the party hears the first signs of a massive werewolf pack. The moon is rising, and Irien is struggling to hold back her change. That is when they come across a caravan, waylaid in sight of Luenath by a broken wagon wheel. With the werewolves coming on fast, the party and the people of the caravan agree to make way for Luenath on foot, but in the outskirts of the city, they are attacked by a feral werewolf and Irien succumbs to the transformation.

What follows is a vicious two-way fight between the party and the feral werewolf, who is accompanied by horrible natural-born wolf hybrids, and the caravan guards, who are trying to kill the shapeshifting Irien. Bhediya transforms and kills the feral werewolf, asserting her dominance over the two wolf pups, and Kelshar manages to heal Irien and keep her from death. The threat of the immense pack’s arrival is enough to stop the caravan guards from continuing their assault. Just as the party and caravan are about to be overcome, moonlight spills down from the heavens, raising a wall of silver fire that protects the boundary of the city from the oncoming pack.

The group makes their way into the city, where they receive a cold greeting from Blais of the White Claw, a Chosen of Selûne. She allows them to rest the night, but then reveals that Bhediya has transgressed by killing another werewolf. The feral werewolf was Druath, a member of her pack, who went wild because he could not control the beast within. She introduces his sister, Cana, who is heartbroken. The punishment for Bhediya’s crime is to spend a year and a day reliving the nightmare of being slain.

To her surprise, Cana, Irien, and the party all argue on Bhediya’s behalf, pointing out that she is essential to the quest of destroying the meteor. She allows Bhediya an alternative penance: retrieving the saliva of a ki-rin who dwells on the Heart of Dambron, an island in the nearby river delta. The saliva mutes the pain of the change in young lycanthropes. She gives them the Bridle of Domination to temporarily subdue the ki-rin.

The party is sent via Tree Stride to the Heart of Dambron. They encounter a beautiful warlock, Etreia, who is corrupting a faerie dragon. She reveals that she is there to kill the ki-rin for her own purposes. The party fights Etreia and her imp familiar, Ixplyt, making short work of the scarecrow golems she throws against them. They rescue the faerie dragon, but the corrupting it has endured has changed it: its red scales are now black and scarlet, like blazing coals, and its own kind try to kill it. The party takes the faerie dragon with them, and it takes a liking to King.

After making their way through a trapped chamber with shrinking walls, combustible gases, and a pool far below, the party finds themselves in the ki-rin’s lair. They stop Etreia from corrupting or killing the celestial creature, and with the aid of the bridle, command it to feystep back to Luenath.

Blais is so impressed that they have gone above and beyond their duty that she awards Bhediya with a butterfly cloak that grants the ability to shapeshift as a druid does. She also reveals that she was once a creature of Malar. The experience of fighting side-by-side seems to mend the fraying tensions between Bhediya and Silaqui, who reveals that her family was murdered by werewolves.

The party’s time in Luenath comes to an end, but as they make plans for their westward thrust, Silaqui decides that she will stay behind to learn more about the weaknesses of werewolves from Blais. The rest of the group, recalling the werewolf pack that chased them into the city, asks if they can borrow the ki-rin for its feystep ability, hoping that it can take them directly to Herath. Blais permits their use of the creature, but tells them that the creature’s feysteps are not that predictable. It will take them as far as it can. They agree, and after brief goodbyes, they place their hands on the creature. A disorienting moment later, they are standing on a marshy plain.

Their options are many: there are low hills to the northwest, a broken road heading southwest toward the coast, and open wilds on every side. They recognize this area as the Plains of Blood. After wandering for a time, the sun begins sinking beneath mountains in the west. As its light leaves the sky, they can pick out a huge ruin along the coast, lit from within by torchlight: Prastuil, occupied by the evil werewolves of Malar. It’s not long before they realize the plain is swarming with werewolf packs, one of which numbers at least a hundred wolves.

In order to buy the party some time, Khymerus uses a Scroll of Rope Trick to pull his allies into a little pocket dimension. From safety, they observe the passes of the werewolves and conclude that they are hunting for something, but also opportunistically bringing down prey. They witness the wolves devour an aurochs in mere minutes. As the minutes tick by, counting down to the dissolution of the Rope Trick, the adventurers come up with a plan: they will wait for the next pass of the packs, and then make a desperate dash for the hills in the northwest to find shelter.

Things don’t go entirely as planned. The largest pack almost instantly catches their scent. It is led by a big silver she-wolf. Garret uses caltrops and Khymerus attempts to ignite the gases of the surrounding swamp lands, but all they can manage is slowing the pack down. They are fleeing across the hills when a voice calls out from nearby, beckoning them into a fissure in the side of one hillock. The adventurers hurry inside, and for some reason, the werewolves do not follow. King quickly determines why. The hillside is pocked with pockets of the restless dead.

Their savior is a man with greying hair and a rough look to him. He tells them they are foolish to be traveling across the plains, which are known as the March of the Crinti. Crinti from the city of Prastuil were driven across the marshy plains and executed en masse, buried in mass graves near the tombs of their ancestors. The party decides to explore the fissure further, not wanting to wait for the werewolves to pursue them.

They encounter a webbed cavern where they fight a trio of spiders–the arcane, tyrant, and creeping widows, and a corpse that has been reanimated by strange broodlings as a silk shade–who seem to have been mutated by strange blue flames in the area. The man, Velasco, is revealed to be a barbarian and paladin and fights with incredible potency. Once they have defeated the monsters, Khymerus recognizes this flame as the impossible. He senses it is a remnant of the Spellplague, believed to be extinguished on Toril for some years. Garret finds a Crinti dagger on the corpse, and sees many more. Apparently, this is one of the mass graves.

Velasco introduces himself to the party formally. Over the course of the conversation, it becomes clear that he is trying to get information about Luenath from them. This sours relations between him and the party, and they agree to simply make it to the other side of the tomb before parting ways.

There is a tunnel that breaches into a stone chamber with rich appointments like glass fruits, casks of ancient wine, and a large mirror. There are also bottles full of blue Spellflame, which appear to be attempts to store the power of the Spellplague. One had cracked, unleashing its fell powers. The party wisely leaves them alone. The mirror reflects the room, but not the party. Garret realizes that one of the glass fruits, an apple, exists in the real world but not in the mirror. He places it in the glass and it evaporates.

In the burial chamber beyond, which looks to have a crumbling wall on the opposite end, Kelshar spots a wide-mouthed urn full of molten silver. He creeps toward it and awakens the occupants of the crypt, a banshee and wight, but the two spirits fuse together, corrupted by the Spellplague. What follows is a fight where the party must cleave off fragments of the resulting amalgamation’s spirit by damaging it, then killing the soul shards before they can return to the whole. Over the course of the fight, Garret dips his shortsword in the molten metal, which reveals that it can silver a limited number of weapons for use against werewolves. With Velasco’s aid, they manage to triumph. Resh silvers his greatsword and King, his waraxe, exhausting the precious substance.

Garret detects a crumbling wall in the northeast portion of the chamber and brings it down with his crowbar. Fresh night air floods into the old barrow. The party hurries to freedom, only to discover that the werewolves have tracked them to the other side, led by the large silver female. Velasco joins the werewolves, revealing that he is their leader. He does not deign to kill the party, saying that such a kill without a hunt would not be satisfying. He transforms into an absolutely massive wolf and departs with his pack.

Once the party reaches the nearby village of Richter’s Hollow, they find an inn, the Dingy Hole, whose proprietor Corrin Grimes is clearly baffled that they would travel the plains when the huntlords are present. While they are staying the night, Kelshar spots the huge she-wolf stalking the party, and reveals to everyone that they are definitely being hunted.

Silaqui spends time training with Blais in Luenath and hones her skills so that she can pick out werewolves from other humanoids. One of her meetings with the druid is interrupted by the arrival of a scout, who reveals that the werewolves’ tactics have changed. While lightening patrols, they’ve taken up stationary positions at five forts along the outskirts of Prastuil. Knowing that the party will not be able to make it to Camp Dambron unchallenged, Silaqui hurries to rejoin them in Richter’s Hollow. She has key tactical information: the fact that Fort Rimbar is distinctly undermanned, and it’s there that they’ll have the best chance of pushing through.

While traveling through the woods outside of Fort Rimbar, they run into a gnoll shaman, Ri-han, who appears to be alone. He reveals that he is traveling to the Gate of Iron Fangs in the far northwest, for a gnoll chieftain, Muramand, has called the tribes together in hopes of regaining the dominance they once held under the chieftain Grubash Blacksnout. When Ri-han’s fellow gnolls catch up, he turns on the party and they come to blows. The party spares Kithak, one of a pair of Blacksnout Marauders carrying an ancient ark, and he opens it for them, revealing that the gnoll band was carrying an ancient artifact. It is the staff of Shardtooth Earthbreaker, one of Blacksnout’s kindred, said to be an invincible shaman.

Amidst looting, they are taken unawares by a wolf-headed Claw of Malar and other werewolves from the nearby fort. They surrender and their weapons and gear are taken from them. They’re told that Luth, the commander of the fort, has a fancy for magical items.

They are thrown into a dungeon with Etreia. She tells them that when she escaped the Heart of Dambron, she was immediately picked up by a werewolf patrol and they stole her magical items. She has the magical means to break free from their cell, but not to fight the complement of more than forty werewolves outside. The party is interrupted in their first jailbreak attempt by the arrival of Reme, Luth’s lieutenant. Garret’s effort to attack him goes spectacularly wrong and their cell is locked once more.

During their second attempt to escape, they find a lyre enchanted against lycanthropes. They also discover that a carriage bearing the mark of the blue flame has arrived, and that Reme has sealed the way to the inner court. Garret uses his boots to get through the sealed door, and with the aid of King and Resh, manages to unbar it. Both Bhediya and King sense tremendous wrongness occurring underfoot. Discovering a stairwell downward, they find that a mysterious emissary from the blue flame cult has enchanted Reme. He is empowered, lacking normal werewolf weaknesses, but they manage to triumph over him. His death destabilizes the ritual, and the resulting destructive force consumes the fort as they escape.

Battered and bruised, they make their way to Camp Dambron. They’re greeted by a watcher, Phaedrus, and allowed in once Bhediya uses her holy symbol as proof that they are not part of Malar’s flock. As the group rests in a communal greathouse, Bhediya goes down to the river to wash. She is awake when the sound of warhorns fills the night, revealing that the werewolves have followed the party to the camp.

Luth appears before the camp’s palisade, shifting into human form to demand parlay to discuss the terms of battle. Captain Yelen Peripatas, the commander of Camp Dambron, enlists the party’s aid in forestalling the werewolf attack. It is their fault that the werewolves have breached the surrounding woods, which are full of miner’s willow. The trees, which came from Abeir with the return of Halruaa, delve into the earth and feed off of mineral veins. These have become suffused with the silver below the camp, and made werewolves uncomfortable enough that they spared the humans there… until now.

Taking responsibility, the party goes forth to represent the camp in parlay. They meet with Luth in his crude command tent. He has been told a false tale of the destruction of Fort Rimbar by the Claw of Malar and desires the party’s death. With Luth’s permission, Bhediya casts a Zone of Truth so that the party can relate the true story, but the Claw of Malar manages to lie despite the spell. Luth dismisses the Claw, who urges violence. He confides in the party that he knows the Claw is lying, but as a huntlord, he would risk showing weakness if he ceased the attack on the word of foes over a Malari priest. He is, however, willing to give the women and any children in the camp safe passage before the battle.

The party enrages Luth by informing him that Velasco is a Crinti. He seems dead-set against believing them, and orders them back to the camp to prepare for the oncoming fight, which will begin at nightfall.

Darkness comes, and the attack begins. Hamohimo and Khymerus help man watchtowers, firing arrows and cantrips into the ranks of attackers. Despite the efforts of the defenders, the werewolves are too numerous. They manage to breach the palisade on the western edge of the camp. The party rushes for the breach and fights off wolves, their lycanthrope masters, and the Claw of Malar, who transforms into a massive hybrid before succumbing to the party’s attacks. The captain arrives with freshly rested troops to reinforce the breach.

While resting from their exertions, injured and tired, the party sees that the fight is not going well. There are over two hundred werewolves in Luth’s forces, and the camp had but a hundred defenders, many now dead or injured. They brainstorm a way to halt the battle. Realizing that the werewolves rely on fundamental bestial instincts, they decide that a reluctant Resh should challenge Luth to single combat.

Garret scales a watchtower with a bandage wrapped around a branch as a sign of parlay. Luth makes his way across the field of siege. He does not accept the offer of single combat, believing Resh to be a trivial challenge, but offers an alternative. The full strength of the party against him and three subordinates of his choosing. Until the contest is decided, the battle will halt.

The party accepts. They meet Luth in a wooded glade. After a vicious fight, they best him. Garret attempts to finish Luth, but Bhediya holds the thief back with the aid of other party members. Luth asks if the party was telling the truth about Velasco. They confirm that they were, and exhort him to join them. He accepts and shares that Velasco plans a second Uprising of the Fang, but is killed in mid-sentence by a silver-tipped crossbow bolt from the shadows. The party notices, but fails to catch, a woman swaddled heavily in grey cloth. She was hiding in the trees, and escapes, moving from branch to branch at preternatural speeds.

Resh carries Luth’s body through the werewolf horde, and the creatures retreat, honoring Luth’s terms. Although originally deciding to burn Luth’s body, the party allows Bhediya to preserve it instead, hoping that turning one of Velasco’s six most trusted lieutenants will be a massive blow against the werewolves. The next morning, a ferry boat arrives. Captain Peripatas joins the party on their way to Herath, hoping that he can requisition supplies to reinforce the battle-scarred camp.