Forgotten Realms: Birthright

Destiny of Kings: Part 3
Wyvernwatch

14th of Nightal, 1398 D.R.

The PCs stand upon the windswept edifice, the smoking arcane traceries of the teleport spell fading rapidly on the floor beneath them.

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Beyond, in the moon-lit mountain pass, they see the dim lights and silhouette of the Wyvernwatch. A foreboding, weathered monolith being whipped by snow. Dark clouds roll in from the west, swollen with sleet and lightning. They will likely be upon them within the hour. The wind howls through the pass with a mournful moan, making it hard to make out any other sounds.
It is bitterly cold here. They huddle together and bundle up their winter clothes, taking shelter against the rock wall behind them, and take stock of their surroundings.

The ledge They’re on dead-ends at the teleportation platform, with a narrow, winding rocky path leading north-west and down. It curves around the rock face away from sight and emerges again below. It’s a series of harrowing hair-pin stairs descending a hundred feet or more. The land all around is rock, cliff and snow. There is no vegetation as far as they can tell. Black ice covers the path down in patches, promising a precarious descent.

At the foot of the stairs below, they see it joins another trail that leads from the south-east to the north-west, following the direction of the mountain pass. They are fairly certain this is the main road. About 500 meters from their position, perpendicular to the pass, a second path splits off that leads directly to the tower. There it meets a small guard tower, which connects to a long straight bridge that connects to the tower’s rocky base. It was built with defense in mind.

To enter the tower, an attacking force would have to cross that bridge, probably under constant fire.

The landscape around the base of the tower is rugged and treacherous, but not impassable. There seems to be a disused guard tower on the back side of the tower as well.

P’Tar is nowhere to be seen…..there is no indication what happened to him, but they suspect something went wrong with the aged teleportation device.

The party decides they have little choice but to press on, and finish the mission. With some hesitation, they descend the slippery path and stairs, but manage to avoid any falls. Once on the main road below, the ground is far less treacherous. They are faced with a choice. To approach the tower directly from the front, somehow bypassing the guard tower, bridge and front gate (all of which look well guarded).
They opt instead to approach the tower’s far side, by crossing the rocky gorge below, which seems to have a disused guard tower. The ravine itself is rugged, but not impassable, but it is slow going due to the massive boulders, sharp rocks and deep snow drifts.

Half an hour later, they make it to the ruined guard tower behind the tower. A rock slide has demolished the outward facing wall and roof of the tower, and blocked the narrow path on the far side of the pass. Taking refuge in the small tower, they spy a small dark cave mouth just below the base of the Wyvernwatch, with animal tracks leading to and from it. They also spot several guards patrolling the roof, who would have a good view of their attempts to cross. Timing their move so the guard cant see them, the PCs make it to the small cave entrance, and immediately see the carcass of a dead deer, frozen solid. They surmise it was some kind of big cat that killed it, but that it had abandoned its feast a few days ago.

The cave continues further in, but narrows to a split in the rock just big enough to let a man through. The passage rises steeply, and curves gently, with a frozen stream of water following it all the way up. The passage eventually opens into a cave roughly 15 feet wide at its widest point. It runs roughly east to west. Kyuubi spots a cluster of small heat signatures scurrying around in the passage to the east, and the distinct footprints of large rats all over the cave floor. She also notes this cave has seen some foot traffic over the years. To the west she hears the rhythmical clanging sound of hammering. Metal on metal.

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As they emerge into the cave, the rats rush forward, sensing a warm meal. Like a carpet of fur and teeth, they swarm towards them. Valeria acts quickly, and casts an Anti-Vermin Barrier, which stops the creatures in their tracks. They crash like a furry wave into the barrier. Rhiannon follows it up with a Sleep spell, which causes them all to fall limp in a deep slumber. With some confidence, they choose the western passageway, avoiding the rat carpet for now.

The passageway dead ends in a man-made wall. A quick investigation reveals this to be a secret door, which opens inward. Behind the wall, they can hear the distinct sounds of a smithy. Someone is hammering something on an anvil. The roar of the forge can also be heard. The PCs decide to open the door quietly and see if they can determine the next course of action.

Frak has been manacled to a chair for hours, when he spots the secret door open on the wall behind the prison smith. He had long since picked the lock of his bonds, and was trying to formulate a plan when one presented itself in the form of three women emerging from the wall. Valeria, trying to be as stealthy as her armour will allow her, smashes the flat of her leaf blade on the back of the smith’s head and knocks him out.
Following introductions, Frak tells them about the dungeon, cells and guards. He asks if they are also here to kill Captain Berkus. The others claim to have no knowledge of him, but explain their mission to him.
They decide to cooperate as their missions complement each other. Frak ties up the smith, and gags him.

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They slowly begin to make their way out of the smithy, and investigate the cells, to see if there might be an ally they can recruit. After some unsuitable candidates, they hear the approaching footfalls of a group of guards. They take up ambush positions and attack. The three guards are dispatched quickly, with shuriken, leafblade, and bow. They clean up the bodies and the blood (with a cantrip). Frak takes the guard’s keys.

After inspecting a few cells, they meet a huge brutish man covered in scars called Fergus, who tells them he was a caravan guard arrested for killing his boss in a labour dispute. After some negotiating, the PCs free him, and continue to search for the Prince with their new ally .
They find two small guard rooms, one with Frak’s clothes and belongings, which he gratefully puts on. There is also a small pouch of jewels, which they pocket.

They head further east and find a central chamber, with a set of stairs leading up, presumably into the main body of the tower. There is a small cistern in the corner and two passages – one leading north and one south.
They decide to head south. The portcullis is closed here, and the cells and halls beyond are dark. They try lifting the portcullis, using Fergus’ strength, but the gate proves too strong. They try the lever, and that works.

Once inside the cell block, they look for signs of life, and see only a few rats, and their lair in two of the cells. They they hear it, a low moaning sound coming from one of the cells behind them. Valeria peers inside, and sees what appears to be a naked, pale figure face down, seemingly in pain.

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She turns her back on the figure for an instant, and it suddenly unfurls it’s many legs, and reveals itself to be a ginat pale spider. It leaps onto Valeria’s back and bites her neck. The venom enters her bloodstream, but she manages to shrug off its effects somehow.
The party unleashes its full fury upon the spider, landing multiple devastating blows, and magical attacks. It manages to attack Valeira one more time, but is unable to penetrate her armour. Valeria skewers it with her leaf blade in the end, and it dies, twitching.

Frak attempts to collect the spider’s venom glands, but ruins them in the attempt. Rhiannon decides to inspect the rest of the cell block but stops just in time when she realizes the whole cell block south of their position is covered in webs strung in individual strands from floor to ceiling. She collects some of the webbing.

The party exits the southern cell block in time to hear more guards emerging from the northern cell block. Another fight is joined. Fergus charges the first and kills him with one blow from his ax. The other dies at the hands of the PCs. They move the bodies out of sight.

The Northern cell block is well lit, and only one cell appears occupied. The open the portcullis to the block, and Valeria strides in. She peers in the cell and immediately recognizes Prince Azoun. She calls to him, and he spins around, looking relieved. She explains they are here to rescue him, but he counters with a warning to look behind them. She turns to see a nine foot tall construct of stone animate and begin moving toward her with lethal purpose.

Battle is joined with the Stone Guardian, and it is brutal. Their attacks seem to do very little to damage it, and it pounds at them with its huge stone fists, at times punching holes through walls. Valeria attacks it with all her might, taunting it to attack her, so the others can free the Prince. For her troubles, it crushes her chest. Frak attempts to Daze it, but it has no effect. Fergus attacks it but misses, when he does land a blow, it bounces right off. Rhiannon focuses on freeing the Prince from his cell and casting Sanctuary on him after Frak opens the cell door. Kyuubi saves Valeria with a healing song, and retreats.

Once the Prince is free, the PCs flee the room. Fergus is the last left in the room, and tries to push it against a wall to allow the others a chance to flee. He sees an opportunity to run out and takes it. Kyuubi drops the portcullis, trapping the golem inside the cell block, allowing them precious time to escape with the Prince. Frak casts a Hold Portal on the portcullis. As they reach the smithy, they hear the golem
break free of his trap, its heavy footfalls pounding down the halls after them.

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They rush through the secret door and out into the cold night air. They realize that once they emerge, they will be fired upon by the guards above. Azoun remembers his necklace. A device that was taken from him by the guards that allows him to send out a call for aid to the War Wizards. They look through the pilfered bag of jewels, and sure enough, the necklace is among the treasure. He activates it and a voice rings in their ears. “You must come out into the open for this to work!”
They exit the cave and hear shouts from above. Crossbow fire above them. Valeria and Azoun are hit by bolts, and are badly wounded. Two War wizards teleport to their side, and one immediately returns fire to the crossbow men above. Kyuubi also fires arrows up and fells two of them.
A few moments later, the two War Wizards teleport them all to safety. The cold and snow is replaced by the opulent warmth of the royal palace in Suzail.

The Prince’s attendants see to all their needs, healing all their injuries, and offering food and drink. Azoun thanks the PCs profusely, promising great rewards.
In the mean time, they are welcome to enjoy the hospitality of the palace.
Frak reminds the Prince of the crimes committed by Captain Berkus and his men. Azoun assures them all that justice will be done.

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Destiny of Kings: Part 2
The Search for the Prince

1st of Nightal, 1398 D.R.

Following Baskor Tranth’s impassioned request to the PC’s, they deliberate on what to do with all this information. They eventually agree to help him to find Prince Azoun and escort him safely home.
They set out the following morning, after gathering their supplies and gear, their Royal Charters and relevant clues in hand.

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The road takes them through the King’s Forest, a well patrolled and safe stretch of the kingdom, and out into the Stormhorn foothills. This leads to the pass of High Horn, where they rest for the night in High Horn Keep, the main stronghold of the Purple Dragons.

From there they make their way to the Duchy of Aris, and Castle Aris. They manage to gain entrance into the castle and start their investigations. It becomes clear that the Duke is away from Aris, and has taken a force of his men with him. Having left behind a skeleton crew to man the castle, it makes the PC’s job to track down clues without scrutiny a little easier. They hear from locals that a local poacher named Matlock may have had contact with the Prince and his retinue. They find him in his disheveled hut nursing a hangover. He tells them he’s seen men matching the Prince’s description leaving for the Dawn Font. He also informs them that he thinks some of the Duke’s men set out of the castle rather soon after he left, which he thought was odd.

The PCs follow the trail, trudging through the rain, stopping at the Drake and Castle Inn to rest and make contact with Gurenna on Baskor Tranth’s advice. She offers them warm beds, good food and cozy fire.

The following morning, they make for the Dawn Font. They head ever higher into the Sunset Foothills, noting that the weather improves with every step. By the time they arrive at the font, the sun is shinning on their faces, and they winter chill has evaporated from their bones. The Font is an oasis of beauty and calm in the rugged hills.
In the circle of standing stones, they encounter a Priestess of Lathander called Salla who tells them they missed the Prince by three days. She says they left for the House of the Golden Dawn to seek the blessing of Dawnlord Velen. Salla then invites them to drink from the waters of the Font, saying Lathander blesses all who make the pilgrimage. Those that do feel the waters suffuse them with warmth and light. The touch of the Morninglord offering enlightenment and serenity.

They bid farewell to Salla, and make haste to Eagle Peak, where the House of the Golden Dawn sits perched on a cliff, overlooking the Eastern sky. The road is dry at least, but no less treacherous. They PCs are ambushed on the way by a party of seven armed men. They ensuing skirmish is fierce but the PCs defeat them soundly. Their assailants are dressed in non-descript garb, but it becomes clear that these are the Duke’s men, sent to waylay them.

Delayed by weather and the ambush, they arrive at the House of the Golden Dawn only to find the place ransacked within. Dawnlord Velen is unconscious on the floor by the altar, but alive. There are other priests lying in pools of their own blood who are not so lucky. Velen tells them the royal regalia, an orb and scepter set, has been stolen. Without them, no one can be crowned the monarch of Cormyr. It is vital that these priceless heirlooms be retrieved, so that the rightful heir may be crowned.

Velen heals his own wounds with powerful prayers and offers our heroes the same. He deliberates with them about where they could have taken the Prince, and concludes that given his own power, and that of Baskor Tranth, the only logical place they could have taken him is the Onyx Tower, as it’s an ancient Netherese structure that defies scrying and nullifies other magics in it’s vicinity. With the head start the kidnappers have, and the fact that the Tower is in the middle of a dense swamp, he offers to transport them to a nearby hamlet called Nyka’s Rest by magical means. They leave the horses in the care of the High Priest, as his spell won’t carry them too.

The hamlet of Nyka’s Rest squats on a patch of firm ground in the middle of the vast Farsea Swamp. The fetid, dank air hangs thickly around them as they try and find anybody to help them. They are greeted by an older, stringy woman, dressed in many layers of simple clothes and a big hooded cloak, trinkets dangling from her waist. She calls herself Lizelle or ‘Liz’ – “whichever you prefer”. After some haggling, and ominous warnings about the swamp, she climbs into her barge, and takes them to the Tower.

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On the way, they see and avoid a large group of voracious looking giant toads, croaking in unison. Mosquitoes and other insects buzz around their party but are more of a nuisance than a threat.

The Tower looms into view. Surrounded by a dense and foreboding tangle of oppressive trees, the Onyx Tower is comprised of three obelisks made of an unknown type of stone, each roughly 100 feet tall. They hang suspended by powerful enchantments, which seem to be failing on two of them. Only one remains fully upright, rotating slowly on its vertical axis. The fine tracery of magic glows and pulsates softly across its surface.
There are no visible doors, windows or points of access, other than a narrow band or darker material across its equator.
The waters around the towers seem to glow with soft, pale, blue light.

Once at the tower, they spend some time figuring out how to get inside the structure. They discover Netherese runes which simply read “open”. Peter manages to decipher them with relative ease. The runes wisk them inside the structure into a square chamber with smooth walls. They are immediately attacked by two guards, left behind to slow them down. They manage to defeat them too, and discover a small stash of treasure.

They find a teleportation pad that has several destinations listed. Only one of the destinations still appears to function. After they all regroup, they decide to activate the Netherese rune the simply reads: Wyvern Hold. The teleportation magic swirls around them, and deposits them on a rocky ledge overlooking a snowy mountain pass. Ahead they see the a bleak looking tower made of dark stone. As they look, they see a huge winged beast take off from a perch made for it’s size, and swoop off into the night.

The tower of The Wyvernwatch awaits, and hopefully, with Lathander’s blessing, the Prince will be found within….

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Destiny of Kings: Part 1
The Festival of the Moon

29th of Uktar, 1398 D.R.

Suzail thrums with anticipation. As the winter cold blows in over the bay, preparations are fully underway in the city, like many others across the land, for the Feast of the Moon. A festival marked by solemn remembrance of ancestors long departed, and family recently passed, followed by three days of feasting, song and a heartfelt celebration of life.

To Cormyrians, this festival is seen as one of the highlights of the year, and everywhere the people are hanging up their decorative lanterns and bunting. Soon the city will be brought to life by a sea of flickering lights and colour.

The air is filled with the inviting aromas and scents of hundreds of cooking fires. The streets are bustling with hawkers and merchants enticing the people with their various bits of festival merchandise. The unofficial week of drinking before the festival is already in full swing, with many establishments allowing their patrons to spill out into the streets, despite the cold.
The city has truly come to life.

Just after sunset, the festival will begin in earnest, with the Royal procession through the streets, to the royal tomb, where the Queen will lay a wreath of remembrance and ignite the great brazier of Selune. Temples will hold services, and the people will visit their family graves and decorate them with flowers and candles. This all culminates, at midnight, with the release of thousands of paper lanterns across the city.

It is assumed that, as with every year since their disappearance, the people of Suzail will show their respects at Nexus House, to pray for their safe return and give thanks for their sacrifice.

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The PCs gather at their favourite tavern near the docks, the “Laughing Lass”, to partake of the free-flowing ale, general festival mood, and good food. The place is like a second home. A tavern that has a long history not only in the city, but also with Nexus. It is a drunken den filled with misfits, labourers, sailors and adventurers. It doesn’t change much, and neither do the prices, and the clientele likes it that way.
A band of about fifteen minstrels calling themselves “The Dog’s Bollocks” is playing lively Festival songs adding to the festive, if somewhat raucous atmosphere.

The PC’s drink and catch up, discussing all manner of subjects, until the time comes to head out into the street, to join the rest of the city and watch the royal procession.

The last fading rays of the winter sun retreat over the city, leaving a purple twilight sky behind. The crowds gather along the procession route, in eager anticipation of the spectacle to come. People press together to catch a glimpse of their Queen as she passes.

Along the entire route, Purple Dragons stand to attention, keeping the crowds at bay. The atmosphere is electric.
In the distance it starts. A solemn drum beat. Soon it is joined by other instruments. The music is soon accompanied by the sound of marching feet, the clatter of hooves, and the grinding of carriage wheels on the cobbled streets.

The people respond with cheers and jubilation, waving small pennants as the front of the procession comes into view.
The procession is led by roughly one hundred Purple Dragons, marching in tight formation led by their commander on horseback. They are followed by royal musicians, drummers and trumpeters. Then the standard bearer of the Queen’s colours.

Then they see it, the gilded carriage of the Queen, with its royal escort, followed by several carriages of other dignitaries, knights on horseback, and ranks of Purple Dragons.
The carriages are all closed, and they can see Queen Tanalasta waving serenely from within as she passes by your position.

Suddenly a cry of panic goes up in the crowd. Several armed figures burst forth from the crowd and charge toward the royal carriage, screaming a battle cry. Purple Dragons move to intercept, cutting down four of them with quick efficient strokes. A fifth engages another in a tight melee, but a sixth manages to weave his way around their defenses and reach the carriage itself.
The stout figure produces a small item which he slams against the carriage. There is a bright flash of magical energies, and to those of you who understand such things, you see a brief force field outlined and then die. You recognize a dispel when you see it.

Screams and cries of alarm ripple through the crowd, and the Purple Dragons immediately move to finish off the sixth figure. The fifth attacker in a melee is impaled from behind by another soldier that joins the fray.

Valeria leaps into action, and rushes to defend the Queen’s carriage from the attackers. She helps usher the injured to safety, and returns to the street.

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At that moment, the PCs spot a figure on a rooftop across the street, a shadow flattened on the slate tiles. He fires a crossbow. The bolt pierces the carriage window. Two other bolts find their mark from different rooftops. Valeria watches helplessly as the Queen is impaled through the neck, and black malignant energies spread from the wound.

One of the carriage drivers stands up, revealing the robes of a War Wizard. She barks an arcane word, takes to the sky and begins casting at an unseen rooftop attacker.

Kyuubi spots a lone shadowy figure perched on a nearby spire observing the proceedings, who ducks out of view the moment the deed is done. Kyuubi rushes down the street in the direction of the mysterious figure, changing her disguise as she goes. Within moments, she has taken on the guise of a local street waif, and blends into the crowd. Rhiannon, Valeria and Peter follow suit. The figure emerges from the tall building at street level and attempts to blend into the crowd.

The PCs follow her down several streets, and eventually into an alley way that dead ends. They spot a manhole cover in the street, noting it has recently been moved, and continue down into the sewer below.

They see the figure attempting to flee down the long tunnel they drop into, and chase after her. The PCs fire several arrows at the fleeing figure, and two of the find their mark. The figure is felled, and falls face down in the muck, dead.

They retrieve everything of note they find, and bring it to the Purple Dragons busing themselves with managing the chaos that ensued after the assassination. The Purple Dragon commander thanks them for the their efforts.
Looking around, they note the crowd is in disarray. The Queen’s carriage on it’s way back to the palace, and slowly the panic of the crowd turns to mourning. The realization of the evening’s events only now sinking in.
Clearly there will be no celebration this year.

The following evening, the PCs are handed a message by an anonymous urchin. The note is an invitation to meet with none other than Baskor Tranth, the late Queen’s most trusted adviser.

The PCs decide to attend the meeting, albeit with some skepticism.

The meeting with the Royal Magician takes place in an Inn called the “Roving Dragon”, one week from the night of the assassination.
Baskor meets the PCs in a room he rented for this purpose. His apprentice guides the PC’s upstairs to meet him.

“Welcome, my friends. Your arrival is timely indeed and I thank you for your haste. By now, you have doubtless heard of the death of the Queen.
For over twenty years, I have served her as her chief adviser on the Royal Council. Through war and peace and feast and famine. I stood by her side until she was taken from us.
Now, I have my own investigations to perform, but given the sensitive nature of the information I am about to divulge, I will need you to decide now whether you wish to lend me, and this nation, your aid.
I have need of a group of discreet, independent agents such as yourselves, whom I can trust. I can think of no one I would rather trust than the children of the great heroes of Nexus, who have already shown courage in this matter.
Will you help me?”

Baskor hesitates to move forward, until the PCs agree to help, but relents eventually when he notes their doubts.

“I am deeply troubled by the manner of the Queen’s death. Not only was she assassinated by a group of very skilled and organized men, they used magic that was clearly beyond their ability to produce themselves.
Of the three bolts that pierced the carriage’s defenses, one found its mark. She was killed instantly. What saddens and baffles us even more, is that it was a potent magical item know as an Arrow of Slaying, which defies any attempts on our part to resurrect our beloved Queen.
The nation will have to mourn her passing. I cannot imagine her assassins picked that particular day by accident.

There’s more:
There is one in the realm who has shed no tears at the fall of Tanalasta. Prince Foril, the Queen’s older brother, has coveted the crown of Cormyr since his return but two years ago. It was originally believed he had died as a child, until he miraculously came back home after more than 60 years.
He was of course subjected to all manner of scrutiny, and there was no denying he was who he claimed to be, so he was given his estates, and position at court, and welcomed back by the royal family, although they kept him out of the public eye, and kept his duties to a minimum. He was, after all, an old man.
Then, a few months ago, he began to become more interested in the affairs of state, he asked to be invited to council meetings, and recruited a private bodyguard to man the walls of his estates. The queen reluctantly agreed.

Upon hearing of the queen’s death, he strode into the Royal Court with his retinue of guards to claim the throne. Only the sorrow or the people and the meager opposition offered by the council has halted his efforts thus far. Already he is claiming the title of regent of Cormyr.
And thus we come to the purpose of our being here. The only one who can challenge his claim to the throne, and save us, is the rightful heir, the crown prince Azoun. I seek now to ensure that he is spared the fate which I suspect his uncle is plotting for him.
For you see, Azoun is currently away on a pilgrimage. He set off roughly a tenday before the Festival of the Moon, toward the Dawn Font in the Sunset Foothills. For generations the heirs apparent of Cormyr have made this pilgrimage to the waters of Lathander’s spring. The sages say that drinking from the well bestows great wisdom and strength. I know not of this, but such devotion goes a great way to winning the hearts of the people.

We pray for his safe return, but we have reason to believe that he is not safe in the Duchy of Aris. Duke Vorik Aris , is a self seeking man who might turn a blind eye to the Prince’s welfare if it served his purpose. Worse still, we have reason to suspect that Duke Aris may be in league with Prince Foril. If this is true, then the Prince is in mortal danger. The Duke has sworn to protect the Prince, but to trust his word is to be less than a fool. Assassins may already be abroad in the duchy with the Duke’s blessing.
We do not know where Prince Azoun is at this time. Such is the nature of his pilgrimage. He travels inconspicuously on foot with only a few retainers in simple garb. By now he may have reached the Dawn Font. He may not have heard of his mother’s death. In any event, the prince must be returned safely to Suzail. If he dies, the realm may face dark times indeed.
On behalf of the Royal Council, and in the utmost secrecy, I am asking you to enter the Duchy of Aris and find Prince Azoun before it is too late. Anything you can learn of the Duke’s motives will also be of value to us, and we will pay well for such knowledge.
I suggest you begin your search at the Dawn Font, but you may hazard to venture into Castle Aris.
Whatever you do, remember this:
At no time should you reveal the nature of your quest. If you are taken and your mission discovered, your life may be forfeit, and the Royal Council’s position will become extremely difficult. I recommend concealing your identities. During this mission, the Purple Dragons are not to be informed of your true purpose. They are duty bound to honour Prince Foril’s claim regardless of their true affiliations, at least until Prince Azoun is crowned King or the issue of the succession has been resolved publicly.
Also mark well one other thing. In the whole Duchy of Aris, you can trust only two men: Dawnlord Velen, patriarch of the House of the Golden Dawn, and Gurenna, the Innkeeper of the Drake & Castle Inn. If you are in need, you may seek refuge in either place.
If you succeed in your mission, you have the undying gratitude of this Kingdom and the certain knowledge you have saved it. You will also be rewarded handsomely for your efforts.
I beg you accept this mission."

Baskor hands the PCs a small chest with 200gp, Royal Charters and a map. He also provides small portraits of Prince Azoun, and Gurenna, and a ribbon of golden silk to show Dawnlord Velen.
He also provides the group with fresh horses, complete with tack and harness.

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