Berdusk, A Few Weeks Earlier

“Where in the nine hells is Luskan?” Gerrick grunts, his brow knotted in confusion, “I’ve never heard of the place.” He is seated in a crowded tavern; his companions are all seated around him, as well as the Warnard, the gray haired mage they met in Amn.

“It’s north.” Bartholomew Rhum slurs, his fist tight on a bottle of cheap rum, “Way north. Spine of the World, north.” He cackles at his own wit, and then takes a long pull from his bottle. The dwarf eyes Bart sternly, and then turns his attention back to Warnard.

“Tell us about these dragon loonies again.” Gerrick asks gruffly.

“They call themselves the Cult of the Dragon.” Warnard replies, “They say the cult is over half a millennia old, formed from the deranged beliefs of a mad archmage called Sammaster. He claimed to have visions and prophesized that undead dragons would maintain an eternal rule over all of Faerûn. He gathered followers from all over, and they found a way to create the dracolich. They somehow manage to convince dragons to undergo this process, and they worship them, calling them Sacred Ones. Sammaster is long dead, but his sinister legacy lives on in the Cult of the Dragon.” Warnard sips silently from his wine before continuing.

“As you can imagine, the materials needed for this dark ritual are rare and expensive. It’s not uncommon for them to ally themselves with less scrupulous trading consortiums and other rich and powerful groups, and they will use any tactic to get what they want. They’re secretive, and deadly. Are you sure you are still interested in pursuing that unicorn horn?”

The group around the table looks at each other for a few moments. Asturean shrugs in a non-committal way. Bartholomew belches and grins. Dunbar, Ulaanbaatar, and Gerrick all exchange glances.

“I will not sit by and do nothing while those butchers do this.” Dunbar states matter-of-factly.

“Honor demands we correct this wrong we were part of.” says Ulaanbaatar. The two half-orcs nod in agreement.

“I realize that our ruse was necessary to get information from those black hearted Zhentarim bastards, and I hope the knowledge we gathered in helping these dragon cult fanatics in order to pass ourselves off as agents of the Black Network justifies the evil we were part of in that task. But my faith in Moradin demands more of me.” Gerrick says finally, he takes a long drink from his ale mug before continuing.

“I vow, by the Soul Forger’s hammer, that I will do all in my power to return this horn. If that means going to Luskan, then so be it.”

Warnard smiles. He turns towards the tavern keeper, and gestures for more spirits.

“Good.” The mage says as he hunkers in close, “The information is not solid, but this man Whestramelar was seen in Luskan, and my source seems to think he will be there for a while yet. I’ve secured you passage on a small scow heading north today. With any luck, you’ll catch up with him before he leaves.”

“What exactly is a scow?” Gerrick asks nervously.

“A boat.” laughs Asturean.

“A small boat.” Bartholomew adds, as the dwarf’s face begins to lose color.

Author: Neil