The Story So Far
Coming to Baldur’s Gate after the city of Eltural was drawn into the Nine Hells, Half-Elf Bard Adelberto Cattaneo, Half-Elf Ranger Andarion, and High Elf Wizard Merlin have been searching for a way to save the lost city and its inhabitants.
In Baldur’s Gate the trio were hired by Captain Zodge of the Flaming Fist to investigate the Duke Vanthampur, an elderly woman suspected of being in league with the devils who’d taken Eltural.
After searching the cellars beneath the villa of Duke Vanthampur they recovered the artifact, the Shield of the Hidden Lord, and in the villa they took the Infernal Puzzle Box from the dead hands of the Duke’s son, Thurstwell. The proof they need to implicate the Duke.
Escaping the villa, the trio, accompanied by the young Hellrider, Reya Mantlemorn, and Falaster Fisk, a spy rescued from imprisonment in the cellars, must report to the Captain.
The Story Continues
However their path led them past a dwarven blacksmith’s, and as they did so Berto was struck by the wares on display. “I need a shield,” he murmured to Gato.
The tressym blinked his golden eyes at the half-elf. His new dragon skin gave him protection similar to medium armour, but a shield was always useful.
“Good day, sir.” He called out to the blacksmith. Massively muscled, almost a cube of dwarf, the smith extended a broad hand.
“Young master.” Berto tried not to wince as his hand was enveloped in one so much larger than his own.
“Master dwarf,” Berto continued. “I’m looking for a shield.”
“Indeed?” The smith waved his hand to the shields on display. “Please, take your pick.”
Adelberto hesitated as his eyes were taken by a medium triangular shield. “Good sir, can you set an arcane orb into this, so making the shield an arcane focus?” [Rules: Casters can use an arcane focus as a substitute for non-cost materials in spell-casting]
The dwarf stroked his beard thoughtfully for a minute. “Indeed, young master.” [The DM says yes] “You’ll have to visit the local arcane shop for the orb, but I can certainly mount it in the shield.”
Berto nodded, tapping the shield that caught his eye. Even by the standards of dwarf-work, it was exceptional.
“Please hold onto this one for me.” The dwarf nodded.
High elf wizard Merlin also wanted to visit the arcane shop for some potions, and half-elf ranger Andarion decided to come with them, then visit the weapons shop afterward.
Their business in the arcane shop was completed quickly, Adelberto buying a beautiful crystal orb for his shield, but as they were leaving another shop across the road caught his eye. A pawn shop, filled with knick-knacks. With even a rowboat hanging from the wall.
Adelberto found a dragon-chess set that he purchased and tucked into his pack. The other two finding curios of their own, then they returned to the blacksmith. The grizzled dwarf nodded approvingly as he rotated the orb between his thick fingers.
“I’ll have the job done in a couple of hours.”
At the weapons shop, Berto divested himself of his light crossbow, buying the longbow that he considered better suited to his place among the valor bards. Andarion joined him in purchasing a couple of quivers of arrows, but Merlin found the store had nothing in the way of magical weapons.
Their spending complete, the trio, Falaster and Reya set off to the Elfsong. There Captain Zodge congratulated them, paying each of them 200 gold for a job well done.
“So tell me,” he inquired. “Is the Duke dead?”
“No,” Berto responded. “Would you like her to be? That’ll be extra.” While Adelberto aspired to the valor of the paladins of fair Neros, the killing of a woman who’d made a pact with devils seemed to fall within the list of things that it was right and proper to do.
“Well…” Captain Zodge leaned forward over the darkened wood table, as if to discuss the matter when they were interrupted by a commotion at the door. A tall woman, clad in armor, greying hair bound back, eyed the party scornfully.
“Are these the adventurers who brought us the information about Duke Vanthampur?”
“Yes, Commander Portyr.”
With Zodge’s confirmation she pursed her lips. “Well. You have our appreciation. What time would you like to leave for Candlekeep, tomorrow?” Her tone suggested that only the time was negotiable. They would be leaving whether they liked it or not.
The three exchanged glances. “First thing in the morning,” Andarion told her.
“Splendid.” She smiled broadly. “I’ll have a wagon ready for you.”
Turning her back she walked away, Adelberto resisting the urge to Heat Metal her to death. He’d been looking forward to a couple of days of rest and recreation.
Collecting his new shield from the blacksmith, a true work of art for which he tipped the smith an extra 10 gold, they returned to their lodgings.
“I wonder.” Adelberto turned the Infernal Puzzle Box in his hands, trying to figure it out.
“If I push this, and this…” For an instant Berto thought he had solved the puzzle then suddenly screamed as he felt a red hot drill driven into his brain. Everything went black.
When he came to, Merlin was kneeling beside him, an empty healing potion bottle in his hand, a concerned expression on his face. Berto raised a hand, he was seeing double, and everything swung in and out of focus.
“Next time,” he said. “Next time let’s not let the party healer play with the cursed object.” Andarion and Merlin chuckled briefly.
Berto clambered awkwardly to his feet, then flopped down onto the nearest bed. His eyes closed.
“We’ll have to drive past my house.” Falaster Fisk informed them as he drove the wagon. “I have a book there that’ll help us get into Candlekeep.”
“A book?” Berto asked.
“To enter Candlekeep you have to present them with a book they don’t already have.” Fisk explained.
Outside Falaster’s house the party waited while he slipped inside, returning shortly afterwards with a book wrapped in cloth, then they were on the road again.
“This is Wyrm’s Crossing,” Falaster informed the party as they drove slowly into the small town. Adelberto could smell the poverty in the air. As the party looked around, Berto saw a rough looking man giving them the once over. Bandits? Here? Why not? Adelberto met the man’s gaze with a cold glare. Intimidated the man faded into the crowds, deciding not to trouble them.
“Flowers, mister?” Berto glanced down at a small boy selling bunches of wildflowers. Ragged and dirty. Nodding he handed the boy a handful of coppers, taking two bunches. The half-elf knew the boy needed the money more than he needed the flowers.
The discordant sound of a lute, poorly played, came to his ears, causing him to wince. Nearby a young half-orc bard inexpertly strummed his instrument, a few coins in the cup that sat before him. Tall, but gangly, without the bulk that characterized an adult half-orc.
Adelberto shook his head ruefully, then walked over to the boy.
“Son, can I give you some tips?”
The boy looked up, frowned, then nodded gravely. Adelberto unslung his lute and sat down beside him. Berto found the boy a fast learner, hampered by lack of teaching rather than lack of ability. A few hours passed, and Adelberto taught the young bard one of the simpler arias of Neros.
“We really have to leave.” Fisk’s voice broke his concentration.
“Sorry,” Adelberto told the boy.
“No. Thank you.” The boy ran his fingers over the retuned lute, the sound far more melodious now. Merlin pressed some silver coins into his hand.
“Good luck.” The high elf said. “If you’re ever in Baldur’s Gate see the manager at the Elfsong Tavern, tell them that Merlin sent you. They need a good bard.”
The party swung back into their wagon and headed out of town.
“I hope he’ll be okay.” Berto thought out loud.
“I’m sure he will be,” Reya answered. “He plays fairly well now and that means he’ll be able to make more from his music.”
Adelberto nodded silent agreement and returned his gaze to the road ahead of them.
The road seemed strangely deserted as the party rode on, Berto spending his time trying to improve his communication with Gato. The tressym understood the common tongue, but could not speak, so the half-elf tried to read the winged cat’s body language.
He felt that the exercise provided far more amusement for Gato than illumination for himself however.
At length they saw a cart drawn by two draft horses approaching them, piled high with hay. They waved at the farmer who drove the wagon but, as they drew abreast, Berto heard the guttural sounds of the infernal language. “Now!”
The appearance of the farmer melted away, revealing the crimson wings and demonic visage of…
“Cambion.” Growled Reya, drawing her swords.
Three warriors threw off the hay covering and closed on the travelers, swords drawn. They handled their blades like veterans. Their target seemed to be Andorian, who carried the Shield of the Hidden Lord.
“Damn it.” Adelberto cursed, his own longsword leaving its sheath, shield sliding onto his left arm.
Reya Mantlemorn and Falaster Fisk took one flank, Andarion with the Shield of the Hidden Lord on his arm, along with Adelberto, took the other. “Combine attacks,” Berto spoke softly. “Killing each outright prevents counterattacks.”
The cambion soared aloft, he raised a hand and Fire Ray targeted Andarion. Merlin attempted to Counterspell, but it was not a spell he could counter. Andarion staggered, his clothes smoldering.
“Magic Missile!” Adelberto shouted, the high elf nodded.
Four glowing darts slammed into the demonic creature, causing it to roar in anger. Adelberto too summoned four darts, adding to the damage that the monster was experiencing. Over his shoulder he could see one of the attackers engaged with Reya and Fisk, but where were the other two?
Andarion groaned beside him, and Berto realized who they were attacking. Of course. They were after the shield. The two rained blows on the other half-elf.
“No, I’m okay.” The ranger grunted, swinging his sword in return. Adelberto caught the red flash of blood on its blade. Behind him Berto heard Fisk cry in pain. It sounded like his attacker had been successful in his attack. [Critical hit by DM]
Suddenly the cambion swooped down, engaging Andarion, wrestling him for possession of the shield. Andarion fought valiantly but his attacker was just too strong.
With a roar of triumph the creature leapt into the air once more, Berto found its eyes upon him and felt the pressure of its dark will, its Fiendish Charm. The half-elf shook his head to clear it, easily throwing off the demon’s influence, then ducked for cover as Merlin unleashed a Fireball at the creature. So much energy wasted however, as the cambion seemed as little affected by the fire spell as Berto had by its charm.
With a savage laugh, the cambion seemed to twist the air around itself and vanished from sight — Plane Shift.
Adelberto growled in frustration as he watched the arcane treasure vanish, then glanced around to see how his companions were faring.
Though grievously wounded Reya was still on her feet, dueling her attacker while a bleeding Fisk fired crossbow bolts at the man she fought. Andarion was down, beaten unconscious, and one of his attackers lunged at Berto. Reflexively Berto summoned a Shield, the sword’s swings robbed of momentum even as they fell. “Are you man enough to fight with me?” He sneered in response.
Despite his confident words he felt a sinking feeling in his stomach. Beaten down as they were, could they triumph against these remaining enemies?
As if in answer the man attacking him suddenly cried out in pain, and Berto smelled the unforgettable stench of scorched flesh. Over the man’s shoulder, he could see the high elf wizard’s calm face as he summoned more magic to himself. Reaching for his own reservoirs Berto struck the man with a Booming Blade, then sent a Healing Word to Andarion.
The half-elf’s eyes opened, and he staggered to his feet, drawing an arrow and loosing it at Reya’s attacker.
The tide finally turned in their favour, and finishing off the remainder became only a matter of time. As the last body fell Berto slumped against his party’s wagon, resting his head on his knees. That had been a rough fight. [At this point Adelberto is only level 4, so his cantrips don’t have the damage increase that occurs at level 5]
With the men dead the party commandeered their wagon and two fine draft horses. Unlike the wagon they’d been loaned by Commander Portyr, these they could keep.
After a night’s rest, they continued on their path to Candlekeep.