It has been a mild winter within the Wealdath. Biting frost has been carried on the evening winds most nights, funneling into the valley from inland, only to be pushed back by light rains that drift in from the bay by day. But as the sky has tended towards a uniform grey, one that seemed to threaten with snow more often than not, the harshness of Auril’s cold touch never seemed to make it past the waist of the mountains to the north and south.
The light traffic passing along the Trade Way, however, has been a testament to the harsher weather within the passes.
Mosstone has settled in for the winter, and is only now starting to awaken for the arrival of the Trading Season, though to describe the winter’s calm as ‘content’ would be far from accurate. While most prefer to remain indoors after nightfall nowadays, the drinks at the local taverns have been taken with far less mirth than in winters past. The constables have had an easy time keeping the peace in these early days of the Year of the Entrhoned Puppet, as, what few visitors make their way to town in the winter months seem to find themselves under far more scrutiny by the locals than has been the custom. Between the upsurge in newly-recruited members of the guard and the evaporation of Mosstone’s generally ‘welcoming’ atmosphere, few outsiders are left alone long enough to cause any appreciable degree of mischief. And those rare troublemakers that insist are usually put back in their place by a town full of men and women that are in no mood for fools.
Fortunately for the members of Idle Hands Incorporated, Mosstone has unofficially included them into their ‘family’ following their actions during the ‘Ruddy Highharvestide.’ They enjoy a somewhat higher degree of hospitality and friendliness these days that is perhaps second only to the respect and admiration the townies feel for the druids of the Grove and the elves of the forest.
Such, it seems, is not the case for wider Tethyr. A growing sense of unease, of intangible uncertainty that has been steadily growing for nearly three years, has become more solid in the minds of the people since The Sundering. Banditry is on the rise along the roads of Tethyr and Amn, and hushed rumors abound that the scattered tribes of elves in the wilderness, driven mad by too many years of unchecked human domination, have begun openly raiding human settlements within the valley and beyond the mountains and threatening an already fragile balance with their neighbors. The wild tales of wholesale destruction wrought by incredible magic in the mountains bordering Amn and Tethyr have only further inflamed tensions. Mercenary corps and semi-organized militias are on the rise, and many are the common-bred that have begun openly carrying weapons within the towns and villages of Western Faerun. Rumors that speak of cults of Cyric worshippers, Banites, and Zhentarim have become more frequent, though whether this can be attributed to an increase in activity or just nervousness is impossible to tell. Patrols along the roads—both official and non—have increased dramatically, and many are checking for travel papers and licenses on what had once been free roads. Malcontents are treated harshly, and, it has been whispered, those of non-human lineage have been treated even less kindly.
And, through it all, Idle Hands’ mysterious benefactor, Ayidh d’Nuhl, has been unnervingly silent. The man revealed to be an elven archmage, Doreanal Evenwood, has been away for a little over two months. After aiding in the recovery of Finnly Brogan, the wizard revealed that Idle Hands’ cave concealed a portal to what he called a demi-plane, “The Vault.” Among the tomes, dangerous magics, and knowledge he wished to hide from ‘the wrong eyes’ was a construct the likes of which the young adventurers had never seen—an airship. After giving them a tour of the Netheril-inspired wonder, Dorn revealed that it was not yet functional, and that he would require the aid of Idle Hands to get it ‘off the ground,’ as it were.
“If you help me, I can help you; with the death of Selune, I don’t know to what extent the Weave has been disrupted,” he said. “I’m more than capable of transporting you great distances with my magic, but I’m not sure it’s something I want to risk. Magic seems to be working properly on the small-scale, but I felt something was wrong the instant I awoke the night of the Sundering, and I’m not sure I want to risk performing a spell like this until I’m convinced that The Weave has recovered from the shock. If we can finish Dawnbringer, then I can ferry you where you need to go much faster than you could travel overland, and without the risk of you being torn apart by a corrupted portal or sent to a very different place than we intended.”
“…And those are the nice options.”
With that, Dorn—once again wearing the guise of the human woodsman Ayidh—left with Kara to venture into the deeper Wealdath, asking that Idle Hands remain behind for the time being.
Today, spring is closing in, and it was a little less than two weeks ago that a tired and sullen-looking Kara returned from her home city, bearing a package for the erstwhile adventurers…
The legend of Moonsunder continues.