Passing through a small Sembian village, the party (the druid Karath Leafwood, the eternally pessimistic warrior Dunroth, and the scholarly rogue Yann Arthus) was hired by two competing employers (Dennel Batharda and his sister Larissa Batharda) to perform the same job: enter their father’s locked house and retrieve his hidden last will and testament (Old Feodol’s Basement). After discovering that the father (an old merchant named Feodol Batharda) had hidden the location of a secret treasure trove in his will, the party decided to fulfill the old man’s last wishes, and instead handed the treasure map off to the local druid, Terisen. Having to escape the vengeful Batharda children, the PC’s decided to follow a map they acquired in amongst the old man’s belongings, to a place called Khundrukar. They made their way to the village of Hap, in Battledale, a perfect launching point for the expedition. On the way they travelled through a small Featherdale village and saved the town from a madman’s demon-inspired revenge (Hive of Villainy). Once at Hap, they met Devros, and provisioned themselves for a lengthy expedition to Khundrukar, an old abandoned dwarven forge in the hills south of the dale. As a side quest, they were asked to retrieve a stolen gem for a local merchant named Althon, who’s servant had claimed before his demise that the thief “came in black armor, out of nowhere, her breath reeking…”.
Spending several days ousting the denizens of the dwarven forge, and discovering a few choice dwarven weapons, they finally reached the bowels of the forge and discovered that the gem thief in question was in fact a young black dragon, Nightscale, who had taken up residence in the ancient ruin’s lower caves. After a pitched battle (won by the raging Nightscale), Devros managed to escape with the unconscious bodies of his companions, and hide out long enough for them to regain their health. Dunroth, on death’s doorstep, was miraculously brought back to life, as the spirit of a dead priest of Lathander (who had accompanied the group to the forge, only to fall against the dragon) had, at the moment of his own death, apparantly infused the fighter’s body with a portion of his soul (thereby bringing a piece of Lathander’s light into Dunroth, creating in him a new cleric of the Morninglord – and instantly improving his attitude to boot). Returning to the lair, the group bested the dragon with the help of a recently-discovered bolt of dragon slaying, and looted Althon’s missing gem from the black beast’s hoard (Forge of Fury).
Being chased out of the forge by a small army of late-arriving orcish reinforcements, our heroes barely managed to escape death by the intercession of Protector Ulthul, aboard the Quicksister (a flying vessel owned by the gnome Anward Goldreach). It is was on board the Sister that the party learned the quest of Ulthul: to track down and prevent a terrible impending plague that Ilmater had warned him of in a vision. That night, Karath was given a magical sending by the druid Terisin, who warned the party that Dennel was after them; it turns out that the REAL map to Feodol’s treasure was in fact somehow hidden in the ink and lines of the map to Khundrukar (currently in the party’s possession). Sure enough, shortly thereafter the ship was attacked by a flying Dennel and his gargoyle servants in an attempt to retrieve the map. He failed to gain the document, but in doing so caused the Quick Sister to suffer a crash landing in the trees outside Hap (Flight of the Quicksister). Saying their farewells to Ulthul and the crew of the Quicksister, the party continued on to Hap.
Attempting to find Althon and return his gemstone, the PC’s discovered that he had recently gone missing (along with all his staff) on a routine trip to Essembra. Going after him, they uncovered a macabre plot by the Cult of the Dragon that led them to a long series of adventures and ultimately a dangerous confrontation with the Cult in the fabled lost city of Myth Drannor (Attack on Myth Drannor). Saving Althon and his party (as well as liberating a captured priest of Oghma, Namer Tylan) before they could be sacrificed to the evil Cult’s machinations, and escaping with the aid of an ancient baelnorn, they emerged via magical portal outside the Velarwood, near Harrowdale.
Having brought back ancient elven artefacts from Myth Drannor, Namer Tylan persuaded the House of the Singing Harp to allow him to sponsor a bardic competition, in the name of Oghma. Meanwhile Althon, in gratitude to the PC’s for saving the lives of he and his associates, bequeathed to the party (on a kind of long-term lease) Sadoc Manor, a somewhat decrepit old manor house in the north of Harrowdale. Exploring the old house, Yann Arthus and Devros came across an ancient magically sealed portal in the basement, against which Devros’ arcane dispelling attempts failed. Yann also noticed that the old dwarven helmet he acquired in Khundrukar mysteriously started thrumming when brought close to the seal. Over the next few days, Devros set to searching for the local history of the manorhouse.
During that time, the rest of the group met their new neighbor: Eriq Darvyn, a retired military man from Cormyr whose son Frederic had of late been afflicted with the most dreadful nightmares. These nightmares were now preventing any in the household from sleeping, and desperate to end his household’s suffering, Eriq sent his servant Karlen to beg the help of the recently arrived “dragonslayers”. In Frederic’s bedroom closet they discovered a terrible portal to a hellish demi-plane. Becoming trapped in a nightmare world of the boy’s fevered imagination, the group was at last able to defeat the evil presence that had wrested control of the boy’s mind, rescuing young Frederic in the process (The Nightmare Closet). It was discovered however, that Eriq’s wife (who had been sent away to Hillsfar to stay with relatives), might now be in danger from the same presence that afflicted the boy…
A few weeks later saw the coming of the Highharvestide Festival, and Tylan’s church-sponsored bardic competition. While preparing for the festival, the group discovered evidence that Dennel Batharda had tracked them to Harrowdale, and was apparently in the vicinity: in his quarters, Yann was accosted by a thieving Imp, the beast having tossed the room looking for some hidden thing. Meanwhile, in the Velarwood, Karath was beset by a couple of fiendish wolves, their red eyes glistening with the fading aura of a summons spell. They, too, seemed more interested in stealing the druid’s pack than killing him. Back in town, Tylan spied a strange disembodied eye, floating mysteriously through the dark streets of the Harrowdale night. His attempt to capture the eye led only to its accidental destruction.
Adjudicating the competition the next day, Tylan picked his three most promising finalists: Phineas Muddey, a local man; Fredanta Finro, a charming halfling; and the imposing Ghashubal Tarkaghar, a half-orc with an astonishing bandolier of singing skulls strapped over his torso (Ghashubal was disqualified for the use of the magical skulls – their beautifully eerie harmonies notwithstanding – due to Tylan’s insistence that the competitors eschew all magical aids).
During Phineas’ presentation, the skies briefly darkened, and a strange voice seemed to come forth from his unremarkable body. It was later considered that this was some sort of divine prophecy sent to relay a message concerning Protector Ulthul, the paladin who had saved them from the orcs some months prior. Suspicious of the strange sending’s source, Tylan tried to name the halfling as the winner; but the mob would have none of it, enchanted as they were by Phineas’ song, and the Namer was forced to recant and name the local man the winner.
However, on the dawn of the following morning, when the presentation to Phineas was meant to take place, the bard was discovered to be missing. A brief investigation uncovered that he and a few of the local men had left town last night under mysterious circumstances, and that they were seen in the company of a beautiful elven woman. The party tracked their quarry to a lonely, foreboding part of the nearby Velarwood, and there foiled a nefarious plot to re-awaken foul imprisoned spirits in the wood (a plot attempted by Lusee Saralond, an evil elven druid, and the very woman seen the previous night) (Madness at the Mutilated Oak). Bringing the ensorcelled Phineas back to town, the Namer awarded him his prize, and then the group turned to the conundrum of the divine prophecy: do they make for Scardale to “save Ulthul”, as the prophecy hinted, or do they stay to deal with the lurking menace of Dennel Batharda? Or do they strike out for old Feodol’s treasure themselves?
Having another look at Feodol’s map, Devros was able to detect and break an enchantment placed upon the document that disguised its true nature: a treasure map leading to the northwest of Cormanthor where, presumably, Feodol’s real stash was to be found. It was decided, however, that thier first priority was to head for Scardale and try to warn Ulthul. Securing passage on one of the last ships bound south before the harbor froze for the winter (the cutter Denehild’s Lamp, captained by Kane Blackwood), the group made ready to head out; first, however, they attempted to throw the pursuing Dennel off the scent. They made a forgery of the treasure map (a forgery purposefully leading the reader far away from the true location of Old Feodol’s hoard), and secured it in a chest in Sadoc Manor (all the while assuming Dennel was magically scrying on them, and therefore privy to their plans). Tylan warded the area with several glyphs, and hired 10 mercenary guards to patrol the house while the group was to be away. In addition, they visited the Fall of Stars and posted a bounty of 10,000 gp on the head of Dennel Batharda.
The ship headed south through a chilling winter wind, until it was attacked in the night by a throng of swarming sahuagin. Several of the crew were injured in the attack, and things were looking grim for the heaving, tossing ship. Suddenly, a massive sea beast appeared from beneath the waves, and scared off the invading sea devils. The creature was a massive dragon turtle that was sent by a group of sea elves, who beseeched the party to aid them. Providing the party with the temporary ability to breathe the cold sea water, the elves led the group down into the briny deep to meet with their King, Laderious. It seemed the nearby clan of merfolk were inexplicably attempting to start an undersea war with the elves, while the sahuagin were reported to be massing for an attack. Laderious was desperate for a neutral third party (the PC’s) to act as ambassador to the mermen and put an end to this unneccesary conflict, lest it be the doom of both groups.
The PC’s set out underwater for the merfolk village, and were soon captured by an aggressive merman patrol. Standing before the merfolk Chieftain, who seemed unnaturally volatile, the party was told that they were to be imprisoned as elven spies. Luckily, the Chieftain’s Sirine advisor decided to help the party escape, on condition that they discover the fate and/or whereabouts of the Chieftain’s son (whose absence she believed to be related to the Chief’s strange, and possibly ensorcelled behaviour). Apparantly the Sirine believed the Chief’s mind had been taken over by some fell power, and this power was trying to get him to start a war with the neighboring elves. They agreed and fled the village.
Coming to the aid of some embattled sea elves against a pair of undersea trolls (Scrags), the party learned that the trolls had somehow captured the chieftain’s son, and that the beasts’ leader was holding him for ransom in a nearby lair. Mounting a successful raid against the Scrag lair, and rescuing the son, the group learned that the Chieftain had been seen venturing into a forbidding cave near the merfolk village. Upon investigating the cave, the group discovered the evil power that had captured the Chief’s mind: a salt-water aboleth. The creature was accompanied by a horrifying fleshy blob, that in the ensuing fight managed to lacerate Tylan’s hand with its barbed, tentacle-like appendages before being dispatched by the heroes. The creature slain, the Chieftain’s mind freed, and the undersea war against the elves averted, the group returned to the Lamp (Intrigue in the Depths), and continued on to the occupied town of Scardale.