I left off my last entry at the point where we had just finished clobbering the weirdwolves (save for a few that fled). The sailors were exhausted from their work portaging the boat, so they decided to rest until evening, and we took the opportunity to follow up on the wolves.
Following their tracks for a couple of miles, we came to something quite unexpected: a castle in a clearing. From its walls hung a flag, a book with a flame burning above it. As I recall, the insignia of a SCHOOL OF MAGIC!
This was, to say the least, an enticing proposition. But we were suspicious; the flag looked quite new, and it would be unusual in more ways than one to learn that a school of magic was operating here.
At the drawbridge stood two guards, apparently human. We tried to converse with them, but they seemed to be speaking gibberish. I scanned for magic and was nearly blinded by the aura I detected from the castle; it was very powerful, but it felt somehow wrong, in ways I can’t quite articulate.
Chrysta told us that the two guards were emanating evil. Faye hurled a stone at the castle wall, and we were not very surprised when it went straight through: some sort of illusion?
Val looked at the guards, and for a moment he saw them as undead before their human semblance returned. We conferred, and then Faye and Chrysta went for the guards. Chrysta channelled holy energy, and the guards and most of the castle simply disappeared, leaving only a crater glowing with some sort of magical residue.
Worst of all, no books.
We considered heading down to the crater and unanimously agreed that this seemed like a terrible idea, so we went back to the boat. The boatmen were unable to tell us anything about this castle.
(I had thought at first it might be illusion magic. But the fact that Chrysta’s power dispelled it makes me wonder – can buildings leave ghosts?)
Once the crew had rested we continued downstream, through thickening forest, and eventually arrived at Qurell’drel – an elvish tree-based city. Quite the sight!
We talked to the town guards about our observations (not even the elves knew anything about the castle – if it really was there, it must have been ancient!) We couldn’t stay long because our crew were eager to head on and make up lost time, but we did have time for some shopping.
Faye went in search of a falchion to replace Dawnrender. This to me seems like an excellent argument in favour of not naming one’s weapons too early in one’s career – it must become extremely difficult always thinking of new names that don’t conflict with anybody else’s.
I had hoped the elves might have something relevant to my interests, perhaps some spells I might transcribe, but they told me they had very few scrolls, saved for emergencies. Another disappointment, but I managed to work it to my advantage: I was at least able to sell them some spares from my own stock, which I was later able to replace for significantly less than the elves paid for them.
After three uneventful days of downstream travel, we arrived in Blackwater. Situated on the edge of a lake, it’s quite a cosmopolitan town: bigger than Vallaise, and it even has halflings and gnomes! (Either that, or the child labour laws here are exceedingly lax.)
Val has family here, and went off to catch up with them; Chrysta found us an inn (The Heffalump and Stone). Meanwhile I took the time to replace my scrolls, and chatted with a friendly lady from the Blackwater Historical Society. Their history goes back at least three thousand years.
In the centre of town, within the town square (actually more of a circle) there is a large stone that holds some residual magic; nothing currently active, but it may have been important once, and perhaps could be again. I sniffed a little magic among the townsfolk, nothing major – miscellaneous small heirlooms, one assumes – with more among the elves of the southern end of town.
Shiny points: 13 carried over, +1 for summary = 14.