The party had been battling the vampires of Westgate long before Rosten and Lloria arrived, but the fight has accelerated since their arrival. Dermot, Darrow and Aerikoth made a pact with the Lord of the Crypt, an ancient vampire, to assist each other in defeating Orlak II, the secret rising vampire leader of the Night Masks.
Rosten ended up defending Lomilith from a vampire attack on his first night in Westgate, and fell in with Helm's Shadows immediately after that on Jandrico's recommendation.
Dermot, Darrow, Aerikoth, Rosten and Njord met with Sorenth Gorendur at the Purple Lady, who revealed that the Night King had gained power through his control of two ancient vampiric artefacts. Gorendur also revealed that not all of the Night Masks had become vampiric, and that even amongst the vampires there were factions that did not want to establish open vampiric control of Westgate in the manner that the Night King desired. This meant that there were factions within the group who wanted the Night King destroyed and would be willing to work with Helm's Shadows.
A powerful figure amongst the anti-Night King factions within the Night Masks was the Vulture, a feared crime lord, and he attended the strategy meeting held at Thessar the Warrior's. Also in attendance was The Ascetic One and Lady Tylanna Sunrise, who brought the crusader Lloria to assist the group in the coming mission. The Vulture laid out the plan: if the party attacked the Temple of Shar in the sewers that night, interrupting a ritual creating a 'Cloak of Darkness', they could both sow chaos amongst the inner court of the Night King and, later, use the Cloak of Darkness as a stealth-enhancing item in order to steal the vampiric items that the Night King possesses.
It was imperative that their mission into the sewer was kept a secret, in order that the group could continue to operate in the city and in order to keep the court of the Night King paranoid and off-balance. Aerikoth suggested that blame be pinned upon the Harpers. Rosten agreed to this idea, Dermot was not happy with it.
In the immediate lead-up to the attack on the sewer temple of Shar, the party decamped to a nearby tavern to get a last bit of information from Lomilith. While in the tavern, Lloria spread the map over a table and the party gathered around it - conspicuously looking like mercenaries planning a job, contrary to their orders to keep the job quiet, much to Rosten's irritation. Two mercenaries nearby, named Thorsan and Yendil, approached and politely demanded to be cut in on the job. The party attempted to dissuade them, and ultimately Dermot paid them 200 gold pieces to go away.
The party hit the Temple of Shar in the sewers as planned, cutting through the unprepared vampires and cultists with relative ease. Aerikoth took the Cloak of Darkness and Lloria destroyed the altar by cutting it in half. Aerikoth left a note implicating the Harpers.
Early the next morning, following the Vulture's instructions that the city would become a dangerous as the vampires sought to understand what had happened in the aftermath of their raid, the party departed Westgate for Reddansyr. While in Reddansyr, each member of the group was visited in their dreams by a representative of the dark god Shar, who threatened them if the cloak was not returned. Aerikoth returned with the Cloak of Darkness, telling the group that he had indeed been 'marked' by the Cloak with a dark symbol on his chest but explaining that he had worked out a way to fix this.
A day or so later, Aerikoth and Rosten teleported back to Westgate in order to hand the Cloak of Darkness back to the Vulture. The two of them split up and Rosten arranged the meeting, with the Vulture appearing in the guesthouse in order to meet the pair there. The Cloak was handed back carefully, to avoid giving the Vulture the same 'mark' that had briefly appeared on Aerikoth.
The Vulture expects the party to return to Westgate for a meeting, at which he will likely explain the next steps to be taken in destroying the Night King.
Aerikoth and Rosten returned from Westgate to find Lloria and Dermot, and together they journeyed up to meet Darrow at the Ironhelm Hold. On the way they passed through Teziir, where Council Member Queron Ulanthar asked that they assist in getting trade with the Ironhelm Hold re-established.
Njord Vindastig had originally sought out the party because he carried a message of trouble from the Ironhelm Hold to Darrow Ironhelm. After the party arrived at the Hold, Darrow was able to explain this trouble in more detail.
It was revealed that a previous expedition of dwarves to recover the gold in the dragon's hoard-room beneath the mountains had been slaughtered. The rescue expedition managed to recover the body of Toran Goldfinder, an untrustworthy dwarf who the party had dealings with in the past, but the other bodies of the expedition were lost. The rescue party described hearing roaring, feeling heat and fleeing the hoard-room, expecting a dragon attack.
Venturing down into the mountain, the party fought a number of different creatures that could potentially have been responsible for killing the original expedition. More notably, they also found a column of pure ice which Aerikoth surmised as somehow coming from another plane. A wave of cold from the interplanar ice hurt the party after a little while, so they moved on.
Down in the hoard-room, the bodies of the previous expedition were discovered with no indication of what had killed them. The bodies were badly burned and deliberately mutilated, but not necessarily in a manner which would suggest a dragon attack. Additionally, Darrow had pointed out that there were none of the expected marks of a dragon attack in the surrounding countryside, and that a dragon would likely have remained with its gold rather than withdraw into the depths.
Rosten flew into a wild panic when he realised that all of the tongues had been removed from the mouths of the bodies and lead a flight from the mountain (see 'The Map' below), apparently recognising this style of savage mutilation as a calling card of his former crewmates.
Aerikoth surmised that the drink- and fear-addled hin was likely incorrect, and that it was more likely that Toran Goldfinder had been the target of a drow attack after failing to keep up the terms of a previous agreement to deliver them a magical sword. The party found no conclusive proof of anything, but Darrow agreed that this seemed to be the best explanation so far. Darrow gave this working explanation to the Hold and stayed behind to assist with the recovery of the remaining bodies.
The party now aims to return to the Ironhelm Hold for the coronation of Prince Dalgan, and potentially to get the wagons rolling between the Hold and Teziir as requested by the Council Member.
Once the party was in the open air after the flight from the hoard-room, a panicked Rosten revealed that he was in the possession of a magical map, previously held by the Captain of The Laughing Boar, which was currently showing the location of the hoard. Hurriedly, the hin explained how he had come to possess the map and why he feared his crewmates so.
Rosten Foregallow: [Talk] I were a young smuggler, workin' in my home - the isle o' Kelthann. Great ship came by, merchnant-adventurer lookin' for crew. A warm, charismatic man. Picked a few of us up here, a few there.
Rosten Foregallow: [Talk] Voyage started normal enough. Chartin' courses from place to place. Captain made a point o' learnin' everyone's name, their stories. Like he were one of us. *shivers*
Rosten Foregallow: [Talk] But it stopped makin' sense. The course we followed was mad. Doublin' back, sailin' to places we'd just left. We grew....obsessed. Captain had a way o' seein' into your heart an' bendin' you to his will, wi'out you realisin' what he was turnin' you into.
Rosten Foregallow: [Talk] When the piracy started...I'm not sure we even noticed...we only cared about servin' the Captain an' findin' what he was lookin' for.
Rosten Foregallow: [Talk] Years, an' years, an' years o' savagery. I seen....I seen men...*the hin's voice breaks, and he shakes his head* I seen things.
Rosten Foregallow: [Talk] By the time we ran aground, off Traitor's Isle, we were down from a hundred men to I-don't-know-how-many. Every one of us wild-eyed an' black-hearted. Even the lowest of us - the cook. Me.
Rosten Foregallow: [Talk] Waited two weeks, waitin' for some miracle, Captain not showin' his face. Then he came on deck. Lookin' just as well fed as ever, an' us all skin an' bones. Strode around like he was on a bloody stage...an' just laughed.
Rosten Foregallow: [Talk] I don't know what came over us, but there were knives in our hands. He just kept laughin'. Men were weepin' as they stabbed their master, an' he just...kept...laughin'. All the way down into the depths. Red sea foamin'.
Rosten Foregallow: [Talk] ....an' then the killin' started.
Rosten Foregallow: [Talk] I had to hide somewhere. Found myself in his cabin, heart in my mouth. Could hear footsteps comin'. Death approachin', cutlass in hand. I found some compartment in the wall o' the cabin. Hid there. That's where I found it. *gestures to the map*
Rosten Foregallow: [Talk] Waited till mornin'. The men were all sated, drunk on' violence. Limbs an' guts an' heads lyin' on deck as I stole away, map in hand. Thought I'd just sell it...
Rosten Foregallow: [Talk] ...but then I looked at it...an' it all started to make sense. The map /changes/. It shifts what it's showin', slowly-like but sometimes fast.
Rosten Foregallow: [Talk] Spent years hidin' out in the port cities, always keepin' an eye on the map. Hopin' it would show something that made sense.
Rosten revealed that when he had first arrived in Westgate and joined the company, the Captain's Map had finally begun to show a definite marking - a spot in the Giant's Run mountains and a spot midway across the Dragonmere, West of Westgate and North-North East of Starmantle. Dermot, Darrow and Aerikoth recognised this as the Slavers' Isle, where they had rescued slaves from the Asturians and discovered Tuli.
After some time spent studying the Map, Aerikoth was prepared to give an early judgement of what the item was. He declared that it was an immensely powerful magical item, strong in Divination and Illusion magic. The red writing on one side, in a script that the mage could not recognise but was able to read through magical means, read "Pursue what is found here to the ends of the earth, and yet you will not find what you truly seek, only the desires of others." The mage predicted that the Map's trickery was that it showed you points of interest for those around you, and that these shifted depending on who carried the map and who was around them. This would explain why the Captain had charted his insane course.
Aerikoth has begun carrying the map and, true to his prediction that the Map shows locations somehow connected with individuals around the bearer, the Map has stopped showing the Slavers' Isle and started showing a point in the Dragonmere, roughly midway between Teziir and Cormyr. Rosten explained that this mark was far off any of the major shipping lanes and so was unlikely to be a ship. Instead, he guessed that this may be a fabled pirate hideout - having heard many rumours aboard the ships and isles of the Pirate Isles that there was another hideout, off the Dragon Coast.
Rosten has made it clear that he will find no peace until the truth of the Map, the Captain and the doomed voyage of The Laughing Boar is laid bare. To that end, he has made it clear that he has no choice but to return to the sea and follow the Map to this potential hideout, no matter the consequences. The party seems keen on unravelling this mystery also, but Aerikoth has warned that no further action should be taken until he understands the Map better, given the horrible outcome of the last voyage. Lloria and Darrow are sceptical that a single voyage could change the nature of any individual, while Dermot is confident that the party will be able to watch out for each other.
Lloria has expressed a desire to fight in the arena at the Quivering Thumb, in order to gain coin (perhaps employing Rosten to place some 'clever bets' with the bookies) and fame, but also to make a name for herself in the hope of drawing out a challenge from the Zhentarim or other cultists of dark gods. The party collectively has an interest in capturing magical creatures to sell to the arena for coin...though the strategy of turning them into kittens may be flawed...