3rd day, 1st tenday of EleintThe young noble sipped his ale and took a full view of the place. The Dragon’s Jaws Inn was a place he always felt comfortable in. Everything, from the booming voice of Milo Dudley, the dwarf proprietor of the place, to the magic torches that lit the place with purple and white fire, felt like home. His soon-to-arrive guest was a welcome distraction from the books he read more and more as he delved deeper in the arcane arts. The stranger wanted to know some information about the family of Cormaeryls, and though they were out of grace, there were always rumors about them and young Athor Crownsilver knew that even if he didn’t know details even though he was part of a noble house as well, Milo who was infamous about his information brokering, would know something. Anduril Dawntreader walked through the roads of Suzail awestruck. The little town he hailed from was nowhere close to the grand capital of Cormyr. The city was bristling with life and it was a welcome break from the road he spent the better part of the last months traveling on. Finally the Dragon’s Jaws Inn was in view. His contact, a pleasant young fellow would be waiting for him inside. As he neared the doors he took notice of the scrutinizing gaze of the Purple Dragons, the loyal soldiers of Cormyr. They nodded to him not only in recognition of his order since the emblems of Lathander were seen on the shoulder of his plate mail and the holy symbol that hang from his neck, but to remind him of the restless eye of the city guard as well. Upon entering the inn he saw his contact. A tall young man in stylish robes of dark gray colour with long black hair, he was waiting for him
‘Greetings, I am Anduril Dawntreader’. ‘Well met’ said Athor smiling; ‘you seem a friendly fellow, please join me and ask your questions.’ After Anduril’s inquiring about the Cormaeryls, they shared a drink talking about their plans and expectations of the future. Before long, they saw a very peculiar fellow storming the Inn heading straight for the barkeep.Trandor moved purposefully through the tables and straight to Milo. He surely was a sight! A 6ft red haired juggernaut with weapons showing on his side, belt, back, hands and legs. The dwarf smiled when he saw him, which put the two fellows watching the scene at ease. As they exchanged a few words, another peculiar figure entered the scene. A lean hooded man with rugged robes kept his distance from Trandor and Milo but seemed especially interested in their exchange. Trandor clapped Milo on the shoulder and moved towards the pair.
‘Hello friends, Milo told me you are the ones I need, I am Trandor an adventurer!’.
‘Well met’, said the lean fellow, ‘I am Athor Crownsilver and here is my friend Anduril Dawntreader. Pray tell us, why are we the ones you seek and to what purpose?’ Milo broke in with his booming voice and 5 pints of dwarven ale in his hands ‘Here you go lads! These are on the house!’
‘There are only 4 of us including you good dwarf, do you plan to make us drunk?’ Asked Athor, seeming at ease with the barkeep.
‘Well, there is another to join you’ and seemingly on queue the hooded figure sat on their table ‘I am ’ he said and bowed his head.
Milo did the rest of the introductions. ‘Now that the party is full, I have a proposition for you lads. There is a town not far from here, called Wheloon. In that town there is a newly founded temple of Mystra.’ – ‘I didn’t know anything of a temple of Mystra so close’ Athor broke in, ‘Patience lad, I’m getting to that’ said the dwarf’ ‘The temple seems just another ordinary place of faith. But me friend there, Tunaster Dranik, doesn’t think so. He thinks darker things are at work there.You are to meet him there and he will guide you on. I’m thinking you all got to win something from going there. What do you think lads?
Athor was the first to speak ‘if there is a temple of Mystra I would like to visit it, and if there is something more devious, I want to unfold it’. ‘And I will go with you’ said Anduril. ‘The Lady of the Weave is a friend to my own lord Lathander. If anything or anyone is using her followers to his own needs, we should break words’.
‘My hammers are at your disposal my new friends’ Said Trandor, patting the heads of his twin hammers.
‘It seems our paths are crossing. I have an interest in the Art, just like you Athor, I would like to know their dealings with the Lady’.
‘Since Feldun here agrees too, it is settled. I’ve had rooms ready for you in advance. Feel free to prepare for your journey and rest here. You can start in the morning.’ Milo said and walked back to his bar, shouting all the way to the bar wenches to keep up the pace
As they began to walk to the upper floor of the inn Athor spoke: ‘Well my friends, I shall take my leave here. I need to settle some affairs before we depart. It will take the better part of the day to reach Wheloon so we should begin early in the morning. Until tomorrow then!’ He bowed and left the inn while the rest entered their rooms.
4th day, 1st tenday of Eleint
Athor Crownsilver walked inside the Inn to find his newfound friend Anduril sitting on a table. ‘Good day, I assume you were up very early?’ knowing the fact Anduril is a priest of Lathander it made perfect sense.
‘Indeed I was, I always am up with the sun to praise Lathander for a glorious new day, and pray for fruitful new beginnings’ replied Anduril and returned to looking at the sun as if to bask in its glory.
‘I have made some arrangements for our trip, I will announce them as soon as our companions join us’ Athor said, and put a roll of parchment on the table and a map.
It wasn’t long before Feldun and Trandor joined them. As soon as Milo saw them together he brought them breakfast and honey mead ‘Here you go lads, on the house! It’ll keep you up for the road! ‘
When the group finished eating, Athor broke in smiling and more anxious for his adventure by the minute
‘Knowing a thing or two about the government workings here, I took the liberty of procuring this’ and he unrolled the parchment. ‘It is a charter and we need it if we are to embark on any adventuring. Indeed, we need it if we are to carry weapons at all. When inside the city you will need to have your weapons seethed and the hilt tied with a artful knot with the scabbard. It is a tradition here, and it assures that nobody will be able to draw a weapon fast within the city walls’
‘What’s the point of carrying weapons then?’ asked Trandor in amazement. ‘If the need arises to smash a skull or two, I don’t want to take my sweet time with it!’
Athor laughed ‘It is just as well then we will be leaving soon, you carry so many weapons in plain sight my friend that we would need to tie you from head to toe!’ The jest made the atmosphere lighter and the rest shared the laughter, looking at Trandor’s porcupine-like body.
‘I brought maps of the region as well and took the liberty of procuring 4 horses for our journey’
Feldun broke in ‘Thank you friend. It seems you are our sponsor as well as an adventuring companion. We will repay your kindness soon’.
‘Your company is compensation enough friends. Let us be off and start on our journey while the day is still young’, and at that, they bade farewell to Milo and rode away from Suzail.
6th day, 1sttenday of Eleint
It was very early when they arrived at Wheloon. The city itself, built in two sections on both banks of Wyvernflow River and communicating via the wyvernflow ferry routes was a trading hub. Both the Manticore way, the road passing through Wheloon, and the river itself made trade by ship and by cart a profitable occupation. The western part was the most populated part and the richest while the eastern part was more derelict and sparsely populated. What was very interesting was the architecture of the buildings. Every roof was not tiled with or copper ones but rather with dark green.
Feldun was the first to notice, from a notable distance too, and inquire about it ‘Athor, you being from here, is it an architect’s whim or a tradition to have the tiles of the buildings green?’
‘By the Lady, you have an eagle’s eye my friend. The town is nicknamed the Jade Towers, because of that. It seems the many jade mines that used to exist in the nearby mountains were a very profitable business at the time and an ample material resource. Ample enough it seems to start building with it’
They trotted through the town, Trandor silently taking notice of the prison, the guardhouse and any guard patrols. He was an ever ready warrior after all, and knowing when and where to swing the blow was as important as landing the blow itself. Soon the river came to their sight and to their left they saw the Wyvern Tail inn. When they dismounted and secured the horses Athor moved to check the note board. It was full of notes for work offers, of warnings of dangers and of trade details. Something different caught his eye though. A message written to draw attention of anyone ambitious enough. It read: “_To those of strong arms, keen mind and curiosity, salutations. See the man in blue at the Wyvern Watch Inn before the 13th if you wish to hear a peculiar tale and I’m willing to undertake commission to discover its answer_.”
‘I think the man we are looking for is inside waiting for a willing party of adventurers. What say you? Shall we go in then?’ he asked while making a gesture at the door bidding the rest inside.
The interior of the Wyvern Watch Inn had a very big main hall which was full at that time of the day. Serving the proprietors were two young women identical to each other each holding 2 trays with platters at one time and 6 pints of ale the next, serving each table with uncanny speed. Both seemed pleasant to watch as they were voluptuous with brown hair with rich curls. What seemed to lift the spirits further was the exchange of words between them as it seemed to be a constant bickering. Shouts like ‘stop mooning and start serving you dolt!’ and replies like ‘your only jealous cause I’m the prettiest’ made everyone smile to say the least. As soon the group had reached the center of the inn they spotted their contact.
Sitting on a table alone and seeming to constantly watch over his shoulder was a small man dressed in a blue coat and an overall of a deeper blue hue which sported a white pin in the front. His hands fiddled between his white beard and his mug of ale. He seemed to mutter to himself. As soon as he saw the group approaching he stopped his muttering and took a defensive stance, as if expecting some kind of imminent attack. Athor was first to speak ‘Well met, I am Athor Crownsilver, and these here are my travelling companions. We have instructions from Milo to meet you. Your post outside made it a bit easier to recognize you in this fine establishment.’ The man in the blue coat seemed like a huge weight lifted off him and relaxed a bit. ‘So you are the ones I’ve been waiting! Come, come sit and join me. My name is Tunaster Dranik and I need you to undertake a quest for me. A seemingly simple task that I cannot complete myself. Alas, the Lady knows I have tried but my effort has been for naught. There is a newly build temple of Mystra in the northern outskirts of Wheloon. It has been built over the course of a few months on the commission of lady Arthas. Rumours say that she used magic to build the temple. Under normal circumstances that would have been applauded by Mystra. But it seems that no other monastery, church or place of faith knows of a new temple in Wheloon or even in Cormyr.’
‘That is true’ Athor added,‘ I am a Cormyrian myself and a follower of Mystra and I did not know of a temple in this region’
‘You are a follower of Mystra too? That is just as well, you should be interested then to uncover their secret, for I tell you, they are not followers of our Lady of the Weave. I have visited the temple to pay my respects and talk to my fellow clergymen but a feeling of dread made my lose control of myself and run away. There is no doubt; they do not celebrate Mystra in there.’
‘It is settled. My lord Lathander is an ally of the Lady of the Weave. He tolerates no false prophets or evil bearing the façade of good. We will pay a visit to the temple to uncover its secrets’ Anduril broke in. ‘As I said, I am a follower of Mystra myself, Feldun here is a delver of the arcane arts, and Trandor seems to love a good fight. We will make inquiries in the town and then move to the temple itself.’ concluded Athor.
‘Please be subtle’ warned Dranik, ‘the lord of Wheloon, Lord Redbeard, sanctioned the construction of the temple by giving building permit to lady Arthas. He seems to think a temple of Mystra in the region will make the trade of magical items viable as well. May Mystra bless you’ And with that, he half run half walked through the door of the inn.
‘When do you think we should start?’ asked Trandor ‘ Immediatelly’ Athor replied, ‘before that, I will talk with the innkeepers, maybe I can rent us some rooms so we can have a resting place as well as a place to stash anything we don’t need to carry in there’.
He approached the sister who seemed to be more playful than the other ‘Good day my lady’ said while sporting a sly smile. ‘Well, good day to you milord! Aren’t you a handsome one?’ she said and she touched her lips with her tongue ‘what can Asanta do for you this fine day?’ Athor touched the bar with his hands and came a bit closer to her ‘well, my friends and I could use 4 rooms for this night, and some directions around Wheloon’
‘A room huh? Well only if you promise to return tonight, handsome!’ she said moving so close their noses almost touched. ‘Four rooms are yours for the price of three, give me three Falcons and the rooms are rented!’ Athor pulled 3 silver coins from a little pouch, touched her hand and put them in, at which she swooned and put them between her breasts. ‘Good day lady, I will return as soon as I can’ He returned to the others ‘I have procured 4 rooms for us. I suggest we
go there, leave anything we think we won’t be needing at the temple and start our inquiries’.
Their path brought them to the banks of Wyvernflow in the part of town called the
Wyvernflow Ferry. There was a trader called on herbs and medicines and a few minor enchanted
items on the other bank, if indeed there was an increase in the trade flow of enchantments he
should have some info. The place of his shop, further from Lord Redbeard, was an added
advantage. Any research on the temple, the residents or the visitors should be a bit easier to make.
The shop itself was nothing out of the ordinary, a simple wooden post outside wrote:
Hanno’s Herbs Emporium. Hanno seemed a nice fellow, never losing his smile. His finely
chiseled face and mildly pointy ears indicated he was a half-elf, a product of union between elf
and human. ‘Good day sirs’ he announced, ‘I bid you welcome to my fine emporium, how can
my herbs be of assistance? Are you in need of ailment, of a few ingredients maybe? Perhaps a
balm for the armour chafes my good cleric? Look through my wares and decide for yourselves’
‘And a good day to you my lord Hanno. Let us browse through your wares and decide for
ourselves’. While the other three looked through the shop’s goods, Anduril moved closer to him
‘We have recently arrived in your town and we have already heard a lot about the new temple of
Mystra’ ‘A strange thing indeed’ replied Hanno ‘to see a structure of that size finished in mere
months. I haven’t been there myself, though some from the town have gone to pay their respects
to the goddess, and some have gone with the hope of finding items of power. All say that the
rituals there are worthy of her stature, being the goddess of magic and all.’ ‘Have they seen
anything out of the ordinary? Anduril pressed on, but seeing Hanno eyeing him suspiciously
eased his stance a bit. ‘No friend, the only out of the ordinary thing you could say about it is the
midnight mass they hold. Everyone says it’s a grand sight indeed. They claim the night sky with
all its stars forms inside the hall while the melody they chant sounds like how tranquility and
happiness should sound.’
‘I see. Thank you good Hanno, you were of great help. May Lathander watch over you’
After procuring what provisions they needed, they proceeded on leaving the herb store.
Hanno stopped them ‘There is a grove of Sylvanus not far from here. The druid there should
know a bit more about another place of faith so close to his. Maybe you should try there as well?
Have a good day milords’ ‘A grove of Sylvanus here? I would like very much to visit it’ said
Trandor who for the first time showed any association with faith. ‘Very well my big friend. Let us
go then. Far be it from me to deny anyone his chance to try and communicate with his chosen
deity’ Anduril spoke before anyone else.
The grove of Silvanus was very close to Hanno’s shop and before long came into view. It
seemed a beautiful and serene place. As soon as one entered the grove he would feel at once calm
and his bonds with nature strengthened. The grove itself seemed intimidating but it was only
because of the duskwood trees that formed it. Duskwood trees had black bark and could reach as
tall as 60ft. Its bark was smooth but resilient, resilient enough that it was not uncommon for
druids to fashion their weapons from it and they could hit like their metal counterparts. Some
even tried to make breastplates from duskwood bark but that was only rarely seen. In the center
of the grove was a duskwood tree twice the width of the rest and with what seemed as a face
carved in it. Whether the face was carved or shaped on its own was unknown at the time. In front
of it Orlenstar Thilthorn stood. The group would later agree they have never seen a man so calm,
so tapped in nature itself.
Olrenstar was covered in what seemed to be leaves and roots but if one looked close
enough he could make out a leather jerkin with legging to match it. He stood at 5.6” feet tall with
brown hair and broad shoulders. As soon as he saw the four companions, he let fly a little bird he
seemed to be talking to and greeted them
“Welcome to the God’s Grove, I am Orlenstar Thilthorn, at your service.”
For the first time in the past days Trandor was the first to speak “We are honored to meet
you good master Orlenstar” he said and bowed low.
" Seems our big friend is a god respecting man. Of a goodly deity too. I feel our paths
have crossed not by chance. It is clear that Mystra,Silvanus and Lathander gave their blessing to
our quest" mused Anduril while he watched Trandor paying his respects to the great tree shrine.
“Well met good druid, I am Athor Crownsilver of Suzail, and these are my friends,
Anduril Dawntreader and Feldun. Trandor you have already met” each bowed in turn.
“Well met friends. Have you come to pay your respects?” asked Olrestar still measuring
them. The one called Crownsilver had the air of nobility about him and seemed honset enough,
eager and pleasant. The other, called Anduril Dawntreader, wore the symbol of Lathander with
pride and always passed his hand from it. The big fellow was clearly a follower of Silvanus’
teachings. Only Feldun’s characteristics seemed obscured by his hood and his relative silence did
not reveal much, but he had to take the other three of the quartet for their word and indulge them.
" We have come to inquire you about the new temple of Mystra" said Anduril “Have you
had any dealings with the clergy there?”
At the mention of the temple, Orlestar’s face darken.
“Indeed i have. I went there to pay my respects as Magic is part of nature and the Lady
who weaves it is a deity of good. But i was not welcomed there. The priest who met me, a very
unpleasant fellow by the name of Shan Thar, was very rude. He thought he could patronize me.
He felt very false to me. I left, never to return. That place is not a part of nature.”
“That is very disturbing indeed. Do you know of anyone that have taken part in the rituals?” Anduril pressed on.
" I know of people that attended the rituals but they all came back to talk in amazement
about it. I remember of one case though. There was a respected man named Bassult. He ran a
bookstore close to the Wyvern Watch Inn. He went to the temple but never returned. Whether he
chose to join the clergy there, or there is foul play involved, remains yet to be seen."
" Thank you good druid, you have helped us enough" said Athor, " We will inquire in the
bookstore as well". At that they took their leave of the grove. Orlenstar bade them farewell, and
watched them leave. He watched with a mix of curiosity and a tinge of amazement as the hooded
fellow only known as Feldun leaned over a donations bowl, left some coins and then turned to
look at him and noded with a smile.
“I guess there is more than meets the eye with that lot. May Sylvanus guide them” he mused.
The ride back to Wheloon proper took the better part of an hour and the group stood in
front of ’Bassult’s Books’. They shop itself was nothing out of the ordinary, more like what could be expected in a trading city. Volumes like History of the North, Descent of the Drow and
History of the Sword Coast frequented the shelves. No exotic scrolls from far eastern Rashamen
or spell books with long lost spells from Netheril could be found in the big old book cases to
Athor’s disappointment. Behind a desk was a lady dressed in black, trying to make an inventory
out of a new delivery of books. She seemed too frustrated to be in this business for long and was
muttering to herself while wiping a tear.
“Good day madam” said the cleric “I am Anduril Dawntreader, a cleric of Lathander.These are my friends. We are very sorry to interrupt your activities but we would like to inquire on mister Bassult’s whereabouts.”
At the mention of his name she gasped. “My husband?Do you know what has become of him?”
“We where hoping you could enlighten us” Anduril replied.
She sighed and told them what she could “He was eager to attend one of the night services at the temple. He went at one and came back amazed with what he had seen. He told me he would make a pilgrimage there for three days.” she swallowed hard and tried to hold back a tear, then regained control and continued “A lot of townspeople had gone and returned so i
thought nothing of it, maybe he would even return with some new merchandise. I never saw him
again” this time she did not make an effort to hold back the tears. It was plain she considered him lost to her forever.
“Dear lady, we now have one more reason to visit the temple. I promise you we will
search for your husband while there. Lathander be my witness we will!” Anduril proclaimed. Her grief was too much for him to bear. All he knew was that he should breathe some hope back to her.They took their leave of her and she returned to her inventory and her muttering.
As soon as they got out of the shop Trandor spoke. “So? We have three witnesses so far
and all seem trustworthy. Lady Bassult, Dranik and Orlenstar.And all of them have bad
experiences with the temple. I think it’ time to go up there and bang their door. Or their skulls. Well…. probably both”
bank. The only thing that marked it as impressive was the speed that it was built. That and the existence of an outer wall with small battlements and a heavy portcullis barring the entrance to unwanted guests. A small wooden building was at the left side of the portcullis, probably a guardhouse. The temple stood at the right bank of the Wyvernflow river, a perfect place to get water for its daily uses. As the four companions approached, Trandor took mental notes of the guards patrolling the wall. He made sure to notice the frequency of each passing on each side of the wall. Right before coming into the guards view, Athor spoke.
‘’ I think it’s better to enter prepared. I know a cantrip or two with which to armor us.”
“Let’s not be hasty” Feldun said “It is a temple of Mystra after all, they will have probably means of divination to know of any enchantments on us. Besides, It is broad daylight and we can see visitors coming and going. I doubt anyone would try to harm us so close to the city with so many witnesses. We might need any protection we have later”
They agreed on that, and moved towards the entrance of the temple. The interior was a small courtyard full with orchards and shrines. Right and left of the road leading to the main stracture were statues of a woman were risen, clearly Mystra, with fine features and a beautiful pendant adorning her neck. Adjacent the walls, small shrines could be found. Things like small urns, little statues and sometimes coins were put in front of them by Mystra’s followers who came there to make their pilgrimage and pray. Athor stopped a passing priest and introduced himself
“Good day, I am Athor Crownsilver, a follower of Mystra. My friends and I came here to pay our respects and marvel at the new temple”
“Welcome” said the priest “since you are new here, protocol dictates you are greeted by our fellow cleric San Thar. He will join you shortly”
Before long, a man in clerical garments approached. He seemed jovial, almost sly, and the clinging sound as he walked could not hide his plate under his order’s robes. He had curly brown hair and a beard. As he reached the company he threw wide his hands and bowed.
“Welcome travelers to our temple of Mystra. Feel free to wander the gardens and pray at the shrines”
“Well met, I am Athor Crownsilver and these are my friends. We have come pay our respects to the Lady of the Weave”.
“Of course” San Thar replied. “I see you have a fellow cleric with you, a follower of Lathander, ally of our Lady” at that Anduril bowed and introduced himself. “Please, fellows ofthe faith, pray to the shrines and marvel at the gardens. If you would like to stay until the night, you will be able to take part in our midnight ceremony. I assure you, it is very impressive and inspiring”
“Thank you” Athor replied “my friends and I will take our leave from you now, and pray at the shrines”
Anduril stepped in, which make Athor wince slightly “Pray tell my lord, I would like to inquire about a citizen of Wheloon who was last seen coming here. His name is Bassult, and I would like to know his whereabouts”
San Thar made a little pause to think. “Hmm, I don’t recall anyone with that name” he replied honestly. “I will enquire about him in the temple, should I learn anything I will come straight to you. Are you looking for him on a personal matter?”
“My business is my own I am afraid, thank you for your time” Anduril replied trying to keep the friendly manner. At that the company bowed and took their leave. They approached a shrine not occupied by pilgrims and kept their voices low
“How should we proceed now?” asked Trandor, who while talking to his friends seemed always fixated on the guards’ patrol patterns.
“I guess there is only one way, to see this to the end” Athor answered immediately. “We will leave for now, check the area around the temple and be back for the midnight ceremony, perhaps even go as far back as the inn, to leave any burden behind. The ritual as far as I know will last 3 days, I will speak to the tavern keepers to make the arrangements. ”
The four returned before the ritual, while many flocked inside the temple. San Thar was at the entrance of the temple welcoming the faithful. “Ah, I see you return, marvelous. So you want to follow the sacred path to witness the glory of our Lady Mystra? Please, proceed to the interior and be seated. We shall begin soon.”
They found the interior after the twin wooden doors, a great hall with three rows of square pillars lined from the entrance to the far end. The ceiling was pitch black with tiny points of light scattered in it. The floor was marble tiled with obsidian slabs, making a very nice antithesis of polished white and black. Right and left were rows of chairs for the faithful to sit while attending the rituals. The group took their seat at the first row as they entered so they could be away from prying ears and have a better view of the hall.
Soon enough the ritual begun. San Thar appeared at the middle of the hall were one small altar stood. He raised his arms chanting and with the first syllables little light orbs appeared on the floor moving towards the ceiling. As soon as they were high enough they formed constellations who seemed to integrate with the pitch black ceiling forming a clear night sky with all the stars to see. It was breathtaking to say the least. While constellations formed and reshaped San Thar spoke of the magnificence and power of Mystra. While the rest of the group could not take their eyes away from the spectacle, Trandor spoke as low as he could. “Do you see that figure up there?” he nodded at a crest on the far back of the hall. The rest could not but Feldun agreed. There was a man in hooded robes up there making gestures with his hands. It was not San Thar after all nor the lady directly intervening for the ritual. It was a spell cast by the hooded man. Trandor unknowingly had shook them all back to their senses.
As soon as the ritual ended and most of the faithful were gone Athor approached San Thar. “What a great spectacle!” he said seeming genuinely satisfied. My friends and I would like to see more of the Lady’s power. We would like to follow the sacred path to Mystra”
“Excellent, excellent. More come to witness the glory of our Lady. I will have to inform you that in order to follow the path to Mystra’s glory, you will need to pass a three days trial. For three days you are required to cleanse body and spirit for the Lady, so you will fast and follow the cleasing rituals. A minor thing yet, we will need 5 golden dragons as a donation to the temple, expenses never stop to run, yes?”
“Of course, we understand and agree”.
He pointed to the doors at the northern end of the hall and they all moved there. Once inside, San Thar closed another set of doors behind them. The interior was much like the hall were the ritual took place, although it had more torches providing light. A man with gaunt features came to greet them. He seemed to permanently wear a scowl for a face and seemed agile enough to move with heavy armor beneath his garbs as if wearing only a robe. He had a well trimmed white beard with a black streak of hair in the middle of his chin. His age and wisened looks marked him as the High Priest of the temple. That and the way San Thar agreed bobbing his head up and down to his every word.
“Welcome guests, I am Starweaver Fembrys. San Thar informed me of your wish to follow the sacred path of Mystra. You are required to fast for 3 days. You will leave your garments and gear at the closets prepared for you. You will only wear the acolyte’s garments. After 3 days have passed, the sacred road of Mystra will be shown to you and you to it.“ he said in a stern voice, not requiring back an answer. After he left, San Thar guided the group at a small room with simple beds were more who sought the path of Mystra were found seating and talking. Three guards followed them and patiently waited for them to leave their gear and wear the acolyte’s attire, which was nothing more than a white piece of cloth tied around their waists coming down from the front and tied at the back. Trandor with his massive bulk succeeded in hiding his movements from the guards’ gaze and so he concealed two small daggers on the inside of his undergarments. Anduril left his silver holy symbol of Lathander to the locker appointed to him and wore his wooden one around his neck. When they announced they were ready the guards bade them to follow to the next room for the cleansing rituals.
8th day, 1sttenday of Eleint
The three previous days passed uneventfully. Other than their growing hunger and continually degrading mood, nothing changed. Most of their time was spent with teaching of the goddess, baths of water intend to cleanse the soul and dried morsels of food to cleanse the body. The company kept mostly to themselves, with Feldun keeping solely to himself. Anduril and Athor tried to break words with the rest undertaking the ritual. Athor even tried his charm with some of the less stern-looking guards. Trandor on the other hand spoke not with the guards, but of the guards. He noted their patterns, mannerisms and measured their fighting abilities.
“He seems too agitated. I think one of them will sneeze the wrong way and he will try to rip of his head” Athor whispered to Anduril, who seemed appalled at the thought but managed a smile.
Finally the time came where they were ready to be shown the path to wisdom and the goddess. The guards showed the group along with 3 more pilgrims the way to another room, lit only by torches hang on the two square columns which provided the support for the ceiling. It held the same patterns on the floor, marble and obsidian, and the ceiling seemed as high as the rest of the temple. At the middle stood an altar away from the lights which seemed arranged to provide enough light at the front of it, but a lot less at the back.
At the front of the altar stood Starweaver Fembrys. “Welcome initiates. You have completed the ritual of cleansing and now you are ready to be shown the path”. When he finished a perfectly black round crystal, or was it marble, orb was on his hands. Holding it in one hand and raising the other, he spoke with a booming voice. “True knowledge lies not within the stars, but in the darkness between them!”
Anduril heard the words, felt a dark power trying to take hold of his own mind, but Lathander’s voice was clear in his mind. He looked at his comrades, Athor was unaffected from whatever tried to take control of them, but Feldun and Trandor were obviously affected. Their eyes were black orbs and their body seemed rigid. He touched his wooden holy symbol and uttered a short prayer, one that would enable him to understand the true nature, good or evil, of Fembrys. His eyes shone with a white light and suddenly he could see Starweaver Fembrys emanating an aura of evil from his body. It was as if a light of red hue shone around him. But it takes one to know one, and Fembrys immediately knew the man across him was a priest and tried to ‘read’ him. He shrieked “INFIDELS ARE AMONG US! KILL THEM NOW!” and all hell broke loose.
Anduril saw two figures jumping out of the shadows who seemed humanoid, but were far from humans. They wore the armor and weaponry of the guards of the temple, but their faces lacked any characteristic. They were pitch-black. Black lines of runes seemed to constantly whirling around their body even when they tried to cut down Anduril and Athor, the two unaffected of the group. Fembrys uttered some words and pointed to the ground close to the group. Suddenly it was like a thousand temple bells rang at the same time. It was a spell intend on injuring and disorienting the affected targets and it had hit true, It was time for Athor to try his casting abilities by reciting in a language Anduril had not heard before and summoning orbs of light to the ground between them and the altar so as to offer more light to the half-lit room. And he finished casting just in time to avoid a vertical sword sweep from one of the guards. He pointed with his fingers at the guard aiming and him, and streaks of light hit him squarely on the chest. Armor clattered on the floor and the faceless guard fell on the ground limb. Anduril did his best to keep the other busy. The same kind of bolts hit his attacker on the back, who fell seemingly dead as well. At that point he turned for the door, tried to open it, and bolted right out yelling “I will return soon friends!” Anduril felt gutted. His remaining sane comrade had abandoned him, and any promise of returning did not make it any better. Fembrys pointed to Trandor and spoke something in a language that seemed most foul and Trandor ran behind Athor as if on cue.
Athor ran frantically back to the room with the lockers. He had to get whatever gear he found and make it back, in one piece, to help his friends. He ran into the room and hurried to open the lockers. It was immediately when he took his wand and little pouch with the ingredients for his spells when he stopped. He didn’t notice the three guards standing in the room, but they had seen him. And an initiate running like crazy and going straight for what seemed like a wand did strike them as danger. They came at him brandishing swords. Athor, not an experienced adventurer but with wits sharp as an elven sword, started casting. He summoned a ball of flame between him and the guards, which exploded on impact burning one to death and slowing the rest by forming a flaming circle, slowing them at least until the fire died out. He had to think even faster, how to return without expending all of his spells? And then Trandor walked in the room.
Trandor walked past the others, they didn’t matter. He had to get to Athor, get him, kill him and please the master. The one closer to him, what was his name Felsomething, tried to touch him with his hand, a hand glowing faintly green. He dodged the touch with a cat’s grace. He moved through the twin doors. “Kill Athor, walk past the first set of columns and kill Athor. That’s what he wants. Smells like fire or is it burned flesh? Doesn’t matter, kill Athor. Wait, what? Kill Athor?” Suddenly his mind cleared, the further he walked from Fembrys and the altar, the clearer he could think. He stepped into the room and saw 2 guards, a third one lying dead almost boiling in his armor, and Athor trying to get away. He removed the 2 daggers and jumped behind them. A heartbeat later both had slit throats and fell on the ground clutching for their last breaths. Athor mentally put the fire out, “Thank the Lady you came in the right time, here , let’s get our weapons and those of our friends, we have an evil cleric to kill” said, even managed a smile.
They came back just as Feldun cleared his mind and assessed the situation at hand. Anduril picked up a sword and moved against Fembrys just as he cast another one of those infernal noise spells. Feldun almost feinted. He pressed his ears trying to shut them tight, the noise was unbearable. His hands came back from his damaged ears with red dots. Anduril’s tries to score a hit against Fembrys’ plate armor with a weapon he hasn’t used before was almost comical. Feldun uttered a spell and again magic missiles flew for Fembrys. They all hit and he staggered. Success! For only one moment though. Fembrys spoke again in that foul tongue and touched his chest. He seemed vigorous again.
Things seemed hopeless enough without the new figure coming in. It was the man that conjured the constellations during their first night in the temple. Feldun prepared one of his final spells do bring the new threat down, the figure spoke “I knew something was wrong, it was a ruse all along, a charade to cheat the people of the faith,you will pay for this Fembrys!” He pointed his fingers to Fembrys and the blue orbs flew to hit Fembrys squarely in the chest. With double efford, bolstered by this new ally, Anduril renew his attacks on Fembrys. And then Athor and Trandor came in the room. Athor threw a pouch to Feldun, who nodded his thanks, and started feeling for spell components. Trandor moved straight to Fembrys whirling his warhammers. His last step brought him to the air and he came down bearing both his warhammers on Fembrys, one missed but the other scored a hit that almost brought the evil priest down. But did not stop him from casting another one hellish sound. This time the sound brought Feldun on his knees. Anduril immediately turned to him, called to Lathander for aid and touched him,hands glowing with light. Feldun felt a lot better, a warm feeling spreading over his body.
Magical and physical blows struck Fembrys one after the other. He knew he didn’t have much time, those meddlers had to be dealt with. He needed to go to his inner sanctum and get help, even call on her. She would reprimand him, but he was just a small strand of the web. The secret had to hold for a bit longer. He opened the door and started to run out, but his feet were stuck. One of those fools, the one who run out, had cast some sort of spell, his movement was impaired. To the hells with them! He would run out. The one with the warhammers jumped over him! He landed safely away from the enchantment, spinning his warhammers, death in his eye. As soon as Fembrys felt the enchantment weakening he started to move, trying to avoid the interloper and his warhammers. In vain. A warhammer in the stomach doubled him over. He hadn’t felt such a blow for years. Another warhammer smashing his head was the last thing Starweaver Fembrys felt before falling dead.
Feldun breathed heavily as Anduril performed his healing magics on him. Gradually, his breaths came easier and he rose on his feet. He clasped Anduril on the shoulder, expressing his gratitude. Trandor stepped over Fembrys’ lifeless body and joined the others in the main room. Athor was the first to speak to their newfound ally. “Well met sir. We owe you a debt of gratitude. Without your timely intervention we would have been in dire straits.”
“No need to thank me friends, I only did what any goodly folk should do. I am Kelvin a follower of Mystra. I came to this temple to atone for the wrongs I did. San Thar took me in and offered me forgiveness through service to the temple. I performed the night rituals and sought forgiveness. Now I know that the forgiveness I sought came through helping you. So I thank you too friends. Now I must take my leave, the nearby legitimate clergy of Mystra must know what took place here. Good luck friends”.
As soon as Anduril treated their injuries, the group began searching the room. Athor secured the doors so the room became sealed to anyone on the outside. Feldun cast a spell on him, one that would give him the ability to see auras emanating from enchanted items. There was a faint aura coming from Fembry’s clothes, his cloak in particular. They removed it, and while on that found three keys which they took as well. Feldun saw a powerful aura around the orb Fembrys used. That artifact had to be taken as well. Anduril bade them not to touch it, it was clearly an item of evil. So he wrapped around it the cloak they removed from Fembrys. The former high priest also kept three keys on his belt which they removed. Closer inspection from Trandor revealed a secret compartment on the altar, which unlocked with one of the keys. It hold nothing, but was surely the keeping place of the orb, and it explained how it had appear out of nothing in Fembry’s hands
“We should get back to get our gear” Trandor said. “Seems we will be needing it very soon”.
They made their way back to the room that served as barracks for the initiates and met no resistance. Going straight for their lockers, they took their belongings back and got fully dressed. They would be ready now for whatever the false Mystrans had in store. In the room were three more initiates, just coming out of a state of shock. Anduril went to them “Who are you, tell me your names” he pressed. The initiates spoke their names without feeling of color in their voices. “What are you doing here?” he pressed on. “Waiting for you, master” was all the reply he could get. Athor spoke “Give me the orb please Anduril, I have a theory”. Carefull not to unwrap it, Athor took the orb without taking his eyes off the initiates. Their gaze seemed to follow not the person but the orb itself. “What are you doing here friends?” he asked. “Waiting for you, master” was all he got. “It is obvious. They are under the orb’s hold. Fembrys’ power over them was channeled through the orb, so they obey whoever holds it. Trandor, having regained his humorous manner took the orb from Athor hands and commanded “Hop on one leg” which they did without a second thought. While that drew a smile from Feldun, it did not sit well with Anduril.
“Enough gaming my friend. We need to figure out our course of action, and we certainly need to rest. We can bar the doors and rest here, but we will need to figure out guard duties. I have an idea. We will all rest and have our three new friends on guard duty, 2 hours each. I will take the last shift, since I will be up anyway by dawn which is Lathander’s boon to us all” The rest agreed and Trandor as the current holder of the orb commanded them so.
9th day, 1sttenday of Eleint:
The night passed quietly, and the group regained much needed strength. The spellcasters of the group prepared their magic books, while Trandor performed some kind of battle moves, swinging slowly his warhammers through the air, sidestepping, swinging again then repeating. It was the most lethal choreography Anduril had ever seen. He would hate to face that warrior in lethal combat, where the swings would come five times as fast and with force enough to kill on impact. As soon as they were ready to leave Athor took the orb in his hands and gave the three initiates new orders “You will leave this place immediately, you will return to your lives. You will forget anything you saw or heard the past days and never come back.” As one they replied “Yes master” and left the temple.
Trandor peered through the door to check for patrols. The hall was empty. They returned to the room where they battle with Fembrys took place and proceeded through the twin doors to the inner temple. At the end of the corridor was a stairway going two levels down. The group descended ever ready for battle and came to a chamber that had 3 doors. The floor was littered with broken urns, torn and crumbled scrolls dust and debris from the walls. In the center was a statue, presumably Mystra, in perfect condition in contrast to its surroundings. As soon as the group went for closer inspection, a bell sounded “it’s a magical means for alarm” Athor warned and as If on cue, two shadowed guards appeared, just like the ones that appeared in the battle with Fembrys. One managed to score a hit against Feldun who saw his shoulder bleeding while his arm fell limp. The second guard moved against Trandor, who run at him gaining momentum. Momentum he used to bring both warhammers agains the guards’ head who died instantly. Feldun muttered something and his unhurt arm started glowing blue. He avoided the swing from the shadow guards’ sword and touched him on the shoulder releasing the stored electricity from his arm to the body of his opponent. If the shadow guard had a mouth he would scream, Feldun thought, as he saw the guard raising his head as if to scream, flailed his arms around as his skin started blistering then going red and then black. He fell to the floor dead, following his comrade. Athor turned his vision from the charred corpse, only to see the debris that littered the floor gathering in one spot. Shadow tendrils appeared and united the pieces into one massive body. Feldun knew immediatelly the threat for what it was, an earth elemental. The elemental’s body was circled by shadows, always moving around it’s body. Trandor moved to smash it, but he only chipped away small parts of it. The elemental responded in kind, swinging it’s arms at Trandor and scored one massive hit. Trandor out of breath fell down. While Athor cast a spell aiming at the elemental, Anduril try smashing the head of the statue with the hope it connected to the elemental. The statue’s head smashed, Anduril turned to healing Trandor’s wounds who seemed grievous indeed. As soon as he finished praying over Trandor he turned his attention on the elemental and the statue. The elemental seemed to move slower than before, Athor and Feldun’s barrages of magical energies appeared to be doing their job well. But in horror, he realised the head of the statue to be whole again. As if nothing had hit it. Looking at the statue he hardly saw the elemental crumbling down. Trandor’s attempt to move woke him up and he approached his comrade to apply healing for his wounds. The others inspected the rooms around them to find 4 doors, one of which lead to a large corridor. Trandor, having received Anduril’s healing prayers, started for the doors that lead to the rooms leaving the one leading to the corridor for last. The first was obviously leading to whatever served as sewage system for the complex. Athor run past Trandor to shut the door ‘If we keep going further i guess ill have to research a ’Flower Odor’ spell’ he said sarcastically. ‘Better make it a roasted boar smell’, said Trandor, who never seemed out of mood no matter how much beating he had taking moments ago. ‘I will try to make our search easier and more to the point’ suggested Feldun. Waving his fingers in front of him, his eyes suddenly turned blue.
‘Now i can read auras emanating from enchanted items. Most of the auras come from that door’ he pointed. Trandor moved towards there with Anduril following, his shield ready to cover his friend. The door parted to show a room serving as a library, full with scrolls and books. The arcane casters of the group seemed delighted. They quickly picked up every scroll, vial and book emanating magical auras, and to Anduril’s surprise, they handed him a bundle of scrolls. These my friend emanate magical energy, but not of the Weave. They are full of divine magic. Anduril tucked them in his backpack, set on reading them on the first moment of reprieve the had.
The next door lead to the most grisly spectacle they had seen so far in their lives. A room serving as a study with a big bench in the middle with manacles on its four ends and remains of the poor soul used as an experiment on the humanoid body. Athor turned his gaze disgusted only to look at the walls, sporting shelves filled with jars full of embalming fluid and human parts floating inside. Making a gurgling noise, trying to keep from vomiting he moved out. ’ By Lathander! What kind of monster keeps a collection like that? We must move with a vengeance against them!’ Said Anduril clasping his holy symbol. Trandor looked around the room as if he has seen more of its kind , perusing through the various drawers and coming up with a valuable find. A letter signed by one Lady Arthas, informing Fembrys, the owner of this room apparently, of the next scheduled transfer of travelers with a warning not to harm them or his head would be on the next jar on the wall. Obviously Lady Arthas had no idea the next group would prove so formidable, already taking down the false Mystran Fembrys. Trandor laughed a booming laugh. ‘What is so funny my big friend?’ Anduril wondered , ‘well, after my warhammer’s kisses, he doesn’t have a head to embalm’ Trandor replied, still smiling. Feldun did not waste more time and moved to the last door. It was a small room, serving as a bed chamber. It did not have anything out of the rodinary except dust and some moldy tomes.
They rejoined with Athor, who had regained his regal posture, in the statue chamber deciding on how to proceed next. ‘There is only one way ahead my friends, and that is through that door’ while i was here , i tried to unlock it with the keys we found on Fembrys, but they did not fit’
‘I will lend a hand’ Trandor broke in. Before anyone had time to tell him banging a huge door with his hammers would invite unwanted attention, Trandor started swinging away. On the forth time his hammer hit, the door turned to splinters. ‘So much for subtlety’ Feldun mused. One by one they stepped through the door and into the grand corridor, Trandor, Anduril, Athor and Feldun. They found 4 large doors, two on each side. Intricate double door ways, a part of the complex obviously reserved for higher ranked members. Once they covered half the distance to the end, an alarm sounded. The four companions froze in place, and the doors opened wide. Through the door to the right and behind them two known figures appeared. Shadow guards ever ready to protect their dark masters. Through the right door in front of them an imposing female figure appeared. Clad in full plate armor only her face could be seen, it’s female beauty marred by a scar that run from chin to forehead on the left side. ‘Time to die, interlopers!’ she yelled, almost hysterically. In no more than a heartbeat after, she started casting and chanting something Anduril could not understand even though he tried, the swings of the shadow guard’s sword demanding his concentration. As soon as she finished the last word, magical darkness covered the corridor, rendering the group blind against their enemies.
As soon as the darkness spread, the woman begun chanting again, casting more spells, as Feldun perceived. He heard Anduril and Athor shouting warnings to each other, and the swings of swords too close for his liking. He took a big breath, closed his eyes and tried to visualize the positions of everyone in the corridor. Taking one, two, three steps before stumbling on a body. Fear returning, he started feeling the lifeless body and exhaled with relief to when he made the features of a shadow guard. As soon as the chanting stopped, the female’s voice was replaced by hissing sounds. Feldun understood it came from summoned snakes so he stood up slowly and tried not to make any sudden moves. ‘Well, it seems there is no other way but to show my true form’, he muttered.
Athor did not waste any time, he deftly avoided the shadow guard’s sword in the darkness and moved straight to what he hoped would be outside the darkness’ influence. He took one final step and his vision cleared he focused on the cleric, his fingers already forming the next spell to launch at her.
Anduril felt something at his feet trying to hit or bite him again and again and smiled ’well, try to bite through plate, damned creatures!"
“I will give you some of your own medicine witch!” Inspired by her summoning spell he prayed to Lathander to send a guardian to his humble servant. The voice of Lathander answered clearly, Anduril thanked his lord and master silently and directed the summoning point to what he thought would be the area out of the darkness. As soon as the spell was complete, he started bringing his mace down on his serpentine assailants.
If the group was able to see their comrade, they would see a flurry of hits; some hitting their intended target, some moving through air. Trandor knew the pattern behind them. They were aimed at either hitting the shadow guard, or making him move straight in frond of him so he could score the hit. One swing scored a hit, the second one moved through air. Sidestepping, forming a circle around his intended target he repeated the pattern. Before long the second shadow guard dropped dead, the loud noise of armor hitting the ground and the voices of Trandor and Anduril sounding inside the dark cloud informed the other companions that they were one step closer to victory. A moment later the darkness dissipated to show Anduril and Trandor back to back with two shadow guards and one of the snakes dead at their feet. Athor launching magic missiles to the cleric and two creatures the group had not seen before the fight started. One was an astral badger, obviously the guardian Anduril prayed for, which was launching itself time and again against their enemy trying with tooth and claw to harass her any way it could and a demonic figure hovering above them. “I did not summon a demon from the abyss, is it possible my mistress send him to help me?” thought the female and shouted to her enemies " I am Lady Arthas, priestess of Shar! Taste the Dark Lady’s wrath!"
Athor started casting against the new enemy as Trandor moved against Arthas, but he stopped his casting short as he saw the demon producing a wand, aiming its magic against Arthas. The three magic missiles hit her on the chest, the growl of pain she let mingled with her chant and made her spell fail. Trandor saw through the window of opportunity launching himself to the air, his warhammers cascading on Lady Arthas. One hit on her head, the other on the chest while she was collapsing to the floor.
Anduril followed Athor’s gaze behind and above him seeing the demonic figure. “By the Light!, what foul spawn is that!”
“Relax my friends” said the demon using Feldun’s voice and landed on the marble tiles gently, his leathery bat-like wings folding behind his back.
“I am sorry i could not warn you before of my true form, but the situation demanded it”
Athor could not but smile, another great experience gained from his travel. To have what seemed to be a Fey’ri as a companion utterly intrigued him. He approached him first telling to the others “There is more than meets the eye in our friend” and started questioning Feldun. Who is he, what manner of being is he, where does he come from. Trandor assumed his usual manner giving a jolt with his elbow on Anduril’s ribs “Whell i guess now i will call him Bats” he said laughing. Anduril was the only one eyeing Feldun with distrust, for a cleric of Lathander to befriend a seemingly demonic creature was against everything he believed in.
“I will tell you all about it friends, if you would hear me, but i need to rest first. We all do. All i can ask is to trust your hearts and not your eyes”
10th day, 1st tenday of Eleint
The battle had worn them down, the spellcasters of the group had already spent their spells on the battle with Lady Arthas, Anduril felt the need to consult with his god and Trandor needed to sink himself in his usual trance, while moving. After peeking through the doors to the left and right of the corridor they found a rather luxurious room. Wary of any traps, they watched their steps until they made sure there was no danger about. Deciding to bar the doors from the inside and finally rest after the previous battles, the four took turns guarding while the rest slept.
The dawn found Feldun, Trandor and Athor sleeping. Anduril, always taking the last watch was kneeling facing east, praying to his god for favour. Even if he was 2 levels below the temple proper, without any windows to the world above, his innate ability as a cleric of Lathander allowed him to know when it was the break of dawn, high noon and sunset. Before long, he finished his prayer and moved over Lady Arthas’ belongings. His wizardly friends had already told him about the magic emanating from her magnificently crafted armour, and he was highly interested. He started trying it on. Thankfully Lady Arthas was too broad shouldered for a woman, so it was a fit, although a tight one. ‘At least now it will serve the Lord of the Morn, and not an evil deity’. The others woke up just us he donned the final strap.
‘You lost no time my friend, said Athor smiling, and just as well for we don’t know what dangers lie ahead’. Anduril smiled awkwardly thinking himself greedy in the eyes of his comrades. Feldun moved to hand him Arthas’ shield to seem friendly and approachable after last days’ revelation but to test his comrade’s reaction as well ‘this is of great quality too, it will serve you well’. The cleric took the shield reluctantly then sat down. ‘I think we need to discuss the matter at hand’. Being a cleric of Lathander Anduril was an open minded individual, but being in the company of what seemed a demon tainted elf was against a goodly deity’s doctrines. Yet again, being sired by a demon blooded father, did not make your soul evil as well, one can rise above his heritage and be an example for the rest of his race.
“And what is the matter at hand? Well besides mad clerics hunting us and shadow warriors aiming for our heads” laughed Trandor.
“I believe Anduril is agitated by Feldun’s demonic wings. I am fascinated to meet one of your race though, and would like to hear more” one could see the excitement in Athor’s eyes, all of his life he was brought up as a noble offspring of a noble family, and spend most of his years reading about things he actually lived in the past days.
“I can understand my presence here might frighten you and even offend our priestly friend. Believe me when I say that I am your ally, and will work with you to expose this false Mystrans to the end. I promise to reveal more about what drove me to find you and befriend you. For the time being I can tell you I am of the Fey’ri race and my true name is Fel’dryl. I am your loyal companion and you have nothing to fear from me. I am sure Athor can fill you in with my race’s exploits over the centuries. Forgive me but that is all I can say, I hope this is enough for now. “
“I guess this will have to suffice. Let us see if we can find anything in his room and proceed.” Prompted Athor. Simultaneously Fel’dryl and Athor moved their fingers through the same intricate patterns, obviously casting the same spell, and then started looking through the books on the shelves and drawers for any enchanted item. Trandor too started feeling with his hands drawers and wall crevices to find any secret compartments. After a few minutes they came upon several scrolls containing mostly words of divine magic, a tome of what seemed a thorough analysis of Toril’s evil deities, and a pair of peculiar enchanted sleepers.