Fellowship of Lightning #9

Chapter 9

Greater Deity

Symbol: Sunrise made of rose, red, and yellow gems
Home Plane: House of Nature
Alignment: Neutral Good
Portfolio: Athletics, birth, creativity, dawn, renewal, self-perfection, spring, vitality, youth
Worshipers: Aristocrats, artists, athletes, merchants, monks (Sun Soul), the young
Clerical Alignments: CG, LG, NG
Domains: Good, Nobility, Protection, Renewal, Strength, Sun
Favored Weapon: Dawnspeaker, light or heavy mace

~

Spires of the Morning

The Spires of Morning is a temple to Lathander in the Castle Ward of Waterdeep. It was destroyed by fire in 1345 DR during the Night of Temple Fires, but was rebuilt within a year. The earliest construction on this site was a temple and monastery, also to Lathander, constructed in 998 DR, originally outside the city. In 1101 DR it became a part of the city when the walls were expanded to contain it and provide more room for the growing population.

~

The heroes approached the entrance to the temple and one of the priests moved quickly to get the doors for them. “Welcome friends! Rejoice in the rebirth and find salvation within!” After entering the main temple Queless once again saw the elaborate interior with solid dark wood pews and plants which led up to the altar where a mass of priests now worshiped. Thousands of candles burned against a massive wall decorated with all manner of golden and yellow stones. The light from the candles was reflected a thousand times and shone with a great brilliance as the symbol of Lathander Morninglord.

Immediately after entering Misha seemed to appear out of nowhere and approached the group. “My friends, I am glad you came when you did. I have dire news. Your friend from the Inn has disappeared from the morgue. This was my true reason for visiting the morgue. I knew something was not right about the way he met his end. I have informed my order, the Order of Aster to keep their eyes peeled for anything suspicious. The Order of Aster is a militaristic organization created by the Morninglord to watch over our temples and to rid the land of great evil. We have a couple members dedicated not only to tracking, but also slaying vampires. They were once part of a now defunct organization called the Foes of the Fang that ousted and slayed vampires throughout the North. Corinna Lathankin was the leader of that organization and met her current husband Jandar Ilbaereth in said organization. Jandar had left on a mission years ago to the North to infiltrate a nest of vampires. He returned with knowledge of the place and then subsequently led the Foes of the Fang into a trap. Jandar turned out to be a vampire himself and fought with the cursed souls. Many of Lathander’s faithful died in this battle but the vampires were defeated in the end. Jandar was captured and brought back to Waterdeep. Here many powerful priests spent weeks healing Jandar of his horrific curse. After struggling through the throes of undeath and being blessed by Lathander to be reborn- Jandar Ilbaereth once again walked in the realms of the living. He now makes his home here in the Spires of the Morning. Corinna and Jandar are the most skilled vampire hunters in all of Faerûn, and now they train select members of the Order of Aster in the intricacies of tracking those of the Fang. I am one of those “select members” and offer my services to the Fellowship of Lightning in return for the chance to learn more about my life long enemy- the Vampire.”

“I have scheduled an appointment for you to meet Corinna Lathankin. It will take place in 2 hours if you would like to return then. Otherwise you are most welcome to take part in our prayers for those who hath perished in the fire at the Silver Lion Inn. We wish them godspeed to their place in the heavens for all gods of good, regardless of their faith.”

Queless entered the temple with high spirits running his hand against the grain of the pews. “I wonder if Lathander works as hard as Moradin. His priests seem easy allies. Welcome news, let us see how our new allies fare when the going gets difficult.” Queless said to himself.

Queless turned to Misha. “Misha, it is too bad about Flen. Now we must deal with two vampires, maybe more. This job seems neigh impossible… I will send correspondence to some old friends to see if they are willing to help. I can’t speak for Morin, but I will attend the service.”

“The job is not impossible my friend. Keep positive thoughts in your mind and do not allow the darkness to overcome your spirits. Come, pray to Lathander with us and he will grant us wisdom in this matter.” Misha led the way to the altar.

On the way to the alter Queless continued to converse with Misha. “I have heard horrible things about vampires. I thought they were only stories but now I wonder if they are true.”

“We shall get a full debriefing on vampires, their strength and weaknesses at the meeting. Patience my friend, everything will become clear in time.”

Queless stayed to pray for those who lost their lives in the fire. He said a silent prayer for Flen as well. Misha then led Morin and Queless to a small private room where they could rest and pray. He gave them a key and told them to meet him on the floor above in one hour. Queless requested some paper and ink to write some of his former Waterdeep adventuring companions a letter. He wished to reconnect with them in hopes that they would join the Fellowship and assist them in the days to come. Misha returned and gave Queless everything he would need and also offered to help locate his former friends using Lathander’s informants throughout the city. Queless thanked him graciously and was then left with his thoughts as Morin prayed to Moradin Soulforger.

Queless wrote rough letters to each of his former adventuring companions before Morin put his hand on his shoulder. “Queless, it’s time.” Queless nodded and folded the letters, placing them neatly in a stack on the small desk in the cramped room. The two exited the room and Morin locked it behind them. “This maybe a temple, but I don’t trust anyone these days… except you Queless. You’re the only one I know will always have my back. Trust in me that I will always have yours my friend.” Queless smiled and nodded, happy to have such a true friend.

The heroes climbed the circular marble stairs to the next level. Small windows in the side of the tower looked out on the expansive and beautiful City of Splendors. So much was happening all at once in this city and the heroes current plight was just one of many currently unfolding at this moment. Misha waited at the top of the stairs. There were a few wooden chairs up against the walls of this small landing. The stairs continued up past this landing as well. Three wooden doors stood before them, embedded in a marble wall. Misha smiled at the Fellowship and then walked up to the first door and placed his holy symbol to the door and spoke some words quitely. “Aut vincere aut mori.”

The door swung open on a room enveloped in darkness. Misha motioned for the two heroes to enter and then he followed them within. The door slammed shut behind them and all was dark and silent for a moment. Just when both Queless’s and Morin’s infravision started to adjust two candles suddenly came to light on two side tables. Each table sat beside matching plush antique armchairs. Upon one table was a picture frame made of platinum with ornate designs. In the picture frame was the black and white drawing of a smiling halfling sitting on a branch smoking a long pipe. Given the morbid tone hanging over the picture one could almost feel that the halfling in the picture had passed away some time ago. Sitting in the first armchair was a Moon Elf woman, presumed to be Corinna Lathankin. “Misha, the Morninglord’s light eminates from your inner being. Please bring your new friends in and let us introduce ourselves.” She had a beautiful, waif-like figure and soft face that belied her intense energy and loud, commanding voice.

“Of course m’lady.” Misha said as he led the two heroes into the room.

“I am Corinna Lathankin, Order of Aster and former leader of the Foes of the Fang, slayers of Vampires.” Corinna outstretched her arm to clasp each of the men standing before her.

“Queless Huldane of Shadowdale, Leader of the Fellowship of Lightning.”

“Morin Granitefist, Champion of Moradin Soulforger, Second in command of the Fellowship.”

In the second chair was a Moon Elf gentleman who seemed to blend in with the shadows. He had a sad look upon his face but smiled honestly to the Fellowship as he came to greet them. “Hail friends, I am Jandar Ilbaereth, former member of the Foe of the Fang. I now embrace Lathander Morninglord and the Order of Aster to better train individuals in the art of Vampire slaying.”

“So, we hear you have quite the story for us.” Corinna said while motioning for them to be seated. Misha brought chairs from a back room and set them in a circle with the plush armchairs. Tea was poured and passed about. Words began to flow slowly at first and then began to gush with the intensity of a river spilling over it’s banks.

“Honorable members of the Order of the Aster. We have a vampire problem and we have heard thou have battled these menaces before. The Fellowship asks thine assistance in combating this evil.”

“That is our area of expertise, please elaborate.” Jandar said expectantly.

“We have dealt with this fiend’s minions. These zombies seem to steal thine strength. Even after destroying their bodies they reform.” Queless displayed the necromantic pedestals and gems. “These items had foul magicks cast upon them. We found them at the site of each attack, except the last. These gems glowed brightly while resting upon these pedestals. The device was guarded by a force field that I was able to disarm by pushing a ‘dead’ gem though the field and dislodging the active gem.”

“Very intriguing.” Corinna said softly.

“The attacks are getting more brazen. We have dealt with this problem twice today alone. Early this morning we dispatched a giant skeletal king, upon his crown was this gem.” Queless oulled a tightly wrapped small package from his pouch. He was very wary and suspicious of this item and kept it wrapped at all times and always handled it carefully. He showed the group the black gem he obtained from the king’s crown. “It is cold to the touch. I believe this to be an important item for when the crown was removed the vile creature did shutter and fade from existence.” Morin pulled the skeleton king’s crown from his pack and also added that to the pile. “There’s that too…” he said in a hushed tone.

Corinna sat forward in her chair and listened intently to the descriptions and then took a device and gem in hand and inspected them carefully. She then took the crown and touched the gem. “This is foul magic.” Corinna said. “Ancient necromantic magick. These items hail from Netheriel times. I believe this crown was the crown of a king who died over 400 years ago up north in Icewind Dale. I will have to visit the Waterdeep Library to obtain his name and history and confirm my suspicions. This is bad news indeed and leaves me to believe that we’re dealing with a vampire who could possibly be hundreds of years old. If he hails from Netheriel times the City of Waterdeep is in grave danger and I am frankly surprised you two are still alive. May I hold onto all these artifacts and research them further? I will lend you a few very powerful magical items to show my good will to return them when I am through studying them.” Corinna sat back and continued listening to Queless the Drow spill out their personal accounts of their recent encounters.

“An informant, who’s accuracy is proven by his murder- described this knave as a tall half-elf sporting a brown cloak with the hood down, he had a thick scar from a blade across his forehead. He had white, shriveled hands with long gangly nails. His hair was blond or silver. One of his eyes were brown, one blue. He stated that after he lost consciousness.”

“This is very good information.” Corinna said. “I will do research on the crown and it’s gem, one of the ancient necromantic devices and it’s gem, and see if I can match this description to any known vampires in the North or all of Faerun for that matter. Thank you for coming to visit us. Misha did well finding you. Would you mind if he stuck with you for protection and educational purposes?”

“That would be most welcome Miss Corinna. What else should we do to protect ourselves from the vampire’s power?” Queless said.

“Here are three items which will help guard you from the vampire and his possible advances.” Corinna handed them a wooden stake that glowed with a faint yellow light, a hammer with the Morninglord’s symbol upon the side, and an amulet. Jandar explained the magical items to the group. “Queless, wear this amulet and it will protect you from the Vampire. Morin and Misha have holy symbols to protect them, but you are walking bare. This amulet will function as a holy symbol does against vampires. The magical stake and hammer will set fear in his heart and make him keep his distance. Keep them close to you at all times. Perhaps this job would be best suited to Misha or Morin during the day and Queless at night?”

“I’m hoping tis does not come to it, but shall we encounter said creature of night. How shalt we dispatch of him?” Queless inquired.

Corinna provided a detailed description to the group.
“One would have to attack with powerful magic and magical weapons to subdue him. Once subdued you would need to have a powerful priest put their holy symbol upon his head while two to four people hold down the vampire. Then the priest would pray for great power from his or her god or goddess and drive the magical stake into it’s heart with the magical hammer. You could also accomplish this if you were to locate the vampire during the day in his sleeping chambers, casket, coffin, or crypt. Beware, vampires can still operate during the day, but are less likely to wake up if one is silent and scentless.”

Corinna stepped forward to bid the group farewell. “Good luck men, we will be doing our research. Why not continue with yours and see if any information reveals itself? Let us meet back here tomorrow and everyday after that until we are able to unearth more information regarding this terrible threat to the City of Splendors! Well met!”

With that the group exited the magical room on the third floor of the second tower of the Spires of the Morning and returned to their quiet room to contemplate their future and the future of the citizens of Waterdeep.

~

Order of the Aster

Leader(s): Various
Alignment: Lawful Good & Neutral Good
Races: Human, Elf, Celestials
Enemies: Most evil-aligned groups/creatures/undead
Base of Operations: Waterdeep

The Order of the Aster is a militaristic organization that serves Lathander.

Multiclass as cleric, divine champion, divine disciple, hierophant, or Purple Dragon knight. Paladins of the Morninglord are among the best-loved heroes of Faerûn. They are loosely organized (along with other fighters devoted to the god) into a holy order called the Order of the Aster. Within their own church, the paladins are frequently more conservative and concerned with the way things should be done than the clerics, who are often neutral rather than lawful. Members of this order protect temples and shrines, serve to lead large military groups, levied as needed to serve the church, and roam the land seeking to do good in their gods name, promoting his worship. Individual temples and shrines of Lathander do not usually maintain standing military forces of any substantial size due to their cost and upkeep, although they often retain warriors and members of the Order to guard their establishments in numbers that each temple decides is appropriate.

Interior layout of “Spires of the Morning – Temple of Lathander Morninglord (above)

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About Jonathan G. Nelson

Jonathan G. Nelson is the editor-in-chief and owner of NERD TREK. He is also owner/publisher at AAW Games / AdventureAWeek.com, a tabletop gaming company based in Snoqualmie, WA. Connect with Jonathan via Facebook.