Session 23: Finding the Place of the Unicorn

The Place of the Unicorn
After gathering and securing the three wagons with all the supplies from the ogre's camp, the group decided to bring the supplies to Leilon.

After a few hours of travel in the grasslands, they saw the line of the small settlement on the horizon.

They approached the 30 foot high solid stone walls. The heavy portcullis gate was open and flanked by two 40 foot high stone watchtowers. They could see movement in the towers, and the shapes of multiple soldiers patrolling the walls. There were a few small wooden homesteads at the base of the wall, and a few people milling about.

"Well met, merchants," called a guard at the gate. "Kindly state your business."

"We need to store our wagons." Lee replied.

"Store your wagons?" The guard questioned in reply.

"I am Turenim Dawnbringer" Turenim began. "We came to the aid of Phandalin to help them recover stolen goods..."

Lee and Atilius began to hush him.

"And we are the traveling band of merchants that have been accompanied by our friend." Albrecht interrupted.

Turenim looked at them puzzled.

The entire group began talking over each other, until Atilius began shouting over everyone, babbling incoherently.

"All I could make out," the guard guessed, "is that you've come here to sell some stolen goods. Is that right?"

"No." Turenim answered. "That is not what I said."

"Oh, well I couldn't hear with four of you talking at the same time." the guard explained.

"I am Turenim Dawnbringer." Turenim began again. "These are my companions. We come from Phandalin, recovering goods stolen by ogres. We plan to return them, but we need a place to store them."

"So you want to store the goods that you've recovered?" the guard asked skeptically. "Listen, just give me seven silver pieces and you can go."

"Is that a tax?" Turenim asked.

"Yes," the guard replied. "It's a tax."

Lee flipped him a gold piece.

"On your way," the guard instructed. "Move along and clear the gates."

They could smell the scent of roast pork wafting from an open window as they passed under the archway, noting that at least a few weary eyes were tracking their movements as they arrived in the town of Leilon.

Once inside Turenim was assailed with complaints about his introduction to the guard and about mentioning that they had recovered stolen goods. Turenim insisted that they had nothing to hide and no need for any deception. The claim was made that they left Phandalin in the guise of merchants, but Turenim reminded his companions that this disguise was only meant to fool the ogres.

They quickly made their way to the old docks market. As they reached the western tip of Leilon, the smell of fish and tar begins to fill their senses, wafting in on the salty breeze of the Sea of Swords. As they passed through colorful wooden buildings, they were beckoned towards fruit stands, butchers' shops and other supply-oriented outlets. Looking around at the buildings, they noticed that they were almost all small shops and storefronts for a variety of goods that the locals undoubtedly hawk to travelers and passersby.

After asking around, they finally made their way to The Mermaid's Tail, a single story timber framed building on the western side of Leilon, with a tiled wooden floor. Hanging from the walls and sitting on the shelves were typical items one might expect from a general store, as well as a healthy variety of weapons and armor. "Welcome to The Mermaid's Tail" a lady greeted them, with a broad but tired smile. "I'm Maryann. What are you looking for?"

"I'm Turenim Dawnbringer," Turenim began again. "We have these wagons that we would like delivered to Phandalin."

"Delivered to Phandalin?" Maryann inquired.

"Yes," Turenim replied. "To Linene Graywind of the Lionshield Coster."

"Well you look like you would be better equipped to get these goods delivered to Phandalin than anyone I would have." Maryann suggested. "We've had trouble getting anything through to Phandalin lately."

"We rescued these goods from ogres." Turenim explained. "We were sent to do so, but now we have urgent business tracking down and rescuing another one of our friends from Phandalin, and we expect you will have no more trouble with your shipments."

"Wait," Maryann asked, with a look of surprise. "You met the ogres?"

"We met them alright." Albrecht added.

"And, and what happened?" Maryann asked. The expression on the group's collective faces seemed to answer her question. "Really? Let me see these goods." She went outside to inspect the contents of the wagons. "And you want me to deliver these to Phandalin for you? I can take care of that. Turenim, if you leave this stuff with me, I can make sure that get to Linene."

Pippin and Albrecht inquired about acquiring musical instruments. She could not accommodate their respective requests for a didgeridoo or a violin, but Albrecht settled for a lute, which he promptly began to pleasantly play outside.

Lee tried to purchase a book of tales, but settled on a blank book and some ink, which he exchanged for his light crossbow, 40 crossbow bolts, a hunter's trap, two short swords, and two small gems.

With their business eventually completed, the group left Leilon and headed for the Sword Mountains to continue their search for Sister Garaele and The Place of the Unicorn.

• • •

As Lee led them along the northern edge of the foothills of the mountain range, Julious suggested they take a detour on a hunch. Since they weren't following any specific trail, and had no idea where The Place of the Unicorn was, Lee obliged.

The long day began to come to an end when they stopped for a drink from a cool, clear spring flowing out of a cleft between a pair of hills. As Pippin drank, he had to spit out the foul tasting water. Looking around for something that may have died in the water they caught a glimpse of several stone lintels a few hundred feet further upstream. Traveling closer they begin to see several more features, but most oddly were drifts of smoke coming from a crude hut formed among several of the lintels.

From their vantage point, roughly 100 feet away, they saw a large stone circle roughly 80 feet around. The hut was roughly 40 feet square, and was formed around the largest of the lintels. Several paths wound through the formation and most of the smaller trees had been either pulled out or pushed over.

As they walked closer to the hut and discussed a game plan, Lee asked "So why are you calling yourself Turenim Dawnbringer? What happened to Sendri?"

"Sendri is my last name." Turenim explained, "and Dawnbringer is my title."

"It seems a little pretentious." Lee said. "Is this a 'just you' thing?"

"It's who I am," Turenim continued. "I'm not trying to brag."

"Well you're putting something off," Lee accused. "No matter if it's good or bad, there's going to be an immediate first reaction."

"You could just say 'I'm Turenim Sendri, and I am a Dawnbringer,'" Pippin chimed in. "Or I am a priest of Lathander."

"Why would I use Sendri?" Turenim offered. "Sendri is just a last name. Last names are just another way of communicating your own nobility."

"Dawnbringer means something," Lee added. "Sendri's just a last name."

"If someone were to go around saying 'I am so and so, son of the great lord , or son of some person,' no one would take offense?" Turenim challenged.

"I don't take offense," Lee countered.

"Let's say I worship Shar," Atilius suggested. "If I worshiped Shar, then I'm immediately going to know that I can't trust this person under any circumstances."

"But I don't worship Shar," Turenim disputed. "I worship The Morninglord. That's a shameful thing, to worship Shar. People should hide that, if they were do it, or they should want to."

"Well," Atilius offered." It might result in some bad situations for us."

Moula jumped in, "Turenim doesn't want to be friends with anyone who worships Shar."

"I don't," Albrecht wondered aloud. "I mean, I would find it odd if I went up to people and just said 'my name is Albrecht the Charlatan. That's who I am,' whenever I met people... I mean, I understand it, because it's an important title and it conveys the message you are trying to bring and it delivers a summation of your intentions. I don't know, it's a bit awkward perhaps. I don't know how to describe it."

"But you must recognize," Turenim insisted, "I'm doing this because The Morninglord is my master."

"I understand that you're a very spiritual person," Atilius offered, "but we should be aware that there are people that disagree with you, and we should be open to that."

"I am open to other people not worshiping The Morninglord," Turenim explained. "Am I not?"

"I don't think that necessarily saying that he's a servant of a particular person is going to offend anyone, necessarily," Albrecht explained. "Saying that I'm this person and that you must follow this person, is a different thing than he's just saying that he's this person and this is his duty and this is his title."

"Yeah." Lee returned. "And I agree with them. It's his title. I just think the title is a little ridiculous. That's all."

"Why is it ridiculous?" Turenim asked.

"I don't know." Lee replied. "I just feel like people will get a reaction to it immediately. There's no..."

"But everyone has a reaction to everything." Turenim countered.

"My name is Atilius Valentinus." Atilius interjected. "What's Valentinus' title?"

"It's a last name." Turenim answered. "I associate it with Valentine. Does that mean I'm going to judge you? Probably not. But people have reactions to things. That's how it works. If people are put off by me being a Dawnbringer, well then I'd like to know. It's the first thing I'd like to present about myself, and the most important thing about me."

"It removes any aspect of stealth?" Lee challenged.

"Were we trying to be stealthy?" Turenim pressed.

"Right now maybe," Lee responded. "Maybe this is an evil person. And maybe we should just come under some other pretense."

"Violence is not the answer." Atilius interjected.

"That has nothing to do with it." Moula insisted.

"Yes it does." Atilius maintained.

Moula continued, "because we're not talking about attacking them."

"I know," Atilius went on. "But let's say we come across someone that you think is evil. Would you kill them on the spot? If you're a servant of The Morninglord and someone evil decided to attack you for that, would you retaliate?"

"Yes!" Turenim replied.

"Well," Atilius responded. "That was my question."

"Turenim," Lee went on. "You can say whatever you like. I just think some people might think, 'hey that guys being a little ridiculous.' That's all. It wasn't really a thing about religion at all."

"It's not ridiculous." Turenim demanded.

"It can just be a little over the top for people who aren't into the religious game." Albrecht offered.

"It's not over the top!" Turenim maintained. "Lathander is 'the bringer of dawn'."

"I don't know. That's my opinion. I don't think my opinion is going to change that quickly." Lee contended.

"I recognize that this is a common practice." Albrecht admitted, "and I'm sorry."

Interrupting their conversation, two trolls came out of the hut in front of the group. One of the trolls was significantly smaller than the other and they were holding hands until they saw the group, and charged with a scream, surprising Albrecht, Moula, and Turenim.
Trolls outside The Place of the Unicorn
Pippin rushed forward and stabbed the smaller troll twice, and rushed away, followed by Lee, who cast hunter's mark on it and dropped it with two mighty hacks with Talon. Then Atilius cast scorching ray on it for good measure. With a scream the larger troll dug its claws into Lee. Julious tried to hit it with poison spray, but failed.

Albrecht and Pippin stabbed with their swords, but missed. Lee moved his hunter's mark to the larger troll and hacked into it twice with Talon. Moula dropped her staff and punched the troll twice. Atilius cast firebolt, but missed. The large troll dug its claws into Lee again, dropping the ranger, as its wounds began to disappear before their eyes. Then it reached for Pippin, falling onto the child and biting him with its large teeth. Just then, two more trolls came running out of the hut and joined the fray, one also a smaller runt. The second larger troll swung its claws wildly at Albrecht and managed to sink its teeth into the bard. The runt dug its smaller claws into Pippin and tore at Pippin with its teeth. Julious cast produce flame, but threw it harmlessly. Turenim revived Lee with cure wounds and cast preserve life on Pippin and Lee.

Albrecht used psychic blade and stabbed the second troll. Pippin stabbed the runt twice with his short swords. Lee cast hunter's mark on the first large troll again, but could not connect with his blade. Moula also could not connect with her punches. Atilius cast haste on Lee. The first large toll continued to regenerate, but could not penetrate Lee's armor. The second large troll again swung wildly at Albrecht, but managed to bite the bard again.The runt clawed at Pippin and managed to bite him again as well. Julious cast produce flame again and managed to hit the first large troll with it, stopping its regeneration. Turenim cast mass healing word on Moula, Lee Atilius, Pippin, Albrecht, and Julious.

Albrecht cast healing word on himself and failed to connect with the second large troll. Pippin used his fancy footwork to disengage and shot the runt in the chest with his short bow. Lee connected twice with Talon on the first large troll, opening fresh wounds, but Moula was still unable to connect. Atilius, realizing how the trolls' regeneration worked instructed everyone to focus on the first large troll, and cast scorching ray, hitting it three times. The first large troll dug both its claws into Lee and bit the ranger as well. The second large troll managed to sink its teeth into Albrecht. The runt swung wildly at Moula and managed to sink its teeth into her. Julious cast produce flame again, but threw it harmlessly. Turenim cast preserve life on Lee, Albrecht, and Pippin.

Pippin dropped his bow and took out his oil and dwarven brandy to make a Molotov cocktail. Albrecht used psychic blade and stabbed the first troll. Lee managed to connect once with Talon, almost cutting its arm off. Finally, Atilius finished it off with a firebolt. Moula picked up her staff and whacked the last large troll, and followed up with a kick. The last large troll dug its claws deep into Albrecht, avoiding the bard's counterattack. The runt managed to scrape Moula with its claws. Julious cast produce flame, but again threw it harmlessly. Turenim cast healing word on Albrecht, and bless on Julious, Atilius, and Pippin.

Albrecht cast healing word on himself. Pippin threw his Molotov cocktail and connected squarely on the last large troll, splattering fire on the runt, Moula, and Albrecht. Lee moved his hunter's mark to the last large troll, which had recovered from Moula's strikes, and hacked into it deeply with Talon and followed up with another connecting swing in his hasten state. Moula kicked the last large troll twice. Atilius cast scorching ray, hitting the last large troll with two beams and halting its regeneration. Angered, the last large troll clawed again at Albrecht. The runt swung wildly at Lee, but could not penetrate the ranger's breastplate. Julious cast produce flame, and hit the large troll. Turenim cast cure wounds on Albrecht.

Staggering and still burning, the last large troll fell to Albrecht's rapier, who endured the flames from the Molotov cocktail. The runt turned and fled, but Pippin shot it with his short bow. Lee transferred his hunter's mark to the runt and finished with two swings as it fled.

Atilius used his firebolt to ensure the trolls would not rise again. Turenim bandaged everyone's wounds. The group investigated the hut in the hopes of finding Sister Garaele.

The 40 foot square hut opened to what appeared to be a single large room built around one of the stone lintels in its center. To their left was a large bed in the corner, and a table of sorts near it. Tied to the center stone was a curtain blocking the far corner of the hut. On the right was a large table and a kitchen, with the stove supported by the lintel.

Behind the curtain they found an old chest. Pippin saw that the rusty lock was not connected and opened it finding an small assortment of copper, silver, and gold coins. On the table they found a silver goblet.

Julious was sure that this must be The Place of the Unicorn, but no sign of Sister Garaele!

They examined the area around the stone circle, clearing the brush and debris presumably scattered by the trolls. In the very center of the stone circle was a large flat stone that could serve as an altar or table. Between the large flat stone and stone circle was a large tree stump.

They examined the large flat stone and Julious noticed that what had appeared to be a two foot long crack on the northern side, was more like a carving. It was no more than three inches in the stone's side and tapered to a point closer to the center of the stone. Pippin noticed that the crack pointed directly at the tree stump. Julious noticed grooves in the crack, possibly matching a unicorn's horn.

They turned their attention to the tree stump. Atilius noticed that one of the roots was actually some kind a latch, and pulling it revealed a secret door descending down into and under the stump.

Albrecht led the way down into the secret door with the others following about ten seconds behind.

The stairs led down roughly about 30 feet into the center of a large 40 foot square room. Ancient elven runes decorated the walls of the stairwell leading down, but it appeared to be an ancient religious dialect that Albrecht could not comprehend.

Smooth sand covered the floor of the room around the circular stairwell. Each wall was decorated with a mosaic of stone tiles representing some aspect of the religion. Most showed unicorns and elves dancing or walking through a forest. In the center of each wall was a plain stone door, reinforced with metal.

Following down the steps under the stump, with Lightbringer illuminating the way, Turenim recognized that the elven runes appeared to be religious texts to Larue, the god of unicorns. Turenim explained that they spoke about the three tenets of faith to Larue. The first suggested that the straightest path brings the best outcome. The second warned to stay vigilant to traps and danger. The last tenet honored experiencing adventure and living a full life.

In north west corner of the room, Atilius found an empty potion bottle.

Examining the mosaics on each of the walls they saw a scene of life in each of the four seasons.

Turenim pointed out that the stairwell led most directly to the southern door, which was surrounded by an autumn mosaic.

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