The Beast Stirs

First Journal Entry - Fading, 1391
Author: Corfer Bittlewold

The day, I’ve lost track of. We are sometime in the month of the Fading. I always thought the name had a very ominous feel to it. The year is 1391.

This will likely be my last night living in this world. If the Infected don’t overrun our camp and kill us before sunup, the horrific screams of their victims across the valley might just do me in. We’ve been out here for nearly a tenday and our numbers are dwindling faster than theirs. I knew I signed my life away when I joined their ranks, but this is not the way I wanted to die – having my blood boil from within by wild magic and then have it slowly seep out of every hole until my insides explode.

If this will be my last penning, then I guess I better make this count. My name is Corfer Bittlewold, the only son of Bardak and Haola Bittlewold, which means my family’s name goes down with me. I spent the greater part of my early adult life in the way any respectable Halfling of the Green Fields would – keeping to myself and out of trouble. That is until the green dragon Ringreemeralxoth took residence in the Snakewood the the south. Many of us got smart real quick and made our way north towards the Sword Coast. We traveling for nearly a year, passing through the wondrous cities of Baldur’s Gate and Waterdeep before settling in Neverwinter. Being just 20 at the time, I hadn’t so much as even seen a real gold piece or a blade that wasn’t dulled from chopping wood before that year on the road. Innocent, you might say.

In Neverwinter, my folks took residence at a the Golden Apple and bartered our services for a room. It was there that I would come to meet Terrance Addows, 2nd Lieutenant of the Order of the Phoenix. What began as an ordinary night serving drinks and food to the inn’s patrons escalated into what is now the second most terrifying night of my life, and what would later become known as the beginning of the Spellplague. The volcano outside Neverwinter erupted without warning, and with it came a blue magical fire that streamed through the skies incinerating everything in its wake.The streets quickly became too dangerous, but altogether the safety of inside shelter was waning as buildings erupted in blueflame. We began ushering the patrons to safety down beneath the building, but not quickly enough. I won’t replay the vivid details, but I watched my folks die that night.

Beneath the surface, Terrance and his crew lent their aid to lead as many survivors as possible outside the city. It was madness. At the end of it all, Neverwinter lay in ruins and I found myself without a family nor a place to call home. Inspired by Terrance’s heroism – and lack of anywhere else to go – I sought to join his team.

The Order of the Phoenix – at the time they were one of many self-proclaimed Free Companies of the Sword Coast – bands of mercenaries who owed no allegiance to any of the ruling households and sold their swords (and lives) for the might of the coin. Many of these companies came and went, but none prospered nor maintained the same level of honor and integrity as they did. As in the atrocious night in Neverwinter, they did what they did because it had to be done. Not a single copper was earned.

In the years of the Spellplague, the need for mercenary strength grew to unprecedented levels. Rumor has it that Mystra, Goddess of the Magic and the Weave, was murdered. Her death created a rift, an imbalance in the structure of magic. What that means, or if it’s even true, I cannot be certain. What I do know is that wizards everywhere were largely unable to conjure even practical tricks, and many of them went sheer insane. Those that were able to still control their abilities seized the opportunity to stake their claim on the world. Along with that, waves of azure fires appeared randomly throughout the lands, killing whatever they touched. It even affected the landscape. Curtains of the blue flame swept the landscape, reshaping the land by cutting crevasses or lifting and sculpting the plain into hills and ridges. Shards of earth wrenched themselves free and became earthmotes. It was chaos. Amidst the chaos, you had wizards vying for control of areas ripe with magical activity to bend to their will, Lords taking the opportunity to seize lands of those that fell victim to the early horrors of the Spellplague, and beasts of unworldly terror rampaging through the countrysides.

About a year into the Spellplague, The Order was first commissioned to protect Candlekeep, renowned for its collection of tomes and rare artifacts, from corrupted wizards overrunning their libraries. We guarded their walls diligently for nearly five years. Once the threat was culled and reduced to sustainable levels, we were tasked with securing key towers throughout the coast that great wizards once studied at and called home. The task was twofold: prevent any fledgling crazed wizards from occupying and rifling through the many unfinished experiments the former occupants once dabbled in, but also to bring back any and all writings to be studied under the protection of Candlekeep’s wards.

Which brings us to today at one such unnamed tower. The mad Wizard Ostegrath holds dominion over it. He’s rallied an as of yet uncountable number of those Infected by the Spellplague. We’ve been entrenched in a valley adjacent to the tower, unable to breach the walls. Anytime we try and approach the tower, the Infected swarm in maddening numbers annihilate us with their wild magic. Those that don’t die from the magic have their flesh rend clear to the bone in seconds. Our men die in masses without even so much as scratch their numbers.

Captain says he’s got a plan for us first thing at sun up. I’d be lying if I didn’t write that I’ve got a bad feeling about this.

3rd Day of Deepwinter, 1392
Author: Tarren Dollum

Sorry to report, but the kid kicked the bucket. Not sure how he went down, but I found this book in a pack of his belongings that we had piled together along with some trophies of our victory over Ostegrath. Interesting piece he wrote on our company. I’ve always been a sucker for history, so maybe I can build on the message of the Order of the Phoenix. The name is Tarren Dollum, and this is the story of our company.

Plain and simple, we make money, and we do a damn good job to earn it. Unlike most of these other rabbles that call themselves companies, we look out for our brethren and don’t double cross them for the sake of earning more coin. Beyond that, those that make it through our initiation are considered family, and nothing is stronger than that bond that we all share. Corfer was right in saying that we are honorable people. At the heart of our vows, we pledge ourselves to act in good faith and protect our fellow man from the evils of our time. If a contract’s terms put us in a position to where we are not following our ideals, we have no problem walking out on it no matter what the cost.

Don’t get me wrong though, we have our fair share of men who blur between the lines. Our name itself is more or less ironic. Order – we all share the common disgust for Lords who suppress his people in the name of “order.” That’s one of the benefits of being a Free Company of the Sword Coast, we serve no one other than the name on our contract, and even that has finite terms.

After some heavy loses bringing down Ostegrath, we’ve managed to pull in a good batch of new recruits. Calek, Captain of the Order, is laying the groundwork to promote even greater posterity for our company. Many of our new kin are experts in their respective crafts and are teaching the rest of us the tricks of their trade. Until now, we haven’t been the most resourceful when it comes to acquiring our goods – at least for those of us that follow legal means of procurement. It will be nice to have a near limitless supply of arrows to fill my quiver.

Calek says he wants to build a stockpile good enough for a two month siege. I don’t know where or when he plans to hunker down for that, but I hope we’re on the side with comfy beds and pillows and not on the side with mud caked up between our toes for tendays on end.

19th Day of Summertide, 1394
Author: Tarren Dollum

Third Chronicle of the Order of the Phoenix, Free Company of the Sword Coast

I’m still alive. And I’m a terrible author. Or at least a very forgetful one. The greater part of last two years have been spent on the road doing good samaritan work along the coast. If you cannot recognize my bitterness, it’s real.

I sometimes take for granted the simple pleasures of being a part of this company, to know what it’s like to be free. The common folk of Baldur’s Gate, Neverwinter, and especially Waterdeep are so unaware of the world around them. The Lords of these cities tell their people utter lies to keep them fearful of the outside and firmly within their grasp. While in some ways those lies are protecting these people from the true understanding of the terrors that lie beyond their gate, they are at the same time deserving to know of the wonders that also grace our lands.

Anyhow, good samaritan work. Our company has seem to become synonymous with charity, to some degree. I can see where the misunderstanding has come from – the Order of the Phoenix makes it a habit of being in the right place at the right time to help save the defenseless from the evils of our realm, many times without turning a coin. It’s earned us a fair reputation and countless contracts. At the same time, we also get countless requests for aid with nothing to offer in return save for a warm meal. But, as the Captain will always be quick to point out, it’s these small tasks that has gotten us to where we are today. That doesn’t mean that sometimes I just want to tell these beggars to bloody well go fuck themselves.

The good news is a new contract came in a tenday ago that will put us on a rather ambitious journey to the far northern reaches of the coast, up into the Spine of the World, as they call it. Captain is rallying nearly our entire force, some two-hundred strong, to make the long trek north. Rumor around camp is there is unimaginable treasures to be found in that unconquered frontier. But I can’t help but wonder what stands in our way.

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22nd Day of The Time of Flowers, 1418
Author: Dale Goodwin

Seventh Chronicle of the Order of the Phoenix, Free Company of the Sword Coast

Let it be known that whatever went on in the northern reaches of the Spine of the World left all those company men that managed to make it back alive a shamble of their former self. They’ve all gone some sort of crazy. Tarren took to the wilderness some tendays ago and hasn’t returned. I found these chronicles of our company within his quarters. It seems as though he removed any shred of evidence as to what happened while up north.

I had just joined when our company made the trek north. While at the time I felt slighted for not being a part of the crew, I look back now as if the Gods were smiling upon me. I fear those that died there were spared a better fate than those that actually survived. Two-hundred some men left nearly twenty-four years ago and less than a dozen returned. Each and every one of those men have since either passed on or went missing as Tarren did.

As the grace of the Gods would have it, being left behind not only saved my life, but also provided the opportunity to display my talents that earned me a better position within the company. Make no mistake, however, I wish more than anything that our fallen brethren were still with us.

A lot has changed in this world over the last twenty-some years. Shortly after our company headed north, magic began returning to the world, although it was changed. Simple things like the somatic, verbal, and material components required to cast a spell were different, all the way to their actual effects. This in itself caused a great deal of chaos as practitioners attempts to conjure a spell could backfire in unpredictable ways. In all, the storm has settled and now the great wizards of the world are embarking on new experimentations to fully explore and understand magic once more.

As for our company, we’ve once again rebuilt and are nearing one-hundred strong again. I fear the age of the Free Companies is drawing to a close though. With the creation of the Lords Alliance – armies of men aligned with their particular city, but serve the entire coast – there has been less of a calling for our sort. Those men joining the alliance are fools though, sacrificing their freedom for a shiney tabard. I’ll take my freedom over being confined to the commands of the rich Lords. At the heart of it all, the Lords’ motivations are driven by greed and thus their men must act in accordance to their Lords’ wishes. I see little good that can come of that.

There are plenty of people in this world outside of the city states of the coast that need aid from the evils that plague this world. The Order of the Phoenix will continue to answer that call.

As fun as this was, I’m no writer. I’ll add this volume to the collection in our library. I’m sure someone will dig it up and continue where I left off in the future.

28th Day of The Drawing Down, 1460
Author: Dale Goodwin

Eighth Chronicle of the Order of the Phoenix, Free Company of the Sword Coast

My old age has reduced me to a newly created title of “Elder Historian.” They think I don’t realize their attempt at mockery. Nevertheless, I am old, too damn old. I should be dead by now. As far as anyone can recall, I’m the oldest ever living member of the company. You’d think they’d have more sense to respect me! Bah!

I’m unsure if someone else happened upon these chronicles and decided to get me to take to the pen again or if this is sheer coincidence, but I’m going to make the best of it either way. It would seem my predictions came true – The Order of the Phoenix is now the last and only remaining Free Company of the Sword Coast. All other companies were either swallowed up by the Lord’s Alliance, killed off, or disbanded some time ago. What keeps us together is the bond we share with our brothers and the pursuit of coin. While there is considerably less chartered work for us these days, the lack of competition makes up for it. We are often called on by any of the member cities of the Lord’s Alliance to handle matters outside of their reach due to political reasons. Or those towns that are wealthy enough to make a name for themselves, but aren’t recognized by the alliance that need some extra muscle. Outside of that, we do what we always do: provide for the people of the Sword Coast and destroy villainy in our wake.

16th Day of The Melting, 1463
Author: Dale Goodwin

Ninth Chronicle of the Order of the Phoenix, Free Company of the Sword Coast

This will surely be my last penning. At the very least I hope it is. Just when it seems like everything in this world is finally at peace, someone or something needs to go and bloody well fuck it up again. The Red Wizards of Thay, under the command of the Lich Szass Tam, made an attempt to spark what blueflame is left near Mount Hotenow and erupt it again. Thankfully, with the combined efforts of the Order of the Phoenix and small taskforce of Neverwinter Lords’ Alliance soldiers circumvented their plans and sent them on their way back to the nation of Thay. I, of course, was far, far away from that madness.

The company has recently taken residence in Easting, a relatively small inland town to the southern end of the Sword Coast and near the border to Amn. Easting’s small size and location make it a resting point for travelers headed between the Sword Coast and Amn. This lends very well to hearing gossip spread around the rumor mills and allows us to capitalize on profitable opportunities. It also has no centralized governing body and its people are free to live as they please so long as they bring no harm to their neighbors. That’s where we come in. We have brokered a deal with the people of Easting to provide necessary muscle from any would be harassers in exchange for their warm hospitality. It doesn’t fill the coffers, but it also doesn’t empty them.

Of late, work has been sparse. The run in with the Red Wizards did give us a sizable reward, and those wizards packed a healthy supply of magical components and trinkets. Garrett, that thoughtful little prick, even brought me back an anti-Aging potion. Took one sip of that foul brew and spit it out. I’d rather die sooner than live another day after drinking that garbage.

I’ve had enough of this.

2nd Day of Summertide, 1463
Author: T’Lain Dour

Tenth Chronicle of the Order of the Phoenix, Free Company of the Sword Coast

This will be a short entry. Yesterday Dale left this world. He went peacefully in the night. I know he regarded these chronicles highly, said its what helps keep this company together – that our history helps bind us together.

We’ll be holding a vigil tonight in our of his time with the company. He was a remarkable man and was looked upon highly by all of his brethren.


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