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.

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