- 1 Helm's Cathedral
- 2 Helm's Hold
- 3 Marlos Urnrayle
- 4 Miraj Vizann
- 5 Reclamation Rock
- 6 Scar Alley
- 7 The Hold and the Rock, Part 1:
- 8 The Hold and the Rock, Part 2:
- 9 The Hold and the Rock, Part 3:
- 10 The Hold and the Rock, Part 4:
- 11 The Hold and the Rock, Part 5:
- 12 The Hold and the Rock, Part 6:
- 13 The Hold and the Rock, Part 7:
- 14 The Hold and the Rock, Part 8:
- 15 The Hold and the Rock, Part 9:
- 16 The Memorial Hills
- 17 The Return of Helm
- 18 The Watcher's Forest
- 19 Ulgarr Crumblechasm
Helm's Cathedral[edit | edit source]
Helm’s Hold was built around it’s cathedral back when it was first founded as a fortress-monastery. In the years following the death of Helm, the cathedral has seen many different uses. It has served as a storage warehouse, as a sanatorium for victims of the Spellplague, and even briefly as a dark temple when the city was over-run by the Ashmadai.
After the city was re-taken, the Cathedral was cleaned up and then served as the new home of Helm’s Hold city council. Now that Helm has returned, worshippers and pilgrims are starting to make their way to the Cathedral once more. The Black Earth Cultists refuse to set foot inside the Cathedral, making in one of the last safe places in the city.
Helm's Hold[edit | edit source]
After the defeat of the Ashmadai, Helm’s Hold found itself on the edge of a return to prosperity. Though great damage had been done to the city over the years, it held at a key spot for the forces of Neverwinter as they began to push into the interior of the Sword Coast. A fully restored Helm’s Hold would be an invaluable fortress guarding trade along the high road, trade that is sure to blossom as Neverwinter fully revived.
This makes Helm’s Hold a place of vital strategic value, both to Neverwinter and to any who would oppose Neverwinter’s continued growth.
Marlos Urnrayle[edit | edit source]
A noble from Waterdeep, Marlos Urnrayle squandered his assets, turning his magnificent stone manse into a den of hedonism. He made guests wear gargoylish masks to hide their own beauty, thus accentuating his. When his own looks began to fade, he turned to magic to preserve his beauty, purchasing a ring containing the life force of a fey creature. As long as he wore the ring, it removed any hint of physical imperfection and made other swoon in his presence. One day, without warning, the ring transformed Urnrayle into a medusa. The horror of the transformation drove him mad, and Urnrayle fled his home among rumor and scandal.
No one but Marlos himself know how he rose to the exalted position of Prophet in the Cult of the Black Earth, but rumors say he was part of terrible ritual in the Sumber hills in which he gained the favor of Ogrémoch and the war pick Ironfang.
Urnrayle believes he has been sent a vision by Ogrémoch of the place he must create his Earth Node, and that this place is in an underground forest beneath Helm’s Hold. His desire to make this vision real has set his cult into an elaborate ruse to gain access to Helm’s Hold, yet has also delayed their plans. Some within the cult quietly doubt if the vision was even real, but Marlos refuses to accept any attempt to question it. He is the prophet, he is the chosen one, and his vanity and pride won’t let him believe anything else. Even as the successes of his rivals drive him to desperation.
Miraj Vizann[edit | edit source]
The self-proclaimed “Mud Sorcerer”, Miraj Vizann left behind a secret palace hidden beneath the sands of Calimshan to join the Cult of the Black Earth. A dour perfectionist, he specializes in turning rocks to mud and oversees the cult’s tunneling operations. The soft earth under much of Helm’s Hold has given him a great deal of work, as he searches for a place Marlos Urnrayle, the prophet of the Cult of the Black Earth, claims he saw in a vision: An underground forest hidden in a cavern deep beneath Helm’s Hold.
Miraj also trains the Blackmantle warlocks the cult relies on for their earth magic, inducting promising candidates into pacts with Ogrémoch to gain eldritch power.
Reclamation Rock[edit | edit source]
The fortress of Reclamation Rock is the beacon and stronghold of the elemental Cult of the Black Earth. When the cult was posing as a mercenary company, their contract included building a fortress of their own, but that fortress was to be placed at location of city’s choosing over a league away from the walls of Helm’s Hold. Instead, the cult used their elemental magic to make the fortress erupt from the ground in a single day barely a stone’s throw away from Helm’s Hold, putting the city in its shadow.
To add insult to injury, the spot the cult used was the site of the Last Redoubt, where Captain Dunfield’s soldiers made their final stand against the Ashmadai, and from which Neverwinter’s heroes set out to retake the city.
Scar Alley[edit | edit source]
After the Ashmadai was defeated, the surviving victims of the Spellplague who had been sent to Helm’s Hold were quartered in a quarantined section of the city called “Scar Alley”. While there have been no new cases of Spellplague reported in some time, there are still many victims left who need treatment, including many veterans from Scar Keep.
Nottin, the Halfling hedewizard, has taken up the care of the remaining Spellscarred. In order to improve its treatments, has recently been in communication with the Spellscarred Archmage Quorthon. The two hope that by researching the malady from their own respective vantage points, they may be able to finally find a true cure for the remaining afflicted.
The Hold and the Rock, Part 1:[edit | edit source]
Following the defeat of the Ashmadai, the forces of Neverwinter found themselves welcomed as the liberators of Helm’s Hold. Lord Neverember magnanimously decreed that he would fun reconstruction of the city, and would station a garrison of the Neverwinter Guard to ensure security. The people of Helm’s Hold felt safe for the first time in years, and with the Protector’s money, the city began to rebuild.
However, the Neverwinter Guard soon found their numbers stretched thin battling threats across the Sword Coast. Helm’s Hold had been quiet, so soldiers were soon reassigned to other fronts, and the garrison dwindled in number. The people of Helm’s Hold began to grow nervous about their safety, and the City Council sought a new way to keep their city protected.
The Hold and the Rock, Part 2:[edit | edit source]
As the people of Helm’s Hold began to fear for their security, The City Council was approached by the Black Earth Mercenary Company with a bold offer. The mercenaries offered to protect Helm’s Hold for a very low price, so long as they were allowed to make Helm’s Hold their home and could build a keep nearby to act as their base of operations.
Such situations weren’t unheard of. Baldur’s Gate had such a long relationship with the Flaming Fist mercenary company that they also served as the city’s watch. Furthermore, it would be years before Helm’s Hold walls could be repaired, so having a fort nearby could provide a great deal of protection. As if to underscore their vulnerability, a series of Bulette attacks on caravans whipped the citizens into a near-panic, and most of the city council were eager to sign the deal.
Not everyone on the council were convinced, and several were wary about Black Earth’s motivation. Councilwoman Allisara Callum was particularly suspicious. It didn’t help that no one had met the mercenaries leader, the Whaterdhavian noble Marlos Urnrayle, face to face. Callum sent word of the mercenary’s proposal to Lord Neverember, hoping he would block the deal. But Lord Neverember had a different perspective...
The Hold and the Rock, Part 3:[edit | edit source]
When word of the Black Earth Mercenary’s offer reached Neverwinter, many were certain Lord Neverember would either flatly refuse to allow Helm’s Hold to accept the deal, or threaten to cut off funds for the city’s reconstruction if they did. However, while Lord Neverember was understandably wary of allowing a mercenary force to establish itself so close to Neverwinter, he agreed to allow the deal for three reasons.
First, Lord Neverember knew the leader of the Black Earth Mercenaries, a fellow noble from Waterdeep named Marlos Urnrayle. He left confident he could control the man if he got out of hand by exerting his own influence in their mutual home city with his much larger coffers, and sent against back to Waterdeep to dig up any leverage over Urnrayle he might need.
Secondly, Lord Neverember was confident that he could buy Urnrayle’s mercenaries out if he had to. He had much more money, and he had succeeded winning the loyalty of mercenaries before, transforming the cut-throat Mintarn mercenaries he’d originally hired to secure his hold on Neverwinter over a decade ago into the well-respected Neverwinter Guard.
Finally, Lord Neverember was intrigued in the Black Earth’s claim that they could build their fortress in a day with their magic. If they proved disloyal as mercenaries, the survivors might be useful as engineers.
Certain he had the situation under control, Lord Neverember moved agents into place and to handle any contingency and then sent word back that he would not block the contract. Unfortunately, he had underestimated Urnrayle, and the fanaticism of the Elemental Cults.
The Hold and the Rock, Part 4:[edit | edit source]
Initially, the agreement with the Black Earth Mercenary Company seemed to work out well for Helm’s Hold. Black Earth soldiers patrolled the town and protected the roads. “Wild” bulettes were driven off, and the Black Earth’s sorcerers even helped the reconstruction effort with their magic. The people of Helm’s Hold felt safe and secure once more. But it was not to last.
Things began to go wrong slowly There were rumors that the Black Earth soldiers were abusing their power. Able citizens disappeared only to be pressed into service with the mercenaries. Merchants who’d hired them as guards went missing. Strange creatures were seen at the edges of the city. And then there were persistent stories that the Black Earth’s soldiers were digging up old tombs, searching for a secret passage under Helm’s Hold.
The people of Helm’s Hold began to ask just who it was they had put in charge of their safety. Their fears and concerns were growing, but the true danger would not be revealed just yet.
The Hold and the Rock, Part 5:[edit | edit source]
The return of guardian god Helm was greeted with great joy and relief all across the Sword coast, but nowhere was the news welcomed more gladly than in Helm’s Hold. The old Cathedral, which was being used as the city’s council hall, saw the return of worshippers and adepts for the first time in nearly a century. I was even said Brother Satarin was seen to smile for the first time in nearly hundred years when he resumed ceremonial services to the Great Guardian.
The one group in Helm’s Hold who did not welcome this news were the Black Earth Mercenaries. If anything, the return of Helm seemed to bring a derangement upon them. Dark deeds and abuses of power they’d been hiding in the shadows were instead committed defiantly in the light of the day. Black Earth soldiers openly bullied pilgrims and extorted merchants. It was as if they were growing desperate, but no one knew why. Especially when they were due to begin construction of their fortress, Reclamation Rock.
The Hold and the Rock, Part 6:[edit | edit source]
The contract between Helm’s Hold and the Black Earth mercenary company stipulated that the mercenaries would be allowed to build themselves a keep near the city. Though tensions were rising between the city and it’s supposed guardians, the contract was still valid and a site had been selected for the fortress on good ground a league away along the road. Marlos Urnrayle had claimed that his mercenaries’ magic could raise the fortress in a single day. The people of Helm’s Hold soon found out this was not a boast, but a threat.
When the day came to start construction, many members of the City council were present at the selected site. As the day wore on, no representatives from the Black Earth Mercenary company arrived. Then, the ground began to quake. Then a sound like and avalanche rumbled across the land, coming back from Helm’s Hold. The shaking continued for minutes, as the ground next to Helm’s Hold split open like a wound. From that ragged chasm rose a spire of stone, pushed up by the very earth itself. When the noise and the quakes stopped, it was too late to protest, for the dark spire of Reclamation Rock now cast its shadow over the city.
The Hold and the Rock, Part 7:[edit | edit source]
The people of Helm’s Hold were furious. The Black Earth Mercenary company had used their magic to erect the fortress of Reclamation Rock on their very doorstep. A dismissive letter from Marlos Urnrayle claimed the new location was due to simple miscalculation, and the end result was of no great importance, but the people of Helm’s Hold would not be so easily placated. As the City Council debated their next step, one of their number took action on his own.
Councilman Graves had been one of the voices in favor of the mercenary contract, and had profited greatly from it. However, he could not ignore the misgivings and suspicions from this latest incident. He asked to speak to Urnrayle to lean the truth, and to his surprise was granted an audience with the mysterious noble.
When Councilman Graves stumbled back into the council chambers the next day, he was a shaken man. He had met the eloquent noble Marlos Urnrayle, only to discover he was a decadent medusa. Urnrayle had rambled at length about mysterious plans and dark visions from elemental gods. He had made it plain that the mercenary company was only a front for an insane cult. Graves survived only because he had been able to convince Urnrayle he was also a believer, and would help the madman to rule Helm’s Hold.
The City Council stood aghast as Graves told his tale. They had all been fooled, and had handed their protection over to madmen. As they began to plan what they should do, terrible news reached Helm’s Hold from the Blackdagger Ruins, and from Neverwinter.
The Hold and the Rock, Part 8:[edit | edit source]
When word arrived in Helm’s Hold of the tidal wave that had struck Blackdagger Ruins, Urnrayle’s ramblings about devastation took on a much darker urgency. But before anyone could react, new came from Neverwinter about an attack on the city. An attack which included Black Earth soldiers. New spread around the city, and panic filled the streets.
It was then that the Cult of the Black Earth dropped all pretenses. The people of Helm’s Hold found their city once more under occupation. The Cultists were soon folly in control of the city and surrounding lands. However, they were busy with their own plans, desperately searching for something.
The cult’s behavior seemed puzzling, at first, until Councilman Graves realized that Marlos Urnrayle had explained it all during their meeting. The cult was looking for a place Urnrayle had seen in a vision: An underground forest in a vast cavern. He was convinced that was the place he should create his Earth node, which he could then use to create a devastation orb. The cult’s search was not a reprieve. It was a deadline.
The Hold and the Rock, Part 9:[edit | edit source]
The presence of Black Earth soldiers in the attack on Neverwinter had coincided with stories Lord Neverember had heard from spies back in Waterdeep. It seems Marlos Urnrayle had fled the city under rumor of strange occult ceremonies and bizarre death at his manor. His movements after then were traced to the Sumber hills, reports of a strange ceremony, and the rise of elemental cults. With all their worst fears confirmed, the New Neverwinter government began to active it’s contingency plans.
Neverwinter’s corps of rangers, led by veteran Dassar Truebow and bounty hunter Baram Hannikar, were sent to scout out Helm’s Hold and Reclamation Rock. Captain Dunfield voluntarily came out of retirement to return to the city he’d helped liberate before. And communications were re-established with the Helm’s Hold city council, who were already organizing resistance.
All was in place to fight back against the Cult of the Black Earth. The only question is can the heroes of Neverwinter stop the cult, or will Helm’s Hold fall beneath Reclamation Rock.
The Memorial Hills[edit | edit source]
After the defeat of the Ashmadai, the blasted battlefield in front of Helm’s Hold were cleared of the corpses of the fallen and the detritus of battle. The city embarked on a great project to transform the area of broken ground and rolling hills into a place of peace where those who died in defense of Helm’s Hold could find rest. With the full cooperation of Neverwinter, the project was completed in record time, and those who wished to mourn or remember could do so in safety. It was not to last for long.
Large sections of the Memorial hills were overturned when Reclamation Rock burst from the ground, and soon the Black Earth cultists began to openly show their disregard for the dead by robbing the greaves and tombs of the fallen. While Captain Dunfield and his men have a war to fight, they also take time whenever possible to thwart these grave robber, lest the city also have to deal with the angry dead.
The Return of Helm[edit | edit source]
The death of God Helm over a century ago in 1384 DR shook the world. Many paladins and knights found themselves without guidance. But now sages declare that a new era has begun, and with this new age God Helm has at last returned to Faerûn.
The Church of Helm is still rebuilding their numbers and gathering strength. Slowly, young acolytes and adepts are once more hearing Helm’s call, and one by one they have begun to return to Helm’s Hold despite danger. Or perhaps, as some suggest, the perils surrounding Helm’s Hold are a test from the Great Guardian, to prove the mettle of his fellow followers.
The Watcher's Forest[edit | edit source]
Long a place of contemplation and rest, the Watcher’s Forest has become a place of violence and desecration under the rule of the Cult of the Black Earth. When the Cult originally came to Helm’s Hold disguised as mercenaries, they made a bargain with the city to use parts of the Watcher’s Forest as a training are for their soldiers and set up several training camps to do so.
As their true intentions were revealed, the cultists let their guise slip. They became openly hostile to outsiders, attacking travelers, pilgrims, and merchants. What’s worse, they began excavating and desecrating the tombs of paladins interred in the forest, outraging the newly revived church of Helm.
Ulgarr Crumblechasm[edit | edit source]
The corrupt shield dwarf Ulgarr Crumblechasm fled his clan in a paranoid frenzy of robbery and betrayal, leaving behind only misery, recriminations, and depleted electrum mine. He was caught up in Marlos Urnrayle’s circle early on, and used his stole wealth to ensure his station by paying for the cult’s early endeavors.
Crumblechasm at first seemed to be a great help to the efforts to rebuild Helm’s Hold. He advised on engineering and tunneling projects, in particular with the repair of the lower city’s sewer system and the effort to shore up the walls. In truth, his goal was always to sabotage the reconstruction work. It is uncertain if the damage he caused can ever be fully repaired.