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Family Matters - Forgotten Realms Waterdeep Campaign

Isida Kep'Tukari

Adventurer
Supporter
This campaign is centered in the city of Waterdeep, known as the City of Splendors. It's effectively the magical fantasy equivalent of New York in terms of size, importance, and diversity. It's entirely possible to center a whole campaign around the intrigues, alleys, and dungeons in Waterdeep without ever really leaving the city. Our last campaign was also heavily combat-centric, while this one, being city-based, would have several sessions where no combat was done and little dice-rolling. It's been really fascinating to watch my players realize that, "No, I can't cut down this annoying guy in the street, even though he's a murdering bastard and I know it, because the city Watch will throw me in jail." They can't casually cast manipulation spells in public, can actually call the Watch for help (if they can prove they didn't start a fight), and have to use their contacts to help solve mysteries.

This is part of my opening e-mail to my players (they'd already written up their characters at this point and given me their backstories – 3.5 rules, Pathfinder orisons, 1st level, 32 point-buy, regional feat for free):

"Ok, with the Dawnforge Kingmakers campaign all wrapped up in all its glory, we embark upon a new journey. A journey in the Forgotten Realms, where you all live in the great city of Waterdeep. Though you are all just starting to hone the skills that will hopefully bring you honor, glory, power, treasure, renown, fame, fortune, and/or all the knowledge in the multiverse, you all have ambition to go as far as you can in the City of Splendors.

Welcome to Waterdeep. It's going to be a hell of a trip."

In an intriguing twist, when my players were making their characters, we ended up with several pairs of family members, which is how the campaign got its name.

And now, without further ado, our first session write-up!

When we first meet our intrepid heroes, they are living in the city-state of Waterdeep, the City of Splendors, on Sword Coast north. The trading metropolis of Toril, known for its diverse citizens and fantastic markets and centers for the arcane arts, it's a city of grand adventure. Dangerous dungeons lurk beneath the city, a testing ground for some, a death sentence for others. Hundreds of opportunists prowl in the shadows, gaining wealth and information by any means necessary, while others manipulate the markets or glittering parties of nobles to bring themselves wealth or power unlimited.

Our heroes are as follows:

Garden (pronounced Gordon) of the Origami clan of gnomes from the island nation of Lantan. Known as "Roof Runner" or "Rufus" to a select clientele. A near-native of Waterdeep (he's been there since he was a child), he's a rogue with a locksmithing and weapons shop in the Dock Ward. A shrewd businessman, he's not adverse to buying or distributing things through unconventional channels. (My dad's character, male gnome rogue headed towards Gnome Artificer PrC from Magic of Faerun, which I’ve modified to be open to non-spellcasters.)

Charissa (pronounced Karissa) of the Origami clan of gnomes. A human female deposited on the footsteps of the Origami clan's stronghold in Lantan (apparently knowing their predilection for adopting nearly anyone), she was raised as a gnome and took to their love of smokepowder at a young age. She's a gunslinger who splits her time between working at her brother Garden's shop and at the temple of Gond (the Wonderbringer, god of artifice and crafting), making weapons and smokepowder. (Female human gunslinger (from Pathfinder), native of Lantan, played by a husband of one of the other players)

Evelyn Violette - A spellscale sorceress of great beauty, strong magic, and powerful ambition, Evelyn (or Evie) wants to use her natural charm, beauty, and power to one day bring her to the ranks of the rich and highborn. If she doesn't end up marrying into high nobility, she's going to get ennobled herself, one way or another. Though her family is not rich, Evelyn's uniqueness has gotten her invitations to several parties of Waterdeep's merchant nobility. She swaps gossip and tales of the nobility for fine clothing from a skilled and fashionable seamstress, and tells all who see her where she got her gowns. With her familiar Princess (a white cat of unutterable cuteness), Evelyn is certain she can charm her way anywhere and dodge any unpleasantness life throws her way. (Female friend's character, female spellscale (Races of the Dragon) sorceress (Book of Eldritch Might version) with cat familiar)

Steven Violette - A spellscale paladin of freedom of Mystra (the goddess of magic), Steven is Evelyn's elder brother by a whole five minutes. He's dedicated himself to two causes - freeing people from the threat of evil magic, and making sure no one, NO ONE, harms his sister in any way. He's Evie's self-appointed guardian, and passes judgment on anyone who crosses her path. Or near her path. Or in the vague vicinity of her path. (My husband’s character, male spellscale paladin of freedom (from Unearthed Arcana) of Mystra)

William de Mer - A half aquatic-elf wizard of a scholarly bent, William is a student at the once-exclusive but still excellent Etorchul Academy. His father is a sea elf, his mother from a minor noble family. His father is a trader, and William has learned to increase his family's fortunes by taking what treasures his father brings from the sea and learning how to smartly sell them to those shopkeepers who cater to the truly wealthy. A dedicated student of the natural arts, when William is not selling to the shops, he can be found in the library, doing research. Actually, most of the time he can be found in the library. (Male half aquatic-elf wizard, headed towards the Guild Wizard of Waterdeep PrC from Magic of Faerun, played by the wife of Charissa's player)

Shandri de Mer - A human cleric of Istishia (the lord of elemental water), Shandri is William's cousin on his mother's side. With so many of her family wedding to the sea (William is not the only one with unusual parentage), Shandri felt called to the Church of Istishia from a young age, as their clerics intercede between the races of water and land. The church doesn't like stagnation, so while a cleric may stay in the same general area, they switch jobs and responsibilities frequently to keep fresh. Shandri has worked as a sailor and has spent time teaching people how to swim, but recently has come back to land to work amongst the people of Dock Ward. (DM's NPC, female human cleric of Istishia - the god of elemental water)

On the day in question, the 28th of Eleint (the equivalent of September), it was lacking two days to the Highharvestide festival. Garden and Charissa were down at the docks proper, picking up a shipment from the Lantan branch of the Origami clan. They found their first two expected crates easily, and then a third one was also found, full of the chemicals and reagents Charissa needed for smokepowder manufacture. That was delicately put on top of the dolly, and then Charissa was expected to push the whole thing back to the shop. Because she could see over them. Equitable division of labor, that!

Evie was down in the Dock Market for several reasons. Though the main Market in Castle Ward was known for having the best bargains, the things from the Dock Ward were often newer, people sometimes didn't know what they had, and very good bargains could by struck by the savvy shopper. As such, it had become a popular place recently for some younger nobles to congregate, enjoying the "rustic" atmosphere of one of Waterdeep's most diverse districts. And specifically, young Lord Robilar Wands was supposed to be there today, and Evie was, by the gods, going to get an invitation to the Wands' family Higharvestide party. Steven had come, of course, to protect her virtue. Because this was Evie, and Evie was... Evie.

Shandri had gone to find her cousin in the Etorchul academy library and whispered to him that she'd found something rather unusual in the Docks Market and wanted his expertise in seeing if it was worthy anything. With a bit of persuasion (and the threats of the Blessings of Istishia, a.k.a. a bunch of water conjured over one's head) William decided to take a study break.

Garden and Charissa were moving carefully through the crowds when a ragged street urchin approached them. He offered them a piece of chain main about the size of large man's hand, well-made and of unusual metal, for a very nominal price. Both Origamis were intrigued, and bought several pieces from him. Garden noted that there was a peculiar red powder on the chainmail. Possibly dried blood?

Evie hunted around the market until she spotted Lord Robliar Wands, and swung into action. She had discussed her plan beforehand with Princess, her familiar, and set her loose. Calling out, "Princess? Princess, where are you?" Princess made her way through the crowd and began to twine around Lord Robilar's ankles. He curiously picked up the cat just as Evie "found" her, and was very grateful that he'd been so goodly a gentleman as to rescue her beloved pet. They got to talking, and Robilar recognized Evie (she's one of only four spellscales in the city) from both her description and the fact that she's known as Madam Silverleaf's girl (Silverleaf being the seamstress that Evie wears exclusively). He suggested that he'd "see her there" at the Higharvestide party two days hence, quailed very slightly under Steven's gimlet stare, and eventually left to do his business.

After Lord Robilar had left, another urchin slipped up to Evie and Steven and showed them some unusual red rock, like deep red coral, and asked her if she'd like to buy it. Evie found it to be very unusual, and something that would make quite an impression on everyone.

Shandri led William to the cart of a rag-and-bone man called Harken. Amongst his usual bits of half-trash were also five chunks of deep red coral-like stone, one of which had a bronze disk embedded in it. Harken didn't quite seem to know what he had, and William realized he could get quite a bargain. However, he was too upright a citizen to cheat the man too badly, and wanted to know where the stone had come from. Harken confessed he was selling it for a friend (after a few judicious bribes and some lunch), a "skimmer" called Snail. Snail would come and meet them around lunchtime (for which William would pay) and might be willing to tell them where he found the stone. Agreeing thusly, William and Shandri took the stone back to William's "Uncle" Pietro, who had a warehouse, to see if there was anything else they could learn. In investigating the stone, William discovered that the stone itself radiated moderate transmutation magic while the bronze disk held faint abjuration magic.

Evie and Steven happened to notice that the same stone the urchins had sold her was also being sold to a scholarly looking fellow and a priestess over at a barrow-stall. They asked the urchins where they'd gotten the stone, and they were very reluctant to tell them. Steven, being the upright guy that he is, implied that he was going to call the Watch on the kids. The urchins bolted. As that commotion was going on, Garden and Charissa saw the urchins running (and Steven running after). Since they were the same ones who'd sold them their armor, they wanted to have words with them. Garden turned the dolly, which sent Steve sprawling. Charissa lunged for the box of explosive chemicals and managed to save it one inch from disaster. One urchin managed to get away, but the other knocked himself silly on a wagon.

Evie was there instantly, cooing over the little lad, putting his head in her lap, and trying to talk with him. She learned his name was Kip, and he was rather loopy and disoriented. She managed to get out of him that there was indeed more of this odd red rock, and he'd gotten it from a grate on Sea Road. He'd take her there, if she really wanted. Well, he said that after Steven had bribed him a bit.

Back at Garden and Charissa's shop, they were just putting things away when there was a knock on their door. Garden looked out the peephole to see another of the urchins, this one named Jik, who said he had more bits of metal to sell him. If he was willing to pay, Jik would take Charissa and him to the source. After some consultation, the Origamis agreed, and headed out.

At Uncle Pietro's warehouse, Pietro was intrigued by the rock, but wanted to know more about it before he started selling any of it. Shandri managed to pry the bronze disk out of one of the rock chunks, and discovered it was a holy symbol of Nobanion, god of kings and noble beasts and wemics. Which was an odd symbol to see around Waterdeep - not that you couldn't find something for nearly every god in Toril here, but Nobanion was usually far to the east of Waterdeep.

William and Shandri went to meet Harken's friend Snail, a decided slimy-looking man. After a bit of lubrication with silver, he agreed to take them to where he'd found the stone. And oddly enough, that's exactly when and where Garden and Charissa and Evie and Steven (and their urchin escorts) also showed up. The urchins took one look at each other, exclaimed, "I thought you were dead!" and both ran off. Eager to get to the bottom of this, the group questioned Snail, who said he'd been picking up pieces for several days, near "where the moans were coming from." The group wanted more information than that, but Snail slipped away (literally, the man was so saturated with things best left unmentioned that he was too slippery to hold).

Holding noses and breaths, the unlikely group descended into the sewers. Though smelly and dark, the group lit up lanterns or globes of magical light and spied chunks of red rock and bits of bronze armor littering the area like breadcrumbs. Crossing to parts of the sewers without getting slimed was nearly impossible, but they found a curious thing. One chunk of the armor was embedded in the red rock, and a couple chunks of red rock had texture on the inside, like they had been wet clay once formed around a rather large arm. Upon searching further, the group turned the corner to find a corpse being feasted upon by a pack of ravenous rats. Charissa fired a blank charge at them from her pistol, trying to get them to disperse (nearly deafening the party), but the rats instead turned and swarmed them, biting Charissa and Garden fiercely. Everyone fought as well as they could, killing individual rats by sword, hammer, or bullet, but Evie eventually put them all to sleep with magic. Shandri smashed the remaining rats in a fit of anger, then healed those who had been wounded.

Upon investigating the corpse, they discovered it had some of the red rock actually growing out of it, embedded into its skin. He also had a slim belt pouch which contained some unusual ivory coins usually only found in the Shaar, far to the east. It was then that the group heard moaning, like someone was in terrible pain. They pressed onward, scooping up chunks of rock or armor. The found a large spiderweb, and in it, a large spider, the size of small dog, who'd been completely encrusted by the red stone. Its eyes still blinked though, which gave most a very creepy feeling.

Beyond that was a waterfall down to a pool, and there, against the back wall, a large, six-legged creature covered in red stone, shackled to the wall, was moaning. Several of the group made their way down there (more or less gracefully; it was a steep slope). With careful application of a sap, Gardon was able to free the creature's mouth a bit. Shandri recognized the creature as a wemic, and that was borne out by the creature's story. It talked about a "cursed disease." Sir Karrik Firemane, paladin of Nobanion, had been guiding a group of four pilgrims here to Waterdeep. Apparently he had drawn some enmity when he defended his charges from attack, and they had cursed him, because he could remember little before the equinox (which had been seven days prior).

The group wanted to help him, but no one knew how to break the curse or cure the disease themselves. Shandri reluctantly recommended someone from the Church of Talona, the goddess of poison and plague. She was a nasty, petty goddess, but her followers would cure people of diseases without any questions asked, and no one knew which enemies the paladin could have. Seeing that they couldn't get the huge, stone-encrusted, nearly immobile wemic out of the sewer, everyone but Charissa and Garden elected to go to the temple of Talona themselves. Garden and Charissa worked on chipping off Sir Firemane's stony exterior as much as they could.

At the temple, the group told the greeting priestess their story, and showed the stony spider as evidence. Before long they were joined by Plaguemother Myra, an older woman, pockmarked with disease, who was clearly a powerful cleric. She listened to their story as she tried different techniques on the spider. The spider, through no fault of its own, ended up being split in half with some nails and a hammer (don't ask. One doesn't ask about the ways of a Plaguemother). Because the group could not pay, the Plaguemother instead asked that Steven deliver a sealed box to a manor in the Sea Ward. Steven was wary, but couldn't see that she was lying, and so agreed.

The Plaguemother returned to the sewers with them (she called them the "cauldron of the Mistress," much to the group's consternation), and through use of powerful scrolls, managed to cure the paladin from his stony curse. Upon hearing what that stone DID, the members of the group asked if they were in danger from having handled it The Plaguemother said that if, "No one had thrust it into your flesh with malice," they should be fine.

Sir Firemane thanked them for their help, and took the news that the other victim found in the sewers must have been one of his charges with sorrow. But there were still three more he needed to find and protect. He accepted his holy symbol back from Shandri, and then Evie and Garden handed him their calling cards. He swore to them he owed them a great debt, and then leaped from his place of imprisonment and was gone.

The group conducted the Plaugemother back to her temple, and after judicious scrubbing of themselves and the rocks and armor, sold them to raise a tidy profit. Who knew if they'd ever see these other slightly demented folks again? But still, it'll be something to chuckle over on long, dark evenings.

It was curious in passing, however, that Steven found he had to deliver the sealed box he'd gotten from the temple of Talona to the Wands' estate kitchen. Quite curious...

And so, our adventure continues…
 

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Isida Kep'Tukari

Adventurer
Supporter
Session 2

(Our next session began even before the session, with a series of short e-mails to my players about things that happened to their characters after their encounter in the sewers. Some of these include the player's e-mails back to me about what their characters did with the information/bones I threw them.) ;)

William

William, at your daily lecture at the Etorchul Academy, your instructor makes an announcement:

"You final-year students have been doing exceptionally well in our class this week. And because of that, we've something very exciting to share. As some of you know, this school has a long and noble history..."

William, even though you were always more interested in the intricacies of spellwork than the history of the school, absorbing some information is inevitable. The Etorchul Academy used to cater exclusively to the offspring of noble houses, but after a scandal that both tarnished the family's reputation and emptied many of its coffers, they now take a much more diverse group of students. They've lost some of their prestige, but still look for ways to make up that lost social ground.

"And we are striving to always enhance our school's good name as a prestigious arcane college. We have been invited to provide arcane entertainment for the Wands Family Higharvestide celebration by staging mageduels for their amusement."

There are some groans at this from a few student - Schoolwork? And on a holiday, no less? But mostly the room is filled with excited buzz. With everyone not being particularly powerful wizards, duels won't last long, which means everyone will still have plenty of time to enjoy the festivities of a noble's party. The instructor smiles indulgently as she raises her hands for silence.

"Obviously I expect everyone to be on their best behavior, respectful and polite. Dress robes will be required. Anyone found not living up to the Academy standards will be asked to leave the event. This will factor into your final grade for this section. Now, is everyone clear?"

A ragged chorus of affirmatives answers her.

"Now, you will be there at midafternoon on the day of the festival, sixteen bells by the Gond clock. Any further questions?"

-----------------

Evelyn and Steven

A messenger arrives at the Violette household with letters for Evelyn and Steven the next afternoon. The messenger himself is quite well-dressed, and what he bears is even more important than he thinks himself. There are two fine invitations to the Wands Family Higharvestide party, one of which contains a short, personal note from young Lord Robilar himself. "I hope to see you there." No more than that, and precisely written enough to make it look formal, but still! A personal note! And Lord Robilar had recognized Evie! (How could he not?) And Steven to come too, so no worries as to Evie's virtue. Marvelous, just marvelous, and with new jewelry to sport to boot. But what in the world are you both going to wear? Or do?

----------------------

Garden

The bell rings over Garden's door, a soft sound only audible to a few. It's well after dark, so the charcoal black clothes and slightly raggedy appearance of the scruffy-bearded youngster doesn't excite a glance from anyone. Not that it might have during the day, not in this neighborhood, but Roof Runner's nighttime customers don't tend to leave anything to chance. Well, the repeat customers don't. Anyone foolish enough to get caught gets what they deserve.

Garden looks up a takes a second glance at the boy. While wearing what seems to be the unofficial uniform of your average footpad, there are streaks of white powder on his cuffs, some burn scars and cuts on his hands that didn't come from scuffles with a knife-fighter, and he bears nothing more lethal than an eating dagger. No sap that you can detect, not even a sling, and certainly no fighting knife.

"Ah... Rufus?" he asked hesitantly, as he spies your red hair behind the counter. "I um... understand you make keys? I need one." He pulls out a rather elaborate key, with an enameled flower on the head and rather tricky grooves along the blade. Clearly it's too a good-quality lock at the least. The boy is nervous and keeps talking well beyond what a smart footpad might share. "I need the duplicate, really important, promised her I would..."

--> Garden agrees to make a duplicate key. He asks what to key unlocks, a lock box, a desk, etc. saying it is critical to know what the key opens so the duplicate is perfect.

While examining the key Garden tries to get as much information about what happened to the boy, his condition and who "she" is. This is done indirectly as possible, but trying to determine if this is an "sanctioned" job and if this child is in one of the clans, the Black Hands, an independent or even a thief at all.

Gordon will begin the molding process, he tells the boy it will be at least the next day to make the duplicate key. Gordon will of course make two copies of the key, one for the boy and one "just in case."

-->Garden, you examine the key minutely as you ask a few preliminary questions.

"You promised a woman? Good of you to keep your promises, very wise..." The boy blushes a bit, and under the cover of his embarrassment, you take a closer look at him. You realize after a few moments that this nervous "footpad" deals in an entirely different and more literal sort of "bread." The boy is a baker! The white powder on his cuffs is flour and the burn scars on his hands are from the ovens. Why would a baker need a key of this quality?

You ask about what kind of lock the key fits, citing several perfectly legitimate-sounding stories (some with even a grain of truth in them) about how different locks need different specifications on the keys.

"Ah," the boy ducks his head. "I can't rightly say. It's m'lord's key, so it's not my place..."

From this you guess the boy's employer is quite rich. Maybe it's the key to the wine cellar or something similar; that might be worth the money to make a copy of a key rather than just use it himself. If it were a key to a safe or a jewel chest, why bother with a copy? Just using the key once could set someone up for life, if they were clever. But for something less valuable but still important, a copy of a key could serve someone for a long time. The boy does eventually part with the fact that it is the key to a door.

As you quote the lad a price, he reaches into his belt pouch and turns scarlet.

"Ah... I don't have enough," he confesses. You favor him with a look that says, "foolish kid."

"Wait, wait, I can get you something! I work in the kitchen, and we're making all kinds of things for the festival. If you come to the back door, I can get you anything you want. You could join the servants' celebration, get free food and drink-. I think, er... I CAN get you a little cask of brandywine too."

Garden, the food from a noble's festival could actually be sold on the street for a tidy little profit, even the day after, if you pick the right things. And brandywine can go for a silver a glass, so that's no mean offer.

-----------

Charissa

The twelve chimes of the Gond clock signal high noon all over the temple, and a time for most to break for luncheon. Charissa has sometimes been known to work right though it, most dedicated craftsmen have more than once, but today there's a visitor near her workbench, and delaying in polishing the knife won't hurt it.

"Charissa Origami?" Her visitor is a harried-looking human woman in plain but serviceable clothing of good cloth. Blonde with brown eyes, she's nearly old enough to be your mother. If your mother were human, that is. "I have a commission for you. I need a knife matching this-" She places one on your bench, a good dress dagger with a deep tang and an oddly rounded tip. "-before Higharvestide. Can you do it?"

--> Charissa replies, "Of course, it will be easier if I can keep this for an example, but if not I will make a few drawings and get it done as soon as possible.

--> The woman seems reluctant to leave it, but this IS the temple of the Wonderbringer, and finding a competent draftsman (or draftsgnome) isn't very hard. Rubble makes you a good drawing (with measurements) that you can work from, as you heft the knife in your hand to get the best feel for it you can. It's clearly an odd sort of knife, not exactly meant for fighting, but carefully crafted.

"I'll be by tomorrow," the woman says, and puts fifteen silver and a fifty copper on your table, the full price of your work, in advance. She purses her lips slightly as she puts the money down, reluctant to let it go. "I'm Getha. If anyone tries to pick it up but me, ask them the color of my eyes. If they don't say sage, they're liars."

Getha's eyes clearly aren't sage, they're brown.

And with that, she turns to go.

--> Charissa takes that job and begins working. Seeing as Charissa is a bit naive she doesn't really get the woman's paranoia, but she will remember what she said and starts to work immediately.

--> Much later that day, Jik, the urchin that sent you and your brother on the wild wemic chase through the sewers, shows up at the temple with a note. It reads:

"I won't be able to get away to pick up my package. If you will deliver, there is additional payment. Ask the bearer about where and when."

It's signed - "Sage Eyes"

If you ask Jik, he tells you, "The Wands' festival party! At the back door! At dusk!" And holds out his hand, beaming proudly.

--> Charissa hands the boy a silver and thanks him. "Great now I have to figure out where this party is," she mutters to herself returning to work.

----------------------------

(With all the pieces of my plot in place (rubs hands together and cackles madly), it was time for the session!)

<lj-cut text="When we last left our intrepid heroes...">

When we last left our intrepid heroes, they had just gotten done with their Great Sewer Escapade. Over the next two days, many things happened to many people [here I inserted the copies e-mails from the individual players].

The new day dawns and everyone is getting ready to go to the Wands' Higharvestide festival party. Evelyn is carefully assembling her wardrobe and accessories with care while simultaneously trying to convince her brother that armor is not worn to a party. Steven keeps wondering why he can't, which produced many plaintive cries of, "MOM!" from Evelyn as both Violette women school Steven (again) in the art of appropriate attire. It's an uphill battle.

The Origamis get together at the shop and share their rather unusual commissions with each other, as well as the fact that they've basically both been invited to the party.

William is one of the first to arrive, as his class is providing the opening act for the Wands' party. As the instructors are getting the space ready, he's tapped on the shoulder by none other than his cousin Shandri. She had no idea William would be here, and tells him she was there with one of her superiors to do some ceremonies around renewing blessings on the well (along with water-dancing, a specialty amongst an obscure branch of Istishia's church).

Evelyn, of course, needed to arrive fashionably late, or just late enough to not look overly eager, but early enough to be able to talk to all the lovely people who were certain to be there. The entire trip to the Wands' estate was punctuated by demands-er, requests that Steven NOT glare at all and sundry. And to keep an appropriate distance. Steven agreed to a perfectly reasonable (in his mind) personal bubble of a whole five feet.

Charissa and Garden showed up at the back kitchen door, and Getha and the baker boy were eventually summoned to greet them. The baker boy got Garden his little brandywine cask, and Getha told Charissa she was free to partake of the food in the servants' party. But as both were quite busy, they didn't have time to conduct them around. Garden gleefully took advantage by eavesdropping the living daylight out of everything. With some observation, he noticed that the key he'd made seemed to go to a special part of the liquor storage. There was some kind of mead that was apparently the drink of the evening. Eventually both Origamis slipped out to the party proper in the garden, toting trays to look like servants (as neither were wearing party clothes).

William's turn at mageduels came up, and he was pared with Clarissa, a woman of noble blood in his class. She tended to favor the flashy spell color spray, and William had picked his spells accordingly. They formed their little arena, spent a moment protecting themselves with magic (if they chose), and the duel began. William noted that she had cast a shield spell on herself, which would negate the popular magic missile spell. Clarissa cast color spray at him, and he quickly counterspelled with the same. He dazed her, and she was unable to resist his magic. But when she recovered, she again cast color spray at him, and William was overwhelmed. Clarissa was quite pleased at her accomplishment, but William had had her in a very vulnerable position, and their instructor was quite pleased with them both.

Garden, by the by, had been watching ringside (easy to do when he was one of the shortest people there; easy to slip through the crowd) and ended up betting against William winning (several of the younger members of the party had been gambling on the outcome of the mageduels) and won himself a bit of gold.

It was during this duel that most of the others began to realize that, hey, it's that greenish-skinned fellow from that sewer fiasco the other day! Evelyn (and Steven, naturally) came up to say hello and say a word of praise for an entertaining match. Steven gave William a most murderous glare just for talking to Eveyln. Just on principle. Can't be too careful. Evelyn was also being careful that night, though not about her company. Once Steven had told her that he had taken the sealed box from the temple of Talona to the Wands' estate, Evelyn resolved not to eat or drink a thing. She took a glass for form's sake, but never sipped.

When Evelyn was walking through the crowd, she overheard a few bits of gossip (in between her carefully drawing attention to her clothing and jewelry and praising those that had made them). She'd known the Wands family had ties to the Watchful Order of Magists and Protectors, as well as Blackstaff Tower (Khelben Blackstaff himself was even in attendence that evening). However, it seemed that there was some apparent friction/disagreement between the Wands and the Thann and Amcathra noble families brewing. Amcathra sponsors the Order of Armorers as well as the Locksmiths & Finesmiths (and Lord Arilos just became the Senior Master of the Stablemasters' and Farrier's Guild) - they have a reputation for producing the finest blades in the city (though House Gralhund is seeming to challenge that superiority). The Thann also has ties to Blackstaff Tower. The only thing that both the Thann and Amcathra families have in common is sponsorship with the Vinters' Distillers' & Brewers' Guild (more so the Thann than Amcarath).

One of the Wands' lords gets up to begin the next stage of the festivities and Garden notices an odd thing that he passes on to Charissa when he finds her. That odd knife that Charissa had made? Lord Wands was using it to saber open a bottle of that fine mead everyone is drinking. As a matter of fact, he was using it with the mage hand spell to saber open many bottles in succession. ...huh.

It was right about then the party was interrupted by a shriek of dismay from the kitchen.

"ASH RATS! THERE ARE ASH RATS IN THE KITCHEN AND THEY'RE BURNING THE CAKE!"

The group, motivated by visions of monetary or social reward, or just the knowledge that ash rats can burn down buildings, raced to the rescue before anyone else had moved.

The found the kitchen in good time, and the terrified cooks and scullery maids withdrew as the pointed them to a smoking oven. Shandri was the fastest in, and attempted to use Istishia's blessing (i.e. create water) to try to cool the ash rats' temper. It created a great billow of steam that they seemed to not like at all. They retaliated by spitting fire at her, burning her badly. Gasping in pain, Shandri flinched away as Charissa raised her pistol and fired at the half-visible figures of the ash rats. She winged one, and then Steven, brandishing his longsword, and Garden, brandishing his rapier, stepped up to the oven. William and Evelyn flanked Charissa, spells at the ready.

What followed was a hysterical combination of Murphy's law and teamwork.

Steven attempted to slice through the ash rats (each the size of a large dog) with his longsword, but lost his grip and inadvertently threw it into the oven. Then took some fiery ash rat spit to the face for his trouble. William set off a flare spell back in the oven to backlight the rats, and Evelyn cast Margul, the Dreaded Freeze, which rendered one ash rat helpless to fight back. Garden took full advantage and neatly skewered its heart. This pattern repeated twice more, with Charissa adding a bullet or two to the mix, but essentially William and Evelyn targeted and paralyzed the rats that Garden killed with panache.

After the fight, the tiny little gnome dubbed his little rapier, "Ratsticker."

As the kitchen workers came back, thanking the strangers who had been so quick to come to their rescue, Lord Robilar arrived, all smiles when he saw Evelyn and her friends had helped his family. He said that his mother wished to reward them. The group took a moment to clean themselves, and then was conducted to a parlor overlooking the garden. The elegant Lady Wands thanked them for their quick defense of her people and said she had some small tokens to reward them.

To Garden, who had fought so valiantly, she gave him three pieces of golden thread, that when wrapped around the hilt of a weapon, would briefly give it the ability to penetrate the hides of those hardened even by magic. (One-use magic weapon, x3)

To Charissa, who had also fought, and used her loud weapon to frighten the ash rats so that they feared to venture from the oven and thus contained the damage, she gave three golden bullets, which could strike even the enchanted. (+1 bullets, x3)

To Steven, whose bravery had kept him shielding her people even though his weapon was gone, she gave a fine locking gauntlet. Three glass beads were on the back of it - press them and he would be briefly shielded by magical force. (One-use shield spell, x3)

To Shandri, who had absorbed the ash rats' wrath at risk of her own life, she gave her a slim wand of healing, that she could conserve her god's strength as well as aiding her friends. (Wand of cure light wounds, 25 charges)

To William, who worked calmly in concert with the others, but also would have been ready to fight the ash rats himself if he must (the Lady Wands had noted William's rapier at his side), she gave him two chips of jasmal (a clear stone that shows an amber halo in sunlight, it can be added as a spell component that adds +1 effective caster level in any spell that adds an enhancement bonus to armor or weapons).

To Evelyn, who had used an unusual spell of her dragon heritage to devastating effect, she gave two chips of tomb jade (jade buried near bronze artifacts, which turns brown or red, it can be added as a spell component that adds a +1 DC to any enchantment (compulsion) spells).

She thanked the group and bade them to continue to enjoy the festival. After she left, young Lord Robilar conducted them back to the garden. Evelyn noticed that he seemed a little off, slurring his speech a little. She mentioned something, but he brushed it off, saying simply he had had many glasses of mead that evening.

And so, our story continues amidst the great and powerful of the City of Splendors...
 

Isida Kep'Tukari

Adventurer
Supporter
Session 3

When we last left our intrepid heroes, you were still at the Wands' family Higharvestide party, having been gifted with small rewards from Lady Wands for your assistance in the matter of the ash rats.

However, as you rejoined the party, there was still something of a mystery in the air, at least to each of you. What was going on with the duplicate champagne saber that Charissa had made and the Wands were using? What had been going on with that key Garden had made? And what was going on with Lord Robilar Wands' odd drunken behavior? Curious for various reasons, you went to gather information in various ways. The Violettes took a look up at the high table, and noticed that there was a fair amount of tipsy behavior going on, similar to Lord Robilar. They wanted to get a sample of the mead to see if something was up with that, however, none of them could get really close to the high table, though Garden gave it his best shot. Undeterred, Garden decided to go to the source. Taking shameless advantage of the chaos of the party and the disruption in the kitchen from the ash rats' attack, Garden brazenly bluffed his way into the liquor room and into the mead room. He studied the racks of mead, and found that it all came from the Fruit of the Vine winery. Also, one particular rack, the rack that seemed to be going to the high table, had odd golden seals on the necks, which the others did not.

Concerned at this, and wanting to get to the bottom of things, the group "persuaded" Getha to come out to the alley and pressed her hard for the truth. Under threat of turning her into the courts, Getha confessed that her mother was dreadfully ill. She couldn't afford the treatments from the temple of Lathander, but another man had been treating her mother with less expensive herbal potions that helped her with the worst of her symptoms. As payment, he told her to get the champagne saber made. Also, he apparently pressed her nephew into service in getting a duplicate key to the liquor room. She did not know the herbalist's name, and was tearful and contrite as she spoke.

The group determined that the real saber was still locked up in the dining room, and to see what kind of plot might have been afoot, had Getha take them there to examine it. The saber was in its box in a locked and spelled cabinet. Examining it, William determined that it bore many protective spells to alert the user to poison or other impurities in the drink, and could purge said drink of any poisons or impurities. Alarmed that someone may have put something in the mead that the Wands would not have been checking for, secure in the fact that their saber would protect them, they sought at audience with Lady Wands. Getha protested fearfully, but went with them. She didn't want to lose her mother or her job for her part in what was happening. Some of the party was sympathetic, but Evelyn was... not.

As they approached the Lady, Getha was suddenly struck down by a most fearful curse. There had been a contingency spell on her, set to curse her into a coma if certain conditions were met (possibly confessing, or getting close to Lady Wands, the group wasn't sure). The Lady Wands was understandably startled by both the group seeking her out and one of her undercooks collapsing unto near-death, but let them speak. She sent for a priest attending the party as the group laid out the conspiracy, her lips pressed together in annoyance and anger. She sent for some of the suspect mead as well as the "false" saber. The saber was an excellent copy, and, as it turned out, imbued with a magical aura set to counterfeit the one on the real saber. Since the saber had only been delivered a few hours prior, that was cause for concern, as the caster might still be in the house. What was also of great concern was the fact that the mead was not poisoned, or diseased, or enchanted, but alive. It was, in fact, a creature called an amber ooze, which weakens the will of the victim and eventually, slowly kills them.

(Also during the conversation the group reluctantly dropped the fact that the Temple of Talona had gotten Steven to bring a box to the house. The Lady Wands said there was political trouble and goblets were treated with the powders contained in the box to ward off potential poisonings from bottles not opened with the saber. She didn't expect death, but rather embarrassment from giving guests food poisoning, which, in Waterdeep's mercantile political climate, can cause a great loss of power.)

Quickly, Lady Wands called for her servants to lock down the house and her priest said everyone who had drunken the suspect mead needed to swallow vinegar to expel the amber oozes.

Though the group had saved the Wands from a terrible plot, they'd also been instrumental in nearly bringing it to fruition, including copying noble property. Charissa was truly properly contrite. (Luckily no one had found Getha's nephew, and Garden didn't say boo about the key.) So to thank them, the Lady Wands magnanimously didn't press charges. She sent priests to tend to Getha's mother, in hopes that she could identify the person who'd treated her. And with that, the group left, except for Shandri, who stayed both to help her superiors pack up their supplies, and on Evie's insistence to gather as much gossip as she could.

The Violettes returned home, where Evelyn and her mother got down to the serious business of gossip. First, the most things were discharged - who was wearing what, who was seen with whom, and oh my did you see that Lady Isadore was definitely hiding a delicate condition? Eventually they did get around to the terrible plot as well. Steven attempted to commiserate with his father, who merely shook his head at the whole affair. To be honest, the man was a bit deep into a bottle of wine at that point. Maybe more than one bottle.

The Origamis also went home, and Garden quickly went over roof and gable to put the duplicate key copy somewhere far safer than in his shop. He also did a little investigating on his own, trying to find Getha's nephew. He backtracked from the Wands' manse, checking taverns and inns, and eventually did find him. In an alley behind the Pig and Potion tavern. Dead from arsenic poisoning. Oh dear.

Shandri eventually got back and went to talk to William. She said that the guests were mostly all right after a vinegar purge of the amber oozes. Getha's mother had also been dozed with one of the horrible little things, but hadn't had a clue as to who'd been treating her (she'd been very weak). The priests were able to help her too. However, they hadn't been able to save Getha; she was dead, and her nephew was missing. Concerned that all of this together could mean trouble for the party (whoever was behind this could try to go after Charissa, who'd made the saber, or the Violettes, who were distinctive personalities who'd helped thwart it) they decided to go to the Violettes.

They were still up, of course. They had a long discussion comparing their notes, and sent a message to the Origamis as well, needing to get their input. Shandri had suggested meeting at one of the many dockside taverns, but discretion had to be the group's watchword, as the Violettes were noticeable. Garden put in his suggestion - that they meet in the Empty Grave, an inn near the temple of Kelemvor, the god of the dead. A haunt, as it were, of morticians, coffin-makers, professional mourners, dirge-singers, Kelemvor priests, and others associated with the business of death, it would be about the last place you'd expect to see the group.

They got a private room there the next day and compared their notes. (Garden did not tell anyone about the fact that he had found Getha's nephew's body.) They wanted to investigate Getha's home to see if they could find one of the potion vials and maybe a maker's mark on it. Though the Wands were already investigating, the group was starting to fear for their own safety after Getha's death. With a bit of asking around, they discovered that Getha's wake was being held at the Temple of Chauntea. Two of the group went there and found Getha's mother, still pale, mourning her daughter. Carefully questioning her, they managed to get her address under the pretense of sending memorial gifts.

Then they went, got the group, and did some breaking and entering.

Though the place had been mostly cleaned up, Garden did manage to spy a single, mostly-hidden, partially empty potion vial hidden under a shelf. And it did indeed have a maker's mark. A bit of further investigation discovered that the nephew lived nearby. Checking out his place found a note on the floor - "Meet at the Pig and Potion," a local tavern.

Thusly armed with pieces of a conspiracy, the adventure continues...
 

Isida Kep'Tukari

Adventurer
Supporter
Session 4

When we last left our intrepid heroes, they had split up to pursue separate leads. The Origamis and the De Mers wanted to head to the Pig and the Potion to try to find Getha's nephew while the Violettes headed home for Evelyn's nightly beauty treatment. Both of these things were extremely important, naturally.

The Violettes arrived home to discover a note on their front door, the elaborate "V" of their family crest crossed out with what looked like blood. Knowing a death threat when he saw one, Steven got Evelyn inside, locked the doors, and went to inform the City Watch about the death threat. The captain said he'd look into it (he even examined the paper magically, using a wand, which took him a painful amount of effort to do, though he found none) and increase patrols by the Violette house. Then Steven went to a local tavern/hiring post called the Broken Blade, which sold mercenary services alongside ale. Harkon, the proprietor, heard Steven's request for guards for his house and fixed him up with people for both day and night shifts for the next tenday. Two elven bladesmen departed with Steven that very night to commence the night watch.

Evelyn remained in the hands of the Violette's sole servant, Molly, who was doing her and her mother's nightly beauty treatments, so Steven went to speak to his father about the threat. The senior Violette said that, for once, they had no outstanding debts, and had offended no one of dire import, though he appreciated his son's dilligence in protecting the family.

A little later that evening, one of the guards called to Steven and informed him that there was someone watching the house, and had been for hours. Steven pried Evelyn out of her scale scrubs and lotion applications to come with him to confront the man. She froze him in place with her very effective spell of Margul (the dreaded freeze) so he couldn't run while brother and sister cut off his escape routes and questioned him. The spell did not last for long, and the watcher was indignant of why they'd accosted him. Evelyn was very tempted to cast a spell of charming over him so he'd answer her questions, but realized at the last moment that their guards were still watching them vigilantly (they'd been warned to stay back, in case someone made an attempt on the house). So instead Steven and Evelyn questioned the man with naught but their wits and native suspicions. The man claimed, loudly, that he was an architect who'd been studying their home as an example of dragon-influenced architecture. He had some fair drawings he'd made to prove it. When asked why he hadn't bothered to knock on their door and ask, he claimed that he did not wish to be "influenced" by the inhabitants of the house when he made his drawings.

He seemed eccentric, if sincere, and reluctantly the Violettes let him go.

The next morning, very early, there was a knock on the kitchen door. Steven answered, looked down, and found Kip, one of the urchins they'd met in the Dock Ward market last tenday.

Ragged and stinking as always, Kip asked, "Is the nice lady here?" Steven thought about that question carefully. "No," he replied, with sincerity.

Kip clarified about "the purple lady that held me when I hit my head on the wagon in the market," which Steven did recognize. He let Kip in and talked to him. The boy said that his friends had been disappearing - not entirely unusual, given the life of a street waif in Waterdeep, but many of them had gone missing in a short time. Several had disappeared after going to work for "Snail," a sewer entrepreneur Steven remembered from their adventure with the wemic. Kip was also worried because it was only the smallest kids who'd gone missing, and he was worried about the "red haired little man" (Garden Origami) too. And since Evelyn seemed to know him, Kip thought they could help him and his friends.

Eventually Steven decided to take Kip in as Molly's helper (the long-suffering maid only uttered a patented long-suffering sigh at the news that she would be required to teach a dirty street urchin about house cleaning) while he and his sister went to discover the reason for the disappearing kids.

Meanwhile, while the Violettes were dealing with death threats and urchin-mooching, the Origamis and the De Mers were traveling to the Pig and the Potion, which was not in the best neighborhood. On the way there, they were attacked out of a dark alley by a gang of six footpads armed with crossbows and daggers. Most aimed for Charissa, and both her and her brother were hit. Garden retaliated with a handcrossbow bolt tipped in sleep poison, and knocked one of the footpads out. He called out that he'd already killed one, and would the others court death by trying to press their attack? One of the footpads hissed to another that they were getting paid well for this, so carry on, and they attacked again. William cast a spell of slumber, which took the rest of them down neatly (he was very pleased at the tidy bit of magic). Shandri healed Charissa as Garden rifled the bodies. They took their silver and copper, and also found some Gond bells (brass bells used as currency in Gond's temples, though they also had some intrisic value).

Shandri and William went to go find the local Watch station to inform them they'd been attacked while Garden woke up one of the miscreants to interrogate her. She was fairly closed-mouthed, but he did find out that her gang had been hired by a masked and hooded man who'd paid them to kill Charissa. Wanting to put a little fear into the underworld, (Garden had bluffed her into thinking all her sleeping companions were dead) Garden hissed in her ear that he was, "Roof Runner." The woman blanched, whether from recognizing his name, or recognizing the fact that he wanted her to recognize his name and would probably be put out if she didn't react, and ran.

The local Watch captain, Largo, was a loud and belligerant man who was annoyed at being dragged from his cozy station to bring in miscreants, was loudly irked that there was one less body than was promised, but pleased that he didn't have to do any investigating or listen to any whining from the thieves. He had his men stack them up in a cart and hauled them off to gaol.

The group proceeded unmolested to the Pig and the Potion and took a quick look in the alley, only to discover the dead and now-rotting corpse of Getha's nephew. Garden went to both inform the Wands' household (specifically the kitchen staff) of the lad's death, and also stopped by the Watch station to tell Captain Largo that there was a properly dead body in need of being collected outside the tavern. The kitchen staff was saddened by the news, while Captain Largo was just irritated. But it seemed irritation was more-or-less a permanent state with him.

Charissa, William, and Shandri went into the rowdy Pig and Potion and talked to the barkeep (after sliding him a couple coins) about Getha's nephew (whose name, they learned, was Trey). The barkeep said he'd been talking to Father Geb the last time he'd been in here, and nodded over to a table against one wall. Father Geb was dark-haired, dressed in dark, non-descript priest's robes peculiar to no specific god, and was apparently doing a brisk business in palm reading, deck reading, and possibly acting as a bookie. As he elaborated on someone's fortune, William decided to see if he could get information out of the man. So William and Shandri approached him, William acting as the subject, and Shandri vaugely implying that William had a girlfriend he wanted to impress. Father Geb put on a good show, but when Shandri worked Trey into the conversation, Father Geb didn't seemed fazed at all. Charissa was tired of this ruse, and so they had Father Geb come outside the tavern.

They wanted to show him Trey's body and see if they could get a reaction, but Garden's work to Captain Largo had already produced results, and Trey's body was gone. Father Geb said Trey had needed to get out of town quickly, and had told him the name of a man who occasionally helped people in that predicament, a sewer opportunist called Snail. After the night before last, Geb hadn't seen him. Charissa was certain he was lying, and wanted to apply some force to make him talk, but they were in the street of a busy tavern district, and none of them could detect any active lie in Father Geb. Frustrated, they had to let him go (he had been almost nauseatingly cheerful and friendly throughout, but they certainly would never buy a used horse from the man). Shandri had been very quiet and subdued, and once Father Geb was out of earshot, mentioned she'd seen part of a holy symbol he was wearing - it was Beshaba's, the goddess of bad luck and accidents.

Almost as one the group went to a gambling hall to make an offering to Tymora (a.k.a. playing a game of chance) to ward off any bad luck from a devotee of Lady Doom.

And so, our story continues...
 

Isida Kep'Tukari

Adventurer
Supporter
Session 5

When we last left our intrepid heroes, you had several unusual leads to pursue, some bits of things to unravel, and things to do. (One piece the DM forgot to remind you all about - You learned that the maker's mark on the empty potion vial you got from Getha's mother's house was for one Melvin Mask, a distiller and alchemist.)

All of the group had interest in finding Snail, the sewer entrepreneur that had both employed some of Kit's friends and may have been Trey's (Getha's nephew) point of contact to attempt to flee the city. However, that next day, the Violettes had another task they needed to do, and let the Origamis and the Del Mers they could meet them tomorrow.

The Violettes were visited early in the morning by a member of the city Watch, following up on their report of a death threat pinned to their door the previous evening. After calling Evelyn down from her morning beauty treatments to listen, the young man told Steven and his sister that the note was marked with dragon's blood. Also, similar threats had been delivered (at other, earlier times) to other homes in the area, and the homes had been burgled, the inhabitants robbed, or the inhabitants themselves attacked. The guard assured them they would patrol by their home regularly to thwart attacks, and Steven felt a bit smug that he had gotten some house guards already.

After the guard had left, the siblings went to see Mother, who, while vaguely knew all of the families affected, couldn't think who she'd offended recently that would want to kill her. (And they certainly didn't have much to rob.)

Steven double-checked with his father, and discovered that yes, for once, this was true. Mother really DIDN'T have any current death-threats. Red letter day in the Violette household.

However, she DID know the location of one of the few other dragons in the city, who might keep closer tabs on her kin. It’s possible she might be able to lead them to the source of the dragon’s blood used on the death-threat. The song dragon Raxmathlinda – known as Rel to most, ran a curiosity and pawn shop in the Dock Ward. Song dragons being social sorts, perhaps she might know who, if anyone might have a grudge. Or there was also the more annoying possibility that the dragon’s blood had been from a dead dragon, in which case tracking it would be very difficult indeed.

The Violettes went to Raxmathlinda’s pawn shop, located down a twisty little alley in a relatively quiet but poor area of the Dock Ward. There was a faint light inside the shop, and above the door was the usual sign for a pawn shop, hands exchanging coins for a knife. But Princess, Evelyn’s familiar, noted that the knife was stained with tacky red (faintly magical) blood on its edge. Concerned, they went in, but Raxmathlinda was neither being robbed nor had been attacked, as her shop was in perfect order. Like most song dragons, she spent most of her time in her alternate form, in her case, that of a half-elf woman.

She was pleased to see the Violettes, saying the last time she’d seen them they’d been, “knee high to a knee.” Raxmathlinda listened to what brought them there with consternation. She told them the only thing the various families had in common was a dragon’s hoard. About three hundred years ago, a powerful blue dragon called Marsekavris had been slain, and these families had end up transporting his hoard back to the city and/or processing the treasure for the adventurers in question, and had been paid in dragon treasure. The other thing that was similar about the families was that all of them were fallen on harder times, like the Violette family, and might have clung to parts of that hoard when their fortunes turned. Essentially, they might have been more vulnerable to having the parts of the hoard stolen. Of all the families that had parts of the hoard, only the Markovian family and the Violettes had yet to be hit. The Markovians had ended up with dragonscale armor.

Evelyn recognized the name, as they had a younger son near her age that liked her, and they had fabulous garden parties. They wanted to go visit them and warn them post-haste. On their trip home, they were attacked by thieves wielding slings and red-stained daggers. to very painful effect Steven sliced two in half, Evelyn froze a couple, briefly and even Princess mauled some of them. Two were killed, and two ran. Evelyn ran after them, and was nearly brought down, but Steven managed to come to her rescue and injure a third enough so the fourth ran away. The thieves had slit-pupiled eyes and had cursed them in Draconic. On their chests, they bore the sigils of Marsekavris. In their belt pouches, aside from daggers and slings, they also bore red whetstones. Steven alerted the Guard to the dead and turned over the injured man to them. Then they quickly went to the temple of Mystra to ask their advice.

The priests healed Steven as the Violettes laid out their story. The priests were concerned that someone might be trying to raise power for Marsekavris in the beginnings of a cult. The Violettes were warned to be cautious. Later, they returned to Raxmathlinda's shop to tell her what had happened, and she said that the red whetstones were actually clots of Marsekavris' blood, and could be used to taint someone into being under his sway.

A little disturbed, they went home to talk to Mother, asking her about anything she might have gotten from a horde. It seemed that Mother had several old scrolls of very ancient spells, rare and valuable, from such a place. Knowing what Marsekavris (or his cult) were after, Evelyn and Steven decided to go and warn the Markovians, in case they too were in danger.

They spoke to Lady Markovian first, and she seemed honestly appalled that anyone would go after her family. Her son, the young Lord Markovian, was in training at the temple of Helm; perhaps he could seek aid from them. Shortly thereafter, Lord Markovian arrived, arrayed in splendid blue dragonscale armor. When the Violettes repeated their story, he seemed gravely concerned. But when Evelyn silently cast Learn Heritage on him, as she'd done for his mother, found him to be tainted with Marsekavris' bloodline. Lord Markovian speculated what the Violettes might have to warrent such attention from a nasty cult, but Evelyn played dumb. Markovian suggested he escort them home for their safety, claiming that if anyone came after the both of them, they would be better served with having more people in a group. No believing him, Evelyn suggested he put his armor in the vaults of the temple of Helm, for certainly there could be no safer place in the Realms. He agreed readily enough, but from his body language, Evelyn knew he didn't intend to do anything of the sort.

After extracting themselves from a potentially dangerous situation, both parties lying outrageously, the Violettes returned to the temple of Mystra bearing the news of Lord Markovian's taint. Profoundly disturbed, the priest said he'd get together a group at once to go to their home and try to untangle Marsekavris' taint from Markovian's spirit.

Hedging his bets, Steven dropped off at the Broken Sword and hired three more guards to protect their parents. The Armsmaster got them three, Relvak (a huge half-orc woman), Vellos (a dwarf with a large axe), and Thees (a swashbuckling human man). They returned home, found the door kicked in, and their guards dead on the floor and stairs, with screaming echoing from above. Everyone ran upstairs, and found Lord Markavian menacing their parents, a ghostly form of a dragon about his shoulders. Father was defending Mother with a sword, but it was clear it wouldn't be long before he was cut down. The hired guards gave Steven a look, "Them or him?" "Protect them" he said, and they quickly got between Markovian and the elder Violettes. Markovian turned to engage Steven and dealt him a wicked blow, as the ghostly dragon turned and breathed out lightning on the hired guards, scorching them badly. Evelyn, out of spells for the day, called to her mother for help. Mother yelled at her to get into her jewel case, where, in the bottom, was a potion and three wands. Following Mother's directions, Evelyn used a wand of magic missiles on the ghostly dragon as Steven engaged Markovian to his death. With Markovian dead, the ghostly dragon dissapated.

Not long after, the priests of Mystra reappeared, chagrinned that they hadn't realized Marsekavris had driven Markovian to act so soon. They would take charge of Markovian's remains to see if any hint of Marsekavris' spirit lingered. As well they would take the armor and purify it. Once they had finished studying it, however, it would pass to Steven.

(Let it be known that the Violettes' long-suffering maid, Molly, who had been tasked with getting the blood out of Evelyn's robes from the first attack, came walking by at this point, looked in the master bedroom, saw the blood, and sighed. Then kept walking.)

The next day, Lady Markovian dropped off a chest which apparently contained her son's burgening horde. After returning the stolen item, there were still quite a few things that belonged to no one in particular, and she didn't want the in the house. There were quite a few pieces of platinum, a lot of fine jewelry, a curious diadem that allowed one to cast animate tattoo several times a day, and a dress with heavy silver thread that doubled as light armor. Steven took the coins. Evelyn took the rest. (Or, rather, Steven took charge of the coins for Evelyn's allowance.)

---

Now, during that same day, having got the message that the Violettes were to meet them on the morrow, the Origamis and the Del Mers decided to work on another loose thread of the Wands Higharvestide attack - the link to the Fruit of the Vine winery, who supplied the mead for the Wands' party.

The group rose at an early hour, Garden and Charissa never having gotten sleep, William and Shandri having gotten very little. The winery was a little outside the city proper, so the group took a small hike to the walled and fortified vineyard. Though Waterdeep had been under siege many times in the past, the winery had survived by not being very strategically placed, not having much terribly portable wealth, and by having good defenders. Generally most would-be conquering armies would say, “We’ll get you once we get Waterdeep.” Through judicious bribery and non-aggression, the vineyard managed to survive.

The group showed up at the gates, and Garden provided the reason for their visit – he was in charge of obtaining drink for a clan party. Charissa was of the clan, William was Garden’s “student of culture,” and Shandri was here to check for purity. (Garden sold William’s presence by explaining things slowly and loudly with simple words. William rolled his eyes and carried on with his own observations.) Brewmaster Kel was happy to show the group around briefly before starting on a tasting. William noted that what little he could see of the fields were under a plant growth spell to keep them healthy and fruitful.

The Brewmaster charged them a small fee for the tasting, and in order to maintain their cover, Garden found himself saddled with a 250gp bill for wine and mead (with a special bottle for the Guildmaster). Wincing internally, Garden knew he could get the clan to cover it, but they’d take it out of his shop’s profits for the presumption.

But now, as a contracted customer, Garden was entitled to a full tour of the facilities. The group toured the wine vats and storerooms, and listened the Brewmaster’s lectures until they got to the apiary and mead room. (The bees themselves were behind enchanted glass.) The Brewmaster was suddenly called away to deal with another customer, and the group set to exploring.

The mead room had an earthen floor (for the bees’ comfort or somesuch), and one area of it was rather wet. The area right below a rack of mead that had the same oddly patinaed gold seals that they had seen at the Wands’ party, the bottles tainted with amber oozes. And the group poked at the earth, four oozes bubbled up from the ground and advanced. Startled, the party reacted quickly. Charissa shot one, Shandri tried to hit one with her warhammer, William opened what he thought was a supply closet to look for something to capture them with, and Garden took off out the door, yelling about fire (to bring other employees). Charissa and Shandri were able to hurt the things (though potentially deadly, they weren’t terribly hard to hit). Garden’s yells brought a drunken response of “Yeah, firewater!” from a thoroughly soused dwarf half-insensible behind a brewing vat. Garden continued running and yelling for someone who was not drunk.

Poor William, however, found himself under attack. A glassy-looking dark purple warhammer inscribed with vines flew out of the closet under its own power and took a swing at him. Quite surprised, William yelped or swore or made a manly shout (accounts differ), and ducked. The hammer then flew towards Charissa. William was going to grab something to contain the ooze (a bucket, perhaps). Charissa and Shandri continued with their Jell-O wrestling (or ooze fighting, one of the two), though Charissa tried to grab the hammer as the more dangerous threat.

Garden finally found some sober winery employees and led them back to the mead room. By that time, Charissa had briefly gotten ahold of the hammer, Shandri had most of the oozes squashed, and William had scooped one up in a bottle. The hammer finally squirmed out of Charissa’s grasp and flew towards Garden, winging Shandri on the way. Who promptly started giggling like that time she and William had been imprudent at a party. The hammer… had gotten her hammered.

One of the employees saw the hammer, squinted at it, looked surprised, and shouted, “Closing time!” The hammer fell quiescent.

In the ensuing hullaballo, William slipped the bottled ooze into Charissa’s coat, and it was discovered there was a trap door in the closet. The vineyard manager, one Sorée Thann, was rather beside himself in embarrassment. He called for a wand from his office, by which he rendered Shandri sober. (The drunk dwarf, apparently one Granite Alehearth, a buyer of their wares, took a few extra applications.) A bit of herbal powder took care with the attendant hangovers.

Upon seeing the hammer, Sorée said it was something out of legend, belonging to an older order called the Knights of the Vine. But they went extinct over a century ago. (Though their stories were still popular, hence why one of the vineyard workers knew the most common command words to the hammer.)

The trapdoor in the closet led to a carved stone passageway lit with magical torches. Uneasy at the thought of oozes coming up through his floor from this underground chamber, Sorée let the party know he’d be willing to forgive Garden’s account balance if they’d help get to the bottom of this (literally). Garden said he’d send a bill, Sorée turned a few interesting colors, and the group descended down a ladder to the passageway. They found a beautifully carved door of the same grape cluster motif as on the hammer. Inscribed upon the door were the words “The Knights of the Vine.”

Instead of having a handle or a keyhole, there was a goblet carved into the door. Calling up the sadder, the group got a bottle of wine and poured it into the goblet. The goblet drank itself dry and opened. It revealed a tomb with three sarcophagi with bas relief lids, one cracked down the middle. Another door was across the room. A brazier burned in one corner, and in the other, a huge bowl was full of leaping gobs of amber oozes that were jumping up to a crack on the ceiling and back down like a lava lamp (corresponding to where they were coming up through the floor upstairs). A close examination showed containment and stasis spells had been on the bowl, but had been sabotaged. Ruthlessly the group called up for vinegar and destroyed the little menaces.

Left with the sarcophagi and a door, they checked the sarcophagi first. Two were sealed and the broken one was not. Moving the broken lid, they found a desiccated corpse dressed in purple-dyed leather-and-chain armor, his hands crossed over his chest, his fingers broken (probably from having his hammer taken). None of the tombs had magic on them.

Then they checked the door, similar to the outer one, but this one say “In Vino Veritas.” They needed a great deal more wine to open it, but when it did, it opened onto a bustling tavern. Blinking and rubbing their eyes, the group looked again. Yup. Tavern.

Near the bar was a table at which sat three people in purple armor, smiling and waving at the group to join them. William realized this was a powerful, elaborate illusion of some type. Under the magic the room was bare save for the table, chairs, three chests under the chairs, and the three goblets at the table. With great caution the group came in.

The three revelers introduced themselves as the last members of the Knights of the Vine, laid to rest in this very tomb. They said they’d been dead a good long while. They were glad someone had stopped the freed oozes, though they couldn’t tell the group who had raided their graves. They explained a bit about their order, how they guarded vineyards and instructed people in social rites with intoxicating beverages. They also made sure drinks and how to make them weren’t forgotten, and that people didn’t make drunken fools of themselves.

They asked if the group would like to pick up where they left off. One Knight explained the magical hammer’s heads - that one side, marked with a bottle, made people drunk, and the other, marked with bread, made people sober.

To test the Knights-apparent, they called for a bottle from the barkeep and filled up the goblets. Garden drank, got a bit hammered, and one knight asked him to open a door to the locked wine room. Charissa also drank, started to giggle, and was asked to help distill a spirit. Shandri had to take two drinks to be impaired, but was asked to mix a complex beverage. Even at a disadvantage, all three succeeded. William watched avidly and made copious notes.

With smiles, the Knights finally vanished, and the three chest opened. Inside were old platinum coins, marked with grain on one side and grapes on the others, many potions, books on distilling, drink recipes, a set of “skeletons keys,” and a great many peculiar potions. (Attached is a file on what they found in the books on the Knights of the Vine, as well as the commands for the hammer the group figured out thus far.)


--------------------

The Knights of the Vine

The book on various drink preparations you discovered in the Tomb of the Vine had more than just libation concoctions in it. Indeed, after a more careful perusal, you notice that the book has been expanded several times, pages inserted as the book has grown. It looks like the drinks were actually added onto the core book. The original book was an explanation of the Knights of the Vine, detailing their origins, history, duties, notable members, and other unusual facts.

It’s clearly an old book, and actually looks like it was at one point owned by someone named Wiggan, who didn’t care for the Knights at all. There are snide commentaries on many of the margins, pointing out displeasure at some point of the Knights’ information. It seems the book later fell back into the hands of a Knight of Vine with a good sense of humor, one Sir Kels, because next to these snide comments are comments on the comments.

Summary of the contents:

The Knights of the Vine arose as an independent order often attached to temples of Liira and Sharess (the goddesses of joy and pleasure respectively), though it is not a religious order, per se. As civilization expanded, one of the founders noted that various forms of alcohol were being used at every social occasion, from simple gossip to weddings to treaties between warring countries. This founder, Thalia Sheaf, was seized by the importance of drink in society and founded the Knights to aid in its use, creation, transport, and promotion.

The motto of the Knights is, “In Vino Veritas.” Or, “In Wine There Is Truth.”

At various times the Knights provided a vast number of functions. They guarded vineyards and grain fields, warded distilleries, protected caravans of alcohol on their way to market, and watched over taverns and festhalls to prevent theft. They often attached themselves to taverns, inns, and festhalls so that no one would misuse social lubrication and go from genial to obnoxious or violent. (The snide commentator Wiggan points out the Knights of the Vine were colloquially known as the “Order of the Bouncers Immaculate” in some areas because of this practice. Sir Kels says, “Ah, but we were never more welcome in a town. Certainly more than you, oh Dry One!”)

One of the ways the Knights combated the violently drunk was with their magical hammers or some unique spells. They had a spell that could render a man sober in a breath, and another that could alleviate the effects of a hangover. For those two spells, the Knights were much sought after as peacekeepers during large festivals. Their magical hammers could either give someone struck by it the effects of drunkenness (making them easier to subdue) or sober them (perhaps making them think twice about pressing their attack). These hammers were known as “The Grapes of Wrath.”

The Knights of the Vine also collected drinking songs (an extensive selection is at the back of the book) and performed them. They collected drinks as well: how to create them from scratch, mix certain libations, seeds of various grapes and grains, wood for containers and glasses for bottles, the works. The Knights collected ceremonies around drink, from various tavern drinking games to the strict ceremonies of high nobility to the ancient practices of noble families. They have listed dozens, if not hundreds, of ceremonies listed.

There is also a small section in the book about various dangers associated with drink – from warnings about the small amount of spider poison present in drow beverages to the terrible threat from amber oozes to which drinks are to never be served to certain races/profession for various reasons.

(Wiggan comments here that, “No wonder your Order is dying out; you are trying to do seventeen things at once! Social butterflies.” Sir Kels says, “But at least we are never bored.”)

It’s clear from the various duties described that most Knights of the Vine were not fighters. The Knights were most often bards, with rogues coming a close second. Other classes could easily fit into the Order, but despite their guarding duties, they were not primarily a martial order. They were expected to be socially adept, skilled in some aspect of the libatious arts (making, drinking, gaming, serving, ceremonies), and able to hold their liquor. They were apparently a fun-loving order that had a great many races in their ranks. Because it was not specifically a religious order, many people held Knighthood in the Order of the Vine as well as being a paladin of this or an owner of that.

The Order apparently died out during a period of several wars in quick succession, which left little time for the various Knights to go about their duties or train new ones as the old ones fell. The last Knights were buried in a fine tomb, and a fragment of their spirits left in an illusion spell to hopefully revive the order some day.





Hammer, "The Grapes of Wrath" is +1 warhammer. When you tried the commands below (w/the help of your workshop buddies), this is what you get. You aren't sure yet how many uses per day these things work.

Known:
First Round’s on me = activation
Closing time = deactivation
Guesses
Next round’s on me = All allies within 30 ft gain a +1 to AC, but the weapon loses its +1 bonus (though is still counted as magical) for 5 rounds
Round on the house = A bless effect occurs centered on the hammer, but the weapon loses its +1 bonus (though is still counts as magical) for 5 rounds
Tilt one back/Bottoms up = Detects poison with 30 ft. The grape engraving on the shaft turns green.
Cheers = Sings a drinking song with a +5 bonus to Perform (vocal) checks. It takes requests.
Last call = Activates a deathwatch spell for 5 rounds.
Happy hour = After you've had a drink, you gain a +2 bonus to Diplomacy checks for an hour, as you become more sociable.
You've had enough/I'm cutting you off = User can cast a bane spell, but the weapon loses its +1 bonus (though still counts a magical), spell lasts 5 rounds.
I'll call you a cab (or, "I'll see you home") = A spectral hand appears and guides one touched with the hammer to their home.
Put it on my tab = Point the hammer at an ally and say this command and it flies to an ally's hand.
(The name of any type of alcoholic beverage) = If the beverage is known to the hammer, the way for making it and serving it appears on the side of the hammer, and an ephemeral taste appears in a small cup. It's not real alcohol and it won't get you drunk, but it does let the user share the flavors of certain beverages (for edification or personal amusement, depending on their nature).
BAR FIGHT! – This allows the wielder to rage for five rounds.
Tap the Keg – This allows the wielder a +2 to sunder attempts
Let’s Take This Outside – This activates the spiritual weapon/dancing weapon quality that the group noted on their first encounter with the hammer.
Do you come here often? (or any other cheesy pick-up line) – After you have had a drink, this gives the drinker a +2 on Bluff checks for an hour.
 

Isida Kep'Tukari

Adventurer
Supporter
Session 6

When we last left our intrepid heroes, they were recovering from both home invasions and potential death on one hand, and drunken revelry on the other. Someone had the better weekend. It's hard to say who.

But in the end the group ended up in their private dining room at the Empty Grave to swap stories and figure out how to track down a mutual acquaintance by the name of Snail. It was thought he could provide answers to two mysteries- where the urchin child Kip's friends were disappearing, and what Getha's nephew Trey was doing trying to get out of the city.

The group decided to start where and how they’d found him last, and went to the Dock ward market, and sought out Harken, a rag-and-bone man who’d talk quite happily for pocket pies. For several, he let them know where Snail could be found. Armed with more pies, the group eventually found Snail mudlarking in a large drain. They bribed him to tell him what he knew of the urchins and Trey, but he was very reluctant to speak at all. Evelyn, tired of trying to talk to such an odiferous individual without getting anywhere, cast charm person on him. He still hemmed and hawed a bit, unwilling to expose a friend to the “bad-tempered guy” who had been running some smuggling outside the city, but he eventually parted with the name.

Jayrin was the man’s name, and he’d been using urchins to help him with his operations for a while. Snail had thought the urchins were just being transplanted to keep their mouths shut (being dropped off at the destination city, getting a new life), but let slip that Jayrin had some kind of “silent partner” who took care of problems for him. Snail told the party that Jayrin could be found at the Bottomless Barrel alehouse on Sucker Street.

The party went there post-haste, and found that Sucker Street was essentially nothing but one gambling establishment after another, all of them low-brow. Dice, cards, the shell game, any came of chance that could be crammed into those few blocks, was. Garden said he’d try to scout out Jayrin with a business proposition first. While Garden was able to slip through the crowd unnoticed, his sister was not so lucky.

Where there are gamblers, there are shrines to Tymora and Beshaba, and in this case, right next to each other. And wouldn’t you guess who was manning Beshaba’s shrine? Yes, the group’s dear friend the oily Father Geb from the Pig and Potion. He spied Charissa and loudly beckoned her forward. He then spent the next fifteen minutes spinning a plausible-sounding tale of Charissa’s grave misfortunes and how by placating Beshaba could avoid gruesome immanent maiming.

The rest of the party retreated to the shrine of Tymora and met its tender, Brother Sallis. He treated Father Geb’s elaborate “sermons” as street theater, calling out color commentary and compliments on Geb’s acting, clapping appreciatively at some clever turn of phrase. Geb actively ignored him.

Garden was able to locate Jayrin, a thoroughly unpleasant man who wasn’t much interested in questions or moving things for “Rufus.” He didn’t care for Garden’s tentative propositions, and something about his manner made Garden think Jayrin was probably under the umbrella of one of the greater thieves’ guilds in the city (maybe the Shadow Thieves?). Garden ducked back out to join the group and told them what happened. They ended up being unusually candid in front of Brother Sallis, and he volunteered that Jayrin owned some property a few blocks away, a vacant lot and a warehouse.

Garden said he’d go investigate (being the most stealthy) while the group waited at the Empty Grave. A vigorous cross-town trek for most of the group later, Garden got down to following Jayrin after dusk as he left the Bottomless Barrel. Garden shadowed him via the rooftops and watched as he got to a vacant lot overrun by scrubby bushes. Jayrin paused in one corner and spoke briefly to something there, then went on his way. Garden lowered himself down to the ground after Jayrin was gone, and tried to sneak around to that same spot. But a spike of wood flew from that dark corner and skewered him viciously in the shoulder.

Gravely wounded, Garden ran back to the Empty Grave, where the card towers and stacks of plates were getting precariously high. Shandri healed him as Garden told his tale, and the group set out to see what Jayrin was hiding.

They approached the vacant lot (snug between two other houses), and William sent a magical light to illuminate where Garden pointed. Just then two thorny branches grew from the sides of the buildings and savagely attacked them! Garden was hurt, as was Shandri, and Charissa pressed forward to the dim humanoid forms revealed behind the bushes. Two appeared to be made of thorny brush, while a third was only a huddled corpse. Evelyn used a valued scroll to put a protective aura of energy on her brother as everyone pressed their attack on all fronts.

The thorny branches were resistant to damage from all but magical weapons, and the thorn creatures (which Shandri eventually recognized as splinterwaifs), needed silver to truly hurt them. In the ensuing melee, the braches were eventually destroyed (and vanished into nothing), while the splinterwaifs were terribly hard to hit. Charissa had set the Grapes of Wrath to dance and attack on its own, which gave them another fighter on another front.

Evelyn kept freezing them where she could, allowing the others to attack. But when Shandri cried out that silver was needed, Evelyn remembered she was wearing her silver stilettos in her hair today. She passed them out to Garden and Steven and they went after the splinterwaifs. Just then, the “corpse” rose from the ground, proving to be some kind of undead, which tried to throttle Steven to death. The magical protections put on him by his sister flared in a huge gout of energy so strong it literally blew the dagger-stabbed abomination through a neighboring wall.

Eventually the group was able to destroy the splinterwaifs, and the undead (identified as horrible coffer corpse, an undead created by a sacrificial ritual) was dead again by Evelyn’s magic. Shandri sadly informed the group that splinterwaifs liked to turn corpses into bushes for “company” and camouflage. Every bush in this very crowded lot was a body. This was Jayrin’s dumping ground for all the urchins he’d silenced.

Outraged, the group plotted their next move…
 

Isida Kep'Tukari

Adventurer
Supporter
Session 7

When we last left our intrepid heroes, they had just destroyed two spliterwaifs and a coffer corpse.

Alone at last in a vacant lot belonging to an alleged smuggler known as Jayrin, they argued over who to contact first. Calling the Guard could be problematic, as none of the group lived or worked anywhere near the area, and at least four of them were of a higher social class than usually walked these streets at night. Of the two who did fit in, Garden didn’t want the bad press and Charissa was not a good liar. Steven wanted to contact the temple of Mystra post haste, but Shandri pointed out (due to having spent the last several days at the Empty Grave) that if you wanted experts on the undead, you’d be better off talking to a priest of Kelemvor. Kelemvor’s clergy detested undead and knew everything about how to fight them.

Agreeing that was a decent idea, the Origamis and the de Mers were going to go to the temple of Kelemvor (bearing a message from Steve to be delivered to the temple of Mystra as soon as they got into a better neighborhood), while the Violettes remained behind. Because there was something of a fad for young nobles to prowl the Dock Ward market, they decided to pretend they’d just gotten lost in the neighborhood.

Then they had not more time to talk, as someone yelled, “Hey! What the hell happened to my wall! And there's a dead body in my house!"

It was the tenant of the residence where the coffer corpse has blown through the wall. He started yelling about fire and murder and thieves, quickly riling up the whole neighborhood. The Origamis and the de Mers vamoosed as the crowd gathered. The Guard showed up before it could become a mod and demanded to know what was going on.

Evelyn, who’d quickly cleaned the disguises off her and her brother’s faces earlier, and was looking quite like a noble lady took a single step forward and swooned into her brother’s arms. She went full drama queen, going on how they’d been lost and wandering and had been attacked by the vicious undead, and how her brother had bravely defended her. This Oscar-worthy acting nomination went on for a goodly while, giving the rest of the group a chance to go where they were needed.

The Origamis and the de Mers managed to get out of Dock Ward without trouble, and hired a carriage to take them to the temple of Kelemvor. However, Garden had disappeared between the vacant lot and the carriage, and Charissa was pretty sure this was one of those, “Don’t ask question, Sis,” kind of things.

Garden instead took a long walk to the Wands estate and asked to see the lady of the house. The butler clearly wanted to send him away (he’d arrived at the front door, the nerve of him!) and Lady Wands wasn’t much behind him in irritation. But because Garden had taken it upon himself to keep her up-to-date on the investigation into matters that had not only threatened her family but impugned Origami clan honor, she granted him an audience. He told her about the Fruit of the Vine winery, and how someone had clearly broken into the Order of the Vine’s tomb to get the amber oozes that had nearly been the cause of true disaster.

Warned of what was clearly a deep-laid conspiracy, the Lady thanked him for his diligence (even as she looked at him like she’d rather turn him into a toad). Garden, ever the businessman, raised the delicate matter of repayment. Appears as if she’d just consumed an entire tree’s worth of lemons, Lady Wands bestowed upon Garden two potions of minor effect that would help him in his ongoing investigation.

Meanwhile, the rest of the group arrived at the temple of Kelemvor and had their petition heard. An older priest named Pellan and a paladin named Sir Hackem would go with them to see this undead for themselves. (There was a brief joke about Sir Hackem’s name, to which he replied his colleagues called him Hacky-Slashy. No one was quite sure if his sense of humor was just very dry or non-existent.)

Finally returning to the vacant lot, the group arrived in time to see the end of the Evie and Stevie Show. Father Pellan took charge then, examining the remains of the coffer corpse and asking questions about its attack and defeat. The group told him all, and as the priest mused, Charissa realized that amongst the rubber-necking crowd was a man who matched her brother’s description of Jayrin! She pointed this out to the others, but he was gone by the time someone mentioned it to the Guard.

Knowing to keep a wary eye out for the fellow, the group turned their attention back to Father Pellan. He said it was difficult to tell who might have created the thing. The most obvious culprits were devotees of Velsharoon, the god of necromancy, or Cyric, the god of murder. Though patrons of those gods were hardly the only ones known to make undead, they were one of the few who knew how to create coffer corpses. Also included in that short list were supposedly patrons of Bane (god of tyranny and strife), Shar (goddess of secrets and sorrow), and Beshaba (goddess of bad luck). The party’s interest was caught by the last name, as they’d encountered one of Beshaba’s priests, Father Geb, a few times already.

Charissa was not feeling particularly charitable towards him, because during her encounter with Father Geb on Sucker Street earlier that night he had put a mark on the back of her neck in long-lasting ink. It was a mark that proclaimed, “Beshaba says this person needs extra bad luck, do your worst” to anyone familiar with street signs. Charissa had been wearing her hair down and her collar up until she could get a chance to scrub it off.

However, there wasn’t much else the party could do that night. Sir Hackem would begin the search for where the coffer corpse may have been made while Father Pellan sought the source of the ritual and the caster thereof. Of the splinterwaifs, Father Pellan knew not much more than Shandri – that they were tough fey creatures with a horrible disposition that liked to live in towns. A few times their infestation had been linked to radical clerics of Silvanus (think a Farûnian Earth First group), but that hadn’t happened in a very long time. The group thanked him and gave him two Carter Guild badges they’d found amongst the spliterwaifs’ things, so at least some of the victims might be identified.

Very tired, the group agreed to meet the afternoon after next.

During that next day and a half, the group went about their business – Steven and Shandri at their churches, William at the academy, Charissa at her workshop, Evelyn at her social calls (she has somehow gained the reputation as a doer of good works), and Garden at his store. (There was an amusing interlude where a somewhat ham-handed young rogue tried to convince Garden he’d “locked himself out of his house.” Garden showed him the door (of his shop). A little later, Garden went to the real homeowner in question and showed him the gaps in his security. And snagged himself some work.)

Eventually the party met back at the Empty Grave (the serving wench, Martha, has started to expect them), and tried to figure out what to do next. Jayrin might have owned that empty lot, and presumably the Guard would get around to questioning him eventually, but it would be easy to lie and say he’d had no idea the spliterwaifs were there, and the coffer corpse? Put there by vile cultists no doubt, on some unguessable scheme. Getting straight answers out of him might be hard indeed, and Jayrin now knew their faces.

However, there was a good possibility that Jayrin and Father Geb might be in cahoots, and if the group could find evidence to support that one or both of them were part of this conspiracy, they could have something to turn over to the Guard.

There was one clue (well, other than trying to tackle Jayrin head-on and beat the information out of him, which was off the table… for a moment) the group hadn’t explored yet, and that was Melvin Mask, the alchemist whose mark had been on the vials Getha’s mother had been taking that made her so ill under the guise of being medicine. Possibly he knew Father Geb, or Trey, or even Jayrin. If the group could persuade him to speak, maybe he could fill in some blanks. Thus armed with determination, the group set out for Masks Distillery and Alchemist Shop, right nearly the borders of Dock Ward and North Ward.

It was a crowded little shop, full of multi-colored vapors and miasmas. At the back, a bushy-haired man wearing a hat stood pouring over a ledger. Garden tried to slip behind the counter for reasons of his own, but was thwarted by a loud and creaky gate. He mumbled a greeting and when asked said yes, he was the proprietor Melvin Mask. The group showed him the vial, and he said that its contents would not make someone well, but give them the symptoms of sickness instead. When asked who might have bought it, Melvin said it was likely written down in the records in the back. He stepped into the back room…

…and broke into a run. Garden and Steven had been on-guard for such treachery, and Garden vaulted the gate to go after him, Steven close behind him. Charissa took off running out the door, to try to go around the block and intercept him. That’s when things got really interesting.

When Garden ran into the back, Steven on his heels, Melvin was running out the door. Clinging above said door was a small red dragon, looking like a psuedodragon, who opened its jaws and breathed fire at them. As the back of the shop had even more things distilling and bubbling away than the front, Steven and Garden had enough time for half a curse as the shop started to explode.

All the group save Evelyn ran out the front and then sprinted around the block after Charissa, who went up two shops, cut through an open square, and then ducked down the alley. Garden and Steven were already there, trying to chase and/or shoot Melvin as he ran. Evelyn, however, sprinted down the open street in the opposite direction.

The dragon stung Steven with a stinger on its tail, the effects of which were very draining and unpleasant. But Steven tried to paley, asking him to help them for a golden reward. The dragon pondered that briefly, then flew away to trouble them no more. Meanwhile, Garden shot Melvin, winging him slightly, but he did not stop.

The shop exploded even more spectacularly just as Charissa passed it, the sound deafening her. People started to clog the alley and street, to see what was going on, making it much harder to run and chase. Melvin had a bit of a lead, and Garden spotted him suddenly ducking into a shop up ahead. Garden tossed his hat down right at the nearest doorway to mark his path, and cut through the shop, which sold women’s undergarments. He got a few eyefuls before emerging on the street.

Charissa, William, Steven, and Shandri all saw what was going on and cut through their own closest shops, Charissa following Garden, Steven going through a haberdashery, and William and Shandri tearing through a deli. On the street outside, Evelyn had actually gotten ahead of Melvin (sprinting in high heels, the woman has talent) when Princess cried out that he was behind him. Evelyn screeched to a halt and switched directions.

Melvin broke into a house just as Evelyn got there. Princess swiped at him, and Evelyn tried to freeze him with her magic, but neither worked. Melvin shouldered the door open, ran upstairs, and broke a window to escape onto the roof. In quick succession, Steven ran upstairs to chase Melvin, Evelyn paced Melvin on the street in front of the house, Charissa and Garden ran through the house to the back door and got into the alley, Shandri followed Evelyn, and William squeezed between some houses to get to the alley.

Melvin and Steven tried to grapple, trip, and/or tip one another over the roof, until Melvin smashed an alchemist’s fire at Steven’s feet. Shandri gave Istishia’s blessings (i.e. created water) on Steven before he could catch on fire, shot Melvin with a crossbow (drawing no blood), and healed Evelyn of her burns from the exploding shop. William tried sleep and color spray spells, but neither worked on Melvin. Evelyn tried learn heritage to try to find out any weaknesses, only to discover he had no blood! Adding all of that together, Melvin was a construct! Charissa shot Melvin and tossed the Grapes of Wrath to Steven, who smashed Melvin with a powerful blow. He dissolved into wax shortly before Garden climbed up to the roof to inspect the remains.

Apparently, according to William, Melvin had been a wax golem, which are so skillfully sculptured and magically programmed that they can pass as the original person. One of the things he had on him was a customer list, showing names, descriptions, typical merchandise, all the things a normal proprietor wouldn’t have to write down. Which meant the real Melvin Mask was still out there…

Not to mention Steven and Evelyn realized that the pseudodragon wasn’t - after William heard its description, he called it a crimson drake, a pseudo-pseudodragon that often masqueraded as one of the friendly little dragons to get into someone’s home before pouncing. It was likely someone’s familiar or companion. And because it was inside the Dragonward, the Dragon Mage had to have let it inside. They need to seek an audience with him…
 

Isida Kep'Tukari

Adventurer
Supporter
Session 8

When we last left our intrepid heroes, they had defeated a wax golem masquerading as the alchemist Melvin Mask. The group had learned several important facts - that Melvin was likely alive somewhere (due to the customer list he'd left with the golem), he probably commissioned the golem done, and the fact that a potentially murderous dragon was with the Dragonward.

The group scattered to follow leads (after a meeting at the Empty Grave, naturally, when the all came in reeking of smoke). The Violettes and William would go first to the temple of Mystra to report the rogue construct, and then to the home of Maaril the Dragonmage. Charissa recognized one of the customers on Melvin's list, a very plain man called Smit who'd bought a lot of smokepowder from her over the past few years. The disturbing thing was that he'd also been buying alchemist's fire from Melvin at the same time. By now, Smit could have... quite a lot of both. She would go to the temple of Gond to seek advice. Garden also knew one of the customers, a halfling thief name Jaskar who bought tools from him and potions from Melvin, and would question him in hopes of finding out where the man himself roosted. Shandri would use her own expertise around the docks to see if she could find out if Melvin was attempting to flee the city by boat.

The Violetteshad had one recent encounter with the Magister, Meleghost Starseer - when they had been going home after the splinterwaif attack. The Magister had received Steven's note that night, and considering that members of the temple had acted too slowly in the matter of Marsekavris, had made the extraordinary gesture of coming to them himself. On a magic carpet (a gift given to hm from a recent visit to Calimshan).

However, this time, the Violettes went through proper channels. They (and William) presented themselves at the House of Wonder and requested an audience. William took copious notes of all the spells about the place, of which there were hundreds. The acolyte who'd greeted them, realizing who the Violettes were, turned white and ran off, returning moments later to ask them to follow him.

The Magister greeted them briskly and asked, "What tale of tragedy and woe to you have for me today?" Steven turned to Evelyn to have her tell the story and the Magister (who knew a thing or five about Evelyn's reputation) said, "No, what NEW tale of tragedy and woe?" After Evelyn finished putting aloe on her burn, she told the Magister about the wax golem. He considered that for a moment and told them to speak to Westra Brightwood, the temple's leading expert on magical constructs, and to follow proper procedure if there were any difficulties. It was evident that though he appreciated Steven's diligence, not every magical misuse in the city required the Magister's personal attention. However, being as he was a good friend of the Dragonmage, was happy to send him a note that the Violettes were coming.

After the Magister dismissed them, Evelyn asked he acolyte who had guided them about classes for understanding the nature of magic. The acolyte said there were some starting soon, for a small fee.

They group went to see Westra Brightwood, who listened to their tale and told them thus: Wax golems were not precisely expensive in terms of materials or magic used - they were actually quite cheap in that respect. However, the skill required to craft its face was rare. The subject would have to sit for the sculpture. Also, since the golem the group saw spoke to them and could read, it had additional magic used to scan its subject's memories and use them. There were three people who might have the skill to animate a wax golem:

Cassandra, an elderly woman who specialized in junk golems, now retired in the Dock Ward
Yalla, a halfling wizard with a mischievous bent whose sticky fingers had caught up to him. He was due to be exiled to Undermountain in the next few days.
Wu Yen, a human woman fairly recently arrived from Kara-Tur, who specialized in paper golems.

Though all three could animate a wax golem, making the face might take a real artist. She recommended the temple of Sune to find such a one.

Thusly informed, the Violettes and William went to the Dragonmage's house on their next errand. It was in the very wealthy Sea Ward, and had extensive gardens. At the far end of the shaded walkway, they could see a large green dragon dozing in the sunlight, one of the Dragonmage's cohorts. After explaining that they were expected to the guard at the gate, a black cat came walking down the pathway, and addressed them, "The Dragonmage is waiting. Follow me." This was Frethian, Maaril Dragonmage's familiar. He led them to a finely-appointed room, and then left. With Princess.

Suffice to say, they had very nice time together, though Princess later reported that, "He's not as smart as he thinks he is."

Maaril greeted the Violettes absently, though told Steven he was in charge of Marsekavris' armor, specifically in drawing out the faint dragon spirit within it. Maaril had plans for the spirit tht didn't sound very... polite.

Let it be known that as powerful as the Dragonmage is, he is a piece of work.

When they asked about the crimson drake, the Dragonmage was very cagey, saying that he would not tell them who the crimson drake came in with, as he was... above the Violettes' concern, but he would have a few choice words with the drake about manners.

Meanwhile, Charissa had gone to the temple of Gond to talk to Lissa Threefingers, a gnome woman with an excellent working knowledge of constructs. (Though no one asked, her and Westra Brightwood often shared a cup of tea together.) She told Charissa much of what Westra had told her, with the added point that wax golems were usually used by nobility and politicians. One being commissioned by a private citizen was odd. Also, the pondered the potential problem of Smit, the man who might have quite a lot of alchemist's fire and smokepowder. It could be the man was doing legitimate work (aboard a ship, or in a mine) or he could be storing up all that for some devious purpose. She'd watch for him for Charissa. Now, having been told that an artist was a good place to look for the maker of the golem's form, Charissa went to the Temple of Sune.

It was beautiful, with gorgeous architecture, gardens, songbirds, paintings, mosaics, perfumes, music... It was like walking into Evelyn's head.

To cover her questions, Charissa said she was looking for someone to embellish her weapons, and was directed to a man called Whittler. He would embellish her pistol with holy symbols of Gond and Tymora for her. When she asked about a sculptor in wax, he said he'd keep his ears open for her.

Garden went to talk to Jaskar, making small talk about "business," swapping stories about locks and security procedures. He worked the conversation around to Melvin, making it sound like he was wanting to buy from him. Jaskar told them Melvin sometimes went to the Bronze Gear, a tavern near the temple of Gond, "where instead of serving wenches they have those clockwork fellows, you know, homacals." (Or homunculi, if you know what he was really trying to say.) Garden went to the Bronze Gear, where a "homacal" charged him "two sil" for some dwarven drinking ale ("eating" the coins like a piggy bank). Garden looked around, and wouldn't you know it? Spotted Melvin. The real deal! (He assumed...) Melvin was just fixing something behind the bar, shook the barkeeper's had, and slipped out the back. Garden went to go ask about him, and learned that Melvin was just fixing some of the taps, because he had to leave town for a while.

Despite having second, third, and maybe fourth thoughts, Garden slipped from the Bronze Gear and started to follow Melvin Mask through the darkening streets of Waterdeep...

And so, our story continues...
 

Isida Kep'Tukari

Adventurer
Supporter
Session 9

When we last left our intrepid heroes, the Violettes had gone home, William had returned to his dorm, Charissa to her/Garden's shop, Shandri (far as the rest of you knew) was still down at the docks, and Garden had spied Melvin Mask leaving the Bronze Gear tavern. Unwilling to let the man get away, Garden started to follow him through the streets. He sent a message to the Violettes (and presumably William, who had been with them last) that Melvin was apparently leaving on a ship tonight, just to give them the heads up. Knowing this was probably a terrible idea that was going to get him killed (considering the last time he trailed someone alone he got stabbed by a giant splinter), Garden pulled a hat on, kept himself unobtrusive, and shadowed Melvin.

Melvin seemingly didn't notice Garden following him, but as they turned into the dock district, who should Garden see? Shandri! She looked just as surprised to see him, and quickly fell in step with him when he explained (quietly) what he was doing. She asked if he'd gotten her message, and explained she had sent out messages via urchins to the others because she'd discovered the ship Melvin was leaving on, tonight. It was called the Golden Mermaid, and had a tavern associated with it of the same name, and was headed out to Kara-Tur tonight.

At the Violettes' home, William's dorm, and Charissa's shop, there came a knocking. When the knocks were investigated, a very out-of-breath urchin said, "Docks, Golden Mermaid, Melvin, Shandri, now!" Interpreting that more or less correctly, the other members of the party set out. Charissa was closest (the shop being in the Dock district already) and actually caught up to Shandri and Garden as they merged with the big crowds outside the waterfront taverns. Shandri confessed she'd managed to find Melvin's ship by questioning sailors, apparently with a liberal application of ale, because Shandri was definitely lit. A tap from the sober end of the Grapes of Wrath solved that problem, and the group pressed on trailing Melvin.

The Violettes hired a carriage, and so did William, and coincidentally met at one crossroads. William hopped over to the Violettes' carriage, and all of them went down to the docks together. They all spied Melvin's bushy head (as well as Shadri's sharkskin armor and Charissa's... tallness), and brought the carriage to a halt. Evelyn had had quite enough of Melvin at this point, hopped out of the carriage first, and cast charm person on him. Melvin blinked, then turned to her and said, "Evelyn, dear! It's been so long, it's like I almost haven't seen you before!"

A little weirded out that he somehow knew her name (he shouldn't have... should he?), Melvin was nevertheless being friendly, and after a bit they persuaded him to go to the nearest tavern for a drink and to answer some questions. Melvin tried to get them to come to his cabin on the Golden Mermaid, but the group pressed instead for tavern version of the Golden Mermaid, just across the dock. The Golden Mermaid was tackily decorated with buxom mermaid figureheads in many tasteless shades of gilt. It was your typical sailors' dive, full of gambling, too much ale, and ladies of negotiable virtue and impressive cleavage. One of said ladies, who was a serving wench to boot, accepted a gold coin to throw out some gamblers from a back room to give them some privacy.

The group questioned Melvin, but while he considered Evelyn a friend, he was still unsure about the others, and was being remarkably cagey. (During the questioning, Charissa "inadvertently" tapped Garden with the drunk end of the Grapes of Wrath for... reasons. Garden, for the record, is a cuddly drunk.) Melvin claimed a friend of his had had the wax golem made for him because of some work he'd done. At one point, he managed to take out a small, one-use wand and hit Garden with it, breaking it afterward when Steven had grabbed his hand. Garden became twice as insufferable after he'd been charmed, grabbing onto Charissa's leg and clinging like a tick.

Just at that moment, a bar fight erupted. Several combatants spilled into their room, two turning on the party, two tussling with each other, and a fifth about to crack a huge egg (ostritch-size) on one of the tussler's heads. Chaos ensued! Over the course of the battle, Steven and Charissa battled their attackers with hammer and sword, Evelyn crawled atop the table to try to freeze their foes. Melvin ran out into the chaos, and William cast grease upon the floor and made him take a header. Two more people in the crowd ran up to grab Melvin and try to haul him out of there (and it was becoming clear at this point this bar fight was a diversion to get Melvin free). Garden shot one of the people holding Melvin, and at some point the grease caught on fire, causing smoke (and steam when Shandri doused it), giving the last remaining thug cover as he pulled Melvin to freedom.

(During this entire barfight, the man with the egg kept running through the scene, chasing it as it rolled about the fight, rolled through the fire, caught on fire, was doused, and rolled around some more. By the time he caught it, he was exhausted, and egg was very scorched, though intact. To come to think of it, it might have been a dragon egg... nah, couldn't have been...)

Frustrated in the extreme, Melvin long gone (the Golden Mermaid the ship already out of the docks by the time the party managed to get out of there), the group went home.

The next morning, in each of their residences or places of work, was a box addressed to each person. Inside the box were two thousand wafer-thin Waterdeep trade gold coins. With no return address.

And with that, our adventure continues...
 

Isida Kep'Tukari

Adventurer
Supporter
Session 10

When we last left our intrepid heroes, they had just received carved boxes full of gold coins (two thousand apiece), which had mysteriously turned up in their rooms while they slept. Being as more than one of them were light sleepers (Shandri, Steven), and more than one of them had excellent security (Garden, Charissa) or had other people in the buildings where they resided (William, Evelyn), the appearance of said box was unusual in the extreme.

In their own fashion, the various members of the group looked for traps on the box itself (finding none) and for how the box could have gotten into their home/shop/temple/dorm. Of everyone, only Garden found a hint, on his rooftop hatch – a tiny scrap of black paper in the shape of a domino mask, an occasional calling card of the Shadow Thieves.

Steven, realizing if he had a box of cash, Evelyn had a box of cash, quickly ran back home to do his brotherly duty. He swiped up her gold before she could wake and went a made a sound investment – he bought her a magical cloak that would not only aid her social skills and silver tongue, but add to the potency of her magic as well. (In game terms, he used both his and Evelyn’s money to buy a <i>cloak of charisma +2</i>.)

Later that afternoon, after the various family groups had knocked their heads together about their unexpected windfall and not found and answer, everyone met at The Empty Grave. Like you do. It’s become a thing. Over beer, ale, tea, cider, and supper, the group tried to figure out why anyone would shell out twelve thousand gold pieces to six such relative unknowns as they. Was it a payment? If so, for what services rendered? A payoff, perhaps, a way to say, ‘thank you, now never do that again?’” If that, why no note? Who was behind this uncertain generosity?

If it were the Shadow Thieves (the fact that the boxes were spirited in to everyone’s room with so apparent use of magic and the calling card Garden had found being strong points in their favor), this gold could be a pricy thing to accept. Or was this all yet some other’s hand at play?

Needing answers of some type, the group decided to pursue a dangling lead – one of the possible craftsmen of the wax golem was a Halfling wizard named Yalla, who was due to be exiled to Undermountain very soon for thievery and fraud. So, off to the Halls of Justice the party went, laid close by the temple of Tyr, the Maimed God of justice and law.

Garden scooted ahead, having a plan. He presented himself to one of the wardens, explaining Yalla owed him a debt for work he’d done, and he needed to collect before Yalla’s sentence was carried out. Shortly after that, the rest of the party arrived, their own ruse ready. William was doing a class project about golems, and Yalla knew something about them that no one else living did. Evelyn and Steve were here for magical consultation, Charissa for her technical expertise, and Shandri for her skill at detecting lies (or at least that was what they told the wardens). As Yalla was due to head off to Undermountain in a couple of hours, the warden granted them all a visit.

Guards took them all to Yalla’s cell (bespelled with antimagic), then stood out of ostensible earshot and politely averted their faces, allowing them a modicum of privacy while still being aware enough to enforce security. Realizing this conversation couldn’t be kept totally private, Garden started a loud, cantankerous “argument” with Yalla, a blond-haired, blue-eyed Halfling, going on about the lockwork he’d done that Yalla apparently hadn’t paid for. In an undertone, William and the others quickly asked him about who Yalla had been working for and if he’d made the golem for Melvin Mask.

Yalla caught on quickly and began to “argue” in return. In the same undertone he said he had made Melvin’s double. Yalla said his desire for the finer things in life had landed him in this situation, that the money had been handsome. He’d made Melvins’s golem under commission from Jayrin. And Father Geb. They were jerks. And family. Yalla said the law had found his shop, and both his back rooms, and his <i>other</i> shop, and the back room there, but there was one hidden room the law hadn’t found. He told them his shop was off Fish Street, in Gutter Alley, in the Hook Around. Go there and they might find something worth knowing.

Then he grabbed William’s sleeve, hauled him close to the bars, and spoke three strange words to him quietly. And then he swore loudly and made a scene so the guards would think he was just being belligerent. With that, the guards hauled him out to fulfill his sentence.

The group agreed they would go to Yalla’s shop to see what they could find. Also, it would be best to go in disguise, for while night might hide them, many of Dock Ward’s more dangerous residents came out to work then. Shandri took money from the Violettes and William and went to go find some used clothing for them that would blend in better to the neighborhood. (And since they’d given her gold for clothing that cost maybe a silver and a half all together, she made a tidy profit.)

While they were waiting for the clothing, Steven got a message from Maaril the Dragon Mage, that his blue dragon scale mail was ready for him. (And that the dragon-ghost fragment Maaril had purged from it had brought him much amusement.) Steven went to fetch it, finding it under guard by Khavalanoth, Maaril’s green dragon cohort. The dragon spoke not a word, just looked at Steven with a fixed stare as Steven collected the armor and went on his way.

Garden scouted out Gutter Alley beforehand, cold-calling residents door-to-door to see if anyone needed a new security system. That way if anyone saw him later, he could be “seeing a customer” have a good excuse for being there.

All back together and getting ready, Evelyn found the used clothing hideous, naturally, but the shoes were surprisingly comfortable compared to her usual heels!

Finally the group managed to get down to Yalla’s shop without incident (Garden went by the roof route, just because he could). They entered (well, broke and entered) and found a small alchemist’s shop/wizard supply store/used goods store very thoroughly ransacked by the Watch. Garden and William began to search the back room. Struck by the thought that nonsense words Yalla had told him might be magical command words, William called out the first of them. A repeated tapping sound began. He tried the other two words to no avail. So instead they searched the room very carefully, and found that the tapping was coming from below a bookcase. They moved it, and found a very cunningly disguised trap door.

Opening it, they found a crystal cat, beautifully carved and as translucent as water, life size, and animate! It mewed at them and went back downstairs. The party followed. The basement they found was a mostly bare chamber, very neat and clean, clearly untouched by the Watch. A shelf about waist high on a human ran around the room, filled with curious sculptures – a copper snake, a glass dragonfly, an owl made of enameled plates, a riveted silver and steel hawk, and others. Two tables in the middle of the room held nearly identical burdens, a humanoid form under a sheet, one human-sized, one Halfling-sized. The group pulled off the sheets and started. Under one sheet was Yalla, and the other, Jayrin!

Both of them radiated a faint magical aura, the same William had seen about the wax golem. With some trepidation, William said the last two words Yalla had given him. The golem-Yalla said up and blinked at them.

“Ah. I’m dead, aren’t I?”

The golem explained that he (Yalla) had made this golem and imprinted it with his memories when he thought he might be getting into more trouble than he could handle. The group explained how they’d gotten here and what had happened with real Yalla. Golem-Yalla said the crystal cat was Yalla’s familiar, which meant, since it was still active, that Yalla was still alive. Though probably not for long; Yalla was a golem-maker, not a battle mage. When asked about the Jayrin-golem, Yalla said he’d made it on commission. Jayrin and Father Geb had purchased it. Yalla disliked the pair quite a bit, and during his rant dropped a bit of a bombshell: Jayrin and Father Geb were not only family (brothers) they were bastards, literally. Bastard Wands.

Realizing Jayrin’s golem could be used as evidence, Yalla explained that the golems had a few modes, done by different command words. One to wake it up and have it follow simple commands, one to activate implanted memories, and one to shut it down. Using the first, the group could get it to walk out of there with them.

Just then the crystal cat went to sleep, and golem-Yalla realized “he” was dead. He lamented no longer being able to be a wizard, but had memories and skills enough to fashion a new life for himself. Being as he was a wax golem, changing his face was a matter of finding the right spell-powder and resculpting himself. He told the group the little statues around the room were specialized construct familiars. If one were powerful enough, one could bond with them. Yalla recommended the <i>erudite owl</i> for William once he was ready, took the copper asp for himself to give himself a nest egg for his new life, and let the party have the rest for their trouble…and for their silence as to Yalla’s continued existence (after a fashion).

The party gathered up the familiars and Jayrin’s golem and left Yalla, shutting the door behind them. They poked about in the shop for a bit, the Watch had been thorough. They went to leave and found the street suddenly shrouded in magical gloom, a tense silence overlaying all. Garden tried to go out anyway and scale the wall to get to the roof, but was hit by a flung dagger. A flung poisoned dagger, coated with the same knockout poison Garden favored himself. He succumbed to sleep, and Evelyn stepped out to try to target a shadowy miscreant (her dragon’s eyes giving her a little clearer sight). She too was hit and fell into slumber in the dark and dangerous streets. Steve jumped out to rescue her, also being hit hard, but shrugged off the poison. He could see six shadowy figures, four on the street, two perched on a roof above and to the side of him, all closing in on his helpless sister and new companions…
 
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Isida Kep'Tukari

Adventurer
Supporter
Session 11

When we last left our intrepid heroes, they were leaving Yalla's shop in the Dock Ward, only to be attacked under the shroud of magical darkness by shadowy, knife-throwing figures. With Garden and Evelyn wounded and asleep from the poison on the blades, both Steve and Charissa swung into action. Though Steven had been wounded, he'd managed to resist the poison and quickly pulled his sister to the relative safety of the store. Shandri healed him and promised she'd heal Evelyn (though Steven said it might better if she remained asleep). Steven, with his better eyesight in the dark, pointed Charissa towards one of the shadowy figures. It stabbed her in the gut, but she bashed its head in with the Grapes of Wrath. Unexpectedly it exploded in a burst of eye-smarting white light.

William got himself pointed in the right direction, fixing the location of their foes from the flash, and unleashed a color spray spell on them. One dropped unconscious, while the other fled in fear from seeing its comrade die.

Inside the shop, a flung dagger nearly skewered William! They looked up to see one of the shadowy figures had gotten inside and was flinging daggers from the rafters! William cast a spell of sleep, making the creature fall to the floor and break its neck. The death-flash blinded William, but just after that, the darkness lifted and the party found itself with one unconscious dark creeper (for that was what had attacked them) and two bundles of clothes and goods from the two who had died. The rest had fled.

Quickly, the party took bound creeper, goods, and Jayrin’s golem back to Garden and Charissa’s shop. The dark creeper was a very belligerent captive, saying the party had honed in on the creeper gang’s turf, and that his brethren would hunt them down and kill them all. He was quite the unrepentantly evil and nasty sort.

Unsure of what to do with the captive, as turned in to the Watch he could reveal their interest in Yalla’s shop, let go he would start a blood feud, turned into the Shadow Thieves he’d probably be executed but just might give them the same information he’d give the Watch just to be spiteful, and killing him out of hand went counter to the morals of some of the party, the group started a spirited debate.

And so, our story continues…

DM's Note: This session was shortened because the spirited in-character debate led to some out-of-character arguments and we had to stop before things boiled over.
 

Azkorra

Explorer
Please let me be the first one to state that I really like your story hour. I haven't caught up with all posts yet but there's been good writing combined with a nice crime mystery and interesting characters (I particularly like the gnome) so far. Keep up with it! :)
 

Isida Kep'Tukari

Adventurer
Supporter
Session 12

Azkorra - Glad you're liking the story thus far! We play once every two weeks, and I usually do the write-up on the Tuesday or Wednesay before we game again, so from now on there should be an update every two weeks or so.

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When we last left our intrepid heroes, they had a captured dark creeper and were trying to decide its fate. Given to the Watch, it could implicate the group in some shady dealings, set free, he would try to kill them, given to the Shadow Thieves, he'd end up dead assuming he didn't try to trade information on them first, and killed he wouldn't bother them... though killing him in cold blood was repugnant to most of the group.

The group argued amongst themselves, debating the merits of various options, when Shandri put in her own two coppers. It might be possible to redeem the dark creeper. There were a few religious orders in the city that redeemed the otherwise unredeemable, and who would not care about what he said. The Temple of Ilmater was famous for that, and the Order of Saint Alphone handled some of the most hopeless and difficult cases. Pondering that, the group decided that would be a good choice for their wayward captive. Garden and Charissa would take him there, while Shandri and William took the Jayrin golem to the Watch.

It was the third watch of the night by the time Garden, Charissa, and a knocked-out dark creeper in a wheelbarrow (Steven had taken great pleasure in knocking the fellow out) knocked on the door of the Order of Saint Alphone. After a few minutes, the gate opened. A vast floating sphere, large as a horse, filled all the available space. It had ten eyestalks around its crown that blinked at them, a huge central eye, closed, and a vast toothy maw, slightly open. It was a beholder, one of the most vile and ill-conceived monsters to have graced the waking world! The beholder stared at them, and in a deep voice said, "You rang?"

Once their hearts had calmed down and their pants had been changed, Garden and Charissa did recall that one of the advertisements of the Order of Saint Alphone was their "Before and After" pictures, one of which included this very beholder, whose affectionate nickname was "Lurch."

They explained about their erstwhile companion, and Lurch used his telekinetic eyestalk to lift the creature up and examine him. He said the Order had done many good deeds, and always worked hard to save a wayward soul. They'd be happy to take the dark creeper. When Garden brought up the notion of payment, Lurch said that doing a good deed was payment enough, but if they wished to donate to the church, he would be happy to accept. When brother and sister proffered their coins, Lurch, having no hands, stuck out his tongue to take their money, and spat it out in a donation box inside. Lurch noticed that Garden was hurt from the fight earlier that night, and hit him with a golden beam from one of his eyestalks, healing his wounds. Charissa felt she had to warn Lurch that the dark creeper was part of a gang, and they might take exception to their comrade being here. Lurch only grinned in a way that reminded both of them that beholders were considered extremely dangerous for a reason, and said few were willing to risk breaching the Order's walls.

Needing a drink of something, the Origamis quickly returned home.

William and Shandri went to the Watch Hall, abutting the Temple of Helm, and asked to speak to the Captain. (Before they went inside, Garden climbed up the golem put a cut on the golem's cheek so it clearly showed it unnatural nature. Just in case someone managed to activate its memories, it would have a harder time of convincing people it was human.) They were able to speak to the UnderCaptain of the third watch, and told their story with a mind to the fact that they had... bent the law a little bit in their pursuit of justice. William said that his scholarly impulses had overcome his good sense when he went to the secret room of Yalla's shop (all the while Shadri was making evocative gestures behind William's head, corroborating his story), but he knew of Jayrin's description, and thought him having a wax golem could lead to nothing good. The UnderCaptain seemed to be honest, and more-or-less believed them (he didn't arrest them at any rate), so William wrote down the command words, and the UnderCaptain Craig said he would start another investigation into Jayrin's activities.

Content with that, the de Mers returned to their homes.

Evelyn decided to take the time to both do a good deed and get a good toehold into high society at the same time. She left a message for Lady Wands, and was invited to her house the next day. Once there, she told the Lady Wands that the two men most likely behind the Higharvestide debacle were said to be bastard sons of her house, which was why the House had been attacked. Also, that between her efforts and those of her friends, Geb had been forced to keep a low profile, and Jayrin was under investigation by the Watch. Those others who had helped him had either died, fled, or revealed themselves to the Lady (i.e. Charissa). Lady Wands looked upset, but not particularly surprised, and said her late husband had been a connoisseur of women. But now alerted to who was behind the attacks, the House could focus their attention on those directly responsible, and for that, she thanked Evelyn.

Those thanks came in a very tangible form over the next few weeks, as she received invitations to parties and gatherings she'd never been to before. Very high society things. It'll be like swimming with sharks. Evelyn was delighted.

With those responsible for the Higharvestide attack all neutralized one way or another, at least for a while, the group drifts apart for most of the month of Marponeth, tending to their own jobs, tasks, research, and other opportunities. But the Feast of the Moon is fast approaching, and considering what happened with the last big holiday, each member of the group has a sneaking suspicion that something is coming up, and soon...
 
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Isida Kep'Tukari

Adventurer
Supporter
Session 12.5

The characters had about a month and a half of downtime, from halfway through Marponeth all the way through to the end of Uktar and the Feast of the Moon. Every player either e-mailed me plans for what their character was doing during that time, or told me verbally. Here is what they all got up to.

Garden

You'd sent a second message back to the Origami clanhouse, and a third by magic book asking if the clan might want to increase their presence in the city and how things were getting a bit complicated, what with some of Waterdeep's elite knowing your face. You'd hoped for a letter, or perhaps a verbal message. You got Calla Breek Snorpthangle the Thirty-Second and a Half (she's a twin) one of the Penultimate Folds, those who report directly to Grand Master Crane. She's also a gnome, a bit taller than you, but with a nose that could be used to plow half the fields of the earth, it's so prominent. Her nickname (gnomes love names) is "Beak."

"You," she announces, coming into your shop during a slow day, "have gotten yourself into trouble." She perches on your counter a tosses you a folded paper raccoon, a traditional gnomish sign of luck. "Good work. Let's talk about how you can make some more. We're too new in the city to dislodge the Shadow Thieves, and to be brutally frank they keep some of the mayhem to a minimum. Getting into a war with them would be... costly. But it doesn't mean we can't command a bigger piece of the pie. You're in a unique position to help the clan because of what you did for Lady Wands." She pauses and raises an eyebrow. "Anything else that happened in the last week or so I should be aware of?" (The DM assumes you're willing to be very forthcoming with a member of the clan, let me know if this is not so and you wanted to edit portions of your escapades.)

Calla puts her chin in her hand, grinning when you talk about how you appointed yourself as the Wands' private detective and looking both concerned and impressed when you tried to tell the Shadow Thieves that Jayrin was marked for death. "Not that he didn't deserve it, being as he was behind you getting hurt and more than likely a culprit in the attack on Charissa. But the fact the Shadow Thieves protected him... interesting. He must be doing something of value to them. He probably had to go underground after you exposed the fact he was killing children wholesale, plus the whole bit with him having a golem double doesn't exactly making him look innocent. And his brother the priest will have to be more discrete from now on.

"Which gives you the opportunity to do some things free of murderous interference. What plans do you have, Ru?"

She listens as you detail wanting an apprentice to run your shop as you try to expand your influence into higher circles and nods thoughtfully.

"That's a good line of thinking. I was bringing some apprentices over anyway, those traveling to points beyond the City of Splendors, but there is one who might suit. She's a dwarf, name's Nira Darkfire, good hands and a quick mind. More comfortable with staying in one place than not, and I think she'd much prefer learning here to heading off to Silverymoon or the Dalelands. I'll have her come up today. As for stumbling upon something she shouldn't... she's a dwarf. Word is bond, when she isn't so monofocused than an earthquake couldn't get her attention. Tell her she shouldn't see something, and she won't.

"Get on establishing yourself at the Marlith, because I can see all kinds of possibilities if Lady Wands or her staff isn’t embarrassed to seek you out, eh? She could send her friends to a respectable shop, rather than have a disreputable person such as yourself,” she winks, “call upon them. I’ll get Nira up here soon, and once you’re sure she knows her way around, get thee hence to the Marlith.”

Calla goes back to her own business, but lets you know she’ll be in town through the Feast of the Moon at least.

Nira shows up right on time, a thin (for a dwarf) woman with black hair tightly braided, wearing sober and respectable clothes. She has the very basic aptitudes for a locksmith, and could definitely do simple repairs, but isn’t up for complicated installations yet. She is good with numbers, well, at least she isn’t going to mess up your books, and gets your cypher system (or a variant, if you don’t trust her with the master cypher) in a mildly disturbingly short period of time.

“Blood clan had no use for a girl who liked numbers more than runes, amongst other things,” she tells you with a shrug. “Origamis did. So they let me in.” She’s quite taciturn, which gave at least one customer quite a turn when she stirred behind the counter and startled someone who hadn’t expected to see her there.

It was the first time you’d seen her smile. You think she just might do, at least for a start.
With your shop in competent hands, you move on to establishing yourself in the Marlith. Hob Stonecypher, the owner, grins when he sees your new persona. (And he’ll ask your new name. He’ll call you “Granther” as a nickname for the “aged old gent” until you give him your name.) In between customers, Hob will grill you on the inventory and the right lingo. In two tendays, you think you can manage a conversation with someone in your new persona about exotic weapons and be able to both look and sound like you know what you’re doing (assuming the person is not too suspicious).

[The following bits here were in response to several questions by Garden’s player, in taking classes to prep his character for taking the Gnome Artificer prestige class – it’s the first time he’s taken one, and we tweaked the prereqs a little.]

During mornings/evenings, whatever times of days you’re not working or sleeping, you can attend classes in engineering, alchemy, or gem-cutting at the Temple of Gond. Charissa even knows the names of some good tutors. Fees for such classes run about 10 gold a tenday, with a 25gp materials cost (40gp for gemcutting, ‘cause… gems). Charissa can help you with alchemy classes if you want to go in that direction.

As for the Artificer – most prestige classes can’t be taken until you’re sixth level or so. Assuming you focus on getting all the relevant skills, you could take your 1stlevel of Gnome Artificer as your 6th character level. So you’d be a 5th level rogue, 1stlevel Gnome Artificer. We collectively decided to dismiss having the spellcasting requirement, as Garden will be learning how to imitate magical effects with his devices without the use of magic. If you have any skill points to spare, it might be appropriate to throw one or two into the Use Magic Device skill to show you know a thing or two about how magic works (or looks, or both).

The Gnome Artificer basically makes you into the Wizard of Oz – great special effects, just don’t look behind the curtain. With a bit of looking around, you can find a tiny little group of three other Gnome Artificers in the city, two from Lantan, one a native of Waterdeep. They do three things – provide special effects for theatrical productions, experiment with things that make some of Charissa’s experiments look tame, and provide protection for some of the Deepwater Harbor’s aquatic residents against their more aggressive counterparts. (Think, if you will, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea – with three half-crazed gnomes in a tricked-out submarine patrolling the harbor for killer sharks, murderous sahaugin [fish men], and nasty-minded scrags [water trolls].) Though they like turning their talents in that direction, they’re really up for experimenting with anything.

-----------------------------------------------------

Charissa

You KNEW there was a reason there weren't that many pistols in Lantan. You've seen them. Held one once. Seen them fired. But there still aren't all that many of them. And do you know why? Well you figured it out once you started doing serious research into the crafting of one - they're BEASTLY hard to make. And expensive! Finding an alloy that can not only stand up to repeated rapid firing, but also magical bullets (because you're going to get some made, by Gond, someday!) involves a lot of experimentation. Gunslingers are not terribly thick on the ground, even in Lantan, and not even your mentor would have given up the secret to gun manufacture to you (the better to develop your own engineering skills), so you knew this was coming.

On the plus side, this does involve a lot of cool explosions. On the down side, it does involve a lot of cleanup.

What brings you to your breakthrough is, strangely enough, Evelyn's shoes. You were making bladed shoes for her, and getting a tough alloy that could stand up to days, weeks, or months of Waterdeep's streets isn't easy. It actually was dovetailing off of your own research into tougher alloys. That was when you realized what would make the alloy perfect. Adamantine. Not pure adamantine, because that's outside your purse and your fuel costs for the forge, but a small amount of adamatine introduced into a toughened steel... yes! That's it!

Then there's the whole finding the perfect combination of adamatine to steel thing... But you're a step in the right direction, a huge step!

In between banging on metal and making things explode, you do have to take some breaks (to let the metal cool, to let the metal heat, to get out of the forge before your fellow Gondian co-workers ban you because they've heard more talk about guns than a reasonable being can stand...). Never to let a moment go to waste, you heft Grapes of Wrath, the book of the Order of the Vine, and go to talk to the Vinters, Brewers, and Distiller's Guild. The Order of the Vine has been extinct for a century, and you think it's high time they saw the light of day again (and attaching it to the Vinters, etc. Guild would be a good first step, because you certainly don't have the gold to re-found the order from the ground up). You tell your story to a bewildered youth at the door, again to a mildly confused junior member, a third time to a Head Brewer (who'd actually heard of the Order), who finally passes you off to a Master Brewer, a dwarf introduced to you as Rumlar Stonehead. He's exceptionally stout, with a beard like foam in a mug, carrying no less than six fine mugs hooked to his belt.

"Hah!" he says with delight, when you explain your story yet again, that you'd like to reactivate the Order. "I remember them. Met one or two back a ways, but they were getting thin on the ground by the time I'd even learned about them. Fun-loving crew, the few times I worked with them. Good for maintaining a good crowd, kept parties respectable, gave us all a better name. Aye, I wouldn't mind having them back. Now, are you the only one?"

(After you answer, Rumlar will have several other questions for you.)

"I remember having members of the Order at our larger feasts to help keep the peace and provide a little background on some of the beverages. The drinking games and songs they could come up with... better than bards, they were! What is it that you're doing now, being as you couldn't have been born in the Order? And how did you find some of their artifacts?"

"Hmm... tell you what. I'd like to see the Order again, but I certainly can't go sponsering people willy-nilly. With the Feast of the Moon coming up, it's a good time to stage a trial run, eh? You and the other members of the Order, come to the feast here at the Guildhall and we'll see how you do. Let's see if we can't capture the old spirits." Rumlar chuckles hugely at his pun, and reaches out to tap a nearby keg. He deftly fills two mugs and hands one to you. "What say you? What can you bring to our feast, O Bouncer Immaculate?"

[The following is several e-mails back and forth between me and Charissa’s player]

"No there are four of us. My brother, a young wizarding student, and a priestess of Istishia. During a recent investigation into amber oozes we discovered the tomb of the last three members of the Order. After taking care of the amber ooze problem we found a powerful illusion that was a record of the last members. The had us each pass a test, which we all passed, and told us we were members of the Order. I have these, (showing Grapes of Wrath and the book) as tokens of that experience. I'll talk to the others, but I'll be more than happy participate in the Feast of the Moon here at the Guild Hall."

Rumlar threads his hand through his beard and tugs meditatively. "The tomb, eh? I should like to see that... well, perhaps not disturb their rest but... bah, idle speculation. If you and your friends could come, this might be a good coming-out party for the Order. Brush up on your drinking games, Origami, because there's nothing a dwarf clan likes to do to honor their ancestors better than a good drinking game.

"Have you the old costumes? Or are you updating those as well?

"If you end up honoring the old Order, I'll pass a hat for donations to sponsor you. If not, well... at least you won't go hungry that night. Be thinking on what you'll want to do at the party, other than make sure no one downs a gallon of rotgut and pukes into the roses, or starts throwing punches. I have fond memories of the Order, few as they were." He eyes you carefully. "Don't sully them, my young tinker friend."

"We'll make sure you and yours have the chance to honor your dead, Brew Master. As for the costumes we will be both honoring the old, and bringing in some new touches to it. I wish to bring honor to those that have gone before, and give a fresh start to the Order."
Charissa will be relying heavily on Shandri and her brother for good drinking games since she has avoided alcohol as drunkenness and explosives mix just a little too well...

"Tell me one last thing, youngling... You seem a sober and respectable sort, at first glance the kind that might look down their nose at the Order. Their hammer is impressive, yes, and rather fun, but you seem to be the sort to be married to their work." He flicks his fingers at the burn marks on your cuffs and the scars on your hands. "Why devote such effort to bringing the Order of the Vine back?"

"I respect their ideals and after the 'situation' with the amber oozes I feel that they are needed. I want people to able to celebrate without the fear of death, dismemberment or embarrassment. The Knights of the Vine can give people the assurance that their feasts and celebrations will be enjoyable and that all present will be relatively safe, at least safe from things other than a bad hangover and the occasional poorly sang drinking song."

-------------------------------------------------


Steven

With Evelyn wrapped in some project that left her safely ensconced in an office with Madame Silverleaf (the seamstress and dressmaker) on a regular basis, Steven used his expected free time to call at the Temple of Mystra and put some of his skills to work. Years of guarding his sister from harm, perceived threats, and any man’s gaze had left him with a reputation for being able to handle anyone, at least when it came to dealing with large egos. Also, his combat skills were impeccable, and he’d proved himself against a ghostly dragon, no less!

So, in between hunts for the mysterious Gerard, Steven took on several side jobs. (As a note, Steven has been hunting a “Gerard” for a little while. During the dark creeper attack, Evelyn had fallen asleep from a poisoned dagger smeared with drow sleep poison that wounded her. In her sleep, she said, “Oh, Gerard,” in a familiar manner. Steven has since sworn revenge, just on general principle. This “Gerard” needs a good talking-to, whoever he is.)

Steven has been meeting several mages, some from abroad, others from the mainland, all of whom came to the Temple for guidance and protection as they went about their business in Waterdeep. As many were skilled magicians, they could have defended themselves… if they weren’t caught by surprise, if they had the right spells ready, if they were not in the middle of item creation or some other ritual that took all of their dedication and concentration. Hence they asked at the Temple of Mystra for a bodyguard, and Steve was one of those that stepped up to help.

So, in the month and a half he’s had free, Steven had spent time at the sides of two noted summoners, an abjurer so frail her own magic must have been holding her together, a universalist wizard from far Maztica (all in colorful exotic brocade and woven plumes), a transmorgofist who never spent more than half a day looking the same, an urdinnar (stone-shaper) dwarf who might have been mute, and one memorable day he spent carrying a fox familiar around the city so his master could get a good look around without bestirring his ancient bones.

Luckily Steven had not had to draw his sword during that time, and only had to chase off a few potential pickpockets and endure the somewhat confusing chatter of high magery (hardly his strong suit.)

-------------------------------------------

Evelyn

Your lessons in magic are actually going quite well. You've gained several admirers (how could you not?), other students of the Arts. You still aren't particularly interested in how other people tap their magic, as it seems to involve tedious memorizing of musty tomes and incomprehensible diagrams and handling all matter of noxious substances, but figuring out magical threats and magical creatures? That is actually quite interesting, particularly as several of the noble houses have magicians in their ranks. Also, there's a good section about magical creatures, including dragons, and what self-respecting spellscale wouldn't like to know a thing or two about their distant ancestors?

Naturally the section on dragons includes a talk about the Dragonward. You learn that the ward supposedly covers the entire city, though your instructor's hand gets a little vague when he delineates the borders to the south. Having seen much prevarication before, you have a suspicion that the extreme south of Dock Ward might not be as well-covered as the rest of the city. If any other dragonkind wanted to get near Waterdeep but couldn't convince Maaril the Dragonmage that they deserved entry, they might be there...

But what happened during your interview with Lady Wands? This might have been what Evelyn was born for. While you hadn't exactly hoped to attract the attention of one of Waterdeep's most powerful families by being peripherally involved in an attempt at their downfall, you really can't argue with the results. After telling Lady Wands about Jayrin and Father Geb, the Lady is understandably grateful. And she chose to convey that gratitude by allowing Evelyn entrance to social circles she hadn't been sure she'd ever been able to penetrate. A Higharvestide festival is one thing, but usual gatherings quite another, much more exclusive. And, if you are being honest with yourself (a rare and solemn occurrence), you realize that if you hadn't got caught up with your little band of miscreants with their funny ways and appalling fashion sense you might have never been able to capture Lady Wands' attention so directly.

The gatherings are like swimming with sharks. The merchant nobility of Waterdeep combine the shrewd business-sense of a caravan master along with the power-brokering of the titled. These are not parties for the faint of heart, or pocketbook. As very impoverished minor nobility, Evelyn is at a disadvantage. You've backed no business venture of you own, nor have your parents (not for decades, at least), nor do you have investments in a guild, or own any businesses of you own, but you've kept your ears open in the marketplaces and can speak about stores and trade routes and goods with a degree of certainty. And as for the social scene? You've been keeping track of that since you had ears.

Wardrobe is a little trickier. Granted, it's Marpenoth, and Madam Silverleaf has a new gown for you (fine midnight-blue wool plush, deceptively simple with expert and very flattering tailoring, easy to wear with most choices from your jewel chest), but with as many invitations as you've been fielding, you've had to be creative. Madam Silverleaf's creations can be taken apart and put together with her other things she's made for you, letting Molly expand your wardrobe to the eye without putting a single new thing in your closet. And there's always the silver armor dress to make a statement.

It's when wearing that during a reception at the Guildhall for the Guild of Glassblowers, Glazier and Speculum-Makers (mirrors) for the advancement of Brella Talmost from Prentice to Master that this comes to a head. Someone inevitably asks you where you got the dress. Social conventions prohibit you from saying you got it as a guilt-offering from the Markovian family when you were instrumental in killing the possessed son of the house. Well, they prevent YOU from saying it, but being as the Markovian family has suffered a Scandal, other people can say it first, and then you can elaborate on your Dramatic Rescue and how the dress came into your possession.

"And you caught Wands' attention at that Higharvestide tiff, oh! Such quality! I heard you were presented with some, what, of the help that stepped in to aid you?"

[The DM wanted to know what Evelyn would say about the De Mers and the Origamis – after talking with Evelyn’s player, essentially Evelyn said they were “concerned citizens” she was happy to “assist in making the city a better place.” Her society friends found this very amusing.]

There also a new wrinkle in your social rounds. More often than not in the past, you interacted with those of your own generation, with occasional polite conversations of their elders who were sponsoring the gatherings. But now the median age of these gatherings you've been attending has risen, and with it, the topics of conversation. Here the political and monetary maneuvering is more intense, the scrutiny more jaded, and the stakes are ever so much higher. It's the kind of circles you've been aiming for. But maybe not one you've been preparing for. Because a fruitful topic of the merchant nobility of Waterdeep is money, something you mostly have a vague acquaintance with.

But it has become clear to you that at some point you are going to have to take steps into the world of business in order to snare the biggest fish that you want. Of course you'd prefer the details to be handled by a competent underling, once you can hire an underling, but something will have to be done in at least a minor capacity now. The obvious choice is to open a shop, though that's terribly tedious. One could invest in a caravan trading venture, perhaps, and hope your shrewd sense of fine goods would let you pick a profitable one. You could sponsor a fighter or racer on the Fields of Triumph (a large, open-air arena) and hope that they win, eventually building up a stable of winners. You could sponsor an upcoming bard or magician, covering certain expenses (room, board, practice space, help them in finding an audience or clients) now in exchange for a portion of their profits later.

You could even sponsor one of the many adventurers or adventuring parties in the city, the ones that test themselves in Undermountain or perform various other mercenary services. (The plus to this is that you could "sponsor" them by finding out information for them, or goods, say, rather than in coin, for an exchange of some portion whatever they liberate in the course of their "adventure.") Or you could do anything else you imagine, as long as it lets you speak about business ventures with authority. Money speaks a language all its own, and your accent in that language is not, shall we say, native.

But you can make it be so. You went from fine social butterfly to having a personal interview with Lady Wands herself in less than a month. Truly, there's nothing you can't do.

[After speaking to Evelyn’s player, she came up with the following idea:]

A casual acquaintance of Evelyn Violette would know that there are some things you never see her doing. For example, traipsing through the sewers, lying prone on the street, slumming in bad neighborhoods, and selling jewelry. But Evelyn has done all of that and more (not necessarily voluntarily), as well as making friends in low places. Aside from the street urchin, Kip, who she’s taken into her household, Evelyn has been making a point of returning to Sucker Street on a regular basis to become friendly acquaintances with Brother Sallis, the priest of Tymora who works in a shrine there. Though he’s not terribly powerful, and certainly he’s in a bad neighborhood, Brother Sallis is both flattered by her attention and happy to talk about Lady Luck. Certainly Evelyn knows she could use a little luck with what’s all been going on in her life.

However, selling jewelry is a new and somewhat unpleasant experience for Evelyn, but a necessary evil when a reputation (and more riches) are at stake. You see, Evelyn has a plan to garner more of the wealth she needs to maintain her lifestyle in the manner to which she wants to become accustomed. In trying to carefully move up the social ladder of Waterdeep, Evelyn knows she’s starting to hit a glass ceiling because she is not a merchant, and has very little money. In the merchant nobility of Waterdeep, money talks.

Realizing that, Evelyn decided getting wealth is all about capitalizing on what one is good at, and Evelyn Violette is good at being fabulous. And stylish. And beautiful. (And magical, that goes without saying, but since Evelyn doesn’t create magic items or anything in that vein, she’s not pursuing that route.) Now, showing the world that they could be a quarter as fabulous as her? And getting paid for it? That’s the perfect way to get a start on her fortune. In short, Evelyn wants to create a fashion broadsheet/catalogue and send it not only all over the city, but along major trade routes to other big and important cites – Silverymoon, Baldur’s Gate, Athkatla in Amn, and Calmiport in Calminshan, as well as further east in the Dalelands and around the Sea of Fallen Stars.

However, this ambition requires an outlay of gold to hire an artist to draw pictures of the fashions, a writer for captions, to have copies made, and for someone to distribute them. Hence, Evelyn decided to sell several of her more recently-acquired jewels to get ready gold. After converting several of the lovely things to coin, she first visited Madame Silverleaf, as her business would be prominently displayed as the place to go to get Evelyn’s fashions. Madame is intrigued by Evelyn’s idea and figures it will either not hurt at best, or garner much more new business if it works. Either way, she gives her blessing, as it won’t cost her a copper.

As for distributing the fashion catalogue far and wide, Evelyn already has someone in mind for that. Though she doesn’t exactly get along with the Origamis perfectly, they already have extensive trade routes, and she trusts that such profit-loving people will at least be competent enough to get her catalogues to where she wants them to go. A formal meeting with Garden nets her a reasonable price to send her catalogues out.

Next, Evelyn went to the House of Beauty, the temple of Sune, to find an artist. She had heard Charissa describe the place as being inside her head, and had wanted to go there for a while. After a lengthy and appreciative look around the place, enjoying the flowers, statues, paintings, murals, mosaics, music, and other forms of art, Evelyn asks and is directed towards one Lynn Havad, a young and aspiring artist. Evelyn’s actually seen her a time or two, sketching at parties she’s attended, so she’s familiar with her work in a vague sort of way.

Lynn is decidedly interested in Evelyn’s proposal, both as a way to distribute her art across not just the city but across several countries, and as a way to make excellent money doing what she loves. She’s also a calligrapher, and while she’s not the next great author, could certainly do some lovely captions on various portraits of gowns. About half of Evelyn’s money from the sale of her jewelry will end up going to Lynn for creating the broadsheet and copying it, and the other half to the Origami clan for distribution and return of orders (if any) for her first attempt. After that, she can negotiate anew, once she sees what the response will be.

The upshot is, Evelyn drags Molly to the House of Beauty and gets to spend two days posing in all her best gowns. This idea? One of the best she’s ever had.

Ever.

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William

Now that things have calmed down since Highharvestide, you've begun to be able to integrate all the things you've learned in your rather exciting few weeks with your odd new friends. You've seen the magic in use at the House of Wonder (the Temple of Mystra), seen cursed red coral, viewed the ancient legacy magic of a tomb of merry, wine-drinking knights, seen unusual golems and familiars unknown to most, and stopped a most foul fate from bringing down a noble house by using your magic to help them see the truth.

Really, it's been a rather exciting few weeks!

All of this together has made you ponder your career choices. Though maybe you'd thought about working with your uncle, or maybe taking a trading trip with your father, or just setting yourself up somewhere as a scholar, seeing everything you've had makes you consider a wider and more responsible career path. In speaking with your career advisor, Nelara Gayne, (a full month before graduation, no less!) she nods and taps her finger against a framed letter on her desk, one marked with a symbol of a white hand, fingers together, against a purple field).

"Have you considered the Watchful Order of Magists and Protectors? From what you described to me [DM's note, as per your request, heavily edited] it seems like you might have the mindset for them. You've always been a good student, de Mer, and the Guild Wizards the Watchful Order trains are some of the most versatile in the world. They keep themselves out of heavy political crossfire, always to their credit, so no getting tangled up with nasty political backstabbing. They police other arcane casters, keeping us respected as solvers of problems, rather than creators of them. Some of them are contracted by the wealthy of the city to protect them from fires, you know, summoning water elementals and whatnot, a responsibility few others are willing to take on! And some aid those who are worried about being attacked by hostile workings of the Art. The last may be of most interest to you, considering what all you told me.

"Now, it's expensive to take their training, but worth every penny. If you think you'll be able to get together the money by the time you've reached the Sixth Tier of skill, I can get you an informal interview with an old classmate of mine. KuKaran Skullsplitter is her name - half-orc, as I'm sure you've guessed. And a rage mage to boot! She's in charge of knocking overenthusiastic spelldueller's head together on a regular basis. Suits her to the ground, though probably not quite your cup of tea. But she can get you in to speak with someone of a less... bloodthirsty persuasion."

In a couple of days, you find yourself in the workroom of one Mage Skullsplitter, sharing tea that tastes like it wants to fight its way up from your stomach and get into a punching match with your tongue. KuKaran is a massive half-orc woman, heavily tattooed and scarred, so heavily tattooed that you realize in short order that her spellbook is inked into her very skin! Her weasel familiar watches you with its mad little beady eyes as you drink, only backing down when KuKaren lifts him onto her shoulder so he can disappear into the fur ruff along her collar.

"Nelara tells me you'll be one of the brightest things to graduate from the Academy in an age. So, what's your interest in the Order?"

Assuming you say you want to use your magic to make a difference (or something along those lines), KuKaran smiles, showing tusks capped in ruby. "Not a bad place to start. It can be tedious at times - you wait and wait and then suddenly you're fighting a summon-happy drunk wizard who decides fire elementals are pretty and everyone wants to hug one." She shudders a little. "Bad night, that one. Or if you realize the rich visitor in town is using charm spells on everyone he meets, that's something you have to deal with. We don't work with the Watch. We're independent. People can contract us for certain things, but we also have our own discretion. The first rule you'll be taught is 'The Art is to be Respected.' You don't want people running screaming from magicians."

"KuKaran does, but then, that's her thing," a new voice adds. Twisting around, you see a fair-haired elf come in the back of the room and join you at the table. Wisely, he does not pour himself a cup of tea. His familiar, a tiny hawk not much bigger than a hand, grips into the padded fabric of his shoulder. His green eyes are huge and ancient as any elf you've seen, but curving blue scars mar his forehead in two places.

KuKaran grins, unabashed. "De Mer, this is Lutharian Tashalorial, Guild Wizard of the Order." The elf gives her a mocking bow and turns back to you.

"She's right though, about respecting the Art. That's the heart of the Order. They expect dedication from any who join, and if you aspire to be a Guild Wizard, they expect more. They'll find tasks for you to do, often dangerous ones, and all your time will not be your own. You'll be expected to join in quests, craft items, join in ritual magic, and do independent spell research... though if what KuKaran told me about you is true, you'll hardly find that a hardship." Lutharian smiles slightly and pulls out a thin book from his enormous sleeves, and plucks a pen from the same.

"Now, young de Mer, let us see what you're made of..."

William, he will question you thoroughly:

"What branches of magic are you interested in? What magic have you seen in action? What kinds of magic are you interested in learning?"

"Do you have a familiar? If so, what?"

"If you discovered a stranger casting compulsion spells, what would you do? A friend casting the same? In what circumstances would such magic be allowed, in your eyes?"

"Are you interested in magical crafting? What sorts of items? Do you have any ideas for new items?"

"If a rogue mage was casting fireballs in the Market Square, what would you do?"

"You're asked to drop what you're doing for a tenday's quest into a corner of Undermountain to contain a lichnee [he will explain this is a proto-lich]. You have a hour to prepare. What would you bring? Your companions are a priest of Lathander, a paladin of Kelemvor, and a professional dungeon delver. What spells would you prepare and why?"

"Name your five favorite spells, even those you cannot yet cast."

"Who is your favorite magician? Living or dead, human or not, and why does he, she, or it capture your admiration?"

[The below is William’s player’s response.]

William will of course already have his omnipresent notebook and pen out, and will flip through it occasionally as the questions continue.

1. I am still interested in all branches of magic...especially those that can control my environment or the field of battle.

2. I have had the opportunity to see magic from every branch of magic, from interactive illusions to the rampant magic present in the temple of Mystara.

3. I am interested in learning all that I can. I never know when a spell might come in handy, especially used in an unusual way.

4. I will have a familiar once I have grown sufficiently in magical strength. It is a construct given to me as payment for a favor.

5. If I saw someone casting compulsion, regardless of whether it was stranger or friend, the situation would determine my response. However, I would be more inclined to believe foul play than fair with that particular spell. I can't think of many situations where compulsion would be acceptable-preventing someone from committing suicide maybe?

6. Magical crafting is fascinating...occasionally my family will come across a magical antique. The creativity and skill involved is fascinating and admirable. I don't know how much time or effort I am willing to expend on that skill set yet, but I have done some papers on how one could modify the Book of Twin spell to create small sets of instant written communication devices. I am still developing and patenting the design. Looking at the pen in his hand, he will also say he's played with an indestructible pen with an inexhaustible supply of ink.

7. My first instinct would be to put him to sleep, or otherwise incapacitate them immediately.

8. That sounds like a good team to battle any sort of undead, so I would focus on spells to bolster my companions, like mage armor , and those that could make the lichnee vulnerable, like grease . I would try to pick offensive spells that could also be used on the other creatures in the area, since I doubt the creature will be alone.

9. Flare, Prismatic wall and wall of sound , virtually all the orb spells. And one of the most all-purpose spells, detect magic . I have learned so much seeing how and where spells are used.

10. I am not trying to cater to my alma mater when I say that I admire the founder of Eltorchul Academy (player can't remember his name). The pursuit, accumulation, and dissemination of knowledge is one of the most worthy occupations in my opinion, and the Academy is a grand legacy.

[DM’s response]

Lutharian seems be to very pleased with those responses. “Well said, young de Mer. I think you might do very well at the Order, very well indeed. If you can spare the time from your studies, I think we can see about getting you in as a scribe from time to time, just to get your feet wet. You can look through the chronicles as well as the more current duty reports and get a feel for things behind the scenes. I think that will give you the best idea of what we’re all about.”
 

Isida Kep'Tukari

Adventurer
Supporter
Session 13

When we last left our intrepid heroes, they’d had tied up many of the conspirators to ruin the Wands family in one way or another. The party has had almost a month and a half of people not killing them or having to figure out why that might be so. That doesn’t mean they’ve been idle, oh no. Each of the group has been pursuing their own agendas, improving their skills, making new connections, or making new things.

Shandri, amongst other things, had formed the Urchin Postal Service (UPS). A life-long resident of Dock Ward, Shandri knew that there were hundreds of orphaned or semi-abandoned children that scraped out a living on Waterdeep’s streets. Having seen Evelyn’s success with Kip, and knowing that having a good messenger in a pinch could be crucial, she decided to do something about that. She bought many sets of solidly-made brown clothing (on the grounds that it showed stains less) and began to make contact with the various urchin gangs. In exchange for new clothing, learning how to swim at the temple of Istishia, and having the backing of herself (and sometimes her cousin), Shandri would find the urchins work that paid real money. For the duty of carrying verbal or written messages (or small packages) they could earn more money for better food, or a place to sleep safely, than they ever could begging or stealing.

(More on what the others were doing during the rest of Marponeth and the month of Uktar was in the previous post.)

But now Uktar was over and the Feast of the Moon descended over Waterdeep. It was a winter holiday where people gathered to tell stories and legends of their ancestors and the gods, to where it was hard to say where one ended and the other began. Theatrical productions, street theater, and miracle plays would abound. Tables would be set up in the streets, and people would tell tales all through the night as they feasted.

One of Charissa’s projects during her time off was to officially revive the Order of the Vine. She didn’t have the money to start a whole new guild from the ground up, but she could try to attach it to another guild. The Vintners, Brewers and Distillers Guild, to be precise. Calling on all other members of the Order (Garden, William and Shandri), Charissa said she’d gotten a trial run of sorts for the Order. Master Brewer Rumlar Stonehead had invited them to the Guild’s Feast of the Moon, adding to the festivities with the occasional song or drinking game, as well as keeping any mayhem down to a minimum. If the Order did well, Master Stonehead would consider passing a hat for them, perhaps even sponsoring them in the Guild –giving them steady jobs and the occasional help with larger projects, as well as being under Guild protection. But this time they’d work for free.

Calling that fair, as while Master Stonehead remembered the old Order, but didn’t know Charissa at all, the group put on new purple sashes and went to the party. (And if you’re wondering at this point where Evelyn and Steven are, Evelyn had sent a message that she had the dragon flu, and required Steven to stay home to aid in her recovery. At least that’s what she said.)
Several Guilds up and down the street had put up outdoor tables, and colorful bunting hung from many of the buildings. The new Order of the Vine did very well –Having used Grapes of Wrath’s stored knowledge to sing songs, play games, and test apprentices’ knowledge of obscure beverages, as well as rendering sober the occasional overly-belligerent guest.

Things were going so well, in fact, that the party only really looked up from their duties when they heard roaring and screaming coming from up the street. They saw a different Guild feast further up the block, and in the midst of the surging panicking crowd was a wemic, his mane aflame yet causing him no harm, laying about with his fists, bowling people aside, roaring, “Where are they? Where are they?” It was Sir Firemane, the wemic paladin of Nobanion the group had rescued from the sewers two months ago, and he was drunk as a lord, and fighting mad!

The Order of the Vine swung into action – Garden literally, by climbing up on a balcony and swinging down over the crowd on a length of bunting. Unfortunately Sir Firemane still had excellent aim, and battled Garden down. A single member of the Watch present, a Halfling armed with a truncheon and frightened expression, was also batted away, even as Charissa and Shandri moved in. Charissa tried to hit him with Grapes of Wrath sobering head to clear his mind, but missed, while Garden tried to stab him in the paw (the closest portion of anatomy to where he was, sprawled on the ground) with sleep poison. Alas it did not work. Shandri tried to give him the blessings of Istishia (i.e. create water) to quench the flames and his temper, while William tried to daze him with magic.

The group managed to keep his attention on them, taking a few bone-shaking blows for their trouble, and got the rest of the people out of the line of fire. Eventually one of Charissa’s blows connected and Sir Firemane was rendered instantly sober. He was appalled at his own behavior, and grateful for the group’s intervention before he did something entirely unforgiveable. He gave the Halfling Watch officer his entire belt pouch to pay for his fines (the poor lad nearly fainted again), and told the party he had to speak to them urgently and ask of them a favor.
William piped up with why had Sir Firemane’s hair been burning, and he said it was blessing of Nobanion to his paladins.

That dealt with, Sir Firemane said he’d spent two months looking for the pilgrims he’d been guiding from the Shaar – Darin Kellen, Havar Gethain, and Bescar Jorim; the fourth, Oram Vitch, had been the one who’d died of the same coral curse which had nearly killed Sir Firemane. The other three had gone missing while Firemane had been ill, and he’d frantically been trying to find them this entire time. He’d found but a single clue – he’d seen a carved ivory bracelet that Darin had made himself during the thousand-mile journey to Waterdeep decorating a carved candle in the store window of a shop. Unfortunately Rest’s Chandler, owned by Bertram Rest, was a very tiny shop, and Sir Fireman couldn’t even fit inside. He’d hoped to catch Bertram during the Feast, but he apparently hadn’t attended, and Sir Firemane had become rather despondent.

Nobanion’s faithful were known for their bravery in the face of fighting great evil, not for the subtlety or investigative prowess, and Sir Firemane had been beyond the end of his rope. He drank half a tavern in his despair and then… Well. The party had seen the rest. He felt awful about what he’d done once the party had brought him to his senses.

The party pressed him for details, saying perhaps they could help. Sir Firemane said all four men were from the Shaar, and Bescar was from a noble house. His family was actually very wealthy. All four were theology scholars, and had embarked upon the epic journey to Waterdeep to study the differences in regional worship of the gods as they traveled. They’d meant to catch a ship to Maztica to study the gods there and how the related to Faerûnian gods.

Sir Firemane gave the group good descriptions of the three men (as well as their scent descriptions… which was interesting but not particularly relevant to anyone in the party), and said he would be eternally grateful if the party could find them. Firemane was a good hunter and mighty warrior, but he couldn’t investigate in a city. He told the group he was staying in a warehouse in the Dock Ward, and would retreat there so he could easily be found when the group needed him… and so he could pray to Nobanion about how to atone for his unworthy actions.

The group went to the chandler the next day, finding it to be as small as advertised, barely the width of the spread of a human’s arms. (Shandri looked snooty and mildly disdainful in the presence of so much fire the entire time there, out of religious principle.) The proprietor Bertram was a cheerful, elderly man with a short beard, and he was happy to talk. The group had noticed the bracelet in question, sank into a beautifully carved candle as part of its decoration. Many candles in the shop, including that one, were somewhat magical. William realized Bertram was a Candle Caster, a Chandler Mage, someone who could put magic into candles the way others did into scrolls or potions, and have them release the magic when burned.

Asked about the bracelet, Bertram said it was sold to him in exchange for many plain candles, and described and named Darin, the bracelet’s owner, as the seller. Darin had been in the company of a woman, a redhead with blue eyes, very beautiful. Bertram made a few evocative gestures when describing the woman’s charms, and Charissa bit the bullet and supplied, “She had huge tracks of land?”

“A vast estate,” Bertram confirmed.

That description actually rang a bell with both Charissa and Shandri – there was a woman called Lilah who worked at the Busty Wench tavern that fitted who they were looking for. Shandri had seen her around the docks, and Liliah had once bought some knives from Charissa for self-protection. It was decided, due to William’s… sensitivity, that Charissa and Garden would go to the tavern to talk to Lilah.

(There was a second reason the Origamis didn’t want the de Mers around, other than the fact that the Busty Wench was one education William was better off not having and Shadri would have a harder time manufacturing an excuse to go there. Garden had been establishing a disguised persona in an Origami clan operated shop called The Marlith. Wearing a false beard, eyepatch, scar makeup, and the artfully stressed clothes of a working artisan, he didn’t want the others to know about “old Granther,” the aged gnome salesman of unusual but highly respectable weaponry. Charissa knew about the disguise, because Charissa had gone into that very shop to buy some shurikens (Tymora’s chosen weapon; she chooses to honor various gods by bearing their favored weapons) and had seen through the disguise. Alas, she’s his sister. Invoking her special talent of willful ignorance, she had asked no questions, and he’d told her no lies.)

So, that evening “old Granther” and Charissa went to the Busty Wench tavern. The sign was in relief, naturally.

Inside, they spotted Lilah attending to a customer on the far side of the room. Charissa went to talk to her, ostensibly about the knives she’s purchased, while Garden was showing the ladies some drawings of concealable weapons from the Marlith. Like war fans. And bodice daggers. The ladies found that delightful, particularly when he described the colors available. So he took their orders while they fussed over him (and at his height, with them bending over, Garden got many excellent views). Order-taking involved some close measurements, and ribald joking if there were enough string to measure, or steel to make a bodice dagger for some of the more bounteously blessed of the staff.

With that distraction going on, Charissa was able to talk with Liah, who said Darin had sold the bracelet at her mildly exasperated insistence, as he’d run up a bit of a bill. (Studying the rites of Sharess’ faithful can be costly.) And he’d not only owed her, but Carla. The candles had been for her, as that was one of her specialties, hot wax. The pilgrims had wanted to talk with her, and Lilah hadn’t seen them in days.

Thanking Lilah, Charissa went to talk to Carla, who was dressed in leather (and was, upon asking, a worshipper of Loviatar). Carla said her time was money, regardless of what was done with it. Charissa put down coins periodically throughout their conversation. Upon hearing what Charissa wanted to know, Carla said the young men in question had wanted to talk to her about her worship, and had simply paid for her to talk (which amused her greatly). After listening to what she’d said, they asked if she knew about any other obscure religions in the city.
Carla told them there was an old temple down below the Warrens (a subterranean Halfling and gnome community below Dock Ward), now called the Temple of the Darkening Dawn. Apparently it was an offshoot of Lathander’s worship. They’d all gone there on the Feast of the Moon.

Thanking Carla, and finally extracting her brother before he’d smothered, Charissa returned to the Ship’s Lantern inn (where the de Mers were waiting) and let them know what they’d learned. With a young noble running around and an unknown temple uncovered, they all thought that Evelyn and Steven might be interesting in going along…

-------

Evelyn didn’t go the Order of the Vine’s revival on the Feast of the Moon, partly because she wasn’t a member of the Order, partly because she preferred being served at such parties instead of doing the entertaining herself, and partly because her (and by extension, Steven) had a better invitation. So she told them she had dragon flu.

The invitation was from Raxmathlinda, the song dragon. Dressed in their best and then cloaked to hide it, Raxmathlinda told them that the Dragonward that protected the city from dragons untouched by Maaril the Dragon Mage’s dragonstaff did not quite cover the entire city. And there were a few places where dragons could technically be in city grounds without being hit with the Dragonward’s aversion. She led them to what appeared to be a small, ramshackle hut. Knocking, they were admitted by a pale-skinned, blue-eyed man with nearly white hair, seeming only a handful of years older than they. It was cool inside the house, which seemed not only to be bigger on the inside, but infinitely finger, appointed like a fine manor house.

Their host greeted them warmly (which was ironic for reasons they soon learned) and took them to a fine chamber below, carved out of rock, draped with curtains of many colors, a roaring fireplace in one wall, and a large table in the middle, laden with food and drink. Four other people were already ranged about it: a woman from Kara-Tur, dressed in the brightly-colored, many layered silk kimonos of her people, a moon elf with very green eyes, a Halfling woman with blonde hair, dressed in copper cloth, and a red-haired dwarf in leather, bearing a surly expression. They were, respectively, a lung wang (Wu Yen), an emerald (Zotu), a gold (Micallbrecath), and a red dragon (Jukuminno). Their host was a white dragon (Karaxmegathron). This was the Waterdeep Council of Wyrms. Though their philosophies differed, sometimes extremely, they were united by the bonds of dragonhood… and their vague distrust and disgust with the Dragon Mage.

Everyone feasted, and in between bites, the Council questioned Evelyn and Steven about their goals. From the line of their questioning, they seemed to be reasonably pleased that Evelyn (and Steven by extension) was aiming high, to be an influential power in the city. Because at least half the Council couldn’t enter the city, either from a desire to not let their presence be known to Maaril, or his own refusal to allow them entrance, they spoke several times of possibly getting the dragonstaff into someone else’s hands someday. Dragons have patience, but the Violettes had both dragon blood and the drive and ambition that came from a shorter lifespan.

(It was during this time the Violettes learned a few interesting stray facts. Jukuminno was a red dragon, but he had a crimson drake companion… the same crimson drake that had blown up Melvin Mask’s shop and had stung Steven. Jukuminno said, “When Vexen decided to take a side job, I was the one that ended up getting kicked out with him.” He had the crimson drake, Vexen, in a small cage, and kicked it periodically. He was very put out with Vexen. He was very put out by everything and everyone, though that seemed to be par for the course. None of the other dragons seemed terribly sympathetic towards the drake either.

Wu Yen’s name sounded quite familiar, because it was she who was the paper golem maker! She brought out two of her samurai-folded paper golems for their amusement, showing the sharpness of their seemingly insubstantial blades, and spent some time talking with Evelyn about the fashions of her home. She carried a companion with her, a paper drake, what looked like nothing so much as a folded paper dragon. But he was a living creature, not a construct. Princess (Evelyn’s cat familiar) was fascinated by him, to the point where Wu Yen had him fold up and tucked him in a fold of her kimono to stave off trouble. (Literally fold up; it’s one of their tricks.) She called him “Rex” at one point, but for dragons that’s the equivalent of “baby,” and likely not his real name.)

Eventually the Council got down to the meat of the meeting. The Dragon Mage could be a tricky and sometimes arbitrary person, and often demanded shares of a dragon’s hoard to admit him or her into the city. It was likely, Karaxmegathron told the Violettes, that part of their current relative poverty was because their parents likely paid Maaril something to reside in Waterdeep. That was not family history as the Violettes had learned it, but it was an interesting theory. The Council wanted their kind to be able to have a somewhat freer approach in the city, being able to interact with people without having to go through Maaril.

In short, they wanted some of their own inside the city, but without the magical monitoring upon them that any dragonstaff-touched dragon would have. They hoped that a full-blooded dragon, born within the Dragonward, might be able to bypass the ward. They’d been studying it and this was a good, solid theory. They weren’t looking for wholesale revolution of the city, just to not have every action seen by a man they did not trust.
It seemed the Council had come into possession of a dragon egg (the same dragon egg, as a matter of fact, that they saw rolling around the floor, on fire, in the Golden Mermaid tavern the night they tried to get answers out of Melvin Mask). They had a place just inside the ward where it could be born, but there were a few inhabitants that needed to be evicted, either by persuasion or by force. As a test of resourcefulness, the Council would give the job to the Violettes. Intrigued, they accepted.

There was a door just at the edge of the Dragonward, and through that door was a portal to somewhere else in Waterdeep. Stepping through, the Violettes found themselves in a corridor, with three rooms at the end of it. One was sealed with an amber-colored resin. One was steel, with a huge elaborate lock in the shape of a demon’s mouth that needed a huge key. The third was strung with beads and admitted not a sound. Magic abounded on the amber door, and through the beaded curtain, though no one heard anything.

Steven decided to open the amber door first, and after putting his back into it, finally broke the seal. Inside was a throne of carved wood, and upon it was a golden women, sprawled slightly as if she’d been tossed there. She wore an antique golden dress, carried a huge key about her neck, and a slim glowing crown upon her head. Her hair, eyes, even her teeth were golden, and her flesh glowed with the same hue. Flanking her, kneeling, were two bronze-skinned men in bronze leather armor, strangely cut so the collar hid their mouths, both carrying two long daggers.
Slowly the woman came away, and blinked at them in some fear.

“Are the Kregar coming? Are we safe?”

A thorough flogging of Evelyn’s memories later, and questioning the golden woman (who thought it was the Year of the Flower Unfolding), she realized who this might be. There was a tiny principality near Waterdeep known as the Golden Kingdom, some five hundred years ago. They had been attacked by a rival kingdom, the fierce Kregars, and destroyed. Their last ruler, the Golden Queen, had vanished before she could be killed. It was said the people of the Golden Kingdom infused their very flesh with substances from other planes, though it hadn’t availed them against the Kregar.

The Queen was greatly saddened when she realized her court wizard, Sarras, had managed to save her, but no more than that. She asked if the Violettes would see what had become of him, because he had had much dangerous magic, and if any of it escaped… She would abide here for the nonce, that she not lose her life after he’d done so much to save it, but offered the help of Challa, one of her bodyguards, in case of trouble. She also gave the Violettes the key to Sarras’ laboratory (the one with the iron door).

Going across the way, and using the huge key, the iron door swung open to reveal a wizard’s workroom, exploded so fiercely that almost nothing had survived. A skeleton, little more than blackened bones, was in the middle of the destruction. Steven knelt down to give the old wizard a blessing of Mystra, when the bones moved. They reached out very slowly as a raspy voice echoed through the skull, “Will you protect her?”

“I will,” Steven said. And with that, he offered his hand to the skeleton. Its bony fingers circled his wrist, and he felt a flash of heat. His scales there were now golden where the fingers had touched, and he immediately knew exactly where the Golden Queen was, and what she was feeling. With a sigh, the bones crumbled to powder.

Muttering to himself about how in the world did he get into these situations, Steven helped Evelyn search the room, and they turned up three scrolls with golden writing, with strange magical spells upon them. They went back to the Golden Queen and told her of Sarras’ fate, that he’d taken it upon himself to make sure no harmful magic survived him. She asked the Violettes to make certain the throne room had been either destroyed or neutralized, because there had been things there too that might cause this new world trouble.

The throne room was beyond the beads, and in looking through them, they saw something odd. Or rather heard something. Or rather, didn’t hear something. Even though the beads did not register as magic, they were apparently keeping all sound out, because they caught a glimpse of two arguing drow, and a dangerous-looking snail with many mace-like heads, a huge shimmering shell, all the size of a horse, but not a sound could be heard. Steven, Evelyn, and Challa pushed into the room, and now sound became clear. The drow argued in a language none of them spoke, turned to see their intruders, and fired upon them.

The battle was joined, Steven charging at once to eviscerate one drow, while the flail snail charged (slowly, it’s a snail) Challa and Evelyn. Evelyn used Margul (the dreaded freeze) to hold one drow while Steven attacked, while Challa went after the flail snail. He nearly had his skull caved in after he got but a single hit, and the flail snail bashed him in retaliation. Evelyn fled ahead of the slow charge and kept pausing to fire off more spells of Margul, but quickly learned the terrible power of the beautiful shell on the flail snail’s back. Three times her spell either fizzled out or nearly rebounded upon her. Steven finished off the second drow, ran to heal Challa enough that he could rise, and both chased after the flail snail as it tried to corner Evelyn.
Nearly out of spells, Evelyn downed a potion of true strike and stabbed it with her silver dagger, even as Steven and Challa flanked it. Challa hurt it a little, then took another blow that laid him out again, and it was up to Steven to finish off the flail snail, stabbing it deeply. The body of the nail dissolved into slime, leaving the magnificent shell. The throne room itself was empty, its contents long-since destroyed, with only a small natural cave entrance (where the drow and flail snail had come from) its only other egress.

Evelyn used a potion of healing to bring Challa out of unconsciousness, and then they returned to guide the Golden Queen to safety. She carried a small chest with her, and emerged from the Portal in the Council of Wyrms with as much dignity as royalty five hundred years out of her time could. There was a bit of a debate as to where she could go, as Steven wanted to bring her to the temple of Mystra, but did not want to tell the Magister exactly where he’d found her, as that would reveal the Council. The Golden Queen said Steve could say he found her in the streets (once she went and got herself lost there) so it wouldn’t be a lie.

While this was going on, Evelyn had realized how valuable that flail snail shell was (thousands), and wanted to use that to invest in silk from Wu Yen’s homeland. Her brother would also use his share, so they could share in the profits. Having silk brought to Waterdeep had the potential to make them all at least well-off, if not wealthy, if they managed things right. Thusly agreed, Wu Yen said she’d send them a message soon.

With all plots in place, eventually the Violettes and the Golden Queen arrived at the temple of Mystra to join in their Feast of the Moon, much to their amazement… and the wonder of the Magister in what star had Steven been born under for crazy things like this to keep happening to him…
 

Isida Kep'Tukari

Adventurer
Supporter
Session 14

When we last left our intrepid heroes, the Order of the Vine (Charissa, Garden, William, and Shandri) had begun to be reestablished. In the course of that, had found Sir Firemane, the wemic paladin, and had decided to help him find his missing charges. Meanwhile, the Violettes had met some dragons and awakened an ancient queen.

Being as the finding the Temple of the Darkening Dawn, where Sir Firemane’s people might be, could involve both intrigue and violence, Shandri sent verbal messages via Urchin Postal Service to both Evelyn and Steven, asking for their help. Knowing her audience, the urchin that went to Evelyn at her home said, “The others say there’s a rich nobleman who needs rescued.” Evelyn was immediately interested, and said she’d come. Steve’s messenger came to him at the Temple of Mystra, and said, “The people Sir Firemane was looking for might be trapped and needing rescue.”

With gold fever, desire for noble favor, fellow paladin feeling, and the obligation to see no creature in chains, the Violettes joined the group at the Empty Grave (naturally), so everyone could be brought up to speed. During the discussion, whereupon it was revealed that the temple was said to be below the Warrens, the halfling/gnome district under Dock Ward, Garden said he’d go scout ahead. For the rest of the group, they pooled their knowledge to figure out even if the Warrens were usually not sized for big folk, there were several “tall paths” for large cargo and taller visitors. Also, the name of the temple, the Darkening Dawn, sounded like some variation of Lathander’s faith, but was probably a cult. The Dawnlord would never condone a temple built below ground.

Garden descended into the Warren, and found, entirely by coincidence, someone he knew. It was Beak (Calla Break Snorpthangle the 32nd and a half), a high-ranking member of the Origami clan in town for business. Beak said she hadn’t heard anything about the Temple of the Darkening Dawn herself, but she could send Garden to someone who lived below the Warrens, in a place where the rock walls came together close, known as the Blade. She said his name was Rich, an assumed name, but no one could pronounce his real one. He was an octopus (truly), an octopus sorcerer as a matter of fact. He’d been awakened by a druid’s spell some time ago, and was shunned by those who lived in the harbor. As he was very small and prone to being eaten by sharks, Rich now lived in the Blade, inside his water elemental familiar.

Thoroughly amused, Garden went to talk to this oddity. Rich could not speak any language Garden could understand, so instead invoked a spell of light in the dim Blade and wrote his answers on the wall in his own ink. The Temple of the Darkening Dawn had a holy symbol much like that of Lathander, except in grayscale. But the most interesting thing about the Temple was that supposedly the god was manifest there, which was why it had been gathering more support recently.

A bit perturbed, Garden returned to the group and relayed this information as they prepared to travel below the Blade. Charissa felt right at home traversing the Warrens, but occasionally the others had their heads introduced to skywalks, balconies, or were occasionally literally clotheslined. Eventually they neared the Blade, but as the area below was not well lit, if at all, so they paused to purchase illumination at Lifty’s Nifty Lights (run by a gnome, of course). She was able to dig out a nearly-dead ioun stone with a light spell on it for Charissa, an everburning torch for the party, and a couple of lanterns. The group came up a little short on cash, so Steven offered up a corsage made of dried bats (he’d taken it from a drow he’d killed, along with the stylish blue-sheened boots he was currently sporting). Lifty was thrilled at such a unique find, and took it, cooing over it a little unsettlingly.

Thusly illuminated, the party ventured downward, eventually finding some of the grayscale holy symbols painted on the walls. They used them as guides as they followed the twists and turns to a set of guarded double doors. After fumbling a bit to the guards’ questions, the group managed to say they wished for a new beginning, and were admitted. The underground temple was large and old, older than this new church. Several worshippers, robed in gray, sat the in pews.

But what caught the group’s attention was the purple ball of flame, big as two people put together, hovering above the altar. The high priest knelt before the altar, several acolytes off to one side. As the group watched, several worshippers petitioned the god. One was being punished for “failing the faith,” and writhed in pain as a beam of gray energy emanated from the god and struck him. The priest praised the man’s acceptance that he was willing to endure punishment and begin anew. Another sacrificed a coffer (presumably full of valuables) and named a name of someone who had wronged him. The god spoke in a booming voice, saying to bring this unbeliever to him that he might see the faithful’s new god, as a reward for diligence and piety.

This struck most of the party as at least sketchy, if not some elaborate con, though William could see the “god” was very magical indeed. Looking about, the group spotted the three Shaaran men they’d been looking for. Garden decided to pretend one of them was his uncle, and threw himself at them with a cry of welcome. This disrupted the service, and both the high priest and the god questioned the party, asking how dare they interrupt their service with their rudeness. The god then invoked a spell upon Garden (he was playing the whining nephew to the hilt) and Garden suddenly realized that the priest was entirely worthy of respect and he was being unconscionably rude in church. (William realized he’d been charmed.)

But as the priest was staring daggers at them (and the guards and most of the rest of the worshippers) the group decided it would be a great time to leave. Well, Evelyn did, and nearly dragged the rest of the party out by the hair. Once out of the temple and the immediate range of any listeners, the group told them Sir Firemane had sent them, and asked them what they’d been doing since they’d been “missing.”

The three men felt terrible that they’d caused their protector so much distress, but they’d thought he’d been killed. You see, in their travels, they’d once offended some priests of Talona (the goddess of disease and poison) by healing and succoring plague victims. That had been some distance from Waterdeep, but the church had cursed them, and servants the church had been after them. When Oram and Sir Firemane had been attacked and fallen to the red coral curse (truly, the three remaining men thought they had died), the remaining Shaarans hoped to find a way to lift the curse and pursuit from them with their knowledge of the gods. Without money to pay for a miracle, and wary of involving the larger churches in this feud (sparking a holy war, very bad idea) they sought another way to lift the curse.

This new and manifest god had some promise, though he was a harsh and unbending deity. But the news that Sir Firemane, at least, was alive, was cause for much rejoicing. Quickly retreating from the Warrens, the Shaarans were happily reunited. Sir Firemane said he was profoundly grateful, and as long as he was in the city, the group could call upon him if any evil needed to be vanquished.

Wanting to do something about the Darkening Dawn, Steven and the group called upon the temple of Lathander. After speaking with some of the priests there, they said that there were some apocryphal texts of the church that spoke of Lathander’s brother, the god of dark dawns, the dawns of stormy or rainy days. But although the rituals of the group described were not unheard of for some very strict religions, the Lathanders agreed to look into the manner…
 
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Azkorra

Explorer
It has been quite a while since your last post - great to see back on the boards! I like that your campaign rather tends to focus on investigation than on combat. Also, you have already introduced a large number of interesting NPCs the players can socially interact with, which really keeps the campaign from getting one-dimensional and provides for nice reading. Keep up with it!
 

Isida Kep'Tukari

Adventurer
Supporter
Session 15

Whew! Ok, sorry for the long hiatus guys - the husband and I were on vacation for a while. Onward!

When we last left our intrepid heroes, they had just talked to the Temple of Lathander (god of dawn, athletics, and youth) about the Temple of the Darkening Dawn, ruled by (so they thought) a corrupt priest or con man along with… some kind of illusion? Magic item? Guy in a glowing rubber suit? At any rate, with some kind of talking fireball. The temple seemed to be cruel and collecting money under false or at least very shady pretenses. The priest they spoke to said he would send three clerics to see if this “god” was a true manifestation of divinity or if this was simple a nest of self-deluded fools. They would leave in the dawn, naturally.

The group got a spot of rest (Evelyn just stayed up all night, because she was used to staying up until the most fashionable of hours) and showed up at the entrance to the Warrens the next morning to escort the three priests, Brothers Darvin, Dorn, and Randal. Garden showed up dressed to the nines in his purple Order of the Vine suit and sash, looking as far from the whiney “nephew” he had portrayed the previous day. He got ahead of the group to do a touch of scouting.

Once in the Blade, he earned the distinctive wet sounds of Rich, the octopus sorcerer who resided inside his water elemental familiar. Turning towards them and asking what they’d heard, Rich wrote that there had been a bit of a hullaballoo the night before in the general area of the Darkening Dawn. He also asked for a drink, as the hullaballoo had been rather distressing. Garden pulled out a flask of wine and poured it into the water elemental, who turned purple.

“Exxxxxxxxcellent,” Rich wrote, a wee bit unsteady, and sloshed off, out of the way of impending trouble. Garden luckily found no further trouble, and the group caught up with him near the Temple.

As a point, as Lathander is a patron of athletes, all three of the priests were in quite good shape. And good-looking. Evelyn immediately started chatting up the loveliest of the three, because she likes pretty things, while Steven glared.

The door to the Temple was barred from the outside, and Evelyn and William could detect a bit of magic through the cracks. The priests removed the bar and flung the doors open. The Temple was deserted, aside from a glowing ball of blue flame hovering above the altar. (Though the group had seen a ball of purple flame there during the service yesterday.) The group advanced warily, as the thing was quite magical, when suddenly it broke apart in a dozen wiggling lines of light!

The things rushed the party, some of them emanating a magical fear that Steve’s stalwart courage and refusal to give in to being controlled helped ameliorate. The priests and the party battled them fiercely, the priests laying about with their maces to devastating effect, Charissa and Garden shooting them, William trying to dissolve them with magical acid darts, and Shandri blessing the group. At one point Evelyn managed to used Margul, the dreaded freeze, the paralyze one of the wiggling things, turning it into a floating bar, which Garden skewered neatly.

Evelyn was then rendered asleep by the creatures’ magic, and one of them wrapped itself around her throat and tried to strangle her. Princess tried to claw it away from her mistress’ throat, and Steve decided to take action at the same time. He hurled the line-creature away, following it with the closest possible weapon. Princess. Creature and cat thudded into the wall in that order, cat crushing the creature into motes.

That was the last of them, luckily. Everyone then woken up and dignity more or less restored, they went to inspect the area. The group found a hidden door into the vestry that held several gray robes (such as the congregants had worn), and had a smooth hole in the ceiling, the diameter of the purple ball of fire.

Looking around carefully at more his eyeline, Garden spotted some dust in mid-air, and discovered there was an invisible chest in the corner! He picked the lock by feel, but nearly had his finger chopped off by a spring blade trap. He disarmed that carefully (now that he knew it was there) and opened it up. It was, to be noted, pink inside from where Evelyn had tried to use prestidigitation to color it pink in an attempt to make it show up. It hadn’t worked. Inside was a goodly bit of gold, gems, a few weapons, and a couple other valuables. These were some of the Temple’s ill-gotten gains, apparently, left behind when someone must have forgotten about the invisible chest.

They divided it amongst all present, including the priests, who would tithe their share, as they continued their investigation. Intrigued by the hole in the ceiling and where it might go, William and Charissa came up with a plan. William cast light on one of Charissa's bullets, which she then fired up into the hole. It hit the ceiling quite a distance above, but there was enough of a glimpse to show that the tunnel made a turn. Armed with this information, Randal summoned a celestial hawk, who flew up the shaft and then came to report (in Celestial, that Randal translated) that the tunnel terminated in a corner of the Blade.

Looking about some more, Garden found a second secret door, leading to a spherical room. There were very fresh carvings about the Darkening Dawn around the middle of the room, and a sickly-sweet crust on the floor. William made wall rubbings (with some help from a Tenser’s floating disk spell and a bit of mage hand), and the party retreated outward and onward…
 

Isida Kep'Tukari

Adventurer
Supporter
Session 16

As my father, who plays Garden, was out of town, Garden got to have the DM mess with his character this session... ;)

--

When we last left our intrepid heroes, they had just finished cleaning out the Temple of the Darkening Dawn and wanted to figure out how to close and lock the door. Or possibly blow the whole thing up. Deciding the latter was excessive and they didn’t have much expertise in the former, the group was going to see if Garden could recommend a good lock. Except Garden had disappeared. Being as this was not an entirely unusual turn of events, the group just blocked off the temple with the bar that had been there before for now, intending to return later with a better means of securing the door. They went to leave, confident Garden would turn up turn up at his shop, or possibly was fleecing someone in the Warrens on the way out.

But when the group got to the Blade, several heard a strange gurgling sound, like someone gargling while yodeling through butterscotch pudding. Recognizing the dulcet tones of the Aquan tongue anywhere, William and Shandri could understand the voice was saying, “Tall lady! Tall lady in the purple sash!” in a rather slurred manner.

Translating, Charissa and the others came to a halt. Into the circle of the light came sloshing a gnome-sized wet column of grape jelly that gave off a distinctive smell of wine. Charissa decided it was a wine elemental, and no one in the party, not the Lathander priests, nor anyone else, had a differing theory. So, sobering it up wasn’t possible, as a tap from Grapes of Wrath’s sober side might kill it!

It went on to say it knew Garden, as he wore the same sash Charissa did (the Order of the Vine). Garden had talked to him about the ruckus in the Temple the previous night and had given him a drink to settle his nerves. He said his name was… well, there was no good translation in Aquan that William could effect on dry land, and as everyone was fresh out of butterscotch pudding to yodel through while gargling, the creature said they could call him Rich. And his water elemental familiar was called Oodoogoobloop.

Charissa asked, and Rich accepted the offer that he needed to be sober right now, and that being sober would not, in fact, kill him, and tapped him with the sober end of her hammer. The purple cleared, and revealed a very small golden octopus inside a water elemental familiar.

(At several times in the ensuing conversation, Evelyn had looked at Rich in a slightly covetous, hungry way. You see, with new ships in town from Kara Tur, Evelyn had been at a few sushi parties recently, including ones were where small live octopi were eaten. Did they taste good? You do realize that it’s fashionable to eat octopus right now? That’s In, this season.)

A bit more coherent now, Rich explained he’d seen Garden be captured and dragged off by little dark figures who were dressed in rags and brought shadow with them. The group recognized this description with a sinking feeling – dark creepers, those murderous little thugs they’d fought on Gutter Street a couple months back.

Rich said they’d gone out the back of the Blade, and upon showing them the area, Steven and Evelyn saw something they’d both seen once before: crackling purple energy across a doorway. It was a portal. William recognized them too from descriptions he’d made notes on in class, and this one was active. Rich was miffed, as he was down here to study them (amongst other things) and hadn’t known the key phrases or actions to activate it himself. Realizing the portal might not stay active for much longer, Brothers Randal and Dorn said they’d return to the Temple to report the kidnapping while Darvin stayed with them as they attempted to mount a rescue. With that, the group strode through, weapons at the ready (and Rich and Oodoogoobloop on William’s floating disk, along with the invisible chest).

The corridor on the other side was broad but unlit, and getting back through the portal? No guarantees. Nervous but determined, the group carried on. After a while, they spied a cunningly dyed piece of canvas stretching across the floor, a pit trap for the unwitting. Thinking themselves dreadfully clever, Steven whisked it aside – and found himself attacked!

A pair of hideous abominations were there, with thick, ten-foot-long snake bodies, terrible clacking beaks like those of a giant squid, surrounded by four short tentacles that writhed hungrily. Had the group been more conversant about the denizens of the Underdark, they might have recognized the monstrosities as gricks. But alas they did not, so could only try to kill the monsters that attacked them.

Steven and Charissa were lashed and bitten, and in fighting back, found that the flesh of the creatures was resistant to ordinary weapons. Charissa switched from gun to magic hammer, and William added magic to Steven’s sword. He slew one with a single stroke, decapitating it and making its misformed excuse for a head land in Evelyn’s arms.

Then the corridor beyond went unnaturally dark and knives started being flung. Both Darvin and Rich summoned creatures to attack the new threat of dark creepers, Darvin calling a lantern archon, and Rich a water elemental. Both of these creatures could see in the dark, and soon had dispatched one dark creeper each. When dark creepers die, they explode into light, and the others waited until these flashes occurred to target their spells and weapons at the creepers. As Steven finished off the other grick, William was able to send four of the dark creepers to sleep, those that hadn’t already died or fled.

At last, all enemies were dead or unconscious. The group tied and gagged the four sleeping ones, and William pulled out his zone of truth chalice he’d gotten from the Knights of the Vine. Charissa bopped all the creepers with the drunken end of the Grapes of Wrath, and William took a sip from the chalice (as it was a zone effect). When asked questions, one belligerent creeper was surly and claimed ignorance, but the group soon realized he was resisting the magic. Another of his clan hadn’t been so lucky. Drunk, bespelled, and still sleepy, he answered all of their questions with stunned apathy.

Garden was an enemy of their clan, and he’d been kidnapped and taken to the dark stalker, the leader of their clan. Who had a pair of pet darkmantles. The group extracted the way to activate the portal, the route into the clan stronghold, the traps, the number of people, and when they were done, asking Darvin if he had anything else to ask. Darvin blinked, borrowed William’s notepad, and asked more exacting questions about the numbers of dark creepers all over the city and their plans. Smart guy!

The group gagged them all again and put them in the grick pit, covering it back up again and warning them that since they’d just betrayed their clan, making noise would be bad.

Garden awaited their rescue. Onward!
 

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