Waterdeep Gothic

Waterdeep Gothic 06: The Snake
Within Four Walls I Scream in Rage

In an Unknown Dimension…

Mordith calls to the Shadow Knight, “In the name of Shevarash, let go of him or face my wrath!” The black arrow on Mordith’s shield glows an unnatural, dark light and the knight’s sword drops. He draws Meadow, and it glows brightly.

He charges the knight. It’s a pretty one-sided fight. He does three attacks for every one of the knight’s. Soon, it’s dead. Mordith says a quick prayer to Shevarash and tends to Tinuvial.

There is a sound of clocks and gears, and the light in the windows changes. Mordith fills Tinuvial in and they take in their surroundings. They are in the entryway for what you’d expect out of a rich hunting lodge — hunting trophies and racks for weapons.

The knight does not appear to be wearing the armor Mordith remembers. The man under the helmet is vaguely Illuskan, and well-muscled, but without braids or beards. It’s not the Shadow Knight.

In Phylund Town…

Elyas, Adalwin, Vell & Belwrick see the house disappear, to be replaced with a patch of strange & unfamiliar ground, brownish instead of green, and overgrown with some kind of mushroom. From an underground door, owlbears charge.

They feather the lead owlbear as it comes up, but it is still coming. Belwrick tumbles beneath the owlbear’s legs, comes up with his short swords, and takes it down.

There are two more, though, which turn on him and Adalwin. Vell runs away, inexplicably, then comes back. They fight the owlbears, which hurts, but they eventually tear them down. During the fight, both sides trample the mushrooms. There is a considerable number of spores, which concerns Vell.

The house returns to its place. They go in to find Mordith & Tinuvial picking up the pieces. They catch each other up. Mordith does a little mental math, and then he decides to don the man’s plate armor. It is easily masterwork plate mail.

While he does that, the rest of the group listens at the doors. They hear almost nothing, though Belwrick hears a hum like bees. They rest.

In Waterdeep…

As the Red Wizard begins to levitate them away, what can only be described as a superghoul screams at him from a rooftop, “I was supposed to get the girls!” He tackles the wizard to the ground as the ghoul minions surround the girls.

The ghouls tear into the girls. As they are struggling, a fireball drops on a group of ghouls, wiping out two and severely damaging the third. They see Gloriam come around a corner looking pissed.

Maran takes on the ghoul in front of her, but they take her down. It looks bad, until Gloriam drops another fireball, lighting much of the area on fire as well, but taking out the ghouls on Maran as well.

Down the street, the Thayvian explodes in energy, knocking Mort away over some rooftops before flying away.

The remaining ghoul takes down Iliana. They are all unconscious, but Gloriam takes out the last of them. She tends to the dead & paralyzed. A minute or so later, they are revived, if not hale & hearty. They get off the streets just as the bells begin to ring for the fire.

Amelia’s father sent her to find Amelia. They deliver the news, and Gloriam suggests they go to the City of the Dead, where her body is.

Besides the sounds of the Watch responding to the fire, it is silent. No bakers baking, smiths smithing, or hookers hooking. There is a mist on the ground, about knee deep, and few lights of any kind.

They get their bearings and get on their way. Once they get to the nearest main road, they see a posse of about ten men, with a few elves and dwarves mixed in. They look like they are hiding how skilled of fighters they are. Also, they are hiding their armor under their clothes and carrying weapons unsheathed.

They try to avoid them, and the other groups that are also roaming the streets. Soon, though, they are made by a group of them, which start to give them a hard time. They girls try to talk their way out, and Silent Image their way out, but eventually the posse decides that some of them are wizards, and therefore need to be taken to the Spires of Morning.

Gloriam drops something awful between them and the posse and they take off. A few streets down, Iliana casts a Misty Vision around them so they appear to be another posse.

In Phylund Town…

After a short break, as they get up to investigate the lodge, the baker walks in. “I’ve only been in here once,” he says. “It hasn’t changed.” He gives them the general layout, and they decide to check the Phylund bedrooms first.

Betward seems entirely unconcerned with this. He shows no desire to be cautious.

There is some confusion as to the trappedness of the first bedroom door, but eventually they get inside. It’s dark, so Vell checks it out. It’s a bedroom alright — bed, carpet, fireplace, odd statue of a huntress goddess that resembles the one from the middle of town. Mordith goes in to investigate it. Something seems off, but he can’t quite tell what. Belwrick comes to help. It seems like there was an older carving which was chipped off and recarved as The Huntress.

Everyone else comes in. Betward lights the brazier, Adalwin checks the rug and bookshelf. The titles are mostly melodramas, but they are written in a variety of unusual languages, like dwarven (even though dwarves don’t write books), Esperar (the elven tongue) and, oh, Infernal.

The titles are foolers — they have nothing to do with the content. Another odd thing is that they are still printed, which means that someone somewhere has printing presses for Dwarven, Elven, Infernal, and others. They contain quite a bit of research into things like Thieves’ Cant, a recent list of the connections between the houses of Waterdeep, the power brokers of the Sword Coast.

Betward is being particularly shady. He nabs a book, and, when called on it, tries to pass off another one. He references a “company” and “policies,” and basically says he can’t say more, and if they push him, he’ll disappear into the night.

Vell asks him for at least a few helpful pieces of information. He gives them a few tidbits. For one thing, he’s claiming the lodge for his organization, and once they get back they may not like to work with him anymore. For another, the girls are getting involved in the going on in Waterdeep, which catches Mordith’s attention.

Vell continues to press Betward on his knowledge. After a little back and forth between Betward and Vell, we learn that Betward plans on taking over the Lodge. He still won’t say who he’ll take it over for, but does say that they don’t fly their banner…here. The real concern now is who is Phylund working for? There are many different parties working together: the nobles, the Phelerians,

While investigating the presses, and comparing the books to the Waterdeep Sentinel, Betward thinks that they are from different presses. There aren’t many presses in the city. Maybe three?

Belwrick & Adalwin get antsy and go to the next room. Again, it appears like a typical bedroom, but on closer inspection, something is off. The materials are not from the region, which is strange given the abundance of local building materials. The rug is a Northern Bear, at least 1,000 miles out of place. The books in this room are as mundane as they appear. Best guess? It’s the room to put guests in to impress them; conspicuous consumption and all that.

They find a secret door between the two rooms, which nearly gets someone a magic sword in the face.

They decide to divide & conquer: Adalwin, Belwrick, and Tinuvial go to explore the rest of the lodge while Vell, Betward, and Mordith dig into the bedrooms.

The third bedroom has some straw practice dummies, practice weapons, and a map of the larger area. They finally get a sense of where they are in relation to Waterdeep, some good hunting grounds, a forbidden area where Elyas and Belwrick talked to the trees, the elven ruins they huddled up to, and the suggestion of more elven ruins farther into the woods.

After the bedrooms, they head to the back of the house, where they find the pantry, kitchen, and dining room. More unnerving details, like preserved human meat, probably for Mort, or the remains of a roasting live pig that Adalwin puts out of its misery.

The more they investigate, the more they discover that most of the food processed & ate here was human flesh. The dining room settings were abandoned mid-meal. They find a couple of banners, of Phylund and Kormallis, and tapestries. One shows bloody hunts and butchery, which is the opposite of what most hunting tapestries show. The other shows the four gods they’ve encountered before, Umberlee, Talos, Auril, and Malar visiting horrors on humanity.

Book learnings:
the Shadow Thieves have returned to WaterDeep.
Also, the local Thieves Guild, the Eye, are not happy. Rumor has it the person behind the Eye is a Beholder named Xandathar. He was also rumored to be in charge 300 hundred years ago.
One 300 page book is a very detailed book about the area surrounding Phylund Town. Originally, the circle where the trees came from were dedicated to Shar and was meant to tap into the Shadow Weave; however, what the fuck! There used to be a Huntress Goddess who was in charge of this are who was killed by another god. She was buried by her followers in the flippin’ town. Yes. There is a goddess buried in town.

Meanwhile, in Waterdeep…

The girls continue towards the City of the Dead. On the way, they pass posses of the Spire dragging low-level magic users away. The mist rises as the night goes on, and something begins to howl. Let’s say wolves.

They see the lamplighter, who is still trying to light the lamps. Gloriam tells him to get inside. He seems confused, lights the nearest house on fire, and wanders off. Iliana is about to go after him when all the door open and werewolves charge out. They get a scent, which is not the girls, and lope off. The girls call it a win and continue. They come upon another group of werewolves feeding, who sniff the air and ignore them entirely.

From somewhere not too far away, they hear the sounds of something huge stomping through town. They run from it, but they come upon a group of children, surrounded by werewolves, and being protected (for now) by a group of priests of Ilmantar. Iliana wants to stop and help them, but they can’t stay — the 300-foot-tall statue chases them off. The zealots of Amaunator are beating priests of Lathander.

The crazy doesn’t stop, though Iliana wants to stop for each injustice they pass. She and Gloriam argue about their ability to get into any conflicts right now. They continue to the City of the Dead, so Iliana can at least feel good about something she does tonight.

Back at Phylund Town…

While everything else goes on, Mordith is able to consecrate the statue in the first bedroom. He feels significantly at peace, almost to the point of intoxication. He takes a knee and gives thanks to the Huntress for her help and asks for her name.

Meanwhile, in Waterdeep…

Werewolves eating children, priests of Lathander and other good gods being crucified, disemboweled, and worse as examples of going against the Lord of Light. Many of the priests go screaming, but the priests of Ilmantar go silently, as part of their martyrdom and worship.

Some of the bodies have had their throats ripped out in a way that’s different from the way ghouls or werewolves operate.

Out of nowhere, Gloriam bursts into flame. They see nothing out of the ordinary, even from the rooftops, that would indicate a cause. Iliana realizes that Winnie has taken a more active interest in things than usual. She asks what Winnie wants.

The answer is vague and ominous — they are being deceived, run away, it it it, they aren’t your friends, turn back, eating eating, it’s happening it’s happening, turn back, coming, soon.

Back in Phylund Town…

They are about to go get Elyas when Adalwin decides not to go out into the dark. It’s full of terrors. They return to the lodge to try and sort it out, and begin to turn on each other. No fighting, necessarily, but some paranoia. Significant paranoia.

Meanwhile, in Waterdeep…

Paranoia. Iliana and Helya look at each other and sprint off toward the Serpent. Maran, Gloriam, & Sariel are left holding the reins of the wagon Maran procured, so they get on the wagon and go.

Iliana & Helya make it back unattacked, though they will be processing the amount of awfulness they saw on the way for a long time. They get upstairs to the safe room.

Soon the other three arrive. They give Gloriam the run-down about the portals. Still, no one is here, which is super odd. Gloriam seems unfamiliar with this place, which concerns some of the girls.

Iliana suggests finding the Blackstaff Tower. She overheard the Arrow talking about some of the power politics, and she thinks that Blackstaff might be friendly to their cause. Gloriam is concerned that the Blackstaff isn’t the kind of person to just walk up to. They agree to take a little time to regroup before doing anything.

Back in Phylund Town…

They attempt to pray to Rillithane and Chauntea, but the message doesn’t go through. Mordith sees a dome of desecration outside, so they decide to go beyond it to pray. Tinuvial suggests paralyzing Adalwin to get him through the darkness. They do so, and make their way back to the grove.

They begin searching for Elyas. It takes some time, but eventually they find him unconscious in the middle of the stone ring. They go cautiously forward, since this seems trappy. Tinuvial picks up Elyas, and the rest of them in. When Vell comes in with the orc’s ear that Betward left them, they are transported.

It’s a dirty place, on the soul level. The moon is a hole in the sky, and the lights of the distant city glow an unhealthy blue and green. Betward fucked them. They are in the Shadowfell.

They check their swords. Meadow and Moonshadow don’t work, but Scourge certainly does. When Vell draws it, they all hear something clearly saying, “I’ve heard your call.”

They hear a distinct flapping overhead and run for the city. The bat-thing circles them, lands in front of them, and says to Vell, “Your father will be so upset that I have you.”

Before they can respond, a blueish light streaks towards them. It resolves into a skeletal thing wearing a crown, which shoots a bolt of light at the bat-thing. They start to fight, and so the Arrow bug the fuck out.

They make it to the gate and charge through, right past the ghoul guards. Tinuvial notes that the bat-thing arrived when Demon-Bringer came out of the sheath. Mordith shudders.

Meanwhile, in a parallel plane near Waterdeep…

The girls sleep for a while, and then Maran goes out to the Serpent to see what the status is and resupply the booze. It’s daytime. There are a few dedicated drunks there, so Maran sits down to chat them up.

The rest of the group are trapped, momentarily, until they find another feather in the pile and go back. Maran is surprisingly drunk for how long she’s been there. While they discuss options, Maran goes back up to the portal. Sariel discovers that her feather is missing. They don’t disappear when you go through, so…?

They have to get back in with Maran, so back to the portal room they go. Again. Maran is passed out, and they can’t do anything until she wakes up.

The Shadowfell…

The Shadowfell Waterdeep is strange, melty, and filled with undead doing all manner of awfulness and debauchery. They finally get to the Serpent, the Black Serpent. It is familiar, but twisted. Inside it’s mostly empty and the comforting atmosphere has been turned into a hollow horror. A voice from nowhere says, “You have done well.”

A plane near Waterdeep…

They argue some more about the plan. Gloriam wants to get Amelia’s head to the body, but Iliana wants to investigate the portals. They argue, but nothing much happens. Then, oddly, Gloriam pokes her head through the portal, spots them, says, “Oh!” and disappears. Sariel charges for the portal, and maybe-Gloriam goes with. Iliana and Helya are too slow, though, and are trapped.

The Shadowfell…

The Serpent begins to shift and waver. Two Gloriams and a Sariel appear briefly, then waver out of sight. This keeps happening, until Mordith grabs hold of the nearest person to him, Sariel. He stays in the mortal plane. “Holy shit!” everyone says.

On the next shift, the rest of the Arrow grab hold of something and stay in the mortal plane. They are all in the same (very crowded) Serpent now.

Gloriam begins to waver, as does Tinuvial, and they merge into one…creature. Mother fucker. Everything explodes at once, and despite some brief resistance, it grabs the head from Iliana and teleports out.

God.

Damn.

It.

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Waterdeep Gothic 05: Witchcraft
There's So Much Evil in the Air

Near Phylund Town

The group hears the sound of hooves behind them. They turn to see five heavily-armored knights riding full out for them. They carry swords, crossbows, lances, and wear brand new gleaming plate under the tabards of House Phylund. They come to a stop 150 yards away or so.

Behind the knights come four figures. A floating bald red-robed wizard, a huge knight in purpleish cloak and black armor, a bestial Mort, and a witch riding a nightmare steed.

The black-cloaked man speaks “The knights will defeat you, the elements will consume you, and you will lick at my heels no more.” To Mort he says, “Get the girls,” and Mort digs down into the earth and disappears. To the Red Wizard he says, “Get the families,” and he flies away over the trees, which reach up to grab him. To the witch he says, “Deal with the rest of it,” and she gallops off at an inhuman speed.

He speaks to the party again: “I will not see you again in Waterdeep. My elemental knights will not hurt the horned one, as per the agreement.” The knight turns into a giant bat and flies away.

After he flies away, there is a sound that comes from the north, and a breeze comes from the same direction following a ripple in the earth. As it flows under the horses, they can see for a moment an icy one, a watery one, a gem-covered one, firey one, and a shadowy one.

Elyas teleports to the knights and lights them up with lightning bolts, taking out a horse and ruining the rest of their days.

They charge, one at a time. Vell drops a blob of darkness on the first two. The shadow knight turns to attack Elyas on foot.

The water knight charges out of the darkness and runs down Mordith. He swings at the horse as he goes down, and then Adalwin takes it out. The knight lands on his feet, but as he turns to attack, Mordith rises up and strikes him down.

Just as he does, the air knight charges out of the darkness. They take his horse out as the fiery knight charges out as well. Mordith kills the air knight as Adalwin kills the fire horse. They surround him as he lands and Belwrick kills him.

As they attack, each of the knights recognizes Scourge and calls it something in Infernal [Demon-Bringer].

The other two knights nope the hell out. The earth knight rides away north and the shadow knight dissipates into shadow.

As they stand up, the shadow knight emerges from the earth, grabs Tinuvial, and disappears again with him.

The knights have some interesting items. Their crossbows are masterwork and heavy as hell. Under their surcoats they have different livery: a red field with a white raven in flight. They don’t recognize it, and assume they are foreigners.

Their armor is brand new, without even a scratch despite the very recent battle. Elyas recognizes a mark woven into the breastplate and filigree on each of them as the symbols for the elements.

In the distance they see Betward the baker coming up. He reminds them of their agreement, though Mordith wants to return to Waterdeep quickly. Adalwin talks everyone down and gets Betward to send a warning to his people in Waterdeep.

Meanwhile, back at the Grey Serpent…

A ripple flows throughout the city, followed by clouds and mist running the wrong way, and dimness. A screaming begins in the fireplace. Iliana and Maran bar the doors. Sariel has the patrons lock themselves in the girls’ rooms and they get their battlin’ things. When they return, a window is broken and Mother Malevolence is gone.

Outside, everyone is shutting themselves up. There are some confusing signs in the bar — it seems like the thing and Mal switched places after it broke through the window, then they both disappear.

Maran goes to take care of the fire and discovers that it’s the rabbits in the stew. She pokes them back down, and the screaming stops.

They head up the stairs, which are sticky and soft for some reason.

Upstairs, in that short amount of time, all the patrons have been mauled. The girls are horrified, except for Iliana, who is annoyed at the mess in her room.

They continue up the stairs briefly, but are stopped by the hulking bestial figure looming in the hallway.

In Phylund Town…

The Arrow meets up with the baker in an hour. He seems exhausted and smells faintly of sulfur. Adalwin gets him water.

They fill Betward in on the knights and their symbolism. He recognizes their hidden livery as Halruaan — a race of rebel Netherese that made magic airships and headed south to establish a magocracy. They were destroyed in the Spellplague, though there are rumors among the arcane classes that their far-seers lit out well before then.

He guesses that the shadow knight took Tinuvial to the Phylund compound, but he’s never seen anything like that before. There must be some connection to Phylund’s religion. They worship the gods of Fury (thus the shrines).

Is there some way to get into the compound? Not that he knows.

The tunnels under the elven ruins are dwarven in make. The elves left in the great Migration, though the dwarves were driven out in wars with the drow. Betward has explored the tunnels, and found layers and layers underneath the town. They are dwarven near the surface, but become more alien the farther down you go.

The tunnels in the area all avoid the lodge. There is something significant underneath it.

Bottom line, there’s really only one way in: the front gates. He thinks their best bet is to arm the village and storm the compound.

There is also the fact that the trees tried to grab the red wizard. Maybe they can ride some trees into battle?

Can they leverage the proprietor of Malar’s Outfitters? the smith? and maybe the proprietor of the Huntress?

Maybe they could cause a giant distraction. Adalwin and Betward are happy burning down the town, but Mordith isn’t. Maybe they could start purifying Phylund’s shrines, but that might piss off some very active gods & goddess.

A great distraction would be those trees.

As Belwrick & Elyas get to the forest, it seems more gnarled and older than before, and warmer than it should. Some trees are beginning to bud, and they notice some red & white mushrooms called flytops that are useful in spells, but aren’t in season now.

Elyas gives this some thought, and prays to Chauntea and Rillifane. It suddenly becomes easier to walk through the brambles, and the leaves follow their progress to a stone circle in an oak grove. As they recognize the symbol of Shar on each stone, the trees begin to move.

Meanwhile, back at the Serpent…

It is drooling bloody saliva, panting in anticipation and holding something. It throws out a head at them with long hair. Then they hear a horn calling in the distance and it seems genuinely startled. The horn blows again, and it crashes through the wall away from the sound, north up the Dragon Way.

Maran checks the head. It’s Amelia. There is a stunned silence. Kera jumps out after it and knocks herself silly. Maran goes out to grab her, while Iliana watches. There are things in the mist, so she calls out to Maran & Kera to hurry up.

They get inside the door and bar it just as the eight or so ghouls begin to batter it down. The girls downstairs start piling up tables and chairs while Iliana reigns down eldritch energy.

In the midst of that, Iliana & Sariel see Mal rise up from the mist, smile at them, and float away. They look at each other in confusion.

Suddenly the other three are there with a tiefling who says he’s there to help. Something is up with the sound in this place. He goes to a small sigil none of them have noticed before, touches it with three fingers, and opens a portal. He gestures inside. “Ladies?”

They shrug and go inside. It seems to be a very nice magical flophouse. There are several doors around the wall (it’s round) and some beds. In the middle is a well-laid table. Iliana bellies up.

The tiefling sits as well. “My employers asked me to save you, so here we are. We aren’t going anywhere in a while, so you might as well sit.”

One of the portals likely goes to the Tower, New Olamn, Castle Waterdeep, maybe away south to the library at Candlekeep. Why the Grey Serpent? What better place to hide a portal than some random bar?

The Spires of Morning have initiated a pogrom against any unregistered magic items, clerics of other faiths, magic users, and so on. Oddly coincidental, that.

Wait — if this is a bolthole from several places, during a pogrom and assault on the city, why isn’t anyone else hiding here? An excellent question, which he will definitely report to his superiors later. Not, apparently, to them though.

As their eyes adjust, they realize there are other supplies and things in the shadows. Books and so on.

He doesn’t have much else to say, so he lays down to take a nap.

They start to investigate. Iliana looks through the books, which are mostly on esoterica, and therefore right up her alley. Sariel gives an eye to the portals.

There are keys and feathers and all sorts of things falling out of the books. Sariel notices this once the first key hits the floor, and comes over to investigate. These are the usual things wizards use to open portals because they’re small and not super common to care.

It may be significant what pages the items come from. Iliana starts to try and correlate items with books and pages. Sariel and Helya try and help.

As Sariel is wandering around, a portal opens. Something on her triggers it, and a monstrous face peers through.

Near Phylund Town…

Elyas and Belwrick immediately drop to their knees and begin to pray to Rillifane to save them. They look down and see flowers under their feet, which are ten or so feet in the air.

In Phylund Town, Adalwin, Mordith, and Vell head to Malar’s Outfitters. They discuss the hole that they put themselves in with the proprietor, Dunmar. The armor and barding and masterwork crossbows they left from the knights should cover it. They notice on the way that people in town are staring vacantly forward. Not creepy at all.

When they arrive at Malar’s, Dunmar is talking to a shadowy knight.

Elyas and Belwrick realize that one of the oak trees has picked them up. They talk the trees into helping to save Tinuvial, the Chosen One (who is a reeeally good friend of theirs). The trees agree. They uproot themselves and begin to march.

At Malar’s, the shadow knight notices them arrive and disappears into shadows. Dunmar is shaken to the core. Adalwin pours him a drink and starts to sweet talk him while Dunmar packs up. He has no intention of staying, but he gives them full access to his stash.

On the way out he gives them three pieces of advice. 1. Get rid of the horses across the street. 2. Watch out for the owlbears in the compound. They’re in the back. 3. Watch out for the watchspiders in the compound. They’re in the basement.

Adalwin searches the desk. He finds, among other things, his tradebook of contacts. This is incredibly useful for business, so Adalwin keeps it. There is a stash of silvered weapons in the back, and something like a grindstone he said to pull when they’re done with the place.

Meanwhile, in a parallel plane near the Serpent…

A horrifying face peers in from a blasted, withered place on the other side and reaches its huge lobstrosity claw through, nipping the back off of Sariel’s robes as she runs away. The portal closes on the claw and it drops to the floor.

They wake up Tim the Tiefling, who tells them, a touch too late, to stay in the light. Out of the light is close enough to open a portal.

Tim is way awake now. Maran starts up a conversation about Waterdeep, which Tim seems to know quite a bit about. Have they been to the owlbear fights? The owlbears come from some town way out of Waterdeep that Phylund owns. There are some portals in the compound that connect to the sewers here so they can keep the owlbears below ground.

Who knows how Sariel opened that portal? Something she had on her? Maybe her father opened it. Wait — how does Tim know who her father is? Sariel doesn’t even know.

He hints, not too subtly, that he is Watchman Mert, who is so dumb Tim isn’t sure he could even blackmail him.

Is there a way they could send for Tim again, if they get in trouble? No. In a word. They will likely be at cross purposes in the future.

There is a mole in their ranks who has been passing information to, well…he taps his horn.

It’s about time to get back. He sifts through the piles and finds a section of molted snake skin. “There you go,” he says, and takes them back.

The second floor is absolutely wrecked. Kera puts Amelia’s head in a bag and checks outside the Serpent.

What can they call him? Sariel asks. He gives his name as Dwelden.

Downstairs, the bar is a mess as well. They clean up the worst of it, put out the fires they started, and head outside towards Amelia’s house. Dwelden wishes them luck, says he’s met worse people, and warns them away from heading too far north.

He bows somewhat elaborately, and they notice for the first time that he’s dressed rather well. He’s slumming slightly by coming to help them.

As they begin the walk to Amelia’s, they notice the lightness of their being. They are floating, on account of the red-robed bald man floating above them. “You’ll be coming with me.”

In Phylund Town…

On the one side of town, Elyas and Belwrick ride trees into battle. On the other side, Vell, Adalwin, and Mordith go to talk to the baker. They give him the key to the Outfitters. He’s going to spread the word amongst the populace: kill your neighbor if they are a traitor.

They head down to the Huntress. Adalwin goes in, orders two bottles of booze, turns them into Molotov cocktails, and lights the place on fire. Vell and Mordith barricade the doors with carts. They light another fire in the stables, and head out.

The trees don’t like fire. They go through the middle of town and, ignoring Vell, Adalwin, and Mordith entirely, smash the inn to a smoldering pancake. Then they continue inexorably north. Mordith wants in on storming the castle, so he follows after them.

Adalwin and Vell run to Betward. Now, the time is now! He is armed and armored, and when they tell him to go, he goes inside and grabs a grey skull. He blows into the back of it and it makes an awful noise. From the buildings in town people run out and begin murdering their neighbors. It’s a bloodbath.

They head to the compound, and leave the bloodbath behind.

The trees smash through everything, indiscriminately. Mordith runs through the gate behind them as the trees begin to take out other buildings. Elyas yells to him, “Find Tinuvial!” Mordith heads through the front door.

Inside, he sees the shadow knight holding Tinuvial with a knife to his throat.

Then the whole building disappears.

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Waterdeep Gothic 04
Rainy Days and Mondays

The Arrow stumble into a sunny, grassy knoll. As they take in their surroundings, they realize two things simultaneously: 1. The knoll is a small island, and 2. Mort is running on all fours over the water.

Tinuvial, Mordith, and Adalwin all let fly with their ranged attacks. They all put bolts and arrows into him, but he stumbles and keeps running. He makes it into the town they can see in the distance, and from the town they hear distant screams.

They run down to the water and begin to swim across. Tinuvial and Elyas make it, but Mordith’s armor pulls him down, and Vell and Adalwin begin to drown when they run to help. Elyas finds a rowboat and takes Tinuvial to rescue the other three. Belwrick throws them a rope, and between the rope and the rowboat they get the idiots out.

All of them except Belwrick are overcome with cold, so they head into the nearest building, a tannery. While Belwrick talks to the tanner, they begin to vomit from the smell. They troup into the tanner’s house while Belwrick apologizes. Not a great beginning.

Once they are settled, Tinuvial takes off to see if he can find or get wind of Mort. He notes the banner of some disfigured face and Kormallis’s hanging near the road. The roads of the town are absolutely silent, the shutters appear notably stout, and the single man Tinuvial sees tells him to “settle the fuck down.”

He doesn’t find much, so he returns to the tannery. He updates them on the situation, and they figure out a few things. They are in Ardeep forest, where (Vell remembers) House Phylund has a hunting lodge, and House Kormallis has an alliance with them.

Tinuvial notices the tanner, Wen Zander, edging towards the door as they talk. He asks him to sit down, and when he catches sight of Vell’s horns, he does so. They ask him about himself and the town, but he isn’t very forthcoming. Elyas discovers that there’s the tanner’s family hiding under a bed in the other room. He “reassures” them.

The mayor’s name is Jerland Mer, Vell finally gets from Wen. He’s grown up here, and it’s been called Phylund Town that long. They know of Master Mort in town, as a distinguished guest of the Lord Phylund.

The shutters are to protect them from the High Hunt. It’ll be here in about two days. Mordith and Tinuvial recognize it: It’s a religous rite to Malar, the god of the savage, bloody side of nature. They generally leave the town alone, though they get carried away sometimes. The tanner takes care of their victory. They bring back all kinds of things.

This hunt will be particularly important, as it’s the last full moon of the year, after the winter solstice.

They thank Wen for his hospitality and head towards the farmland to the northeast, then double back towards the woods in the south. Were it spring, the forest would be slow going. In the winter, it’s no picnic but they make some headway. Tinuvial hides their paths as best he can, but the brambles are so thick he can’t work with them.

Instead of wrestling with them, Tinuvial finds a small ridge where they can see farther. Elyas conjures up a small hut which they pile into and sleep.

The next morning, Vell, Adalwin, and Mordith are still exhausted, so they spend most of the day recuperating. Tinuvial, feeling better, scouts the area (without telling them where he was going). He finds little, as the forest is pretty dead, until he stumbles on an old elven road. He follows it back towards the town, and finds a pylon with the words “craw manaw” carved on it. It’s pretty old, but he thinks it means there’s an old elven tower nearby.

He gets as close as he can to the town, but the old road goes through a marsh. He scouts a bit farther into town, and sees a few locals who also see him. One building he notes is a tavern with the sign of a black panther, the Black-Blooded Pard, which is a nickname for Malar. The baker sees Tinuvial again, and gives him the same look.

He can see, however, what seems to be an old elven tower on a burgh (?). He circles back through, and comes back around sundown. He reports his finds (the tavern and the tower). They move to a more defensible spot that Belwrick found and wait for nightfall.

A half-hour or so before sundown, the baker emerges from the woods and takes a seat by the fire. He offers to help — he’s been representing his organization for about five years now, fomenting a rebellion. Step one, however, is surviving the hunt. House Phylund is lousy with werewolves, or as he calls them, the Hounds of Malar. The hunting lodge has been here for many years, and the town has grown up around it. Over time, they have bred hunting game.

He can’t blow his cover, but he’ll leave some blankets and such out for them to “steal” on their way to the tower.

There are some shrines out in the larger woods to the west, but the shrines out there aren’t going to be helpful: Malar, of course, but also Umberlee, Talos (god of storms and destruction), Aurlllllll (bitch goddess of winter).

They fill him in on Mort. The baker, Betward Noir, heard of him, but he didn’t know Mort was gaining in power the way he has been.

This place is special — the elves didn’t build here for nothing. He hasn’t figured it all out yet, but he can say the tower is there for some purpose besides defense because the river isn’t large enough for shipping. As best he can tell, this was attached to some elven nature cult.

The tower walls are still there, but there are gaps. Bricks and fire are their best bets. There may be some wolfsbane in the area, but Betward doesn’t know what it looks like.

They wrap up the conversation, and as they do, Vell asks if there’s something Betward can do to throw them off or distract them. He offers to mess with their beloved statue.

Speaking of which, what’s with that statue, Tinuvial wants to know? Betward doesn’t have much, but he hears that it was here before people settled the area, and he thinks it was a woman before it wore down. And the hotel is known as The Huntress, so there’s that.

Oh, and the druid’s circle. It’s on an island in the other branch of the stream, and no one messes with it. Also Oh, don’t go through the marsh at night. Something lives there, so when you have to get to the tower, go fast.

They give him a half an hour or so to get started, then head out. About the time they start to move, they hear dogs baying in the distance. About the time they’re getting towards the tanner’s, they see torches in the distance heading towards the woods they just left.

They lay low until the torches get into the woods, then find the baker’s shed. In it are blankets and (bonus) some sprigs of wolfsbane. On a whim, more or less, Tinuvial trucks over to the statue to check it out, while Mordith finds a good corner of a house to stand watch.

It’s clearly an elven woman, given the bow and the outline of the face. There is some elvish writing, but it’s vague and hard to read. Tinuvial casts a small light spell, then does his best to read it. The gist is that there was an elven goddess who did her best to provide for the area before the beast god took her down. Around it are clumsy offerings to Malar: small corpses, bloody weapons, broken bows and spears.

Tinuvial lays his hands on the statue, and it begins to glow a greenish-yellow. At the same moment, he hears a whispered, “I live,” and Meadow leaps out of Mordith’s scabbard, and he just barely grabs it before it flies to the statue. Mordith feels a (reassuring) presence from the sword that he didn’t before.

Mordith sees the dogs coming out of the woods, so they take off for the tanner’s. They leap over fences and through gardens to the workshop. Tinuvial grabs a few buckets of…fluid. He throws a few on the ground, soaks some sheets in it, and they take off again, this time northish towards the ruined tower.

As they look back, they can see the torches and the dogs running around the house, apparently out of confusion.

They make it to the edge of the marsh. It’s better than it would be in July, but it’s still frozen-squishy. They go as fast as they can. It’s knee deep, and Belwrick has to ride Mordith’s shoulders and they begin to think they’ll never be warm again.

Then the lights come out from the swamp. Adalwin and Mordith become very, very curious and start to wander off. With Belwrick on Mordith’s shoulders. Elyas manages to restrain them both with a Hold Person.

The rest of the group drags them (Belwrick still on Mordith’s shoulders) away from the lights and up the hill. It’s a trudge, because of the mud and the cold, but they make it.

Elyas casts the hut and they huddle up. All night, they hear sorrowful wailing off and on. Tinunvial’s best guess is a banshee. Great.

The next morning, they find themselves on a grassy, rubble-y rise, which is going to need some scouting and repair. A few things become apparent. There used to be a bridge built with Mirabar stone. There are a few broken spots in the otherwise high walls, which would need some repair, and the entrance to the underground storage would probably be over…there. The two trees inside the tower are an elm and an old willow.

They get to work. They repair the holes as best they can with the rubble and Elyas’s stoneshape. Vell and Elyas reduce the wolfsbane to an essential oil. Tinuvial prays to Selune under the willow, and Mordith joins him. Eventually Adalwin and Belwrick finally find the entrance to the tunnel. Just as the sun goes down, they begin to lift the trapdoor. The smell of “wizard’s tower” floats up, which is not at all what they expected.

Vell, Adalwin, and Tinuvial head down the spiral stairs into the darkness, easily below the level of the river. It’s relatively warm, and humid, so the wooden doors they find look pretty swollen. There are four doors, one in each of the cardinal directions. There’s no sound other than the intermittent drip of water. Adalwin opens them, just about the time the sun sets.

Each doorway leads to a hallway, which presents two interesting things of note. First, they don’t have time to explore these and second, these are travel tunnels — tunneling is inefficient use of space, so they’re not going to lead to storage.

Time is up, though. The hounds are baying, so they take positions.

The moon is up, and beyond the hounds they can hear a more human howling, and behind that, the banshee. Everyone’s knees get watery.

But then there are some howls of pain from the wolves, so they draw the logical conclusion. After that, it’s quiet briefly, and then the werewolves come at them from another direction.

They begin to come out of the woods. They feather one, while the others come in through the fiery barrier.

It’s still a shooting gallery. They rains arrows and bolts down on them, except Elyas, who throws a web spell. One werewolf runs for the stairs, but the other two are stuck, which sucks when the willow they are under comes to life and smashes them.

Vell drops darkness on the stairs as the werewolves fight themselves free of the web and head for the way up. The willow pursues them with vengeance, so Elyas jumps (with his levitate spell) into it. The two smaller werewolves get themselves perished, but the alpha runs up the stairs through the darkness, which doesn’t end well for him. They can’t see anything, but they hear a yelping.

The other wolves outside the wall go curiously silent. No time to worry about that.

Mordith charges down the stairs, yelling “Cancel the darkness!” Vell does, just in time to see the last, biggest werewolf run for it. He makes it to the entrance and disappears into the darkness, yelping all the way.

It’s distressingly quiet for a while, and then there are hunting sounds from several directions farther in the distance. They eventually walk down to check out the corpses. They are clearly brothers, and wear (wore?) the badge of Phylund on their shoulders. Two members of the family gone. They roll the corpses into the river.

Tinuvial offers a bucket of water to the tree as offering and thanks, and as they regroup, Elyas gets a squirt transmission from Sylvia Wands: “You’ve been framed; don’t come back to Waterdeep; they are coming.” No idea what that’s about.

They survive until the next morning, somewhat miraculously. Tinuvial and Elyas go out, against Vell’s better judgment, to the island tomb of the banshee. They get down into the tomb, investigate, and discover the following: whoever she was, she predates the Huntress statue. From what they gather from the carvings, she was an elven woman who fell in love with a human man. His name, however, has been struck from the walls. Farther in, they find her corpse, buried with her head under her arm in conflict with the ancient elven beliefs. She has a ring on her finger, so they (quickly) peep for his name. As soon as the ring comes off, the whole place begins to shake. Tinuvial reads the name and puts the ring back. They replace her head as well, and Elyas uses stoneshape to re-write the lover’s name. It seems to be over.

They return to the tower. Vell shakes his head.

They go to see the baker. On the way, they notice that the town still seems quiet, and a lot of doors have blood over their lintels. To go with this, they see a small pile of wolves just outside of town, with their throats slit.

They walk into town from the north, past the Huntress Inn (which has a male hunter on its sign). On the other side of the street an Iluskan with a pair of wolfhounds watches them go past. The hounds raise their heads and whine, and their owner shushes them, but looks at them suspiciously.

Tinuvial turns into Malar’s Outfitters’ next to the master of hounds’s house. The proprietor looks out of place in an outfitters. His hands are manicured and his hair his coiffed. On the walls are plenty of bows, arrows, clothes, and so on.

Vell talks him into charging House Phylund for their expenses (some tents, cold-weather clothes, and a crossbow for Belwrick. He rather accurately plays the rich douche and they get their gear.

To keep up appearances, they walk into the Huntress. Even by Waterdeep standards, the place is pretty swank. In the lobby, both of the houses’ banners are on display. The girl behind the counter tries to wave them off, but Adalwin makes a show of stomping about until they find the bar.

It’s filled with people of both houses who seem to be very drunk and muddy to the knees. Adalwin goes straight to the bar and orders a drink. Mordith is right behind him. The bartender tells them to get right the fuck out, and gives Belwrick a sausage. They finish their drinks and head out.

Three houses down, they realize that the sausage was a racial comment. Mordith is all about going back for a conversation, but the rest of the group wants to see the baker. On the way they knock the new offerings off the huntress’s statue.

By this time of day, the baker is largely done for the day. When they walk in he’s mostly cleaning and wrapping up for the day.

He suggests that their plan so far was ill-advised, since they are backing the houses into a corner. Instead they need to get arms. Head off House Phylund from opening their gates and releasing their exotics. Gain the goodwill of the blacksmith and the owner of The Huntress for starters.

The bigger question, though, is what’s the incentive of the rebels? Without the business from House Phylund, they’re isolated.

He kind of rakes them over the coals for not having a plan and stirring up so much more trouble than was necessary. Then he says there’s a family that will put them up, the Vicent family, but if they get them in trouble, he’ll disown them and they’ll be on their own.

They tell him about Mort’s ghoulish nature, and he says they may have to get into Dunmar’s stash at Malar’s Outfitter’s. Turns out Dunmar has an entirely different side beyond the dandy. There’s plenty of off-the-menu items, mostly involving silvered weapons. The baker is pretty sure that Mort has been to see the off-the-menu items, as he’s worried about some of the other members of the conspiracy.

Helm Kormallis is in town, and is more than likely a member of the black-talon vampire clan. Mort’s reunion with Kormallis and Phylund was likely an uncomfortable one.

They head out on several errands, the first of which is finding out more about the arch they came in on. As they’re heading towards the island, though, they hear the unmistakable sound of horses galloping. They turn, and several knights in orange and brown are levelling their lances at them and charging.

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Game 03:
Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows

When last we left our heroes…

They had decided to strike a blow against their enemies, by taking the fight to Mort. They didn’t anticipate a frost giant ghoul that threw other skeletons, among other hazards. Now they are catching their breath at the top of Mort’s tomb, while he waits for them below…

From outside they hear the giant skeleton pounding on the door, then silence. They’re not sure what’s more disconcerting. A wind blows pretty consistently, but it’s hard to tell if it’s coming from inside or outside. There’s a distinct smell of rot, but also garlic.

On the wall are two inscriptions. The first one, carved into the wall, says

Laid here in the year of the Lamia’s kiss, after
battling the horde of the wastes, defending the
walls of Bloodhand Hold, under the banners of
both men and elves, rests Lord Silviu Rampyr.
May he return to the peace of his wood.

And the second, written in some kind of awful ichor, says

The Hunter’s Moon’s darkest friend
Moves the sleeping earth
The Feasting Moon’s agents fly
To test the humans’ worth
Sacrifice will bring the words
Of babes at naked breast
Desanctifying lands about
And stirring those at rest
The Devoured Moon rises dark
Bringing dead to play
And opens doors to the Shade
Clearing Master’s way
The second door leans ajar
Awaiting M

Tinuvial spends a few minutes on some healing rituals while the rest of them catch their breath. While he casts, they discuss the verses. The Year of Lamia’s Kiss was around 700 years ago. Before Waterdeep was “Waterdeep,” it was always called something “Hold.” So Bloodhand was a person who ran the town then, and Rampyr with elves and men defended it.

The noble name Rampyr is either so long gone or so minor that it doesn’t ring a bell. Word on the street is that House Rampyr married into another family and was subsumed, so Rampyr may have connection to a current House.

One relevant point is that before the settlement of Waterdeep, the area was part of the Kingdom of Man (“Man” being a linguistic coincidence, not held by humans), which was held by an alliance of elves, humans, and halflings against the hordes of the North (i.e. orcs).

There was a cycle, the scholars call the Horde Cycle, which they theorize that, when resources grew scarce in the orcs’ mountain holds, they organized under a powerful leader, raided the lowlands, were beaten back, and the cycle began again. This has been happening for at least 2000 years.

The Many Arrows orc nation, far to the north, is a shift in the cycle. They stopped raiding and started trading with the dwarves. This development has unsettled most of the other races. Never trust an orc!

When the alliance fell apart, the humans took over the run of the land.

When they are ready, Tinuvial casts Light on Mordith’s shield, which is less useful than it should be. There are so many particulates, bone dust and mold spores and so on, that the light dies off pretty quickly.

They descend into the darkness. Mordith encounters a statue first, of a handsome human, shoulder-length hair, sword in sheath, caped, looking romantically into the distance. He may be Tethyrian or Chondathan. He’s hard to nail down. His (carved) armor seems to be 500-700 years old, but on one shoulder there is a patch of a torch.

They can see two corpses in the perimeter of the light, and bones scattered about.

Mordith gets tired of the analysis paralysis and steps down into the room. The two corpses awaken, and they seem to be…fresh. Recent kills. Their clothes are recent.

Belwrick rushes up and scans the scene, while Mordith strafes left and takes out one of the zombies. Another one looms out of the darkness at him, stabbing him with something that could have been awful. Adalwin disables the other one, but it stays up. Elyas fixes the light while Tinuvial puts a bolt in the undead warrior on Mordith.

In that moment Mordith notices two things: the warrior’s armor is ancient and he seems less shaken than he should be from Tinuvial’s bolt.

Mordith & Adalwin shake off the other attacks. Adalwin manages to snatch one zombie’s meat cleaver.

As Vell prepares his attack, he realizes his opponent is one of the Gravedigger’s Guild. Then he stabs it.

Belwrick leaps up onto a bier and stabs one of the zombies right into his neck. It goes down.

Tinuvial calls a bolt from the heavens, somehow, and Mordith goads the warrior into focusing on him, with mixed results. It works, but he gets stabbed good for it. Vell takes care of it, though, with a bolt to the warrior’s eye.

Mordith takes it out on the last one, though, and the fight is over.

They take stock of the room. It used to be a burial room, filled with biers and ossuaries, with wall sconces for torches. Which Vell lights with a snap of his fingers.

They spend a little more time on the statue. In addition to the torch, he has a tower on his other shoulder. This doesn’t reveal much, but Vell does find an inscription on the base: Rampyr. Someone has placed a wreath of garlic around its neck.

There is some evidence of new digging. One tunnel leads down into darkness, and the other seems to have been started and abandoned fairly quickly.

To the right of the stairs is a mural of someone who looks related to the statue man. He is also labelled Rampyr. Behind him is an early Waterdeep, without the towers. He is standing ahead of a host of men, against an army of trolls. He is holding a torch in his off hand, and Meadow (!) in his right.

Mordith is concerned.

Behind him are three constellations, the Sentinel (or swordsman), Maerilzoun the (serpent) and Tassabryl (the Maiden, but that word is used ironically — she is known as vain and spiteful). Most of the stars are painted, but some are jewels. Four, to be precise. One is a fire opal, near the top, then a star sapphire underneath, an aquamarine to the left, and a carnelian on the bottom right.

Written on the bottom, in an old version of Chondathan is

From the Dessarin River -
To the Waterdeep Mount -
He shouted defiance -
And stopped the holocaust -
Sending them back North.

Tinuvial believes these lines do more than memorialize the man; they give directions to opening the wall. He tries a combination, fire sweeps the room, Mordith collapses, and Vell says, “I think that was the wrong order.”

Tinuvial reassesses and tries again, while the rest of them cower up the stairs. The second try works, and the mural opens. The room is opulently decorated (though they put hardwood under grade), with a library, a brazier, lights in the domed ceiling that turn on, and, most interestingly, a shrine.

“This isn’t a tomb,” Tinuvial remarks. “This fucker lived here.” The roof is painted to match the sky and in this case, the stars are in their proper order.

Above the desk is a huge tapestry of the crest of House Talmost, showing a torch and tower on a blue field. They are still around, and still very powerful, but in all their dealings, they have not come up. They are known mostly for textiles and furs, and traditionally for being allied with House Wands.

It’s comfortably warm in the room. Music plays faintly in the background. Adalwin realizes that the song, if they sped it up, would be a drinking song he knows. It’s always about a local hero.

Tinuvial and Belwrick investigate the shrine. It’s seems to to be a shrine to Sune, which is the traditional goddess of Talmost. Of all the jewels that were in the statue of her, though, only the red ones remain. She also seems to have been doused with blood, particularly her face, which is a huge blasphemy. They also gave her horns. Tinuvial believes this is meant to make her a shrine to Asmodeus.

Adalwin realizes that Rampyr (if this is his place) has been burning books and some kind of humanoid in the brazier. They pull some bits of books out of the brazier. Most of them deal with demons and devils, and pacts with same. Vell finds one entirely in Infernal on the rituals and etiquette of dealing with the infernals.

Tinuvial and Adalwin clean up the shrine. When they do, the braziers flare up briefly, then burn steadily.

The bookshelves are largely unremarkable, containing mostly histories, geographies, and romances (no, not those, just unrealistic fiction). As they browse, they realize that Rampyr has been editing (violently) the books he didn’t burn. The place was initially a refuge for him, but became something else.

On the desk they find a letter in a hand they recognize to “My Dearest” and signed “Rampyr Talmost.” It apologizes for what he is about to do to her, her lover, and the whole city.

Tinuvial reads some romances to Sune, but Rampyr has torn out all the relationship bits. He, with Mordith’s help, improvises the rest. Then he asks her for the name of Rampyr’s love. There is a smell of rosewater and a whisper in their ears: Amee.

Through some more reading of the histories, they discover a few interesting tidbits. House Talmost was ennobled for the valor of their actions during the Orcfastings War, the second house to be so ennobled, after House Sunspear, which became House Wands.

There’s no way this was built for Silviu Rampyr — it’s too new, so why does it exist? And why is there a shrine to Sune? And why did Talmost adopt Rampyr’s symbols (the torch and the tower)?

They do some triangulation, and decide that the tomb must have been built by Rampyr Talmost around 1050 – 1100. What incursion of trolls, orcs, or etc would this inspire? What necromancer would he be referring to? Who is Amee?

After recuperating and reading for about eight hours, they emerge and go down the middle passage, Mordith first. The passage is dug straight through the earth, so it’s mostly rock and dirt at a funny angle. Mordith slips his way through and the rest follow with ropes. Ropes they did not tell him about.

The room the emerge in is part of the ancient dwarven home under the city. No one has found this place for hundreds of years. The ceiling has fallen in, so they are mostly walking on rubble. The many pillars are measured in dwarven meter (length, not poetic rhythm).

The pillars are also inscribed in Dwarven, and the walls are decorated in geometric patterns. Elyas begins to cast Comprehend Language, as none of them speak or read Dwarven. It takes about ten minutes, so in the meantime they fan out to search the area.

In and amongst the rubble are dwarf bones — when this cataclysm came, there were dwarves here. Belwrick finds a hand in the rubble with a ring on a finger. He calls the group over, and it is pretty clearly a magic ring. The inscription says, in Dwarven, “The Sea Relents.”

The ritual over, Elyas begins to translate. Unfortunately the rubble covers the bottom of the pillars, so the ends of most stories are lost. Much of the details are about finding food and water, which, for underground dwellers, makes sense. One pillar describes how a dwarf tamed the waters. It shows him pointing a fist at something that looks like snakes.

The group wishes, out loud, that they could tell if it was good or evil. Mordith realizes he can do just that, checks it, sees that it’s consecrated, and pulls it off the finger. They jump, he tosses it to Belwrick, and goes back to guarding the entrance.

While his Divine Sense is on, he can see that the room was once consecrated ground, but there’s a path of neutralized, even desecrated ground, from the hole they came down to the well at the other end.

One story shows a bearded, cloaked human driving back both the drow and the dwarves with fire. The pillar names him as Hallister. They realize that they must be on the edge of Undermountain. Mordith makes a concerted effort to persuade them to fight the undead giant instead. They ignore him

The well is dedicated to a dwarven god, Dumathoin, god of exploration. The god one prays to one goes into an unexplored hole. They say a prayer, then Mordith drops down first.

As soon as he hits the water, the water snakes form. Mordith calls out for the ring, Adalwin grabs it from Belwrick and jumps into the water. Tinuvial says a prayer to Dumothoin to protect them and Vell follows Moridth and Adalwin.

Mordith does the only thing he can; he starts swinging. The snake tries to force its way into his mouth and pull him under. Adalwin swings at it again, and it disappears into the water. The rest of the party follows down the rope.

Vell splashes ahead and discovers two more snakes, so Mordith charges one. Behind him, Elyas grabs the ring from Adalwin and calls out, “Hrun De!” The snakes disappear, though Mordith isn’t convinced.

They hear whimpering from the left, talking from straight ahead. They decide, bravely, to check on the whimpering first.

The well is clearly more dwarven work, the kind of cistern one would create for an underground civilization. They assume the water snakes are guardians of the well.

At the end of the tunnel, Mordith sees a hole above, which seems to have been where the dwarves would have dipped a ladle to get water from the cistern.

Belwrick tries to climb up, but it’s slippery. He takes a couple of tries, but makes it up. He immediately regrets his success. There are people hooked to the walls, some of whom are dead, some are not. It is the ghouls’ larder. Tinuvial comes up just behind him. He ends the one who won’t make it, and saves as many of the rest as he can.

Mordith helps everyone else up, then climbs up himself. It’s as awful as they described to him — people who have been hoisted on hooks, voided their bowels, and died on the hook. Tinuvial begins to save who he can, but quickly becomes overwhelmed. He begins to pray. Mordith takes over the triage, but he can’t decide whom to put out of their misery. Vell…assists.

Then Belwrick hears some grunting at the door. “Someone’s there,” he says.

Mordith charges the door, Belwrick opens it, and chains shoot out and entangle Mordith. He charges in and thinks, just for a moment, that it’s his father, before the illusion disperses. It’s a creature covered in chains. He swings at it for little effect.

Adalwin comes into the room and seems to see his father. He swings wildly, but is largely incapacitated.

The chains seem to be alive, whipping about the thing as it fights.

Vell finds a way through the chains with his rapier and does some significant damage, before Belwrick zaps it with electricity.

The thing begins to rend Mordith with its hooks while Vell and Elyas take shots at it.

Mordith shakes off the chains and starts swinging. Adalwin shakes off his fear and hacks away. They dispatch the thing in a whirlwind of sulphur, but not before it cries out, “I remember you!”

This thing isn’t really dead, just banished. Vell explains that it’ll be back, with friends.

They arm the survivors, Mordith gives them a quick pep talk, and they go into the next room.

It’s odd, actually, that there’s a slaughterhouse at all. It speaks to Mort’s level of intelligence, which is frightening.

Belwrick cocks an ear to the door, and hears grating voices, cackling, and anguished cries.

Elyas goes into gaseous form and sneaks into the room. It’s a dining room, a huge table at which Mort sits, along with a number of ghouls, and a human guildsman, a pipefitter. The table has holes cut into it so that the human meals can be put into them. The ghouls aren’t yet tearing in, which is odd…

Mort has evolved. He’s dressed to the nines, in finery and a stovepipe hat. Behind him is a stone door to nowhere, but surrounded by sigils in infernal. It’s a portal to…somewhere. It’s not of dwarven make — he’s added it. He seems to be enjoying holding the ghouls at bay.

Elyas signals that he’s ready to go, then casts an illusion of Count Rampyr saying “Do you think your garlic will save you?” He follows that up with a fireball.

That’s the signal. Vell runs in and lobs a crossbow into Sen, the human pipefitter guildsman. He coughs up blood and falls over backwards, dead.

Adalwin pins a ghoul against the table and wipes him out.

Mordith puts a pair of bolts past the illusion, but misses. It’s hard to tell where Mort is looking, though, on account of his all-black eyes and his ripply skin.

They swarm into the room. Elyas takes out most of the table with another fireball, while Tinuvial and Belwrick mop up the remnants. Mort bolts through his portal, holding a seagull feather.

Sen has a seagull feather as well. Mordith grabs it and pulls the group through the portal onto a grassy knoll.

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Game 02:
Silent Scream

It is evening, and packed at the Serpent. The Arrow gathers at their usual table in the back. Over everything, though, there’s a tension. The wolf attacks and the bats haven’t stopped, and now it’s the new moon.

They discuss the doings a transpiring, especially the birth defects, “thieves” at the docks, and the bower knots being banned. As they try to figure out suspects, who is pulling strings, Vell drops the tidbit of info that Neverember had installed a doppelganger in Neverwinter, that the Heroes of Never killed. Really…

Harfoot comes into the bar and walks to the table just behind the Arrow. He introduces them to Belwrick, another halfing who Badger had sold some tiny stockpots and tiny fishhooks. Harfoot is super vague and heads back into the night. “By the way,” he says on the way, “the wolves are out.”

As the sun goes down, the bar starts to clear out. Mordith gets up to start the watch on the door & bower knot, when Benji runs in, no coat, no lamplighting gear. “Something’s out there!”

Everyone scrambles for their various murder tools. Belwrick peeps out the window and sees the broken chewed-upon body of a twelve-year-old boy in the mist.

Vell runs to the roof to see what he can. He sees more corpses, trailing northward, heading toward the huge bank of fog rolling in from the north. Which is not the way the fog should roll in — it’s usually in from the sea (the south).

He scampers down to the corpses and discovers two horrible things: the boy’s leg comes off, and he’s still alive. Vell stabs him, with mercy. Adalwin and Tinuvial have come up to the roof after him, and they see larger figures looming in the fog. Vell kills the other boy in the street, and begins to burn the bodies. The fog bank is now less than a hundred feet away, and Vell can hear the figures yipping, and see their teeth. He finishes the fire and books it inside.

“Alright,” Mordith says, “What’s the plan? Distract them?”

No one answers. The two on the roof can see the figures break off once in a while and head into a house. Then, the screaming. They are avoiding the doors with bower knots, though.

Adalwin and Tinuvial make the thoughtful and reasoned decision to climb down from the roof and distract the horde. Which they do.

Vell takes the girls upstairs, leaving Mordith and Elyas asking Belwrick what in the fuck is happening.

Then the horde runs by. They’re limbs are elongated, with long, sharp claws and teeth. Their eyes are flat black and their bodies are purply and bloated. Even inside, their smell is awful.

Once they’ve passed, Elyas casually steps out and lobs a fireball into the fog, then casually slips back in.

Mordith is left wondering if he’s the only sane one left.

Tinuvial and Adalwin decide to double back towards the Temple of Seladrine. In the fog, though, Adalwin outpaces Tinuvial and he (Tinuvial) has to hide. The horde runs right past him. Adalwin leads them on towards the temple, while Tinuvial looks for a horse.

Meanwhile, back at the Serpent, the fog is still thick, and there seem to be some stragglers, so Vell, Mordith, Elyas, and Belwrick head to the roof to set up a sniper nest.

[scene missing]

Somehow, Tinuvial gets ahold of two horses and takes them to find Adalwin, who is outpacing the horde towards the Temple. Adalwin grabs hold of the spare horse and they gallop towards the Temple with the ghouls and the wolves just behind them. They get to the gate, the horn blows, the gate opens, they charge through, and arrows loose behind them. Adalwin requests new pants.

Up on the roof, the fog covers the whole city. They can see very little. Everyone they care about seems to be protected…so maybe it’s time to run a counter-attack?

There is a green light coming from the City of the Dead. Vell and Mordith want to go check it out, see if they can see who is controlling this awfulness. Belwrick and Elyas talk them out of it, though.

[There’s some kind of conversation with Luriniel at the Temple about this City of the Dead]

Everyone shelters in place. No one sleeps much, except for a few flashes of a graveyard. Screaming, howling, people getting torn apart.

Next morning, Mordith works on some breakfast and recovery drinks, especially for poor Benji, who had a little too much to drink.

[There’s some info from the Temple that Mike or Ryan G should insert here]

Lurinel has found a little on the Bower Knot — originally probably Elven, but they claim it’s been around before them, which would make it 30,000 years old or older. Are they in the columns under the city? Have to check the rubbings.

Mort was taking advantage of the situation more than controlling things.

About an hour after sunup, Adalwin and Tinuvial walk in. Here’s what they have: the seers of the temple say that someone (?) has capitalized on the original de-sanctifying with the teeth, which was not created by anyone, but an aftershock from the future. Got that?

The ghouls and the wolves are not controlled by the same person, though they’re cooperative. The ghouls are probably controlled by Mort, the wolves…? Kormallis was housing lots of wolves, though.

Also: there’s a guild war brewing.

What are people’s motivations? Power, mainly. Mort has discovered that there are extra-dimensional crypts with plenty of ghouls in them. In case you need some ghouls for a thing.

Long pause for planning. First: check with the City of the Dead and see if there are any clues. Then, see if Duhlark knows anything about Mort / Iker.

The girls take Benji back. The group stops at his house, since they remembered after that that they wanted to talk to him. All of the lamplighters are gone. All of them. He had an older boy in charge of him. There is a Lamplighter’s Guild. Being in charge of them would be a good way to keep the city dark. And would be a ready source of sacrifices if need be. And the more similar the sacrifice is, the stronger the magic.

The boys probably would have been sent out in a pattern to lead the ghouls out…to where?

The streets are pretty clear, so there are tracks to lead back to wherever they came from. Every once in a while, they find citizens cleaning up the bodies of the lamplighters. By the way, they seem to have been bitten by ghouls, remembering the size & shape of the bites.

A wagon is coming around, loading the bodies onto them. Vell notices that they belong to the Gravediggers Guild. Tinuvial talks to the guy loading the wagon. The order to clear the streets came last night. Before the attacks. From Sen.

The Cellerars’ Union is across the street from the City of the Dead, so they’re already headed in the right direction.

Oh, by the way, Vell is a member of the executive board of the Wagoners’ Guild, and any attack on the Gravediggers would be a shot fired in the Guild Wars. What could go wrong?

Continuing on, the trail of bodies leads straight to the City of the Dead, despite the curves in the road.

As they go on, they come to another group of people around a body. They have seen several groups like this, but it’s a full-grown man. The whispers in the crowd tell them before they see him, but it’s Ewing, the slayer. His tools, crossbows, wooden stakes, silver nitre and so on, are scattered around the body.

Tinuvial notices that, despite the locals’ foot traffic and some ghouls’ passing, his neck has been punctured. Adalwin can see ghoul marks, vampire marks, and the lack of a pack to carry all his stuff. There’s a trail leading from the body, which they follow to an alleyway. Based on the tracks, a kid seems to have dragged it away to roll the pack.

They find the pack, a few items like holy water, stakes, and more silver nitre. Tinuvial finds a section of a book in a leather folder. Adalwin finds a wand and some coin in his boots. Elyas can tell the wand is magical, but there’s more to be found out than he has time for.

They shake their heads and continue on. Soon they are within sight of the City of the Dead. The walls are huge, having once been city walls. The gates are guarded not by the Watch, as one would expect, but apparently by mercs who look to have showed up here — their equipment is kind of haphazard, and they are wearing several Guilds’ sigils. Vell recognizes one of them as a mercenary that his unit has hired.

While the rest of the Arrow is busy figuring out that mystery, Belwrick sneaks off and finds a hole in the wall to wriggle through. He can see that several of the crypts have been sealed with a bower knot. So…that’s a plus. He finds a hill to climb and can see plenty of bower knots, though there are a few tombs whose doors were blasted out. There’s no sound of birds, animals or anything else — it’s very quiet. Plenty of ghoul tracks, though.

He investigates a nearby tomb with its door open, but he can’t tell much. He hears what can only be described as feeding, though, when he listens closely.

Vell talks to the Wagoners’ Guild member. They sort of closed down the gate, on their own initiative. No one else was watching. Like the Watch, say. Funny, no Gravediggers’ Guild or Plumbers & Cellerars’ Guild. The Gravediggers are not bringing the bodies here. They won’t get in. Mordith invites them to the Serpent.

Meanwhile, Tinuvial has been reading the manuscript that Ewing had on him. The author is Jander Sunstar, who seems to have found his way into the gypsies’ land through the mists, become a vampire, burned to death in the daytime sun, and woke up back here in Aber-Toril. Then he wrote that book, which Ewind found at some point later and took up as his job.

A few tidbits: Mort is likely a ghast, a ghoul who has achieved a level of consciousness. The ghouls have a filth under their nails that will stun their victims. Also, there are vampires and something called Death Knights. They sound awful.

Next they talk to the Cellerars’ Guild. Adalwin & Tinuvial talk to the mercenaries guarding the door, but get nowhere. Belwrick goes off to take a look for alternate entrances. There are guards on the back door and the roof.

Vell wanders off to the Scriveners’ Guild. They have no connection to the Sentinel, but they do have a press they can put into production if need be. The Sentinel is down in the Trades’ Ward someplace. The old owners got bought out about eight months ago, not sure by whom. They don’t read it much anymore: it’s just a rag for the government.

Having gotten stonewalled at the Cellerars’ Guild, they head back south, deciding whether to see Duhlark, Badger, or just go home. There are only a few hours of daylight left, so there’s about time to do one thing.

As they walk, a group of orange cloaks (the Cellerars’ Guild) comes up from the other direction, including Sen. Vell looks happy. The streets clear in anticipation.

When they get within shouting distance, Sen goads Vell. Adalwin puts an arrow into a dude, and Elyas makes them see some awful things, based on his mumbling and the horrified looks on some of their faces. Vell takes one out, and so does Mordith.

Then they charge. Adalwin takes one more out from above. Belwrick stabs someone from behind while he’s menacing Mordith. Elyas lobs some magic missiles into the crowd before Vell swings on Sen, taking a good chunk out of him. Sen barely flinches, before Mordith slashes him too. The surviving guards surround Vell, basically ignoring Mordith.

Vell responds with some hellfire. Sen is not happy about that one. Then he steps back, letting Mordith take the heat. Mordith gladly does. Belwrick gleefully stabs another one in the kidney.

The last of the minions goes down, and Sen goes after Vell, knocking him prone and wounding him badly.

Tinuvial takes a swing on Sen while he’s distracted and so does Adalwin. Tinuvial makes him a coma patient, then proceeds to stabilize him.

They tie up Sen and drag him to the nearest safe bar that Adalwin knows. They tie him to a chair and search him. Nothing out of the ordinary there — some coin a few hidden daggers.

He begins to wake up. He’s okay with the pain, but his real lever is money. Get him some more money, he’s willing to listen. Tinuvial offers him a job in a bar. Wait a minute — what bar?

He agrees to tell them where Mort is in exchange for that job. Mort is in a small, strange black mausoleum in the City of the Dead, which Sen can sketch the floorplan of. He’s changed since last night — bigger, stronger, meaner. He kept using a word…”portentious”? Something big was going on that he wanted to take advantage of.

The plan for the Wagoners’ Guild is to disgrace them enough that they can be taken over by the Caravaners’. What’s the Plumbers’ stake? Control. How did he align the Cellerars and Plumbers? Assassination and a Luskan plant named Leaf Landow.

Mort’s got a few groups, one of which is somehow “specialized.” Mort wears a wreath of garlic under his clothes. He’s terrified of vampires, especially Rampyr, who is definitely a vampire. He has black hands, sometimes. He seems to have some control over his appearance — his features never change, though his age can. Rampyr has given Mort orders, but never the other way around.

Mort hates Neverember, curses him for getting in the way of Guild business.

He used to talk about Asmodeus, but not for a while. He’s also mentioned Myrkul a few times.

Mordith lays out the ground rules on the way back to the Serpent, mainly Don’t Touch the Girls. He goes to poo, and they decide to rest up and raid the mausoleum tomorrow.

They rest up, put Sen up for the night, and go.

At the City of the Dead, the Watch is there now. Eight of them. There’s some hemming & hawing, and in the midst of it Adalwin asks to put some flowers on the grave of his totally dead grandma. The guard smirks & lets them in. They lock the gate behind them.

Lots of trees, hills, and monuments inside, which would be peaceful if it weren’t for the horror. They see what Belwrick saw last night, a bunch of tombs with bower knots on the doors. From inside, Tinuvial hears moaning. The knots are keeping the dead in.

The small black mausoleum is in the distance. The land around it is devoid of trees, or really, anything in particular.

As they roll up, the wolves and ghouls are ready for them. Elyas starts the festivities with a fireball, taking out a few wolves. Belwrick and Adalwin speak up as well before the ghouls and wolves attack. Belwrick gets knocked prone by a wolf, and Vell takes some ghoul claws to the face. Mordith fends off a wolf, while Adalwin takes a swipe from a ghoul narrowly avoiding paralysis.

Vell takes the high ground, while Mordith chops up a ghoul and wounds a wolf.

Then a bunch of spiders the size of horses erupt from the ground, and Tinuvial calls up the spirits of vengeful elves. That’s a help.

Elyas drops another fireball, eliminating several more ghouls. They take out the last of the spiders, but still sense something out there. Adalwin listens at the door to the mausoleum. He hears talking. Mordith and Vell also come up to the door. From behind, a pack of wolves attack.

Belwrick and Mordith take the brunt of their attack. Adalwin takes out a few, as does Belwrick.

More ghouls and wolves appear. The conclude that more will be coming until they can get inside. Vell is messing around at the door, though, so…

So Belwrick slips past, like, all of the enemies and disarms the door. What’s the problem, guys?

Spiders!

Vell and Belwrick work on the door while Mordith and Adalwin takes out some ghouls, but not before they both go down from attacks and/or stench paralysis.

Belwrick figures out the door, but doesn’t have the mustard to open it. Adalwin frog-splashes a ghoul. Several bad things happen, including some ominous crashings.

Vell finally opens the door. Everyone books it inside. The last to leave is Mordith, who sees an undead giant come around the corner from somewhere and throw a skeleton at him. Mordith books it for the mausoleum, and all the animals, skeletons, and giants follow him.

Elyas, Belwrick, and (finally) Adalwin try to close the door behind him. As they do so, they hear the sounds of the rain beginning from above, and the welcoming voice of Mort from below.

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Game 01: Wolf Like Me
My Mind has Changed My Body's Frame

Nightal 11-12, 1481

The Arrow gathered at their table in back of the Serpent. It was cold outside, and the bar was decorated for the Winter Solstice, happening in a tenday. People had gathered to shake off the chill and escape the persistent fog that had begun just about the time of the Feast of the Moon.

After the fog had come the bats, long after they should have hibernated, the rats have become aggressive, and most ominously, packs of wolves had moved back in, for the first time since the area was settled.

The gypsies had showed up at about the same time as the rest of the mysterious doings. They’ve set up camp between the outer & inner walls north of the city. Citizens have blamed them for the recent troubles, but have also gone out to have their fortunes told. They discovered that the head woman told eerily accurate fortunes, and business increased.

Most recently had been the earthquakes. To understate it slightly, nerves are frayed.

The five members of the Arrow had been, at various times, looking to pick up the trail of their enemies after they had fled the city during the incident with Dagon. They knew little, except that Tervis had changed their plan when he got the shot of Chosen juice. What the original plan was, they don’t know.

Before they can call the meeting to order, though, Mother Mercy walks in, covered in seaweed. And then: Vampires! Roll initiative.

They leap on the Arrow, clawing and biting. Everyone gets a vampire on him. Adalwin, Vell, and Elyas get some good shots in, but Adalwin and Vell quickly go down. A vamp lands on Adalwin and begins to feed.

Mordith notices their claws, as he extracts Mercy’s from his chest, which are not nails so much as blackened ends of fingers. One of the vampires is an Eltorchul girl.

Tinuvial drives one away, and Vell, recoverd, distracts the one on Adalwin. They fight, leaping up on the big table to do so.

Tinuvial calls down some impressing lightning to smite the minion vampires. They wisely bug out, and only Mercy is left.

She leaps down off the bar at Mordith, and claws him again. Too close to fire crossbow, he strikes her with the butt of the thing. Luckily, he had stumbled back into Tinuvial’s radiant damage radius.

She hisses, “I’ll see you again!” and disappears out the window.

They take stock. Mordith looks out the window, but it’s all fog. He pours something warm and banks the fire.

The girls emerge from the second floor, covered in gore and excited as hell. Another vampire was upstairs, hoping to take the group by surprise. They jumped him and drove him off.

Iliana sits down and grabs a drink. “That. Was. Awesome!” she says. As the adrenaline wears off, and the alcohol hits, they become increasingly chatty. The Arrow lets them chatter for a bit, patiently.

Tinuvial spends a few minutes healing everyone, while they drink and talk by the fire.

After a few minutes, it begins to sleet. Vell peeks out the window. In fact, it’s baby teeth, coming from the sky. A few flashes of lightning, green lightning, and then it’s over.

Vell goes up to check, and it seems that the whole city has suffered from the baby teeth plague.

There doesn’t seem to be another threat of attack, so they bolt the doors and rest; Tinuvial trances in the hallway to stand watch.

Next morning, Malevolence opens the bar, and begins to cook. The Arrow and the girls nurse their various hangovers and injuries.

Tinuvial wants to go to the Temple of Seladrine for answers, or at least questions, and the rest of the group goes with.

Outside, it’s cold and dark, and beginning to snow. The city is still covered in baby teeth, and the morning traffic, admittedly less than usual, is slowly crushing them into powder.

A few street vendors are out, and other citizens, and plenty of the watch.

Something is up, they discuss along the way. There have been no vampire attacks since Tervis, and someone must have gone to get Mercy.

As they are walking, they notice a few buildings’ doors inscribed with a curious square-ish symbol. Mordith checks them with his new paladin sight and is instantly overwhelmed with the amount of de-consecration that the teeth have done. The buildings with the symbol, however, have not been de-consecrated.

Adalwin knocks on a door with the symbol and asks the owner, a milkmaid. She says the symbol is being sold by the gypsies to ward off evil. You know, the rats and the ghosts. As she talks, she recognizes them as the Black Arrow. you know, ghosts like the ones we created.

She takes them in and tells them some ghost stories. One of them checks out, as three Asmodei that they killed in the underground lair.

There’s a gypsy she has hired who comes around to replenish the bower knot.

The gypsies were here once long ago. She remembers hearing their language then, but they were driven out by the Watch for stealing children.

They thank her, then take their leave. She scurries next door as they head down the street. “Sewing circle’s gonna be busy tonight,” Adalwin says.

Farther along, they meet a lamplighter that they know, Benji. He asks them what they’re going to do. “The best we can, Benji,” Mordith says. Benji warns him about some Paladins coming down the street. Mordith thanks him, and tells him about the bower knot.

As they walk away, Tinuvial and Mordith argue about whether the gypsies are warding the evil or involved in it.

The paladins are from the Spires of Morning, in spit-shined armor, coming the other way. There’s some tension on the street, but they pass each other with hardly a glance.

There’s little else on the street, so they are at the Temple pretty quickly. They are on full alert at the gates, but they let Tinuvial in without question, and the rest are welcome with him. Even Vell.

On the grounds, it is like a corner of the Feywild, overrun with the natural world, though the grounds are covered with baby teeth. The priests are outside cleaning and re-sanctifying the ground.

Inside, it is just as bustling. They quickly catch sight of Luriniel, who has become a player in the hierarchy as a knowledge-bearer. He is totally not surprised to see them, and welcomes them to a common room for a drink.

They sit near the fire and get food & drink. Tinuvial asks someone to get The Elder.

“So,” Luriniel says. “Baby teeth.”

It de-consecrates the ground, leaving everything open to attack from fiends, intelligent undead, and so on.

They tell him about the visit from the vampires.

He says there have been other portents, like the strange weeds in the Market, that grow incredibly quickly and stubbornly. Every morning, the vendors and carters have to chop the weeds off every morning, and the rats take their share every night as well. It’s particularly bad on the west side of the market.

Underneath the city, the Tower of the Order is re-inscribing the sewers & tunnels in High Eleven magic.

Luriniel has also been helping the Bladesinger with “a substance” to take the edge off.

The gypsies are insular, and the arrow will have to gain their trust. Their head, Luminita, has a very protective bodyguard whom they’ll have to deal with.

They tell him of the bower knot, and he promises to look into it. It rings a bell.

When they ask about the ghosts, he says that the city used to be awash in ghosts until the Spellplague, when something something energy damper. But now things are going back to the way they used to be. Magic items are waking up. Pre-Spellplague spells are working again.

The Heroes of Neverwinter have left this plane for another, Luriniel has on good faith. Something urgent drew them away. The city, though, has been growing by leaps and bounds. A young elven wizard, claiming to be a medium, has been repairing the city’s wards by channelling Das. They’ve been trying to root out the forces holding Luskan, and pirate activity in the area has declined. There has been a rekindling of the Lord’s Alliance, because of the Heroes and their work.

Waterdavians have taken less kindly to their claim to the Coast, including some actual skirmishes on the borders, but more pressing matters (like, say, a giant plot to destroy the respective cities) put an end to that.

Earthquakes are happening in some surrounding cities, and they are strangely strong in all of them.

So…what does it take to make a vampire? Elyas knows of two ways, both of which are a little folkloric. One is to be killed by a vampire, and one would be to strike a pact with a power upon your death.

Before they leave, Tinuvial checks the shrine to Shevarash and Luriniel asks them to help him get William out of the Spires. They agree.

Tinuvial speaks briefly to the Elder about getting the Serpent cleaned, after their unclean visitors.

They head to Blackstaff Tower. Only Tinuvial has been there before, when he dropped off the Crown of Horns.

It is exactly as one would expect, a tall black tower. As they approach, the current Blackstaff, Vajra, opens the door as they approach and invites them in. She leads them up some stairs to a small library and fireplace.

They get right to the point. The omens, the visits — she was visited by zombies last night — all suggest that something is awakening. What? Good question.

Her former mentor (and lover) sensed that something was coming. She thought so as well, perhaps, but divination is not her strong school.

Tinuvial tells her of the gnome they met in Skullport who was apparently living backwards from that event.

Normally she would go to the Order and work with them, but Iker’s feud with her is interfering with that. It’s so ridiculous that the Open Lord, Dagult Neverember, won’t even see her.

The vampires are particularly troubling — their powers are differentiated by bloodlines…so to speak. It’s hard to make a determination as a result, short of capturing or killing one.

The Bower Knot? Seems to be pretty effective. The gypsies are not ones she’s heard of, calling themselves Vistani. Their appearance can’t be coincidental, but that doesn’t mean they’re behind it. Their seers could be particularly effective and maybe looking to make some coin on the incident. To sum up, there’s nothing particularly evil, but they know a thing or two.

The Happening, what the gnome talked of, has been on her list for some time. The recent political conflict with Iker has distracted them. Neverember has been extraordinarily petty of late. Has he been controlled, asks Mordith? Well, he is visited by Iker, more or less every day. And Iker’s wards for the palace (which are typically done by the Blackstaff) are particularly…basic.

Elyas asks why she doesn’t simply break the wards and rebuild them. She answers by showing him the Black Staff. Elyas is brave (or stupid?) enough to touch it: it is filled with the voices of previous Blackstaffs. Her office is to protect the city, including the rightful head of the city. The current conflict complicates but doesn’t negate that. Her position is…delicate.

If the Arrow, however, were to visit the city palace and see some of the glyphs though…. She might be able to use that.

Yes, magic is different — one of her apprentices broke both legs practicing a Fly spell. Is the Staff still working? Yes. Is it necromancy? No, the previous Blackstaffs go into the staff, not Kelemvor’s realm.

Is Iker more powerful in a school of magic than the Staff, and that’s why Iker’s knowledge is obscure, but not inaccessible. Vajra could call it up from the Staff if she needed. The differences are not of power, but politics.

She does not know what the Order is up to underground: they are shielding it heavily, and they have suddenly become close to one of their main rivals, the Plumbers and Cellarers Guild.

They discuss the politics of this for a space. The Blackstaff takes her leave, and suddenly they are in the courtyard.

They shake off that weirdness and get to Phalanter’s Philtres. There is a bowerknot on the door. Amelia, who is obviously pregnant, comes down to greet them and says, “I hope you don’t mind, but I bought a ward from the gypsies.”

No, they don’t mind at the least. People come and go. Willard, the caretaker. Phalanter, Amelia’s adoptive father, and Abigail, some girl.

They talk about recent doings. Amelia wakes her father, who taps the plaster and chuckles knowingly. No one else knows, actually, but he explains that there are wards all inside the walls. The Arrow feels more comfortable, knowing that.

They settle in for dinner. Tinuvial helps sweep the teeth away, and some of Elyas’s retainers serve some food. It finally dawns on Mordith, at least, that Elyas’s family is noble, and that he and Vell went to school together.

After dinner, they head back to the Serpent.

Naturally, as they come down the street, there’s a pile of skeletons outside the Inn.

They hear Vell and Mordith discussing the finer points of Kantian philosophy, turn, and rush them.

Tinuvial calls out to Shevarash, drives an arrow into the ground and sends out a radiant blast of black light. Two skeletons fall dead immediately. Elyas drops a fireball on the group in the street and empties the back line entirely.

Mordith, Tinuvial, and Adalwin take the rest out in no time.

Mordith hurries to the Inn to check on the girls. Tinuvial, Vell, and Elyas all check the weapons. They are about 300 years old, from a particular graveyard.

Fortunately, the skeletons didn’t make it past the bolted door and shutters. Mordith takes the short sword from Val, then charges upstairs to chew out the girls.

The Slayer is the new guy in town. He showed up earlier, asking if they needed help with the vampire problem. He called himself Ewing, wearing a stovepipe hat and a leather duster full of daggers and carrying a massive crossbow and bolts.

They sleep, wake. The girls get right to work, Val is already up working on breakfast (does she ever sleep), and the breakfast crowd wanders in.

They sit down to their table and plan their day. When they walk outside, though, there are a group of Watchmen standing around a body in the street outside of the Serpent. It clearly was killed by wolves or dogs, and as best as Tinuvial can tell.

Vell elbows his way in to the group of Watchmen and asks what’s up. Killed by wolves, they deduced. A lot of killings farther south, and out in the Thicks, which they blame on the gypsies.

One of the Watchmen seems skeptical. Vell asks him to check out some “vandalism.” Tinuvial can see pretty clearly that the man was killed by a vampire and the wolves came after.

The man Vell talks to doesn’t sleep well, so he’s seen a lot of the weirdness lately, fog, wolves, and so on. The wolves are larger than he’s seen. They go for the legs first. The weirdness first started about three tendays ago, about the same time the sands showed up at the Market. Mostly on the west side, some on the north, too.

The man feels like whenever something odd happens, they get reassigned. That’s Mert’s job, now. The captain has a new right-hand man, slick black hair. Sven or Sen or something. Seems to be doing all the scheduling.

Tinuvial is worried about the corpse turning, so Vell talks the Watch into burning the corpse. Something about disease.

They make their way to the Tower of the Order. Jandallor is outside with Glorium, bundled up in furs against the chill. Glorium, in particular, is happy to see them. Elyas introduces them to Jandallor, an older man who is nonetheless in good shape, with piercing blue eyes that take in quite a bit.

Elyas asks if there is somewhere they can talk without prying eyes & ears. They go down to Jandallor’s chambers, several levels underground, past the alchemy lab and the library. Jandallor is clearly segregating himself from the Order.

His chambers are pretty large, considering. It is mostly decorated in books, but with some components as well. He offers them “something weird.” It’s a bottle of red wine, but with some black-ish stuff in it. They are immediately relaxed, talkative, and cheerful.

Elyas abstains, but is the first one to bring up the conversation with The Blackstaff. She is more powerful than he is, but she can’t attack him unless he directly threatens the city. Jandallor respects her. He guesses that Iker must have some angle that she can neutralize.

How can this guy be a relative unknown in this city of magic and wizards? He must have had some people in place ahead of time, which speaks to some considerable power & influence.

Waterdeep is unusual, Jandallor says, and demonstrates this by putting his hand through thin air into some other plane. Mordith gets curious, and Jandallor repeats the trick with him. The first time is awful, oily, and cold. The second time, it feels warm and happy, and smells like Meadow.

Do the other planes feel The Happening the way we are? Not really — the Weave affects magic here, not There (the Shadowfell, say, and the Feywild). Their sources of magic are different.

Jandallor doesn’t think Mystra really died, but was in some way suppressed. Elminster should have died, but he didn’t.

They can’t be repairing the Hammerfae under the city, since they haven’t asked Jandallor about it. They are doing something to the pillars, though. If one could link all the pillars, they could do just about anything.

Jandallor has seen the Bower Knot before, in a book not of this plane. Which plane? Jandallor isn’t sure. There are beings who can move between planes, and when they do, they bring items with them. On occasion, the Order gets ahold of these things.

He pulls a book off of a shelf, flips through it, and shows them the Knot. The book is from the Realm of Mists. The Vistani are in the book as well, and are described as being able to move between the planes.

Does Jandallor have any silver we can have? No — an odd person named Ewing bought all of it from him. He was looking for specific components for his “kit.” He had a sheaf of papers he kept referring to, and he seemed to be looking for very specific things like nitre silver, wolfsbane, and so on.

They go to Elyas’s house for dinner, since it’s not too far away. The sun sets, and the howling begins. What could go wrong?

Elyas, Vell, and Mordith go to the north to find out about the gypsies. Vell tells some blatant lies about Mordith’s sex life in order to get past the guard.

The gypsy camp is pretty evident from the campfires. As they come to the camp, they see a pair of them dressed in a hodge-podge of clothes and armor, a basket rapier, and some other strange devices. “Here for the future readings?” Their accents are unplaceable.

They ask them to leave their weapons in The Box. Mordith has some serious qualms, but the gypsies’ accents are reassuring, so he leaves Meadow in the box.

A girl in the camp leads them to a wagon in the middle, richly appointed. A woman is sitting at the far end, with three seats laid out ahead of time.

“Yes, we are not from here,” she says. “Now, what do you want to know?”

What are Iker’s goals? She plays a card, a Gem, the card of wealth, material gain.

What is Mercy’s vampire bloodine? The Knight, royalty.

Where are they from? Rogue, the shadow, the mist. The place chose them; they did not choose the mist.

Why is the infestation worse in the west? The vizier, someone in a bureaucracy is controlling it.

Who drew you here? The Key, the link between places.

What are the goals of the Cellarer’s Guild and the Hammerfey? Ruin.

Who wants the ruin? Talons, someone with insatiable animal hunger, no intelligence or politics.

Why are the gypsies here? Balance.

Were they here 30 years ago? Yes. They were scapegoats for slavers. They do not hold any ill will; in fact, they have little control over where they go.

Is Mystra dead, or just sleeping? The Sun (which sets but also rises).

What is Mert’s involvement in all this? The Idiot. Because he’s, you know…an idiot.

Meanwhile, down in the Thirsty Throat…Adalwin’s fence, Nivalis, asks him if he’s willing to murder Xanathar, legendary head of the Skullport underworld. He’s too methodical. But Adalwin is confused — he joined these people because they seemed more intelligent.

This was the right answer. “Alright,” he says. “I think we can really talk.” He makes a sign against his forehead, which a few patrons of the bar echo.

If Adalwin wanted to take care of someone who’s more smash & grab, would that be alright? Yes.

What’s going on in the sewers? Sort of. The Order is re-inscribing pillars, and the Cellarers & Plumbers are helping. But only the new ones. The head of the guild is the old head of the Gravediggers’ Guild. His name is Mort. He’s back in town. He’s making moves, looking for power.

He operates under the Market and so on.

Any oddness beneath the surface, like the stuff above-ground? Yep. Lots of opening up of old things.

The stress between the guilds is at an all-time high. The Cellarers are trying to cut out some of the other guilds.

There is some other talk about things. But there are also boobs on the internet.

Badger, though, likes to hang out at the Purple Palace, right around the corner from the Thirsty Throat, and it’s been on Adalwin’s to-do list for some time. It’s a house of prostitution, and Badger likes to hang out there. He makes some money there hustling, and the owners are OK as long as they take a cut.

Badger is a dwarf, but he’s not dressed like one. He’s clean-shaven, for one, and he’s well-dressed. Dandyish, even, but without much taste. His nickname comes from his shock of white in the midst of his black hair.

When they arrive, he’s surrounded by four young women, whom he quickly banishes. They begin to talk. Mort, now. Mort wears makeup, and has a particular smell. A hunger. Iker’s involvement? Who knows. But the other guilds are catching wind though, so to speak, and allying against him.

The gypsies are pretty up & up.

The new graveyard? Well, there was a problem in the old graveyard — someone opened a tomb and out came the zombies.

They meet up back at the Serpent. For once, no one has to fight their way inside. The girls are just finishing up cleaning the floors. Mordith gives them a calmer talking-to, and they go upstairs with a bottle of wine to rest.

The Arrow, sans Elyas, regroup and share information.

The Talon card reminds Tinuvial of Malar, god of beasts and savagery. Lycanthropy fits under his rubric.

The Vizier, the bureaucrat, doesn’t have to be a literal bureaucrat, but someone acting behind the scenes.

Who brought the two guilds together, though?

In all, who’s behind the scenes? Maybe someone like Alabaster Morningstar. We haven’t heard much about him, but the paladins certainly are walking around with little fear.

Mort is, in fact, a ghoul, busting tombs and disgorging bodies. He’s blocking the dwarves’ access to whatever they’re doing down below, so what is it that the dwarves would recognize?

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Prologue
The months between were quiet...

The plot of make Asmodeus the god of death was thwarted. The Dusky Tower and its infernal Shadovar floating island was sunk in Waterdeep Harbor. The conspirators fled the city. And then, nothing. For months.

Then those gypsies came to town.

The ghost attacks started soon after. The missing kids. The clouds that never seem to part. The empty streets at night. The voices behind the walls. Something was afoot, but no one seems to be able to explain exactly what.

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Epilogue
A Hero's Respite

The days and weeks after what became known as the Night of the Sleepwalkers by some, the Battle over Waterdeep by those in the know, were a blur for the members of the newly christened Company of the Black Arrow. It seemed that every time any of them tried to go out into the city to do business, catch up with friends, or investigate what had happened, they were waylaid by well-meaning well-wishers who wanted to buy them a drink, offer this or that service, thank them for saving their wife or their child, or ask them how they could be so lucky as to inherit such a grand place as the Grey Serpent.
Sometimes they told the complicated story, how it came down to them after the death of Grant the Grey, first in her will, and then Magister Thorn, who could not take it because of his position, and then Welt, who didn’t want to add yet another property to his already busy life. The Harpers saw it burned as a safe house, so they didn’t want it, and her two close confidants who would be most likely to take the tavern were both killed when the floating island crashed into and destroyed the avatar of Dagon the Ancient. And so, it fell to them.
They usually didn’t get all the way through the telling, and eventually, most of them simply shrugged and smiled, and the townsfolk saw it as some sort of gift for helping to save the city, ignoring the obvious shortcomings of such tale.
But still, they were able to get snippets of information from those who came to visit them and drink and eat in what quickly became the most popular adventurers’ inn of Waterdeep, run mostly by a barmaid named Valorie who disappeared in the days before the crisis only to appear the morning after, pale, exhausted, famished, but ready for work.
It seems that while the Black Arrow was doing battle in the Dusky Tower high above the Castle Ward, the Harpers and oft-rival Moonstars staved off some sort of disturbance in the City of the Dead that involved an alarming number of the corpses returning to life and attempting to devour those who mindlessly and defenselessly walked the streets outside. This alliance of necessity may lead to a more formal and long-lasting cooperation.
At Blackstaff Tower, Duhlark appeared just in time to aid the other wizards there against a being they are calling the Emissary, based entirely on information gathered from the Black Arrow. This powerful, shadowed being was breaking through the outer wards when Duhlark showed up and did battle against the able and wily foe. When Vajra Safahr, the current Blackstaff, saw that their enemy was distracted, she launched an attack in tandem with the baelnorn, driving off this dark figure. All agreed that acquiring the Crown of Horns was the aim of this attack and that together, they needed to find a long term solution to the problem.
Meanwhile, Waterdeep Palace was besieged by a small number of Purple Dragons of Cormyr and a rabble of local gangs who seemed to be in league with them. The palace, already thinly guarded as most of the Watch was drawn into conflicts in the city streets and Masked Lords were hard to come by, held out long enough for the Waterdeep Guard to come to their aid with their leader, Abdel Babdoolian, riding at the fore. They put the gangs to flight and killed the Purple Dragons, the last of whom was kept alive for questioning but swallowed some foul potion that instantly turned him into a zombie who had to immediately be put down. Formal relations with the forest kingdom are currently nonexistent.
According to some guardsmen who were late hearing and therefore answering the summons to the defense of the palace, the ambassadorial attachment of Neverwinter was camping outside of the city when it became clear that the floating island was falling into the bay, at which point the whole entourage took flight toward home. When the guardsmen sought to stop and question them, devils appeared and chased them to the city walls before disappearing. Relations between Waterdeep and Neverwinter, two key members of the Lords’ Alliance, are tense and are only staving off a possible war over Vell’s now revealed diplomatic maneuverings by the grace of Dagult Neverember and the King of Neverwinter. However, the nature of Vell’s work is still unclear, and his son is not above suspicion, though his friends continue to speak on his behalf.
Word has it that the noble houses of Waterdeep are returning, though the paranoia has not ebbed a bit. If anything, the rumor of a list of enemies and allies of the city has all of the lords on high alert; those who were false fear being revealed as traitors, while those who were loyal fear finding that those they thought were friends were in fact playing them in some larger and more dangerous game. During the crisis, the common folk agree that the nobles who remained and their private armies did little more than barricade their gates and wait for the danger to pass. This is not entirely true, however, as a number of houses including Wands, Thann, and Raventree lent their vast resources to the City Guard and Watch.
For their part, the Watch performed admirably in parts, miserably in others. While many of the Watch came to valiantly the aid of all allies of the city, there were many who actively fought against them. Currently, the Warden of Waterdeep Abdel Babdoolian has been put in charge of both the Watch and Guard to start ferreting out the traitors while reinforcing the walls and surrounding areas against further unrest. While the Guard is fiercely loyal to “the Southerner”, the Watch are split, and all agree that he’s got his work cut out for him, but he is the right man for the job.
The guilds were not untouched by the crisis, though much of their sorrow came at their own hands. It seems that a secret cabal of guilds were allying with one another for some unknown purpose, and when it became clear that the city was in utter chaos, a number of attacks on other guilds were launched from sewers throughout the city, leading to all out guild on guild warfare. Preferring to deal with in on their own terms, they have not involved the Watch or Magisters, and as both the Watch and Magisters have other fires to put out, including some of their own, the guilds have largely been left to their own devices.
On a personal level, the Guards of Lathander have largely disbanded. Sven couldn’t bear to live in the city where he believes he failed his friend, but he finds it hard to leave, too, feeling like something is left undone. Instead, he’s joined the Waterdeep Guard and patrols outside the city, able to visit his friends for a drink or two in the Serpent on occasion. He and Mordith have become fast friends, but also brother in rage. After the initial high of their success, the elusiveness of their enemies has driven both to distraction.
Luriniel dealt with Morium’s death the best of the group and in typical elven fashion. Instead of allowing her death to destroy him, he’s instead seen it as a call to understand where she went, why she had to die, and why the gods seem to help some while abandoning others. He spends most of his time reading or in debate in the Temple of the Seldarine and has in a brief time ingratiated himself with the elves there with the help of Tinuvial, who is also there much of his time. Unlike Tinuvial, however, Luriniel is able to disappear into the temple and be alone. TInuvial is something of a celebrity there, which comes with support, but also makes quiet reflection difficult at times.
Harfoot and Glorium lived with each other very briefly after William infiltrated the Spires of Morning. Harfoot quickly became part of the Waterdeep’s underworld with the help of a somewhat reluctant Lily. The three of them attempted to cohabitate, and despite their love for each other—Lily became something of a surrogate sister to Glorium—their situation was too complicated to last long. Lilly brought an element around the Serpent and Glorium that she preferred to not, so she left to draw them away and deal with her old debts and mistakes. Only Adalwin has run into her on occasion, usually in places they agree to keep secret. He seems sure he could find her if they needed her.
Harfoot still lives nearby the Serpent, stopping in frequently. He says it is to see the smiling faces of the Black Arrow, but everyone knows he returns in case any of the Guards of Lathander stop by. Harfoot also seems to have taken to bringing bards into the Serpent, trying to get them to learn songs he has written about the Battle over Waterdeep, the Black Arrow, and the Guardians of Lathander. He spends his nights, however, otherwise engaged.
Glorium was mostly alone after Lily left, but luckily, Elyas was always near. They had become quite close during their time in study, and Elyas turned her to study with the Order. The study there is as rigorous as the student and mentor, in this case Jandallor Yarrow, want it to be, and nothing made her feel closer to Morium than to continue to pursue their love of the Art. She lives in the tower, and Elyas sees her nearly every day.
William’s infiltration of the Spires of Morning was the most abrupt shift among the group. When he brought Morium to Alabaster Morningstar, His High Radiance turned the middle aged priest away, saying something to the effect that the miracles of Amaunator “were not a trade item that could be bought with minor relics”. Infuriated, he went to find Dawnbringer Incarnadine, and found that he and a group of Lathander “heretics” were chased out of Waterdeep by the Order of the Aster.
After burying his friend, William vowed to get the Rod of Lathander back from this blindly zealous hypocrite and bring the Lathander splinter group back home. The only way he knew how was to start from the inside, so he became an initiate into the Church of Amaunator, much to the concern of his friends who could do nothing to talk him out of it. No one has been able to talk to him since as the Order of the Aster has the church on complete lockdown for “righteous reflection”.
As for the Black Arrow, after some time, they were finally able to settle down and tend to their own affairs. The Grey Serpent is a working inn again under the close eyes of Valorie, called Mother Malevolence when she’s not within earshot. She is kind, perhaps to a fault at times, and a bit naïve, soft spoken, and she’s never left this part of the city. In short, she’s everything Mother Mercy was not. But like Mother Mercy, she is also capable, hardworking, maternal, and inspires loyalty in those who work for her. In short, she’s perfect for the job.
The members of the Black Arrow moved up to the top floor at the insistence of Welt. Those are the rooms the Harpers used to use, and they are safer than those below—better locks, wide views, thick doors, secret hiding spots, and shuttered windows. The rooms are also quieter on those nights when they decide to turn in before the common room has emptied out for the evening or simply need a private place to meet.
The Grey Serpent isn’t exactly a place for scholars and storytellers anymore, at least not like it was. Instead, it has become a place for adventurers looking for a job, a safe place to plan and drink, or some advice, which is always available and usually quite good. They still get some Harpers on occasion looking for a hiding spot, some Watchmen trying to make trouble, bards plying their trade, a nobleman looking for some muscle, and others with reasons they’d just as soon keep to themselves.
The Black Arrow’s enemies have gone to ground. Some have evidently left the city; others are probably stuck in Skullport where the wreckage of a number of ships destroyed during the Battle over Waterdeep have stopped up trade and travel between the upper and lower worlds. Regardless, the trail has gone cold, and for now, the Company of the Black Arrow have to attend to running a tavern, studying, sharpening their skills and the swords, and biding their time until they can wreck bloody vengeance on their enemies and the enemies of fair Waterdeep.

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Game 8: Damage Inc.
Dying Time is Here

Elyas notices a name on one of the maps that he recalls as a portal: if you have the key and stand in the right spot (a group of stones), you can travel to another portal.

After a short rest, the group decides to talk to their prisoner. He scoffs at their foolishness, that they would believe Myrkul is the real threat when Asmodeus is clearly the puppetmaster.

Moridth takes care of him and they move on down the hall, towards the prayers they heard earlier. Adalwin, Luriniel & Harfoot go ahead to clear the way. As they get closer, they can hear a mixture of accents, discussing their plan to go through a portal. The inner door is not locked.

Mordith & Sven crash the party. There are five lightly-armored guys standing around, shooting the shit, in black tabards emblazoned with Asmodeus’s symbol. Chained to a wall nearby is a young vampire girl, Streamed out of her mind.

A huge statue dominates the room. It’s been splattered in blood and covered in red bunting, and strewn about the statue are the corpses of murdered babies.

Adalwin steps through the crowd and puts a couple of bolts into the crowd, followed closely by Moriam who whiffs a spell.

More of the group crowds into the room as the Asmodai react. They put some holes in Moriam, who is not in fact dead yet. As Vell takes some mace swings, he notices they’ve smeared them with feces. Sepsis is a bitch.

Sven shoulders his way in and makes an impact on the closest Asmodai, and Mordith is inspired to do the same. Elyas finally gets a line of sight on one of the dudes and looses some magic missiles.

Adalwin climbs up on the statue and reigns down some near death. Gloriam still can’t get a spell off, but Moriam gets in a good Burning Hands on the three in front of her. Vell pokes a new hole into his guy.

Moriam takes a few more hits & collapses. Vell’s opponent shoots a fiery bolt at him, which pisses off Vell about half as much as his opponent expected. Tinuvial goes over to save Moriam, but she is dead, which sends Sven even farther into his rage. Mordith takes another good chunk out of his target. Eylas magic missiles two guys.

Adalwin and Vell take out two of the guys. A third takes a knee and drops his weapon. Gloriam is out of the fight, trying to take her sister’s body out of the fight. William and Luriniel put the boots to the last of the three that killed Moriam.

Mordith takes a mace to his shoulder. Tinuvial kicks the surrendered men’s weapons away, but Sven takes one out anyway. Harfoot puts another dagger into a guy. Mordith takes out the last of the active fighters, and dispatches the vampire. William takes his vengeance out on the last surrendered man.

He drops his mace and begins to pray to Lathander over Moriam’s body, for guidance and for grief, as does Luriniel. He prays to Mask, though, which is odd. Sven takes his grief out on the bodies of the Asmodai.

The rest of the group investigates the statue, to give them their time to grieve. It is an old statue to Mystra, goddess of magic.

Adalwin finds several potions on the bodies of the Asmodai, healing potions, alchemists’ fire potions, and some that Elyas can’t identify, and a small bag for the each of them with a small piece of obsidian (the key to the portal?). In one corner, Adalwin finds a chest with a sweet scimitar of Calshite make. Plus a few gold.

Luriniel is an old adventurer, and has seen death. He is the first to recover from his grief. He pulls William off the body, reminding him that he has to lead the group out of this, or they are all in danger.

William says, “I have to bring her back, to the Spires of Morning.” He takes Moriam’s body from Sven and leaves with Gloriam and Harfoot. Luriniel and Sven stay, to see things through. The parting is bitter.

The group takes a moment to catch its breath, and goes through the only unblocked door. There are two privies beyond. Vell can hear rushing water, and beneath that, sobbing. He looks down the privy, and sees a woman’s head. She looks up, and he realizes it’s Lilly. She sobs once, then disappears upstream into the darkness.

Vell calls her back. She has escaped from Tervis, who has turned her. He has everyone from the Serpent. Mother Mercy, maybe Welt. She flew here. The portal is down here, and she wants to go back and kill him. She doesn’t feel like she can, though. If they are going to kill him, she will leave them something she stole. She leaves it for them, because she doesn’t want to be seen.

They’ll have to swim to get to the portal, and it will take them to an island. Tervis is in the Dusky Tower on the island, along with Twent’s machine, which she believes is steering it. There is also a presence, a malevolence, that she’s never felt before.

The obsidian is consumed in the travel, so they’ll have to find more to get back. The Tower is the best place to look, but she’s not sure where.

They will have to avoid the guards in the outbuildings, and there are wanderers hopped up on Stream about. They’re mostly harmless, but they’ll definitely raise the alarm if they see the group.

She wishes them luck, hopes she never sees them again, and dissipates into the mist.

The Letter from Lilly:

(To Tervis):
THE WANDERER IS ON THE WAY THE CROWN IS IN PLAY AND IS YOURS FOR THE TAKING
THE DROW IS SLAIN THE TINKER AND HIS GUARDS ARE ABOARD AND HIS CLOCKWORK IS FUNCTIONING THE THAYAN HAS FLED WITH THE CAPTAIN AND OUR ALLIES ON THE GHOST
IF YOU CANNOT COLLECT THE CROWN HIS DARK RADIANCE WILL SEND THE EMISSARY
TELL THE FAMILY THAT THE COUNT IS ABOUT TO ASCEND
KEEP THEM BUSY IF NECESSARY BY GUARDING HOUSES TOO
KEEP THE COUNT IN THE DARK AT ALL COSTS HIS DARK RADIANCE WILL SOON CONSUME THE BLACK SPHINX AND SIT THE CRYSTAL THRONE

VELL

Eylas realizes that the new moon is as dark as it can get, which is a good time for dark magic. The new moon will rise in about 10 hours.

Vell Jr disavows any knowledge of this, and offers to deliver the letter to Harfoot, in hopes that he can inform The Order of the scheming that’s going on, and muster some resistance.

Jr shoulders his way through the crowd to the Spires of Morning, only to find Harfoot whittling a statue of Moriam. Jr tells him the new info. Harfoot points out the island in the sky floating towards them.

Vell returns, after they have rested. They decide to swim for it, but realize that they have no idea whether to swim left or right. After some searching and investigating, Tinuvial augurs for the right answer. He gets a good feeling about the right-hand tunnel. Mordith is the first to go. One moment they are swimming, the next they are in a dark grassy area, behind some trees. They can see some torches in the distance, towards where the tower should be. There is no tower, though, only a place where the sky isn’t.

They can feel a wave of malevolence eminating from the tower, making everyone uncomfortable at the least.

Mordith and Sven, know they can’t sneak for shit, head off one way and tell the rest of the group to go the other way. Luriniel comes with them, and does his best to steer them around the addicts. Mordith can hear him muttering about the risen lord, and deceivers.

The quiet group finds that the building marked “Command” on the map is actually where the prisoners are being held. The tower is beyond that, marked “Twent’s Machine” on the map.

Elyas casts a spell on Adalwin, who peeks into the Command center, and realizes that some of the people he sees are from the Serpent. Including Mother Mercy. He can’t help himself; he goes in. The cages are all mixed, vampires and regular people. The results are pretty predictable. Adalwin calls one person over, away from the vampire in his cell, and sneaks him out. He repeats this as much as possible. There are single cells in the middle of the building, which is where Mercy is. He asks about the single cells; she says they are Harpers. He lets one out, but Mercy doesn’t let him let her out.

The group rendezvouses at the Tower. There is some trading of potions and so on. They can see skeletons guarding the battlements, and the malevolent force is beating down on them even harder. Adalwin is still invisible, so they send him up to scout the inside.

He walks right up the steps and peeks inside the first level. He sees a table of books, a pile of swag, and a few more skeletons. There is also a strange metal pole through the middle.

There is some planning.

Sven and Adalwin invisibly spider-climb to the second level to drop ropes down and hold them. Luriniel and Elyas charge the front, with a horde of imaginary soldiers. Elyas drops a fireball on the front, taking out two skeletons in the process. Sven and Adalwin drop the rope, and Mordith starts the climb. Luriniel charges past Elyas to defend him.

Elyas continues to drop firebombs on the front, while Mordith climbs the side and begins to crush skeletons. Vell sees skeletons coming off the ledge as he climbs up. Eylas and Luriniel clear the corners of the first level.

Skeletons swarm Mordith and, to a lesser extent, Vell. Tinuvial makes the climb, while Mordith & Vell hold the fort. After Tinuvial and the Harper make it up, Adalwin wraps the rope around the lemure’s legs and one of the skeletons, and pulls. They header off the ledge to predictable results.

Elyas and Luriniel are fighting their way up the tower, while Vell and Mordith clear out the level. On the second level, Elyas can see a summoning circle, where the lemures are emerging, and a chest glowing an uncomfortable shade of blue. He takes care of the circle in short order. The assault team continues to smash through skeletons and lemures.

Elyas and then Mordith make it to the top. They see the remaining three members of the Family, and Mordith puts himself between Elyas and Quinn, the nearest of them. Quinn’s ax is dropping snowflakes. Meadow is shining like summer sunlight through leaves.

Twent is working on the giant gear that caps the pole that runs through the tower. There is a globe on the wheel, which he manages to get his hands on.

Elyas, Adalwin, and Vell are tripping over each other to get to Twent, and Elyas gets there first and blows him right the fuck away with a lightning bolt. Mordith kills Quinn outright, and Vell takes out Brickhouse.

On the plus side, the Hounds are no more. No one is driving the island, however. They investigate Twent and the globe. Adalwin turns the wheel, and the whole city starts to shake.

And then the other shoe drops.

Tinuvial begins to head back down for the chest, when he encounters “something terrible.” He draws his sword.

Adalwin & Elyas realize they need to know what the configuration of gear is in the basement. Adalwin still has spider-climb on, so he climbs down while the creeping horror climbs up the stairs.

Tinuvial takes one claw to the face, but stands firm. There is a scorpion tail waiting for someone, though.

Moridth wrecks shop on the creeping horror, and Vell puts a flaming crossbow bolt into him. Tinuvial puts the final nail into the coffin, and the thing explodes into fireflies and falls down the front of the tower.

So…

They look out over the battlements. They can see the lights from Waterdeep, and the lights of the ships in the harbor quickly fleeing the monstrosity rising from the deeps. It chants as it walks up into the shallows, praying to Asmodeus.

Tinuvial realizes that this must be an avatar of Dagon, because otherwise they’d be way, way dead.

They have about twenty minutes until the new moon rises.

They go down a level to the chest, and investigate. There are two keyholes. Adalwin has the key he’s been holding on to the entire time. After a brief search, they find that Brickhouse has the other key.

Vell gets it from Adalwin in the basement and returns to the chest. In a moment of clarity, Adalwin realizes that these chests are something his dad had told him about — if done incorrectly, they will utterly destroy you. He scurries up the walls (spider-climb, dontcha know) and waves them off. He takes the keys, and begins to open the locks. He closes his eyes and feels his way through it. The chest unlocks, the ward disappears.

Those on the top level can see a clear change in Dagon. It eyes the island with a clear intention.

Floating in the center of the chest is a shard, in which Adalwin can see stars and the crashing waves. He immediately vomits.

Vell has a dim recollection of a story from his father, how every god has a shard. This must be Dagon’s. The shock and horror of this is almost incomprehensible — when the gods created Aber-Toril, Dagon was already there, swimming.

While all of this is happening, Tervis appears. He looks at the shard, and at them. “You want to touch it, don’t you?” he asks. Vell contemplates it. Adalwin uses the pre-established message spell to tell Elyas about Tervis.

Adalwin takes a torch and heads for the nearest exit down the walls. Spider-climb, again.

Tinuvial plants an arrow in the ground, which creates a bubble around him and Vell.

Tervis wonders aloud if they would kill him, the only person who knows how to deal with this shard. Vell Jr and Tinuvial make it known that they would rather stumble through it themselves than see him with the shard.

Mordith hears some commotion and recognizes Tervis’s voice. He leaps from the top steps down onto him, Meadow in hand. Luriniel is right behind him, putting an arrow into Tervis. Vell follows with a crossbow bolt, and Tinuvial puts an arrow into him.

Mordith looks him right in the eye an lops his head off. Tervis turns into mist and begins to head for the basement. Mordith follows, as fast as possible. He finds the coffin, opens it, and sees Tervis beginning to reform. He stabs the Thing right in the center of mass. It explodes in a splatter of ichor.

Tervis is dead.

There is some yelling about the mechanism of the ship and the rubies, trying to get the globe up to light up.

Tinuvial dumps the shard out of the chest, into the broken summoning circle. Elyas realizes (as he jumps off the tower into a Feather Fall) that the Shard is the Mithal for this island. He Messages Tinuvial, who grabs the shard and runs out. As they all run for the portal, they realize that Tinuvial has grown tentacles and fins and is maybe not Tinuvial anymore.

Adalwin is handing out chips of obsidian as they get to the portal. They begin to jump through.

Tinuvial strikes the shard with Moonshadow, praying to ___ to guide his sword.

They emerge on the other side of the portal, underwater and struggling, grabbing for each other and swimming for the entrance. The ground shakes as they do, and Lilly pulls them to safety. She is back to herself.

They stumble back to the Serpent.

All the locals say, for years afterwards, that they saw an island fall out of the sky and into the monster where Umberlee’s Horde lies.

Welt is there in the Serpent. He signs over their debt, and asks them what their name is, since he’s about to incorporate them. Tinuvial calls them The Black Arrow.

The Grey Hands and the Harpers both offer them positions.

Mercy has left them the Serpent.

They would all like to weed out the rest of the conspiracy. After that, there will be some decisions. Elyas would like to join the Harpers. Vell has adopted Waterdeep as his home, and Adalwin has unfinished business with his father. Tinuvial serves but One.

And Mordith would like to pick up where his father left off, and plans to hire girls and women out of the sex trade and train them as adventurers, the way he was able to get out of his debt.

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Game 7: Orion
[instrumental break]

A few days later, the party reconvenes in the Serpent. Not a lot has happened in the intervening time, on account of the massive Stream freak party going on outside. They are clearly poor, mostly street rats, but a growing number of them are middle-class folks, smiths & vintners, and even a few lesser nobles. Mercy has battened down the hatches and it’s a much quieter tavern as a result. Within a week or so, scarcity is going to be a problem.

In all of this, Tinuvial has managed to deliver the Crown to the Tower of the Black Staff. The Black Staff was able to secure the area briefly, but doesn’t think she can do much more. The Stream-heads look like they’re ready for to do violence, but just need someone to poke the bear.

They are surrounding several important locations in the city, except the Sinecure, where the Overgod once spoke to the masses. It has a kind of magic-dampening field, which makes it popular for mages’ meetings.

The other group of adventurers is sitting downstairs as well. William looks despondent and Sun-Rod-less. The Dawnbringer took it from him. Moriam & Gloriam are re-imaging their hard drives and learning simpler spells, not the complex rituals they were trying to make happen.

They review certain facts that have come to light.

Welt comes in, and announces, “Bookish is dead. He had this in his hands.” He drops a piece of paper on the table. It is a piece of a recent book on The handwriting in the margin matches the handwriting in the Secret History of the Harpers. It says simply, “I’m sorry,” and is apparently Bookish’s suicide note. According to Welt, he took an epic amount of hemlock.

To sum up: The Stream addicts are set to blow, as agents or pawns of the Black Sphynx. The Family, headed up by Tervis and assisted in some way by Count Rampyr and House Kormallis, are involved with this.

Welt tells him that there is a bounty on Tervis’s head. It would be in their mutual interests to collect that.

Some agents are missing, others are shut outside the walls. The ruling class of the city has mostly departed for their country estates, leaving Lord Neverember (the open Lord) in charge.

The Family/Kormallis have functionally disappeared — Welt’s agents have lost track of them. It’s a reasonable assumption that they are still undermining the city, but where is the question. Welt reminds them that Tervis must be underground somewhere. Bookish’s suicide note may be a clue, since it alludes to a Netherese hidey hole.

The Plan:
1. Soldarin Temple — warn them of possible undermining
2. Recruit Duhlark
3. Tower of the Order of Mages — get info on secret Netherese hidey holes

Sven volunteers the group, who seem eager to join.

They travel in a rather large pack to the Temple. It’s understandably under heavy guard, but one of them recognizes Tinuvial. He allows Tinuvial, Luriniel, and elf-friend Elias in. The rest have to stand and wait.

Tinuvial warns the head of the order about the undermining. The bladesinger from Skullport has come to the Temple, and insists on reviving the bladesinging art. Mission accomplished: they head to Duhlark’s Emporium of Wonders.

Elias knows where it is, so he leads them there. As they approach, the door opens of its own accord. They enter, and as their eyes adjust to the darkness, they see it is richly appointed but dimly lit. There is a large mirror in one corner, which Elias approaches. Duhlark appears in it, and steps through. “Master,” Elias nods to him.

There is a moment of recognition from the other group. Harfoot is curiously muted. The twins could care less — there are books to read.

Duhlark has found out a few things. The anti-scrying wards around the city are almost too powerful for him to penetrate. Not many entities have this power. A Thayan could do it. From Duhlark’s experience, if the Family is using the Red Wizard, it may be that he is also using them for his own ends. They have a way of…widening the plot.

Regarding the Selskar Order, they were a splinter group of the Netherese pursuing magic forbidden to them by the Nether Scrolls. What about the hiding place the book scrap alludes to? It would be an excellent hiding place, as it would already be well-protected.

Duhlark says he will return to Waterdeep when his time has come.

How do we cut off the Stream addicts from Myrkul? Well, one can’t kill them, since he’s, y’know, the God of Death. A better bet would be to disrupt his plan. To return, Myrkul would need three things: a fragment of himself, a body vessel, and a lot of blood. In other words, the Crown, Tervis, and the hordes outside. The easiest link in that chain to break would be Tervis. Another reason to go after him.

Duhlark has known Rampyr for many years. Three hundred or so. It’s unlikely to Duhlark that Rampyr would subdue his will to anyone, and that Tervis has perhaps underestimated the egos of his allies. But believing to be in direct contact with a god would be a way to change some minds.

Next: the Order of the Mages. There is a garden outside the tower, with masters and apprentices talking here and there. It’s immediately apparent that this is a component garden, so Moriam & Gloriam begin to surreptitiously pick some. When Elias’s master arrives, he tells them, “Go ahead and pick some. We can always grow more.” They look sheepish, but don’t stop picking.

Tinuvial asks for the word that opens the Catacomb of Yintos in the Heroes’ Garden. The name: Ulthorn. He also informs the master that the Stream addicts are being directed from outside. The Order is tied up with an outbreak of lemures. Tinuvial explains how that’s possible, with the summoning by numbers. He fills the master in on a few more details — the suggestibility of the Stream addicts, the looming presence of the Sphinx, and Myrkul’s plan. Having filled his calendar for the next few days, the group heads to the Heroes’ Garden.

The streets are relatively empty, aside from a few people looking for food or what have you.

The Garden is really a park, dedicated to people who have in one way or another saved the city. They spread out and look for the statue mentioned in the book fragment, Lady Lhestyn. She took down the Shadow Thieves Crime Group, was an Open Lord for a time, built the palace of Waterdeep, and founded the Red Sashes.

She is depicted in this monument with her mask on, and a number of blades hidden in her clothes.

Adalwin notices some people who are watching them as they go through the park. Mordith and Sven decide to go have a conversation. Half the group go with them, surreptitiously. “It’s like they don’t trust us,” Mordith says. “I don’t trust us,” Sven says.

The nearest pair Mordith talks to claim to just be on a courtin’ date. Mordith smiles and wishes them a good day.

Everyone returns to the statue and Elias speaks the word “Ulthorn.” Somewhere inside, the statue clicks. Mordith and Sven heave to and slide it aside. The motion is surprisingly quiet. The opening reveals a set of stairs leading down into darkness. Tinuvial casts Light on Mordith’s shield, (and Meadow has it’s own glow) and they walk into the earth. Again.

At the bottom of the stairs is a tapestry with a slit down the middle. Mordith taps it with Meadow, and there is some murmuring and growling (!) on the other side. “It’s go time,” he says over his shoulder and charges through.

In the room on the other side, there are about ten otherwise normal-looking guys and a chained owlbear. Full-grown. Standing in front of a door.

They swarm the entrance and begin to swing on Mordith. One of them gets him in the side, but Mordith returns the favor with interest.

Most of the group have to wait. Not Sven though, who steps into the space Mordith made and turns another guy into meat. He takes a few cuts for his bravery, but Tinuvial buffs him pretty good.

Mordith takes out a couple more guys (one with sword, one with shield) and wades into the gap. Sven proceeds to chew through a few more guys. Luriniel steps into the room and immediately downs two guys with two arrows. But only one shot.

William charges down the stairs and into the room, and Harfoot is close behind. He tumbles past the owlbear (not recommended) but makes it past the owl and bear parts.

Mordith takes out a couple more, and Sven decides it’s time to take on the owlbear. He draws blood, as does Luriniel and William. Harfoot sneaks behind it (again dodging the snapping owl beak) and puts it down with a knife to the spine.

Tinuvial comes down the stairs and takes out the last guy. The statue apparently returns to its position, because the light from upstairs disappears. The eleven of them crowd into the room and start investigating. The dead are perfectly normal-looking, except for the long swords and the vampire bites on their necks.

It seems like one of them got too close to the owlbear, because there’s another corpse, partially eaten, near it.

The tapestries (seven in all) are the most interesting things in the room. They are very elaborate, and Vell recognizes some of what’s going on there. Each tapestry is a depiction of a different period in Netherese history.

The first is the First Age, showing people in seven small villages shaking hands and signing documents — apparently making agreements. Each village looks slightly different. Later (farther down the tapestry) elves appear, making some kind of first contact. Farther down in time, the elves and villagers gang up on mountain orcs. In the background, there are gnomes who seem to be around, carrying water, sharpening weapons, and retrieving the dead. Slaves, apparently.

The second is the Nether Age. The Netherese are shown obtaining scrolls (“Probably the Nether Scrolls,” says William). The elves seem to be turning away from the scrolls, while the humans turn towards them. Implication: these scrolls are pre-elven. And terrifying. Meanwhile, the elves are secretly removing the gnomish slaves. Later, the Netherese make contact with the Dwarves and establish a trade route underground between their mountain and Netheril.

The third one, the Mythallar Age, is where shit gets crazy. It depicts a prominent wizard using the Nether Scrolls (directing the work, really) to rip the tops off of mountains, overturn them, and build cities on them. They don’t go straight to cities, though. They make some smaller attempts first with villages. On the edges, though, some Netherese are working with elves on some kind of magic. These Netherese wear different colored robes; most Netherese wear black.

The fourth tapestry, the Gold and Silver Age, shows the Netherese exploration of the Sword Coast. One interesting note: there are three cities set up under the water off the Coast. A variety of horrible creatures surround the cities, looking in and, later, burning them down. Underwater. At the very bottom of this is the largest floating city depicted, which Tinuvial can read as Thultanthar. Now it is known as the City of Shade.

The next, fifth, tapestry, is the Age of Discovery. The Netherese find two things: chardalyn (a black stone that the Netherese crush, and spells come out), and Sargauth, AKA Skullport. “It’s that old?” Adalwin mutters. “Fuck me.” The place that the group is standing now shows up on teh tapestry. It used to be a chardalyn mine.

The sixth tapestry is the Shadowed Age. It is the darkest of the seven, and is dedicated entirely to one person: Karsus. The Netherese are setting up enclaves, and various peoples (elves, humans, halflings, and so on) are stealing the Nether Scrolls. In the middle, awful, four-armed beings called Phaerimms are fighting the Netherese and creating deserts as they do. At the bottom of this tapestry is the depiction of the tapestries being created, and Thultanthar going into the Realm of Shadow.

The last tapestry, the Diaspora, is hastily stitched. It’s labelled “Karsus’s Avatar” and only shows cities falling out of the sky. Adalwin recognizes one of the cities as one that fell near Neverwinter. Tinuvial notices the group of “elf-friend” Netherese fleeing separately.

Elias notes that the rooms are built of basalt, which is a rock that’s good for containing magic.

They decide to move on. Adalwin listens at the door. He can’t hear much, but for just a second he swears he hears a snore, and he can smell something acrid. Elias recognizes it as Stream. The sneakier of the bunch head up front.

The next room is dark, but the light from the previous room trickles in. The smell of brewing Steam is unbearably strong, and there’s a set of stairs spiraling up into the dark. Vell peeks over Adalwin’s shoulder, and swears he hears batwings for a moment. He takes a look up with his low-light vision, but can’t see much more than ruins. Oh, and the sweet alchemy setup that’s mass-brewing stream. There’s a dog bed in the corner. Empty.

He and Adalwin begin to sneak through the room. They hear snippets of things, snoring and conversation, from the other doors in the room, but this one appears to be empty. They’re fairly sure the structure of the room is playing hell with the accoustics.

The group heads on in. Adalwin drags Mordith and his shield over to the bed. There’s no evidence of actual dog, though, just a smell of leather and lizard.

The group takes a moment to look at the bas-reliefs on the walls. Mordith dutifully runs back & forth while Tinuvial & Vell examine them.

They depict the pre-history of the Realms: fish, amphibian and avian creatures fighting gods and avatars and old-school awfulness. See notecards for details.

Vell picks the lock on the nearest door and whiffs it entirely. The bell on the other side of the door clangs, and feral screaming begins from down the hallway. Vell hears under that, someone yelling, “Shut the fuck up!” and the screaming diminishes, but doesn’t disappear. Nothing much else happens, though. Vell disables the bell alarm, but manages to ring the bell again. The screaming begins again. Not much else happens.

There’s some hemming and hawing, but Vell eventually walks down the steps under the cover of the screaming. He emerges in a room with some jail cells. In each cell is some kind of feral, formerly human vampire thing. And their jailer, who opens the cell he’s nearest to and lets it do its thing. Its thing being clawing and biting the fuck out of Vell until he goes unconscious.

Before he goes down, he gets out a “Help!” The group does just that. Mordith gets clawed to hell, but William revives Vell. There’s some furious hacking and slashing. Tinuvial raises Mordith, who puts one vampire down before getting clawed back down again.

Elias spider-walks up to the ceiling and rains down magic missile from above.

Mordith continues to get raised and bit & clawed and collapse again. Sven is not looking good. Harfoot sounds the general retreat, but Mordith has smartly backed himself into a corner and is also unconscious again.

Sven puts down another vampire, and Mordith smartly runs away.

The last to leave is Sven, predictably. And, predictably, he gets taken down on his way out. Tinuvial gets him up and they finally get out. And shut the door.

The door may have slowed them down a touch, but they come through anyway. Harfoot takes one down, Morium blasts a bunch of magic missile into the other one, which Vell puts down.

The immediate danger is over, but there are three…live? vampires still screaming in their cages.

They regroup briefly, heal up a bit, and William heads back down to the cells. He casts Sacred Flame, which takes care of the remaining three vampires. Adalwin picks the lock to the next room, and they all crowd through. Except Vell and Harfoot, who stay behind to guard against ambush.

They go into the room beyond the cells, which has a few stacks of barrels and crates in it, and a fireplace. Adalwin sees a rope disappearing up the chimney, so he grabs it. A brick comes back down and beans him good, so he lets go of the rope and it continues on its way.

They search the barrels & crates. It’s mostly food and supplies, but Elias finds a small chest that he gives to Adalwin. Mordith and Sven move a few barrels to get at a door behind them.

Adalwin and Mordith bait a guy upstairs to drop a brick, and Adalwin shoots an arrow up. Improbably, it hits one of the dudes. As Adalwin and Mordith are giggling, a cask of oil followed by a torch drops down and ignites. They stop giggling.

But only long enough to build a corpse fire out of one of the vampires. They giggle some more.

Meanwhile, Vell gets the small chest open. Some potions of healing and some that Elias identifies as potions of vigorous healing and one potion of water breathing.

Vell checks the other doors. Two of them are buried with rubble on the other side, which means there’s only one choice. The door with voices behind it.

One of the guys from the fireplace makes it down, with a broken leg. He is wearing a red robe, dark hair and goatee. Adalwin & Mordith take him up to meet the group. Vell tries to search his pockets and gets some kind of dark magic zap. Tinuvial shoots him. Vell tries to twist the arrow and gets zapped again. He stabs the information right out of him.

Adalwin rolls the corpse. There isn’t much, but he does have a ring of keys and a brand on his neck. William recognizes it as the mark of Asmodeus, the devil lord, god of sin, lord of Hell. Wasn’t this about Myrkul?

Adalwin unlocks their only door option. The room beyond is mostly rubble, but there is a hole in the floor from which some light is shining. They peek over and discover a 40 ft drop. The plan is to lower Adalwin first, let him set up some cover, while everyone else comes down.

The plan goes pretty well. Adalwin puts one of two arrows into a scribe, and they sound the alarm. William goes next, takes it a little too fast, and lands on Adalwin. Mordith zips on down and proceeds to swing and miss on the nearest dude.

Adventurers drop down one after the other and take on scribes. Scribes in armor. Who cast. Sven doesn’t take the drop too well, but shrugs it off. A few scribes get some spells off.

Mordith puts another one down with his shield. Vell gingerly climbs down the ladder. Harfoot continues to lay halfling waste. Sven takes out a guy with his huge axe. William goes down from a choking touch from a scribe, but Tinuvial spares him.

The heroes continue to chew through the scribes until they’re all chopped steak.

This room was the production lab for the summoning-by-numbers, but there are also quite a few scrolls that Elias likes. There are some components and expensive inks and papers. The corpses have some money on them as well, to the tune of 50 gp.

While they’re searching the room, the door opens a bit, a bell rings, some wings flap, and the door closes again. Most likely an invisibly tiny dragon.

The central question here is why would Asmodeus be helping to resurrect a competitor? Well, it can’t hurt to have a little friendly competition. Until the two start to compete. Someone’s bound to get hurt.

From the other room, someone yells, “Parlay!”

Elias says, somewhat resignedly, “Send your representative.”

Pretty soon a mage comes through. “My superior asked me to come and negotiate.” They arrange some chairs.

His boss is some asshole wizard who seems to be important. He’d rather be killing all of them, but they’re a hierarchy. He describes the boss, which is clearly Finn. Mordith rather calmly gets up and walks to the next room. Sven comes with, then Harfoot, then Luriniel, Tinuviel, William, and so on.

Gloriam puts some kind of fear spell on the negotiator, who promptly curls up in the corner. He’s kind of incoherent, but alludes to the whole Myrkul thing being a feint for Asmodeus.

Mordith walks purposely down the hallway past two statues with their hands up in interesting positions. He ignores them, and they attack him. Sven hits one of them for a not inconsiderable amount of damage.

The answer is to the question is “Selskar,” which Harfoot yells out. The statues stop, and the door opens. There is a room full of shelves, some of which have been cleared away. Finn is behind four more of the order, holding a piece of paper and a torch, and he says, “If you come in here, you’ll never find out what’s going on.”

Tinuvial muscles past Mordith and casts Command on him, and makes him drop the papers and lantern.

A fuck-all huge flaming sphere appears in front of Tinuvial. Sven tries to charge into the room and gets laid out by the fuck-all huge flaming sphere.

Turns out, most everyone who tries to get in gets hurt by the fuck-all huge flaming sphere, like Harfoot and Moriam. Tinuvial tries pulls Sven out of the way of the FAHFS, and when one of the goons swings at him, he misses and hits another goon instead.

Elias shoots a lightning bolt at Finn, but he’s still up. The FAHFS lays some waste. Gloriam goes down from the flame sphere.

Elias & Finn trade lightning bolts, but the red shirts take out Mordith. Harfoot puts a dagger into Finn. Gloriam gets one of the red shirts in a frost ray.

Things progress. Finn, not looking very solid, takes a knee and requests surrender.

The last of the goons goes down. Sven picks Finn up by his armpits for Mordith, who gives Tinuvial one chance to not kill Finn. Tinuvial points out the need for knowledge, so Mordith just pops him with his gloved fist.

There is little to find on the bodies, besides about 30 gp.

Tinuvial shuffles through the papers. He begins to ask questions. There is a Netherese floating mountain top on its way. All the pillars are gone. There is an extensive hit list, written by Tervis. Some are dead, some are turned, some are “turned.” The Hounds are around. Probably on the floating mountain top. Finally he coughs up some interesting information — they can get to Tervis by going through the statue room, under the water, and through the privies.

There’s a moment where Vell begins to torture him, and Finn begins to scream, and maybe talk, but Moridith takes his goddam head off. There’s a moment where the other three deflate, in the face of lost information, and then they begin to tend to the wounded.

Adalwin hears, through the last door they haven’t checked, chanting to Asmodeus.

They decide to search the room, take a short rest, and move on.

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