Sunday, January 6, 2019

Agents of Manshoon

Long live the Zhentarim

Urstul Floxin

Urstul Floxin was Manshoon's right-hand man in Waterdeep.  Embedded in the Grahlund Villa, Urstul was killed in combat with the PC's.  Or was he?







Kaevja Cynavern

Kaevja is an ex-Red Wizard of Thay who has become one of Manshoon's most prized lieutenants.  She confronted the PCs in the entry hall of Manshoon's extradimensional sanctum and was laid low but survived the assault.







Vevette Blackwater

Vevette is Manshoon's war leader in his battle against the Xanathar's guild.  She is a skilled swordsman and tactician.








Agorn Fuoco

Agorn is a skilled warrior and bard.  He in charged with maintaining loyalty among Manshoon's many followers.  He is feared for his zealous loyalty to his master and his lack of mercy for those who stray from his service.  Agorn has been tasked with rooting out and destroying the "fake" Zhentarim in Waterdeep.




 Havia Quickknife

Havia act as Manshoon's personal bodyguard.  Along with her companion Mookie Plush, she would willingly sacrifice herself for her master.  She was recently shamed when she allowed the PCs to walk past her unchallenged and reach Manshoon.  She has vowed revenge.
Mookie Plush

Mookie is the second of Manshoon's halfling monk bodyguards.  She is fiercely loyal to her master and harbors a deep romantic love for him.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Fireball - Session 2



Fireball, Part 2



Quinn Alimar



The day began with more questions than answers. What was happening at the Gralhund villa? Why the elaborate act? Did we foil an assassination attempt? If so, what was to be gained by the death of Lord Gralhund? Where was the nimblewright and what was its purpose? How did we get on Sergeant Cromley of the City Watch’s bad side? My head spun as did the thoughts within each of my companions’ heads. It all feels like someone dumped a thousand different puzzles on us and we are trying to piece it all together. The only constant seems to be to find the Stone of Galorr.

A knock on the door (or what was left of it after the fireball blast) revealed an older man seeking Yasuo’s ear. I suppose they had crossed paths at one point or another. The man re-acquainted himself with Yasuo and said his name was Haru Hamatori. He is a coachman working the more well-to-do wards and had heard our names come up in his coach. Yasuo listened intently to the information. He then turned to us and brought us all up to speed. Having an informant in the city could be beneficial but identifying with our group at this point in time can be deadly. I offered to have Mr. Hamatori leave any information to share with the temple. I gave him the name of a trusted acolyte. We thanked Mr. Hamatori for the information and sent him on his way.

The next morning we decided to seek out more information. What better place than the top of one of the guilds? We went over to the jail to talk to Davil Starsong. It was a risk as being associated with the Zhentarim leadership would not help our standing in the eyes of the City Watch. Unfortunately for us, Davil had been released. More so, it was Sergeant Cromley who informed us of his release. Then came the questions about why we were interested in talking with Davil Starsong. We verbally stumbled through the conversation, leaving Sergeant Cromley probably more convinced we are up to no good. Once the exchange ended, we left quickly.

Thia remembered he could be found at The Yawning Portal. We navigated to the notorious inn straight away. Entering, we encountered a large send-off party as a group was descending into the portal. It was nice to have a distraction as more people noting us meeting with Davil Starsong might not go well for us. Davil was there and in fine spirits. He had drinks brought over straight away and inquired as to what brought us to him.

We spoke of the events that had transpired at Gralhund villa and of the splinter faction of Zhentarim. We spoke of our battle involving Urstul Floxin who was the assassin sent to kill Lord Gralhund. To our dismay Davil informed us Floxin was a favorite lieutenant and was most likely brought back to life after we left the villa. I’m glad my mom was not around to hear my utterances at the presentation of this news.

Davil further shared with us the tale of a mage who went by the name of Manshoon and founded the Zhentarim hundreds of years ago. Manshoon had made clones of himself. No one knows how many exactly. Currently the original Zhentarim faction was at peace with the Xanathar Guild as neither side could gain an advantage. The splinter group of Zhentarim was quite interested in bringing down the Xanathar Guild. This splinter group was causing no small amount of trouble and Davil offered to aid us if we needed help in bringing about an end to the splinter group. It was a kind offer which we said we would consider it if necessary. Before ending the meeting, Davil gave Thia a box with a winged snake. The snake is magical and will act as a courier should we need to get a message to Davil.
At this point we were no closer to finding the nimblewright. The detector had gone off at Gralhund villa but the nimblewright must have slipped away in the chaos. With staunch determination, I took the detector and began working the city block by block. My companions were good enough to join me on this mini-crusade. Three days of walking finally paid off when we got a hit on the detector.
Primara casts a stealth spell allowing us to sneak up the darkened alley where the detector had indicated the nimblewright was located. A heap of garbage acted as camouflage. The nimblewright appeared still until we were almost on top of it. Then it sprung to life.

It leapt into the air and came down in a fighting stance. A rapier appeared in its hand. Diplomacy and
questioning would have to wait. The machination flew into melee, engaging us swiftly. Several of our spells hit it but couldn’t bring it down. The fire that had been on a slow burn after burying my mom had become a raging inferno. With all the strength Tempus could provide, I dug deep and summoned a holy bolt of radiant energy and sent it true at the nimblewright. The bolt struck hard sending the creation into blasted bits. My companions looked on in awe for several seconds until the silence was filled with the sounds of the city.

Yasuo plucked a piece of paper floating down from the rainstorm of wreckage. It was a map. The map showed a red X on the Cassalanter grave within the City of the Dead. This seemed worthy of investigation.

Before exploring the City of the Dead, we swept up the pieces of the nimblewright and deposited it at the Temple of Gond. Valetta was relieved to see the nimblewright had been destroyed and quickly sent for our reward to be fetched. While the apologies came quickly in a flood, my anger for the loss of my mother still flickered. I held my tongue for the moment. We also decided it was worth our time to notify Sergeant Cromley that we had put a stop to the construction as a gesture of good will.
It was unanimously decided that entering the City of the Dead should be done with the most daylight available. That place gives me pause. I question how anyone can take their families there for picnics. Ignorance must play a large part but I digress. At high noon, we entered the City of the Dead and found our way to the Cassalanter’s crypt as shown on the map.

The first detail of note was the door to the mausoleum was open a bit. We entered and looked about, finding fresh footprints in the dust on the floor. They led to the stairs which went down to the lower levels. Cautiously we made our way. I picked up a bit of hushed conversation and instantly stopped the group. Primara cast her stealth spell once again allowing us to close some of the distance before we were noticed.

Three dark figures were hovering over several bodies. A Halfling jerked his head our direction and feigned a surrender. His companions, having no interest in a confrontation, dropped their shovels and fled further down the crypt. The tricky halfling didn’t catch us flat footed and the fight was on as he came up quickly with a wand and we prepared to fight.

Davian, Thia and I flung spells at the Halfling, only to have the spells miss or be blocked. Then came a chilling ray from the wand. I had never felt such cold before. Tempus watched out for us as we all remained standing, albeit barely. We doubled our efforts and brought the evil halfing down. Once the dust had settled, we found the halfling’s two minions. They stuttered about, claiming only to be there for bodies. I was disgusted with them. They would see the inside of a cell where they could reflect on their poor decisions.

We turned our attention to the fallen figures which the black robed trio (now a duo) were standing over when we arrived. One of the figures was still alive. A quick examination resulted in a symbol of Corynax. She and her companions were up to no good. Davian revived her after binding her wrists. As she came to, an anger began to wash across her face. She glanced over at the other two figures on the floor, providing further fuel to her internal fire. She identified herself as Vael and said she was there with her fiancé and three others. They were there for the Stone of Galorr and had indeed found it. At that point, she was knocked unconscious and left for dead by two of her party.

Vael was set upon exacting revenge and readily led us to this decrepit two story windmill. She said the plan was to bring the stone here to make an exchange for some dark favor. Keeping Vael’s wrists bound, we entered the windmill. The first floor was occupied by a contingent of homeless. I quietly got them to evacuate. Then we ascended to the second floor where we found Vael’s betrayers.
They had just handed off the Stone of Galorr to a trio of small spiked flying devils. They were beginning to fly away, having no interest in us. The betrayers spun around to see us and readied their weapons. I didn’t want to let the devils get away with the stone when we were so close. Yasuo charged in to engage the two. Davian and Thia trained their spells on the two as well. I was concentrating on the devils, trying to bring them down. All of my spells missed their mark. Perhaps Tempus is trying to tell me something about fighting as a team. I’ll have to think on my tactics and study with those more wise than I.

The betrayers were taken out as the devils flew out of range. They couldn’t be allowed to escape! In a perhaps futile gesture, I leapt from the window to the rooftops below. Yasuo followed along. We ran and jumped along the rooftops, keeping the devils in our sight. We opened a few holes in the roofs running along some dilapidated sections but managed to keep going.

The devils slowed their flight. It was then I noted several magic missiles streaking up to engage them. Thia and Davian had been teleported forward by Primara. I was thankful for their quick thinking to cut off their escape. “Keep them busy,” I thought to myself as I continued running. One of the devils caught a spell straight in its chest and dropped from the sky. As its limp body descended to earth, a bit was seen falling next to the body. It must be the stone!

My thinking was verified as the other two devils went into a dive after it. Finally Yasuo and I arrived and began to survey the scene. There was a horse-drawn coach in the alley where the stone had fallen.  Two figures came out, one of whom began yelling orders to the winged devils.
“Fetch the stone and bring it to me! Then kill the intruders!”

Not that diplomacy entered my mind, but that sealed the deal. This exchange was to the death. With a deep breath, it was on. Spells flew. Yasuo made his way down to the alley. Swords clashed. At one point, the alley was covered in thorns, capturing the leader in an iron grip. The stone was somehow thrown clear to the man in the coach. Davian fired at the axle of the coach, bringing it to a halt before it could even begin to get away. Yasuo jumped in and engaged the occupant. The rest of us continued raining down spell after spell on the others. The very air began to buzz in the exchange.

The sway of the battle began to go our way as the winged devils and other agents of the leader fell by the wayside. I jumped down to help Yasuo in the coach. Thia and Davian continued to pour on the firepower into the alleyway. With our combined might, we won the day. As I struck the final blow on the coach occupant, he (or shall I say it) transformed to a plain grey humanoid form. A doppelganger had taken the place of some poor soul. I reached in and claimed the Stone of Galorr. The sounds of the authorities approaching came to our ears, indicating we should leave unless we want to try to explain all of this.


Thia Liadon


An elderly Kozakuran man came to our inn to speak with Yasuo. The man, Haru Hamatori, is a coachman who wishes to help Yasuo. He said that he has heard nobles--Lady Gralhund and someone who sounds cold and commanding--speak negatively about Yasuo. Haru agreed to continue his work as a coachman and to seek us out at Quinn’s temple with any useful information. When asked about puppets, Haru told us about a merchant named Zardoz Zord who brings them to Waterdeep from overseas. There are several carnival ships comprising the Seamaiden’s Faire, currently docked in the city where we might find him.
Haru Hamatori

The next morning, we walked to the courthouse to speak with Davil Starsong, the Zhentarim sun elf who had been arrested. Instead, we were met by Detective Cromley who told us that Davil had been released earlier that morning. We then made our way to the Yawning Portal hoping to find Davel there. The inn was packed with a lively crowd gathered to see off a group of adventurers, the Fine Fellows of Daggerford. Davil was at the inn and greeted us with wine mimosas, ready to speak with us. Davil’s group of Zhentarim are at peace with the Xanathar Guild, but the splinter group of Zhentarim are against the Xanathar Guild. Manshoon (or one of his clones) founded the Zhentarim hundreds of years ago. Manshoon is a powerful mage who made multiple clones of himself. All clones are very powerful spellcasters. Davil told us that the Zhentarim do not deal with puppets, and the Xanathar Guild does not need a puppet. Urstil Floxin, the leader of the splinter Zhentarim group and master assassin who we killed, was one of Manshoon’s favorites. While the Gralhunds are just a middling noble house with financial troubles, Manshoon has an interest in them. They were probably so possessive about Urstil’s body so he could be raised from the dead. As for Davil’s group of Zhentarim, the Doomraiders are his personal raiding group. He gave us the names of some of his notable people, including: Istrid Horn--female dwarf priest who is second in command; Skeemo Weirdbottle--gnome; Tashlyn Yafeera--warrior; and Zeraj--half-orc assassin. Apparently Davil keeps close watch over his people, telling us that Zeraj is seeing someone in our neighborhood. He is probably also keeping close watch on us, as well. Before we parted, Davil gave us a box containing a winged snake. He said that it has been trained to fly back to him and we may use it to send him a message.

After three days of wandering Waterdeep in search of the puppet, our tracking device came to life, indicating it was nearby. We were at a dark alley and readied ourselves for a fight. Primara cast Pass Without Trace so we could silently creep up to the puppet. It appeared lifeless, but it suddenly sprang up. The gold-metaled humanoid extended a rapier from one arm, and the fight was on. My Shocking Grasp and Primara’s Dragon’s Breath of lightning were pretty effective against the puppet, but Quinn’s Guiding Bolt was critical, causing the puppet to explode. A note floated down from the wreckage. It was a hand-drawn map of the city of the dead. There was a red “X” on the Cassalanter grave. The Cassalanters are the ones who had sponsored the Kozakuran embassy. We gathered up the pieces of the puppet and returned to the Temple of Gond for our reward. Valetta gave us 500 gold for destroying the nimblewright. We also told Detective Cromley about the nimblewright.

Our next stop was the crypt indicated on the nimblewright’s map. We arrived at noon to find the
Cassalanter Crypt
outer door of the Cassalanter’s mausoleum ajar. Fresh footprints lead down some stairs to a lower level. Quinn heard some talking and we decided to sneak down the stairs. Some men with shovels ran away, but a halfling necromancer pulled out a wand and gave us a fight. We eventually defeated him and searched him for useful items. We found 20 copper, a wand, and a spellbook! The spellbook has a number of spells I don’t know and I am eagerly looking forward to learning them. We rounded up the commoners who had run away. There were bodies in black robes, and those men were here to bury them...and to rob graves. One of the victims was still alive. It appears that someone had cas Inflict Wounds on her. She was wearing a pendant, a symbol for Corynax, and a dagger. We took the dagger and pendant. Davian revived the woman and she explained what happened. The woman, Vael, said that she was with her fiance, Holiver, and Kaef. They were the other two dead robed figures in this room. Vael said she was sent to retrieve the stone that was left for her here this morning. But she was betrayed by Arn and Sophia, who wanted the stone for themselves. They attacked her, Holiver, and Kaef.   
Eager to get revenge on Arn and Sophia, Vael agreed to lead us to them. On our way out of the graveyard, we handed graverobbers over to the guard at the gate.

Vael lead us to a crumbling, two-story building covered in graffiti. The abandoned windmill was home to several poor peasants whom Quinn quitety shooed out to protect them from our inevitable battle. Vael pleaded with us to untie her and give her a weapon so she could exact revenge upon Arn and Sophia, but we declined her potentially sincere offer and left her bound. We approached a new door which looked out of place in this dilapidated building. Through the door we found Sophia and Arn. Arn was standing by an open window having just handed off the stone to one of several flying spiked creatures--spined devils--which started to fly away. Before we could chase after them, we needed to defeat Arn and Sophia who were eager to fight. We dispatched them as quickly as we could and took off after the devils.

Yasuo and Quill leaped out the window onto the windmill’s rotting rooftop. They ran after the creatures, jumping from building to building. Meanwhile, I asked Primara to teleport herself, Davian and me ahead of the spined devils. She spotted a suitable rooftop and we instantly appeared there. Davian and I attacked the devils with magic missile and they shot back with their own missiles: tail spines. I managed to kill one of the creatures and a stone went flying from its grasp. Primara raced after the stone. The stone disappeared between buildings, followed by Primara and the remaining devils. A jolt of adrenaline shot through my system out of fear for Primara, alone among our foes. I raced to the edge where the stone had fallen, communicating telepathically with Primara as I ran. She said that the devils were frantically searching for the stone. One of them spotted it and snatched it.

Doppelganger
A coach driven by Haru Hamatori rolled onto the scene. The Cassalanter’s butler, Willifort Crowelle, climbed out followed by a large man with a wriggling beard. He ordered the the devils, “Give me the stone and kill them.” By now, Yasuo, Quill, Davian and I were at the scene. The large man handed the stone to Willifort and the coach drove off. Davian swiftly cast a spell, crippling a wheel and halting the coach’s progress. Yasuo ran after the stone and a struggle ensued between him and the butler. Haru even grappled with Willifort before Yasuo ordered him to disengage and run. Meanwhile, Primara cast entangle in the alley. Weeds and vines sprouted through the cobblestones and ensnared the large man (a bearded devil) and the remaining spiked devils. Assuming that Davian or I had cast the spell, since Primara was out of sight, they attempted to attack either of us when they could. Thankfully the bearded devil was unable to extricate itself from the plants, giving us enough time to defeat it. Just when the tide seemed to be turning in our favor, six ravens with glowing red eyes flew at us. When Davian hit some of them, they transformed into imp devils. My heart sank, thinking that the stone might be tossed to one of these little devils and carried off. Looking over at the ongoing struggle at the coach, I could see that Quinn had joined in and they nearly had Willifort--or whatever it was--defeated. A moment later, the struggle had ended, and Quinn picked up the Stone of Galorr. The butler, dead, reverted to a featureless, humanoid shape. We could hear the approach of gryffin guards and departed from the scene.    

 Yasuo Shimazu


Father,

 I regret to inform you of Uumaga's passing.  I have prepared her way to the best of my simple abilities, and I now return her Urn to you that she may be attended to properly.  Her death is a great loss.

I must also inform you that her death was not an accident, and that I do not yet know the full reason for it.  It seems to me that she was just in the wrong place at the wrong time and was collateral damage, but I do not have enough information yet.  What I do know is that when I get to the bottom of this I will extract the full measure of justice available to me at the time.  On this you have my word.

I am sorry that this message is not a happier one.  Know that other than this I am well, and please give my love to mother.

- Yasuo



Davian Targana


“Well done boy, nearly getting us both killed at the hands of a true mage.  To see someone using their gift more fully than you probably ever will was refreshing.”


Oh how I miss the break I had from this egotistical…thing…stuck in my head.  Do not play into his hands, do not play into…

“You know I can hear you, right?  Ah, yes, the goldfish has forgotten this once again”

“Fine! Yes, I enjoyed the time when it was just ME in MY head, before I was stuck with YOU!  For a time I remembered what it was like to have just MY own voice in MY head.”

“Hmm, snippy and forgetful, I have my work cut out.”
Davian’s anger grew at this, only to have a sensation of smug satisfaction grow in the back of his mind.
“That little unicorn is quite handy: healing, teleporting, entangling.  It’s nice to have at least one useful pawn at our disposal.  That and my staff really help to make up for some of the shortcomings of this group.  Now, if you could actually wield my staff properly, you stand a chance of actually becoming helpful.  Of course, a dirty sorcerer wielding it instead of a knowledgeable wizard taints its legacy, but I’m stuck for now, and you may yet prove useful.  Possessing the stone is the first step, I just hope that something is in the vault which can free me of this prison.”

The return of Keilier brought with it the same headache as before.  Meditation might help to silence the…

“Silence me?  Why would you silence the one being which can help you stay alive?”

“STAY ALIVE?! Where were you when I was turned into a popsicle?!?!”
“You seem unable to multitask.  I think that comes from what limited power you possess being given to you instead of earned.  We wizards spend our lives studying…”

“SPENT your life!  As in, when you were ALIVE!”

The words trailed off in Davian’s mind, no response uttered from Keilier.  After a few moments, Davian began wondering how this arrangement was ever going to work, the constant belittling was taking its toll.  Was the near-death incident going to be a one-time event?  He knew Keilier was a powerful resource he could tap into, even as annoying and condescending as he is.  The staff is powerful, extending his own powers even more than he was learning to do on his own.

As he followed this trail of thoughts, the vice-like grip in his mind seemed to lessen a bit.  Was Keilier regretting his…”Ow, fine, I get it, I get it…” Davian’s mind momentarily felt compressed, before returning to normal.

As Davian relaxed into bed, he could feel the comforting presence of his father, his anchor in these troubling times.  It was like his father was telling him that he was safe now, that he could relax and rest from the events of the alley and the flying demons.

“YOU! You’re here again! Go! Out!”
“Keilier, what are you going on about?”
“You ARE thick, aren’t you?  That…thing.  It…” Keilier stopped mid-sentence and didn’t return.  What did fully return was a peace that he hadn’t felt since before he came to Waterdeep, when it was just him and his father out in the woods, staring up at the stars while waiting to fall asleep.  For a moment, confusion was the only thought Davian had, but after a brief moment that too went away, and only calm filled his mind, followed quickly by sleep.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Fireball!

Chapter 3:  Fireball



Quinn Alimar

It has been a month since our last adventure in Blue Alley. Since then, word has gotten around about the dissolution of the magical alley. We’ve opened our inn and allowed the elf spirit Lif to serve customers. It appeared the life we had built for ourselves was off to a good start. My mom had even come to live at the inn and took an active role in making the inn work.

This morning, disaster struck. An unexplained explosion took the life of my mom and Yasuo’s advisor. I didn’t realize she was suddenly gone as I was too involved in tending to the wounded in front of the inn. A sadness fell upon me to be replaced with a need for justice as the explosion appeared to be some sort of attack.

My compatriots were able to glean several hints before the City Watch arrived on the scene. A mechanical man was seen on the roof nearby and apparently launched the fireball that caused so much loss. Such creations can only come from the House of Gond. Yasuo and I stormed over to the temple with Thia and Davian on our heels.

We entered the temple, seeking an audience with the head of the temple. Our request was met quickly and our story was heard. The situation we described seemed unlikely to the Gond holy man. He said our description matched that of Nim who is a nimblewright, or mechanical man. The Gond leader brought us up to the upper floors of the temple. He unlocked a door and introduced us to Nim. After a bit of questioning, Nim revealed that he had created a copy of himself.

A silence dropped over the room. Yasuo and I burned a hole in the man demanding to know how this could happen. The Gond leader began stuttering apology after apology. He brought in several servants and had them remove all the nimblewright’s tools and materials. When asked about the rogue nimblewright, he produced a nimblewright detector. Some handheld device that would spin when in proximity of a nimblewright. It only had a limited range unfortunately. We had little choice in the matter.

I made arrangements for my mom’s burial. The servants of Tempus laid my mom to rest with the most care and respect. I gave my eulogy for my mom, wishing her better in the afterlife than was offered on this plane. Her death will see justice served. This is my vow.

The next days had us covering the northern wards. Finally, we got a hit. At dusk the detector activated next to a manor. Taking a moment to investigate the manor grounds, we noted the faint sounds of battle inside. Something was amiss and we could not wait for the authorities.

We made our way over the walls into the grounds. Almost immediately, we were jumped by a trio of shadow creatures. They were dispatched quickly by our hand without alerting anyone. Surprise was still on our side.

A door on the side of the manor seemed to be the best option. We entered into a storeroom and kitchen area. The aftermath of battle was seen on the other side of the fireplace where many house guards had fought and fallen. Tempus would be pleased they died in service to their master. There were a pair of brigands going through the room, looting what they could. They would be dealt with but first we must see to the well-being of the lord and lady of the manor as well as any other innocents.

We ascended the stairs from the kitchen area and came across the servants’ quarters. The doors in this section were investigated and we found the household staff. I instructed them to close and barricade the door. We would see to the invaders.

A quick descent down the stairs again put us back in the kitchen. We snuck quickly across the main room and ran up the stairs where battle sounds were heard. The scene looked strange. The seating area upstairs was being held by a contingent of house guards, including a large half-orc. The invaders didn’t appear to be pushing too hard. Off to the side, a hardened rogue was trying to cut through a door and was being guarded by a few invaders. Whoever was on the other side of the door appeared to be in the greatest danger.

I leapt through the guards and began my assault on the man. He turned to face me, launching several snakes my way. I landed several hits and spells against the rogue before falling to the ground. The next thing I knew I was roused by my compatriots. A glance over my shoulder revealed they had taken down the main invader as well as the others.

I stood up. Taking a breath, we went over to talk to the Lord and Lady of the manor. Forgive me but the lady appeared quite annoyed with our rescue. I would have thought our assistance would be welcomed but the opposite seemed true. I took the body of the leader and made a move down the stairs, informing the lady we would be leaving. Her half-orc bodyguard came over and took the body from me. She made a veiled threat, informing us to leave the manor immediately or be considered intruders. Confused, we left the premises.

We returned to our inn in Trollskull Alley and tended to our wounds. Sleep came quickly. The next day we began to discuss the events of the battle. More questions came and needed answering. As the lord and lady of the house were not receptive to our help, perhaps the staff we saved would be more forthcoming.

We went back to the ward and staked out the manor. A butler left the house towards the market. We approached him and asked him about the events of last night. He begrudgingly spoke to us. The lady of the manor was a scary woman apparently. He had seen some strange disturbing garments bearing unholy symbols.

We thanked the butler for the help and went back to the inn. Some plot was at work here and nothing good would come of it. More investigation would be necessary to get to the bottom of this and we could not be certain of who to trust. It will be up to us. 

Thia Liadon

Flamerule 1492DR - Explosion at The House of Spirits

The day began as most other days. Davian and I were preparing the Trollskull Manor taphouse (now called The House of Spirits), for another day of business. Uumaga and Quinn’s mother had just left to do some shopping.

A deafening explosion in the street blew in the windows and door and sent billowing fire and debris...including bodies...flying. I was shocked and disoriented, and needed a moment to get myself together. Davian looked fine, so I ran to the door. What I saw was death and destruction. There were three corpses near our front door. The closest was a gnome near our front steps.  Just behind him lay two men who wore black cloaks and armor. One of the men had a tattoo of a winged snake, so the men must be Zhentarim. A movement caught my eye. A little boy tucked something into his shirt. I went over to him and kindly asked what he had found. He produced a necklace with three white globes, telling me that it had fallen into the rain barrel. He gave me the necklace and ran off. I tucked the necklace away and looked around for what to do next. There were many dead and wounded. Among the dead were Uumaga and Quinn’s mother! I was filled with disbelief and sorrow. I had known them a short time and had already grown to care about them and appreciate them. This would be far more devastating to Yasuo and Quinn.

Davian called to me, directing me to the Tally’s shop. Apparently a cloaked man had taken something (a pouch) from the gnome and was seen heading to the Bent Nail. Tally greeted us at the door and said that there was no one in the shop. We checked out back, but if someone had run to the back alley, they were long gone my now.


Quinn talked to an injured woman who said that a puppet without strings threw it down from the greenhouse. We later pieced together that “it” must have been one of the globes from the necklace. I later spent some time investigating the necklace and discovered that is is a Necklace of Fireballs. Each globe is a fireball. The necklace has three remaining globes, and three missing. So between one and three of those globes caused all of this destruction. The blast was centered about 10 feet from our tavern’s door.

Yasuo investigated the greenhouse and found a gray cloak with a silver gear symbol. It’s a toothed cog with four spokes. Later, Quinn told us it’s the symbol of Gond the Maker. Those who worship at the Temple of Gond--The House of Inspired Hands--create all sorts of mechanical items. He described how the followers had made a nimblewright (a puppet without strings) for a parade.

The neighborhood watch arrived and took charge of the situation. Sergeant Cromley questioned us and Barnibus Blastwind of the Watchful Orders of Magists Guild was also there to investigate. Yasuo, with his diplomatic ways, persuaded Sergeant Cromley to share information. It appears that the gnome who was at our doorsteps was running from three pursuers. Though only two of them were dead. The third pursuer must have stolen the gnome’s pouch and run. Neither the gnome nor his pursuers were aware of the bomb.

The cloak with the gear symbol seemed like our best lead, so we headed to the House of Inspired Hands. We arrived at the building and saw a figure sitting on the roof. It released a bird which flew at Yasuo to attack. How kind. Inside the building were marble pedestals displaying various odd items, such as a flying machine, a submersible, and a “waking helmet.” We were greeted by Valetta, a bronze dragonborn. Quinn explained the situation and we were lead to Nim the nimblewright’s room. Nim was the troublemaker who sent the mechanical bird at Yasuo. Some time ago, he had constructed a nimblewright friend. He programmed it with additional functions...It escaped several weeks ago. He created a nimblewright detector and gavit it to us. It detected the proximity of a nimblewright within about 500 feet. Valetta offered us a reward to find and destroy the nimblewright. For starters, he gave us a barking box. It’s a small metal cube that detects vibrations in the ground within 15 feet, emitting a dog bark as an alarm.

We then went to the Yawning Portal to find Yagra, who is affiliated with the Zhentarim. She introduced us to Daval Starsong, a sun elf and master of opportunity. He said that the man who fled the scene this morning was Urstul Floxin, the leader of the splinter Zhentarim group and master assassin. He is often seen in the North Ward. With that, we headed to the North Ward. But upon our arrival to the North Ward, Davian received a paper bird from Renaer saying to meet him at the House of Hands immediately. Off we went. Renaer seemed anxious. He gave us his condolences, then went on to say that the explosion might have been because of him. His father’s spies had been following him. One of those spies--a gnome named Dalakhar--was on a mission for his father (who is in Neverwinter) to find the Stone of Golorr. Yasuo persuaded Renaer to seek out Sergeant Cromley to give this account.

Urstul Floxin
We continued our search for the rogue nimblewright. Evening was approaching as we came upon Gralhund Villa, and the nimblewright detector gizmo started spinning. Yasuo heard faint sounds of a sword fight and screaming coming from the main building. We climbed the wall and fought off a shadow man and his two shadow dogs which had glided across the yard to attack us. We ran up to the main door, but of course it was locked. Quinn was unable to pick the lock, so we entered through the back door into the kitchen. We found a maid, dead, and took her set of keys. Up a flight of servant stairs, we found a room where several servants huddled. They said that their guests--ruffians--who Lord and Lady Gralhund had invited, were now killing them. Back in the large great hall, Quinn distracted some of these ruffians with a spell and we all snuck up the main staircase. We were greeted by a battle between Zhents and Gralhund guards. A man with distinct burn marks is trying to batter a door down. He has three living snakes wrapped around his arms. Quinn runs at this man while Yasuo and Davian join the battle against the Zhents. The three snakes sprout wings and fly off to attack Quinn. Urstul, the man, also attacks. He strikes Quinn with a sword, knocking him out. Urstul also attacked Yasuo, badly wounding him. I dealt some heavy damage to Urstul with Mind Spike and Davian finished him off with Chromatic Orb. Thank goodness for Primara. She healed Quinn! Lord and Lady (Orond and Yalah) Gralhund acted oddly. Rather than being being grateful for helping them, we were essentially ordered out. The half-orc, Hrabbaz, was possessive of Urstul Floxin’s body. The half-orc looked incredibly strong, and we didn’t see what fighting would accomplish, so we returned to the tavern.

Later, we would speak with one of the servants who we encountered at the Gralhund villa. One of the butlers was heading into town on errands, and we were able to speak with him. With all of the deaths at the villa, he was now Head Butler. Apparently the ghostly man and dogs we had killed was the groundskeeper. The butler said that the nimblewright puppet had been there for weeks and had disappeared that night. By the time he and the other servants exited the room, the city watch was there and the bodies were gone. He went on to say that Lord and Lady Gralhund are strange and immodest. They walk around naked, and they wear odd robes with symbols of a goat head and blood. He mentioned Corynax, a being from the lower plain who had escaped from hell and is in the shadow realm. He also said that Orond is a cowering dog when Yalah is around, but he is a tyrant otherwise.

The next day, Yagra came to us at the tavern, asking us to hide her for a tenday. She said that Daval Starsong had been arrested. The city watch was hunting down Zhentarim members for questioning and arrest. We agree to hide Yagra, knowing that she is good and not part of the splinter Zhentarim group. Plus, she agreed to pay us 500 gold! That’s just what we need to get the tavern up and running again.

Sergeant Cromley came to us with more information. They had used a spell to speak to the dead. It turns out that the gnome stole the Stone of Golorr from the lair of a beholder named Xanathar. The gnome worked for the open lord of Waterdeep. He believes that the Stone of Galorr is the key to finding a hoard of dragons somewhere in the city.

Davian Targana

Well boy, looks like you need me after all.” Keilier gloated once things has calmed down and Davian was alone.  “In fact, I believe I’m responsible for saving multiple lives.  You’re welcome.”

Davian stewed.  “Yes, you were SO helpful back there.  Tell me how helpful you were those times when the spells DIDN’T hit?”

That’s no way to talk to me boy.  Besides, a craftsman is only as good as the materials and the tools he is provided.”

“Says the unskilled craftsman.” Davian spat back “Just shut up for a moment, I need to figure this Corynax thing out”.  Davian’s mind raced as he thought back to his discovery of Lady Grahlund being a worshipper of Corynax, his mother’s killer.  Is it looking to gain a foothold above the surface?  Is Lady Grahlund conspiring with Corynax?  Is Corynax unaware of what she’s doing?  Was the nimblewright working on behalf of the Corynax cult when he threw that fireball at the group in front of our tavern?  If so, how did that cult even come upon the nimblewright and what did they say to convince it to work with them?  Corynax must be aware of…

Yes, what an odd coincidence that Corynax would re-enter your life.” Keilier stated, interrupting Davian’s train of thought. “Of course, what some call coincidence, I call ‘a simple explanation for those that don’t have the mental faculties to see the cause of the effect.’”  When Davian didn’t reply, Keilier continued “Simpletons, I’m talking about simpletons!  You are the epitome of this.  You and your group blunder through this city, and you pat yourselves on the back when you get a result that you believe furthers your investigation.  Take the Grahlund manor as an example: what was your goal?  Simple, you had none!  You dashed in only because you wanted to be ‘heroes’.  What did it get you?  An angry noble, a pile of dead bodies, and two of your own joining that pile for a short time.”

With every sentence, Davian’s anger built.  It took everything he had to suppress it, knowing it would just make Keilier pleased.  Unfortunately, Davian realized that Keilier must have noticed the anger, as a feeling of smug satisfaction seemed to spread within a part of his mind.

“Fine! What would you have done?”
Me?  Nothing.  Well, nothing for the family, unless they were between my objective and me.  You didn’t even check the stables, or have your unicorn check.  Your objective was to locate the nimblewright, saving the family wasn’t even secondary.  The nimblewright got one fireball necklace, what’s to say it doesn’t have a second?  Or something equally bad.  You also risked our capture or death by helping the family; would saving them further your mission?”

Davian was speechless, as that made a certain amount of sense.  He was conflicted, as he knew that catching the nimblewright was the purpose in being there.  As this crossed his mind, he could hear his father’s reassuring voice.  “You did the right thing.  It may not feel like it now, but saving these people was important.”

Apparently you didn’t understand me.  As I already told you, it wasn’t the right thing, it was the emotional thing.” Keilier said “Your group let emotions take over instead of looking for the objective.  The nimblewright got away, and now you have no clue as to what your next step is.  Brilliant!

Davian was about to respond when Keilier continued “You…present an issue I must research. I’m done with you for now anyway. Don’t think that you’ve won, as that’s not even in the realm of possibility.”  

With that, Davian felt the presence leave, but a headache, anger, and confusion quickly filled the void.

Yasuo Shimazu

The leaves are no more
The blossoms have all fallen
Cold winter has come
- Shimazu Yasuo

I arise early after a sleepless night and prepare my funeral kimono.  It is all white, the color of sorrow.  I take great pains to ensure that I am as presentable as I would be had Uumaga been here rather than there, as a show of my respect.  She had been a wise and dedicated teacher and advisor, and I have learned many useful and necessary things from her.  She will be greatly missed.

Many of the mundane duties of the funeral rites have fallen to me to perform, as there are few here who know them.  My Warriors Resolve will be heavily tested today as I strive to perform with honor while keeping my sorrow hidden.  I will not shame her memory with senseless blubbering and wailing as the people here seem to do.  There will be time enough to feel sorry for myself when I am in private.  It is not for the dead that we mourn, they have moved on to the next life and do not care.  It is for ourselves and the hole our loved ones leave behind them.

The local priests have lain Uumaga's body in a fine wooden coffin at my request, facing north, and have performed their rites as they see fit.  I must now use my regrettably meager skill and knowledge of the traditions of my homeland to fill in the gaps.  I may have seen this performed many times at the palace but I am by no means a priest.  I can only pray that the spirits of my ancestors guide me.

I have chosen the most auspicious day for Uumaga to start her journey into the next life, and to bring what mourners may come.  This I can do well, at least.

As I approach the shrine I see the white paper streamers of the Kamidana Fuji wrapping the shrine to protect it from mischievous spirits, and I enter to begin the final rites.

The first thing I do is sprinkle water on Uumaga's lips, The Water of the Last Moment.  Next I lay my very best tanto on her chest, that she might be able to defend herself from evil during her journey.  I have asked one of the priests to consecrate a new name I have chosen for her, one using one of the more uncommon characters of my native tongue, one only scholars remember the meaning of.  A sign of high honor.  The burial name is necessary to allow the spirit to continue uninterrupted on its journey to a new life.  Without that precaution the spirit might hear its name being spoken at the funeral and try to return to its body instead.

I place a small table next to the coffin and on it I place flowers, incense, and candles.  I place a fresh white kimono in the coffin with her, even though she is currently wearing one pristinely white as well, so that at the end of her journey she might change to meet her fate with perfect dignity.

When those and other preparations have been completed I place myself on the tatami mat reserved for me and pick up my prayer drum.  It is small and thin, and the skin is painted with Uugama's name so that when the spirits hear it they will know who it beats for, and speed her on her way across The River of Three Crossings.  I light a stick of incense and begin to beat the drum slowly, and the priests begin to chant.  Three times I offer incense during the ceremony, maintaining a perfect beat.  Once the third is lit the ceremony ends, and those few who know her offer their condolences one by one.  The line is not long.

After the last person has paid their respects I bow low to Uumaga and offer a final prayer before making my way back home as well, to await word of her cremation.

Sometime later a priest arrives to escort me to Uumaga's ashes, and we travel together in silence.  I sift through the ashes to find and sort the bone fragments so that I may place them in the urn in proper order.  It would not do to place her upside down, and I trust no other to perform this task.

When Uumaga has been placed in the urn that I have had commissioned for the purpose I seal it with white prayer paper and wrap it in a small silk bag.  I seal that in a well-padded crate that, along with passage for it back to my native land, has been generously provided by my host.

Finally, when all my duties have been tended to, I make my way back home where I proceed to get good and professionally drunk.

In white robes I sit
The rain pounds mercilessly
Or is that my tears?
- Shimazu Yasuo

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Summer

Summer in Waterdeep


Two months in Waterdeep have flown by.  The unseasonable heat and activity has driven customers to your newly opened tap room.  Business is good and, under Uumaga’s stewardship, the place has never looked better.  Success, of course, comes at a price and the price has been high.  Uumaga’s expense account is deeply in the red and debts continue to compound.  If it were not for the generosity of Lord and Lady Cassalanter, who fronted you the initial loan when Mirt withdrew his patronage, you would not have gotten off to the strong start that you have.  Still, the brisk business has not been enough to begin to pay back your debts and your thoughts turn toward earning more gold.  The guilds of Waterdeep do not accept IOUs.

Uumaga’s training as a Geisha proved extremely valuable as she took charge of refurbishing Trollskull Manor and preparing it to operate as a tap house.  She hired a hard working group of Halflings to help operate the place and, since the grand opening, has seen the establishment filled each and every night.  While the business has been a success so far, it has not been without incident.  Rats in great number had begun to appear in the food storage areas and even, on several occasions, in the crowded common areas.  A rumor quickly circulated that the tap house was rat-infested.  Emmik Frewn of Frewn’s Brews took the opportunity to advertise the cleanliness and lack of rats at his tavern and managed to steal a significant portion of the clientele.  One patron, admittedly drunk, claimed to have seen a huge rat walking on two legs near the back of the establishment just a few days ago.


A slack-jawed, dead-eyed human associated with the Guild of Butchers, named Justyn Rassk, continued to press for “gratuities” above and beyond what is required by the guild for the delivery of meat.  He’s made several veiled threats to Uumaga about the continued quality of the meat should she not pay.  Uumaga promises that she can handle a petty thug like Justyn, however.


Davian Targana

Davian has continued to pursue his interest in the Harpers, even with the disapproval of their leader, Mirt.  Renaer Neverember had been instrumental in this endeavor and arranged a second meeting with the famous Mirt.  Though Mirt was less than enthusiastic to meet with Davian again, he accepted his blame in the Blue Alley incident involving the unicorn statue.  Perhaps it was guilt, or Renaer’s insistence, but Mirt invited Davian to lunch at one of the most expensive restaurants in Waterdeep, the Crown and Scepter.  The lunch went well and, though Mirt expressed concern at Davian’s change of appearance, agreed to sponsor him with the Harpers.  In the following weeks, Davian performed a series of tasks for Mirt and the Harpers, including a clandestine meeting with a talking horse who spies for the Harpers and clearing out a gazer who had become trapped in the home of a friend of Mirt’s.


As Mirt and Davian continued to work together, it was clear to Davian that he and Mirt were growing closer and that Mirt was gaining a newfound respect and trust in him.  It seemed strange to Davian, however, when he was approached by a servant of the Cassalanters named Willifort Crowelle, who warned Davian that his association with Mirt was not without risk as Mirt had been showing signs of increasing mental instability with the passing years.  Crowelle suggested that if Davian were truly interested in helping Waterdeep then he should meet with Lord and Lady Cassalanter who, through their generosity and philanthropy, are doing more for the poor and downtrodden in Waterdeep than the Harpers have ever done.  He gave Davian a card and told him to call upon his Lord and Lady at a future time.


 Yasuo Shimazu

 When Yasuo was elevated to full Samurai there were certain benefits and disadvantages that were not readily apparent at first.  On the one hand, he now had more time to devote to his own interests and hobbies, but on the other he no longer had access to his Senpai's financial managers.  To his very great relief Uumaga assumed these responsibilities in addition to her duties involved in running The House of Spirits, the groups new bar.

Yasuo and Uumaga's relationship also changed in subtle ways.  She still treats him like a child, which he stoically tolerates out of vast respect, but she also recognizes his new status.  She is less tolerant of others not showing proper respect, just as she is less tolerant of Yasuo not dressing and acting the part to her satisfaction.

A month after Blue Alley, The Kozakuran ambassador announced that his presence in Waterdeep was no longer in the Emperor’s best interest and that the entire retinue would be returning immediately to Kozakura.  Yasuo’s senpai urged him to stay and informed him that his father desired him to experience more of what the west had to offer and that the Emperor would call him to service when the time was right.  Of course, Uumaga insisted on staying as well, which was a great relief to everyone who would have had to travel with her.

Rumors spread quickly throughout Waterdeep that Lady Cassalanter, the ambassador’s host and sponsor, had somehow insulted him personally, though nobody with knowledge of the incident would speak of it.

In the weeks following the departure of his countrymen, Yasuo was befriended by a famous Waterdhavian warrior named Meloon Wardragon, who had taken a great interest in his “knighting” and to the tales of his heroism.  Over drinks, one evening, at the Trollskull tap room, Meloon spoke to Yasuo of an organization run by the Blackstaff herself, Vajra Safahr, called The Grey Hands.  He spoke of their devotion to keeping Waterdeep safe from all manners of threats and invited him to join.  Should he prove worthy, he might even one day be elevated to the elite group within the Grey Hands called Force Grey, who act as a strikeforce for the Blackstaff and perform missions both rewarding and dangerous that call for acts of great heroism.  Meloon left only after getting a promise from Yasuo that he would consider the offer.

Thia Liadon

The months following the acquisition of her new familiar, Primara the Blue Unicorn, Thia took the opportunity to explore her new relationship.  Primara is a proud and haughty creature, but one ruled by law and compassion.  She hates being so small and pressed Thia to promise to find a means to restore her to her full, glorious, size.  Still, Primara has grown quickly to love and admire Thia and their bond continues to strengthen.

Primara was surprised to hear of Thia’s interest in the Emerald Enclave, given her lack of association with either the domains of nature or the Fae, but agreed to assist her in finding a representative of that organization.  To that end, Thia and Primara tracked down and introduced themselves to Melannor Fellbranch, the groundskeeper of the Phaulkonmere Estate in Waterdeep.  Melannor is a half-elven Druid who organizes the small cell of the Emerald Enclave in and around Waterdeep.  She was delighted to hear Thia’s story and regaled her with tales of her mother and the heroic deeds she had performed for the Enclave in the years before Thia’s birth.  While Melannor could not usually grant membership to someone like Thia, her association and acceptance by a powerful Fae creature like Primara allowed her to bend the rules on this occasion and offer Thia full membership, should she desire it.  During this meeting, an animal messenger, a cat named Scraps, delivered an important message to Melannor that some outlying farms were being terrorized by living scarecrows.  Melannor asked Thia and Primara to handle it, both as a test of their might and as a favor.  Thia handled the situation as a season member of the Enclave would have and left the living scarecrows burning like pyres in the farmer’s fields.


Quinn Alimar

Quinn’s role in the Blue Alley adventure drew quite a bit of attention to the Church of Tempus and they were happy to accept that one of their finest, bravest priests had no small hand in destroying a centuries-long curse upon the city of Waterdeep.  The High Sword himself, Warlyon Revenmar, promoted Quinn to the rank of Stalwart and awarded him the Golden Hammer of Tempus for meritorious bravery and service to the Lord of Battle.  The ceremony, held at the Field of Triumph, was attended by numerous Lords and Ladies and even the Open Lord, herself, Laeral Silverhand.  As a result of his promotion, Quinn’s duties within the church changed dramatically.  No longer could such a famed and decorated priest minister at the Field of Triumph.  Instead, Quinn was given command of the entire gladiatorial operation and assumed command of 20 priests, including Stalwart Freddert Coyle, who had previously been his supervisor.  Such a quick promotion was met with skepticism and outright hostility by those who suddenly found themselves under the command of someone previously as low as Quinn in the command structure.

In the weeks following his promotion, Quinn found himself drawn into what appears to be escalating tensions between two of Waterdeep’s more notorious factions.  Fenton Oakheart, a member of the Xanathar’s Guild, approached Quinn for help against the Zhentarim, who have been acting strangely hostile in a way that was out of character for their standard operations.  He was also approached by his old friend, Yagra Stonefist, who claimed to work for the representative of the true Zhentarim in Waterdeep.  She informed Quinn that there was a new, splinter group calling themselves the Zhentarim and that group is not associated with the real organization.  That splinter group, however, was aggressively pursuing some agenda and warring with the Xanathar’s Guild.  Yagra begged Quinn to meet with her master and hear his proposals.  Quinn, ever skeptical and cautious, did not agree to help either party...yet.