Tyranny of Dragons

Trials and Trollblilations
Season 3, Session 5

Early hours of the 30th day of Nightal 1489 DR the Year of the Warrior Princess

“Khendrig?” says Cora as she is suddenly falling.

Reven in an instant dives after her into the darkness.

Jean Luc, seeing him fall casts fly and they vanish into the darkness.

“What happened?” says Osrik, turning back towards the steps.

Xenara also turns, “Where is my brother?”

Jean Luc explains what happened and says they are alive for now.

“You!” Gamora shouts echoing down the hall and they realize there is trouble. Reluctant to leave their friends behind they press on to find Gamora.

The First Trials

Cora falls into the darkness and yet she is calm. It was Khendrig, she knows it in her heart. As she falls she notices massive forms moving in the darkness and hears mechanical droning. As her eyes adjust she sees giant metallic gears moving all around her.

As she falls she sees a massive pair of gears feeding into each other. She reaches out and grabs the massive metal cog. She crashes into the spoke but it continues to move downwards moving towards her being crushed.

Reven dives into the darkness with increased speed thanks to Jean Luc’s Fly spell. Seeing Cora’s impending fate he summons Hew and throws it at the cogs hoping to jam them. The battleaxe flies between the gaps of the cogs and continues on into the darkness.

Cora falling she catches the edge of the spoke of the gear but it continues to descend. Reven reaches out his hand to her when a massive spinning gear whirls towards him. Reven surprised by the gear’s approach on his flank is struck and carried away.

Cora looking down sees Hew on a floor beneath the cogs. She notices a small gap between the cogs. She doesn’t hesitate and drops down twisting into the space to fall to the ground below. She barely clears the grinding cogs and is about to land on the floor when she is violently choked and lifted up the ground.

Her cloak is hooked into the sharp metal edge of the cog and is lifting her up towards the wall. She will be crushed. In a flash she draws her scimitar and slices off her cloak of protection falling to the ground below in a heap.

She collects herself and stands up picking up Reven’s battleaxe and placing it into her bag of holding. She see a glow emanate from the center of the room illuminating a glass pyramid. With a massive eight armed statue within. The humanoid has his eyes closed with two arms in prayer or meditation. The other six are lifted in various directions each holding a colored orb. The room reveals seven glass doors at the edges of the room. One close to her has a skeleton with a white cloak with the symbol of a golden eye. The cloak is pristine and clean, but the skeleton is badly decomposed. When she removes the cloak the skeleton crumbles into dust, but a medallion drops to the ground. It is very old and resembles an arrowhead with a small circle in the center. She takes the medallion and dons the cloak.

She stands in front of the door and the glass door shimmers and vanishes opening the path. Lights within the cracks of the walls illuminate showing the path. There are steps raising up to a circular symbol on the wall. As she steps forward a voice echoes in her mind. Welcome, Traveler. The Trial of Chronos awaits. Be warned – only success will earn you the Ring of Time. The cost of failure is death.

Reven lifts himself up. After being battered and beaten by a series of gears he lifts himself up off the ground. He sees a glass door besides him and light emanating from outside. Within the center of the room he sees a black sword embedded into the ground. The hilt is a black raven with outspread wings, its talons holding an eye. The black blade begins from eye. The ground he notices is a polished reflective surface.

A voice echoes in his mind, Welcome, Farseer. The Trial of Osiris awaits. Only those who can overcome themselves can claim the power over death and wield the Raven. As all things, the cost of failure is death.

Reven looks at the sword, but turns toward the glass door and it vanishes opening the path into the same chamber Cora had fallen into. He calls out to Cora, “Are you dead yet?”

“I’m here,” shouts Cora. Turning towards Reven’s voice, “Where are you?” The two find each other and make sure they are safe. They each explain what they found and Cora tells him she needs to go into the room and complete the trial and suggests he does the same.

He makes sure she is fine before agreeing with her. He watches her enter the room and the glass door seals him outside. He waits and watches from the outside.

Within Cora makes her way up the steps to the symbol on the wall with various runes surrounding it. The circular carving has a hole in the center which is as deep as Cora’s arm floating within is a glowing ring. The runes they are indecipherable but as she looks at them they shift and change into elvish text, “Only those with a resolute mind and iron determination can control the power of time.”

Cora’s takes a deep breath and looks back at Reven on the other side of the glass. She turns her attention to the ring and reaches her arm into the hole and feels her hand clutch around the ring.

Suddenly there is a mechanical snap and grinding as metal seal clamps on her arm trapping her hand in the hole. A sudden surge of pain rips through Cora’s body causing her to leap and contort and scream as the most intense pain she has ever felt washes over her. Reven shocked by what he sees realizes that she is suffering.

The pain tears into her body as a second wave of pain strikes her, but Cora focuses on her fingers and forces herself to keep the grip on the ring. As she is struck again by another wave of intense pain she focuses her mind and her intent. She will not give up. The burning continues she feels her muscles and nerves burning with intense pain, yet she feels as if her hand is melting. The pain makes her cry, it makes her want cut her arm free, but she focuses her mind. “The resolute mind…” she mumbles in elvish as she screams through her gritted teeth. “Iron determination…” she growls through the next wave of pain.

Hear heart is threatening to burst from her chest. Wave after wave of pain threatens to crush her spirit and break. She does not relent. She does not release the ring. There is a loud mechanical clank as restraints retract and she collapses on the ground. It takes a moment for her sight to return as the pain had literally been blinding. She struggles to stand and looks at what she expects to be a maimed hand, but it is flawless. She struggles to open her hand and within it is a golden ring. Inlaid in the ring seems to be grains of sand that move when the ring is rotated.

The door opens and she struggles to walk out the room. Reven helps her when she exits and makes sure she is fine. The statue at the center of the room turns to face her and she realizes that she is not yet done.

The voice echoes, You have succeeded in the Trial of Chronos. The orbs in each of its six hands shift and move out towards her. Take one as a prize. These may enhance your body and mind. Excel beyond your limits or strengthen your weaknesses. The choice is yours.

She focuses on her skill as an archer and her speed and grace. The green orb glows and floats from the statue into Cora’s chest. She feels her body feels light and more in control that before. She turns to Reven but she vanishes in a flash of light.

The voice echoes again, Farseer, do you wish to take the Trail of Osiris?

“Yes,” says Reven walking toward the glass door.

I will remind you failure means death, repeats the voice.

Reven says, “I mean. What’s the other option?”

Leave, says the voice.

Reven makes his way to the chamber, the glass door vanishes as he walks through. As the door seals closed blue light glows from the ceiling. As he walks towards the sword Reven sees his reflection below him as the entire mirrored floor reflects his movements.

He walks to the black blade and takes the hilt and pulls it from the ground. The light flickers and the room grows eerily dark. The black blade in his reflection wavers as Reven looks at it he is disoriented as his reflection seems to warp out of the reflection and he realizes that he is facing a reflection of himself.

The doppelganger bursts to action bring down his sword on Reven who reacts the faster and strikes it ripping through its body. But it persists and follows through with its attack and thunderwaves Reven.

Reven steels himself and attacks the clone. Its skill, strength, magic, and tactics are all identical to Reven. Possibly even better as he seems to have no hesitation, limits, or fear. The two battle fiercely in the mirrored chamber each trading blows and neither giving ground.

Reven dodges a few attacks and unleashes a barrage of attacks leaving the mirror clone bleeding blue light. Realizing it is weak Reven moves in for the kill. Just as the blade is about to strike it vanishes and strike him from behind. Reven tries to close the gap, but it keeps teleporting away after each strike. This tactic wears down Reven’s stamina and he realizes that can barely keep up the fight.

The mirror clone attacks and Reven barely fends off the attack. When he realizes what happened he notices he is now surrounded by eight mirror clones. Reven recognizes this as an illusion, but can’t tell who is the real opponent.

Knowing the next blow will be his last he closes his eyes and focuses deep within his mind and summons his vision. Everything melts away and he sees his death. One of the mirror duplicates breaks away striking him in the back. Reven opens his eyes and whips his wand of magic missile and releases all its charges at the advancing mirror Reven. Energy bursts from the wand and strike the mirror clone destroying it in an explosion of blue flames. Dark energy seems to gather from the room and pull into the blade. The blade hums with dark energy and it connects to Reven revealing to him its power. A sword of death capable of stealing the souls of those it cuts.

The voice speaks, You have completed the Trial of Osiris and claimed the Raven. You must learn to rely on your mind as much as your blade.

The glass door opens and the statue turns to him revealing the orbs, Choose your gift. These may enhance your body or mind. Excel beyond your limits or strengthen your weaknesses. The choice is yours.

Reven concentrates on his Strength and skill as a swordsman and a red orb glows and strikes him in the chest. His body feels stronger than ever breaking his limits. As he looks at the Raven he vanishes in a flash of light.

Moments before

Gamora feels a wave of lethargy wash over her as the Haste spell ends. She yells at Trespin, “You!”

She can only watch as Trespin cuts down two of the fiends and he makes his way to her. He clamps down with his maw but she dodges the attack taking a claw to the ribs. He follows up with a backhand that launches her into the wall and she collapses in a heap.

Varramzord the White Wyrmspeaker chuckles loudly, “Looks like luck is on our side today, eh boys?” As he casually tosses an alchemist fire towards one of the trolls.

The fiendish creature growls at him.

“Indubitably!” he replies. “Now let’s not dawdle. Move forward and attack!” The fiends close the gap and engage the trolls attacking with lance and their barbed beards.

Mags flying down the hall shouts to Gamora, “No time for sleeping on the job!”

Vera rushes down and asks if she needs healing, but Gamora shakes it off and pushes into the fight igniting her blade as she strikes at Trespin. Her blows hit but the fire seems to have no effect on him. Trespin grabs her by the face and pulls her in close smelling her.

“Ah…I will enjoy killing you…” he says.

“Ugh… your breath will do the job!” she coughs.

Trespin cuts her with his battle ax sending her staggering and bleeding. She replies in kind with her flaming blade.

Xenara concentrates and forms a black orb of fire, but it once again fires wildly hitting the wall. She curses, “I just can’t get that spell right.”

Mags says, “Don’t let up. Burn those things it keeps them from healing,” and casts firebolt at the trolls engaging the fiends.

Jean Luc joins them activating his bracers and engulfing himself in a Fire Shield.

Vera concentrates and begins casting spell, two circular rings of light appear and in a flash to massive dire wolves appear and attack the guard drakes flanking Trespin.

Osrik summons his spiritual weapon and moves into the fight and cast Shatter on the fiends. The battle rages and with the trolls and the fiends defeated Gamora, Osrik, and Vera’s dire wolves all mount an attack on Trespin and his Guard Drakes. He holds his own against them and soon banishes the dire wolves in the fight.

Jean Luc uses Dimension Doors close the distance on Varram. The White Wyrmspeaker turns to him and says, “Why, hello there.”

“Good day,” says Jean Luc surprised by his cheerful demeanor.

Gamora closes the distance and grabs Varram. “Why, I don’t think you should be doing that…” he says trying to struggle against the half-orc.

Cora materializes next to Xenara, she is hurt and can barely stand.

Xenara turns to her, “Cora?! Where is my brother?”

Cora ignores Xenara and sees Varram. She draws her bow and casts Hunter’s Mark as she fires two arrows at him.

Xenara frustrated with Cora dismissal turns and releases a lightning bolt killing one of the guard drakes. Trespin bites Xenara in retaliation of his fallen pet taking a huge gash out of her neck. She collapses dying on the floor when the turns to Gamora growling, “That’s mine!” and rushes towards her.

Vera heals Xenara and strikes Trespin with his thorn whip pulling him away from Gamora.

Varram speaking into Gamora’s ear casts a spell which takes command over her. Jean Luc realizes this too late and Gamora releases him and engages Trespin once again.

Osrik cast Banishment on Varram and he seems to have to have resisted the spell.

Mags bombards the last Guard Drake with Scorching Ray killing the beast and focusing on Trespin.

Xenara still injured moves towards Trespin, “For my brother, fool!” And unleashes a thunderwave on him.

Trespin shrugs off the attack and takes a bite out of Gamora’s face and strikes her with his battle axe.

Varram being pressed by Osrik releases a black orb that explodes in a blast of cold and frost. Most try to avoid it but its force hurts everyone. Xenara is hit and falls unconscious and dying. Trespin is frozen solid.

“Hahaha, success,” says Varram pulling a knife towards Jean Luc trying to keep him at a distance.

Osrik once again casts Banishment on Varram who vanishes. Osrik shouts that they have less than a minute to shackle him when he reappears. Gamora shakes herself out of the influence of his mind control.

Vera heals Xenara and helps her up. Vera notices the young half-elf is very disappointed and hurt.

With everyone taking positions, Osrik casts Silence on a stone and places where Varram will reappear. When the Wyrm Speaker reappers Cora shoots him with another arrow. Osrik drops the silence sphere at that time.

Varram drops to a knee and drops his knife. He raises his arms in surrender and shows his hands. Vera clamps on the manacles. Gamora looks at the Gold Dwarf and knocks him out for good measure and lifts him up like a sack.

Reven appears in a flash of light he is clearly injured. Cora rushes to him and check on him.

They begin to discuss their next course of action when Trespin growls and breaks the shell of ice surrounding his body. Fully healed he turns towards the party who begin assaulting the troll. They fight against the four armed troll but he holds his own and pushes against the party.

Cora seeing the Yuan Ti return in force covers Reven, saying “Stay behind me!” and fires her bow to keep them at bay. Vera casts Pike Growth keeping the Yuan Ti from joining the fight.

Jean Luc moves close to the party and uses the last scroll of teleport and the party including Varram vanish in a flash of light. They find themselves in Castle Waterdeep in the teleportation circle chamber.

Guard appear as Cora vomits on the ground. Herold appears and tells the guard to stand down. The party instructs them to take Varram to a cell and to keep him gagged and chained at all costs and to bring them his possessions. Which consisted of a staff, dragon tooth dagger, bracers, boots, pouches, and his purple cult of the dragon mantle.

Cora and Jean Luc observe that Varram did not possess the White Dragon Mask. They consider returning to the Tomb of Diderius or searching around the Serpent Hills.

Xenara suggest they speak with Varram before searching anywhere, he may have information that could help.

Mags tells the others that she is going to sleep as it is still rather early. Gamora agrees and they begin to head off, when Vera asks them to gather in the war room first.

Vera focuses and after a moment green flower petals manifest in the air around the room. A warm energy fills the room and begins healing their wounds.

Gamora watching Vera notices her tattoo glowing a warm blue and spiritual vines made of light stretching throughout the room and enveloping everyone in the room.

Cora says that they need to go back and look for the mask, but Gamora and Osrik argue that they need to rest first.

Gamora turns to Vera and thanks her for healing her and says, “You will have to teach me that trick one day.”

“I don’t know if I can, but you are welcome,” says Vera.

Jean Luc turns to Leosin who had joined them when they first arrived to the war room. He updates him on what has happened at the Tomb of Diderius, and takes a few minutes to identify the magic items Varram had in his possession revealing themselves as a Staff of Frost, Bracers of Defense, Green Dragontooth Dagger, and the Wearer of Purple Mantle that functions as a Cloak of Protection.

Cora wearing her white cloak turns to Reven and asks, “Did you have a trial?”

“I did,” he says. “I saw myself die, and then I did die, and then… well I’m fine.”

“Wait, what?!” says Gamora. “I didn’t even know you guys were gone.”

Reven nods, “I’m good thanks.” He lifts the sword in his hand. “This sword feels… different.”

After completing this Jean Luc takes a moment and casts Sending to Talis. Are you hunting the White Wymspeaker? We ran into your troll.

After a couple seconds of no response a flash of blue light sparks in the center of the room and from the light emanates waves of icy vapor. Within the vapor appears the image of Talis. “What did you do?” she asks.

“Same thing we’ve been doing since you saw us last.”

“Constantly interfering.”

“I’d like to think it’s being very helpful,” says Jean Luc

“Is Varram dead?”

“I don’t believe so.”

“Good, then all can be corrected in time.” Talis notices Cora and smiles. “Hello, Ma’ree.”

“Where are you?” asks Cora.

“That’s irrelevant,” Talis says. “Though I give you fair warning. It’s best not to interfere in my actions next time.”

“What are you planning next? Then we’ll know,” says Osrik.

Talis smirks. “If you see my agents, back away. I will not be so courteous next time.”

“I don’t feel it was courteous this time,” Cora says.

“You’re lucky Trespin did not overwhelm you. He’s hard to control.”

“We’re not competitors,” says Jean Luc. “What can we do to work together?”

“Well, as an act of good faith, I would like you to relinquish Varram to me.”

“Why would we do that?” Jean Luc asks.

“I have an old score to settle with him that will end in him being flayed slowly.”

“I believe he’s already facing retribution from the Gold Dwarves,” says Vera.

“A beheading by a Dwarven tribunal is far too merciful for the likes of him,” Talis says.

“Hey, I’ll cut you a deal,” Jean Luc offers, “If they don’t kill him before we solve our bigger problem, we’ll give him to you.”

“When I receive him, I will return a favor in kind.”

“Where would we deliver him?” Osrik asks.

Talis smirks again. “Fair. If you do decide to trade Varram, bring him to the Hunting Lodge.”

“What are you offering?” asks Cora.

“What would you like?”

“Have you found his mask?”

Talis smirks. “That I’m not giving up.”

“What are you going to do with it?” Jean Luc asks.

“What do you do with any sort of power?”

“If the world survives this fight, all the Cult of the Dragon will be hated for the rest of their lives.”

“Good thing I’m not one of them,” Talis says.

Jean Luc adds, “You think keeping that mask is going to make you distinguishable to the rest of the world?”

“Ah, that’s not the point,” Talis says. “I mean, you have your own Dragon Mask, don’t you?”

“What?” asks Vera.

Talis smirks. “I mean, we all have our trump cards, don’t we.”

“What is she talking about?” Vera asks.

“Now is not the time, Vera,” Cora says.

“Isn’t it?” says Jean Luc.

“When you make a decision, please let me know. And if you’d like something, let me know. It’s obvious I’m not giving up my mask, and I would not insult you by asking you to give up yours.”

“Do you know who attacked the headquarters?” Cora asks.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Talis says. She seems mischievous but neither Cora nor Osrik can tell whether or not she is lying. “Until we meet again.”

“I do have one last question,” Osrik says, “Did you date her?” he indicates Cora. Talis smirks and disappears.

Gamora goes over to Jean Luc and grabs him by the collar, “What mask?”

“Yeah, what mask?” adds Vera.

“What… relationship?” asks Reven.

“She’s talking about the mask I gave to Dru,” Jean Luc says.

“You gave it to her? Or you still have it?” ask Gamora

“No, I gave it to her. When she said she was leaving,” Jean Luc obviously lies. He glances at Leosin who is intently watching them. Jean Luc reaches and takes Gamora’s arm and they vanish.

“Where did they go?” Asks Vera.

“Dimension Door,” says Osrik as he reads his book between yawns.

“Who’s Talis?” Vera asks Cora.

“Yeah, who’s Talis?” asks Reven.

“Don’t be jealous, Thunderwave,” says Mags. “So who’s the better kisser?” she asks Cora mischievously.

With a pop Jean Luc and Gamora appear on the outside the castle on an outer tower.

“I really hate that,” yells Gamora disoriented by the suddent teleportation.

“Look at me,” Jean Luc says to Gamora, “Cora has it. The night that I realized she had it, she and I and Rusty flew away to try to destroy it. Now I haven’t said out loud in front of any of these people that we still have it because I don’t want to give it to them. We are searching for a way to destroy it.”

“Why didn’t you just tell us that before?” asks Gamora.

“Because other people have been in the room.”

“We spent a bunch of nights on the road. Why didn’t you say anything then?”

Jean Luc sighs. “To be honest, just trying not to step on Cora’s mojo. It’s her secret to tell.”

“If we are a team who is trying to save the world together, we need to start being a little more honest with each other.”

“You’re right.”

“And I’ve told her that, and I haven’t had the chance to tell you that, but we should be on the same fucking page.”

“I agree.”

“Because how are we supposed to do anything if we can’t do it together? This war’s already lost if we can’t.”

“You’re right. You’re 100% right.” Jean Luc says.

“Family meeting!” Gamora announces and starts dragging Jean Luc downstairs. The door is locked but she with ease rips it open and heads down.

In the stairwell, Jean Luc stops her and says, “If anyone else is in the room, the story is that I gave it to Dru.”

“Fine. I don’t disagree with you. I don’t trust the people in this building. But we need to trust each other.”

When they return to the war room Gamora shouts, “Family meeting! Everybody that is not us, out!”

“Will you excuse us, friend?” Jean Luc ask Leosin.

Leosin looks at them, “Well this is slightly awkward. Maybe I have some paperwork or sleep to do.” He stands up and says, “Good morning to you all.”

“Do the thing!” says Gamora and Jean Luc begins to cast the Tiny Hut spell. After a minute they all squeeze inside the sphere.

“The cat is definitely out of the bag,” Jean Luc says to Cora. “You may ask well just say it.”

Gamora makes an exasperated sound. “I am so tired of the secrets that everyone is keeping from each other. So tired!”

“What secrets?” asks Cora confused.

“You have the mask still! I thought we had given it to Dru! That was the impression everybody gave me. And I didn’t catch that you still had it. I don’t care that we still have it, but it would be nice for every single one of us to know that. Whatever’s going on with all of us in here, we need to be on the same page.”

“Gamora,” Cora says gently, “you knew I had the mask.”

“I knew we had it, and then we had that meeting and we gave the impression that we didn’t have it anymore.”

“I apologize that you got the impression you were somehow deceived. That was not our intent.”

“But it’s not just the mask.”

“What is it, then?”

“It’s everything! It’s him! It’s her! I don’t know them,” says Gamora gesturing to Reven and Vera.

“Me?” protests Vera.

“You know them. But you don’t tell us anything about you,” says Gamora.

“You know everything about me already,” says Cora.

“Yeah, I’ve had to find it out in bits and pieces.”

“This is about a mask?” Reven laughs and asks, “I thought it was something very different.”

“I catch it in bits and pieces,” says Gamora, “I don’t have a problem with any of you, but I want to know who I’m fighting with.”

“Okay, what exactly is the problem? We have been fighting. You know our purpose,” says Cora.

“I know our purpose, but there’s secrets that happen!”

“There are no secrets being hidden from you. Our purpose is clear. We are on the same side. We are fighting the same battle. Does it matter to you that you do not know who I had a romantic relationship with? Does that matter to you? Do I need to tell you each and every one of my partners, or is this going to be considered a secret?”

“No…”

“There are things that you will not know every detail about our past. But everything that matters, you know. What matters is we are fighting the same battle,” says Cora. “What matters is we are still on the same team. And we have to trust each other. And there are probably things that you don’t know about my past, that are perhaps not relevant. And if they are, you will learn them. But just the way I have to trust you, you have to trust me.”

“It took us forever to find out about Talis. And you barely told us the tip of the iceberg with her. And I’m not saying I need to know who you sleep with and who you don’t sleep with, that’s not my problem. You know things about the Cult of the Dragon that we don’t know.”

“What else is there to know?”

“Anything you can think of.”

“They’re bad.”

“No shit.”

“They will kill anything and anyone who will stand in their way. They will kill anyone who will look at them the wrong way. They have killed my family for simply being related to me.”

“I don’t think I knew that,” says Gamora.

“I think we’ve discussed this, after we met. And remember I told you I warned her that if we cross with her and she is still with the Cult of the Dragon, I will kill her myself. Remember? I’ve told you this.”

“How do we know we can trust her now?”

“We can’t. We can’t trust her just like we can’t trust anybody else. I don’t trust her.“

“Good.”

“I didn’t think it was a good idea to contact her,” Cora says glacing at Jean Luc. “I think I’ve said that before.”

“Good,” repeats Gamora.

“It’s not a good idea that she knows there might be attrition from within our own group,” says Cora.

“That’s why I waited until she was gone,” says Gamora.

Cora looks sternly at Vera who mumbles, “Sorry…”

“We need to be united in this,” Cora says. “We need if anything to put on a united front. If you have questions, feel free to ask them. I don’t know what you don’t know, and I don’t know what you need to know from me that you don’t know already.”

Jean Luc raises his hand, “Why did you fall off that bridge?”

“What?!” asks Gamora, “See, I didn’t know that!”

“Do you remember Khendrig?” says Cora.

“Of course,” says Jean Luc.

“That little guy,” adds Gamora.

“The grey gnome,” confirms Cora.

“I believe they call themselves Svirfneblin,” comments Jean Luc.

“That’s another thing,” says Gamora. “Where the fuck did he go?”

“That, honestly I don’t know. However,” Cora tells the group. “He appeared on the bridge and he pushed me off.”

“Why?” asks Gamora.

“If he was friendly, why would he push you off?” asks Osrik.

Cora continues, “I believe he wanted me to see what was at the bottom of the pit.”

“By trying to kill you?” asks Osrik.

“What was at the bottom of the shaft?” asks Jean Luc.

“No… at the bottom of the pit Reven and I found a room,” says Cora.

“I miss everything when I fight!” Gamora says to herself.

“And this is perhaps why we will need to go back to the temple,” Cora continues “At the bottom there was a room with what looked like a shrine with an eight-armed statue guarding it. But also, there were seven doors, and I believe the one that I was led to had a trial for me.” Cora shows the group her new ring.

“What is it?” asks Jean Luc.

“And I believe this is what Khendrig wanted me to have,” says Cora. “I don’t know what the purpose of it is, but I think I needed to have it.”

“What is he?” asks Gamora. “To all this? And trials? When did we sign up for trials?”

“I’m getting the sense he is not a little kid,” says Osrik.

“No, he isn’t. No, we didn’t. But there were seven doors, and there are perhaps trials that each of us could face,” Cora says.

“But why would he do that?” Gamora asks.

“Do you recall how there seems to be a gnome salesman who appeared just at the right time to offer us help or provide us with things we need?”

“But he was tangible. He was there. We rescued him,” Gamora protests.

“Yes,” says Cora, “and then he disappeared.”

“Yeah, because he ran off with you and then got kidnapped or something.”

“Again, I can’t explain it all, because I myself don’t understand it all.”

“There’s more to it,” Reven explains

“What, then? Enlighten me,” Gamora asks. “Feel free.”

“When Khendrig grabbed our hands back in the Underdark, we got the sense that we had already been through all of this, already, before.”

“Well, I don’t know about anybody else, but I’m pretty sure I’m just doing my thing right now. How is that even a possibility?” asks Gamora.

“It’s hard to explain because I myself do not understand it,” says Cora. “I know it sounds crazy.”

“How can we have done something already if we’re just doing it now?” asks Gamora.

“Time works in mysterious ways,” says Reven.

“What if you two had died down there?” asks Osrik.

“I don’t know. But do you remember when Khendrig pressed those buttons on the pillar, as though he knew exactly what to do?” Reven sees heads nod. “It’s because he’d done it before.”

“But then how did he learn how to do it that time?” Osrik asks.

“I don’t know,” answers Reven.

“We don’t have all the answers. I don’t have all the answers,” says Cora. “I trust him. He has been there at all the most crucial parts of my life where he has saved my life.”

“I don’t think I’ve met Khendrig before,” says Vera.

“No,” says Reven.

“Because you met me right after he disappeared. Remember, at the hill?” explains Cora. “Remember when I rode off with him?”

“Yeah,” says Gamora. “Then he went missing, and you didn’t exactly tell us what happened.”

“Or…” says Osrik, “Did he go missing?”

“I don’t know what happened to him. He literally vanished into thin air. What also happened, and I also cannot explain this, is I met someone who looked like he took me back in time to rescue Khendrig.” Cora inadvertently looks at Vera when she says this. “And I was the one who put him in the spot where we found him.”

Gamora appears confused. She says, “Okay, I mean I’m not the dumbest, but I’m certainly not the smartest either, and I so don’t understand how that’s possible.”

“I don’t understand it myself, either,” says Cora. “If you want me to be honest, I don’t understand it all…”

“How come we didn’t see you then?“ asks Osrik.

“I had left before…” Cora begins to explain when Gamora notices the purple haired ghostly image of the being that looks like Vera. She stands there in her white robe listening intently behind the druid.

Gamora turns to her, “You care about her and you protect her? She’s one of us. Help us. I know you can do something to help us.”

The others look at Gamora yell at thin air and everyone seems either confused or concerned.

“Cora, I’d take it easy on Gamora,” Reven says quietly.

At that moment Vera’s purple eyes glow and begin to shift green as the green in her hair melts and begins to revel a purple color. Vera’s kind and friendly posture shift to a more confident yet relaxed posture with an expression of amusement. It is clear that this is not the same person anymore.

Gamora sees the image of the green haired Vera appear where the other once stood. She looks at the new Vera. “Help us understand.”

“Who are we looking at now? Who are you?” Reven asks cautiously.

“Selvriane,” she says.

“But this is the same Selvriane I know from the past, right?” says Reven.

“No, I’m Rianne,” she says.

“What?”

“I’m Rianne,” she repeats.

“What? Not Vera? Not Selvriane?” Reven asks, “Just Rianne?”

“Um..No. No. Yes.” Says Rianne obviously annoyed with Reven.

“Explain to me who Rianne is, please,” says Gamora, her tone dark.

Rianne looks at Gamora and grins, “Like we told you before, I protect Sel’Vera.”

“Sel’who?” says Mags

Stop calling me that. I hate that name, snaps Vera. Rianne looks over her shoulder and Gamora sees a frustrated Vera.

“From what?” asks Jean Luc.

“Threats,” says Rianne.

“How do you protect her?”

Riane laughs. “I come out and protect her when I can. When she can’t handle things.”

“And when can she not handle things?” asks Osrik.

“Sometimes things get very difficult,” says Rianne.

“Emotionally? Physically?” presses Osrik.

“That’s a bit personal little man, but sure,” Rianne says.

“Do you have skin in this game? This little adventure that we’re on?” asks Jean Luc.

“Oh, absolutely,” she says with a smile.

“How long has this been going on for?” asks Reven. “Because I thought I knew…”

“Remember when Sel’V…Vera disappeared?” she starts.

“Yes,” says Reven.

“Things got more interesting after that.”

“If she’s Vera, what’s your name?” asks Osrik.

“I thought we covered that part,” says Rianne.

“Why did Vera disappear?” asks Jean Luc.

“Hmm,” says Rianne, “You guys don’t know the story?”

“Share with us,” says Jean Luc.

“I guess Harlin didn’t bother mentioning it,” says Rianne.

“Harlin didn’t mention you at all,” says Cora.

Rianne smiles and shakes her head, “No surprise there,” she says looking over her shoulder. Gamora notices Vera looking very angry at this exchange.

“I mean he has the letter and he should know everything that happened. Time traveling assassin tries to kill Selvriane, fails to wipe her out and pushes us two years into the future. After that I came out to play,” she says.

Osrik senses she isn’t telling the whole truth and turns to her, “Try again.”

She looks him over a bit impressed, “Okay, I sort of have always been around, but again I’m not going to tell you more than that.”

“Why have you been tasked to be her guardian?” asks Gamora.

“Tasked?” asks Rianne, “I am there to protect Vera.”

“Why?”

“Did you protect other people before her?” asks Jean Luc.
“No,” says Rianne.

“Well who is Selvriane? If there’s Sel’Vera, and Rianne, who is Selvriane?” asks Cora.

“Who stabbed you?” asks Jean Luc.

“I don’t know,” says Rianne.

“Can you describe what he looked like?” asks Reven.

“Oh sure, yeah,” says Rianne. “You know, tall guy, dark hair pulled back, white robe, white sword.”

“Glowing white?” asks Jean Luc.

“Yes, glowing white,” says Rianne.

Jean Luc sighs looking at Cora.

“That’s the man who took me back in time,” says Cora.

“Do you think he’s being helpful?” asks Jean Luc.

“He was being helpful,” says Cora.

“Do you think he was being helpful?” Jean Luc asks Rianne.

“Oh yeah, real helpful trying to stab me in the gut with his sword,” says Rianne.

“But you didn’t die,” Reven points out.

“No, I didn’t die.”

“You got sent in time.”

“Pushed, yeah.”

“Why did you get jumped in time?” Gamora asks.

“The guy said he was basically trying to keep Harlin and Vera apart,” says Rianne.

“What does that have to do with anything?” asks Gamora.

Cora answers, “Because Harlin needed to fulfill a purpose and if she was in his life, he wouldn’t do it.”

“Yeah it seemed something like that,” says Rianne.

“So now it’s like an angelic matchmaker?” asks Reven.

“No,” says Cora, “The impression I got when we went down to the vault? Harlin needed to be there. Harlin was one of the individuals we needed to make sure we succeeded. Remember how Khendrig indicated he had done this several times?”

“Are you… a celestial?” Jean Luc asks Rianne.

She laughs, “No, try again.”

“Did somebody send you to help Vera?” he asks.

“No, I came because Vera needed me.”

“But who is Selvriane?” asks Cora again.

Rianne sighs. “I’m Selvriane. Vera’s Selvriane. We are Selvirane”

“So you’re both Selvriane?" Reven asks.

“Yes, I just said that.”

“You’re sent over to protect Vera,” says Cora.

“Summoned? Created?” asks Jean Luc.

“Yeah, sure,” says Rianne.

“So you’ve always been like this?” Reven asks.

“Always been like what?” Rianne says.

“Who created you?” asks Gamora.

“Who created me?” she asks. “Who created you?”

“So is there two or three of you?” asks Cora.

“What? Wouldn’t that be something,” says Rianne.

“If you’re confused by the names Vera is the name she took. She’s hiding from someone, which she obviously has repeated since she can’t shut up about her hiding ring. Her name is Selvriane if you didn’t catch that part before,” Looking to Osrik and Reven.

“Who is she hiding from?” asks Gamora.

“Her grandfather.”

“Why?”

“You know… how do you guys not know this stuff?”

“Because you haven’t told us,” Osrik says.

“We haven’t told them,” Cora says.

“I’m sorry,” says Reven, “ Is it our job to tell them everything about you?”

“Well to be fair I’m sure Vera would love to tell you guys, but the short version is – her grandfather is after her. He’s a druid, he’s trying to take our power. He’s evil and crazy, it’s a whole thing.”

“That’s not something you can easily brush off,” says Gamora.

“No,” says Rianne.

“So, do we want to pass the baton around? See who else has some crazy issues?” Reven asks. “Things that they’d like to share?”

“Ooh! Ooh! Yes!” says Jean Luc.

“He was taken over by a book for a while,” says Osrik.

Jean Luc laughs. “There was that.”

“What?” Gamora and Rianne both shout.

“You were there!” Osrik says to Gamora.

“Yeah that was a dark time there,” says Gamora. Recalling the acid spitting dragon-faced Jean Luc and their scuffle.

“Do you remember the very plain looking woman who tried to infiltrate the Well of Dragons and her team was slaughtered?” Jean Luc says.

“Oh you mean the hot elf?” asks Gamora.

Jean Luc blushes a little. “I wouldn’t say she’s hot, she’s acceptable.”

“Vaguely,” says Reven.

“She’s very tall,” says Gamora.

“Oh, are we done talking about me?,” Rianne says with a smirk.

“No,” says Gamora, “This is just part of the thing he’s just…”

“I’m sorry. If I’m stepping on your mojo we can do this later,” Jean Luc says.

“Oh no. I’m good. Pass some of that ale,” Rianne asks.

“Yeah,” says Reven, “I think my brain is literally melted from trying figure your story out. So I’m just going to say, are you with us? If you are…”

“She has a guardian other self, and you…” says Jean Luc looking at Reven.

“Oh yes,” says Reven, “I am a prince from long ago. I traveled through into the future and I had issues with some visions that kinda were killing me, but now I’m better. I’ve been cured.” He shrugs. “All true.”

“What do you mean you saw yourself die?” Jean Luc asks. “Is it something we have to fight?”

Gamora says, “Wait, wait, you traveled… what? How do you travel into the future? It doesn’t make any sense!”

“Technically we are all traveling through time,” Jean Luc says.

“Yeah,” says Gamora, “But forward! Like right now, and now, and now…”

“It’s very simple,” says Reven. “Do you remember my dad?” Most heads nod.

“Are you him?” Osrik asks.

“I am not my father, no. Do you remember when we went into the dark realm and he decided to use this little cube thing? Yeah, that same cube was the very cube that he used the day that I was born to travel quite a few number of years into the future.”

“To what purpose?” asks Gamora.

Reven explains, “It was an accident. There were a lot of things going on with the Spellplague.”

“Well why don’t we just go back and kick Tiamat’s baby ass,” asks Gamora, “and call this a fucking day?”

“Well technically this cube allows you to go different planes. But because the Spellplague was in effect, it did something where it managed to send us through time instead.”

“Wait, how long ago was the Spellplague?” asks Osrik.

“Yeah, I’m that old,” says Reven.

“It began about 95 years ago and ended about 10 years ago,” says Jean Luc.

“That’s why when we were at the council meeting, they couldn’t understand who I was because my father and I vanished 95 years ago,” says Reven.

Mags says, “You know, I thought being a reincarnated dragon was complicated.”

“I knew it! I knew it!” Jean Luc shouts.

“We knew that…” says Osrik.

“So you could see how this is complicated,” says Cora.

“Yeah,” says Reven. “A little.”

“But at the end of the day,” Osrik says, “Talis is pretty cute.”

“Alright, so the two big questions we have to ask ourselves right now are what are our next steps, and if they include going back to the Netherese temple to investigate the magical statue more,” says Jean Luc.

“Mulhorand,” interrupts Rianne. “The tomb of Diderius is of Mulhordi origins.”

Jean Luc continues, “Do we tell these people where we are going? We’re going to need to shoehorn more teleportation scrolls out of them.”

“Do you guys know if we have to go there?” asks Gamora.

“He can probably have a vision,” Rianne suggests, indicating Reven.

“You can have visions?!? You have visions?” Gamora asks.

“Guys, you know this,” Reven says. “You saw me suffer from visions in the past. But I can control them now, I believe.”

“What do you see in the future now?” asks Cora.

Reven closes his eyes and focuses to see if he can force a vision. It doesn’t seem to work.

Rianne asks, “Cora, can I see your hand?”

“Why?” asks Cora.

“Give me your hand,” Rianne’s tone is direct and unemotional.

“Okay…” Cora reaches her hand out and Rianne inspects Cora’s ring.

“Hmm. That’s interesting,” Rianne says.

“What do I have that’s interesting? Why did you need to see my hand?” Cora asks.

“I want to understand what you have,” Rianne says.

Cora is put off by Rianne and instinctively lowers a hand to her blade.

“Now now, it’s family time,” says Osrik.

“I don’t know who this person is,” Cora says, indicating Rianne.

Rianne shrugs and takes another sip of ale.

“We’re getting to know this person. Because I think she can help us,” says Gamora.

“We’re taking her into battle whether you trust her or not,” Jean Luc points out.

Behind Rianne Vera shrugs apologetically at Gamora.

“How do we figure out how all this time-jumpy-crazy talk you guys are spewing out factors into things?” Gamora asks. She turns to Jean Luc, “How do we do that? You’re the smart one. How do we do that?”

“I have some research to do, but until we have some sembalance of a theory, we don’t,” he says. “We just push forward.”

Cora says, “Here’s the thing, how do we do that? We still haven’t found the mask, but we do know Talis has it. Also, before you forget, she wants Varram.”

“We could make a trade,” says Jean Luc. “I mean, I told her after this thing was over, but we could lie to her and make it quicker.”

Mags says, “Hey lovebird. Why does she want Varram?”

“I was getting to that. And don’t call me that,” Cora says, “Little stinky pants.”

“My pants don’t stink…” says Mags scoffing at the insult.

“Anyway, when we were much younger during the summer that I met Talis, we all went on an expedition with Varram. He led the expedition,” says Cora. “And we had found a white dragon. Suffice it to say, the dragon was not happy to see us in its lair and attacked and decimated our group. However, Talis was actually successful in negotiating with him and making her friendly towards us and making an alliance for the Cult of the Dragon. What happened though, is Varram used what I can only presume is his influence to silence her and took the credit for befriending the dragon. That’s how he rose so quickly in the ranks and has become the White Wyrmspeaker. Talis has obviously held a grudge since then for him taking the credit for her achievement.”

“Well,” says Jean Luc, “my heart bleeds for her, but…”

“So she doesn’t want to be a part of the Cult anymore,” says Gamora, “but what’s the point of having those masks if she’s not part of the Cult?”

“Do we know what the masks do?” asks Osrik.

“They are still powerful magical items,” says Cora.

“They are exceptionally powerful,” Jean Luc corrects. “A magical weapon might give you two benefits in battle. This mask is capable of six or seven benefits. After a moment he looks around. “If anybody has anything else to confess, we’ll have to do this another time. I’m very fascinated with this book I stole from the temple. It might pertain to some of your predicaments.”

Gamora walks over to Rianne and reaches out her hand. “I’m Gamora. Welcome to the team.” She notices a devilish smile on Rianne and she clasps Gamora’s arm like a warrior.

Cora turns to Jean Luc. “You going to tell us who that woman was? Since we are divulging our history.”

“Oh well, It seemed, uh…It seemed there were more important things to talk about,” he stammers. “If you don’t mind. It’s not important.”

“You obviously have ties to this council so what are they?” Cora says not dropping the subject.

“No. To the council no. To the woman yes. I’m certain I don’t know the nature of her relationship with who is here. My ties are to her,” he says. He takes a breath, “We met in the collage when we were students, and I became smitten with her immediately. She is smart and tough, tough as nails, and um… we had a lot of laughs. She thought she was smarter than me and I let her think so. Yeah and uh, ultimately when it came time consider post-graduate work, she was committed to the more riskiest ventures.”

“What was her name?” Osrik asks.

“Villia Fatedancer,” he answers. “And it couldn’t last… the classroom, the laboratory, the weekends at the stage…”

“Who are you?” Gamora asks Jean Luc.

“She um… she was dedicated to traveling the world and getting her hands on the most dangerous and most absurd ideas. So we bickered and eventually became estranged. Oh I guess I should mention she’s my wife.”

“Wait, like… still?” Gamora asks.

“Um, yeah. So that’s who she is and I haven’t seen her quite some years. She’s wonderful… and I hate her. I hate her so much, but she’s great…” says Jean Luc. The others look at him a bit confused and surprised. “It occurs to me if we were under different circumstances I would like to introduce you all to her, but we wouldn’t even know each other if it were different circumstances. It’s very strange what our lives have become…

“ Wait, how long has it been since you’ve seen her?” asks Mags.

“Oh about… eight years,” he recalls. “We used to exchange letters early on, but…”

“Are you still friendly-ish with each other?” Gamora asks.

“Yes, but I have several years of her adventures to catch up on.”

“You say introducing us to her isn’t high on your list of things to do, but you are saying she done a bit of dungeon delving. Has she come across any that that might be helpful against the Cult?” Gamora asks.

“That is certain it’s a possibility,” says Jean Luc “I didn’t know until the rest of you knew that she was even involved in this struggle.”

“She was sent to infiltrate the Well of Dragons,” Cora adds.

“Certainly she has some information that is helpful to us,” Gamora presses. “And if she is as smart of you say she will have a whole wellspring of information to help us.”

Jean Luc smiles, “That was a very good use for that metaphor, Gamora. I commend you for it.”

“What?”

“Yes. Yes, it’s possible,” he admits. “But we were just very rude to my friend Leosin. So If we are done here?”

Jean Luc begins to dismiss the tiny hut, when Cora adds, “I think we need to decide what we are going to do in the morning.”

Next: Season 3. Episode 6 – The White Sparrow’s Song

Previous: Season 3. Episode 4 – Push and Fall

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Push and Fall
Season 3, Session 4

29th day of Nightal 1489 DR the Year of Warrior Princess

The lift leads the party to an old dusty hallway with stairs leading up and down. Gamora takes out her sword and summons its flames. They make their way downwards towards a door at the bottom of the stairs. Reven breaks from the group and explores the path leading upwards, Xenara follows saying he shouldn’t wander off.

Gamora checks the door for traps and opens the door. Inside the room they see a large elegant bed, a chest, a night table with four goblets and a silver ewer, and several bookcases with ancient tomes. It appears no one has been in this room for ages.

Jean Luc investigates the bookcases. Gamora looks around the room from the doorway. Osrik, Cora, and Vera investigate the chest. Osrik cautiously opens the chest breaking the air seal. Inside the chest, there are seven silk robes, and amethyst ring, and two scrolls in fine casings. While they peer inside, six spectral forms materialize, three of which appear as human male warriors and the other three are snake-like humanoids know as Yuan Ti.

Meanwhile, Reven and Xenara climb the stairs and discover five Cultist corpses, recently killed and slumped over a table in a dark room at the top of the stairs. A foul smell hangs in the air and Reven notices blood dripping from above. He looks to see a troll hanging from the rafters chewing on the corpse of a cultist. Noticing them it drops to the table and roars as it tosses the corpse aside.

Reven, casts Thunderwave at the troll. The troll is hit by a pulse of force and pushed back. He shouts to his sister, “Run!”

Xenara tries to summons a ball of black fire but it veers wildly out of control. The troll strikes wildly at Reven and Xenara. Reven blocks with his shield, but Xenara is cut by the troll’s claws.

Reven strikes the troll with his sword circling around it. He releases another thunderwave.
Xenara shocked shouts at Reven , “What are you doing?!” before she is caught by the blast and thrown down the stairs. Her head bangs on the stairs and she is knocked unconscious as she tumbles down the stairs.

Meanwhile, downstairs, Jean Luc uses Misty Steps to exit the room casting Fire Bolt at one of the Yuan Ti Specters. Vera casts Flame Blade and strikes at the snake-like specter in front of her. It flickers but remains. She pulls out her mace, Lightbringer. The sun ruins on the mace glow a radiant energy in the presence of the undead. She swings at the Yuan Ti specter but avoids the strike.

One of the specters attacks Cora but she dodges its attack but moves into position of another that claws her in the back. She feels cold as her life force is pulled from her chest. She stumbles grabbing her heart saying, “Wait, we come in peace!” Cora seeing Xenara unconscious outside the doorway makes a break outside to stabilize Reven’s sister.

Her and Jean Luc hear the roar from upstairs and Cora rushes upstairs with her bow ready. Jean Luc releases a Flaming Sphere in the room trying to hurt as many specters as he can. The six creatures turn their attention towards Osrik, Gamora, and Vera who inside the chamber.

Jean Luc turns to Xenara and feeds her a healing potion. He asks if she’s okay and she says, “There is a troll upstairs killing my brother. He’s such an idiot.” She pushes herself on her feet barely able to stand and runs back up the steps towards Reven behind Cora.

Gamora in her battle rage cuts down one of the Yuan Ti ghosts and turns her attention to one of the humanoid moving toward Vera and Osrik. She cuts it down with her flaming greatsword but gets burned by Jean Luc’s sphere. Another spector attacks but she dodges the blow and cuts it down as well.

Mags supports Gamora with her Fire bolts while the others finish off the other three specters.

Osrik casts Sprit Guardians which surround the room with swirling radiant energy. It destroys the last of the Yuan Ti specters. He turns to one of the humanoids and he attempts to push it with his shield but it has no effect. He follow up with a blow from his hammer destroying the specter. The last specter engaging Gamora is destroyed by the Spirit Guardian’s energy wave.

Jean Luc turns to the group inside the room and asks, “Who wants to fight a troll?”

“There’s a troll?” Gamora asks.

Mags says, “Better burn that damned thing or it will keep healing!”

“Yes, yes,” Jean Luc says. He grabs Gamora and they vanish. Osrik with his hammer and shield in hand charges up the stairs.

Vera and Mags look at each other awkwardly, “What just happened? Where did they go?”
Mags answers with a shrug, “Let’s check the room out.”

At the top of the stairs Cora sees Reven engaged with the troll. She casts Hunter’s Mark and shoots her bow, but her shots miss.

Reven notices the wounds inflicted on the troll start to heal rapidly. The troll growls and attacks, he blocks two attack but the third furious blow hits its mark. Reven strike it with Talon several times, it is bleeding but undaunted.

Xenara cresting the top of the steps gathers magic in her hands creating a black flame. She releases the spell but it goes wild and misses. She looks on helplessly watching Reven deflect and block the troll’s attacks and counter but missing his mark.

Gamora and Jean Luc appear through a dimensional gateway.

“That is so weird!,” growls Gamora in her battle rage.

“I told you, troll!” says Jean Luc, “Isn’t it fascinating?”

Gamora annoyed by the elf mage growls and attacks the troll striking it down with her flaming greatsword. Moments later an out of breath Osrik out of breath only to see the threat is neutralized. He looks around shrugs and silently goes back down the steps.

Cora investigates the bodies of the Cultists and realizes the attack was very recent. She sits and concentrates on her Primeval Awareness. Jean Luc takes this time to picks up coins from the table. Seems the Cultists were gambling prior to their death.

Reven goes to check on Xenara asking if she is okay. She scolds him for using his spells carelessly. He says that magic really isn’t his strong suit. She angry turns her back to him and heads downstairs behind Osrik and Gamora turns to joins her.

Cora senses dragon creatures and humanoids close by and notice some stairs that lead deeper into the tomb. She communicates this to Reven and Jean Luc. They head downstairs to gather the others.

Vera looks over one book which is in Mulhorandi. Appearing beside her is he spirit doppleganger with purple hair. Vera shows the text to her. Mulhorandi? They are arcane texts. This is very complex, I don’t understand it.

Osrik enters the room and tells everyone that everything is clear. He walks over and checks the books as well.

I will go before the half-orc returns.

“Okay,” says Vera as she returns the book back on the shelf.

Mags looks inside the chest and empties its contents on the bed. Playing with the ring and looking through the scrolls. Gamora when she returns observes the loot and checks for secret doors. When she moves the bed there is a bang on the ground revealing a very old text.

She calls for Jean Luc who arrives with Cora and Reven. He delicately checks the old warn book recognizing it as Mulhorandi and reads the title, “Trans-Substantiality Across Multi-Potentialities.” He gingerly opens the book and tries to read a bit. Bits he scans show it to be a journal about visions across time, space, and parallel worlds. He can tell the writer was highly intelligent or a complete madman.

Jean Luc looks over at Gamora, who begins stuffing the silver goblets and ewer into her bag of holding. He gives her a disapproving look and then looks at Mags, who tells him the scrolls they found are of energy protection. Cora points out that they should not take things from this place but they decide to take the treasure anyway.

Gamora looks around for water to put in a goblet so she can take a drink. Vera offers some wine from her wineskin and they each take a drink. Osrik takes a moment to heal the party using that time to share the information they have gathered. Once they are done, Osrik, Gamora, and Vera go upstairs to look around.

Cora explores the room one last time before leaving. She discovers a loose rock that when removed has three glowing runes. Cora calls Jean Luc over who puts away the book in his bag of holding. The three runes seem to be names. Cora asks if these could be a spell binding something to this location.

They determine that it may be related to the specters they fought. Cora asks if the individuals can be released. Mags takes a dagger from Cora’s belt and begins scraping one of the runes with the edge. After a moment there is pop and a spark as the arcane rune is destroyed. She hands it back to Cora, “One down two more to go.”

She walks out the room and Reven makes a comment as she leaves. She ignores his comment saying, “Good job, ‘Thunderwave,” as she leaves the room. This brings a chuckle to Xenara who follows Mags upstairs. When Cora finishes scraping off the last run Jean Luc suggests everyone gather upstairs. When they walk out he quickly turns and pulls as many books as he can from the shelves before catching up.

Meanwhile, Gamora, Vera, and Osrik explore the room past the banquet hall to avoid the stench of six corpses and the troll. The hallway opens into a large chamber with a pool of water with the corpse of a Cultist laying at the water’s edge. At wall behind the pool is a raised statue of a meditating individual. The doorway to the left is collapsed in a heap of rubble and they realize this is the doorway which Gamora had attempted to open. To their right are another set of double doors.

Vera notices fang shaped arrows littered around the room trying to make sense of their source.

Gamora lifts the corpse and throws it in the pitch black water against Osrik’s recommendation to leave the water alone. But nothing seems to happen. They notices that the water seems to be rapidly evaporating. Gamora decides to jump in the pool and searches for something. She turns to tell the others that it’s all clear when her mind his assaulted with a multitude of images at once. The images overwhelm her mind and she passes out and falls in the water.

Osrik rushes to pull her out of the water trying to wake her, but she is not responsive. Osrik realizes she is alive but can’t be roused. She appears to be in a coma.

The others join them and Cora rushes to Gamora slapping her in the face, but she doesn’t respond. Osrik covers her with his cloak and tries his best to wake her.

Meanwhile, Vera curious about the water attempts to take a sample before it completely evaporates. As she dips a vial into the water she carefully as to not touch it her eyes focus on the surface of the black pool. The surface of the black water changes to show images, life, death, the universe, beyond. Time and space rip away and her mortal mind is exposed to raw knowledge overwhelming her mind. She focuses her mind trying to withstand the assault but one image becomes very clear to her….

Osrik seeing Vera in the same stupor rushes and tackles the half-elf from the water’s edge. Breaking her line of vision from the pool she regains her senses. She thanks Osrik struggling to keep her composure and footing. The images seem to be fading from her mind. All except one…

Much to everyone’s relief Gamora groans and begins to move. They ask how she feels and she comments that she feels like at some bad mushrooms. Vera offers her some water and asks her if she remembers anything. Gamora says she doesn’t as she hands back the waterskin.

Cora analysises the dagger which killed the cultist, it seems to be carved of a dragon’s tooth. Jean Luc looking over the double doors show that this is a tomb for someone held in very high regard. Several symbols in Mulhorandi and Nethril adorn the doors.

Jean Luc and Osrik open the double doors and a golden chandelier high bursts to life lighting the dark chamber. The light reveals a raised dais with a golden sarcophagus and the entire room is lined with images of men, gods, and other imagery. A booming voice echoes in the room. “You approach Diderius in repose. I know what you seek.”

“What may we learn, kind sir?” asks Jean Luc.

“The one called Varrym is beyond the northern wall. Be prepared, for I shall open the way to peril For others seek him as well.” There is a click and a rumbling as the back wall slides open into a dark hallway.

“Who else is seeking him?” asks Cora.

“I have opened the path you learn these answers only by following it,” says Diderius’s voice. “When your path is closed you will return and I will have the answers when you know the questions. When your path is closed you will find the answers here.”

Reven turns, “I’m sorry, did you say closed or clothed?”

A eerie silence fills the room and the party grows worried something has gone wrong. Diderius’s voice commands, “Go and leave me!”

Gamora bows respectfully and leads the way towards the open path. The landscape changes drastically from an ancient sandstone tomb to the sharp rock formation of a mountain path. The door slides closed sealing leaving only a small outline of a doorway.

They are immediately set upon by archers. Mags curses, “Well that didn’t take long.” She casts her firebolt towards the source of the arrows.

Down the hallway are a flight of stone carved stairs where the party can make out snake-humanoid Yuan Ti some humanoid with heads of a snake, some human with the body of a snake instead of legs. They set upon the party with no mercy.

Garmora enters her battle rage and charges alongside Osrik. They take out the foot soldiers while Cora takes out the archers at the stairs. They press the attack up the stone cut stairs and make their way to stone bridge crossing a deep pit. The party cannot see the bottom but the more perceptive members can hear the sound of grinding stone.

As they move forward the bridge is slick with moisture making it hard to move. Cora fires again striking a few of the Yuan Ti archers on the far side of the bridge. Jean Luc casts Haste on Gamora and she charges forward into the Yuan Ti formation.

Vera summons her thorn whip and pulls one of the Yuan Ti towards her and Gamora cuts him in half as she closes the distance. Uses her greatsword to slide across the floor she spins and cuts down two of the Yuan Ti without halting momentum. Reven casting Jump leaps over the stairs and bridge and lands right into the fray killing one of the Yuan Ti, but loses his balance and falls to his knees. Osrik pushing into the battle strikes on of the Yuan Ti knocking him off the side, he loses his footing and crashes on the side of the steps.

Gamora pushes finishing off the Yuan Ti and empowered by Jean Luc’s Haste charges down the hall finding many other Yuan Ti bodies littered on the ground. She follows them down the hall not realizing how far she’s traveled. She ends at a large room which appears to be a shrine.

Inside she sees a brown skinned dwarf in purple robes surrounded by fiendish creatures fighting a pair of trolls and black Guard Drakes. Leading the attack against the gold dwarf is a familiar four armed troll that Gamora has faced before at the Hunting Lodge. “You were fucking dead,” she yells. Trespin turns his attention to Gamora and his maw curls into a grin.

Osrik stands up and makes his way after Gamora followed by Vera, Xenara, and Mags. Reven waits for Cora to cross as they take up the rear. Reven senses something and for a brief moment he turns to catch the image of a small gnomish creature.

Cora notices a bald headed gray gnome materialize next to her. Cora turns and makes eye contact with him and before she can react the small gnome shoves her off the edge of the bridge. She shouts “Kehndrig!” as she falls into the darkness. The gnome is gone.

Jean Luc tries to casts Feather Fall but it is counter-spelled by an unknown source. Reven leaps off the side of the bridge after Cora. Jean Luc quickly casts fly on him as he falls into the darkness.

Next: Season 3. Episode 5 – Trials and Trollbliations

Previous Season 3. Episode 3 – Tomb of Diderius

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Tomb of Diderius
Season 3, Session 3

28th day of Nightal 1489 DR the Year of the Warrior Princess.

On their second night of travel from the Boarskyre Bridge the party discovers the ruins of a shrine to one of many of the lost gods of the Netherese. It appears it has been used frequently by travelers through the Serpent Hills. The party decides to use it as a campsite for the night.

Gamora approaches Vera and takes her aside to privately discuss what she had saw previously. Vera is surprised to learn that she was able to see her. Gamora asks for an explanation of who that person was and more importantly, “Is it dangerous?”

Vera explains that she is dangerous to bad people. Gamora is satisfied with that but states that if things change they will have problems. Though Gamora is curious as to what she is and states that she also has experience with spirits saying, “I know that I can call upon them sometimes to help me in battle, sometimes to help make me strong. I lifted a float all by myself! And I want to know more about it, sometimes I don’t have time to. But I don’t know what she is to you.”

Vera stumbles stating, “She’s like a mirror-me kind of thing.”

“You’ll have to explain that to me one day,” Gamora says. “So it’s not like an ancestral thing?”

“There’s a lot I don’t understand. But she’s there. And she protects me,” Vera says.

Gamora feels an unnatural crackling behind her and an imposing presence. She seems Vera’s mirror-self standing directly behind her. Gamora addresses the other, “I have no quarrel with you. If you’re here to help us, I am grateful for it.” She turns and leaves Vera and the other.

She is strong but nothing I can’t handle.

“Stop,” says Vera. “She means us no harm.”

For now. Things change very quickly.

In camp the party takes some time to themselves. Gamora challenges Mags play chess on the makeshift pieces she has gathered, when the young sorceress brushes the pieces aside and presents a set that Osrik as crafted. When Vera returns she sits and watches them play.

Osrik is aside reading this tome about the Dwarven gods.

Seeing Osrik is busy Jean Luc asks Reven for some shield training. Reven mentions that he was meaning to approach Jean Luc about how to read and scribe spells in his spellbook.

Jean Luc excited at the prospect of working with another spellcaster pulls out his own spellbook and offers it to Reven. He looks at the book and simply says, “That’s cool, is this your sketchbook?”

“I would say there is some artistry to it,” Jean Luc replies.

Jean Luc realizes that Reven wants help learning how to use the spell book. He asks, “Are you familiar with Feather Fall?”

“No, what is that?”

Jean Luc explaining what the spell does.

“So that makes you very light weight?” asks Reven.

“Yes. Just enough to make it where you would not twist your ankle from a low fall, or your neck from a tall one,” Jean Luc tells Reven.

“Similar to what I saw a few nights ago, I suppose? I noticed you guys had made some sort of late-night rendezvous… I’m just curious,” Reven says referring to the night Jean Luc, Osrik, and Cora left the castle.

Jean Luc is visibly uncomfortable. He says, “Well, that was slightly different. That was just Fly which is a little more complex. We can go over that as well if you would like but if you have any questions… or whatever you want to know…” he trails off.

“Is everything okay?” asks Reven.

“Well,” Jean Luc stammers, “What is okay? I mean, it’s, um, it’s getting hot. Let me go get my canteen and get some water.” He looks around for Cora, who is nowhere in sight. Jean Luc tries to discretely cast Sending to Cora into his canteen, but Reven clearly sees that he is casting a spell. The spell sends to Cora: He’s starting to push me, man, and I’ve been keeping it in all this time, and I don’t know if I can keep it in anymore. These are our friends, and we need to share with them so they are not taken by surprise.

Cora in the middle of hunting dinner is lining up a shot with her bow when the Sending reaches her. Startled she looses her arrow prematurely but it still strikes true. She responds to Jean Luc, “Who? What? What happened?”

Jean Luc wastes no time. He casts the spell again, and again Reven sees that this is what he is doing. To Cora, he says: You’re right. I’ll play it cool. We’ll just do this at your speed, whatever you’re comfortable with. Alright. Good talk. Okay.

Cora’s reply comes, “Okay. Hang in there. You’re doing great! And goes and collects her prey and returns to camp.”

Meanwhile, Reven has been watching Jean Luc through twenty seconds of near silence. He asks, “Am I being blessed? Are you blessing me? I don’t understand. I mean, I feel blessed, but um, your eyes are twitching a little.”

“I was seeking guidance from a power wiser than myself,” Jean Luc says. “Alright, where were we?”

“I don’t know… if there’s anything you think you can teach me that would be great. And like I said, I’m willing to lend my sword and shield to help you practice whatever it is you need.”

Jean Luc sits with Reven for about an hour, describing the pattern of reading a spell, gathering the materials, practicing it, and then scribing it in his spell book. Though he is experienced in teaching collegiate scholars, Reven seems completely overwhelmed by his instruction. Reven suggests they try again another time and thanks Jean Luc, who tells him he will try to think of a better way to present the information next time. They decide it’s still early enough to spar.

Osrik watches the half-Drow and elf begin to spar, and casts Silence on a pebble, which he tosses toward Jean Luc, who feels it hit his foot, but doesn’t hear it, and sees Reven talking, but can’t hear anything. He turns to look at Osrik, who is unsuccessfully hiding behind a book. Jean Luc finds the pebble and tosses back at Osrik, and when his words return to him, he haltingly swears at the Dwarf before giving up, realizing his words are going unheard. He explains to Reven that Osrik played a prank on them.

Cora returns to the camp with her goat while Reven and Jean Luc set up for sparring. Gamora helps her skin it and they cook the animal for the party. Cora spends the remainder of her evening trying to understand her weapons and training by herself.

After dinner, Reven and Jean Luc go back to sparring. Jean Luc is awkward and uncoordinated but with the help of the Haste spell and Reven’s patience he makes some great progress before his arm tires from carrying the heavy shield. When the spell ends Jean Luc collapses to Reven surprise but Gamora and Osrik reassure him he’s fine and just move him into his bedroll.

Osrik comments that it would have been good if the elf could have set up his impenetrable tent before he fell asleep. Vera in response casts Plant Growth around the ruins to protect them and to deter intruders. Gamora tries to meditate before going to sleep feeling very centered and calm.

Xenara wanders the ruins while the others are resting. She makes her way to the stone alter in the center of camp and touches it observing the marks. Runes appear glowing on her hands after making contact. She notices that many of the rune are similar to her own. She hears a voice call out, “You… you should not be here.”

The voice startles Xenara and she steps back away from the stone. She makes her way to her bedroll and lies still unable to rest or sleep for the evening. The thoughts on the voice, a voice that sounded much like her own.

The next day, on the road, Cora hangs back to where Jean Luc is and ensures no one is within earshot before asking him about his Sending messages the previous evening. He explains Reven got curious about their expedition from Castle Waterdeep and that while he trusts her, he would be more comfortable if the group at large was apprised of the knowledge Cora has the Black Dragon Mask in her possession. They are interrupted when Cora is called to pick up the trail as the lead riders seemed to have lost it. Cora rides up ahead and leads the group forward.

Several hours later as the sun begins to set the party comes across the sound of battle. They dismount and move in quietly. They make their way to the edge of the cliff which drastically drops into a large canyon. Within the canyon is the ruins of an old abandoned settlement. Within these ruins they find the source of the conflict. Four trolls are ravaging a group of settlers within the canyon. They try to put up resistance but they have no chance. From their observations these settlers are in fact Cult of the Dragon members. What is odd is that Guard Drakes are working alongside trolls. The group decides to let the trolls weaken their numbers then make their way down there. Cora senses humanoids and dragonlike creatures inside the canyon. Their numbers dropping off as she is meditating.

After the trolls make short work of the Cult of the Dragon they move down into the canyon floor. Gamora, Cora, Vera, and Reven find a path down to the floor and make their way down. Osrik, Jean Luc, Mags, and Xenara wait until the others are in position. The strike team enters the ruins and takes cover behind one of the old stone buildings.

Gamora uses a Sending Stone to tell Jean Luc she is in position and charges the nearest troll who is busy feasting on the Cultist’s body. Gamora breaks out from around the corner of the building and attacks a troll, thrusting her sword into it and slicing as she runs in a circle around him.

Jean Luc uses dimension door and transports Osrik and himself to the roof of the building. Only for the weight of it to give way and send them both crashing inside.

Cora hangs back and shoots her bow at a Guard Drake, striking at killing it, then follows with a shot to the troll next to it which also makes its mark.

Vera casts Call Lightning, and a massive cloud covers the canyon, blocking the moonlight. She directs a bolt to hit a troll and leaves the cover of the dilapidated building.

Osrik goes out the door to the building and casts Spiritual Weapon, summoning a glowing hammer which attacks a troll nearby, he also fires bolt of divine fire which the troll evades.

Reven runs around the corner of the building and shoots a troll with his long bow, twice but is set upon by the second Guard Drake. He summons Talon and finishes it off.

Gamora shouts a command in Draconic that causes her blade to envelop in blue fire lighting up the area around her. She hits a troll near her, striking from behind and taking off its head.

Jean Luc recovers from his fall and joins the battle releasing a Fireball melting two of the trolls in its explosion. Mags and Xenara appear near Cora, having flown down from the top of the canyon.

Gamora, Cora, and Jean Luc all focus their attacks on the last remaining troll. Vera brings it down with an explosive thunder strike from the sky leaving nothing left of its corpse.
With the threat neutralized the party investigates the camp and the ruins. Cora meditates and sense that there are still humanoids and dragon creatures within the canyon, but the humanoid numbers are dropping off.

Jean Luc realizes that the architecture and iconography clearly Mulhorandi, but the ruins seems much older than even some Netherese ruins, which is impossible as the Mulhorandi didn’t arrive in Faerun until somewhere between -2488 DR and -2135 DR based on records. And the Netherese were thriving as far back as -3095 DR.

They notice a pair of colossal status that stand between the party and a path that leads towards a pair of ancient stairs rising up the side of the cliff face to what seem like an entrance. The left hand colossus is a bearded human male wearing exotic clothes, but its face is smashed beyond recognition. It holds a balance in its right hand and cudgel at its side, its left hand raised as if in warning. The colossus to the right of the entrance is a young human male wearing similarly exotic clothing, the left half of its head cracked off and lying at its feet. The statue holds a shepherd’s crook in its left hand and a sword at its waste its right hand raised in warning as well. Both wear a distinct looking cross talisman with an oval top which Vera has seen once before.

As they step between the two statues the sudden sound of grinding stone draws they party’s attention. The status are moving.

Jean Luc yells out, “Tiamat, my mother and strength!” As he remembers his crushing encounter with the Stone Golems on Skyreach Castle.

The colossal figures turn their massive heads, their shatter features staring down at the party. With the exception of the cracked face which looks up. Two voices issue forth in unison, booming out as though erupting from the deep earth.

“Halt. You come before Diderius, either walker and conduit of clairvoyance. Behold ye now his wondrous triumphs. Diderius extends wisdom, and Diderius offers knowledge. Which do you seek?

“We seek knowledge,” says Cora.

“We seek the White Wyrmspeaker,” says Gamora.

“Diderius shall grant you what you seek. But only if you heed him,” say the statues, “And continue to show proper respect.” They turn back to their original positions.

“Who is is Diderius?” Cora asks Jean Luc.

He tells them the name sounds familiar and mentions a powerful wizard who could see into different futures. They discuss how they should show respect and determine at the least they should not loot the caves.

The party climb the stairs and can barely make out the carvings all along the walls on the way up to a platform that narrows into a hallway. Xenara takes a moment to look at one of the carvings on the wall, but quickly hurries to keep up with the party.

The door entering the cave hangs off its hinges. They carefully make their way into the cave and find the walls are gilded and floor made of fine sand. The entire complex seems very old, yet untouched by time.

They move forward into the first chamber where there are six statues of stone wizards in clows. Three against each wall and they are surrounded by skeletal remains..

Stepping into the chamber they each hear in their minds,
Some secrets are not meant for mortal minds to know. Look away from the darkness in which such knowledge hides.

Gamora pulls out her sword and ignites her sword shining light in the room. Jean Luc and Cora suggest they should close their eyes and Gamora does slowly making her way past the first set of statues. Stone grinds again as the statues turn to watch her walk past. Gamora keeps her eyes shut and continues making her way across until she bumps the wall. The others repeat this process until they make it to the door which Gamora pushes open with everyone arrives.

The next room has a high-vaulted dome and a tile mosaic on the floor of a knight fighting a chimera using a flaming sword. The tiles begin to rip from the floor as the party enters and take the shape of the chimera that now moves and attacks them.

Gamora goes into her Rage and attacks the tiled chimera. The blow strikes true and shatters and cracks its form. The chimera roars and the entirety of the floor rises up and attacks Gamora but it does little to stop her.

Cora joins the striking the tile chimera with her scimitars. The chimera strikes Gamora and retreats into the air. Vera tries her Thornwhip to bring the chimera down but it misses.
Jean Luc casts Haste on Reven. Who in turn releases a Shatter spell breaking more fragments off of the tile chimera. Using the remainder of his speed he pulls his longbow and fires at the chimera. Osrik also casts Shatter. Mags and Jean Luc both strike it with their firebolts spells. Cora shoots her bow at the broad side of the tiled chimera, hitting twice. The chimera descends and attacks fires a breath of fire at Reven, Vera, and Xenara. It retreats back towards the upper end of the domed ceiling. Vera releases her Thornwhip again striking the chimera and wrapping around its from. She slams it down into the ground breaking it into many fragments.

The party investigates the area of the room and notice it has several connecting chambers and doors. One door opposite of the entrance is a huge set of double doors plated in copper with the image of wizards looking into a pool of water and one wizard summoning something. The doors visibly bulge into the room.

On the right side of the room is a mosaic of a sun on the wall with a narrow passage. He notices a plate by the opening that leans upwards into a sloping hallway.
On the left side there is a door with the words, “safe” written in chalk in common on the outside.

Vera and Jean Luc open the safe door while Osrik tries to dissuade them. Inside the chamber is a well with a bronze bucket on a rope and stairs that lead to a basin with a lever.
Jean Luc tells Vera to leave the room and begins pulling water into the basin until it is full. This takes him three buckets to do so. He pulls the lever and the water filters out behind the walls but nothing else happens. Jean Luc looks down the well and sees nothing but some fungus growing below.

Osrik heals the party of their wounds before they press forward. And Reven and Osrik make a case that they should follow the light, meaning the sun mosaic.

They look at the hallway, but it seems so narrow that avoiding stepping on the plate is very difficult, especially with the low ceiling of the hall. Jean Luc summons Bruce, who appears in his hawk form, and asks him to investigate the hall.

Bruce turns and looks at Jen Luc with one eye and communicates telepathically, “_You know boss, I do whatever you tell me to do. But you only seem to summon me when I inevitably get smushed and die._”

“_I’ll tell you what,_” Jean Luc replies telepathically, “We’re going to use you in a limited capacity this time, and when we get out of here we’ll get you another pineapple.”

Bruce turns his head, focusing his other eye on Jean Luc. “I like pineapple, boss. But I really think that you’re abusing that I can’t die. It still hurts. It’s not comfortable. I don’t like getting killed. It’s noted, right? It’s noted, boss?”

“Yes,” Jean Luc replies.

“I mean, your little midnight stroll you could have summoned me… I would have liked flying over the city.”

Jean Luc stammers. The bird sighs. The elf communicates, “I’ll make it up to you and if something does go wrong, which I don’t anticipate it does, but I’ll make it up to you tenfold.”

“Okay. I know you’re lying, because if you didn’t anticipate something going wrong you wouldn’t need me. But, you’re the boss.” Bruce flies over to the door and Jean Luc sits nearby to meditate and see through Bruce’s eyes.

Vera asks if Bruce needs light and hands the hawk a vial of phosphor luminescent fungus. Vera explains what it is and goes to put the vial on a cord around Bruce’s neck but he takes it from her in his talon. “Okay,” she says. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s alright,” Bruce says aloud surprising a few of them. “Alright boss, now what?”

Jean Luc sends Bruce down the hall. He sees that it slants upward and empties into a dark antechamber. There are large coffin-like objects hidden behind some curtains and some doors. Bruce flies back down the hall and exits landing on Jean Luc’s shoulder. Jean Luc tries to take the vial from Bruce who pulls his talon away. “You gonna carry that thing forever?”
Bruce sighs and tosses the vial which Jean Luc smoothly catches and hands to Vera with thanks. He then thanks Bruce and dismisses him.

Jean Luc tells the others Bruce seemed to see a tomb chamber with several burial coffins.
Cora meditates and senses two dragon-like creatures and four humanoids less than a mile, seemingly underneath them.

Gamora walks over to the large double doors and knock on them. Its seem solid and nothing happens. She decides to pull on the door handle which gives her some trouble initially. Cora moves into help her and the entire door frame snaps and debris collapses down on the two of them. Cora dives out of the way taking minimal damage, but Gamora is injured and buried by the rubble.

Several of the party members help dig her out and she laments that her curiosity will get them all killed one day.

The party realizes that clearing this rubble will take time that they just don’t have. They decide to take the slanted hallway. They test the panel trying to spring whatever trap it triggers. It seems to launch a bear trap like device.

Mags laments, “too bad there’s not someone who know about traps and stuff.”

“Yeah, I miss her too,” says Osrik. Mags sighs and looks at Cora. Osrik continues, “I was talking about Dru.”

Mags looks at him. “Yeah,” she says, “I was too.”

“But you looked at Cora,” says Osrik.

“She somehow blames me for it,” says Cora.

“Obviously,” says Mags.

“Why?” asks Cora.

“Because you killed her sister,” says Mags.

“So?” says Cora.

“So, if you didn’t kill her, she wouldn’t be in this predicament,” says Mags.

“What predicament is she in?” asks Cora surprised.

“Whatever. We wouldn’t be attacked by Drow, and she wouldn’t be forced to leave,” says Mags.

“What predicament is she in?” Cora repeats.

“Don’t worry about it. Let’s go,” says Mags.

Vera Wild Shapes into a cat surprising both Osrik and Jean Luc. Reven comments that this is something Vera does, always has since he’s known her. Osrik asks if Bruce is also a person.
Vera slinks down the hallway in her cat form.

Gamora takes a large rock and places it on the plate trying to secure the bear trap. After a moment there is a click and a loud boom and the sound of stone and bone grinding and echoing down the hall. Vera sees a large ball rolling down the hall towards her.

Gamora shoves the rock off the plate and sees the boulder tumbling towards them. The narrow hallway seems to expand making it big enough for the boulder to pass through. Realizing what is happening Gamora dives out of the way.

Vera gets trampled by the boulder as it rolls into the room. She loses her cat form and many skeletal hands grab at her and pull her inside the boulder. Cora and Reven dive out of the way but it clips Reven and sends his sprawling. Vera just manages to break out of the boulder before it smashes into the wall breaking into pieces.

Gamora says apologizes again on her bad timing. Osrik and Xenara heal Vera, Gamora, and Reven.

Vera says, “Thanks Rusty”, but immediately apologizes. They consider for a moment calling him ‘R2’, but Osrik doesn’t seem too pleased by the suggestion.

The party moves forward into the hallway. Osrik takes the lead and Jean Luc bringing up the rear. Jean Luc notices something that seems to blend in with the ground and stops and tries to pry it open. It appears to be a hatch which could fit a person inside.

They test it and it is a lift of some kind. Gamora descends to a lower level which empties into a hallway. One at a time they each follow her to the lower level.

Osrik waiting for his turn peeks into the chamber at the top of the path. He smells incense filling the room and sees large tapestries covering the walls. There is a small chute letting light into the room. As he peeks in, Osrik hears a voice in his mind,

Humility proffered in the manner of Mystral shelters those opening the way to those seeking knowledge.

Osrik is last to down the chute and he shares this with the group. Jean Luc gives a short lecture about the old religious gestures of the Netherese.

Gamora looks for footprints but it appears no one has been here in a long time. The party pauses briefly in the hallway before moving on.

Next: Season 3. Episode 4 – Push and Fall

Previous Season 3. Episode 2 – Chasing Leads

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Chasing Leads
Season 3, Session 2

22nd day of Nightal 1489 DR the Year of the Warrior Princess

The sun rises on a new day and Jean Luc gathers everyone in the war room which Herold had assembled. It’s a bit tight for the large party, but there is enough room to accommodate everyone and several maps of the region. He verifies Leosin has provided the party with maps, teleportation scrolls, and a way to transport Varram the White Wyrmspeaker.

Leosin briefs the party that he has made arrangements for them to use the teleportation circle to in Castle Waterdeep to Elturel where they will meet with Onthar Frume. He will provide them with horses and supplies for their journey to Boareskyr Bridge.

Jean Luc gently asks Vera whether she is ready to go, knowing she wants to see Harlin before they leave. Vera has no intention of leaving the party until she sees Harlin.

The party discusses the intelligence on Varram and they decide it is in their best interest to leave as quickly as possible while the information is relevant. Varram has about seven days head start so there is a possibility they will lose the trail.

Jean Luc inquires how Varram became separated from the White Dragon Mask. Leosin doesn’t have all the details, but he knows it was someone quite skilled who stole the mask from inside the Well of Dragons. He admits he is interested in learning who it is, as they would be a valuable asset when it comes time to storming the Well of Dragons.

“So you’re telling me,” Gamora says, “that one person managed to sneak into a place that has decimated every group that has tried to go in there and managed to escape with their life and a mask?”

Leosin suspects it was someone with inside knowledge of the Cult and the Well of Dragons. They suspect there could be dissent in the ranks, infighting, and defectors like Talis, and it may be a good time to gather up allies from these factions.

Gamora asks, “Do you suppose Talis, or a group of her people may have been able to infiltrate there and get the mask? Is it worth trying to get ahold of her?”

“If it wasn’t her it would be a very bad idea to contact her,” Cora says.
Gamora urges them to move on. Jean Luc suggests waiting a few more hours to prepare a spell he thinks they will need giving everyone a bit more time to prepare.

Cora asks Vera if she thinks she will even want to go after Varram or if she would rather wait for Harlin.

Jean Luc offers to reach out to Harlin using Sending. He casts the spell and realizes that Harlin is out of breath and struggling with something. He repeats some sort of riddle in a fiendish language which he translates into, “What has a heart, but no other organs?” Confused, Jean Luc asks the party for suggestions to the riddle. He casts Sending again with the party’s various suggestions. Harlin’s response is one of confusion. Then after a moment he laughs seeming to understand. The Sending doesn’t send more information after that. Jean Luc shares the details with Vera and regrets to tell her that it doesn’t seem Harlin will be making it today.

Vera is disappointed but understands that they can’t wait any longer. It would be at least a week before the group returns to Waterdeep. Jean Luc promises to try Harlin again before they leave to see if there is a chance to meet with him. Vera thanks him and the group disbands to reconvene at noon.

Osrik approaches Jean Luc and Leosin about the Shaping Hammer and asks if they are aware of the other Tools of Moradin. Jean Luc is recalls the tale of an ancient gold dwarf king and the artifacts he created inspired by Moradin. These were The Shaping Hammer, The Brutal Pick, The Anvil of Songs, and the Earthheart Forge. He doesn’t know much more about them, but he promises to reach out to an old friend named Targen Stonebreaker who is an expert in Dwarven Lore and artifacts.

Vera tells Jean Luc about her ring’s non-detection property and that she is concerned if she becomes separated from Jean Luc that she may not find Harlin again and asks if there is a way she can reach him on her own? Osrik recommends getting a set of sending stones and leaving one for him here in Waterdeep. Vera thinks it’s a great idea and the two of them head to Howard’s to see if he would have any to sell them.

Reven and Cora wander the castle halls and make their way to the open air training grounds. Reven observes the Castle Guard drilling and sparring. He walks over to one guard who is clearly outmatched by his sparring partner and gives him some advice. Some men are off-put by the half-drow’s advice to the point where one guard throws him a training blade telling him to put his words into action. Accepting the challenge Reven spars the guard. The guard swings wild. Reven side-steps the awkward strike and drives the hilt into his chest knocking the air out of his lungs.

An older guard, who seems to be the head instructor watches intently but shows no reaction. Reven makes eye contact with the old guard who nods in approval. Reven getting the attention of the guards begins running them through sword drills and sparring with the group correcting their form and working on techniques.

Cora had been watching from a distance. She sneaks up behind the next guard who was supposed to spar. She taps him on the shoulder wordlessly. The young guard looks at her holding her twin scimitars, he realizes it’s best not to challenge this woman and stands aside.

Cora twirls her twin scimitars expertly. Reven is confused and begins to talk, but Cora simply says, “Less talking.” She swings her blades and Reven parries the first attack with the wooden sword, but the sword is severed with the second blade. Reven tosses the handle at her head. He summons Talon and swings to attack. The guards all gather around watching them fight the sound of steel ringing in the courtyard.

Osrik escorts Vera to Stall’s Shop. Inside they run into some trouble with Jacob who seems to have forgotten Osrik. Eventually he is able to convince Jacob to take him in the back to Howard. Osrik introduces Vera to Howard and asks about a set of Sending Stones.

They banter a bit as Howard rummages through some boxes. Howard says he hopes that Osrik can find a way to turn him into a human again. He finds a pair of purple sending stones which he offers to them for 300 gold pieces.

Vera counter offers 200 gold pieces and her jar of peanut butter. Howard seems very attracted to the jar of peanut butter and accepts the offer. He quickly asks them to depart so he can enjoy his peanut butter.

Vera thanks Osrik and they walk around until they find a large rock which Osrik places into his bag of holding.

They make their way to Harlin’s house to drop off a note and one of the Sending Stones. When they knock on the door the large mastiff from the back yard begins barking. Osrik with Vera’s permission uses Stone Shape to form a new door to the house. The inside of the house looks nothing like a place whereHarlin would live. Living with him in Neverwinter she got a sense of what he liked, and many of the furnishings and style seems very different from his own.

She steps inside and freezes. Her sharp eyes catching the distinct traces of runes on the floor. Similar to the arcane marks she’s seen before, and she recognizes the arcane trap. The markings go along the entire perimeter of the house. She slowly and carefully backs out of the doorway. She tosses the note inside and it floats on the floor out of reach.

Vera turns to Osrik and tells him something isn’t right.

Osrik suggests that Vera should tell Harlin to pick up the stones somewhere else. He seals the door shut but they are approached by a guard. The guard notices the Gray Hand badge and moves along giving them their distance.

Vera hears a voice in her mind, You are going to get us in trouble. But there’s something in there. I think you should save it for another time. She sees the entity looking towards the door with interest.

Vera turns to Osrik and suggests they return to Castle Waterdeep. Osrik suggests they head to a temple and leave the stone there for Harlin to retrieve.

They make their way to the Temple of Tymora and meet Sister Nauereen. Osrik makes a donation for the storage services and make arrangements for Harlin to recover the item with the passcode of “peanut butter.” Satisfied, the two return to Castle Waterdeep.

Jean Luc begins to sort the many rare tomes he had gathered in Castle Naerytar out of his bag of holding and places them on the shelves of his room. After this he sits down and begins to draft a letter:

Dearest Vilia,
It was beyond words, exceptional, to see you again. And yet heartbreaking to hear of the loss of your allies and friends. I wish that we could meet again under more auspicious circumstances, but this is surely the worst. Except perhaps for the reunion of ’75, you were engaged in that argument with Professor Stonebreaker over the validity of the Percival Papers, which frankly, I have always found that you have disregarded without any reasonable reason…

Grumbling in frustration Jean Luc crumbles the letter and tosses it across the room. A knock at the door takes his attention away from his task and Herold enters, handing Jean Luc the spell scroll he requested. Jean Luc asks Herold for another favor, a trunk with a lock on it to store his books. Thanking him for his help, Jean Luc transcribes the spell scroll, Locate Object into his spellbook.

Bored out of her mind, Gamora paces between her bedroom and the war room. Mags sits at the table with her feet up reading a book. After nearly thirty minutes of pacing Mags looks up and says, “You need to go for a fucking walk. You’re driving me crazy!”

“There’s… we’ve got shit to do!” says Gamora, “And I don’t want to wander off and not be ready for it.”

“Well, why don’t you go train or something? I’m sure there’s something you can punch around here.”

Gamora looks slightly embarrassed as she says, “I’ve already punched my pillow a few times.”

“Go punch a tree, a rock, or a damn griffin, anything really. It’s not like you don’t have the authority, right?” says Mags, smirking.

“Fine! I’ll just go in my room,” Gamora slams the door closed with a loud boom and starts doing some pushups and crunches. She tries to stuff the feathers back into her beaten pillow and tie an end in a knot, but she rips the fabric and feathers go everywhere. She opens the door and yells, “HEROLD! I need a new pillow!”

Herold is walking down the hall carrying a large trunk on his back. He says, “Yes ma’am.”

Gamora relieves Herold of the trunk and takes it to Jean Luc kicking down his door and slaming it on the ground. Jean Luc is started at her sudden appearance then continues his scribing and thanks Herald. He invites Gamora inside and he asks her what’s bothering her.

Gamora complains, wanting to be out already hunting down the wyrmspeaker instead of just waiting. She then begins asking him about his magic book and what he is scribing.

Jean Luc shares that he is preparing a Locate Object in his spellbook so that he can cast it. She admits she doesn’t know how to use magic and continues to share her concerns about the Council of Waterdeep, believing that no one in the council wants to support them.

Jean Luc doesn’t seem concerned and believes that they will win them over eventually.

Gamora takes her leave and returns to the war room and sits next to Mags. Gamora sits in the room waiting for everyone to return absently rapping her hands on the table. Mags glances over her book at Gamora and sighs and quietly closes the book setting it aside. She pulls out a wooden board and begins placing wooden pieces on it.

“Let’s play a game,” says Mags.

“What’s this,” asks Gamora.

“Chess,” Mags says simply.

“Which direction do the little tiny ones go?” asks Gamora.

“Forward,” says Mags. Gamora takes a pawn and moves it all the way across the board.

Mags sighs, “Wait, let me explain how this works…”

Mags explains the game and how the pieces move. They play a few times and Gamora seems to be lost on how to play the game. By the second game Gamora starts to remember how the pieces move and capture. At the start of their third game Mags explains that the game is actually a battle and describes the game from a combative perspective.

Gamora laughs, “Well why didn’t you just say it like that before? I might not have lost the first one if you had just said it that way the first time." Gamora still loses against the young girl, but there seems to be more enjoyment and she pauses and thinks some moments, and reacts excitedly the others. She is entirely focused on the game and doesn’t realize Osrik and Vera are watching her play. She continues playing, trying to outsmart Mags, but realizing that her combat mind is much more advanced that her own. Gamora laughs, willing to accept the challenge.

Osrik requests that Jean Luc contact Harlin letting him know about the sending stone at the Temple of Tymora as well as the passcode to recover it. Jean Luc complies and sends the message to him with the details and asks when he expects to arrive and how he is doing.

Harlin replies to the sending with an apology to Vera and saying that he is currently occupied. He hopes to see her soon if he survives his current predicament.

Not long after Reven, Cora, and Xenara rejoin the group. Reven has a small cut on his face and Cora seems rather relaxed. When Jean Luc asks about Reven’s injury Xenara laughs saying that Reven and Cora were sparring and he didn’t do so well.

The party begins gathering their things and makes their way to the teleportation circle. As they prepare to depart Leosin comes to see them off. Gamora reminds him to get in touch with her if he hears anything about her father. Leosin promises he will and wishes her and the rest of the team well.

Jean Luc uses a special scroll within the teleportation circle that was given to him by Leosin. When he triggers the command word the party vanishes in a flash and find themselves transported from within the walls of Castle Waterdeep to a dark cellar with rickety stairs leading up towards a door. The magic of an arcane circle is the only light in the room.

Vera falls over and vomits, the strain of the teleportation stressing her body. Her tattoo squirms in discomfort. Osrik helps her to her feet as Gamora bounds up the stairs. Jean Luc stresses caution a bit too late.

Gamora pushes open the door revealing an empty tavern occupied by a Halfling man behind the bar who is clearly startled by their appearance. A burly half-orc man watches them from across the room and stands when they enter. Gamora turns to the Halfing saying, “You knew we were coming, right? We’re looking for Frume.”

Jean Luc catches up to Gamora and quickly cuts her off, saying, “Not the right place…”

The Halfling confronts them about using the teleportation circle, but Jean Luc tries to deny this. It doesn’t seem to work and after some misleading conversation the Halfling asks Jean Luc if he is part of the Harpers. Jean Luc admits he’s a new member.

The Halfing laughs saying, “You’re the worst spy ever. Look, do you have some sort of identification?” Jean Luc flashes his Harper pin which prompts a nod, “Oh, thank the gods, I thought you were some kind of weirdo. Alright, well, welcome to Elturel.”

They take their leave of the hole in the wall tavern called the Lazy Star. They round the corner and take in the detail of this sacred city. They make their way to the Order of the Gauntlet hall.

The party members who have previously been to Elturel recognize the woman inside who greets them. Mags walks up to her and asks, “Where’s Frume? Onthar Frume is supposed to see us.” She shows her Order of the Gauntlet badge.

The woman invites the group to the dining hall while they wait. Gamora helps herself to some food which earns her curious glances from other knights in the hall. Frume joins them not long after and welcomes them, telling them he has prepared eight horses for riding and about twelve days’ worth of food and supplies.

He also provides them a set of silver manacles that bind hand and feet and are connected by a long silver glittering chain. He says the chains are enchanted and should keep a bound wizard from casting spells. He hands them the key to the manacles.

Frume shows them a map and gives them general directions across the Fields of the Dead which will lead to the Boareskyr Bridge. Reven suggests getting some holy water before they head out to which Frume suggest going to the Temple of Torm. They part ways with Frume and acquire a few vials of holy water and ride north. During their journey they notice small farming settlements and long perished remains scattered throughout their journey, remains of a long forgotten war.

Three days into their ride they come across a band of nine weatherworn knights who stop them and being asking them questions. Jean Luc suspects these are the Hell Riders, the guards who patrol outside of Elturel. He explains that they are investigating the recent raids over the last couple of months and are pursuing a suspect. The commander looks them over and says he will let them go on their way but warns them to keep out of trouble.

During the journey, Jean Luc casts Sending to his old colleague Professor Stonebreaker. He asks about the Dwarven artifacts, the Tools of Moradin.

Stonebreaker replies, “You with this damn spell! Back in the day we sent birds or met in person! You buy a man a drink! What is this nonsense…” The spell cuts off due to its limit, but suddenly reactivates with a new message. Stonebreaker continues, “Seriously, I have a shit-ton of information that would melt your brain, but no one knows where the hell these things are. If you want…” and he is cut off again.

Jean Luc replies, “Of course you are correct, I owe you certainly a drink and more than that. As for nobody knowing, I suspect we’ve met somebody who knows the location of one…” The spell cuts off and Jean Luc smiles saying, “Love ya, bye” out loud.

Gamora recreates a makeshift chessboard and challenges Mags when they make camp.

Vera tries using the Sending Stones to contact Harlin but there is no reply.

One evening, Osrik attempts sculpting a statue using Reven’s elf maiden statuette as a model. The results are underwhelming. A different night, he focuses and uses the shaping hammer which magically shapes the stone in a similar likeness. Osrik realizes another new ability of the Shaping Hammer.

Five days after they set out from Elturel they arrive at Boareskyr Bridge in late that afternoon. The bridge is made of black granite, bearing the sculpted images of two the gods Cyric and Bhaal commemorating their battle during the Time of Troubles. The waystation settlement is little more than a gathering of tents outside the east side guard tower. A large tent pavilion in the center of the settlement draws the party’s attention. The sign outside says, "Tentside Inn.”

The party enters the pavilion which is a large tavern encircling a fighting pit. There are a few men fighting and several others gambling on the fight. Near the rear of the pavilion there is a bar and some of the party get some drinks. They notice a female Halfling sitting in the corner casually observing everyone in the pavilion.

Jean Luc begins cleaning himself up trying to figure out the best way to approach the Halfling maiden. As he steps up Gamora casually steps between them and says to the Halfling, “I’ll get straight to the point because I’m a little bit out on time. You look like the kind of person who sees a lot. And I’m willing to pay for anything you might have seen… possibly.”

The Halfing looks very interested and strikes up a conversation with Gamora. Gamora tells her that she and her companions are looking for a Gold Dwarf who came through the area, possibly with companions.

The Halfing confirms the Gold Dwarf came through with a bit of an escort. Gamora pays fifty gold for more information. She recounts the story:

“Well, a couple days ago, not too long ago, there was a Gold Dwarf in purple robes, much like you said. He was asking about escorts into the hills, when this hooded fellow starts asking him his business. The dwarf looked him straight in the eye, the pulled out his dagger and stabbed the tall fellow dead! He was one of the scaled folk, Yuan Ti, of the Serpent Hills, come down to spy on us! That dwarf’s a hero, make no mistake. But he and his entourage took off straight away for the hills then, quick as cats! Those scaly folk have been giving us all kinds of shit, so it was pretty awesome. Good guy, really nice.”

Gamora follows up asking more about Yuan Ti, the Serpent Hills, and the entourage that was accompanying the Gold Dwarf. The Halfing mentions there were a dozen, possibly more, who traveled with him. They all wore masks or full head coverings, and she suspects they were Orc or Hobgoblin mercenaries who didn’t want to attract attention.

Gamora returns to the group and debriefs them. Jean Luc suspects that Varram may be allying himself with the Yuan Ti, but Osrik mentions that he wouldn’t have killed one of them if they were aligned. They realize that going to the Serpent Hills is an investment of several more days and decide to ask around more before heading out possibly and refreshing their supplies. Xenara seems distracted by the men fighting in the pit and seems not to be paying much attention.

Jean Luc talks with the bartender, a human named Leon. He confirms the story about Varram and learns a bit more about the Yuan Ti and how they are a nuisance to the settlement and a danger to those traveling through the Serpent Hills. He also learns that the Halfing maiden is Ms Bolo, the proprietor of the pavilion.

At Leon’s suggestion Jean Luc and Gamora speak with a stable boy to get the general direction of where Varram and his entourage traveled. Picking up the general direction Cora is easily able to find the trail.

Before heading out of town, Jean Luc uses a sending stone to contact Leosin and give him an update on the hunt and what they discovered. He asks if there is a connection between Yuan Ti and the Cult of the Dragon. Leosin tells him there have not been any indications and asks for any intelligence telling otherwise. He thanks them and wishes the team luck.

As they get ready to push onto the road, Jean Luc suggests Osrik ask his god about their choices. Osrik says that he must wait until morning, but Vera says she can help. Vera meditates and begins casting a ritual asking, “Will we find the White Wyrmspeaker in the Serpent Hills?” Vera’s tattoos glow white and her eyes burn a bright purple.

Gamora sees a woman materialize besides Vera. Her twin in every way except her hair is purple and her eyes a glowing green. Unlike Vera she has no tattoos and wears a loose fitting white robe. She turns to Vera and in an emotionless voice says, “Yes, just follow the trail along the river. He’ll be in the temple.”

“What the fuck was that?” asks Gamora having an unsure feeling about the entity before her.

“Divination," says Osrik. “I do it all the time.”

Gamora laughs suspiciously, “Not like that you don’t!”

Vera tells the party to follow the trail along the river and they will find him in a temple. Secure with that answer, the party grabs their mounts and begins following the trail.

When they break for the evening at camp Osrik sits with everyone and tells them he has some good and bad news.

He tells the party, “I don’t have my memory back, but I know things. It feels like… Jean Luc have you ever come across someone’s work notes? They have the dates and names, or you can see where they found something new or an important discovery. That’s what this feels like. It feels like I’m deciphering notes from someone else’s work. I just wanted to say thank you for putting up with me as I know I haven’t been the best company since the brain slug got a hold of me. I’m still trying to figure out who I am. This may have been a blessing in disguise really. I now get to decide who I want to be. I look forward to meeting him. With these friends around, seems like he will be a pretty good guy. We will discover him together, so don’t fuck me up.”

Gamora places a hand on his shoulder slightly saddened, “We are with you friend.”

Mags grins, “You need a new nickname.”

“A person doesn’t pick their own nickname,” says Osrik. “But my memory is a bit rusty, so I guess that could still work.” He laughs to himself.

The party rests for the evening and continues along the trail at first light.

Next: Season 3. Episode 3 – Tomb of Diderius

Previous Season 3. Episode 1 (pt3) – Choices

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Hammers, Ale, and Bedsheets
Season 3, Session 1 (part 3 of 3)

21st day of Nightal 1489 DR the Year of the Warrior Princess

Leosin walks over to Jean Luc and the others that are gathered, “The council has provided you with lodging here within Castle Waterdeep. It’s totally at your option, but they have dedicated a wing for all of you.”

Jean Luc sees points to a small room not far from where they are gathered, “Leosin, you want to join me over here?” He pulls off his robe and cloak handing them to Osrik, “Will you hold these for me?”

Osrik silently takes the robe and cloak not sure what to make of him. Jean Luc leads the way toward the room his elven chain shirt shimmering and a strong confident stride in his walk. If he didn’t know better he would confuse Jean Luc with a seasoned warrior rather than a scholarly mage. He watches as Leosin follows behind and the door close behind him.

Jean Luc grabs the Leosin tunic angrly. “Did you fucking know that I knew her when you sent her to die?!” he explodes.

“Well, I didn’t realize it right away,” Leosin says averting his gaze unable to meet his rage. “I was working with Brinthel Greyhammer, he assembled the team and recruited her.
Apparently they had traveled together for several years. I didn’t realize until after they came back because I didn’t check the team’s credentials.”

“Did she volunteer for anything else? Do you know?!”

“As of now, no. But, her knowledge is going to be invaluable,” says Leosin.

“Yes, I’m sure her knowledge will be,” he says releasing the monk’s shirt. “Please, for my sake, find a library or office, and instruct her to ‘knowledge’ things for you, for a few months. Or until the end of the world is averted, please.”

“I don’t think she would appreciate that,” says Leosin.

“The amount of shit I have put up with that I don’t appreciate in the last six months,” he says shaking his head. Jean Luc looks at Leosin, “Your job is to make your agents do shit they don’t appreciate. She won’t appreciate, but get it done anyway.”

“Noted,” says Leosin. “She will need time to heal. I’ll keep her out of the field as long as I can, but she isn’t the type of lady who likes to sit behind a desk.”

“No shit,” says Jean Luc. He pauses takes a breath. “Cora’s is going to try to chat up our friend Onthar Frume at a bar later if you’d like to join us. I’m sure we have a lot to think about what we might need if this is going to work at all.”

“I don’t think it’s prudent to have these discussions in a bar, don’t you think? Then again, you’re the special investigators. You guys do what you want,” says Leosin.

“You understand that half of my team thinks there are just as many enemies in the room we were just sitting in as out there in the forests and valleys of the Sword Coast,” says Jean Luc.

“I can understand that. They are politicians. Everyone has their own interests at heart, and rightly so. And yeah, Neverember is an asshole but he’s good at what he does and we need him on our side. If they don’t protect their cities who will? Everyone wants the Cult of the Dragon stopped. Just no one wants to spread themselves thin to the point they are vulnerable, and others gain from their loss. Even the Harpers don’t know how much they want invest in this battle, we are still recovering and rebuilding the organization. If we put ourselves out there foolishly there will be nothing left of us. Everyone is trying to figure out who we can count on and how to survive this war.”

“What’s your takeaway on this Well of Dragons? Are they going to raise an arm big enough to give it a fight, or not?”

“No one’s committing we have no numbers. Right now everyone is deciding on if it’s worth throwing their forces together. They need someone or something to trust in this battle that pulls everyone together. Our hope is that your team would be able to do this.”

“Alright, so we’re going to work up a list of things we will need help acquiring, but you need to work up a list of things we might be able to do to sway some of their minds,” says Jean Luc.

“Hopefully everything you heard in the council will help you sway their minds. You need to show some results, some wins. Start with this dragon mask and the White Wyrmspeaker,” says Leosin.

“If we don’t see you out for drinks, will I find you back here later?” ask Jean Luc.

“Possibly, I could use a drink though,” says Leosin.

The door opens and Jean Luc walks out and takes his robe and cloak without a word. The looks on the group’s face show that they clearly heard Jean Luc’s outburst but no one brings it up.

Vera breaks the silence show Jean Luc the Gray Hand badge, “Scrying, right?”

“Maybe?” he says

“Cast Dispel Magic?” she asks.

“Maybe. Or Detect Magic until we have the proper spells prepared.”

“I mean, I don’t have to worry about it…” Vera begins. Then a voice echos in her mind. Stop telling everyone about your ring. It’s foolish to give away an advantage.

“Listen,” Jean Luc says to the group as a whole. “If there are enemies amongst the friends we just made. If they were overwhelming, we would not even be having this conversation. They knew where we were staying. They could have come and murdered us in our sleep last night or the night before. I’m saying that we need to extend a measure of trust to this institution for now because we can’t go forward assuming everyone we meet is a secret Dragon Cultist. They’re obviously out there, but I mean, we need allies.”

Cora says, “I think we should be cautious.”

Once they exit Castle Waterdeep Jean Luc stands aside from the group and casts Sending. He reaches out to Dru saying, “I convinced a bunch of people you have the Cult of the Dragon’s Black Dragon Mask to protect Cora. Immediately regretted it, and am sorry.

There is no response. He walks towards Mags and says, “I’m sorry.”

“What, for lying?” Mags responds with little emotion.

“Yeah,” says Jean Luc.

“Oh I don’t care,” says Mags. “My recommendation is that you don’t stay in the same inn where the Drow attacked you last night. Find another place to stay.”

“We were invited to stay in the castle,” says Jean Luc. “It might be a good idea to take them up on that offer.” The group discusses the advantages and disadvantages of staying in Castle Waterdeep, but they mostly agree that it is the best choice.

“Herald,” says Jean Luc, “We will be staying in the Castle. Will you show us to our rooms?”

“Of course,” he says. “Please follow me.” The guard escorts them to the western most wing on the second floor. The entire wing seems to have been devoted to them. Jean Luck asks one room be modified into a war room with maps and other objects. “Of course, right away, sir.”

Osrik checks his room and turns to Jean Luc, “I have to head back to the Plinth. I’ll be back in a bit.”

“Do you want company?” Gamora asks.

“No, I’d rather be alone.”

“Hey Osrik, what did you learn?” asks Jean Luc, “From the Dwarf with the staff?”

“Oh! I’ve been worshipping to the wrong god the whole time,” says Osrik lightheartedly.

“So who do you worship?” he asks.

“Marthammor Duin,” says Osrik. Jean Luc nods.

“I need some ale,” Vera interrupts, “for special investigatory business.”

“A drink it is,” says Osrik. “I will meet up with you there.” Osrik says a brief farewell and
takes his leave.

Cora asks Reven, “So do we not want to pursue this thing with Iarno?”

Reven says, “We’ll talk about it after drinks.”

Jean Luc turns to Herald and spends the better part of ten minutes lecturing to Herald about the Dwarven god Marthammor Duin and asking him to have a shrine placed in Osrik’s room.

“Right away,” says Herald as he walks out to meet the specifications.

The party heads out of Castle Waterdeep to the Flagon Dragon. Onthar Frume was waiting for them by the gate accompanies them and they walk back into the city.

In the Flagon Dragon Vera tries to use her Gray Hand badge to get free drinks at the bar but the bartender doesn’t seem to not recognize it. She pays for her drink and tells him, “Next time, you will have to give me a refund.”

Cora sits next to Onthar Frume and asks him about Bog Luck. She tells him, “I know that he knowingly worked with the Dragon Cult. I don’t trust Neverember. Why was he so pleased about there not being evidence against Bog Luck?”

Onthar Frume says, “Bog Luck is a piece of shit. Neverember is just an asshole and politician, and a power monger. I don’t like him.”

“Could he have some ties to Bog Luck directly?” Cora asks. “I’ve heard he has ties to many organizations.”

“I don’t know. I’m not the one to ask,” he says as he finishes off his first drink. “Might want to ask Leosin he would probably know more about that stuff.”

“How many of those people did you know?” Jean Luc asks Onthar Frume.

“I know Leosin, Personally. Many others I know by reputation.”

“It’s pretty clear we made about half the people in the room very unhappy. Is it likely any of them will walk away altogether?” Jean Luc adds.

“It’s hard to tell. I mean, to be completely honest, the Order of the Gauntlet doesn’t even have all your backs. I have to do some major convincing,” says Onthar Frume.

“The council already decided what to do before we got there, right?” Vera asks.

“They had decided they would work with you unless they felt you all were unfit to work with. They wanted to see you with their own eyes and make their gut feelings so to say. Well, unless of course you all chose to do it on your own. In the end no one objected strongly enough to not move forward this this plan.”

“Well what could we have said that would have gotten us thrown out of the room?” Vera asks.

“Fuck you all, we don’t want any of your shit,” says Onthar Frume.

“Oh, so Gamora was really close,” she says.

“Probably,” he chuckles.

“I don’t trust them,” says Gamora.

“They’re politicians,” says Onthar Frume. “You’re not supposed to trust them. But, you’ve got to work with them.”

At the Plint, Osrik arrives and makes an offering. He casts Divination and asks, “We are going to track down the Cult of the Dragon members. Should we head to the bridge or to the north? What would be more beneficial to our immediate goal?”

He hears a voice speak: Immediate benefits for either task are not clear, but time is running out on one over the other. If you don’t seek the dwarf you may never find him.

Osrik says, “Thank you for finding me.”

In his heart he feels a warm glow and feels in his heart. I was always here. Thank you for seeing me.

After some time Leosin shows up and Jean Luc buys him a drink. He gives Leosin a list of supplies saying, “We need a way to teleport.”

“Done. What else?” says Leosin.

“Scrying. If we’re going to find this woman who has been missing in the icy tundras for three years we are going to need to scry on a regular basis,” Jean Luc says.

“I think that’s already been done,” says Leosin

“Was there any luck?” he asks.

“You can talk to Lady Dalia if you want more information on that,” says Leosin.

“If we’re going to keep Varramzord alive we need a smith to build something to gag him and bind his hands. You don’t keep spellcasters alive, you kill them,” says Jean Luc.

“You could put him in a portable hole,” Cora suggests.

“It will run out of oxygen,” says Jean Luc

“That’s a risk I’m willing to take,” Cora says.

A red bearded dwarf pulls up a chair and sits next to the group. He drops his Warhammer on the table, “Well, if you treat a spell caster’s finger bones like walnuts, they can’t cast spells.” Reven and Cora both laugh at the statement.

Jean Luc shocked by the sudden appearance of the dwarf, but Gamora says, “It’s okay. This is Aeron, he’s making Osrik a new shield.”

Xenara comes over and gives Aeron a hug, “Hello, my friend. You seem to be everywhere aren’t you?”

“I try to keep folks on their toes. I have a few moments before I head up North thought I’d find you guys again.” Vera runs over and gives the dwarf a big hug, “Hi, kitty-cat,” he says with a great big smile.

“One time,” Vera says turning her attention back to the party, “there was a goblin, who only thought about escaping… he didn’t get very far.”

“Wait,” Gamora says, “how do you all know each other?”

Cora says, “We used to travel together years ago. Reven, Aeron, Harlin, Vera, and I. That was a long time ago. “

Aeron looks at Cora and nods, “Cora.”

“Anyway, didn’t mean to break up your pow-wow,” says Aeron. “I was here last night trying to talk to you two,” looking at Cora and Reven, “But you were so caught up in your little talk and just walked out.”

“Oh, sorry.” says Reven.

Aeron says to Reven glancing at Cora, “And this still happening. Congratulations? I don’t know. When you break up again, try not to put me in the middle this time.”

“You are not in the middle of anything, ever,” Cora says.

“Whatever,” Aeron says. “I’m going to let you do you. I’m going to be over there.” He reaches over and grabs a barrel from behind the counter of the bar, grabs a mug, and flips some coins on the counter and sits down reading a book.

Leosin says to Jean Luc, “Well, I might have something a bit more civilized if you like than breaking fingers. There should be something in the dungeons.”

“Do you know if Remalia’s husband was a Masked Lord? We heard rumors,” Jean Luc asks.

Leosin sighs. “Yes he was, though we try not to share that information.”

“But they did kill her husband, and it was supposedly a cultist.”

“It was a cultist, yes.”

“Were they able to gather anything past that?” asks Jean Luc.

“We are not sure why Arthagast was targeted if they targeted him knowing he was a Masked Lord, connected to the Harpers, or just because his business crossed paths with them I’m not sure. But one thing I do know for sure is killing him was the worst mistake they could have made.

Lady Remalia gathered the council because of this with a single message, if they could strike a Masked Lord of Waterdeep no one is safe,” Leosin smiles a little bit.

“Now they don’t feel safe themselves, so they have to move,” says Cora.

“Exactly,” says Leosin.

Jean Luc casts Detect Magic on his Gray Hand badge and his Harper pin. The Harper pin glows a faint abjuration aura. The Grey Hand pins have no magical aura. He shares this with the rest of the group. Jean Luc also notices that there is an aura on the official writ protecting the paper from standard elemental damage.

“How do they expect us to send reports?” Vera asks.

“Well, I’ve been getting reports,” Leosin says.

“Just Sending all the time?”

“Right, but the council will probably meet again after a few of your missions, and then we report and bring new information to light,” says Leosin.

“In the short term,” Jean Luc says, “I take it that magical brief conversations will suffice until we leave and come back. Is there anybody you trust as a second, in case the Cult of the Dragon assassinates you?”

“Well, let us do this,” says Leosin. He opens a bag and pulls out a blue sending stone, and gives it to Jean Luc. “If anything happens to me, there should be instructions that my benefactor will recover this stone.”

Jean Luc gets out his map and asks Leosin to describe where each of the council members have power, and where they can go for help if they are away from a city. He asks about where there are teleportation circles. Leosin tells him that he has clearance to let them use the Harper network.

“One other thought. Three of the council members walked away totally displeased. Ambassador Brawnanvil, King Melandrach, and Delaan Winterhound of the Emerald Enclave, see if you can think up something, even if it’s not connected to the Cult of the Dragon, that we might be able to do to win them to our side.”

“Okay, I’ll see what I can come up with,” says Leosin, “I think if you can bring back the White Wyrmspeaker and deliver him to the Brawnanvil you’ll at least have Mithril Hall on your side.”

“What are the crimes he has been accused of?” Jean Luc asks.

“I don’t know,” says Leosin.

Osrik returns to the inn and joins in the drink and conversation. He says to Gamora, “I went to the church to pray for my memory to go away. I don’t need it. It was unsuccessful.” He and Gamora discuss this as Cora pulls Jean Luc away from Leosin.

Cora ask Jean Luc that they should meet tonight with Osrik, and he should use his hammer to destroy the Black Dragon Mask.

“You want to do that at the castle, though?” asks Jean Luc.

She considers what he says, “I want to do it as soon as possible. We should attempt to do it away from the castle because we don’t know what kind of effect can result in its destruction. And I would prefer not to be anywhere near the castle when that happens.”

Jean Luc points out that they will literally be heading towards a man searching for another masks and he is hesitant to bring one to him. “So what if we do it tonight?” he suggests. “We’ve got to convince Osrik to go with us.” They agree to meet at midnight.

Onthar Frume and Leosin plan to leave. Leosin asks which path they intend to go down so he knows what to prepare for. Jean Luc says, they will head for Boarskyr Bridge to follow the trail of Varram.

Cora asks Leosin about teleportation arrows. Leosin intrigued says he has never heard of them. Aeron overhearing this walks over to Cora asking about this.

She mentions to Aeron that she found a few of them and Aeron asks to see them. She shows him the arrow and his is very impressed with it. He offers to provide her a scroll in exchange for the arrow. She is unwilling to part with it, but he offers to study it to replicate the process. He offers to give her five arrows to her if he is able to replicate the process. She agrees and gives him the teleportation arrow.

Leosin confirms that they can use the teleportation circles but also promises to get them a scroll, in case of need. Osrik asks about the reliability of the Harpers and if they will know to help them. Leosin tells him that some of them will, but that those in the field may not be up to date with current events and may therefore not be aware of the alliance with the Grey Hands of Waterdeep.

Reven talks to Aeron about needing a new shield. Aeron scolds him for losing a shield he gave him before but Reven doesn’t seem to remember this. He tells him he can work on something after working on Osrik’s shield.

Jean Luc speaks to Osrik away from the rest of the party. “When I told the council about the mask, I don’t know if you noticed that I was making that up. I know where it is, and if you’re amenable, I want to sneak out tonight and destroy it. And I want you to come with me because I think we might need your powerful hammer.”

“I’ll take a swing at it,” says Osrik.

“We’re going to meet at midnight at my room,” says Jean Luc.

“Sounds ominous,” says Osrik.

At midnight, Cora and Osrik meet in Jean Luc’s room. They formulate a plan wherein Jean Luc casts feather fall on himself and sits in a blanket and casts Fly on Cora and Osrik. They hold the blanket and fly out the window. They realize they have less than an hour to find a location, destroy the mask, and return to their rooms.

As they fly out the window, the guards at Castle Waterdeep spot them and send them to arms. This draws the attention of some of the party including Vera and Reven. Luckly Herald shouts, “Hold your fire! It’s the special investigation unit.”

The flying trio are soon bet by a pair of griffin riders who escort them out the city. They land outside the city wall in the woods and find a flat rock.

“Moment of truth,” Jean Luc says.

Cora takes out the Black Dragon Mask. Its wooden features perfectly carved like the face of a black dragon. She places it on the flat stone. “You ready?” she asks Osrik.

“Yup. You should back up a bit,” Osrik says.

Osrik takes a moment and casts Death Ward on himself and Bless on the three of them. He grips his shield defensively and transforms his hammer into a Warhammer. “Yep,” he says, “You should back up a bit.”

He strikes the Black Dragon Mask and there is a crack and a burst of green light that flashes making Osrik’s hand a bit numb. The flat rock is instantly destroyed and mostly a pile of dust, the Black Dragon Mask is unharmed.

Tossing his shield aside he transforms the warhammer into a maul. Gripping the massive hammer with two hands he grunts and he swings with all his might. As the hammer strikes the mask there is a thundering boom and green energy bursts up Osrik’s arm sending an acidic burning pain up both arms under his armor and his hammer is covered in green acid.

Jean Luc, frustrated casts fire bolt on the mask. The spell reflects back at him and he feels the acid burn in his palm. The mask does not catch fire.

Cora picks up the mask realizes it is unaffected by their efforts, “So, what now? Any other ideas on what would destroy it?”

“Well,” says Jean Luc, “I’ll have to think about it. I’ll try not to think about it out loud where other people will hear it. Rusty, I lied because I thought there was no way we could put a good face forward, if they found out we were holding one of these things. But I didn’t particularly want to hand it over to somebody else. How do you feel about keeping this secret for now?”

“You think it’s for the good?” says Osrik.

“Yes, but, if you’re not comfortable with it, I will understand.” says Jean Luc.

Realizing they are running short on time the three of them hurry back to the castle and rest for the night.

Next: Season 3. Episode 2 – Chasing Leads

Previous Season 3. Episode 1 (pt2) – Council of Waterdeep

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Council of Waterdeep
Season 3, Session 1 (part 2 of 3)

21st day of Nightal 1489 DR the Year of the Warrior Princess

Downstairs, Gamora impatiently asks Jean Luc when it is time to go. Osrik returns and offers to play cards with her to pass the time.

Cora approaches Jean Luc asking him for some help identifying some magic items. She begins with the Black Dragon Mask she pulled off Rezmir, and tells him she thinks it is the mask she promised Bog Luck. Jean Luc can sense a phenomenal amount of magic in the mask and he explains its properties to her.

Next she gives him he cousin’s scimitar, but when she hands it to him the second sword she purchased from Jokal vibrates angrily and flies out of its scabbard and spins wildly around Jean Luc’s neck until the two blades are within arm’s reach and clash on the floor. A thin bead of blood drips from his neck from where the second blade cut him.

When he casts identify on one blade he senses the properties of the second. He determines that the blades are not in sync and something is hindering its full potential, as a result he can’t understand their enchantments. When he casts Identify again, touching both swords at once, he realizes that the sword she received from Jokel, the one with the dragon head charm, has a conditional enchantment that will trigger in the presence of a dragon.

Cora considers handing over her bow, Providence to Jean Luc but decides against it, feeling this is part of her own journey to discover. Instead she pulls out the silver-blue dragon scale. Before handing it to him, she says, “I don’t know how much of this I can explain without sounding crazy. I don’t even know if you’ll be able to touch it. But you can try.”

Jean Luc reaches out to touch the scale but feels a strange vibration as his hand passes through it. The phenomenon utterly confuses him, but he finds it rather intriguing.

Cora asks, “On another subject, I wanted to know, what are your thoughts on time travel?”
“Well,” Jean Luc tells her, “I wondered about that when the lad answered the riddles for us in the vault. But I’m not sure if I’ve ever read anything on time travel before.”

“Do you think it’s possible?” she asks.

“Probably. I mean, I think there are celestial beings that exist outside what we understand as time. But I don’t know if it’s as easy as planar travel. So… is that what you think this is? Out of sync with time? Is that why I can’t touch it? That’s fascinating.”

“I hope we’ll keep this between us," Cora says, "Because as you can imagine this knowledge in the wrong hands might prove very dangerous.”

Jean Luc agrees. He asks Cora to hold the scale out again. He places his hands underneath hers but does not feel the vibrations, and touches Cora’s hand. He rotates his hands around hers to lay over hers where they phase through the scale and he feels vibrations. “What do you feel?” he asks.

“I feel the scale in my hands and your fingers in the same place,” she says.

“I’ll look into it,” he says. “And don’t give that mask to that creep.”

Cora ask, “How do you destroy magic items?”

“That’s an excellent question,” he tells her, “Because I know some people who think you can’t destroy magic items. Anything else?”

“No," says Cora. “Thank you.”

As they head back downstairs the city guards show up asking for Jean Luc. Reven stands up and claims he is Jean Luc, but Gamora ignores him and points out the real Jean Luc. The guards explain they are the group’s escort and asks them if they are ready to head to Castle Waterdeep.

Vera turns to Cora, “Should I actually be going to this?”

“Well, you might not actually have any testimony to give,” Jean Luc says, “And I am under the impression this might be some secret material.”

“Leosin advised that all party members currently involved in the investigation should attend,” says a guard.

Jean Luc tells the group, “This is a moment of some decision-making. If you’re in, everyone we’re about to meet are going to expect us to be in until this is over.”

Cora turns to Vera, “You are here to find Harlin. I think perhaps it’s best for you to stay here.”

“You don’t think I should…” Vera says a bit taken aback.

“It could be a great adventure,” Jean Luc interjects.

“Who knows, Harlin may be at this meeting,” Osrik adds.

“It may be dangerous,” Cora warns sternly, cutting off the others. “I don’t think Harlin will want to get involved in this. You probably don’t want to…,” Cora says.

Vera interrupts, “Wait. Your aunt – the house – the Cult. There is a connection, isn’t there?”

Cora pauses and simply nods.

“Then I will go," Vera says. {**}

The party leaves the Flagon Dragon and head down the road to Castle Waterdeep. The path towards the castle travels uphill through various checkpoints as they wind up the mountain upwards. When they finally make it to the main gate they enter into a large busy courtyard. The guards lead the group through double doors into a grand hall where several individuals are already gathered and mingling. Leosin is among them and he breaks away from a dark-haired moon elf maiden and makes his way to the party.

He is glad to see they have arrived and is introduced to Vera and Reven. He asks about Dru whereabouts, and shares a mix of regret and relief, suggesting the council may have had reservations about Dru’s participation. He asks the party if they are ready.

“Is there something you want us to say?” Jean Luc asks.

“You’re best off just being honest and mindful of the situation,” Leosin answers.

“What’s the situation as it currently is?” Osrik asks.

“Political. Highly political. Do your best, try not to yell if you don’t have to,” Leosin says.

Gamora snaps, “What are you all looking at me for?”

Leosin suggests the party store their gear and weapons for safekeeping. They are assigned a steward, a castle guard named Sgt Herold Ward. The party reluctantly agrees and allow Herold to store their gear.

Vera approaches Leosin, "We heard that someone was killed recently. Was that someone who was supposed to be needed here today?” Leosin looks at her cautiously and hesitates. “Just for our… awareness,” she finishes.

“Let’s not talk about that now. Keep a neutral frame of mind, and do your best to not lose your temper. Please follow Sgt Ward to store your items. I will see you inside.” He looks at Jean Luc, “See you, friend.”

“See you," says Jean Luc

“Please follow me if you will,” says Sgt Ward. “And you may call me Herold.” He leads them to a secured room where he secures the party’s inventory individually.

“Herald, I will hold you personally accountable if my shit goes missing,” Gamora threatens.

“It won’t,” he says as he secures the metal locker. “Though why are you threatening me?" he mutters quietly, "This is literally my job.”

Once everyone has secured their gear they make their way to the meeting room. There are less people gathered in the grand hall. As they make their way Osrik, Jean Luc, Cora, and Vera notice a very lovely white-haired human woman with piercing hazel eyes in a simple black dress. She makes eye contact with those that notice her and smiles a warm greeting as she makes her way out of the castle.

An imposing man dressed in noble clothes is engaged in conversation with a fancy robed individual. Cora and Reven recognize the man as Lord Dagult Neverember, leader of Waterdeep and Neverwinter. He breaks away patting the robed man on the back as he heads down the hall to the meeting chamber.

The robed man noticing the party turns towards them and looks at Reven, Vera, and Cora. “Ah. Hello. How are my three favorite people?” he greets them.

Cora turns to Reven, “Who is this? Have we met?” Reven stammers.

“You forget me so soon,” The black haired man says. “Selvriane, what a pleasure. And Mister Reven. Where is Mister Harlin?”

The three of them realize after a moment the man is Iarno Albrecht, a wizard bandit once known as Glasstaff, Leader of the Red Brands who they arrested ten years ago in Phandalin. They had arranged for him to have a trial in Neverwinter in return for information.

“Who the fuck is Selvriane?” Gamora asks. “What the fuck is going on?”

“Motherfucker,” Cora says anger burning in her eyes. “Last we met you were heading for your execution.”

Vera makes a flower for Iarno and holds it out to him. He takes it from her and kisses her hand with a wide grin.

“My execution? No, no, no," he says with a large grin. “My trial. And thank you, for were it not for your intervention I would never had been able to clear myself of those heinous and dishonorable charges. I have found myself fortunate to becoming the head ambassador to Lord Neverember. So all these fortunate circumstances that have befallen me these last ten years are all because of you.” Inaro’s grins widely, seeming very pleased with himself. "I thank you for this, my friends. I must repay you for all of your kindness.”

Vera leans over to Iarno and whispers, “Could you not use Selvriane? I’m going by Vera now.”

“Oh, I’m sorry. And where is your thief friend?”

“He’ll be here tomorrow,” Vera says, smiling at Iarno.

Cora gives her a death glare. “You do remember what he has done, right?”

“Allegedly done, my dear,” Iarno says. “And cleared of said charges might I remind you.”

“You do recall,” Cora insists, “we were there!”

“I was a man running for my life,” Iarno says, “extorted by a Drow elf trying to seize power. What could a poor man like me do? Obviously the council cleared me of all charges and found I was still worthy to act as a representative of the Lords Alliance. I am but a loyal servant to the cause and the people," He says with a glint of mischief in his eyes, "All because of you and I thank you so much for it. Now let me point out if you ever need anything, anything at all, I would be glad to help.”

“Cora, you realize he did help us out,” Reven says.

“And I’m so sorry about Syldar,” Iarno says to Reven.

“What happened to Syldar?” Vera asks.

“He passed away recently. He was deep into his fiftieth year,” Iarno tells them.

“Did he meet with an unfortunate accident?” Cora asks.

“No, he passed in his sleep,” Iarno says, then turns to Reven, “But it’s sad that you never made amends for that falling out seven years ago. So sorry.”

Reven and Cora seem confused, knowing that there was no falling out. Gamora steps forward and speaks up, “Listen, pal, if you’re done toying with my friends here, we’re going to move on to the next stage of this shindig.”

“Oh,” Iarno says, “So sorry. And you are?” Gamora brushes past him slamming her shoulder into him sending him staggering. Iarno after gaining his breath chuckles amused by the display, “Oh, I’m so clumsy. Have a pleasant day all of you.”

Vera pauses before moving on, reiterating to Iarno, “And… it’s Vera.”

“Yes, Miss Blackthorne,” he says with a knowing grin then continues on his way. A small rat crawls out of his robe and crawls up Iarno’s shoulder. It turns and faces Reven with what appears to be a mocking expression. Reven angrily reaches for the hilt of his sword and realizes it isn’t there. Cora rests her hand on his arm telling him to let it go for now.

The party is led into a large chamber with more than a dozen people inside. The room is filled with the chatter of the multiple individuals. As they pass through the threshold there is a spark of energy that is slightly discomforting. Inside the room they find a large U-shaped table with two rows of chairs facing the open side of the table. Those sitting here are clearly on display for those who sit at the main table. Leosin motions for them to sit at these seats.
One of the individuals by the larger table is Onthar Frume, talking with Mags. She sees the group enter and she makes her way over to them. Jean Luc asks her quietly, “Any advice?”
She quietly replies, “No, not really. Let’s try not to piss to people off.”

Reven turns to Jean Luc, “Did you feel that magical crackle? Is that some sort of defense barrier? Can you tell?”

Jean Luc begins to cast mage hand, discreetly, but Leosin shakes his head, warning him against that action.

Seated at the center of the table is the man who was talking with Iarno earlier. He has a glass, drinks from it, and slams it on the table. “Let’s get started already. Things are getting bad. Let’s get this all in order.”

Leosin stands, "For the purposes of those unfamiliar I would introduce the council.” He gestures to man in the center seat, “Lord Dagult Neverember, Open Lord of Waterdeep and Lord Protector of Neverwinter,”

To his left sits a dwarf in plate armor and a well combed brown beard, “Ambassador for Mithril Hall, representing the Dwarves of the North, Connerad Brawnanvil,”

To Neverember’s right is an elf with a brown tan and green hair. “King Melandrach of the Misty Forest, representing the Elves of the Misty Forest and the High Forest.”

An aged wizard with silver hair and robes to Brawnanvil’s left, “Taren Hornblade, representative for Silverymoon.”

“Onthar Frume, delegate for the Order of the Gauntlet.” The paladin of Torm sits to Hornblade’s left in his armor with a calm and relaxed smile.

To his left is a brown-skinned man with a short haircut in armor, “Marshall Ulder Ravengard, representative for Baldur’s Gate and the Lord Commander of the Flaming Fist.”

To the elf king’s right sits a nervous half-elf wearing animal furs. “Delaan Winterhound, representative for the Emerald Enclave.”

To Delaan’s right sits an aged human with graying hair. He wears ceremonial armor adorned with the markings of Lathander and with a purple cloak and a bone cane at his side. “Sir Isteval, representing Daggerford.”

To Sir Isteval’s right is a dark-haired moon elf. “Lastly, Remalia Haventree representing the Harpers.”

“I am Leosin Erlanthar,” he says addressing the council, “A member of the Harpers, and I have been working with this group of adventurers for some time.”

Neverember nods in approval, “Please Leosin, let us put names to faces.”

Leosin nods, “Thank you, Lord Neverember. Starting with the newer members, this is Ms Vera Blackthorne, Master Reven, and Lady Xenara.” The three stand awkwardly when their names are called.

“The main members who we are here to see are Gamora Dreadmoore, Osrik Ironborn, Cora Xain, Jean Luc Pierre Javert Robesbartemps,” he says a bit too quickly, “and Lady Yashira Reign.” He steps back.

They notice an elegant human noblewoman sitting next to the party though she is not addressed or introduced.

Neverember sips from his goblet before he speaks. “First of all, before we get into too much. Lady Remalia, my condolences for your husband. Know that your loss is a loss for all of Waterdeep.”

Remalia nods her head. “Thank you.”

“Here’s what we know so far.” Neverember begins, “The Cult of the Dragon has been causing some problems all over the land. Raiding, pillaging, killing our leaders, and doing all kinds of shit. Now, from what we’ve been told, you have firsthand experience in dealing with them.
This council has formed to see how we can best combat this situation and deal with the imminent threat. We would like for you to tell us what your experiences have been with the Cult of the Dragon and brief us on the situation thus far, in your own words.”
Jean Luc looks at his companions and steps forward. “My Lords and Lady,” he begins, “The five of us, by happenstance, were outside Greenest just before it was attacked. We engaged in combat there. And then, with instructions from Leosin, followed the trail to some treasures sacked from cities in the region. We went north to Parnast-“

Brawnanvil cuts him off. “What happened in Greenest?”

Jean Luc is initially thrown off by the interruption but then continues on, “It was attacked by a group of kobolds, a single adult blue dragon, and a group of mercenaries led by a skilled half-dragon warrior. It was an all-out assault – they killed everyone they saw and took everything that wasn’t nailed down. Greenest is supported by a large fortified keep in the center of town which the majority of the survivors took refuge in. It resisted attempts at being breached. The dragon was of questionable loyalty, having fled after a handful of volleys from a series of archers.”

“You didn’t kill it?” asks Brawnanvil.

“No, it was not killed. Ultimately, the fight came to a stalemate once the townsfolk were safely in the fortifications. The half-dragon commanding officer challenged one of our own to a duel and vacated the city after that was complete. We tracked them to a nearby valley.”

“A duel?” says Hornblade. “Why would someone accept a duel from an enemy under these circumstances? That doesn’t seem very smart.”

Onthar Frume asks, “What was the purpose of this duel? Why did you entertain the thought?”

“They had hostages. A family was offered in exchange for a duel. With the blue dragon gone and having razed a great portion of the city there was little left to gain. I am under the impression that the half-dragon commander was stroking his ego and wanted to challenge the group that had resisted in their plans.”

Onthar Frume asks, “So you’re saying you accepted the duel to free the hostages?”
“Yes. He offered them to us in exchange for the duel.”

Sir Isteval asks, “Who accepted this challenge?”

“It was Gamora,” Jean Luc answers, gesturing to her.

“After dealing with an all-night raid?” Isteval says. “That is very brave of you, young lady.”

Gamora blushes at Isteval’s comment. “Some say stupid, but I’ll take brave,” she says.

“A fine line between brave and stupid,” says Onthar Frume, which brings a chuckle to a few in the room.

“They were my people,” says Gamora. “I couldn’t very well let them die.”

“She was originally from Greenest,” Osrik explains.

Neverember takes a sip from his cup and looks at Jean Luc. “Please continue.

”We tracked that particular raiding party to a cave system nearby. They left about three days later. I think Leosin could probably tell you details…”

“We have been briefed by Leosin and heard his version,” says Neverember. “Now we want to hear yours.”

Jean Luc sighs and continues his tale. “We found three dragon eggs after the great bulk of forces marched out. They left a handful of kobolds behind, but it was not anything nearly as formidable as what attacked the city.”

Winterhound clears his throat and asks, “These dragon eggs, are they still in your possession?”

“No, they were all destroyed,” Jean Luc says. Some of the council members appear disturbed by this revelation.

“That is… regrettable,” says Winterhound.

“A dead dragon is a good dragon,” Gamora says.

Neverember shakes his head, “Not a wise choice. Dragon eggs fetch a lot of money in the right hands. Money which could have been used that to bolster our forces for this war.”

“Whose hands would you be selling to?” Cora asks.

“Multiple possible parties,” says Neverember.

“With all due respect,” Gamora says, “A dragon attacked my town. I wasn’t very well going to let one grow up to do it again.”

“It is against the natural order to kill creatures of nature. As long as there are metallic dragons there should be chromatic. Balance should be maintained,” says Winterhound.

“Ehh,” says Brawnanvil. “Then go out there and go killin’ some metallics and call it even.”

“They were demons and needed to be killed anyway,” says Onthar Frume clearly annoyed.
“Fuck all this talk of greed and profit.”

“Not everyone has church coffers to steal from, Frume,” says Neverember. “Money for the rest of us comes from business not from the handouts of the god-fearing.”

“You shitty bottom feeder,” shouts Frume. “How many people have gone hungry so that your cup can stay full tonight!? Don’t you make accusations of my church!”

“What’s done is done,” shouts Gamora. “The dragons are dead.” The room’s attention falls on her for a moment before it’s broken by Neverember.

“Yes,” he says. “The losses are regrettable but let us continue.” Frume and Neverember exchange a glance at each other and it is clear there is no compromising between the two of them.

Sir Isteval stands up. “Before you continue, Jean Luc, I would like to clarify something for the council that was not clear when we began. I don’t wish to interrupt but it must be said.”

“Sir Isteval. Your reputation precedes you,” says Neverember. “Of course this council will listen to anything you have to say.”

“I was introduced as the representative for Daggerford,” he says. “This is not the complete picture. The Lord’s Alliance did invite me here as a representative for Daggerford, though the city has little resources they can lend to this effort. As you know I am a Knight of Cormyr and will always be a child of Cormyr. The Cult of the Dragon is a threat has expanded to their shores as well. As such I have been tasked to speak on behalf of Cormyr as well as Daggerford. My dual allegiance is not something that will conflict with my position here. I just want my position here to be clear for the council. Thank you.” He returns to his seat.

Neverember laughs, “So you are a Cormyr spy now?”

The party notice a few of the leaders are off-put by Sir Isteval’s confession. Brawnanvil says, “This is supposed to be an alliance of the cities of the North. Last thing we need is more human nations and their armies getting involved.”

There is some bickering about this revelation between some members of the Lord’s Alliance. Remalia Haventree sits quietly watching the spectacle.

“A good spy wouldn’t very well announce themselves,” Osrik speaks up.

“The issue is that this is a closed council,” says Neverember looking at Osrik. “If Sir Isteval is representing outside forces, he should not be allowed to sit in this closed council. I vote that he is expelled from this council due to potential conflict. Anyone else agree?”

“Mithril Hall agrees!” Brawnanvil shouts.

“I don’t see a problem, let him stay,” says Onthar Frume, “This is a problem for us all.”

“Apocalypse doesn’t bode well for any nation,” Osrik says.

Jean Luc addresses Sir Isteval, “My lord, do you worship the Dragon Queen Tiamat?”

Sir Isteval looks at Jean Luc, “I am a Purple Dragon Knight. My god is Lathander of the dawn and sun. I have served others and traveled like you for many years. No, I serve no evil be it dragon or shadow or tyrant or death. I walk in the light.” He lifts up his bone cane and throws it on the table, “Those that know me would attest that I am no friend of evil dragons. If you wish me expelled, I will respect the decision of the council and the adventurers gathered here today. You may decide if my expertise is needed or not.”

“I say no, you must leave,” says Neverember. “This is not a matter for Cormyr.”

“With all due respect,” says Gamora, “Tiamat invading the world is a matter that involves everyone.”

“And we all have to take care of our homes and our people,” says Neverember. “Cormyr is not going to help us with our problems.”

“But if they have any information they are willing to share,” says Gamora. “That would be helpful to everyone, right?”

“Do you want him to stay? Is that what you are telling me?” asks Neverember.

“Yes,” says Gamora.

“Is that how you all feel?” Neverember asks the adventurers. They all agree that Isteval may remain.

“Very well,” concedes Neverember. “Sir Isteval, you may remain at this council. It is nothing personal, sir. Thank you all for your patience. Please continue.” He sits down.

Cora asks Neverember, “If you are concerned about spies and those who are untrustworthy in your presence, why do you surround yourself with known criminals?”

Neverember looks at her cautiously, “I’m sorry. What exactly are you referring to?”

“Iarno,” she clarifies. “We have dealt with him in the past. He has proven himself of weak character and evil acts.”

“Do you have proof of these acts?” he asks.

“I was there,” says Cora. Vera and Reven support her claim.

“Excellent. Do you have evidence of his actions?” asks Neverember. “From what I understand, all charges were cleared. No evidence was found. No one stepped forward during trial. Unless there are new crimes, new allegations, and new evidence I don’t think it’s fair or even respectful to accuse a member of the high council of Neverwinter of crimes. And I believe this is definitely not the reason we have gathered here today.”

“Well, you have accused another here of spying,” says Cora.

“We have accused nothing of the sort,” says Neverember.

“You have called him a spy,” Cora insists.

“Young lady…” Neverember says.

“In front of all these witnesses, you have said these words,” says Cora.

“Yes, I have said these words,” he admits, mostly amused.

“You have done so without any proof, without any substantial evidence.” Cora says. “We were there in Phandalin.”

“Let me put this clearly,” he says. Neverember takes a drink from his cup and sets it on the table. “Phandalin is not why this council has gathered. This council is for the Cult of the Dragon and the imminent rise of the Dragon Queen goddess. If you would like to take this aside and discuss other allegations and criminal activity, I would accommodate you. But at this time keep in mind I am the Open Lord of Waterdeep and the Lord Protector of Neverwinter and when you speak to me it will be with the respect that I deserve for my position.

If you have problems with any of my council members it is a forum for another time. As you see, Iarno is not here or relevant to today’s proceedings. I expect this matter will be put aside for now.

The issue with Sir Isteval is not a matter of his character but a matter of his conflict of loyalty. The Sword Coast cannot be dependent on a foreign body for its defense or its protection. In order for us to remain independent cities and nations, we must function independently from our neighboring kingdoms. I trust we have an understanding.” Neverember picks up his glass. “We will have more discussion of character, spies, and loyalties as we progress. Jean Luc, sir, the floor is yours. Please proceed.”

Jean Luc takes a deep breath and takes up his recounting of events, “We were given instructions that the pilfered goods from the raids were making their way north. So we took our places as merchants and travelers and joined a caravan where we tracked a handful of suspicious packages from Baldur’s Gate up until Waterdeep, then across the Mere of Dead Men to Castle Naefytar.”

“If I’m not mistaken, you were hired in Waterdeep taking on positions as guards for those moving toward Carnath Roadhouse, correct?” asked Neverember.

“Yes,” says Jean Luc.

“Proceed,” says Neverember.

Jean Luc makes the realization that none of the events of the story seem to be new information to the council. It seems they are just confirming what they already know. “The roadhouse was a drop point for transferring the goods into the hands of Lizardfolk and Bullywugs who were moving them into the castle.”

“So you’re saying that the Cult of the Dragon had infiltrated the roadhouse,” Neverember interrupts.

Osrik speaks up, “Bog Luck had made a deal with them. They had constructed a tunnel from the strong room back into the Mere of Dead Men. The Lizardfolk and would then enter and carry the goods to the castle.”

“So you’re saying Bog Luck was involved in this,” ask Neverember.

“Yes,” Osrik confirms.

“And he was aware he was working with the Cult of the Dragon?” asks Neverember.

Jean Luc says, “That’s the impression we’re under.”

“Do you have proof or evidence of this fact?”

“He alluded to the fact that morality…” Jean Luc begins to explain.

“That favors were being traded,” Osrik cuts him off.

“And you had this conversation with him directly?” asks Neverember.

“One of our party, yes,” says Jean Luc.

“Thank you,” Neverember says grinning. The Open Lord makes eye contact with Onthar Frume who appears annoyed at this line of questioning.

“So, inside the castle was a teleportation circle which led to an arrangement of stones outside Parnast,” Jean Luc continues. “We interrogated a cultist we found there who had informed them of a flying giant castle. We proceeded to the city, fought our way on board, and took off on the castle.”

“I have a question, please,” says Taren Hornblade. “You don’t mind if I slow this down and go back a couple steps. As you may know, most of the story has come to our attention already. You say you teleported in through Parnast. You seem to have skipped over an encounter with a black dragon in the swamp? And rather, overthrowing the castle by turning the Lizardfolk against the Bullywugs, which strategically and tactically was very cunning I must say. It forced the Cult of the Dragon out of their base, which, I must also say, is information the council is very interested in hearing from your own mouth.”

“We want to know the capability of your team that has found their way into this situation. When you arrived outside of Parnast, I believe there was an encounter with this Cult of the Dragon member, who had some strong ties to a member of this group. Can you please tell me the reasons this person was not captured or killed? And for that matter what of her loyalties were to the Cult of the Dragon.”

“Her loyalties were not with the Cult of the Dragon any longer,” Jean Luc explains, “We were, frankly, pathetically outnumbered, and we were given safe passage by someone who seemed to be thoroughly prepared to reject the Cult’s mission.”

Brawnanvil says, “That seems a little suspicious. First you’re outnumbered, and then they don’t want to be a part of it? I don’t get it. What happened?”

“The incredible terror they were involved in became apparent. She had second thoughts about destroying the world,” says Jean Luc.

“That’s the thing about doomsday cults,” says Osrik. “They don’t realized they’re going too.”
King Melandrach looks over, “Now it is clear there is a doubt when it comes to loyalties. Was that Cult of the Dragon member not allied at one point with one member of your group?”
This is met with silence for a few moments.

Jean Luc says, “’Allied’ is an interesting word.”

Neverember looks through his paperwork before saying, “I believe the testimony that was given by Leosin, which you had briefed him on, states: Talis the White was once affiliated with Cora Xain.” Neverember glances over at Cora briefly. “The revelation of this affiliation resulted in a confrontation between your Drow teammate and Cora over her past connections with the Cult. Is this information provided by Leosin correct?”

“It is,” says Jean Luc.

“So, Ms. Cora Xain – would you like to clarify your alliance and loyalties to this Talis, and why it is that you did not kill or incarcerate her?”

Gamora says, “With all due respect, we are not the law. Incarcerating her is not our job.”

“Ms Dreadmoore, I understand your position,” says Neverember, “My question is why Cora Xain has never hesitated or negotiated with a Cult of the Dragon members until that point. So, I ask again, why is it that you decided not to kill or incarcerate her?”

“She has freely offered us information about the Dragon Cult,” says Cora. “And she has provided us with a safe place to rest as well as equipment and supplies needed for our journey. She had shown us that her loyalty is not with the Cult of the Dragon. There was no need to eliminate her. She may prove to be a force within the Cult that will likely aid in destroying itself.”

Osrik adds, “Talis also pointed us to other members of the Dragon Cult who were not allied with their goals.”

There’s a silence as some of the council seem to take in Cora’s words. Lady Remalia says, “Talis provided you reasonable and actionable intelligence that you used to move forward to the next phase of your mission, correct?”

“Correct,” says Cora.

“The choice was difficult, but wise none the less,” Remalia says. Neverember, Brawnanvil, and King Melandrach don’t seem to agree with Lady Remalia’s estimation. Gamora senses that Neverember is trying to manipulate the testimony to steer it away from some topics, but it’s unclear why.

Neverember turns to Hornblade and says, “Is this satisfying?”

Hornblade responds, “It will do for now. Thank you.”

Neverember then says, “And you made it to the castle.”

“We did indeed,” Jean Luc says continuing the tale. “The Cultists had made some sort of bargain with the giants who controlled this castle. But we were left with the impression that the giants weren’t entirely happy with the deal. After disposing of the cultists the party was surrounded by the giants and met with their leader, Blogothus. After meeting with him it was made plain that if we were successful scrubbing the forces of the Cult of the Dragon out of his castle, they wouldn’t look at us with displeasure. The Cult had also brought an adult white dragon named Glaciel, as well as a vampire and some thralls with them, and Blogothus wasn’t very comforted by this fact.”

“Amongst the couple dozen Cultists we met there was a lieutenant named Rezmir.”
Gamora interrupts, “Who had a dick sword, by the way.”

“Rezmir, the Black Wyrm Speaker?” asks Remalia. “One of the five leaders of the Cult of the Dragon? Do you mean to say you engaged and defeated her?”

“Indeed we did,” Jean Luc confirms. “She had her company, a handful of interesting figures including one Red Wizard. We were left with the impression that the Red Wizard, Rath Modar, escaped, and we followed him to a wyvern pen which was shy one wyvern. We did not see him again. After we killed Rezmir and the vampire, the white dragon Glaciel attacked and killed Blogothus and the giants. We killed Glaciel, but the castle was damaged and crashed into the mountainside not far from Loudwater. We traveled to Loudwater and were approached by Leosin a few days later.”

It’s clear some members of the council are unhappy to hear the fortress crashed, including the Marshall Ravengard and Brawnanvil. Neverember looks at Jean Luc and says, “Thank you, we’ve heard everything we wanted you to tell us, unless you have anything more to add.”

“Yes, on a personal note,” Jean Luc says, “I had been given what might have been a vision when I came in contact with a tome that had driven a friend of mine mad. It left me with the impression that the steps for bringing Tiamat back involved piling up treasure, a sacrifice of blood, finding the correct geographical location, an altar, palace, or fortress, and a collection of masks.” He looks at his allies. “I cannot say if what I experienced was an illusion, or something clever to hassle my mind, but I cannot shake the feeling that it was… true.”
Onthar Frume appears frustrated that Jean Luc said this. “So you’re saying that you had a vision related to the dark goddess Tiamat. Is there some sort of connection between you and Tiamat? That needs to be shared with this council?”

Jean Luc says, “There was a day I would have said there is, but there is not.” A still silence falls over the council. Gamora stands closer to where Jean Luc stands.

“Can you elaborate? I believe the council needs to understand who they are working with,” says Onthar Frume.

“I collected from my coworker, after he passed, a tome that I believe had driven him mad and possibly led to his passing. I was under the impression it might be important to research. When I read it, I became cursed, and I received suggestions from an entity I believed was Tiamat.”

Hornblade asks, “What happened to this book?”

“It was obliterated by the breath of Vorgamanthar, along with a very lovely gnome girl,” says Jean Luc.

“Yes,” says Neverember, “I noticed there was very little information provided about the gnome who had traveled with you. What was her name, Jamna Gleamsilver?”

“I’m not entirely sure what her motives were. She befriended us, stole the book from me, and slipped away from us at the Carnath Roadhouse. We tracked her down in the swamp mere moments before she had come across Vorgamanthar and we watched her die.”

The room is quiet. Then Neverember asks, “Now, I believe there was a Drow traveling in your group. What happened to her?”

“She had personal ties to a criminal organization in the city of Loudwater and she had to leave us so that our conflict with that organization didn’t mean a price on our heads,” Jean Luc explains.

“So you are not affiliated with this criminal organization?”

“Only in the way that two opponents are affiliated,” says Jean Luc.

“Does the council have anything else to add or any other questions?” Neverember asks.

Osrik is able to notice that Neverember is controlling the tempo of the meeting. Jean Luc turns to Leosin, who indicates that Jean Luc is fine, and to keep going as he has been.

“What will happen as a result of this meeting?” Vera asks.

“That will be decided soon,” Neverember says.

Cora asks, “What information have you found out about the Cult of the Dragon?”

“One thing at a time,” says Neverember dismissively.

“Is now not that time?” Osrik asks.

“No. The council must first decide the level of support we will provide you,” says Neverember.

Taren Hornblade leans over and says, “You mentioned the masks. And you mentioned Rezmir was killed. My understanding from the intelligence that has been provided on the Cult of the Dragon, there are five Wyrmspeakers, each of them in possession of a relic mask of some sort. If Rezmir was a member and leader, was there a mask that you recovered from her.”

The group is silent for a moment while Hornblade looks at them. Osrik speaks up first, saying, “There was a mask in her possession, but where it is now, I do not know.”
Reven raises his hand.

Neverember says, “Yes?

Reven asks, “Am I free to speak?”

Neverember looks at him and asks, “What is your name?”

“My name is Reven.”

“Reven… Reven… Reven what?”

“Reven Nightbreeze.”

Neverember looks at Reven, recognition on his face, “You were in Neverwinter about a decade ago, were you not?”

“I was.”

“I remember you at the rifts. You fought very well. Thank you for your service,” says Neverember.

“You are very welcome. You’re too kind. If I may inquire, what do these masks look like?” asks Reven.

“Well we’re not sure,” responds Hornblade, “But we’re told that they look similar to chromatic dragon faces. That is what we were led to believe.”

“Thank you. That is all,” says Reven.

Neverember speaks again, “So there is no knowledge of possession or the location of these masks.”

Jean Luc casts Sending to Cora and telepathically communicates, Give me one good fucking reason why I shouldn’t tell these people.

She responds in his mind: Because we don’t trust Neverember.

Hornblade looks over at Jean Luc after the long silence. “So you are not aware of the location?”

“I have a suspicion,” Jean Luc says.

“Do you care to share that with us?” Hornblade asks.

“Our ally, who is not here any longer,” says Jean Luc.

“The Drow?” Hornblade asks.

Jean Luc nods in confirmation.

The elder wizard strokes his beard a moment and says, “I believe it important to recover this as soon as possible. Insuring that the mask remains out of the Cult of the Dragon’s possession should be a top priority. If possible it should be destroyed.”

“Definitely destroy it,” blurts out Gamora.

Jean Luc asks, “How would we do such a thing?”

“Oh there’s ways to destroy magic items,” says Hornblade with a smile.

Neverember says, “I’m getting hungry. Are there any other topics we would like to poke holes at?”

Lady Remalia turns to Reven, “You said your name is Nightbreeze? Is there any relation to Ash Nightbreeze?”

“Yes,” says Reven.

“What relation is that?” she asks again.

“He is an uncle that my side of the family has cast away in shame,” says Reven.

“So that would make you the son of Zalanthar Nightbreeze?” says Lady Remalia.

“No, Zalanthar was my uncle,” says Reven stumbling in his lie.

“So are you related to Ash Nightbreeze?” Remalia asks.

Reven pauses for a moment and sighs. “Yes, he’s my father.”

“This council should be aware we have the son of the first human king of Myth Drannor in our presence.” This statement comes as a surprise to some. King Melandrach expression grows darker than before and looks at Reven with distaste. Osrik asks Jean Luc what Myth Drannor is but he indicates to ask later.

“But,” says Reven, “May I pose this question? How many years ago was that?”

“Over a hundred years ago.”

“So then how could I be the son?” He says trying to discredit himself.

“Half-elves live for a very long time,” says Lady Remalia. “Thank you, Lord Reven.”

Brawnanvil leans over and says, “I don’t buy half the bullshit you guys have been selling.”
“I don’t buy your bullshit either,” says Gamora.

“Who gives a fuck? If you want the Dwarves and the North’s help-“

Gamora cuts him off, “You wanna save the world, it’s yours to save, too. We shouldn’t be the only ones responsible.”

“I’m not clear on what kind of support we might actually be getting,” Vera says.

“None,” says Gamora as she makes her way to the door. She tries to open it but it’s locked. As she raises a fist to break it open Leosin tries to tell her to stop and wait.

Onthar Frume says, “I’ve had the experience of meeting these fine people, and while slightly temperamental and unrefined, their hearts are in the right place. They fought to protect Greenest when there was no gain for them. They could have ran, but chose to fight to help others. They could have just turned tail and left but they did not. They traveled far and wide to stop this plot. And even in Loudwater, when they knew that they had to travel here, they stopped a Drow threat as well as overthrew a Bone Devil that had been in Loudwater for many years.”

Neverember says, “And they could have killed 3000 dragons! Stories are nothing with facts. Do we have any testimony on this Bone Devil?”

Mags stands and makes her way front and center before the council, “I am giving testimony that we killed the Bone Devil. It had long rooted itself in Loudwater and attempted to make an alliance with our group. While we did listen to the information it offered, we did not allow it to remain. We killed it and banished it back to the Nine Hells.

Neverember smiles and says, “Miss Reign, was your father not killed here in Waterdeep several years ago?”

“My father and mother were both murdered on the streets,” she replies.

“I’m sorry to hear that,” says Neverember. “There was word that a noble of the Iron Ring was found murdered several years ago. We were not aware that you were orphaned in that event. If we had known we would had made every effort to return you to your family.”
“I appreciate your condolences, but I was well taken care of,” she says with polished grace. Then after a moment her steeled gaze falls on Neverember. “But if we may, sir, can we please get on with this?”

“Yes,” says Neverember thrown back by her glare. “The threat of the Cult of the Dragon is something that is affecting all of us. This entire region is threatened and we must do what we must. The council has listened to your testimony and heard the reports from Leosin. As rough around the edges as you all are, we find that while we all have obligations to our own organizations, cities, things of that nature, we need an independent party to head up and eliminate this threat. And the council has agreed – begrudgingly agreed – to allow the support of Waterdeep and the nations of the Sword Coast represented by this council in your continued efforts to stop the Cult. Do you agree to this support?”

“What is the nature of this support?” Osrik asks.

“The nature of this support is that we will be granting this group, this party of adventurers, emergency investigation powers of Waterdeep, granted by the authority of the Open Lord of Waterdeep, on the condition that your actions are lawful in nature and under complete oversight of this council. Basically, anything you do must be reported to this council. If you agree, then we will deputize you all and give you our full support. We will brief you on the intelligence that has been gathered against the Cult.”

“Would you permit us a day?” Gamora asks.

“No. It is now or never. Time is of the essence.”

Cora asks, “What information do you have?”

“The information is private to this council,” says Neverember, “And members of it.”

“Do you need our signatures?” Jean Luc asks.

“Just your agreement,” says Neverember.

“I don’t think anybody here is about to back out,” says Jean Luc.

“Ms. Dreadmoore,” Neverember addresses the half-orc, “just a minute ago you were about ready to smash that door down.”

“Still am,” she says, “I don’t particularly know any of you well enough to trust you, and I don’t trust you.”

“Well, madam, as with politics, and life, there’s no need to trust,” says Neverember, “We just do the best that we can and see how we can rely on others.”

“Sometimes the best we can means smashing someone’s face in until their brains are all over the floor. And you want me to act within the laws and tell you about every single little skull I crack? Not into that,” says Gamora.

Vera asks, “What does emergency investigation powers actually get us that we couldn’t already get through potentially less lawful means?”

Jean Luc answers, “Say it’s necessary to search a building or interrogate somebody, and they won’t let us in. Instead of picking a fight, we can go get the city guard and have fifty more on our side.”

“But this is just limited to Waterdeep?” Vera asks.

Neverember explains, “By the council’s agreement, you will have authority within all of the regions represented here in this room. You also have the support of Waterdeep and Neverwinter if you require transportation, basic supplies, and resources of the factions present. We will back you as best we can. This is the fate of the Sword Coast, and possibly, the world. We’re not going to be stingy. But if you decide to work on your own, we will respect that and we part ways here.”

“Do you expect to give us direction?” asks Vera, “Or simply to receive notification?”
“No,” says Neverember, “It is up to you to decide how you want to handle this threat.”
Vera turns to Jean Luc, Gamora, and the others, “If they will give us supplies, transportation, resources, intelligence, and all they want in return are reports of what we’re doing, and they aren’t telling us what to do, what is the loss?”

“The requirement to report every action and every item,” Gamora says bitterly.

“They want a report of what we’re up to,” Vera argues, “I don’t think they need every small detail of what we’re doing.”

Sir Isteval looks at the group and says, “We understand you are adventurers.” He says with a smirk as if this says it all.

“My problem is we are essentially trying to hunt down items that could potentially bring Tiamat back,” says Gamora, “And I want to know that those will be destroyed because I will not let them out of my sight until I see it done.”

“The council asks for oversight, the council is not directing you toward an action,” says Neverember. “We mostly agree that your intention is to stop the Cult, and whatever action you believe is best, the council will support. So, are we in agreement?”

“Even Gamora’s in,” says Jean Luc.

“Excellent. Now, are we ready to go to the next phase?” Neverember asks.

“Before we continue,” Osrik asks, “What’s our title?”

Leosin walks over to Neverember and takes something, then walks over Jean Luc. Leosin opens a box with eight badges, iron with a shield and a hand on it. Each member is given one.

Neverember says, “The Grey Hands are a special unit that protects the interests of Waterdeep. We will be granting your emergency investigative powers under the writ of the Grey Hand forces of Waterdeep.” He gives them a scroll with the individual seals of the Lord’s Alliance and the names of the faction leaders present. “This is permission granted by every member of the council here granting authority to operate within their lands, with respect to their laws, and so on.” He nods in approval, “Excellent, with that formality done, and before we have lunch, any questions from all of you?”

“What do you know?” asks Vera.

“Give us the information. Where is the Dragon Cult headed?” asks Cora.

“Are you ready to talk about secret stuff, or…” asks Jean Luc.

“If you are ready,” he says. “Would you like a small break?”

“No,” says Cora.

“Let’s get this going,” says Jean Luc.

Neverember says, “We have testimony being brought here before the council and the special investigators. Lady Dala Slimmerhelve if you please.”

The woman sitting with the party stands. She is dressed in an elegant, yet plain, dress with her brown hair braided elegantly. She is simple in dress and form, but Dala is clearly is a noble.

“Greetings, members of the council and special investigators. I come before you to discuss matters of recent events. Over the last two days, there have been tremors that have been felt all along the Sword Coast. These disturbances are being caused by an ancient dragon device called the Draakhorn. Its sound is used to alert dragons across Faerun that events are unfolding. It is impossible to say what the sounding means, but the dragons hear it clearly and will eventually answer its call.”

Osrik leans back and asks Mags who is standing near him, “Did it sound like anything to you?
“I’m not a dragon, idiot,” she says.

“You have a familiarity that others do not share,” he replies.

“You have a familiarity with ale,” Mags retorts, “Doesn’t mean you are a keg.”

Ambassador Brawnanvil asks Dala, “How do you know all this?”

“I have sources,” she says plainly.

“And do you care to share those sources?” says the Ambassador.

“No, I do not,” Brawnanvil grunts his disapproval but Dala continues, “There’s an expert in dragon lore and dragon relics. Her name is Maccath the Crimson. She was a member of the Arcane Brotherhood and former Waterdavian who went on an expedition three years ago and has not been seen since. I recommend, if the special investigators want to learn more about the Draakhorn and its significance they can learn this through Maccath. If you wish to pursue this option I will make my information available to you.”

“Is she still alive?” asks Gamora.

“She went missing recently and there has been no contact. No body has been found. It’s entirely possible that she has perished. But we believe that her last location was in the Sea of Moving Ice, in the north. Her intention was to study dragons a little more closely.” Neverember thanks her and she sits back down.

Leosin stands up and says, “We also have another testimony for the investigators as well as for the council. It seems that the Cult of the Dragon has fortified themselves in a location in the south and is using an old base referred to as the Well of Dragons. We discovered this information a little over two weeks ago. An expedition was sent with a very skilled team with a very remarkable track record. Unfortunately, the group had failed and encountered the defenses of the Well of Dragons. Only one member of the team survived the mission, Lady Vilia Fatedancer.”

A small tremor goes up Jean Luc’s spine and everything goes numb. The door opens and a beautiful high elf enters the room. Her white blonde hair seems to almost float in the air as she walks. Her arm is in a sling, apparently broken, and she has several bruises on her face and several fresh cuts. On her side is a silver longsword and she wears a finely crafted blue and silver robe. She pauses next to Jean Luc and gives a half grin simply saying, “Kalyondu.”

“Vilia,” says Jean Luc.

As she walks past there is an icy exchange between the two. She gives testimony to the council that she and her group of seven went to the specified location for reconnaissance. The team tried to enter the Well of Dragons which was a dire mistake. They foolishly they thought they could avoid the force protecting the fortress with a small skilled team. The Cult of the Dragon had hundreds of mercenaries and demons protecting the fortress. Dragons larger than any she had ever seen guarded the Well of Dragons. It was suicide and they didn’t even make it to the walls. She survived only because she was able to teleport herself away before she herself was incinerated. She watched all her friends die in the process. The only way to access the Well of Dragons would be with an army of considerable force which would possibly create an opening for a smaller team to break in.

The council says nothing. The description of the Well of Dragons leaves no room for doubt and a sense of dread falls upon the council. Sir Isteval stands, thanks her, and offers his condolences. She nods and walks away, stopping before she exits to turn and say to Jean Luc, “Unless you have any questions, special investigator.”

Jean Luc says, “I cannot speak for everyone in my group, but if the council thinks that they can raise an army capable of taking on the forces Ms. Fatedancer describes, I will be there when you seek to do it.”

Neverember says, “While I am definitely in favor of supporting an army to help combat this threat, Waterdeep and Neverwinter are both stretched to capacity. I would rely very heavily on this coalition to provide support.”

Sir Isteval says, “I speak for Cormyr, that if there is an army, there will be support. The Purple Dragon Knights will heed the call.”

Ulder Ravengard leans forward and says, “Baldur’s Gate will not run from a fight. But, the fight must be worth having. Throwing our men into harm’s way will leave our cities defenseless. There has to be a chance of success. If the army is worthy you will have the Flaming Fist at your side.”

Ambassador Brawnanvil says, “You’re damn right about that! No Dwarf blood is going to be spilled to protect all these other cities, unless we’ve got a fucking fighting chance. If anything, we’ll hide in our mountains until these damned dragons are done with. We need a chance of success – that’s where you come in.”

“What do you suspect is at the Well of the Dragon,” ask Cora, “What used to be there?”

“We’re not sure,” says Leosin, “But there might be a chance to find out.”

“How?” asks Gamora.

“Our last bit of intelligence that we have to share with you,” Remalia says. “Varramzord, the White Wyrmspeaker – we have information on his location. Rumor has it that Varram has lost his mask and is searching for it abroad. The Boareskyr Bridge is where he was last seen. This information came to us very recently, and we recommend that this be the first place you will want to check.”

Cora asks, “How did he lose his mask?”

“We don’t know all those details. But we hope that you will be able to investigate this and provide some actionable intelligence.”

“How did this information come to you?” asks Cora.

“They have an agent on the inside,” Jean Luc suggests, “Who they are not willing to release to us. That’s okay, we don’t need to know every spy’s name.”

Cora says, “Is that it?”

“That’s irrelevant,” says Remalia.

Gamora asks, “If we come across this person, is there a way for us to understand that we should not kill them? A password, a phrase that they may know, in case we come to blows…”
Jean Luc says, “Well, we’ll be in touch, if you can develop something.”

“Here’s all that the information you need for now,” says Lady Remalia. “The White Wyrmspeaker may have very useful information. If you’re able to bring him back alive, or interrogate him, it may be very beneficial to us. The Cult of the Dragon works in shadows and have many secrets. It is very hard to gather reliable information on their plans. This may be the only opportunity you have to get the answers that we need and possibly recovering the White Dragon mask.”

“Do we know what Varramzord looks like?” asks Jean Luc.

“He’s a gold Dwarf,” Brawnanvil says, “And if you bring him back alive, we would like him as well. After he answers your questions he will be made to pay for his crimes, in Dwarven fashion.”

“Well,” Gamora says, “We make no promises. So in the event we need to deal some Dwarven-fashioned punishment, how would you prefer it done?”

“People like this need to be made an example. We would look upon it favorably if you provided him to us.”

“Well, I think that’s all we have for today,” says Neverember, “Thank you for your time and efforts. Good luck.”

Reven rolls his eyes, “Well, that was a short meeting.”

Cora asks, “The Red Wizards, what do you know of their involvement?”

Jean Luc says, “Did the letters we found bring any helpful insight?”

Leosin says, “We’re still trying to find a little more insight on that, but it seems there is indeed an alliance between the Red Wizards and the Cult of the Dragon as you discovered. These individuals seem to be outlaw faction of Thayans in exile. At least that’s the connection we’ve been able to figure out. We’re looking to see what other connections we can make, but definitely this Rath Modar individual you’ve uncovered is a threat and quite possibly involved in this ritual you’ve mentioned. So we’ll see what we can discover, but the council is considering options that we don’t want to explore unless we need to.”

“Do you know the location of any of the other Wyrmspeakers?” Cora asks.

“Not at this time,” says Leosin. “But we are making them a top priority.”

“And the loot that we were following, do you know where it was being delivered?” she asks.

“No. We assume it might have been the Well of Dragons,” says Leosin.

“Is that where you suspect the ritual will take place?” asks Cora.

“That is speculation we have absolutely no information to confirm with,” says Leosin.
Jean Luc asks, “Varramzord, is he a spellcaster?”

“There are reports that he uses magic. Well, any other questions?” Leosin asks.

“For supplies and whatnot, who should we talk to?” Jean Luc asks.

“Leosin is your handler on this mission,” Neverember says, “You can discuss with him and he will coordinate what is needed. Good luck, special investigators, and may the gods be with you. This council is adjourned.”

Gamora darts out the door to get her things and yells, “Herold, get me my sword!” Herold leads her to the storage chamber.

Reven goes to talk to Onthar Frume, but is intercepted by Ravengard who walks up to him and stretches out his hand. They shake and Reven says, “Thank you for this opportunity.”
Ravengard looks at Reven and nods. Reven says, “Look forward to working with you.”
Ravengard says to the party, “Best of luck to you all. I hope you have great success.” He leaves.

Onthar Frume says to the group, “Oh you fucks. You guys are making it hard for me to sell this!”

“Sell what?” asks Cora.

“I’m representing the Order of the Gauntlet, and I’m putting a lot of faith in you guys. The Order is to throw everything behind you if you are true of purpose. So next time don’t be talking about demon possessions or shit like that.”

Jean Luc says, “We’ve been just sitting here all day. You could have sent me a letter or something.”

“Well you guys ignore me nearly every time you see me! ‘Oh, Leosin, hi…’ No love for good old Onthar Frume.”

Cora offers, “Could I perhaps buy you a drink to make up for it?”

“Aye, that’d be fine,” he says with a grin.

Lady Remalia is talking with Leosin while each of the council members slowly departs. Taren Hornblade shakes Jean Luc’s hand on the way out of the chamber, and says, “Good luck, my boy.”

Jean Luc says, “It is my great honor, sir.”

“And mine as well,” he says.

“Any advice?” asks Jean Luc

“Don’t die,” he says with a grin.

“I’ll try,” says Jean Luc studying Taren Hornblade’s face for a moment before letting go of the handshake, trying to become familiar with him for the sending spell.

Taren looks him over and smiles, “It won’t work, son.” He leaves the room.

Ambassador Brawnanvil, King Melandrach, and Delaan Winterhound leave without interacting with anyone. Sir Isteval patiently waits for the others to leave.

Cora goes to talk with Lady Remalia. As she approaches, Remalia and Leosin stop talking,
“Yes, Ms Cora?”

“I’d like to offer my condolences for the loss of your husband,” Cora says to Lady Remalia.

“Thank you,” says Remalia quietly.

“I can relate to the pain of losing loved ones, especially to the Cult of the Dragon. This might be too intrusive, but was this related to the investigations that are being conducted?”
“It’s hard to tell the motivations of the Cult of the Dragon and why they do what they do.”

“What was he targeted? Are you safe?” asks Cora

“We’re not sure if he was targeted or it was a coincidence,” says Remalia. “I am fine. There is no need for concern.”

“I just was wondering if he might have been targeted specifically for something that he’d known, or an agenda that he was pushing,” says Cora.

“No, there’s no information to lead toward that conclusion,” says Lady Remalia.

“But you know for sure it was the Cult of the Dragon assassin?” asks Cora. Remalia reaches down and pulls out of her pocket a talisman that the group saw before in Greenest. Cora takes this from her and asks, “Was this the only item found? It’s not like them to leave anything behind.”

Lady Remalia says, “If they escape. This was found on the assassin’s corpse.”

Gamora in the storage room tries to get Herold to give her the others’ weapons but he refuses. She says “Come on Herold, you’re disappointing me.”

Herold asks, “Would you approve of me releasing your belongings to someone else?”
After a moment Gamora nods, “I like you. Well done sir.” She walks back in to the chamber with her weapons and asks, “Why are you guys taking so long?”

Reven asks, “So, Sir Frume, where is the finest ale around here?”

“Oh, I don’t know. All ale is good ale.” Onthar Frume says.

Gamora asks, “Any word on my dad?”

“Nothing yet, when I have any information I’ll let you know.” Leosin says.

Sir Isteval comes over to the party and says, “I think you handled all the scrutiny it very well.”

“Thank you, sir,” says Jean Luc.

“Can I see your cane?” Vera blurts out.

“Of course,” he says. He leans a bit on his good leg to hand her the cane. Vera walks next to him and offers her shoulder as support.

“This is really cool!” she squeals.

He looks at her strangely and says, “I’m glad you find this enjoyable.”

Vera shows him her armor, “Look!”

He evaluates her armor and says, “A youngling?”

“Yeah,” Vera says.

“This one was much bigger,” he says taking back his cane. “Well, if you ever need anything, I would be glad to share any of my experiences with you.”

Cora says, “Can I ask you a question? How is it you even got on this council without Neverember knowing that you’re a knight of Cormyr?”

“Ah, my former ties with the Purple Dragon Knights of Cormyr are well known. They were not aware that I was asked by the crown of Cormyr to report and represent their interests to the leaders of the Sword Coast. The Lord’s Alliance adopted me as a member representing Daggerford, which has very little resources. But it seems they were interested in my expertise and experience with dragons and the Cult of the Dragon. I may not be able to fight by your side, but I believe I have a lot to offer in other ways.”

Gamora grins admiring the old knight, thinking of things that he could offer her.

“I would be very interested in hearing about your dragon fight and how you defeated him,” Cora says.

“Maybe one day I’ll be ready to tell it. You have my support. Let me know how I can help,” says Sir Isteval.

Jean Luc says, “Sir Isteval, may I ask a somewhat insulting question?”

“I hope not,” he says.

“Cormyr is governed by men and women such as these,” says Jean Luck. “When the chips are down, are they more likely to send genuine aid or simply take advantage of those who have suffered?”

Sir Isteval gives Jean Luc a very serious look and says, “When the Purple Dragon Knights rally, we fight to the last and fight to win. If Cormyr backs you, it will be with all they have.” He turns and walks away.

Next: Season 3. Episode 1 (pt3) – Hammers, Ale, and Bedsheets

Previous Season 3. Episode 1 (pt1) – Bonds of Unity

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Season 3: Bonds of Unity
Season 3, Session 1 (part 1 of 3)

20th day of Nightal 1489 DR the Year of the Warrior Princess

Mags guides Reven, Xenara, and Cora through the markets of Waterdeep to restock on supplies and find ingredients for peanut butter.

Cora chats with several merchants and townsfolk throughout the day and learns two important facts. First, that a nobleman named Arthagast Ulbrinter was assassinated by the Cult of the Dragon. Rumor has it that he was a masked Lord of Waterdeep and his murder has left a general sense of unease in the city.

Secondly, she learns that Harlin Blackthorne has a home in Waterdeep which seems close to where Cora’s aunt lived. Cora convinces the group to go see Harlin’s house, though Mags is not interested. She decides to break away and warns Vera about peanut allergies.

Reven is clearly distracted by his thoughts and Xenara tries to get his attention with some harsh words. Being rather annoyed at his sister’s he begins to returns fire when he bumps into a young girl. The girl apologizes and quickly disappears in the crowd. Xenara tells Reven the girl just took his coin pouch. Vera notices the girl and describes her to Reven. , noticing the girl, begins to describe her and where she is going. He runs after her but it is too late, and she is gone. Xenara comforts Reven saying, “she probably needed it.” He agrees, though slightly deflated at being caught unaware.

Following the information she had gathered they arrive at Harlin’s house. To Cora mutters a curse upon seeing it. Vera asks her what’s wrong, but Cora doesn’t respond. Instead she makes her way to the front door and fiercely knocks.

Vera asks whose house is this. Cora simply says she believes it to be Harlin’s house. There is no answer to the knock on the door. Cora heads to the back of the house and climbs the fence. In her frustration she slips and falls on the ground and a loud bark is heard on the other side. Peeking over the fence they see a large muscular dog on the other side growling at them. Vera tries to convince Cora to leave as she doesn’t want to snoop around Harlin’s house and she knows he will be back in a few days.

Xenara and Reven observe the other two and wonder what is going on. After a moment the siblings begin to argue as two city guards approach and ask them what they are up to. Reven starts with an excuse about losing a ball over the fence, but the guards tell them to move on. They depart hastily to avoid any trouble with the law.

Cora mutters, “Of all places, I don’t understand why he would live here.” She balls her fist in anger as she walks away from the place she once called home.

Vera asks, “What’s wrong with it?”

“It’s a perfectly wonderful place to live,” Cora says bitterly. She doesn’t share that Harlin’s home is the same house where Cora’s aunt lived and the very same place where she watched her die.

Gamora and Osrik escort Tork as he makes his way around the marketplace. They notice Tork relies on his Hammerhead staff for walking, which gives him a pronounced gait, yet doesn’t really slow him down. They make their way into a less developed part of the neighborhood that seems to be of a lower class than some of the other neighborhoods. The three of them make their way to a small house on the top of a hill. When they approach the steps, they see a decorative sign that simply says “Stall’s.”

The trio makes their way up the stairs to the front door of the home. Tork knocks on the front door and pushes the door open, a bell chiming to sound their entering into the room. The inside of the home is set up as a small general store with several wares hanging on the walls on display and more items on shelves. There is a counter in front of a single door, blocked with a curtain, which parts after a moment when a confused young man walks out to greet them. Tork greets the boy and says they are just browsing.

He makes his way to a rope hanging on the wall and studies it, “Hmm. That is some fine quality rope you have there.” He continues to admire the rope.

Gamora and Osrik don’t see anything special about the ordinary looking rope. After a moment Gamora looks at the boy and says, “We’re here to see the guy!” Gamora’s outburst startles the young man who seems even more confused. Believing she misread the situation she says, “I’m with him… uh… I’ll take the rope!”

She pays for the rope and the boy hands her rope from behind the counter. She insists upon the rope from the wall and the young man struggles to swap them for her. She tips him an extra gold when Tork comments on the quality of the newly hung rope. The boy looks dumbfounded and Tork sighs, “So where is the guy?” The young man looks at him with a blank stare, “Stall! I want to see him. We have business to discuss!”

The boy looks at them all, still confused. Gamora and Osrik tell the boy who Tork is and that his is a valued and respected individual. After a moment the boy says, “Oh! Mr. Stall….one moment please,” and goes in the back.

Gamora stands awkwardly with her newly purchased hempen rope and the three have a conversation about the merits of rope. After a few minutes the young man takes them in the back room. They pass a storeroom and take stairs to an upper level of the house that is an office. Tork sits in a lounge chair and takes a mug of ale that was left out for them.

A small mouse wearing tiny noble clothes stands with his arms crossed, “So! My old adversary!” says the mouse.

“Ya tiny bastard!” Tork asks with a wide grin as he scoops up the mouse. “What the hell happened to ya?”

The mouse squeaks at being picked up, “Well… it’s a long story. I was killed and brought back…”

“Ha! Doesn’t seem so long to me,” Tork says as he puts the mouse on the chair next to him.

“Howard!” Gamora shouts, “We didn’t know where you went.”

Howard explains that he returned to Waterdeep with Leosin after the events in Loudwater with Darlandra. Leosin and a few other investors helped him get his business back up and running.

Gamora jokes, “You sell fine rope here.”

“Oh, you want the good stuff, huh?” Howard says with what they interpret as a toothy smile.

“The boy didn’t get the code word,” Tork says through his mug.

“He’s horrible,” Howard laments. “He needs to be trained. It’s very difficult. A friend of mine helped make him. He’s not really a person, but a defensive mechanism. It’s kind of so I don’t get killed again!”

Howard and Tork spend the better part of the hour hammering out a business deal. Osrik and Gamora realize that Howard helps move Glitterstone products around the Sword Coast from the three Glitterstone clan homes. He moves the products into legitimate markets and avoids them falling into the blackmarket or questionable organizations or individuals. They conclude their business and Tork says that his son will work with him on the final details.

Osrik tries to sell a few items to Howard, but he fervently declines the horrid flail he received from Mags in Loudwater. He insists that no one would ever want that thing. Howard says good-bye to the three of them and he promises them good deals on supplies when they need them, just to make sure they spread the word of his return to the business front.

As they depart they see Aeron in the main store area, “Ya cat turd eatin’ bastard. I’m a telling you that’s fine rope, what are ya doing giving me the run around!” Tork greets his son and they leave Howard’s store together.

Aeron admires Gamora’s sword hilt and he talks briefly about weapons with her. Osrik approaches Aeron and shows him the shield he has been using, which was one of Aeron’s original works. Aeron, calling Osrik “Buddy,” comments on the shield’s flaws saying he could do better. Osrik requisitions an order for a new shield and they agree upon a price and a trade of the shield he currently has. Aeron gives him a timeline of two weeks (two ten-day) once he returns to the Wave Echo Cave near Phandalin. He says he will contact Osrik when the shield is done, “Don’t call me, I’ll call you.” The four of them split ways and Gamora and Osrik head back to the Flagon Dragon.

There is a sudden shift in the wind that brings a sense of unease and with it an eerie quite. It’s like a calm before a storm in a clear sky. Each of the characters feel a tremor, as does everyone else in Waterdeep. Cora, Reven, Vera, and Xenara watch the entire city streets come to a halt. Osrik and Gamora see rats scurry in the streets. Jean Luc stops his scribing in his room and feels the disturbance and looks out the window. Slowly sound returns and the people of the city continue on with their life. Jean Luc takes a moment and closes his eyes and listens. He feels a second wave, a rumbling that is too faint to hear over the sound of the city. Looking out the window he sees birds flying in a very erratic pattern. He ponders on what could be causing this disturbance. Whatever it is, he knows it is not good.

The party returns to the Flagon Dragon and they discuss the disturbance. Jean Luc says he felt both pulses, which confuses the party members who only heard one of them. Trying to lighten the mood, Jean Luc buys a round of drinks celebrating his transcribing his spell book into the book he acquired in Loudwater. Xenara asks to see it and he agrees after a moment of hesitation. She is fascinated with the book and observes its magical properties. She begins to write in the book the formula for the Winged Boots that she created with Aeron, as a gift.

The party exchanges information that they learned, including Howard and his store, the assassination of the Masked Lord by the Cult of the Dragon and have a discussion about the politics of Waterdeep. Gamora asks about Mags and Xenara explains that she broke away from them in the marketplace. Jean Luc contacts her via Sending to check on her. He learns that she is fine and decides it is best to let her have her space.

Jean Luc asks Xenara about her magic abilities and they go outside to practice with her magic and test her abilities. She discovers that she has a range of lighting attacks, magical healing, and mental charming abilities. When she tried using the charm spell on Reven he resists the spell and begins arguing with Xenara. City guards arrive to check on the disturbance. Xenara apologizes to the guards and walks back inside the tavern with the others.

Vera shares her peanut butter with the group. The group has mixed feelings about the concoction. Jean Luc, who enjoys it the most, seems to have a negative reaction to eating it. Osrik heals him with a lesser restoration and seems to confirm that Jean Luc is allergic to peanuts.

After recovering from the peanut experiment, Osrik takes Jean Luc aside and they practice using a shield. Some watch the training and provide moral support. They train for nearly an hour and after receiving a few bumps and bruises Jean Luc turns in for the night. Osrik also retires and spends the night reading his holy text of the Morndinsamman until he falls asleep.

Vera sits with Cora and asks how she is doing, though she shrugs off the question and asks her if she is excited to see Harlin. Vera says she is excited and can’t wait to see his house. Cora lets slip that she has been inside before, then explains that she knew someone who used to live there, but offers no other information. Cora gets up and makes her way to her room. Vera gives her a hug and wishes her a good night and heads to her room.

The sudden knock on Cora’s door catches her by surprise. When she opens the door it’s Gamora. She stands in her doorway and says, “Hi! Yeah, so, I’m going to come in.” The half-orc enters the room closes the door behind her. She turns to Cora. “Look, I’m not good at this talking stuff and I’m really not good at feelings… but you’ve been giving off like the weirdest vibe lately. Since we got here you’ve been not even remotely the person you pretend to be half the time.
In the Underdark you were just like a totally different person and I don’t know what’s going on. We don’t talk a lot, I’m not that person for you, but whatever’s going on, whether you like us here or not, we’re part of your friend-group-thing, and if you need help, any one of us here would follow you down that rabbit hole.
I just want you to know that whatever strength I have to give I will certainly back you, if that’s what you need.”

Cora pauses before responding, “Well, I really appreciate you saying that. I feel we are already going down the rabbit hole and I just can’t wrap my head around it.”

“We’ve seen a tremendous amount of shit lately and I can’t make sense of any of it,” says Gamora.

“You don’t even know the half of it,” Cora says.

“I’d like to. If you have something that will help us, even if it doesn’t make any sense…”

“I think we just have to move forward,” Cora says.

“Towards what? Other than trying to trash the Cult of the Dragon?”

“Tiamat is coming and she will be freed if we don’t stop her. We have to stop it,” Cora says shaking her head. “I have to stop it, but you’re right you need to be part of it also.” She takes a moment and takes a deep breath. “It’s… I know I haven’t been the easiest person to get along with, it’s hard for me to let people in, they always seem to be taken away. But I feel, no I’ve been told you’re important. You need to be part of this and I have to do this with you guys.”

“How do you know all this?” ask Gamora, but Cora hesitates and doesn’t respond. After a moment Gamora laughs, “I had a crazy talking sword, I’m pretty sure whatever you figured out or whatever can’t possibly be worse than that!” There is a passing moment of silence and Gamora inserts, “He was a dick.”

Cora stammers, “I really appreciate you being here and showing concern for my well-being. I don’t think I’m ready to talk about it just yet. I can’t make sense of it myself and I feel like I’m losing my mind right now.”

“If you tell us what’s going on maybe we can work together. All of our heads together we will figure it out. Jean Luc’s smart as shit!”

“He talks a lot,” says Cora.

Gamora can’t tell if she’s serious or joking. “He does not really shut up that often,” Gamora says with a grin, “But he might still know something or somebody. If we’re all in this together like you say, they need to know eventually whatever you’re struggling through.”

“But I think it’s my own struggle for now,” says Cora. “It’s my own past that I have to come to terms with. It’s nothing that you need to be concerned about.”

“You’re our friend,” Gamora says, placing a hand on her shoulder. “It concerns us. I want to you to know that. So when you’re ready, let us know.” She walks out of Cora’s room and heads down the hall to her room.

Cora watches Gamora leave. She is surprised and moved by the encounter. She gathers her things to go for a walk to think on what has happened. She quietly opens her door and descends the steps when Reven abruptly calls out to her asking where she is going.

“What do you want, Reven,” she says coldly.

“I just want to…" he starts but is thrown back by her cold glare. “I spent so many years training. I thought that’s what I always wanted, to be the best with a sword, to fight my demons and conquer my nightmares. I realized in the end it helped, but it’s not what really mattered.” He looks in her eyes, “and here you are again. I just want to make sure you are okay. I know you’re going through some stuff, but if you want to talk… ‘cause I know I’ve got questions.”

“After a moment Cora responds, "Let’s go for a walk.” They leave the Flagon Dragon and walk down the street towards the docks.

The dock ward is rather darkly lit with few people around. As they make their way down an empty pier Cora takes a moment to make sure there are no observers or ambushers. Satisfied she turns to Reven, “You said you had questions, what were your questions?”

“What was the deal with the ring?” Reven asks. “You know, I saw you wearing it. When you left I thought it was gone, I thought you sold it.”

“Oh, yeah. I didn’t think you saw that. I kept the ring," she says in a low tone. “I’m sorry for leaving the way I did.”

“Yeah, it kinda sucked. I mean, it brought my focus back to where it needed to be. I trained and went where I needed to go and I lost my focus, but I found it again eventually. But why? Why did you leave?”

“I thought that was the best decision at the time," Cora says as she looks out towards the dark sea.

“Do you still feel it was the best decision?” Reven asks.

“I think so. You said you found your focus and I needed to become something I knew you wouldn’t like,” says Cora.

“Oh so that’s it," says Reven. "You were afraid I was going to see you for what you truly are?”

“What I need to be," she says.

“The Cult?” he asks. She nods and the two stand quietly for a time looking out to across the sea.

Cora breaks the silence, “How have you been? You said you’ve gained your focus.”

“I thought I did," says Reven. "I thought I had it, concrete, and I was ready to just continue on. I never… forgot about you, but I continued. And then I was shown something rather interesting, by Kalu.”

“The person you…”she begins.

“Resurrected," he interrupts. "The quest my father so desperately needed us for was to find Kalu’s soul. I went back to Seven Swords Mountain and revived her. She helped me with my visions and she showed me something interesting.”

“What did she show you?” asks Cora.

“It’s kind of difficult to explain," he sighs. "Apparently, I was married… to Cora. We had adventures together, we trained together, went everywhere together. We had this amazing wonderful life together. It wasn’t you but it felt like you. Her name was Cora Nightshade.”

Cora legs grow weak for a moment, but she catches herself.

Reven continues, “You know Cora, right?”

“I knew Cora,” she says with a quiver in her voice.

“She was your cousin?” Reven says.

“How do you know that?” asks Cora. “I’ve never…”

Reven says, “Because we were married. She never forgot you. She lived for you much like I guess you live for her."

A tear gathers in Cora’s eye. She never meets his gaze, preferring to look out into the night sky over the dark sea.

“It’s confusing,” Reven continues. “I remember this life we lived together and it never happened. I remember and feel everything and it’s gone. It was like when I met you, all those feelings all over again. The same life but different. All the emotions all I had, all that love… but it never happened.”

“Two days ago, when I went back to the cottage," Cora finally speaks. “It happened again. I had what seemed like a vision, but I traveled back in time.” She grips the hilt of her swords. “The one thing I’ve wanted….the thing I always regretted was not being able to save Cora when the dragon attacked. It is the one thing that has stayed haunted me from that night.” Tears begin to stream down her eyes, “Two days ago, I was there again. I saw the dragon attack. I could have saved them, I had the shot. Then someone appeared. It was Cora. She fought me. She stopped me. Told me I’ve done this before, I’ve saved her, and I died instead of her. She went on to live my life, but in the end it wasn’t meant for her. So she went back to stop me from saving her… to save me. She said it had to be me. I saw her and my family die again, and then the grown up Cora, just vanished. She disappeared. She told me with her last words I had to move forward. I couldn’t go back anymore.”

Reven places a hand on her back to comfort her, “After Kalu untangled my visions, I saw her. She was saying good-bye. I think it was before she went to stop you."

Cora pulls away out of his reach. "I thought I had issues before! You would have liked her, what am I saying… You did, you loved her.”

“I did, but that doesn’t change… I never forgot you," he says.

Cora turns and meets his gaze. She pulls out a ring from her armor. It’s tied to a leather band she wears around her neck. She removes the ring and pulls an old piece of parchment from her bag. She places them in Reven’s hands and forces them closed. “This is what I should have said to you that time.”

Reven grips the ring he had presented to her nearly ten years ago, and opens the letter. It reads:

Reven,
I’m sorry I don’t have the strength to do this in person. You at least deserve that, but I’m afraid I would not be able to do what I must and that is to say good-bye. I want you to know that you have brought life into my body when I thought laughter and happiness no longer existed or were even a possibility for me. You were there proving me wrong. You made me feel safe and secure, if only for a moment. I will forever be thankful for the time we have spent together. You are the light in the darkness when I most needed you.
But I feel I have deceived you, that I’m not who you think I am. The look you gave me in Thundertree when you saw just a glimpse of who I am and what I needed to do it broke my heart. I cannot drag you down this path with me, but I cannot stray from it myself. I will not do this to you. Stay good. Stay just as you are. I hope you will find love in your life. You deserve it. I hope you will forgive me and think fondly of our time together.

Always,
Cora

PS – Last night meant the world to me. I will be keeping the ring with me. You are the reason, the ring a reminder of why I must continue to fight. So that love and joy cannot be once more ripped away from me or anyone else.

Reven chuckles, “Well that was a vastly better letter.” He pauses and looks at her, “When you left I was lost. I couldn’t believe that you left. But all this time, all these years, this is how you really felt?”

“I just thought it would be easier,” she says.

“Well, I think you’re right," he stumbles. "Had I read this, I probably would have chased you and continued to follow you.” Reven pulls from his pouch the letter she originally gave him and begins to rip it into pieces and throws it into the water. He puts away the new letter and smiles handing her back the ring. “This is yours.”

Cora takes back the ring, "Thank you.”

“Whenever you’re ready to face whatever it is you’re going through, I’ll still be here,” he says.

She looks at him, “What exactly does that mean? I mean really, what are you doing here?"

He laughs, “Are you serious? I’m part of a team.”

“Since when?” Cora asks confused. “We had one job together. Do you plan to be staying with us?”

“I think sticking around, and helping out wouldn’t hurt. C’mon, don’t you miss the old adventures? The excitement?”

“It’s certainly very exciting, but there’s also a lot of killing.”

“Yeah, well I trained at Seven Swords Mountain. They didn’t exactly teach me to give hugs. And let me tell you, Master Vayer, he is a scary guy.”

“I’ve heard good things about him," says Cora.

“Oh, he’s amazing but brutal. Anyway, if you decide to stick around with us—“

Cora interrupts, “What do you mean, ‘stick around with us?’ This is my team!”

“So you’re calling this a team? Right?” he says with a smile.

“We are,” she concedes. "We’ve been together for almost a year. You just showed up. Do you want to be a part of this?”

“The visions led me here for a reason," Reven says. "I was led here for a reason. I want to be a part of this team, I want to be a part of your life again. And I’m willing to follow you wherever you may go. So that’s it. I won’t get in the way. If you have something to do go ahead and do it and I’ll be right behind you.”

Cora looks at him and nods, a small grin touching her face.

“I’m going to turn in for the night. How about you?” He asks.

“I will be back soon. I just need a moment. Good night, Reven.”

They part ways and Cora wanders, lost in her thoughts. Her mind is flooded with images of her cousin Cora, her aunt, leaving Reven, the village of Dolenlas, Dru leaving. How many more times will she fail? When will this madness end? She finds herself outside her aunt’s house, Harlin’s house, and she balls her fist in anger. “Why this place?” Realizing she is exhausted both physically and emotionally she returns to the Flagon Dragon and turns in for the night.

Cora wakes to see Selvriane, or rather Vera, sitting on her bed with breakfast. “How are you?” the druid asks.

“I’m assuming you let yourself in,” ask Cora mostly amused.

“I wanted to check on you. I wanted to talk to you last night, but seemed you were busy.”

“I suppose so,” she says.

“You are upset about Harlin’s place?” asks Vera.

Cora sighs, “It used to be my aunt’s house. After she died it was unoccupied for many years. Wasted away, forgotten. I’m surprised someone else lives there, more surprised it’s Harlin’s house.”

Vera hugs Cora, who is uncomfortable but doesn’t resist, “I’m sure we’ll find out why soon.”

Cora smiles, "Well, don’t get lost between now and then.”

Vera smiles, “Never again.” She makes a flower and places it on Cora’s tray of breakfast.

Early that morning Osrik wakes up and heads to the Plinth. The non-denominational temple recommended by Tork. He finds various small shrines he does not recognize. He sits and prays to Marthammor Duin and thanks him for finding him. He puts some coins in the donation box and makes his way back to the inn. As he takes a step outside the door he feels a wave of heat hit him which brings him to his feet.

A heaviness presses on his mind is and he sees flashes of moments in the past. It starts with his journey to Greenest, a Blue Dragon, a raid, and he remembers standing beside these courageous individuals. Over the better part of an hour he sees everything that Rusty experienced until his destruction in the Underdark. He gains the knowledge of Rusty’s journey, and it is clear these are not Osrik’s memories but knowledge imparted to him that he will need for his mission. He thanks Marthammor Duin and leaves another offering before returning to his companions, not quite whole but with his sense of purpose complete.

Next: Season 3. Episode 1 (pt2) – Council of Waterdeep

Previous Season 2: Episode 12 – Until We Meet Again

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Until We Meet Again
Season 2, Session 12

Early hours of the 18th day of Nightal 1489 DR the Year of the Warrior Princess

Osrik, sitting on the bow of the Fafnir, watches the night sky. His thoughts reflect on who he is and what he should be doing. He takes out some coins and focuses his intent, drawing the magic inside of himself. He concentrates on that power inside him, what others have called Valkur, his god.

“On our journey to Waterdeep, how can I learn more about you or Valkur?” he says as he throws the gold coins into the river. They flare up into white light as they touch the surface of the water and vanish.

For a moment there is nothing. Osrik grows disappointed, but then is startled by the sudden appearance of the red-bearded Dwarf who has frequently appeared to him. He is sitting on the edge of the boat as if he had always been there. “Ya ‘ave a question?” he says with a casual tone.

“Yes,” says Osrik, shaking off his surprise of this sudden appearance.

“Ask me that question again,” the Dwarf says.

“These powers are helping me do good in the world, and I want to know more about the one giving them to me. I would like to know more about Valkur,” he says.

“Hmm,” the red-bearded Dwarf says. “What ya’ seek and what ya’ ask are not the same. Ya’ want answers?”

“I do,” says Osrik.

“In Waterdeep, seek out the Tavern of the Flagon Dragon, wait for the man wit a hammer-head on a walking stick. That’s the one ya’ want to talk to.”

“Does he have a name?” Osrik asks.

The red-bearded Dwarf chuckles, “Ya only get the answer to one question.”

“Fair enough,” says Osrik. “Good to see you again.”

“Be true to yourself, boy," he says and gives him a firm pat on the back. The next moment he is gone.

Morning comes to Loudwater. Jean Luc, Gamora, Dru, Osrik, and Mags make their way to the Green Tankard for breakfast. Jean Luc mentions that they will be departing to Waterdeep in the evening as Cora asked to wait for her. Osrik inquires about where she went with Khendrig and the party doesn’t know, but assures him that she will be back soon.

Jean Luc makes observations about Khendrig’s unique insight in the vault and Xenara’s rune markings, and the abilities she has displayed. He mentions how unique and unusual both situations are, but Mags counters that being attacked by a living magic sword in a suit of armor is also rather unique and unusual, which causes a chuckle at the table.

They inquire with Garwin as to the best place to get some magic potions, and he recommends the local apothecary. Mags asks, “why bother buying in Loudwater when Waterdeep has better stock?” Jean Luc says that the town would benefit from the economic stimulus after the recent attack. Osrik shrugs, not understanding what Jean Luc is talking about, and they make their way to the apothecary. The ladies remain in the Tankard enjoying some drinks and some downtime.

Jean Luc and Osrik meet the proprietor of apothecary, a sickly, twitchy, unhealthy looking half-elf by the name of Brosha Manx. They soon realize that the man is a bit unhinged, but nevertheless are able to purchase a few healing potions from him. Osrik purchases a Potion of Hill Giant Strength, which Brosha Manx boasts of being made out of genuine Hill Giant testicles. Osrik, realizing he is not lying asks, “How’d you get them?”

Manx replies, “It wasn’t easy…”

Jean Luc and Osrik rejoin Mags, Dru, and Gamora with their new purchases. Mags makes mention of needing to clean out her place. The others offer to help, while Osrik inquires about the place. On their way, Mags asks about the contraption currently occupying her portable hole, and she passes the manual to Jean Luc to inspect.

They make their way to the town square, where Mags places her hand in the water fountain. A door magically appears between two buildings, which she leads the party inside. The party respectfully enters, and Gamora asks if there is anything she can do. Mags asks not to let the cookies go bad, which Gamora takes as an invitation to eat all remaining cookies.

Mags and Dru make their way to a master bedroom where Mags opens a vault containing a large hoard of riches and trinkets. She takes a backpack from a rack and pushes the majority of the gold into the bag. It is obvious it’s a magical backpack as it is able to store most of the hoard and still easily be carried on Mag’s back.

She collects a large great sword from a sword rack within the vault. She walks over to Gamora and hands it to her. Gamora asks, “What’s this for, lass?”

“Barnaby used to carry this when he was younger,” she says. “I don’t think he needs it anymore.” She hands it to Gamora casually and walks out of the room. Inspecting the sword, its hilt has a fine gold and platinum engraving of a dragon. “And it won’t come alive and try to kill you.”

Gamora draws the blade to appreciate its beauty. The sword’s silver blade is polished to a near mirror shine. Inspecting the blade, she makes out the faint tracing of blue flame markings along the blade’s edge.

Jean Luc takes some time to look over the manual and finds that the prototype device is incomplete. The device is mostly a magical housing that requires a large crystal used for binding elementals. The theory is that with the right type of elemental, a few modifications, and a method of controlling it, the engine, for a lack of a better word, would be able to provide significant improvement to existing modes of transportation. High-speed land vehicles that travel on lightning or burrow in the ground, undersea travel, and airships are a few of the possibilities. Though, he realizes, it would require resources and abilities currently out of his reach.

As the sun begins to rise and Cora realizes that Khendrig is nowhere to be found, she collects herself, physically drained from the ride and emotionally drained from all the loss she has experienced. She makes her way down the hill and inspects the ruins of the cabin. The ever-burning lantern is still there with its dancing magic light. She inspects the cabin and its interior is untouched from her last visit. She considers leaving a note, but decides against it. She mounts her horse, ready to push back to Loudwater, when a loud crack of thunder echoes through the valley. Cora turns to see a flash of light emanating from the tree on the hill, and a small figure steps out of the tree.

Cora instantly feels something around her neck begin to shiver. She rides to the tree to face the individual. Before her is a small-framed half-elf with green hair and purple eyes. It doesn’t take long to realize that it is Selvriane, though she looks stronger and more resolved than the innocent-natured girl she knew. Her tattoo, she notices, has spread down both arms instead of just the left.

Cora dismounts and rushes to her long missing friend. Cora asks, “Is that you, are you really here?” as she embraces her old friend. Cora mentions that Harlin has been looking for her and she just saw him recently.

Selvriane explains what happened to her in Phandalin; a person who matches Kitzu’s description tried to kill her. When she escaped, it was two years later and everyone was gone. She had left notes with Aeron and the innkeeper.

Cora mentions that Harlin found a note in Loudwater, and he was trying to find her. Selvriane wonders how he intends on finding her “with this on,” and shows her ring, then explains that it’s a ring of non-detection and that he gave it to her. Selvriane notices the ring is vibrating and wonders what it means. Cora takes out her ring, which is also vibrating, and she puts it on. They touch ring hands. To their surprise, the vibration suddenly stops.

Cora asks how she is there, and Selvriane explains that she can travel through trees as she has seen before. Cora asks why?

Selvriane explains that she felt an energy much like when she vanished in Phandalin. She sensed it a few times and came here to investigate it. Cora tells her that the man who attacked her was here, but doesn’t give much more details. Exhausted and visibly distraught Cora admits, “I feel like I’m losing my mind, but I think we traveled in time.”

She tells Selvriane, “This is where my family was killed, and the only thing I’ve wanted is to save them. To save my cousin. And…” she shakes her head. “I don’t know…”

After a moment of silence, she asks Selvriane if she will travel with her to Loudwater. She agrees, and they mount the horses. Cora asks, “What do you go by these days?”

“Still Vera,” she says. “What is Harlin going by?” she asks.

“Harlin Blackthorne,” she says. Selvriane begins crying. Cora, surprised, asks, “Why are you crying?”

“I gave him that name,” she says. “I’m Vera Blackthorne.” Selvriane tells the story of Harlin’s proposal, the night before she vanished. Cora places a hand on her shoulder to comfort her and soon after they ride back to Loudwater together.

On the road, Cora explains her group’s mission to stop the Cult of the Dragon from bringing the evil goddess Tiamat into the world, and tells her everything that has happened thus far and about her companions. Selvriane tells Cora about her journeys and well as the fate of Neminestrus.

Reven wanders around Seven Swords Mountain, remembering his time training there. Many of the faces are new and a few are familiar. He wanders until he finds Xenara observing a mage training to blend his magic with swordplay.

Reven asks if she is interested in this. She comments that she finds it interesting, but doesn’t understand why someone would spend so much time mixing magic with blade skill when they could put their efforts into higher levels of magic. She says she doesn’t mean to insult his fighting style, which is along the same principle, but she would rather hurl fire than wrap it around a sword.

Slightly embarrassed, Reven dismisses the comment. He says that he’s sure the place would welcome her with open arms if she wanted to train under them. Xenara says that she doesn’t believe armed combat is where she excels.

Reven says that he plans on reuniting with their father. Xenara suggests that they meet up with the others in Waterdeep. Reven asks how she knows about Waterdeep and she tells him she spent most of the day with his companions, and it came up.

Xenara reminds Reven about the letter Cora gave him and says she wants to see Aeron before they leave. They make their way to the library, where they find Aeron with a cask of ale, reading a few tomes. Aeron invites Xenara to look over something he found in one of the tomes. Reven mentions they will be heading to Waterdeep soon. Aeron tells him that he and his father will do the same, making their way to the Wave Echo Cave. They agree to meet up in Waterdeep tomorrow when the Dwarves arrive. Reven, realizing his sister would rather look through the book, Reven excuses himself and looks for Master Vayer, but asks her to meet him at the entrance in twenty minutes.

Reven crosses paths with Grafter and asks if he can see Master Vayer. Grafter asks what he needs. Reven says he has a letter for Draken Dreadmoore.

Grafter initially asks him how he knows that name, and says that he hasn’t been to the mountain in a long time. Grafter convinces Reven to give the letter to him and says he will deliver it on Reven’s behalf. Reven reluctantly agrees and Grafter promises that Dreadmoore will get the letter. Reven hands him the letter and thanks him.

Reven meets Xenara and they make their way down the steps to the archway. Reven activates the teleportation gate and they leave Seven Swords Mountain.

As evening falls over Loudwater, the companions are already enjoying their dinner at the Green Tankard. Cora makes her way into the tavern, exhausted from her journey and asks Garwin if Reven is still around. He grumbles that he left sometime last night.

Selvriane, at Cora’s side, orders a round of drinks for all the companions. Cora takes her over and introduces her as Vera. She awkwardly puts the drinks on the table.
“That is the best introduction I’ve ever seen,” says Osrik taking a mug.
“I like you already,” Jean Luc laughs.

They ask about Khendrig, and Cora replies, “He’s where he needs to be.” No one presses the subject. After some exchanged pleasantries and introductions, Jean Luc tells them they will be traveling to Waterdeep that evening. Cora asks if Vera will join them and she excitedly agrees.

Cora mentions to Vera, “You know, that’s where Harlin lives now. He has a big house in Waterdeep. He’s one of the richest men there, maybe we can find him –“
“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” says Gamora, “he was rich?!?”
“He is rich,” Cora says. She asks Jean Luc if he can send him a message.

Jean Luc agrees and casts sending, informing Harlin that Vera is with them and they will be in Waterdeep. Harlin replies he will be there in two days. Vera, thankful, gives Jean Luc a hug.

Leaving the Green Tankard, Jean Luc uses the teleportation scroll given to him by Leosin and transports the party to the City of Splendors.

“Holy shit, it worked!” shouts Gamora.

After a couple seconds, they notice what appears to be the city guard surrounding them with weapons at the ready. “Who goes there?” one of them asks.

“Hello, my name is Jean Luc. I was instructed to come here to give testimony at the meeting tomorrow.”

“Leosin sent us!” Gamora interjects.

“Yes,” the lead guard says, “I recall getting word you would arrive. Well, this is not the place to hang out.” He escorts them to a great hall leading to the doorway of the castle. “You can return here the day after morrow,” as they are escorted outside the castle. "Welcome to Waterdeep.”

Osrik gets directions to the Flagon Dragon, and Vera suggests resting for the night when Cora vomits, a side effect of the teleportation spell. When they make their way to the Flagon Dragon, Dru and Mags break off from the party, saying they will meet up with them in the morning.

The Flagon Dragon is a lively place full of music and an energetic crowd. Cora spots Xenara sitting in a corner, enjoying herself. She notices them and waves. Cora whispers to Vera, “that’s Reven’s sister!”
“Where’s Reven?” Vera asks. They scan the room and spot him playing music, and Vera yells out, “Reven!” The crowd cheers and he makes his way to the group.

Xenara calls out to Jean Luc, "Here, I wrote this last night. I ran out of paper, sorry.” She hands him a stack of paper the size of a manuscript.

“This is wonderful. Thank you very much!” Jean Luc says to Xenara.

“I was stuck in a monastery for the night and I didn’t know what to do, so I just decided to write that.” Xanara appears very excited, and shows him schematics for a pair of Winged Boots she has created. Jean Luc looks impressed and she continues, telling him how a friend of hers showed her a more effective way of creating them that would minimize construction time.

Reven seems surprised to see Vera and questions how she is alive. She doesn’t offer much in the way of explanations, and he soon learns that Harlin will be joining them in a few days.

Cora leaves and goes for a walk, while Vera and Jean Luc go dance, breaking new ground on what bad dancing looks like. Gamora retires for the night.

Osrik inquires about the man with the hammer staff, then he takes a seat at a table and waits. Vera joins him, showing him a card game, which Reven joins in.

Jean Luc makes the acquaintance of a lovely lady and soon retires with her to his quarters. Vera also retires to get some rest.

Cora returns from her walk, during which she visited her aunt’s home, though she doesn’t share this. She sits with Reven, who was playing cards with Osrik, and he tells her about his mission and resurrecting his father’s old friend, and how she fixed his visions which resulted in his blue eyes. During the conversation, Reven notices the ring on Cora’s finger, but he says nothing about it.

Osrik interjects, asking about Reven’s visions, the resurrection, and the name of the card game. Reven says the name of the game is Jengala, and then he and Cora retire to Reven’s room to continue their conversation in private.

Cora tries to explain the situation with the time traveling and her not-vision. She tells Reven she feels she is losing her mind. She shows him the twin scimitars and tells him about her cousin. Reven goes to reply, but a dart strikes him in the neck, Cora as well. They both collapse, darkness engulfing them.

Dru makes her way to her secret vault, accompanied by Mags. Dru hasn’t visited this location since she set out on the journey after Howard was first murdered by the Cult of the Dragon. She opens her vault and to her surprise, most of the gold still remains, but her equipment, the armor, weapons, and cloak, are missing. Dru begins to panic, wondering what happened to everything.

Mags finds a note that reads: “Sorry love. Borrowed your stuff. Come get me if you want it back.” It has the mark of the Black Trident.

Dru realizes the letter was from her brother, Praxx. She tells Mags, “He’s here, and he took my stuff!”

Dru and Mags discuss whether this is a result of killing Darlandra or if he simply needs the equipment to kill an enemy of some sort. They both seem uneasy about the situation regardless. Mags mentions how it’s probably for the best that the gear is gone as there was a lot of bloodshed connected to it, and Dru is trying to move past that part of her life.

Mags is a bit uneasy about leaving the gold in an unsecured vault. She leaves some of her funds, but suggests that they place a few traps just in case.

They leave and head to the South Ward Children’s House, where they reunite with many of the children and Rianann, the brass dragonborn who is the main caretaker of the house and close friend of Dru. She welcomes them and sets a place for dinner for the two of them.

Mags draws the attention of a few children who come to greet her, and she grants them a gift of a gold coin, reminding herself to bring gifts next time. The three have dinner together and have a pleasant discussion about things at the Children’s House.

Dru asks the dragonborn if she has noticed anyone scouting around or watching the house. Not that she has noticed, she replies, asking if she should be worried.

Dru reassures Rianann that it’s nothing to worry about they share a drink. Dru tells Rianann about her journey and what has transpired since she left Waterdeep. Rianann admits that the lure of adventure and battle sounds appealing and she wishes she could fight by her side, but feels more fulfilled and needed here at the house.

They talk till rather late in the evening, until the house is silent and ready for the next day. Mags, already asleep, is taken to a room for the night. Rianann wishes her well and also retires for the evening.

With everyone asleep, Dru leaves the Children’s House and searches for her brother. It doesn’t take long to find him, and as she is traveling through an alley, a voice calls out to her from above, “hey there.”

Though they have been apart for nearly twenty-seven years, Dru recognizes the Drow as her brother. More familiar is his armor and the blade on his side, and a small wave of annoyance passes over her as she realizes his coat is made out of the same material as her old cloak. Unlike Darlandra, there is no fear at his presence, as Praxx was always kind to her as a child. Though, they aren’t children anymore, and who knows why he has made himself known after all this time. “Nice digs,” she says, maintaining her calm.

“You think so?” he says with a smile, showing off the clothing. “I found them lying about. Bring out the shine in my eyes ,I think.”

“What are you doing here?” Dru asks pointedly.

He grins, “Saving your ass, and those of your friends is all.” He takes a leap off the roof and flips in the air, landing right front of her.

“Didn’t know I was in need of saving. Seemed to be doing fine since being thrown in the ocean,” says Dru, unimpressed with his acrobatics.

“Well, I had nothing to do with that,” he says with a look of distaste. “Tez’zak was a superstitious man. That Deep Gnome Soothsayer had got in his head that sacrificing you to the sea would avoid the dark prophecy of his demise. Seems the joke was on him, just made it happen. Stupid old father,” he chuckles, “No loss I suppose, he got what he deserved. Never trust a gnome, I say.”

“And? Why now?” asks Dru.

“Darlandra’s dead…” says Praxx, eyeing her carefully.

“I’ve heard that,” says Dru straight-faced.

He nods and resumes his smile, “Well, no one minded much with our father’s death, but Darlandra… Well, that, some within the house take issue with very much. Darlandra took the reigns after Tez’zak’s demise, and it seems that many suspected that she was behind his fall. When the Nightingales were destroyed by a single Drow assassin believed to be in Darlandra’s employ, the house maintained its status and no one dared challenge her capability. All blood was paid.”

“But with Darlandra killed in the Underdark by a group of outsiders, lead by the same assassin once in her employ, the question is, was it an act of aggression against the house, or a move to ascend to power? Duplicity is the way of the Drow, but outsiders daring to attack our leader is not something we will tolerate,” he pulls the coat aside showing the silver hilt of a blade that looks like a hummingbird with outstretched wings.

The sight of the blade makes Dru’s fingers twitch as she as she thinks of three different ways to take that blade from him and cut him down. “She didn’t run in very trustworthy circles. It’s likely she was killed by one of her other allies.”

Praxx nods, apparently agreeing with her, but then looks at her and grins, “You have her book, Dru. We know you were involved.”

“She… gave it to me…” she says, then just shrugs off any pretense of deception.

He shakes his head, “The house has already found your people and they are in our custody. Alive, though, for how long depends on you. They are holding their blades until after this parlay. As you are House Dra’dax, there is a chance to make this all go away.”

“You can just let them go,” she says.

He grunts, “No, no, no,” he says. “If I tell them to back down it, will make me look weak. And I’m not going to put myself on the line for them. But if you confess you killed Darlandra and assume control, well then… things will go in your favor.”

“Why don’t you just take over?” she says.

“Well, well. I’ve thought about that but I’m not a man who leads anyone but my damn self. And no one would believe I hired an assassin anyway, I take care of things with my own hands.” he says with a smile of pride. “Besides, it still leaves us in the situation where someone will have to pay for this.” He paces about, seeming to think of a solution, “But if you tell me who actually killed her, I may be able to convince the others to let the rest of them go. Possibly, the blood of the murder will be enough to appease the house.”

Dru stands, listening to his words, her outward expression betraying none of her inner thoughts or feelings. Yet somehow she senses that he is reading her like an open book. “And if I admit I killed her, what happens then,” she asks.

“Well then, you are the boss,” he shrugs. “Granted, some will challenge you, but you would have to put them in their place. Otherwise the strongest and the most cunning lead the house.” He looks at her, all playful demeanor aside, “You can’t just up and say you killed her. We have rules, you know. Just take your position of power, and if anyone challenges your right to lead, well, you need to deal with that.” He draws out Hummingbird and hands it to her with a grin. “If you do that, I would have your back.”

Her hand hesitates, reaching for the blade, “Do I… have time to think about it…” she asks.

He shakes his head disapprovingly, drawing Hummingbird back into its scabbard. “You have four hours before sunrise. When the sun rises, their blood will be cold where they sleep.” He pulls his hood up and vanishes.

Dru spends some time thinking about the situation and her options. After some time she realizes what she must do and goes back to the Children’s House. The house is untouched and everyone is safe. Even the Black Trident wouldn’t violate the sanctuary laws put in place on the Children’s House. She leaves a letter for Mags and makes her way to the Flagon Dragon, steeling herself for what must happen next.

When she arrives at the Flagon Dragon, nothing seems out of place from the outside. When she approaches the door, the silence is deafening. She enters the inn and sees about twenty Drow occupying the tavern. There are several patrons, along with the bartender, darted with Drow quills. Osrik is laying on the floor, face-first, with four darts in his neck,]. Dru turns to her brother who walks beside her.

“You told me they would be unharmed,” her eyes pierce through him.

“He was a tough one,” Praxx says almost apologetically. “We needed to club him to put him down. But he’ll recover with no injuries.”

She looks at the Drow occupying the room, “Leave them be. It’s time to go,” she says.

Praxx sits back, “You heard the lady. We are done here.”

“No,” says one Drow, who stands with two others behind him. “We are to believe that you killed Darlandra?” He accuses Dru.

She walks to him, slowly looking at his eyes. He seems fast and strong, a warrior by the look of the twin blades on his side. Remembering what her brother told her, she realizes that a different approach will be needed. “Yes,” she said. “I killed her.” With lightning fast speed, she pulls the upstart Drow’s own blade from his hip and drives it through his heart. “And I killed you too…”

She spins, pulling out the second blade, and cuts the throat of the second Drow behind his back. She crosses the two bloodied short swords at the third Drow’s neck, “Anyone got a problem with that…”

The third Drow, with horror and fear in his eyes, bows his head. “No Matron. No problem at all. Please, mercy….”

She slices his throat. “There is no mercy. Only my command… is that understood?”

The room echoes in agreement. Long has the Black Trident, or House Dra’dax, heard of the Drow assassin of the Nightingales, how she single-handedly defeated four of their top assassins and killed their leader. She then went on to hunt down and kill every member of the Nightingales, her own organization. This assassin became known as the Nightingale, an urban legend to some, but now, seeing her in action, makes the House Dra’dax elders realize that she is indeed true to her reputation and not one to challenge.

Dru walks to her brother, “Clean this place up. I want nothing showing we were here. Except the darts. Leave them as a warning,” she draws Hummingbird from his side as she walks away, “This belongs to me.”

Praxx smiles, “It will be as you command, Matron.” His plan is already well on it’s way and he can’t wait to see the results….

Mags wakes in the morning, finding the letter. As she reads it, tears come to her eyes.

Dear Mags,

I have to leave to save everyone. What they are doing will save the world and I have to do my part. You can stay in the Children’s House or travel with them, but I ask you do not come and find me. You need to do what whatever will be right for your soul. You’ve grown into your own and I am proud of you. I love you.

Your sister, always.
Dru

As the group begins to stir in the morning they are rather confused about what happened. Jean Luc shouts for help and Gamora breaks into his room seeing him naked and tied up. She averts her eyes and awkwardly tries to untie him. Osrik mentions seeing Drow before he was knocked out. Gamora asks about Mags and Dru wondering if they came back. Jean Luc uses sending to reach out to Mags, but she enters the Flagon Dragon mid-reply, her hair pulled back in a ponytail with a serious look on her face.

“Where is Dru?” asks Jean Luc.

“She’s gone,” says Mags. “She needs to handle something.”

“When will she be back?” asks Cora.

“She will find us if she needs us,” says Mags.

Jean Luc asks, “Is she okay?”

“She’s fine, " she replies.

“Are you okay?” asks Jean Luc.

“No, but I will be,” she says.

Cora asks, “Is it related to what happened in Loudwater?”

“Probably,” says Mags. “Everything has consequences, and she is making sure those consequences don’t interfere with our mission. She will do what she needs to do, and let us do what we need to do.”

Jean Luc uses sending to reach out to Dru, but there is no response. He states that considering everyone is alive, uninjured, and none of their possessions have been taken. that he believes that this matter is settled for now. He advises that Leosin will send for them tomorrow at noon. Dealing with the violation of the attack, the party does their best to move on past the situation.

They take their breakfast in silence, trying to process what has happened. Some of the patrons seem confused, and the bartender more so than any other, but as the hours pass, life seems to resume and be business as usual.

After they eat, Vera asks Mags if she knows where they sell peanut butter and how to get it. Mags says she will take her and anyone else who would like, to go shopping. Xenara decides to join them to look for components for her winged boots. Cora decides to go with Vera, and Reven also accompanies them. As they leave, Vera asks Jean Luc, Gamora, or Osrik if they need anything.

Mags is reminded by Gamora and Jean Luc that Rusty has been looking for magic boots that increase his speed. She says she’ll keep an eye out for them. When they hit the markets, the group encounters many vendors, most with shops, and others, foreigners, who travel around the world selling their wares. Throughout the morning they are able to find ingredients for peanut butter, Xenara’s components, and the magic boots.

As they shop, Cora asks about Harlin Blackthorne, gathering any information on him. With a few gold coins and some time, she is able to learn where to find his home in Waterdeep.

Jean Luc spends the rest of the day in his room, coming out only for food breaks. He is determined to finish scribing his spells over to the new spellbook he acquired in Loudwater.

Osrik remains at the Flagon Dragon with Gamora keeping him company. He teaches her the game he learned from Vera, “Jembala.” They talk a bit and have lunch, all the time rather uneventful.

Later that afternoon looking past his cards, Osrik notices a flash of light emanate from a small storage closet. The door swings open and two red-bearded Dwarves come out, rather amused and laughing.

The younger of the two wears a humble-looking scale mail with a brown traveling coat and travel bag. His broad chest and muscular neck show that he is rather strong and rather formidable physically.

The second Dwarf looks a bit older, with some flecks of gray in his beard. He wears no armor, but rather long white priest vestments with clear gemstones attached at even intervals. His beard is braided, with a single stone bead of little importance holding it together. He walks using a stone staff with a hammer on the head.

Gamora shouts, “Ha! Check out this one. Oh! Hammerstaff!”

Osrik looks at her, “What are you…”

He startles the two Dwarves and the younger one shouts back, “Oi, What the fuck ya two been drinkin’? I want some of that, haha!”

Osrik gets them an order of drinks and tells the older Dwarf, “I was told to find you here.”

“Um,” the older Dwarf looks at him, “That’s rather creepy, son.”

“It’s creeper to come out of a closet,” says Gamora.

“Aye,” he says looking back, “Odd place to put a teleportation circle.”

“Oi!” says the younger. “It’s supposed to be a secret!”

“Oh yes, that’s right,” says the senior. “Don’t tell anyone…” They sit at the table and enjoy their drinks.

Osrik introduces himself and tells the pair his story. how he lost his memory after being attacked by a Intellect Devourer and that he was a cleric of Valkur. He is still able to use his magic, but he wants to know how to learn more about his power. When he called out to his god about what he should do, he was told to find a Dwarf matching the older Dwarf’s description here at the Flagon Dragon.

The old man says he isn’t very knowledgeable about Valkur, and admits he’s never heard of him. He claims to be a humble servant of Dumathoin, Keeper of the Secrets Under the Mountain.

Osrik asks him his name, and he introduces himself as Tork Glitterstone, saying that he is traveling with his son, Aeron Glitterstone. Aeron, finishing off the beer, leans over and says, “Pop, I’m gonna head out to get some supplies. I dunna think I’m gonna be much help here.”

“Ya gonna leave an old man with these strangers,” says Tork. “You have no idea what I’ll do to them.” He says this with a laugh, but both Gamora and Osrik notice that there is a steel to the older Dwarf’s eyes, warning that to trifle with him would be a mistake. He pats his son on the back, “Go ahead son. I want to hear what the young lad has to say.”

Osrik tells more of his story, recounting all he can over some more drinks, which Tork happily accepts. When Osrik mentions the Dwarven angel that had appeared to him in his dream on the boat, Tork seems to pay special attention. He asks him to describe the “angel” several times, listening to every detail. He sits silently, absorbing the information, and asks Osrik to tell him what the “angel” said. Osrik, in his excitement, can’t seem to remember the angel’s words, but he says he gave him something, placing the small hammer on the table.

Tork picks up the hammer and a grin comes to his face. “Hmm, I know this,” he says. “We met a long time ago.”

Osrik asks, “Are you the rightful owner?”

“Moradin is the rightful owner,” he says. “This is the Shaping Hammer, one of the four Great Tools that were gifted to the First King Silvervein by Moradin himself. Where did you get this?”

Osrik explains that he found it in Shadowheart’s vault, which makes Tork’s expression turn rather serious. He continues his story, telling him about the battle with Hazirawn, including the visit of the red Dwarf angel telling him the command word, which allowed him to wield the hammer and destroy Hazirawn.

Tork tells him he is fortunate and warns, “The Shaping Hammer is not a weapon. It is a tool and as it has not left you it still has a purpose. If you find the other tools, I may be able to help you, though they have been lost for ages.”

Osrik asks of the tools, which Tork names as the Shaping Hammer, the Brutal Pick, the Earthheart Forge, and the Anvil of Songs. He tells Osrik that with the four of them, he would be able to make something grand. He says with some pride, “They don’t call me the Soul Forger for nothing.”

Gamora remembers the words “Soul Forger” from her experience with Wind, her Owlbear spirit guide. She asks the Dwarf what he means by forging souls.

Tork says that any essence or object can be forged into steel with the right tools, be it a soul or ore. He recounts how he forged an ax and set of armor with the fires of the Soul Forge. Although, he doesn’t remember what happened to them.

Gamora tells him she may need his skills one day, if he is willing to help, and the Dwarf says that if the cause is right, he will always be willing to help. She tells him of the Spirit Sword that came to her during the battle with Hazirawn and asks how she can make something like it.

Tork realizes that she is an Ondanti, and tells her that the only way he knows to manifest a soul weapon in the material plane is by binding it with a special silver ore that can be found in the Feydark or in Pandora. With enough ore he might be able to do this, but it has risks. He only knows one person who had a blade of that metal, but doesn’t share the name.

He turns to Osrik and asks him for his holy symbol. Osrik presents the blank wooden talisman and explains it turned blank after he lost himself. Tork takes the object and concentrates, muttering a prayer. After a moment, there is a flash of light and the holy symbol reveals itself. Where once was the symbol of Valkur is the image of a boot overlapped by a mace. “Aye, of course. Marthammor Duin.”

He shows the holy symbol to Osrik, “Young volamtar,” a Dwarven word meaning blazer of fresh trails, "He is the Watcher over Wanderers, Finder-of-Trails. He is the patron of Dwarves who have left the clanholds to explore the world under the sun. Always curious to see the next horizon, and always willing to trade stories of his travels at the campfire. He is the divine spirit of Dwarven exploration, his curiosity like quick bursts of lighting from the sky.”

Osrik says, “What does he expect of me? Is there a temple? Any restrictions I….”

Torks laughs at his eagerness, “I am not the expert you need. I am the child of Dumathoin who is the god Under the Mountain. Your god is the one beyond the mountain. You are his son, and in your heart you already know the path you need to follow. All the other stuff you’ll figure out as you go.”

Osrik looks at him, a bit confused. “Let’s go for a walk,” he says.
He and Gamora settle their tab and follow the elder Dwarf through the streets of Waterdeep. Their pace is slow as the old Dwarf seems to have a heavy limp.

He notices that Osrik’s shield bears his son’s mark. He mentions it was probably one of Aeron’s early creations as a child, noticing some imperfections in the etching. He goes on to say that Aeron runs the Wave Echo Cave up north and is a master craftsman in his own right. He holds one of the three Glitterstone fortresses along the Sword Coast.

Tork leads them to an old bookstore that is clearly Dwarven. He wanders the stacks until he finds a heavy meta-bound book. He hands it to Osrik, telling him this is what he wants and that there is much for him to learn in this book. The book is a tome of the Morndinsamman, the Dwarven pantheon, and he tells him to read up.

As Osrik pays, Tork looks through some of the scrolls with weapon diagrams and schematics. He finds a few he likes and others he laughs at. Gamora mentions Xenara’s appreciation for schematics, though Tork seems to not recognize the name.

Osrik asks if there is a temple in Waterdeep, and Tork suggests the Plinth in the Trades Ward. It’s an open temple for all faiths, he says, and also mentions it’s where the Town Guard land their griffons.

Next: Season 3. Episode 1 (pt1) Call of Doom

Previous Episode 11: Loose Ends

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Loose Ends
Season 2, Session 11

18th day of Nightal 1489 DR the Year of the Warrior Princess

After defeating Hazirawn, the party spends their time helping Captain Harrowleaf and the townsfolk of Loudwater in clearing debris, checking homes, and helping out the survivors.

Tribs bids farewell to Reven and Xenara. He wishes them good luck and promises they will find each other soon. He thanks Reven for finishing the mission and regrets he will not be there with him.

Mags, Dru, Osrik, and Jean Luc return to the city after burying Old Barnaby and join the others in helping with the relief effort. While helping clean up, Jean Luc finds the discarded hilt of Hazirawn. He picks it up and takes it as a keepsake.

Later that evening, the heroes meet in the Green Tankard and enjoy a well-earned meal. After dinner they return to the docks. Cora pulls Gamora aside and tells her that Reven may be able to get a letter to her father if she’s interested. When they return to the boat they discuss next steps. Jean Luc takes out the hilt of Hazirawn and nails it to a beam on the boat with a note saying, “I am a dick.”

After a good laugh, he advises them that they will be needed in Waterdeep in the next few days and should teleport there tomorrow morning. Cora asks him to wait another day, as she has something she needs to do before they leave. Jean Luc, understanding that he won’t get more details than that, agrees to wait.

Jean Luc asks Reven if he will join them, but Reven turns him down, saying that he also has something to take care of and he’s not sure when he will be done. Reven asks if Xenara cares to join him, and she says yes.

Xenara returns the book to Jean Luc, which she completed in less than a day. Jean Luc asks her to write her thoughts on the book when she has time, as he is interested in her thoughts. She agrees and bids him farewell. The two half-drow leave that evening and make their way out of town.

Cora follows behind Reven, says goodbye, and hands him Gamora’s letter, instructing him to give it to Draken Dreadmore. Reven agrees, says goodbye, and leaves with his sister.

After Reven’s departure, the rest of the party decides to visit the Bone Devil, Lord Volmyr. This time, Mags insists on joining them.

They return to the Pot Store (which is a front for the Bone Devil’s organization) and soon descend underground, where they enter the checkpoint that seals them between two metal doors and where they are expected to leave their weapons behind.

As with their first visit, Cora refuses to disarm and remains behind with Khendrig. Jean Luc, Mags, Osrik, Gamora, and Dru disarm and proceed through the second metal door, which seals right behind them. They enter Volmyr’s chamber, a dark room with a gossamer curtain that separates the party from the devil. Only his silhouette shows. The room is filled with powerful incense and many interesting pieces of art and trinkets.

The voice of Lord Volmyr echoes in their minds. He congratulates them on defeating Darlandra and breaking the Black Trident’s hold on Loudwater. He also thanks them for leaving the fortress largely abandoned, as he intends to take possession of it for his own organization. Dru asks, “Since we kept our part of the bargain, do you have any new information for us?”

Lord Volmyr doesn’t have anything new, but he does say that he’s been gaining some information on a Cult of the Dragon separatist group lead by a former Cult leader named Talis, who is gathering forces. Her location is not known, and he is currently in the process of gathering more intelligence. Lord Volmyr concludes that their alliance is intact and the party begins to leave.

Mags stands still as the party begins to depart. “What is your name again?” she asks.

“You may call me, Lord Volmyr, little one,” his voice says.

“No… I don’t think I will. You don’t belong here, and I will not leave this town with a devil living in the bowls of my town,” Mags says with a resolute and calm tone.

Lord Volmyr, with an amused, asks," Is this child one of yours?"

Mags snaps her fingers and a column of divine fire crashes through the ceiling, igniting the curtain and damaging the Bone Devil. The monstrous devil rises and hisses at Mags with anger in its eyes. Lord Volmyr’s full height towers over the party and its barbed tail lashes menacingly.

The shockwave of the FlameStrike is felt at the checkpoint, where Cora asks the guard what happened. The guard looks confused. Cora says, “You should check on that. Hope everything is okay.” The guard, conflicted, tells her to stay there and begins opening the door.

Osrik flips a table, providing some cover. Gamora grabs a chair and smashes it against the Bone Devil. Mags casts a bolt of divine fire at the Bone Devil, sending it back howling.

Jean Luc vanishes, reappearing beside Cora, who hands him a bin holding the party’s belongings. She then takes Providence and kills the two guards on either side of the slightly open metal doors. She sprints down the hall with Khendrig close behind. Jean Luc, says “Race you!” and vanishes.

He reappears with the party’s weapons as they do their best to hold off the Bone Devil with whatever’s handy and their spells. When Jean Luc arrives, they grab their weapons and start attacking Lord Volmyr. Gamora, wielding the blade Jean Luc got for her, drives it through Lord Volmyr’s body. The Bone Devil whines and says, “You’ve made a mistake this day…” his body starts to burn and fall apart into ash. “I will be back and will make you pay for this…”

With the Bone Devil defeated, the party moves out to take care of the other members of the Bone Devil’s organization. As everyone leaves, Osrik remains behind and loots some of the art, gems, and treasure in the Bone Devil’s room.

With the remainder of the Bone Devil’s servants in chains, Mags burns the Pot Store down with a fireball spell. She pauses a moment to take it all in.

Gamora asks, “You want to explain what that outburst was about?”

Jean Luc also asks, “If you can shed some light about the really strong emotions you displayed back there, it would be greatly appreciated.”

Mags looks at him, “I’m not gonna work with a Devil, and if we are leaving Loudwater, I’m not leaving one behind.”

Osrik nods, “Makes sense.”

Cora’s Cottage

18th day of Nightal 1489 DR the Year of the Warrior Princess

Not long afterward, Cora and Khendrig make their way to the stables. She retrieves the supplies she gathered earlier in the day and takes the two horses she acquired, riding out that evening to the North East.

They ride all night, avoiding any trouble and making good time. The young svirfneblin does not complain and sleeps in her lap. Cora does her best to protect the child during the hard ride. Nearly 7 hours of hard riding later, she makes her way to an isolated prairie just as light begins to touch the horizon. A small, burned cottage stands as the only building, with the flickering light of a lantern within. Beyond, in the distance, is a hill overlooking the cottage with a single tree.

She rides past the cottage, glancing inside. Its ruins bring back memories of that horrible night eleven years ago. It’s unchanged from her last visit, the ever-burning lantern still flickering inside. She slowly rides past the cottage, making her way up the hill to the tree.

She sees the four stones at its base. The graves of her family, her aunt Talia, her uncle Xain, her cousin Cora, and lastly, her own. There are no names on the graves, but she remembers when she dug them and placed the bodies of her family in the ground.

When Cora dismounts, she helps Khendrig down as well. Tired, he sits down on a rock, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. He watches as Cora climbs the hill, takes out flowers, and places them on the graves with a delicate and loving attention. Khendrig walks up the hill and stands beside her.

Cora kneels before the graves and closes her eyes. Khendrig for a moment believes her to be praying. She opens her eyes, looking to the cottage below and into the horizon. The young gnome feels a pull and feels a familiar energy gathering around him. He asks, “What are you doing?”

Cora’s focus unwavering, she replies, “Remembering.”

Understanding the sensation that is gathering, he turns away. Khendrig realizes there is nothing he can do to help her now. He stands and says, “I’m going to go for a walk.”

“Don’t go too far,” says Cora.

“I won’t,” says Khendrig as he walks down the hill.

She looks upon the hill, and in her mind she sees that dreadful day. Her aunt was tending to crops, and her uncle was caring for the horses. The red dragon come from nowhere and set the cottage on fire with its fiery breath. The screams, the horror, the pain echoes in her mind like a bell. Though this moment it is not the screams, but a haunting chime emanating from her bag. She opens her bag and sees it is the shimmering blue and silver scale. When Cora touches it, the entire hillside shifts and warps. There is a high-pitched humming and ripping noise, and the world around her tears and falls away.

Slowly, the sound fades and the world seems to put itself back together, and she stands in the same place on the hill beside the tree, but everything has changed. Before her, the sky begins to set, but is blackened as a massive red dragon in the sky casts its massive shadow. The world seems bathed in red as the jet of flame fires from its mouth engulf the roof of the cottage. They run. – her uncle, her aunt, and her cousin Cora.

Horrified, she sees the worst moment of her life before her. At her feet, lying beside the tree on the hill is her younger self, Ma’ree Nightflower, staring in fear upon the massive red dragon. As the dragon turns its attention to her uncle and aunt while they scurry for cover, Cora Xain’s eyes focus and her face hardens. She simply says, “No…”

She draws Providence, which is glowing an angry red light. She raises the ancient bow, given to her by the god Solonor Thelandira, and draws and fires an arrow at the Great Wyrm’s eye. As the arrow takes off from her bow, a flash of light strikes the arrow mid-flight, and a boot kicks Cora in the chest knocking her to the ground.

Before her an armored warrior with a silver and gold scimitar appears out of nowhere. Her form is clearly that of a woman, adorned in ornate gold and silver armor, wearing a helmet with dragon stylizing., though she can not see her face.

The armored warrior points at young Ma’ree, releasing a spell that seems to paralyze the young girl, then turns her attention to Cora, pointing her blade at her. Cora ignores the new opponent and takes aim at the Red Dragon. Her shift in attention is a mistake, as the armored warrior throws her scimitar, biting into Cora’s shoulder and causing the arrow to fire wild. She then rushes forward and tackles Cora, slamming her to the ground and knocking the bow from her hand.

At this moment, the red dragon’s fire lashes out, causing Cora’s aunt and uncle to scream in terror as their lives are taken by the dragon’s flames. Cora shouts, “Let me go!” And with a sudden surge of strength she flips her opponent off of her, sending the armored warrior crashing to the ground. Her helmet rolls off her head and her reddish brown hair falls out.
“Who are you?” Cora demands. Looking upon the warrior’s face, she sees a half-elf with the face of her cousin. “Cora?” she shouts in awe.

Before her stands Cora Nightshade, the same cousin whose name she took as her own to honor her memory. But her cousin is older, her eyes tired, and scarred. Pressed upon her face is a look of determination and strength that she has never seen before. “No. I can’t let you do this again.” She pounces on the stunned Cora Xain and slams her to the ground pinning her.

Cora begins to struggle, but her cousin places a gentle hand on her cheek. “You have to keep going forward,” she tells her.

“How are you here?” Cora asks.

“You’ll find out soon enough,” her cousin replies. “You have to do this.”

“What do I have to do?” asks Cora, confused.

The scream of her cousin’s younger self echoes throughout the prairie, as she is burned alive by the fires of the red dragon. “No!” Cora shouts, trying to free herself bursting into tears.

“It’s okay.” Her cousin says with a warm smile. “I love you, sister. You can do this, just keep going forward…” Her body glows a bright gold and blue light, and seems to break apart, falling into pieces of burning light. When she is gone, Cora feels the world tear again, and she finds herself alone on the hill before the four graves. She collapses on the ground in tears. It takes a moment for Cora to regain her composure. She retrieves her bow, but notices that her cousin’s scimitar is still where it fell.

Cora touches her shoulder to check the wound and realizes that she isn’t hallucinating. She is indeed bleeding. She stands and retrieves the fallen gold and silver blade, noticing it seems oddly familiar. She draws her own scimitar, comparing the designs and etchings. They are identical, except Cora’s own sword has a dragon-head charm hanging around the hilt. When she brings them close together she feels a powerful force pulling them together and pushing them apart at the same time. When she tries to make them touch they repel each other.

“That’s a fucked up thing ain’t it,” says a voice unfamiliar to her. Cora looks up and sees a man approaching with dark black hair pulled up in a ponytail and a spotty, unshaven face that seems incapable of growing a beard. He is dressed in well-worn and not-particularly-cared-for chainmail, rusted in some spots. His clothes seem like they were once white, but are stained and yellowed. On his back is a great sword of unremarkable quality that seems slightly better kept than his armor, but not by much. His dark brown eyes gaze at Cora with a smug look. Cora notices he has a scar across his right eye.

“Who are you?” says Cora. Her hands tighten around the hilts of the scimitars.

“I’m Kitzu,” he smiles as he walks closer, making his way up the hill. “And you are Cora Xain,” he circles her with a casual and almost mocking gait. “or Ma’ree Nightflower. Or whatever you decided to call yourself.”

As he moves closer, Cora lifts her scimitars defensively. “It’s a fucked up thing when the same object exists in two places. They don’t know if they want to be together or push themselves apart. It’s a rare thing when a paradox stabilizes. It’s pretty useful if you ever learn how to use them. Your short game sucks, right?”

Confused and frustrated Cora presses, “Who are you?!” as more of a threat than a question.

He smiles, “I’m just a guy trying to get home. Been wandering around this place for about 10 years and I’m really tired of this backwater shit hole.”

“What are you doing here?” Cora asks.

“I knew you’d be here.” He stops pacing and looks at her with focused intent. “Now if you’re done with that dragon scale, I’d really like to borrow it right now.”

“No,” says Cora, not lowering her stance.

“That’s a bad thing. Something is supposed to happen now, otherwise your little friend is going to die.”

“What’s supposed to happen?”

“You’re supposed to give that to me so I can set shit straight. That’s what I do for a living. While you go about changing shit willy-nilly whenever you fuckin’ feel like, cause your feelings get hurt. Oh boohoo! My parents, my family, my cousin are gone. Boohoo! I got to save them. And you go and rip fucking time apart!” Kitzu shakes his head and lets out a exaggerated sigh, “I’m really tired of fixing all your shit.”

Kitzu moves forward, toward the shimmering dragon scale which lays on the ground. Cora steps between the upstart and the scale, with anger burning in her eyes, and snatches it up before he does.

“Come on,” says Kitzu his voice sounding deflated and annoyed.

“You are going to have to do better than this,” she says. “Who are you? What do you want? How do you know who I am? And what do you want with the dragonscal…”

“Arrgh! Enough! I’m fucking tired of this!” Kitzu draws his great sword and swings at Cora. She takes a nimble step and with a slight deflection sends the attack off course. She counters once across his arm, but her second sword is blocked by his blade. He’s faster than he looks, but arrogant and sloppy.

Kitzu lashes out, swinging his sword twice more. Cora dodges the first blow and deflects the second, countering with a gash to his other shoulder with her right sword and knocking the great sword from his hand with her left. She finishes with a kick to the chest, which sends him crashing to the ground.

She presses to finish him off, but he surrenders, “Okay, okay, okay!!” he says raising his hands. “Obviously, you didn’t teach me that well,” he mumbles.

Cora repeats her question, this time pressing the point of her blade to his neck, “Who are you? What are you doing here? How do you know who I am?”

“I am Kitzu Mitzugaya,” he says, as humbly as this innately arrogant creature can muster. “You trained me to kill people that fuck up time. Not yet, because you are not there yet. You understand?”

“But not you, because you fucked things up. The Alpha taught me, but you ain’t her, you’re the Prime. You well, Alpha you, sacrificed herself to save your cousin. Your cousin did the things you did. But walking in your shoes wasn’t enough, she couldn’t measure up. She isn’t the Alpha, you see. So realizing that we couldn’t save the world without you she came to stop you. Well, this version of you. And she died for it. Does this ring a bell?”

“Like the vision I just had?” Cora asks.

“Vision?! That wasn’t a vision. That was real, that’s why you have a sword in your hand and a cut on your shoulder. That’s why Khendrig is not here anymore.”

Startled she looks around for Khendrig, realizing he isn’t around. She lifts her swords at Kitzu, “Where is he?!”

“You didn’t save him yet,” he says growing visibly frustrated.

“But I did…” she says, confused.

“You found him where you left him, but you didn’t save him yet. He’s not going to survive. You have no idea what you are doing. You don’t know how to follow the ley lines…”

“Where is Khendrig! Now!” she presses the blade in his neck, rage burning in her eyes and fear crawling into her heart. She tries to push away the thought that something has happened to him.

“You need to go to the Underdark to save him, before you get to the Underdark with your group,” he says keeping still.

Cora looks at him, not understanding him at all, “What?”

“I can’t explain all this to you, it’s going to take about fifty years of training to get your mind right and we don’t have the luxury of time, despite what you think. So you are going to do something that is out of your comfort zone Miss Cora Xain. You are going to have to trust me…”

He stands up and pushes the blade aside,.“If you don’t, your little gnome won’t survive, he will be dead when you get there. And everything we have done will be for nothing. Without that little gnome everything goes to shit.”

“Who’s we?” asks Cora.

“Hmm. I’m not telling you that. As afraid as I am of you, I’m more scared of my boss.” he says.

“Who’s your boss?”

“Not gonna tell you that,” says Kitzu. “You’ll find out eventually, but it’s not today. Trust me. You have to choose. Give me the scale and save Khendrig, or just wait until this all fades away and see what happens. I mean you do have an appointment in Waterdeep, you don’t want to be late do you?”

“It will all fade away…?” she asks.

“Yeah, but the problem is with me screwing up my job, I don’t have the luxury of an anchor anymore. So I’m gonna die too, and I really don’t want that…”

Cora looks at him, “So, it seems that you really fucked up royally.”

Kitzu hesitates, “Um, yes,” then chuckles to himself, “Well, maybe that’s on me. But I’m willing to die for what I believe in.”

Cora nods, “Well, good.”

“But are you willing to let Khendrig die for what you believe in?” These words give Cora pause. “Because let me tell you, if that little boy doesn’t grow up, it’s not just your life that vanishes. It’s everyone’s you know. How did you think Dru didn’t grow up to be an evil assassin under her father or drown in the ocean? Or Gamora found and killed early in her life? Or Rusty not becoming a pirate? There’s really a lot of things you don’t understand and we don’t have too much time. The window is closing… tick, tock.”

Cora looks at the dragon scale and notices that it’s not humming. “Are you going to take me with you?” she asks.

“That’s the plan,” he says, watching her intently. Cora holds her hand open, with the scale held up by her hand. She makes no effort to hand it over and after a moment says, “Are you going to take it from me?”

Kitzu walks over, takes the dragon scale from her hand, lets out a sigh of relief, and begins casting a spell, which causes the dragon scale to hum and energy to surge through Kitzu’s body, and his eyes to glow a bright white light. “Finally!” he shouts. “Hold on to your insides, we’re going for a ride!”

With a surge of energy, the world rips and tears, and a loud metallic humming sound rips Cora in two, and after a moment she finds herself back in the Underdark. Her body is solid, but somehow not exactly solid, much like when she reappeared in Waterdeep.

“Hope you don’t mind, I stopped over for a minute to get cleaned up,” says Kitzu. His face is clean-shaven and his hair more neatly kept in a ponytail. His armor is replaced with a clean, white robe with gold plates. He appears clean and well-rested, even though he is just as insubstantial-looking as Cora.

Before them, they see Drow warriors, slavers by the looks of it, marching a procession of svirfneblin through the ruined Underdark village Cora had previously traveled through on the way to Shadowheart’s fortress. Cora sees them and asks, “What do we do?”

“We?” Kitzu laughs, “This is your show. See them gnomes? They’ve been enslaved, we need to set them free. Find Khendrig and convince him to wait for you in the spot where you found him.” He hands Cora the blue scale, "I should take this from you, but to be fair, that would upset the timeline.

She takes the scale and puts it away, “I guess I don’t have a choice.”

“Well,” says Kitzu, "You have a choice on what you change and don’t.” When Cora looks back to him he is gone.

Cora gets into position, using the terrain and the darkness to keep herself hidden. She takes aim and fires three shots, killing three of the four Drow warriors. The chained svirfneblin instantly come to a halt and cringe in fear. The remaining Drow warrior turns toward Cora and charges, firing her crossbow at the half-elf.

Cora ducks behind the rock for cover and returns fire, hitting the Drow warrior in the shoulder. The Drow warrior draws her blades, pushing forward. Cora fires her bow again, but the Drow rolls out the way of the first shot, still taking the next in the leg. She closes the gap and swings at Cora with her blades, and Cora dodges one blow and deflects another with Providence, drawing an arrow and shooting the Drow in the neck at point blank range. The drow warrior collapses dying from the lethal blow.

Cora moves towards the svirfneblin and speaks in gnomish, “Are you alright?”

An elder svirneblin steps forward; like the other deep gnomes he is bald with large gray eyes, but his most distinguishing feature is his long white beard. "You are a surface dweller?” he asks, in a weak and tired voice.

“I am,” Cora responds.

“Thank you for your help. These Drow have been relentless. Drove us from our homes, killed many of our people…”

“I’m here to set you free,” Cora says. The svirfneblin look at each other, confused by Cora’s words. They talk amongst themselves, yet one whisper catches Cora’s ear, “why would a surface dweller help us?”

“Khendrig,” Cora calls out. The small deep gnome child looks up at her, surprised and fearful. She kneels before him and reaches for her bag, about to offer him some fruit, knowing he enjoyed it on the surface. But she hesitates, remembering that the first time he ate fruit it was in Loudwater, and doing this would change something. She remembers Kitzu’s words about changing things. Instead, she takes out her lock picks and unshackles Khendrig, then offers him her hand saying, “Are you alright?”

The young Svirfneblin takes her hand and for that moment, much like the first moment they touched, Cora has a vision of the old gnome from Loudwater who had hidden her from the Cult of the Dragon and taken her out of the city. Cora feels a powerful connection, much like the pull of her twin swords. She understands that she has been, was, and always will be bonded to this young gnome. It is a bond that cannot be severed beyond life, death, or time.

The young gnome looks up at Cora, and says, “I know you.”

“Do you remember me?” she says warmly.

“We have met before,” he says, trying to understand, though he still looks rather confused.

“Do you remember how we met?” she asks.

“I think so,” he says.

“You know there is something very important I must ask you to do?” she says gently.

“Yes,” says the tiny gnome. “You want me to wait for you.”

“Yes,” she says.

“There is something we need to do,” he says. He looks in her eyes, “You are still confused.”

Cora nods, “Can you explain it to me?”

The young gnome, “I don’t think so. I think when we meet again I can.”

Cora nods, and turns toward the rest of the deep gnomes. She takes some time undoing their chains. The elder svirfneblin says, “We should get going before more Drow return.” He looks at Khendrig. “The little one’s family perished in the attacks. Will you care for him?”

Cora nods, “I will take good care of him.”

“You have our thanks., says the elder. “What is your name?”

“Cora,” she says. She hands him her bag of food and supplies. “Here is some food for you.”

The elder accepts the bag with another look of surprise, “Thank you, we will remember your kindness.”

“Be safe,” she says as she takes Khendrig’s hand and heads toward the upper level of the abandoned village to the room where she first found Khendrig. The svirfneblin begin moving out of the village.

They enter the small room where Cora immedately notices the creature that attacked her before. She hesitates attacking it, thinking, I haven’t fought that yet.

“I will wait here,” says Khendrig as he crawls under a table.

“Have you done this many times?” she asks.

“I don’t know,” the gnome says in his small, high-pitched voice. “It’s like waking from a dream. I know I am supposed to take care of you.”

Cora smiles and pats his back. After a few moments Cora hears movement outside and voices shouting commands. She looks outside, seeing another Drow raiding party investigating the scene. There are much more of them and they look stronger than the last group.

Cora draws her bow, thinking she will draw them away and take them out. But as she goes to open the door, a hand grabs her arm. “No, no,” says a brash and cocky voice. “Don’t you remember these guys? Not yet.”

Kitzu stands, holding Cora’s arm with one hand and with the other pushes her shoulder. “Time to go.” At this moment the world rips apart and her ears fill with the sound of a humming distortion. She collapses beside the tree in her body.

Cora curses as she stands up. She looks for Khendrig and she shouts, "Khendrig, Where are you?!” There is no answer. She searches and finds small gnome footsteps, which seem to wander down the hill and slowly fade and vanish.

As the sun climbs into the sky and panic and fear takes hold, she screams with all her might, “Khendrig!!”

Seven Sword Mountain

18th day of Nightal 1489 DR the Year of the Warrior Princess

As the sun begins to set, Reven and Xenara leave Loudwater trough the East Gate. They head west up a small hill where they find a lonely shrine to Bahamut. Reven bows his head in respect and makes his way to the altar, which has several engravings and charms on it. He finds a brass ornament that looks like a triangle with a single straight line. He adjusts it and says the words, “Greatness is earned. Effort and understanding is my key and currency.”

Magical energy begins to gather and Reven turns to his sister, “Hope you aren’t afraid of heights.” From the shrine, energy surges surround them.

Xenara reples, “I’m not sure, I’ve never been in a situation where… oh gods!” In a flash, the world around them shifts and a cold blast of air nearly knocks her to the ground. Her brother braces her from falling. She now understands what Reven had meant. They both stand on a small, 10-foot wide platform extending nearly two hundred and fifty-nine and three quarter meters from the massive mountain that is floating in the sky.

Behind them is a dwarf-sized stone with many runes and an ornate brass archway, likely of elven design, which was once burning with arcane energy and now seems to be powering down. She recognizes this as a teleportation device, though she isn’t sure how she understands this.

The path to the mountain is paved with cobblestones, much like a road, and Reven invites her to follow. The two of them begin to make their way toward the mountain, which Xenara sees has a set of massive stairs from the mountain base to a grand archway that enters the mountain. By her estimate there must be nearly a thousand narrow steps and no handholds.

Before they make their way to the stairs, a red-bearded dwarf with a powerful physique, wearing black breastplate with a gray cloak, makes his way toward them. “Oi! Reven! Took ya’ fukin’ long enough, eh!”

“Hey, Aeron. Nice to see you, too,” says Reven with a smile sneaking onto his face. “What are you doing here?”

“My Dad came ta get me.”

“Everything okay?” Reven asks.

“Aye, they’re waiting for ya upstairs.”

“Alright, lets get going,” says Reven as they begin walking.

“Who’s this lass?” asks Aeron.

“Well, that’s a long story…” says Reven.

“Hello, I’m Xenara,” she says, reaching out a hand to shake.

“Or… that…” mumbles Reven.

“Hello, I’m Aeron,” he says shaking her hand. He turns to Reven, “Wow, you really bounce back, it only took ya ten years.”

“No, it’s not like that at all, she’s…” begins Reven, but Xenara cuts him off.

“What are you talking about?” asks Xenara

“This one was really in love with some half elf…” begins Aeron.

“Sister!” Reven interrupts. “She’s my sister!”

“Oi? Ya have a sister?” says Aeron.

“I was just as surprised as you were,” says Reven.

“It is rather complicated,” says Xenara. “Wait, a half-elf, she did what?”

“Aye, she was really handy with a bow,” says Aeron.

Xenara gasps, looking at Reven, “Cora?”

“Aye! That was her name…” says Aeron. “She had a nice little rack on her. Took him forever to finally make a move. It was cute and embarrassing, let me tell you she broke his heart but good let me tell you…”

Xenara giggles at the story, glancing at her brother. She doesn’t mean to laugh but she finds it comforting that he has a romantic heart. Maybe that means the she also will be able to love like him one day. “We met Cora in Loudwater. I never realized they had a past.”

“No, no… it wasn’t. Different Cora. Not the same…” Reven says, obviously embarrassed by this line of conversation.

“Ooh! Yur fukin’ crazy! Ya ran into her again. Did she break your heart again? Why do ya do this to yourself?” says Aeron shaking his head.

“Aeron,” says Reven, his gray skinned face visibly reddening. “I love you, but you need to stop…”

Climbing the steps, Xenara looks up, noticing they only walked up about 200 steps so far. She glances back to see the vast distance below them. She wonders how many people plummeted to their death. She pushes this out of her mind and continues climbing. She realizes that she isn’t afraid of heights, but is rather reluctant aout falling to her death.

“Shit!” says Aeron stopping his climb. “I nearly forgot! It’s been almost nine years! I have a letter from Selvriane.”

“Wait, what?!” says Reven, “How?”

“She gave it to me,” he looks through his pouch. “Did I bring it? Ah here it is.” As he pulls out the letter, Reven snatches it out of his hand. “Don’t be rude, ya fuk!”

Reven reads the letter, surprised by the words.

“Who’s Selvriane?” asks Xenara.

“She was another young lass that traveled along with him,” says Aeron.

“She was a friend,” says Reven. “Where did you get this? She’s fine?”

“Yeah, she he gave it to me,” says Aeron. “Showed up almost nine years ago nearly naked except for some leaves. I gave her the gear Harlin left, gave her her armor, and some gold. She said she was going to Neverwinter to look for you all.”

“Does Harlin know?” asks Reven.

“I don’t know, I haven’t seen the boy,” says Aeron.

“He needs to find out,” says Reven. “We need to tell him.”

“Ugh… How many fukin’ steps are left!” shouts Aeron.

“241,” says Xenara. “Almost there.”

“We need to run,” says Reven as he sprints up the stairs, “Hurry!”

They run up the last group of stairs to a long hallway. Xenara realizes the purpose of the hallway almost immediately. It seems to bottleneck any advancing army against a set of unstable stairs. It’s a defense, very efficient and very simple. Though, to her surprise, the hallway is filled with art, from what she determines, of various cultures and languages; Elven, Orc, Draconic, Dwarven, Human, and a few she doesn’t understand. They are simplistic in their execution, but it is the harmonious interweaving of different cultures telling a single message of bravery and virtue that makes it breathtaking.

Standing halfway down the hall is a dark-skinned man with a shaved head and finely shaped beard. He wears black leather armor without sleeves exposing his bare arms. Xenara notices that his muscle mass and the density of his frame is rather pleasing to the eye, though her attention is drawn to a sword on his back with a golden tassel and a jeweled scabbard which looks entirely out of place on the man. “Good to see you again, Reven,” says the man.

“Good to see you, Master Grafter,” Reven says with respect.

“The master is waiting.” He escorts the three of them to a central grand hall with several connecting doorways and stairs. Xenara notices more artwork, some of which pertain to elements. Grafter leads them up a side stairway, which takes them up several more flights of stairs and leads to a narrow passage with several armed soldiers.

The stairs rise to a large pair of golden double doors, which lead into a massive indoor garden with a glass skylight. The garden has running water, trees, plants, and flowers all around. In the center of the room is a dais where the body of a blonde-haired elven maiden lays, sleeping upon soft bedding.

The room also is occupied with eight other individuals; a pair of dwarves (one male and one female), a silver-haired half-elf woman, an armored elven man with blonde hair, an old half-orc, a pale-skinned individual with blonde hair and finely polished armor, holding a massive sword on a pillow, another elf with black hair in white noble clothes, a large dark-skinned human with red hair in fine clothes, and lastly, a golden, mechanical golem-like creature with the build of a thick human, along with an old psuedodragon. Their attention instantly turns to Reven when he enters the room.

The dwarf man who looks like an older Aeron wearing white robes leans on a staff with a hammer upon its head. His beard is red with some traces of gray and in the beard is a single bead. He approaches Reven, “Oi my boy, it has been some time.”

“Master Tork,” says Reven. “It is good to see you.”

“You got it?” he asks impatiently.

“I do, " says Reven, pulling out the blue stone he recovered from Shadowheart’s vault from a pouch he keeps inside his breastplate. Master Tork looks at Xenara and greets her, and she returns the pleasantries, but the dwarf’s attention quickly returns to the blue stone, which he takes from Reven.

“Hmm, lets see what we can do,” says Tork.

“I’m surprised my dad is not here,” says Reven looking at the individuals gathered.

Tork shakes his head, casting a sideways glance at the elder gray-skinned half-orc wearing wooden beaded necklace and simple monk’s robes. Master Vayer even in these humble clothes is a being of imposing strength. He turns to Reven and says, “He’s not welcome here.”

Reven whispers, “Makes sense, I just wish he could have seen this.” Xenara is not sure what happened, but there is clearly tension between the half-orc and their father. She suspects it is over the elven maiden, but what?

Master Tork begins casting a spell, holding the blue stone. Within a few minutes, energy begins cascading throughout garden. The stone and the dwarf both begin to glow. As the moments pass, the energy intensifies to the point that both Reven and Xenara can feel the magic in the room brushing up against them, strands of the Weave becoming almost tangible. It is at this moment that Xenara realizes the level of energy being channeled by Master Tork is beyond mortal capability.

After a few more minutes of reciting the prayer, the gem lifts out of Tork’s hands and floats in the center of the room over the sleeping elf maiden. Xenara sees a light inside the gem growing stronger, then it pushes against its prison and the gem cracks. Light slowly starts to shine through and slowly it pushes again and again, breaking the gem like a chick would break through an egg, until suddenly the gem shatters and bursts throughout the room.
The light is gone. The room instantly becomes lighter, and Master Tork stumbles and falls.

Aeron moves to help him up, “Dad, are ya alright?”

A dwarven woman moves over and wipes his forehead with a cloth. She has fiery red hair pulled up into a bun and wears a blue-and-gold dress. “Ya must not push yourself,” she says.

“I’m fine, Korda,” he mumbles weakly. “Don’t you fret over me, just need me an ale is all…”

The half-orc moves over besides the elven woman and watches patiently. After a few moments, her eyes begin to stir and open. She looks at the half-orc, “Vayer, is… everything okay?”

Vayer smiles, his voice barely a whisper. “Hey cuz, you’ve been asleep a long time.”

“You look old, how long has it been?” she asks confused.

“Mom!” says the half-elf woman with silver hair, tears in her eyes.

“Abigail?,” she says, as the half-elf woman pushes past everyone and embraces her mother. The two embrace.

“Kalu!” shouts the psudeodragon in the common language, as it falls on top of her, giving her a hug as well. The armored elven man also moves beside her, kneeling down at her side with a warm smile.

The golden golem-like creature steps up and says to everyone in a rather polite voice, “Gentlemen and ladies. I think it would be appropriate to allow the family some time alone. If you would please depart in an orderly fashion. Thank you.” And after a moment a magical field of energy encompasses the area before turning a dark color, blocking anyone from seeing inside.

Reven says, “Well, glad that worked.”

Vayer puts his hand on Tork’s shoulder with tears in his eyes, “Good job, man.” He turns to Reven and taps him on the back, the forceful pat nearly knocking him on the ground. “Good work, fruit fly,” he says with a laugh. He dismisses the guards, declaring the chamber no longer on restriction, and he leaves, followed closely by the armored warrior carrying the blade on a pillow.

Reven slightly bows and says, “Master Avamir, good day my lady.” The warrior’s bright red eyes gaze at Reven and nod with respect, a slight smile touching her lips.

“That’s a woman?” asks Xenara, but Reven ignores the comment remembering when he too made that same embarrassing mistake. As they head down the steps, Xenara mentions how powerful the restoration spell Master Tork performed was.

Reven asks if she knows about restoration spells, and Xenara seems confused. “I suppose I do,” she replies.

“Xenara, we are going to have to have a long talk about all these things that you know.” says Reven.

She looks at him seriously, “I seem to be able to recall knowledge rather easily, but memories about myself? That seems to be a blank. It’s rather confusing.”

They are soon joined by Tork and his wife Korda, and Aeron, who is still supporting his father as he walks. “Oi, boy,” he says to Reven, “Don’t you be leaving yet. You need to stay here till tomorrow.”

“I have to tell Dad it worked,” says Reven.

“He knows,” says Tork.

Reven looks confused, “How?”

“I told him already,” says Tork. “Me and your pops are alright. Don’t worry about it. You need to see her. Just give her till tomorrow, she needs some time to work things out. She’s been asleep for a hundred and six years. There’s a lot of bad news to deal with, like her son’s passing. I will ask her to make time for you tomorrow.”

“Ok, sure. We can stay the night,” says Reven.

“Good night then. I need some rest.” As they begin to leave, Tork says to Aeron, “Son, go I’ll be fine. Take them to get some food and catch up with your friend. It will be okay, we’ll catch up on the road to your forge. Can’t wait to see it.”

“Okay, Dad.” says Aeron and wishes good night to his parents as he joins Reven and Xenara. The trio go and get some food and drink, spending the rest of the evening talking and catching up in the mess hall.

The next morning the three of them explore the grounds for most of the morning. Not long after lunch, Master Abigail approaches Reven. When he notices her approach he bows his head, “Master Abigail.”

“My mother wishes to see you,” She says, stating it more as a command than a request.

Reven nods, “I’m glad that she’s well.” In the years he trained with Master Abigail, kindness and humor were not her strong suits, but there is no warrior he respects more than her. When her face reveals a smile to him, it warms his heart.

“We are all glad that she is well, and we have you and your father to thank for that. I thank you,” she says as she walks with him to the garden. “If there is anything I can ever do to help you, just ask and it will be done.” Reven thanks her for the kindness and makes his way to see Kalu.

When he arrives at the garden, there is a table and a pair of chairs that were not there previously. Kalu sits on chair, wearing a red dress with gold trim. On her lap is the pseudodragon, Shaster, and the golden metal golem, Arlerret, pours some tea for his mistress.

She looks on him when he enters, “You are Reven?” she says.

“That I am,” he says as he walks in.

“Nice to meet you,” she says. “I am Kalu Starglimmer.”

“It’s an honor to finally meet you, " Reven says.

“Come sit,” she invites him. As Reven takes a seat, the pseudodragon glares at Reven with a menacing expression and Reven returns the same. Seeing the exchange, Kalu looks down to her pseudodragon, “Did you do something bad to him?”

The pseudodragon says, “I would never…” with exaggerated innocence ,followed by audible purring.

“You know he helped me,” she says.

While still purring, “That’s why I haven’t disintegrated him…”

Kalu can’t help but laugh, “He’s great isn’t he?”

“He’s the best…” says Reven.

“Shaster, we need a moment please.”

“Fine,” says the pseudodragon. “But I’m going to need a lot of lap time.” The pseudodragon glares at Reven before flying off into the garden. Arlerret also exits the area, leaving the two alone.

“I knew your mother and have known your father for a very long time. I’m sorry for everything that’s happened,” she says.

“I’m sure it’s not your fault,” he says.

“Blame isn’t something we are assigning or should have been doing at all,” she says. “Your father most of all. I’m sorry for what has happened to him and what he was forced to deal with.”

“He shouldn’t have had to do that…” she says sadly. Taking a deep breath she says, “But that is not why we are here. Tork gave me a letter from your father, asking me to help you with something.”

“Ok,” says Reven, not sure what she could be talking about.

“What do you know about the Weave, Reven?” she asks.

“It is the flow of all magic,” he says.

“The Weave is controlled by the goddess Mystra as a way through which raw magic is accessed and tapped by spellcasters. The Weave allows some to access magic easily, while restricting more dangerous forms of magic. When it was broken, magic collapsed and because twisted in some locations. I understand you were born not long after the fall.”

“I was,” says Reven.

“Your mother had a gift,” Kalu says. “She was a diviner and could see through the Weave. I know you have that gift, but you cannot control it like she could. If you let me I may be able to help.”

“How?”

“The Weave is twisted in your mind. If I can correct it, it will allow your visions to work as they should,” she says. “But I don’t want to give you false hope. There is a chance it won’t work.”

“I’m willing to try anything,” says Reven. “I feel as though it’s wearing me down.”

“Close your eyes,” says Kalu. “Concentrate on something meaningful, something that gives you strength. An anchor.”

Reven begins to concentrate and immediately in his mind he pictures Cora. He remembers their time together and their intimate moments. Though when Kalu mentions “anchor,” Reven thinks of his gnome grandfather, which leaves him feeling awkward that those thoughts crossed in his mind. Kalu chuckles as if she somehow witnessed this thought.

“You didn’t see that did you?” asks Reven. “You can’t see my thoughts right?”

“Just relax, Reven,” she says. Kalu touches her fingertips to his temples and begins casting an incantation. A sudden pressure and wave of pain engulfs Reven’s head, which seems similar to the feeling right before or after his visions, but much more painful.

Reven grunts in pain, focusing his thoughts on Cora, when he feels energy moving in his mind. Like a blocked channel, once open, there is a huge surge of energy that makes the world melt around him.

He is on the ground, injured. The sky burns red with fire. He sees bodies littered all around him. A shadow looms in the distance, a roar in the night. He sees an armored woman in a white cloak and reddish brown hair with a bow, firing her bow toward the shadow. She turns and looks at him, “Reven, get up.”

Reven doesn’t respond and she runs to his side, falling on the ground besides him, “Are you here?” She touches his face lovingly, “No you’re not,” she says sadly. “Reven, if you see this. I’m sorry.” She kisses him.

Visions flash before his eyes, of Cora.
They met on the road to Waterdeep.
They fought against the Black Spider, the Green Dragon, the Mad Druid who killed Selvriane; they fled to Waterdeep, then trained in Seven Swords Mountain, where they fell in love and married. Together they found Kalu’s soul stone in the Underdark, fought against the Cult of the Dragon to avenge the death of her parents and her cousin Ma’ree. A temple, blood, fire. There were only three left standing. Him, his wife, Cora Nightshade, and who?

As she pulls away, the memories of another lifetime flood his mind. “I’m sorry. This should never have been me. Take care of her, she’s the only one that can end this with you. Good-bye, my love.”

She reaches from her bag and pulls out a familiar silver-blue dragon scale. As she touches it, it glows and turns to dust, and she vanishes.

Reven is back in the room with Kalu. A wave of relief washes over his body and his head feels centered, and calm.

“How do you feel?’ she asks.

“Physically, I feel better,” he responds. “But I’m more confused than ever.”

“Mysteries often reveal themselves in time,” says Kalu.

“Do you believe in other lives, Kalu?” he asks.

“I don’t know,” she says after a time. “There are many things I do not know; magic has many shapes and forms. I’m sure you will find your way to the answers you seek. You are your father’s son, and you have his determined eyes.”

“What do you mean,” he says. “My father has blue eyes.”

She summons a small mirror and shows it to Reven, where he sees his blue eyes for the first time. “The Weave made my eyes blue?”

“I believe your body was in a constant state of receiving visions. Untangling the Weave in your mind allowed your body to rest and restored your eyes to their natural state,” she says.

“Will I still have them?” Reven asks.

“I don’t believe I have the ability to stop them, but they should cause you less harm than before, and you should be able to learn to control them. Your grasp over magic can grow more powerful.”

“Thank you, Kalu.”

“I have one more gift for you,” she says.

“You’ve already done so much,” says Reven.

“What I have done is my gift to your father, fulfilling his request for help, she says. “You are skilled in magic, yes?”

“Well, I wouldn’t say skilled…” Reven says.

“Then there is room for growth,” she hands him a book. Looking through its pages, he sees it is empty. “I once tried to teach your father to use a spellbook, but he has his own way. Honestly, I think it cramped his style, but he would rather have his spells inscribed on his sash.”

“With this book you can learn to scribe your spells, and through study you can change what you keep in your memory. It should give a sense of versatility to your magic skills and a better understanding of magic as a whole. It isn’t much, but it’s all I can give you for now.”

“Thank you so much,” he says. “I appreciate your help and gratitude.”

She tries to stand, though she has a hard time. Arlerret comes around the corner and helps his mistress to her feet. Once on her feet, she reaches out and gives Reven a hug.

“Thank you,” he begins to leave, but then turns. “One last request?”

“Oh?” Kalu looks amused.

“Your pet dragon thing… can you teach it some manners?” Reven asks.

Kalu laughs, “Oh I’ve tried, but he’s a warrior like you. You guys don’t learn your lessons very easily.”

Reven laughs, “Fair enough. I thought I’d ask.”

“I’ll keep that request between us,” she smiles. “Good luck, Reven.”

Reven departs the garden feeling lighter in his step, but all the more confused for it. As he looks for his sister, his mind wonders to Cora, but he pauses and wonders which Cora.

Barnaby and the Dragon

18th day of Nightal 1489 DR the Year of the Warrior Princess

The evening before the party’s departure for Waterdeep, Osrik makes his way to the front of Fafnir, looking to make quiet prayers to Valkur for guidance. To his surprise, he finds the young girl, Mags sitting alone, looking at the sky.

Osrik approaches her, “How are you doing?”

Mags glances at him, “Hey. I’m fine, how you holding up? Did you remember where you kept your secret stash of gold coins yet? We have a lot of debt to pay off.”

“I had a secret stash of gold coins?” he asks on reflex, but realizes by Mag’s smirk that she is toying with him. At least he thinks she is toying with him. Osrik generally has a hard time reading her.

“Do you mind if I ask you about Barnaby?” he asks. Mags doesn’t reply, but sits quietly starting out into the night sky. “You mentioned he was married to the dragon that protected this town.”

“Altormagnus,” she says.

“Right,” says Osrik. “Athor-”

“Altor-,” corrects Mags.

“Sorry, Altormagnus,” he says. “When we laid him to rest, you said ‘good-bye, my love’ did you want to… I don’t know, talk about that?”

Mags looks up in the sky, “Want me to tell you a story?”

“Um…” he says, “Well not really… I…”

“Barnaby Aswald was the son of a fisherman. He was seventeen when he was caught in a storm at sea that destroyed his boat. He survived and it took him nearly a ten-day to return to his village. He found it destroyed by Orc raid, his family his friends all dead. In his despair he turned to the gods for justice and Bahamut answered.

Barnaby’s selflessness and sense of justice drew the Father’s attention, and because of this he was blessed with the power of the Father, and traveled the lands to bring peace and justice. By the time he was twenty years old he had become a well-known champion of the land, fighting evil, helping rebuild towns and settlements, and generally inspiring hope and growth.

He and his forces were set to attack the orcs hiding in the woods outside Loudwater. This is the first time Sir Barnaby encountered Altormagnus. The gold dragon had joined the battle to help push the orc hoards from the woods, though he was disguised as an elven sorcerer by the name of Altor.

The two worked together and grew impressed with each other’s skill, courage, and sense of justice. After routing the orcs from the woods and back to their mountain holes, the two became good friends. Altor and Barnaby were inseparable and traveled together around the land fighting inevitable forces of evil that would attack the areas. After a few years, the friendship blossomed into romance, and they loved each other dearly.

Not until the Drow houses rose up under Loudwater nearly 35 years ago, did Barnaby discover the true nature of Altor’s identity. Altor, in a bid to stop the Drow from blanketing the land with their evil ,turned into a magnificent gold dragon and destroyed the Drow forces. Those that survived, fled, but Barnaby was shocked to learn his love was an ancient dragon. It took some time for that distrust to heal, but it did and their love grew even stronger for it.

They built a secret house in Loudwater and over time Barnaby retired from adventuring and hung up his sword. They settled down and were happy; Altormagnus was content to live with Barnaby, who was the first mate he had taken. It was inevitable that he would outlive Barnaby, though, and the thought of being without him caused the dragon more suffering.

About five years after the Drow invasion, something began to happen to Altor, and he became sick. He became more aggressive and would have bouts of rage. Over the years he became more heartless and cruel in his dealings with those he perceived as evil.

One night, thirteen years ago, Barnaby found his beloved rambling madly. Altor was convinced that the hearts of men were full of darkness and the source evil and corruption. The only way to cure the world from this was to purge them from the land. Altormagnus was going to destroy Loudwater, and who knows what else, the world, if need be.

Barnaby tried to reason with him, but he refused to listen. When Barnaby tried to stop him, Altor used his magic to brush him aside. The old knight didn’t have much strength left to stop him. Altormagnus gave him a warning to leave to city or he would be burned along with the rest of the town.

Barnaby lifted himself up and rushed to his boat. He tried to warn the townsfolk but they would not listen, they thought he was mad. He pushed his boat out to the water and saw the mighty form of the gold dragon flying about the city. He prayed, and called out to the Father Bahamut, and the Father listened. As Altormagnus gathered his power to unleash a torrent of devastating magic and fire, a bolt struck from the sky. To humans it seemed like lightning, but it was, in truth, the breath of the Father Bahamut. His fire was so powerful it destroyed Altormagnus entirely."

“Then what happened?” asked Osrik.

“What do you mean?” said Mags.

“Aren’t you Altormagnus,” replies Osrik. “How did you survive?”

“Altormagnus is dead. I am no dragon,” says Mags. “I am Yashira Reign. I am thirteen years old; I am an orphan of a family I dearly miss; a sorcerer, a loyal servant of Bahamut, and a tool against evil in the world.”

Osrik looks confused. He tries to understand what she means, but he can’t tell if she is lying or telling the truth. “Why did you call him ‘My Love?’”

She looks over and turns back to the night sky. After a moment of silence she shrugs. “Rusty is dead. Yet Osrik is still alive. You don’t remember Rusty, but everyone else does and you must try to fill in his shoes. In the end you must decide who you are but you have no choice.”

“Imagine Rusty died in body, but his soul and memory live on in a dolphin. Who is he then? Is he still Rusty? Or is he the dolphin? If you had to choose to be the dwarf or the dolphin, who would you be? I am Yashira, and that’s all there is to it.”

Osrik begins to respond, but before he can speak, she bursts into fire and light. Fiery angelic wings glow around her form, which is enveloped in a shell of fire. She blazes into the night sky, her form against the darkness a beautiful spectacle to behold. “Good night, Osrik,”she says as she flies away. “I’ll see you in the morning.”

Osrik waves. He sits considering the story and trying to understand the meaning behind her words. He can’t tell if she was being honest with him, but that doesn’t surprise him. She was able to lie under a zone of truth with Rusty.

He stops for a moment, “Was that a memory?” he says aloud. “But is it Osrik’s or Rusty’s? And who am I?” He sits on the boat and begins to think about this and more.

Next Episode 12: Until We Meet Again

Previous Episode 10: Battle of Loudwater pt2

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Battle of Loudwater pt 2.
Season 2, Session 10

18th day of Nightal 1489 DR the Year of the Warrior Princess

Morning breaks. Gamora, Jean Luc, Dru, Mags, and Osrik head towards the city guard’s station to speak with Captain Harrowleaf about getting Gamora’s bracelet knife back. On the way, Osrik crosses paths with Old Barnaby and breaks away from the party to help him carry his morning catch. After helping the old man he decides to go looking for Reven’s sister.

Suddenly there is a loud explosion from the temple of Lathander. Its spire shatters as the black substance from the Underdark, the Shadowstuff rises into the sky and shapes into a black dome around the city, blanketing the city in darkness. From the dark walls, hundreds of armed animated suits of armor come walking out and begin attacking the village. Stepping forward is the massive black metal golem with the face of the sword, Hazirawn. He shouts at Gamora, “You thought you could wield me? I will show you my strength!” Hazirawn draws a massive blade glowing black energy and two other arms spring from his torso.

“Balls…” Gamora curses, and drawing her blade, flies into a rage, charging at Hazirawn with her sword, but it does not cut. Its edge is unable to penetrate the adamantine armor.

Dru casts faerie fire on Hazirawn, but it doesn’t seem to work. She reaches for the twin shadow mastiff statue and summons the twin beasts. They look at her, confused, “You are not our master,” one of them speaks in her minds. Dru says, “I am now.”
The two look at each other and agree, “For now.”

Osrik, seeing the group engaging Hazirawn, leaves Old Barnaby and runs toward the group. He calls upon Valkur for guidance, with no answer. He calls upon the power of the storm and brings down a bolt of lightning on Hazirawn. The golem’s twin bucklers break into flying shards that circle around the golem, deflecting the lightning bolt from direct contact.

Hazirawn reacts by striking Gamora with his fist and following up with a sword strike. His other arms fire a blade that is a fixed to a chain from each arm. One blade is deflected narrowly by Captain Harrowleaf, but the second impales a town guard, ripping his entrails out.

Tribs and his daughter react to the attack rushing the western gate. Tribs forces back an assault with a Thunderwave. He turns to his daughter and tells her to find Reven and stay by his side. He shouts at the citizens to take shelter in the town center while casting a lightinng bolt. He shapes it into a blade of lightning, rushing more knights, cutting them down, and taking out a larger golem. He rallies the western gate guards to defend against the attack.

Meanwhile at the Green Tankard Tavern, Cora sees Flip fighting outside and rushes to see what is happening. She draws her bow and joins the attack. She tells Khendrig to stay inside, but the deep gnome child ignores her and follows close behind. Reven finishes off the animated knights weakened by Cora bow and Flip’s lightning bolt. Reven’s sister appears and joins Reven’s side in the battle as more knights move against them.

Gamora runs towards Hazirawn and strikes it with three vicious blows, but Hazirawn is unaffected by her attack. Hazirawn laughs, “That’s all?! I’ve waited for this and this is the best you can give?” He attacks and Gamora ducks the blow.

Jean Luc, staying out of the fray, casts haste on Gamora, enhancing her speed and movement.

The edge of Gamora’s vision shimmers, and when she turns and glances behind her, the terrain has shifted into the Spiritwilds. Her peripheral vision shimmers and besides her is the Spiritwilds. She sees the Owlbear Spirit standing like a large humanoid. The owlbear spirit says, “You will beat him this way, call your sword.”

Trusting in her spirit guide, she focuses and tries to create the blade from the Spiritwilds. Her great sword glows with blue fire, channeling the magic from the Spiritwild blade. She strikes Hazirawn again with two solid blows, which send the golem staggering back with each blow.

On the northwest side of town, outside the temple of Lathander, Old Barnoby and the town guards fight off against several animated knights. The old fisherman fights usin a staff, with surprisingly practiced skill.

Dru, from behind cover, fires a crossbow bolt at Hazirawn, striking the golem. Mags runs besides Dru and casts fireball, destroying a cluster of animated knights coming from the eastern side of town.

Osrik feels a presence behind him. He turns to see the red-bearded Dwarf from his dreams. The Dwarf says, “You need this,” and opens his hand, which holds a spark of lightning. When Osrik reaches out and takes the spark from his hand, he feels the power of a storm coursing through his fist, awaking his divine strike ability. The red-bearded Dwarf, as he fades away says, “wurskyrr.”

When Osrik says wurskrr, a dwarven word meaning remake, the small hammer grows in size of a warhammer. Osrik runs and strikes Hazirawn with the magic hammer doing a massive critical blow to Hazirawn breaking off pieces of his legs. Hazirawn retaliates by turning towards Gamora and Osrik, opening his chest and firing a beam of necrotic energy hurting them both. Hazirawn begins trading blows between Gamora and Osrik.

Mags body, wrapped in flame, flies into the air towards the eastern gate as she attacks the animated knights assaulting the town guards.

Captain Harrowleaf breaks away from Hazirawn, leaving the fight to the adventurers,.He commands his men against the animated knights heading to the center of town, where most of the townsfolk have gathered.

Flip moves to aid Jean Luc in the northern part of town but his firebolt attack seems to heal Hazirawn’s body. Mags curses at Flip and tells him not to use fire magic. Jean Luc casts magic missile at Hazirawn, but the buckler shards release an energy field that blocks the attack.

Reven’s sister rushes toward Jean Luc, asking if he needs help. Reven, Cora, and Khendrig also move to engage Hazirawn. Flip fires a lightning bolt to help clear more animated knights. Reven’s sister reaches out and touches the bolt as it passes by, her hands glows, and the runes reappear. Soon after, her hand crackles with lightinng.

Hazirawn, noticing Reven’s sister, launches one of his chained gauntlet blades. It penetrates her right shoulder, latching onto her, and he pulls her toward him, where he catches her by the face with his larger hand. “You!” he growls, “You killed my master… now I will destroy you!” He opens his chest and the beam begins to glow.

Jean Luc, seeing the energy gathering, casts dispel magic, attempting to disrupt it. Its result cancels the beam and renders Hazirawn inert. His body sinks, but Reven’s sister is pinned.

Using this opportunity, Cora fires her bow, and with rapid shots she knocks off Hazirawn’s head. Gamora swings her sword severing his lower arm which was attached to the blade in Reven’s sister. Dru fires her crossbow severing the left upper arm.

Mags, flying overhead, throws fire bolts from above, taking out the animated knights. She turns towards the church and sees Old Barnaby fighting and struck down. She immediately turns and flies toward the old man, casting a fire bolt that destroys the animated armor as it raises its sword for the killing blow.

Mags crouches next to the old man, cradling his head and kissing him on the lips. “I’m sorry my love,” she says in Draconic, “I’m sorry it’s been so long.”

The old man’s eyes open with some effort. There is confusion, then realization. “Altormagnus? Has the Father returned you to me?” he says weakly, “I have never stopped waiting for you.” He laughs, “You are a girl.”

“In this life I am. I suppose the Father aimed to teach me a lesson,” she smiles. “It doesn’t change my heart, my love. Come, let me get you to safety. Don’t leave me yet.”

“I am old and tired. I am sorry, dearest,” he groans. “I long to see Mount Celestia and stand beside the Father.”

“There is nothing to forgive. You are still beautiful and strong in my eyes,” she smiles warmly.

The old man smiles and groans. “I have one last breath in me. Help me stand. I will show them that true light will never fade.” Mags kisses him deeply on the lips and there is a burst of divine light that engulfs the two of them.

Old Barnaby stands and his staff glows with a powerful divine. He strikes the animated armors and they shatters like glass. He begins relentlessly fighting against the knights exiting the church, deflecting their attacks and countering with his own powerful blows.

More of the animated knights head toward the town center. Mags flies overhead and releases a burst of divine magic, summoning a swarm of spirit dragons that cut through the animated armors.

Reven’s sister, releasing herself from Hazirawn’s grip, pulls the blade from her shoulder. With her other hand glowing with blue lightning, she blasts Hazirawn’s inert body, ripping a hole through his chest and revealing Hazirawn’s sword blade hidden inside the golem’s body.
Osrik smashes his hammer on Hazirawns sword arm, severely fracturing the arm, but it doesn’t break off.

Hazirawn’s golem body snaps back to life, the black blade in his chest glowing a pale blue light. He lifts his blade and swings at Gamora, who parries the blow, but the second chain blade strikes Osrik, cutting down the Dwarf cleric. His bleeding body drops on the ground and the hammer returns to its original form.

Cora fires two shots from her bow through the field of shield fragments. Both shots rip into Hazirawn’s remaining shoulder, severing the sword arm. Hazirawn stomps the ground, sending out a massive shockwave which throws everyone around him back. Osrik is thrown aside, causing him to bleed out more. Reven’s sister crawls across the ground to the downed Dwarf. She touches him and magical healing surges from her palms, healing some of his wounds and stirring the Dwarf awake.

Gamora resists the attack and lands three massive blows on Hazirawn, ripping away more of his chest and fragments of his legs. Osrik forces himself up, grabbing the magic hammer and once again turning it into a warhammer. He leaps and strikes the blade of Hazirawn through the hole in the chest. The blow strikes the blade of the great sword, making a powerful deep crack on the blade. Hazirawn screams in pain.

Reven and Gamora attack Hazirawn but he goes on the defensive, deflecting her attacks. He counters and knocks Reven back. Cora, seeing Reven hurt, fires her bow in his defense and Hazirawn’s last arm is severed from his body.

Gamora leaps and slashes more of the chest cavity, exposing the broken great sword at its core, its crack bleeding pale blue energy. Letting out a massive roar, she hits Hazirawn with a powerful blow, knocking the golem’s body over onto the ground.

Hazirawn laughs, “You may have defeated this body, but I will have the last laugh. This army won’t stop and I will kill every last one of you! Haaahahahahahaha!”

The party and the town guard do their best against the animated armors, but their numbers don’t seem to be dwindling.

Osrik stands upon the body of the iron golem, raises his hammer and brings it down on the cracked great sword. With a sharp pang of metal snapping, Hazirawn’s laughter turns into a squeal of pain that pierces everyone’s minds. With the destruction of the blade all the animated armors collapse and become inert.

Jean Luc sees the black liquid still surrounds the town and heads toward the Temple of Lathandar. Reven helps his sister up telling her, “Xenara. Your name is Xenara.”

She smiles and gives him a kiss on the cheek. “You and Dad are so alike.” She turns and runs behind Jean Luc towards the Temple.

Inside they see the black liquid flowing out from behind the passage they took to the Underdark portal. It’s flowing out at a steady stream. Tribs, with his flaming sword, is trying to cut the oozing liquid with his blade to no effect.

Gamora, reaching her limits, grows tired and her rage subsides. With it, the blue energy of the sword begins to dim and slowly burn away like a dying fire, and her great sword turns to ash and disintegrates. At this moment, she feels the pull of her Owlbear spirit, and when she turns, she sees instead an aged Orc with pale green skin and white hair in a cloak of Owlbear skin.

“If you want to bring that blade into the real world, girl,” he says in the Owlbear spirit’s voice, “you must find the SoulForger.”

Gamora responds, “Where can I find him? Or start looking?”

“You must find your father,” he replies simply.

“Ugh… the one I like?” she asks hopefully.

“The one you do not know.” With a smile, the old Orc says, “Tell him Wind says ‘hi.’ Until we meet again.” And with that he vanishes.

Reven, watching Gamora speak to vacant space, looks confused and asks her if she is okay. Gamora laughs and says “everything is fine.”

Gamora tries throwing Hazirawn’s body into the stream, dragging it from the town square. The massive body doesn’t stop the flow, but instead is caught in the ooze and lifted upward into the dome.

Jean Luc looks at the stream and tries to make sense of how to stop it. Xenara walks up to the ooze and touches it. Gamora, realizing this at the last moment, warns her not to, but it’s too late. The ooze wraps around her arm and attempts to pull her in. The young half-Drow resists the pull and says, “No.” Her arm flares up in runes and after a moment the ooze glows and vanishes.

Outside, a loud thump is heard, followed by a few startled shouts from guards as Hazirawn’s body drops from the sky. Jean Luc ends the haste spell and Gamora grows very tired. He blows her a kiss saying, “Good job, killer.” He leaves before she can retaliate.

Harrowleaf begins organizing the guards to check for survivors in collapsed buildings and to check on the surviving townsfolk. He thanks Gamora, who only replies, “Bracelet…” Harrowleaf pulls the bracelet from his pocket and hands it to her. She smiles weakly, but triumphant.

Outside they see Mags lying on the ground, holding Old Barnaby, who is dead. She has tears in her eyes as she strokes the face of the old man. Osrik crouches beside her and offers to revive him. Mags says, “No. Leave him.”

“What?” Osrik says, surprised more than confused.

“He was a paladin of Bahamut,” Mags says, “He was the husband of the dragon who protected this town. He stayed here waiting for him to come back. He gave the last bit of his life energy to protect this town. He is where he wants to be, at the side of the Father.” She kisses his forehead.

Jean Luc asks, “Are you going to be okay?”

“Yes,” she says, “I will be.”

Osrik lifts the body respectfully. Mags, Dru, Jean Luc, and Osrik leave town and make their way to the shrine of Bahamut. They bury the body on the hilltop where Mags says a prayer in Draconic. They finish the last rights by early afternoon. As they depart, Mags turns and says “Goodbye my love. Until we meet again.”

Next Episode 11: Loose Ends

Previous: Battle of Loudwater pt1

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