Tyranny of Dragons

Reunions
Season 3, Session 7

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

1. War Room
Within the grey stone walls of Castle Waterdeep the party continues their planning in their war room.

“My boat used to belong to a dragon hunter,” says Osrik, “And there was a map inside. I don’t know if it was his base or a target. He marked it for something, it is most likely helpful.”

Jean Luc asks, “Did you get that boat from Jokel?”

“I did,” Osrik confirms.

“I think that’s something to consider,” Jean Luc slowly says. “I have a vague feeling that salesman was sent to us by…”
Khendrig,” Gamora interrupts.

“Bahamat,” Jean Luc finishes.

“Bahamat?” Gamora asks.

“Yes. I think Bahamat is in our corner and I think there’s a chance he sent that salesman to us,” says Jean Luc.

“So we handle the succubus, then the map,” says Osrik.

“There are other things we need to do first,” Cora says to Jean Luc, “I think we need to talk to your wife.”

“I guess we could,” he stumbles. “I don’t see why that’s pressing.”

“She is the only one who has been to the Well of Dragons and survived,” says Cora. “I think we should find out what she saw there. Ultimately, we need to know as much as we can before we make a move.”

“She might be able to verify what Sneaky McGee in the dungeon told us,” Gamora says. She turns to Cora, “What you experienced back in the Serpent Hills was that of value to us?”

“I think Khendrig needed me to have this item,” she says looking at the ring on her finger. “I don’t know if it’s prudent for us all to go back again. ‘The cost of failure is death’,” she repeats.

“However, it did work to our advantage, and I got something out of it, too,” says Reven as he makes the black metal long sword appear in his hand.

“Part of me is curious, but there are more pressing matters than possibly dying before we finish anything,” Gamora says. “Not exactly looking to die not in a blaze of glory. I don’t really want to die, let’s be fair. But if I’m going to go down, I’m going to go down with some Dragon Cultists. “

Reven says, “I’ll be back soon, it shouldn’t take too long.”

“Where are you going?” Gamora asks.

“Seven Swords,” says Reven. “Well, I’m going to the bar that will take me to Seven Swords. There’s a portal in a closet – it’s confusing. Just trust me.”

“Sounds really fucking weird,” chuckles Gamora.

“It’s… yeah.”

“We just arrived in the basement,” Jean Luc points out.

“Yeah, and we looked fucking weird,” Gamora says. “Why do they put these things in such weird little places?”

“You aren’t going without me,” says Xenara. “There is something I seek at Seven Swords as well.”

“How long will you be gone?” Cora asks Reven.

“Hopefully not long at all a day two at the most. There are more portals like the one in the bar, they lead to different places. Maybe there’s a way to get connect with Aeron. I also need to talk to Kalu about my visions, if it is possible to control them better.”

“Sounds like a lot to do,” says Vera. “You think you can get all that done in a day or two?

“I’m a fast learner,” says Reven.

“If you are going to find Aeron should I give you my gold and my shield trade to him?” asks Osrik.

“Wow. You’re going to give him your gold?” Mags says with a chuckle.

“He got his stolen last time,” Vera whispers to Osrik.

“Does Seven Swords have a lot of portals?” Gamora asks.

“I believe they do,” says Reven. “They have a portal device, just need to get permission to use it for the group, and see if there are any portals close to Aeron.”

“It would make traveling for us a lot easier,” says Gamora.

“It would,” says Reven.

“Will they allow us to use their portals? Just because the portals exist doesn’t mean we can use them,” Cora asks.

“Being a secret monastery I think they’re kind of secretive,” says Osrik.

“Well I think you know the head guy there, so you tell me,” says Reven.

“What?” says Gamora. “I’ve never been there in my life. What guy?”

“Your daddy?” says Reven.

Gamora bristles. “My dad is off wandering around. Which is why I need to speak to Leosin.”

“I meant your real dad,” says Reven.

“My biological father is not my dad,” says Gamora, “I’ve never met that person in my life.”

“Well he can be rough,” says Reven.

“Maybe you should,” Jean Luc says to Gamora. “But I mean, that’s just one man’s opinion.”

“Coming from a man who is religiously avoiding his wife?” snaps Gamora.

Jean Luc grumbles and takes a long sip his drink.

“Well,” says Reven, “just think about how stubborn you are.”

“What value is there in going to Seven Swords, other than possibly getting access to some quick travel?” asks Gamora. “I don’t know what he can help me with.”

“You don’t think there’s anything he can grant you?” asks Cora. “Give you answers?”

“Not unless his answers also include where to find my dad,” says Gamora.

“He may know,” says Reven.

“I never heard anything back from that letter I sent up with you last time. I want to talk to Leosin to see if he can give me some answers. If not then maybe I’ll come with you if your willing to wait for me,” says Gamara.

“I can do that,” says Reven. “Xenara, would you be okay with that?”

She nods, “That’s fine.”

“Thanks,” says Gamora.

“Do I give you my shield and gold?” Osrik asks Revan.

Reven glances over to Mags making sure she isn’t paying attention. He mumbles, “I would hold off on that.”

Mags turns to the group, “Hey, I still have this thing and it’s taking up all this space in here.”

“Oh yeah,” laughs Gamora, “A giant freaking–“

“The elemental engine,” Osrik interrupts.

“Aeron would probably be interested in that,” Cora points out.

“It’s taking up space in my hole,” Mags says.

“Well maybe there’s a room in the castle where you can store it,” Vera suggests.

“We can ask when we talk to Leosin,” Jean Luc says.

Gamora and Jean Luc go leave the war room in search of Leosin while Osrik and Vera go off to find any leads on locating the succubus.

2. Cora and Mags
“Mags, got a second?” Cora approaches the young girl as the others are leaving.

“Not for you,” says Mags without looking in her direction. She stands up and makes her way out of the war room.

“What did you mean before about Dru? Do you know where she is?”

“No.”

“Do you know what happened to her?”

“No.”

Cora says as she steps in front of Mags and places a hand on her shoulder. “Listen,” Cora begins, but Mags gives her a dark glance and Cora feels a wave of fear engulf her, Cora remembers in that moment how dangerous Mags can truly be.

“Are we done here?” Mags asks.

“I want to help her,” says Cora. “Where is she? And what happened to her?”

“Fuck off,” says Mags pushing past Cora.

“We’re supposed to be on the same team,” says Cora. “Dru was one of us. If something happened to her and we are able to help her tell us. It seems you’re the one stopping it now.”

“So, okay, little miss princess,” says Mags with a sigh, “How’d you manage when that army of Drow knocked you and your little boyfriend on your ass?”

“I believe you were one of the people who got knocked out,” Cora says.

“No,” says Mags, “I wasn’t there.”

“Where were you?”

“I was home. I was with Dru. You couldn’t handle what was coming then, and because of that she had to do something drastic to save the rest of you. So she’s not the one that needs help – you are. And when you get your shit together, maybe then she won’t have to do things on her own to protect you and this sorry bunch so that we can deal with the Cult of the Dragon.”

“Listen, this sorry bunch has been traveling with you and protecting your ass,” says Cora.

“No one’s been protecting me,” says Mags. “If I’m not mistaken, in a swamp not too long ago, all you fuckers would have died without me. So step off your high horse, Cora. I don’t owe you shit.”

“You have been on your high horse since… I don’t know where this attitude started. But it’s really uncalled for,” says Cora.

“Excellent! So leave. Go on your own.”

“I’m not leaving,” says Cora. “I am exactly where I need to be…” Mags turns the corner out of Cora’s sight. Cora curses Mags under her breath.

Frustrated Cora heads off to train trying to push the encounter from her mind. Afterwards she takes a moment to examine the dragon head charm on her sword and it’s twin left by her cousin. She meditates on her path and where she is going next.

3. Jean Luc, Gamora, and Leosin
Jean Luc and Gamora knock on Leosin’s door, but there is no answer. Gamora knocking a bit harder knocks it off its hinges. She puts the door back up and bends the hinges into place. The door hangs awkwardly and the locking mechanism is damaged.

“I fixed it! Who needs Rusty to mend things?” Gamora exclaims nervously.

They notice Leosin is not present. His room and desk and things seem to be organized and in perfect order they walk out and turn to one of the guards.

“Hey, you there! You seen Leosin around?” says Gamora.

“Yeah,” says the guard.

“You want to point us in the right direction?”

“Ma’am, I didn’t ask. He just left,” says the guard, but he points toward the training grounds and tells Gamora, “but he went that way.”

“Thanks.” Gamora and Jean Luc go in the direction. Gamora says to Jean Luc, “So, a wife, huh?”

“Yes, ah. Haven’t seen her for a long time but she’s, ah, she’s a wonderful person,” says Jean Luc.

“But you hate her,” says Gamora.

“No, no, I just hate the type of person I am when we spend a lot of time together. But no, she’s the best. I mean, she’s also the worst. Just the worst. But she’s the best, the best,” says Jean Luc.

“She must be pretty strong to get out of what she got out of alive,” Gamora suggests. “You think she’s helpful to us?”

“She’s the most capable person you could imagine,” says Jean Luc.

“Well, she might be on our list of people to chat to…”

Jean Luc and Gamora make their way to the training ground and find Leosin shirtless hitting a training dummy with blinding fast strikes that hit with power. The sounds of his blows create a rhythmic cadence that echos throughout the training grounds.

“I’m glad he’s on our side,” says Gamora. “I hope.”

“He is on our side,” says Jean Luc.

Gamora whistles catching Leosin’s attention. With a final blow the hay and wood of the training dummy bursts leaving it in ruin. He turns his attention to the two of them, “So, any new information?” He picks up a towel and walks over to them.

“Do you recall the name of that fellow who went with us down into those ruins all those years ago?” asks Jean Luc.

“Rufus?” Leosin says curious where this is leading.

Jean Luc nods, satisfied that he is dealing with Leosin and not a Succubus. “I just wanted to make sure you are you,” explains Jean Luc before he continues, “Our friend in the dungeon gave us a few interesting pieces of information. Is King Melandrach still on site?”

“I believe he is still here,” says Leosin.

“Our prisoner gave us the impression the Green Wyrmspeaker is running around the Misty Forest. We were considering going out there and seeing if we could make another installment in our chromatic plan.”

“The Misty Forest is a rather large,” says Leosin. “Have you narrowed down the location?”

“I don’t recall… no, not presently. That’s why I thought it might be a good idea to speak to his highness,” says Jean Luc. “However, before – well, you asked, so that’s how it’s going. I wanted to apologize for asking you to leave this morning. I understand you have to report everything to the Council, and even though we’re on board, we’re all just mortals, we have our secrets. And so I tried to spare you the drama of spilling our family secrets in an official capacity. So if you were insulted by that, I apologize. That’s why I did that.”

Leosin says, “I understand, but understand I don’t report to the Council. I report to Remalia. My role as handler is to get you what you need and pass on information from the Council or information you report to them.”

“Well, that’s good to know. I owe the Harpers an apology.”

“No, you don’t.”

“We lost those beautiful horses that were shared with us.”

“Frume’s horses? I don’t think the Order of the Gauntlet will mind much. We do what we need to do. Just like if you don’t want to share that there’s any dangerous magical artifacts in your possession, well that’s at your own discretion.”

“Thank you. You’re a good friend,” says Jean Luc, “Even in these trying times.”

“I broke your door – I’m sorry,” blurts Gamora.

‘She did,” says Jean Luc.

“My door? Why?” asks Leosin.

“We went looking for you and she knocked a little too vigorously,” explains Jean Luc.

“Ah…,” says Leosin. Gamora apologizes again.

“We’ll send up our cleric. He’s handy with those things,” offers Jean Luc.

“I mean, I kinda fixed it,” says Gamora.

“I think my zealous friend has a few questions for you, but before I go,” says Jean Luc, “Were you able to secure Vilia a spot here?”

“Not really. She’s not… the joining type,” Leosin tells him.

“Hmm. Do you know where she went?” asks Jean Luc.

“She’s here still recovering. I’m trying to keep her close with some work but she’s determined to strike back against the Cult of the Dragon. So, I’m trying to find something for her, but stalling won’t work for long.”

“Thank you. Do you know where exactly she is?” asks Jean Luc. “I was considering looking her up before we have to leave again.”

Leosin gives him directions on where she can be found.

“Thank you. Our short friend in the dungeon is concerned for his own safety and,” Jean Luc starts.

“He squeals like a pig as long as you promise to keep him alive,” Gamora interrupts.

Jean Luc asks, “Are you aware of any possible leaks this rather large ship we’re in might have?”

“You lost me at metaphor,” says Leosin.

Jean Luc tries again. “Anybody whose office is known to not run a tight ship? Let things slide when they shouldn’t?”

After thinking a moment, Leosin says, “Nobody really has the… there hasn’t been a security breach, if that’s what you’re talking about. Everybody is doing their best to keep things quiet and in check. But if you’re talking about if you’re trying to infiltrate some people, that wouldn’t be highly recommended.”

“No,” says Jean Luc. “I’m just looking to ferret out possible risks. If you think of anybody we should be concerned about…”

“I’ll keep an eye open,” says Leosin.

“Also, just a thought,” says Jean Luc, “We have a fantastic device we’d like to tinker with, perhaps a machine shop, or old forge you think we could set up shop in?” Leosin note that there is a smith by the stables but it will not likely serve his needs. Jean Luc agrees and asks if he can store the device in the Waterdeep Dungeons. Leosin says it can be arranged.

Leosin asks, “What is your next move?”

“We need to decide if we’re going to leave for the Misty Forest. Do you know where his grace is?” asks Jean Luc.

“The Misty Forrest elves have their own wing of the castle. They are on the highest level of the castle. Opposite of the Dwarfs, mind you… because, well… obvious reasons. I am also working on those teleportation scrolls. Hope to have them soon.” says Leosin.

“Thank you,” says Gamora.

“That’s very helpful thank you,” says Jean Luc. “That’s all I wanted to know. If you hear anything, let me know.” Jean Luc places a hand on Gamora’s shoulder as he leaves the training ground giving her privacy with Leosin.

Gamora turns to the half-elf, “On a personal note, I had asked you at a not-opportune moment if you had heard anything about my father. Have you heard anything about my father?

“No, I have not heard anything new about Draken,” says Leosin. “Here’s what I do know, and I fear to tell you this as it may take you off course, but – when your mother died, it pained him. His main concern was to take care of you, but he always wanted to find out what happened to her.”

“I thought he did,” says Gamora.

“Who the murderer was? No,” says Leosin. “So he is probably trying to close that chapter in his life.”

“Not for nothing, but that seems like a fool’s errand.”

“In case you haven’t noticed, your father is a bit of a romantic fool,” says Leosin.

“Yeah, he is,” Gamora agrees. “Is there no way to find out where he’s gone? Hasn’t he been in contact with anybody?”

“I suspect where he would have gone to be where your tribe was last,” Leosin says.

“My memory of that time is super hazy. I don’t know if I could even find it,” Gamora laments. “All right, you know the deal. If you hear anything… thanks.”

“One second,” Leosin says. Tossing his towel aside, then takes a fighting stance. As his hands raise fierceness manifests in his eyes and Gamora feels the air around her grow thick, “Now, show me what you’ve got.”

4. Osrik and Vera
Elsewhere, Osrik and Vera wander the castle looking for a steward or aide that seems familiar. Vera also keeps an eye out for the striking human woman the saw during the council meeting. They both suspect the succubus may chose such a form if they were to spy on individuals.

Vera’s excerience with civilization being rather limited doesn’t really know what to look for within the walls of a center of government like Castle Waterdeep, but she keeps an eye out for anything strange.

Osrik explains, “We’re just looking for a messenger who works for somebody in the castle.” They spend their time talking with several staff and gather some information learning where the council members and respective faction representatives are staying in the castle.

Osrik decides to go visit the dwarves of Mithral Hall who work for Brawnanvil. Vera warns, “You can’t tell them anything about the Wyrmspeaker, that we have him or anything.”

“Yeah, I wouldn’t plan on it,” says Osrik.

“Brawnanvil might know already,” says Vera. “We’re not trying to talk to him, though?”

“No,” says Osrik, “We’re just trying to talk to a steward.”

They enter the wing devoted to the dwarves of Mithral Hall who look busy for the most part. Osrik and Vera see the dwarves are hurrying between rooms it’s hard to tell if this is a commotion or dwarves at work. Osrik steps forward and asks to speak to Brawnanvil’s steward.

“Who wants to know?” asks one of the Dwarfs.

“My name is Osrik Ironborn. I’m actually looking for the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. And I thought I saw her around one of Brawnanvil’s stewards. So I was trying to see if anybody could introduce me.”

The Dwarf looks at Osrik and says, “The most beautiful woman in the world?”

“Yeah,” says Osrik, “White hair, hazel eyes…”

“Sounds revolting,” says the Dwarf. “Did she have a beard?”

“Just, if you happen to see her…” Osrik says.

“Do you have official business with Mithril Hall?” asks the dwarf.

“Well… no not…”

“Then scram,” demands the dwarf. They make their way back down the hall out of sight of the dwarves.

Vera asks Osrik, “Dwarfs women have beards?”

“Yeah, Dwarf women have beards. They look so much like men that it’s a common misconception that there are no Dwarf women. I can assure you this is not the case.”

“So, maybe if she is a human…” Vera thinks aloud, “Maybe we should find a human person to be attracted to them, who works for a human? Terran Hornblade maybe? Lord Neverember?”

“I think maybe we should talk to Neverember’s people,” Osrik agrees. “You want to take the lead on this one?”

“If we go talk to Neverember’s people, we might run into Iarno, which could be interesting,” Vera notes.

“We’ll see what happens,” says Osrik.

Vera and Osrik go in search of Lord Neverember and to their surprise they discover a lot of commotion in this area of the castle. People are packing and bustling about. Osrik asks the nearest person who seems to be able to multi-task what is going on.

“Oh, most of us are sacked, that’s what,” says an older human gentleman in his late forties. He is wearing scholarly robes and is carrying some boxes from one of the offices.

“Why?” asks Vera.

“You didn’t hear?” the man says. “Lord Neverember’s not the open lord of Waterdeep anymore.”

“Since when?” asks Vera.

“Since, oh, four days ago when the Masked Lords voted him out,” he says.

Osrik asks, “Who is the new open lord?”

“Lady Laeral Silverhand,” the man answers. “I guess there was some meat to the rumor of a Masked Lord being assassinated. The Lords may have lost confidence in Lord Neverember.”

“Sorry about your luck, mate,” says Osrik. The man slumps and sighs at these words.

Vera asks, “So you’re going back to Neverwinter?”

“When this business with the council is over yes, maybe, I don’t know,” he says. His face troubled. “Representatives of Neverwinter including the Lord Protector are being provided lodgings as guests…I’ve worked here for nearly five years and now I’m a guest.”

“So Neverember would still be present in the council?” asks Vera.

“Oh, yes,” he says. The man sighs, “I enjoyed my job, but I suspect there will be no need for me in Neverwinter.”

Osrik says slyly, “I might be able to help that out a little bit if you’re able to help us out a little bit.”

“I’m listening,” says the man.

“We’re looking for this woman,” he gestures towards Vera, “My friend here fell absolutely head over heels in love with her,” Osrik says.

“Uh… yeah, totally,” Vera says. She makes a bouquet of flowers and clasps it to her chest showing a dramatic display of unbridled affection.

“Oh, really,” the man says curious.

“Yes, she has white hair and hazel eyes,” Osrik says making a dramatic hand gesture, “Beautiful…”

“Oh Yes,” agrees Vera. Looking up in the distance continuing with her dramatization,
“We… I must find her. Please help us out!”

“Um do you mean her?” the man points behind them.

Surprised the both of them turn to see the woman not ten feet behind them in the offices. She seems to be looking at the group of them. Vera pulls in close to Osrik, “What do we do now?”

“Good afternoon,” says the mysterious woman, closing the distance. The two of them are caught off guard by her appearance. Realizing this could be the succubus Osrik tries to seduce her.

“Hello,” says Osrik softly.

“Um, hi,” says Vera shoving the bouquet of flowers to the woman.

“Oh my, thank you,” says the woman with a smile. Her polished demeanor accepts the gift with warm gratitude. She hands them behind her as if giving them to an invisible servant.

“My friend here,” Osrik stumbles, “Um…we’ve been discussing you quite a bit since we saw you the other day…”

“Master Osrik,” says the woman with a smile, “I don’t think that is necessarily the best way to begin our profession working relationship.”

Vera turns to Osrik and whispers in front of the woman, “She knows your name!”

“Well as you know my name,” says Osrik, “I would love to know yours.”

With a dignified smile she says, “I am Lady Lariel Silverhand, Open Lord of Waterdeep.” The dwarf’s mouth drops and he blushes. Vera covers her mouth as she laughs. “How may I be of assistance to both you and Mistress Vera?” asks Lady Silverhand.

Osrik tries to speak but it is incoherent ititally. Vera jumps in and says very nervously says, “It’s so nice to meet you.”

“The pleasure is all mine,” says Lady Silverhand.

“Not knowing your…um standing,” explains Osrik, “We were both struck by your beauty from afar. We thought you were someone on a level we could…”

“I’m flattered, but really,” she says. “How goes the investigation?”

Osrik thankful of the change of subject clears his throat, “Umm, still ongoing. We’ve got some leads and we’re tracking them down.”

“Well, please feel free to come and keep me updates any time. You may find one more friend in Waterdeep since the last Council.”

“I greatly appreciate that,” says Osrik.

“Thank you,” says Vera.

Lady Silverhand dismisses them. Osrik gives a half-curtsy, half-bow as he departs. Vera unsure of traditions imitates Osrik and they both leave. Osrik nervously muttering curses under his breath over and over again.

“So, back to the war room?” Vera asks.

“Yes, back to the war room to sulk and drink,” Osrik says.

5. Gamora vs Leosin
Leosin busts into motion towards Gamora. He covers the space between them before she realizes what is happening. His fists move incredibly fast striking Gamora with incredible speed and force doubling her over.

“What the hell, dude! It was just a door!” Gamora shouts. She moves to strike him but he is out of her reach before she can react. She bursts into a rage and chases after him her first blow sloppy her second connects with his jaw.

“Hmm,” Leosin says. “That’s it?”

“What do you mean, ‘that’s it?’” asks Gamora. “You’re hitting me for no reason! It’s just a door! I’ll fix it!”

Leosin explodes into motion, but Gamora has her guard up and she blocks his strikes throwing her arms up, but Leosin is quick and sweaps her legs out taking her root and knocking her flat on her back.

Gamora snatches a stone from the ground and throws it at Leosin as she gets up. The half-elf easily catches the rock and throws it right back at her. It shatters on her shoulder and she curses. She charges after him but as she raises her fist to hit him, but he moves so fast she doesn’t notice he is right behind her until she feels a buildup of heat. She steps out of the way as a bolt of energy streams past her.

Having enough Gamora draws her greatsword. Leosin smiles and waves her on. Gamora roars, “What the fuck, dude, it’s just a door!” She swings her greatsword cutting him across his chest. She follows through with a second blow but Leosin blocks the blade with his forearm.

He throws punches and kicks at her, but Gamora is taking the fight seriously and in her rage Leosin isn’t able to faze her. Gamora strikes the blade across the ground and throws dirt into Leosin’s eyes.

Leosin takes a step back, putting up his guard up while trying to blink out the dirt. Gamora slashes at the monk with her sword again across his shoulder.

Leosin strikes her with his fingertips, on landing in her neck and the other in her armpit. A surge of pain shocks her body like a bolt of lightning forcing her muscles to seize up, but she resists the effect through her rage.

“I don’t even know why we’re fighting,” Gamora says coming out of her rage.

“I’m done if you are,” Leosin says.

“Yeah, I’m just so confused,” says Gamora. She sees he’s bleeding from her sword strikes. “Shit, dude, I cut you!”

Leosin closes his eyes and takes a deep breath and she watches his emit smoke and close and become fully healed. She watches him closes his eyes and take a deep breath, as he exhales the wounds emit smoke and close.

Gamora’s mouth is agape at the sight, “I mean, why?” she says as she puts her sword away. Leosin puts a hand on her shoulder and nods. “I’m all for exercise but damn, dude. Fuck that hurt. I have a bruise on my neck! You punched me in the armpit!”

“Fighting like your life is on the line is the only way to push your limits. The only way to reach new heights with your skills is to push them in different ways. You’ve got potential,” says Leosin as he turns to pick up his shirt. “Back to my desk job.”

“What was the point of that?”

“I wanted to see what you’ve got. I wanted to know who you are.”

“I’m good at punching shit. Well, maybe not punching. Pretty good with a sword, though,” Gamora rambles, “Don’t exactly go down easy, if that counts for anything.”

“I trained with your mother you know,” Leosin says.

“My dad never talked about it much, but yeah.”

“There was only one person who ever bested her in combat,” Leosin continues.

“You?”

Leosin laughs, “No way. I wasn’t that good.”

“You seemed pretty good.”

“I can hold my own. A little out of practice,” Leosin pauses. “You killed her.”

“Killed her?” Gamora asks confused.

“Rezmir,” says Leosin.

“Rezmir?” Gamora curses, “WAIT! Hold it! How did my mother knew Rezmir?”

“She trained with us,” Leosin tells Gamora.

“Rezmir did? Then how did she end up with the Cult?”

Leosin’s face grows saddened. “Rezmir was found by our master when she was very young.”

“Master?” asks Gamora, “Is that who I think it is?”

“Yes,” Leosin says, “He found her alone on the streets struggling to survive. It wasn’t apparent that she had dragon-blood. She had a lot of promise and we became friends. When she reached sixteen years old, her dragon-blood awoke. Her body was… changed showing her black dragon heritage, and she… changed. She became more fierce, almost a mad. She would tell me she had dreams her mother called to her.”

“Tiamat?” Gamora asks.

“She said that she hears her in her dreams,” said Leosin.

“Heard,” Gamora corrects him proud of herself. When she notices his sorrowful expression, she apologizes for her apparent glee.

“One day, during training she killed her training partner brutally and without remorse,” says Leosin.

“My mother?” ask Gamora.

“No, no, no. This was a brother name Khumak, he was a good friend. When he fell your mother challenged Rezmir to put her in her place and hopefully right her madness. Rezmir almost killed her,” says Leosin. “If the master didn’t step in Greykiaya would have died. The master excommunicated Rezmir from Seven Swords at that moment which is punishable by death. But Rezmir escaped. She threw herself off the side of the temple and never returned. It would be years later that I heard she had joined the Cult of the Dragon. I have been pursuing the Cult ever since, learning about their plans and tracking Rezmir. It’s the thing that led me to this war. It’s was probably for the best that you put her out of her misery.”

“I don’t regret it,” Gamora tells the monk.

“That wasn’t the point in my story,” says Leosin.

“Sorry,”Gamora says, “I guess, that you lost a friend.”

“I lost my friend a long time ago,” says Leosin. “You were very fortunate.”

“That I lived? Well, I wasn’t alone.”

“Like I said, you were very fortunate,” Leosin says. “And with the skill you just showed me, extremely lucky.”

Gamora laughs, “Are you saying I suck?”

“There always room for improvement,” says Leosin.

There is a pause, “My dad was part of Seven Swords, too?”

“We trained there together, yes.”

“He doesn’t talk a lot about it,” says Gamora.

“When does Draken ever really talk,” says Leosin with a grin.

“Well this is true,” says Gamora.

“No one ever talks or brags about Seven Swords. It is usually the easiest way to spot an imposter,” Leosin tells Gamora, “You should go one day.”

“I’m looking for my dad because he was the only person who made any effort to teach me what little knowledge he had of the path my mother took,” Gamora says.

“Even more of a reason. I know you don’t want to meet the master, but he’s called the master for several different reasons. He is one of the most skilled warrior in the world, but the helped bring the Ondanti from another world to this one.”

“I guess what I don’t understand,” says Gamora, “if he’s so powerful, why is he staying in a temple doing nothing?”

“Who says he’s doing nothing?,” says Leosin. “Is it best to be the one fighting against the evil in the world, or teaching others how to fight so they can protect their world?”

“I guess that makes sense,” says Gamora.

“Sometimes you’ve got to give back to change the world,” says Leosin. He turns and tells the half-orc, “Well, I’m going to go eat brunch. Good talk.”

“Yeah, nice talk,” Gamora says as she wipes blood off the side of her mouth. She makes her way back to the war room.

6. Tower of Luck
The Tower of Luck in the Sea Ward is the main temple to Tymora in Waterdeep. Inside the walls the tower is alive with the sound of lively children at play. Dru has returned to the Tower after checking with the contractors she had hired to make repairs to the orphanage. She is rather frustrated that there hasn’t been much progress in the last three days.
She notices Noreen talking with a human with a leather coat, and adventurer from the looks of him. The figure looks familiar to her and as she approaches she notices that it is Harlin.

“What are you doing here?” Dru asks.

He looks at her and smiles, “I could ask you the same.”

“These are my children,” Dru explains, “We are taking refuge here.”

“Oh,” says Harlin, “Well, I was told to pick up a package here.”

“Oh yes,” says Noreen, “One moment sir.”

Harlin stands awkwardly for a moment, then says, “So… how’s it going? How’s things?”

“Been interesting,” says Dru. “Have you seen the group?”

“No. Just got in a couple hours ago. It’s been a rough week,” Harlin says.

“Please, go on,” says Dru. “Tell me about your rough week.”

“That’s alright. So, tell me about you. Refuges?”

“My orphanage burnt down.”

“Oh that’s a bummer.”

“Yes, but it was taken care of,” Dru says.

“Glad it worked out in the end.”

Noreen walks back into the room and hands Harlin a wooden box with what appears to be a purple colored stone and a letter.

“That’s odd that they’d give you a rock,” Dru comments.

“You know, one should never judge the inherent value of things just on their looks.”

“I take it the rock is important to you?”

“It is the foundation of all we walk on, or something like that, I read it in a book somewhere,” says Harlin.

“How did you know you had a package here?”

“Your mage friend, he likes to talk in my head at inconvenient times…,” Harlin says with a small laugh.

“I see,” says Dru. “You know, I met a friend of yours…”

“Oh, really?”

“Vera…? She’s looking for you,” says Dru.

“Do you know where she is?”

“The last I heard they were going to the war council meeting. Then I kind of lost track of everyone.”

“That’s a shame. You should find your way back, they might need you or not.”

“I would if I knew where they were,” Dru says.

“Ah well if you want to find them,” says Harlin holding out the purple stone, “Just call to them.”

“You want me to talk to your rock?” asks Dru. She takes the rock and says, “Hello?”

After a pause Vera’s voice comes through the stone, “Dru? Are you in the church?”

Harlin and Dru look at each other confused. After a moment Harlin asks, “Why would she ask a question if she knows they can only be used once per day?”

“I don’t know,” says Dru. “I don’t know her that well. Is she normally like that?”

Harlin smiles warmly and puts the stone away, “Well good luck finding your friends.”

“Thanks. Where are you headed?”

“Home, for now. Got a few things to do. Take care, Dru.”

“You too,” says Dru.

“Good luck,” says Harlin making a holy hand gesture of Tymora.

Dru smirks at him as he leaves.

After settling in Dru picks up a broom and starts sweeping the main hall. She knows bringing the children have been a large disruption and is doing her part to earn their keep. Mags enters the temple and rushes over to her. Dru drops the broom and hugs her.

“Hey,” Mags says. “What happened? The orphanage was on fire? Where is everyone?”

“Everyone’s fine. Everyone made it out,” Dru says.

“What are you doing here?” asks Mags.

“Naureen let us stay here until the orphanage is repaired,” says Dru. “I got out of my situation and didn’t know where everyone was. So I figured I’d stay here and help with the kids.”

“You should have let us know it was only gonna be a week,” says Mags.

“I didn’t know how long it was going to be,” says Dru.

“I gave Cora a lot of shit for it,” says Mags

“That’s fine. She probably deserved it somewhere along the way," says Dru.

“I totally agree,” Mags stops and sniffs the air, "Beef stew?”

“Rianann is in the kitchen,” says Dru.

Mags laughs and runs off to the kitchen followed by Dru. The young girl wraps her arms around the bronze scaled dragonborn. Riannann looks down and hugs the golden haired girl. “You two will be the death of me yet,” she scolds them both. “Now out, I’m tryin’ to finish dinner for the entire tower and twenty-eight youngins and I don’t need any distractions!”

In the war room, Vera hears and recognizes Dru’s voice saying “hello” through the sending stone. She responds, “Dru? Are you in the church?”

Osrik, hearing this tells Vera he’s going to the temple and Vera follows. They run into Jean Luc on the way who quickly joins them and the three set off for the Tower of Luck.

After her training Cora made her way to one of the overlook towers to meditate. She takes time to examine the dragon head charm on her sword and it’s twin left by her cousin. She meditates on her path and where they are going next. From her vantage she notices Osrik, Vera, and Jean Luc quickly walking down Castle Waterdeep. She suspects there is some urgency in their movement.

Cora makes her way to the stable and uses her Gray Hands badge to take a horse and spurs it to catch up to the group and asks them where they are heading.

“Temple!” says Osrik.

Vera elaborates, “Tower of Luck. Someone’s got my sending stone. I think it is Dru.”

“Dru?” ask Cora and Jean Luc in unison.

“Yeah,” says Osrik, “Didn’t I mention that?”

“No,” says Jean Luc, “You did not!” He had been busy discussing with Vera if she could create flowers they found on the Serpent Hills that he hadn’t bothered asking where they were going.

Cora reaches a hand down to Osrik and pulls him up onto her horse. Osrik wraps his arms around her back, a little too high, which Cora annoying guides down to an appropriate position and make their way to the Tower of Luck.

It’s about an hour before they arrive and enter the Tower of Luck. Jean Luc is reluctant and decides to wait outside on the steps. Upon entering the Tower, Osrik kisses a coin a tosses it in a donations box.

The three of them encounter a small raven haired girl playing with a few other children. As Cora makes her way to the back room the raven haired girl calls her out, telling them they aren’t allowed back there. After getting both Cora and Rusty’s names she goes in the back to get a grown up. The elven priestess Nauereen soon joins them and greets the party.

“We’re looking for Dru,” Cora says.

“No!” interrupts Vera, “Well, yes… Did you deliver my package?”

Nauereen looks at Vera and nods, “Yes, a man came in to pick it up.”

“Is he here?” Vera asks.

“No, he left some time ago,” Nauereen says.

Vera growls her dissatisfaction to herself.

The Cora and Osrik spot Dru sitting at a table with Mags each with a bowl of stew. The others rush over to them.

“Are you alright?” Cora asks Dru.

“I’m okay,” Dru says. “I just had to deal with some things.”

“Is everything taken care of?” Cora asks.

“It’s taken care of. The orphanage was burned down, but everything is settled now,” Dru says.

“Will you be joining us again?” Cora asks.

“I believe so," says Dru.

As Mags and Osrik discuss beef stew and Vera speaks with Nauereen to find out more about Harlin.

Cora asks, “So, what orphanage?”

“My orphanage. I sponsor and a caretaker of all these children who you see, or don’t see, running about,” Dru explains. “That’s where Mags and I used to live."

“What happened? Why did it burn down?” Cora asks.

“Well long story short, my brother Prax told me I needed to take over the Black Trident. I learned all the ins and outs, but learned that there were a few drow including by brother who didn’t love the system they were in and wanted out. Killed a few people here and there and then I learned Jean Luc told everyone I had the Black Dragon mask. Then Bog Luck shows up and makes me an offer for the Black Mask on behalf of the Cult of the Dragon.”

“What was his offer?” Cora asks.

“Anything I wanted,” says Dru. "I told him no. Then the orphanage burned down. I assumed it was Bog Luck. I was mad, I went the the Roadhouse and almost died, but killed a bunch of people, but and Bog Luck is no more.”

“You went to the Roadhouse and killed Bog Luck?" asks Cora

“One of the drow who wanted freedom was a wizard and he flew us there. Nine hours of straight flying. Anyway after that me and the drow that helped me got released and it turns out that my brother actually was the one who burned down the orphanage.

“Why would he do that?” asks Cora.

“Well, I’m under the impression my brother was trying to use the Cult to try to start a turf war with the Black Trident. Did not work so well, the Black Trident’s actual leaders didn’t like it.”

“So your brother is dead?” asks Cora.

“He’s… he’s not a problem,” says Dru.

“What happened to him?” asks Cora.

“He’s a statue.”

“Oh. Should I ask?”

“I don’t… I couldn’t even explain.”

“Okay. So you have no further obligations to do whatever you stepped up to do?”

“No,” says Dru, “But I also cannot interfere with anything related to The Xananthar or the Black Trident. I basically have to stay out of their way.”

“Are they involved in the Cult of the Dragon?”

“Didn’t seem to be," says Dru.

“Okay. Glad you’re safe and back here,” Cora says.

“What about you?” Dru asks. “Anything new with you guys?”

“I’ll fill you in on the way back to Waterdeep Castle,” Cora says.

After gathering her things Dru meets up with the others and is about to set off. Nauereen walks up to Dru and wishes her a safe journey. Before they depart she places a blessing on Dru saying, “Dru chase your goals, remember the Lady aids the chase. Without direction or goals, you soon know the embrace of Beshaba, for those on no set course are at the mercy of misfortune, which has no mercy at all. May fortune find you and your friends.”

Dru feels a warmth come over her and she notices the holy symbol on her crossbow begins to faintly glow. She thanks Nauereen and they leave the tower.

Jean Luc stands nervously and greats Dru as she exits the church. He apologizes for having said the council that she had stolen the Black Dragon Mask and explains that it was a tactical decision.

Dru attempts to hit Jean Luc for all the trouble he caused her, but fumbles her footing and ends up punching his arm. Jean Luc thinks it a playful punch and is grateful she accepts his apology.

On the way back to Castle Waterdeep Jean Luc turns to Vera, Cora, and Dru and asks them what was the nicest thing anyone has send to them.

Dru says, “Oh, look you killed all those people.”

“Oh,” says Jean Luc. “Not really what I was looking for.”

Vera turns to Jean Luc and whispers something privately.

Jean Luc nods, “My that is very lovely.”

Cora shrugs, “Nothing I can recall.”

“Seriously,” he looks at Cora shocked. “Surely Reven must have…”

“I mean,” says Cora with a shrug. “There wasn’t actually much talking.”

Jean Luc shakes his head and asks them to wait a moment as he stops in a wine shop. After a few moments they make their way back to the castle.

7. Seven Swords Mountain
Gamora returns from her talk with Leosin to the War Room to find Reven and Xenara waiting. They comment on her bruises and she gives credit to Leosin’s skill. They soon gather their things and make their way down the path to the Flagon Dragon.

Arriving at the Flagon Dragon Reven pays for a few rounds of drinks and comments how the bartender is likely not even aware there is a portal. The bartender overhearing him notes that he indeed knows about the portal and expects them to pay to use it. Reven drops a few gold and makes his way the closet. He turns the brass ornament on the closet door that resembles a mountain and a sword. He adjusts it and says the words, “Greatness is earned. Effort and understanding is my key and currency.”

A burst of magical light emerges around the door frame and Reven says, “Hope you aren’t afraid of heights."

“Let’s just get this over with,” Gamora says. Nervously clutching her bishop chess piece in her hand as Reven opens the door. Xenara steps through and soon Gamora follows. In a flash, the world around her shifts and an icy cold blast of air nearly freezes her to her bones. Gamora looks and sees a narrow path leading to a massive mountain. Looking down she notices the mountain is floating so high she can’t see the ground.

Behind her Garmora watches as Reven step through the portal’s glowing brass archway. It energy glows brightly and it abruptly closes once he steps through. The sound of the wind seems to grow louder once it does.

Reven leads the way towards the mountain with Xenara and Gamora following. The narrow ledge eventually leads to a massive set of stairs which ascend into the mountain. They begin walking, Xenara notes that there are 969 steps which is an odd number. When they make it to the top an armored warrior is waiting for them.

The solitary figure clad in brilliant polished plate armor stands poised watching their approach. As they approach Gamora notices her red pupils seem so gaze into their hearts and beyond. The guardian’s pale skin is white as snow and in its right hand holds a large red pillow cradling a massive single edged curved greatsword.

“We shouldn’t be here,” says Gamora tightly gripping her chess piece.

“Don’t worry about it,” says Reven. “Seven swords is all about respect, just be respectful and everything will be fine.”

As they reach the top of the stairs the knight is just as imposing standing taller than all of them, “Reven, welcome back.”

“Uh, hi Pillows. Still carrying that thing huh?”

“I told you to stop referring to me with that name,” the guardian says with a snarl.

“We came to see Master Vayer,” says Reven.

“You know the way,” says the armored guardian. Glacing at Gamora it asks, “Who is your friend? Introduce me.”

“Um,” says Reven. “Well this is Gamora…. Gamora this is Lady Pillows…”

With a scowl she steps forward and releases the pillow which floats besides the armored warrior. She reaches out her hand to Gamora, “I am Master Avamir Brightpillar, right hand and sword bearer of the mountain, head instructor of the chamber of Light and Earth.”

Gamora shakes her hand, “Gamora. I rage and break stuff.” Gamora notices a dance of light from the blade. Something inside it seems to swirl and dance, this movement is familiar and soothing.

Reven shakes his head, “I was totally going to do that, you just had to wait a minute.”
Avamir looks at Gamora for a moment an says, “The Master is in his chambers.” She turns her gaze to Reven. “I expect the next time we meet you will shed that childish name.”

“Of course, Lady… Master Avamir,” says Reven with a bow.

Xenara says, “Thank you for letting us pass.”

Avarmir nods, as they walk past looking outwards beyond the mountain.

Gamora watches as the path thins considerably allowing only enough room for one person to pass through at a time. The path goes on for some time but the walls are covered in extensive art. She notices a thin trace of light dancing within the art this light seems to follow them. After some distance they walk pass a grand archway leading into a massive hall. The hall has six different paths with their own grand archways made of different materials. Reven walks straight ahead to a flight of stairs and begins climbing upwards. Gamora looks up to see dozens of overhead balconies. She realizes that they are inside of a building within the mountain, or the mountain is a building.

After several more flights of stairs Reven leads them down a path with more artwork. Several carvings in the wall show warriors in various battles, one shows them fighting around a tree, another fighting a black dragon, one shows a world on fire, another shows a great battle orcs against orcs, a dragon with a demon at its heart drinking from a well.

They stop before a massive pair of iron doors with the design of a single sword shaped into the door. Reven pushes one of the doors open and it swings open with a loud grinding noise.

Before them is a long hall with a red carpet leading to a massive iron throne. Behind it is a glass portal which seems to look out to the sky below. Reven enters and shouts out, “Hello? Anyone here?”

“We should leave,” mumbles Gamora as she nervously enters the room. Inside she notices massive pillars that line the hall, one is a polished black with a white marble beside it, one is a cloudy blue and white gemstone with a solid thick granite beside it, another is a green colored coral with a red and black stone beside it.

Reven jumps up and sits in the metal chair, “Guess no one is home. We can wait.”

“Should you be doing that,” asks Xenara.

“No… no he really shouldn’t.” says a gravelly voice from behind Reven.

“Oh hey,” says Reven. “Didn’t see you there…”

A hand grabs Reven and tosses him out of the seat. The half elf stumbles as he lands but is otherwise fine.

“Of course not, you need to be more aware of your surroundings, always been your problem,” says the voice stepping out of the shadows. Before them stands an aged half-orc, with gray skin is dotted with dark red spots, the hair that remains is gray with strands of black. He wears a dirty and stained robe with a massive necklace of wooden prayer beads. The robes are oversized and make him seem small within them, but his frame is massive compared to the trio.

“Hello Master Vayer,” says Reven lower his head in respect.

“What do you want?”

“I’m looking for Kalu,” asks Reven. “I need her help with my visions…”

“She left,” says Master Vayer.

“Left? Left where?”

“Home.”

“Home? Where’s home?”

“Not here, not your business.”

“Um… How about Mistress Abigale?”

“She’s gone too, when home with her mother.”

“I need to find them," says Reven

“What you need is patience," say Master Vayer.

“Patience,” says Reven stepping close to the old half-orc, “Like when you smashed half the mountain in a rage.”

Vayer snarls his teeth and a flash of anger flickers in his eyes. The old master flicks his finger on Reven’s breast plate denting the breastplate and collapsing the metal onto Reven’s lung restricting his breathing. The half-elf falls over from the blow and struggles to breathe, “Watch yourself fruit fly.”

“Forgive my brother,” says Xenara helping him up.

“Brother? Ash kept that one quiet,” says Vayer.

“Its…. its a new development…” wheezes Reven.

He looks at Gamora and smirks, “Are you new? Looking to test yourself against an old man?”

“My name is Dreadmore,” says Gamora.

“Dreadmore?” The old half-orc chuckles, “Draken did always like the Orcs. Never knew he had a kid.”

“My Dad raised me,” she says her body clenched. “But he is not my father.”

“What the hell are you talking about?” grumbles the old half-orc. He looks blankly at Gamora who stares at him with eyes blazing with anger. He rage seems to spark recognition in half-orc and his eyes go wide and his mouth goes slack, “Oh…oh shit…”

Xenara realizing what is going one helps Reven out of the room to give Gamora some privacy. Once they are gone Gamora turns her attention to Vayer.

“Did you even care about her at all?” she shouts

“Of course I did,” Vayer shouts back.

“Then why did you leave us alone?” asks Gamora.

“I didn’t know! We weren’t together, it was this one time before she left,” Vayer shakes his head. He marches over to the iron chair and lifts it up and pulls a bottle from a compartment underneath. He pulls the cork, “I haven’t drank in almost 90 years.” He takes a long drink and throws the bottle to Gamora who catches it and takes a gulp herself. “So do want a… hug or something,” Vayer asks.

Gamora throws the bottle back at Vayer, “There is nothing that I want from you.”

“Great, so why are you bothering me?” says the old half-orc as he catches the bottle and puts the cork back on it.

“I need answers,” says Gamora. “I have a spirit that told me to seek you out.”

“You’ve been to the Spiritwilds?” asks Vayer.

“Yes,” she says. “A spirit named Wind told me to seek you out. Told me you would have answers.”

“Wind?” Vayer laughs. “Still cryptic as ever?”

“Yes,” says Gamora.

“Wind was my master and showed me into the Spiritwilds and taught me how to calm the red dragon blood in myself and learn to focus myself. It was because of him I learned about the true Ondonti and brought them and their culture to Faerun. When Wind was killed I took his teachings and passed it on the best way i could. Greykaiya was his grandaughter, and she was a powerful leader, strong warrior, and a good friend and student. She left to lead her tribe and find her place in the world. What else do you want to know?”

“How can you do it? she says. “Hide your way from the rest of the world when there are real problems going on. The world is in danger, it needs your help.”

“The world is always in danger,” says Vayer. “Do you want me to go and just save everything? There are things going on right now all over the world, even in other worlds you have no clue about. Are you going to stop them too? I can’t be everywhere, so instead I teach others so they can be everywhere else. Does that make sense to you?”

“I…I guess so.” Gamora admits.

“So what else do you need?” he asks.

“I don’t know,” she says. “We are trying to stop a cult from raising Tiamat. Reven says you have portals we can use to get around.”

“Fine,” he says. “Just don’t abuse them and it’s not a problem. If you want training too I can arrange that.”

“We don’t have time for that,” says Gamora.

Vayer shrugs, “Suit yourself.” Gamora turns and begins to walk out. “You know I was found by a human potion maker, a healer. He saved me from slavery as a child. He loved me and raised me like a son. This man was my father, his name was Graver. Do you understand me? My name is Vayer Graverson. This is what mattered do you understand?”

Gamora nods and walks out of the room. Outside the large double doors she walks pass Xenara and Reven. She opens her hand to see her chess piece is nothing but dust. She walks down the steps.

When Xenara fixes the dented piece of the breastplate using mending Reven gasps for breath. He thanks his sister and sticks his head between the double doors, “Oh by the way we need to use the portals to save the world.”

“Dammit,” shouts Vayer lifting up his massive iron chair with one hand. “I already said you can use the fucking gates. Now get out!” Master Vayer hurls the iron chair with incredible force. It sails across the room with terrifying speed. Reven dives out of the way just in time and there is a deafening impact that slams the iron door shut.

“I think you need to take some of your own advice,” says Xenara.

“Huh, what do you mean?” asks Reven.

“Respect,” Xenara reminds him.

“Oh, this? This is just a thing we do. He loves me. Don’t worry about it.” says Reven. “Though seriously we should leave before he changes his mind.”

“I wanted to check out the library before we leave,” says Xanara. “I need to find something.”
Reven nods, “Let’s meet up in about an hour in the main hall.”

Xenara asks Reven, “are you going to be alright if I leave you alone?”

“It’s me," says Reven. “Of course I’m going to be fine.” Xenara shakes her head at her brother and continues down the stairs heading to the library.

After descending to the lower levels the library is rather empty. Looking around discovers a curly red haired halfling woman in an office way in the back. Her curly hair is lifted in a bun and held by a writing device and she is wearing corrective lenses over her eyes. The halfing has her bare feet up reading a book that is floating in front of her, but what interests Xenara the most is that she is wearing ear covers made of some sort of metal. Xenara catches her attention and she removes the headgear, “Need something?,” asks the halfling. Xenara swears she hears music from the headgear.

“Yes,’ says Xenara. “I’m hoping you can help me with something.”

“Yeah? What?” The halfling woman appeared youthful and innocent, but Xenara realizes there is a maturity and confidence to this halfling woman.

“Um,” starts Xenara, “I am looking for – I don’t quite know exactly. I’m looking for more of an application of magic instead of the theory, instead of the abstract. I’m looking for a way to apply some of the knowledge that I have about spells and how I can use them to certain ends. I’m wondering if there’s a way I can do that –”

“Are you asking for a spellbook?” asks the Halfling.

“I don’t know,” says Xenara, “and that’s why I need help. I need a way to learn not just how to cast spells, but when I’m against an opponent who is not a spellcaster, and they’re just using straight force, a way that I won’t be so subject, so weak.”

“Sounds like you’re having an existential crisis. I’m the librarian not a theraphist," says the Halfling.“I’m Karina Twilight.” She raises her hand.

“I’m Xenara,” and she extends her hand. The halfling intending to clasp her arm like a warrior finds an awkward handshake. “Your not with Seven Swords are you?”

“My brother is with Seven Swords,” she says. “Would you still be able to help me?”

“Yep,” she says. “No rules against sharing knowledge.”

“Can you direct me to a book?” asks Xenara.

“There’s a lot of them over there,” the librarian tells her.

“A specific book?” Xenara clarifies.

“If you’re looking for magic stuff you can find it over here," Karina escorts Xenara towards the back where there are some tomes and many old scrolls. "Most are spellbooks of enemies that Seven Sword put down. The librarians tend to just make sure they aren’t cursed or corrupted before shelving them. Most are pretty basic, some have some nasty stuff in there. Some scrolls have principles and combat techniques, I really don’t know what you want but have at it. Just don’t take anything, copies only.”

“Has there been no other spellcaster who has been frustrated with being so fragile?” Xenara asks.

“Of course,” says Karina.

“What do they do? What can I do?”

“Get over it,” she shrugs. “Ever try push-ups?”

“No,” says Xenara. “There must be a way to use what I understand… it just makes so much sense to me, the way that magic works. There must be a ways to use that to accomplish what I want to do.”

“Maybe. But it seems like you’re going to the wrong school.”

“Where would be the right school?”

The librarian shrugs. “Wherever there’s mages. Wizards study magic all their lives and they don’t ever know how to throw a good fireball. Some people have no talent for it. You wanna’ be stronger? Be a better caster or pick up a sword or swing an axe.”

“I don’t think I would be very good at that.”

“Then don’t worry about it. You don’t want to get hit? Stay the fuck out of the way. It’s one of the basic principles of seven swords for mages, fortify, endure, evade, and situational awareness, or more commonly referred to as ’why the fuck are you standing there?"

“Hmm. Thank you,” Xenara says.

“Sure thing, "Karina says with a shrug. “Is that all you needed?” Xenara nods contemplating the conversation. “Let me know if you need something else,” Karina says as she heads back to the office.

Xenara begins looking through the spellbooks. She notices some to have blood stains on the cover and on some pages with some nefarious rituals. She finds a few defensive spells and begins scribing them into her book.

Gamora wanders the main hall and makes her way into a hall that has designs of skies and with what appears to be lines of wind with some leaf patters.

She notices that there are a few different group of students drilling with different instructors. She watches them and she notices they are fast, bursting into action from relaxed positions. Their movements seem to flow and string together striking multiple targets. They usually practice one against a group. Gamora realizes this isn’t anything at all like how she fights and realizes it’s not about weapon but movement.

As she watches a voice says, “Hi.”

She turns to see behind her a towering darkskinned human. His massive frame seems to cast a shadow over Gamora. He is well dressed in fine noble clothes that perfectly tailored to his frame.

“Hey,” says Gamora.

“Like what you see?” says the man.

“Just curious,” says Gamora.

“New trainee?” he asks.

“Probably not, but maybe. What is this fighting style?”

He points to one group, “Tempest dance, it’s a moving blade technique,” he points to another group. “That’s whirlwind strike and that is stepping drills. Not really my cup of tea.”

“Oh? Are you not you not part of this school?” asks Gamora.

He laughs a bellowing laugh, “I am. Wind style doesn’t really suit me.”

“Who was the original teacher here, for this class?”

The man puts his hand to his chin, “I don’t know. The academy has been around for about a century. I’m not that old.”

“My name is Gamora. What’s yours?”

“Garrak.”

“So what brought you here?” asks Gamora.

“Family.”

“Is it worth it?”

“Yeah I like to thinks so,” says Garrak.

“Everything looks so fancy.”

“Is that necessarily a bad thing?” Garrak asks with a bright smile.

“I don’t know. I don’t know if it’s for me,” says Gamora. “A buddy of mine brought me here, well I don’t know if I should call him my buddy. Everyone here seems to hate him.”

“Who’s your buddy?”

“Reven,” says Gamora.

“Oh yeah. He’s all right,” says Garrak with a smile.

“Oh! You don’t hate him! You’re like the one person I’ve met so far that’s interacted with him that wasn’t like ‘get the fuck out.’”

“He’s all right. I mean, kinda goofy sometimes,” says Garrak. Gamora laughs at this. “He’s a good guy and has done some good work. Maybe it’s a front or something. A layered thing or something.”

“Well, we’re all a little bit oniony,” Gamora says.

“As long as you don’t smell like onions,” says Garrak. “And the smell never gets off your fingers.”

Gamora asks, “So do any of these schools here teach you about spiritual stuff?”

“Well, they all do.”

“I mean, like how to see them and things.”

“Oh, shit,” says Garrak. “You’re talking about the super weird stuff. Yeah, sure.”

“Which one?”

“Well, light deals a lot with magic of all types especially divine magic…”

“I don’t do that shit. That’s dumb and for other people. That’s a lot of investment in somebody I’ve never met before,” says Gamora.

“That’s fair, but not all divine magic is about gods. Nature is infused with divinity and your soul is believed to be the purest divine magic,” says Garrak.

“I just, I don’t know. It’s very confusing. Do you have a brochure?”

“You know what?” he says with a smirk, “Next chance I get, I’ll put one together.”

“I guess I just want to make sure I know how to harness my angry parts?” says Gamora.

“Oh! Fire style!” says Garrak his eyes lighting up. “Oh yeah!”

“Maybe?”

“I teach that!” Garrak says with a big smile across his face.

“Oh! So you are an instructor,” says Gamora. “You didn’t mention that.”

“Sorry, I was more focused on answering your questions,” says Garrak.

“I wouldn’t have guessed since you said you weren’t a fan of this,” says Gamora.

“Oh no,” says Garrak. “We teach six different fighting philosophies here each named after an element. Fire style is across the hall. I’ve taken some classes in Wind but meh.”

“So what brings you here?” she asks.

“Oh there’s a girl I see sometimes,” says Garrak. “I mean, it’s not serious, but…”

“Apparently the teachers here have a thing for their students,” Gamora mutters.

“I mean, we’re all adults,” says Garrak. “It’s not a school for kids. Fights get heated, adrenaline…”

“Never had the problem,” Gamora says. “Um…”

“It’s a solitary fighting acadamy. What else are you going to do?” says Garrak with a shrug.

“I guess I was just curious about Wind because I know a spirit named Wind,” says Gamora.

“Groovy,” says Garrak. “I teach Fire style.”

“So you’re of no help to me,” says Gamora, “But I thank you for what you told me.”

“Sure,” says Garrak. “You want to spar or something.”

“Sure. If I ever decide I need to spar I’ll come by the Fire class,” Gamora says and turns and leaves. She walks down the hall and tries not to think about her encounter with her birth father. And tries to make sense of the division of the school, but after awhile just sighs, “This place is the worst. Why the hell did I come here?”

Reven spends some time talking with some of the masters who he trained with during his time in Seven Swords. He confirms that Abigail and Kalu had left some time ago, but there is no word on where they could be. He finds Xenara in the library writing in her spellbook.

“Yes?” Xenara asks.

“Sorry,” Reven says, “I was just wandering around here. Did you find what you need?”

“Yeah,” she says. “But I’ll need about fifteen minutes to finish this spell.”

“Okay, we’ll also need to get some more information on the portals. I only know a few of them…wait, did you say fifteen minutes?”

Xenara nods.

“Okay… it took me nearly an entire day to write Jump.” Xenara stares at him blankly. Reven sighs, “I’m gonna go.”

Reven leaves the library and heads back towardsthe main hall and asks around for Gamora. He eventually finds her sitting in a dark corner in the Hall of Shadow.

“Gamora, are you okay?” Reven asks.

“This place is such a waste of timeeee,” Gamora says, holding the last syllable. She swears she saw something move just out of sight, but as she turns it’s gone.

“I see you’re alone,” Reven says with a grin, “I wouldn’t know what that’s like. I was surrounded by a lot of people when I was here.”

“I swear I heard something,” Gamora twitches. “So the people you were looking for aren’t here? I’m getting nothing out of this little adventure. Where’s your sister?”

“She’s in the library, finishing up some spells,” he says. “She should be ready to go soon.”

“Well at least we got use of the portals,” says Gamora with strained excitement.

“That’s right,” says Reven. “That was all you.”

“That was all me. High five!” Gamora gives Reven a high five which makes a loud clap. The force makes him wince and he realizes that she may have inherited her father’s strength.

A kobold with dark skin and a mustache appears from out of the shadows right in front of them, “Shhhh! This is stealth training, not high five class!”

Gamora nearly jumps out of her skin. She curses. “Sorry, I didn’t see you there.”

“Observers should be respectful and quiet when watching class,” says the angry little kobold.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t know there was anyone in the room,” says Gamora and backs out.

“Reven,” says the kobold staring at him intently.

“Yeah, you…. remember me…um,” says Reven.

“You forgot my name didn’t you…” says the kobold.

Reven takes a step and tries to disappear into the shadows.

“I still see you!”

“I never took your class!” Reven protests.

“Yes…you…did!” insists the kobold instructor as Reven departs the Hall of Shadows.

Xenara finishes copying the Misty Step spell and places the book back on the shelf. She notices a scroll and pulls it from the shelf. It isn’t a spell scroll, but a scroll on Cormyrian War Magic techniques. It’s rather complicated but shows other ways of weaving magic for battle. The information is rather extensive and complex…

“Are you about done?” says Karina.

Xenara turns around surprised by the Halfling, “Um, yes, what is this?"

“Oh that,” says Karina. “That is a scroll of Cormyrian War Wizard principles and techniques. It was donated to the library before my time.”

“I don’t think I could copy this in five minutes, would I. Could I borrow it?” ask Xenara.

“We aren’t supposed to loan out spellbooks, all these texts are not to leave the mountain,” says Karina with a strict face. “But… there are a lot of scrolls and texts. How can anyone keep track of them all…”

“So does that mean…” ask Xenara.

“Someone mentioned portals earlier?,” Karina cuts her off.

“Um…yes, my brother was asking,” Xenara says. “We need to use the portals on our quest.”

“Yeah, Reven. I know Reven,” says Karina with a smirk. “Do you know how to use the portals?” asks the librarian.

“In theory, yes. Is there some kind of manual or list of what each symbol corresponds to?”

“Yes, come along,” says Karina. She walks away and Xenara rolls up the scroll and puts it in her bag. She isn’t one to steal, but it seems to her Karina said it was okay. She follows beind her and finds a table hidden behind a few bookshelves. It is covered with a glass top that protects a map of Torrel underneath. Many locations are marked with arcane runes.

“Ah! That’s helpful,” Xenara says.

“Yeah. It’s probably the thing most folks come to look at the most,” says Karina.

Xenara observes there are 27 locations on the map and draws each rune and writes the name of the corresponding city. She notes that Silverymoon, Waterdeep, Daggerford, Baldur’s Gate, Loudwater, and Khundrukar are the ones found in the Sword Coast.

“It is pretty amazing,” says Xenara. “Being connected with the rest of the world, while being entirely separated.”

“The portal hub has been instrumental for the Seven Sword’s ability to bring aid when needed,” says Karina. “It was commissioned by Ash Nightbreeze when he founded Seven Swords Mountain.”

“What?” asks Xenara.

“You didn’t know?” says Karina. “Not many do.”

Xenara looks at the map an continues to scribe the symbols. She notices that in the heart of Cormyrthar Forest there is no rune but a red X marked on it.

“Why is this one marked off, what is this one?” asks Xenara.

“Oh, we don’t do that one anymore,” says Karina with a somber tone.

“Why not?”

“That was Myth Drannor.”

Xenara nods, “Thank you, Karina. For all your help.”

Karina nods and heads back to her office and puts on her headset.

She finds Reven and Xenara tells him that she’s found the Rune map for the Portals. Elated the three of them head back towards the gate.

“Let’s get out of here,” says Gamora. “We got a succubus to fucking kill.”

As they walk out, Avamir turns to them and nods her head. She asks, “Did you find what you seek?”

“Yes,” says Xenara. “I did.”

“Excellent,” says Avamir looking at Xenara. She begins to flush as she suspects that Avamir can see that she had done something wrong. Xenara feels very guilty about what she has done and opens her mouth to explain, but Reven talks before she has a chance.

“The master told me to take a seat,” says Reven.

“Are you okay?” asks Avamir. Seeming aware of what happened.

“Well, Xenara here is pretty good at fixing things. But, just my pride was wounded a little.”

“No internal bleeding,” says Avamir as more a statement than a question.

“I’m not exactly at 100% but I’m…”

Avamir touches Reven’s shoulder and he feels a warm wave of energy move through him. He feels better.

“Thank you,” Reven says. After a pause, he says, “Avamir.”

She nods her head. “Be safe.”

“Thank you,” says Reven.

Gamora says, “Master Avamir, I just wanted to thank you for allowing us to pass and maybe give you a heads up that a few of us might be returning. Master Vayer gave us permission to use your portals for our mission.”

Avamir points. “The gate is down there and the academy is not open to everyone. If you were given access to the gate system that is fine. But do not abuse the portals, or there will be dire consequences.”

“Fair enough,” says Gamora. “You’re not the only person trying to kill us anyway.”

“No. We won’t try,” says Avamir.

“Okay,” says Gamora.

Reven asks, “Are you sure you don’t know where Kalu is? Just thought I’d ask again. Where Kalu lives?”

“Allow me to frame this in a way I believe you can understand. If Master Vayer spent the last hundred years guarding Kalu’s body while she was imprisoned, do you think he would less protective of her while she is awake? The Master will not divulge this information.” Avamir says.

“Well,” Reven says, “I might counter that with – would she actually be going back home? If it was a secret where she was?”

“That is a good question to ask yourself,” says Avamir.

Reven thinks, “Do you perhaps know where my father is? Have you seen him recently?”

“Your father? The last time I saw your father was when Master Vayer almost choked him to within an inch of his life, about some many odd years ago, right before you left.”

“Yeah, I could see why he wouldn’t want to come back,” says Reven. “Thank you.”

The group descends the stairs of Seven Swords and heads toward the teleportation gate. Gamora starts smacking the panel trying to make it activate, “Take me back to the closet. I want to get back out!

“If you break this gate I will be so mad at you,” snaps Xenara. She looks at the console and checks to make sure it’s intact.

“That thing can take a beating,” says Reven. He steps up the console and begins shifting the runes on the panel.

“I noticed that there was a portal to Myth Drannor,” says Xenara. “The librarian, Karina, she said ‘we don’t go there.’ Isn’t that where we were born? Why wouldn’t they be allowed to go there?”

“From what Dad told me, the place was in ruins,” says Reven. “But still, someday it might be interesting to check and see.”

“I don’t know why they would shut the portal though if it’s just in ruins,” says Xenara. “It’s almost as if it seemed…dangerous.”

“Can you just open the damn door, Reven?” Gamora snaps. “I want to go back to the dumbass closet so we can go back to the dumbass castle so we can kill the dumbass succubus,” Gamora says.

“Waterdeep, got it,” Reven says and he activates the portal, “Ladies first.”

8. Jean Luc and Villia

The party returns with Dru and she sets up her quarters in Mag’s room. Cora, Dru, Osrik, Jean Luc, and Vera meet in the war room to discuss their next move.

Jean Luc states, “Until we know more about where in the Misty Forest we can find the Green Wyrmspeaker we may need to move that down the list of priorities. Rusty’s map might be interesting.”

“First, we need to talk to your wife before we go anywhere,” Cora says.

Jean Luc turns to Vera, “About that orange dahlia – do you think you can – remember in the Serpent Hills? They were beautiful. Do you think you could make me a few of those?”

“Yeah,” says Vera. “Now?”

“Yes, now," says Jean Luc

“How many? Like a bouquet?”

“Three or four,” Jean Luc says.

Vera manifests the flowers and gives them to Jean Luc.

Cora takes note of the number and says, “Five. Flowers should always be given in odd numbers or lucky dozens.”

“That’s a good point,” Jean Luc says. He plucks one of the flowers from the bunch and hands it back to Vera. The druid smiles and tucks it into her hair.

“Are you going to bring her here?” Cora asks.

“She’s still recovering for her injuries,” says Jean Luc. “I was going to go to her room.”

Cora and Jean Luc make their way towards Vilia’s room. As they are about to round the corner Jean Luc turns to Cora, “Can you… just give me a few minutes. To say hello first?”

“Sure,” says Cora.

Jean Luc heads to the door and knocks and waits a few minutes. He knocks again and checks the door. It’s locked. He walks back to Cora who had already made her way towards him.

“She not in? What now?” says Cora.

Jean Luc fidgets, “You have to understand this is something I would like to do politely, with some delicacy. So I’m going to write her a letter and leave it under her door and give it maybe some measure of time. If that doesn’t get a response, I’m going to use Sending. If your interrogation can wait, that’s what I would like to do.”

Cora notices a familiar moon elf woman walking behind Jean Luc as he is talking. Her footsteps are very light and silent. She is impressed by her skill.

Jean Luc continues, “You need to understand, she’s a very, you know… type of person… It will take a delicate touch… She’s standing right behind me, isn’t she?”

Cora gives a nod.

He turns around and sees the tall moon elf with her arm in a sling. She is wearing a loose dress that seems to accent her form and her silver white hair seems to float on air currents. Jean Luc’s heart seems to skip a beat. He takes a few steps toward her and says, “Vilia.”

“Kalyondu,” Vilia greets him.

“Do you have some time? May we speak?”

“I have a few moments,” Vilia allows.

“Should we go somewhere and talk, or…?” Jean Luc trails off. They begin walking toward Vilia’s room.

“Is that Arbor Gold?” Vilia asks, indicating the bottle of wine Jean Luc is holding.

“It is indeed.”

“I thought they only made it in Mist.”

He laughs. “No, no, I think you’ll remember at that party that Bellathor threw?”

“I remember that party extremely well. And it was Arbor Mist.”

“Well my recollection fails me,” Jean Luc says.

“As usual,” she says.

“However, regardless of its quality, it is for you.”

“Thank you,” says Vilia. She takes it with her good hand. When they arrive at her door, she asks, “Will you please hold this?” Jean Luc obliges. She waves her hand and the door unlocks and they enter.

“I have wanted to come and talk to you,” Jean Luc says. “I wrote two or three letters that I threw away. And I’ll be honest, the thing I wanted to say most is when you told the story about yourself and what happened to your companions, I’m very sorry and I can’t imagine what it was like. I’m very sorry for the loss of your friends.”

“Thank you,” she says. The pain of the loss seems to still wear heavy on her he notices.

“My friends and I just spent a week rustling about the Serpent Hills, and we saw these,” Jean Luc indicates the flowers.

“And, why was I not invited?” Vilia asks.

“How were you feeling?” Jean Luc asks, handing her the flowers.

“How am I feeling?” she corrects.

“Yes.”

She smells them and waves a hand. They go into a vase somewhere and she directs a stream of water into it.

“Well, you know how I’m left-handed, so I should be fine.”

“One of the things that I came to say is,” Jean Luc swallows hard, “I wanted to ask you if you would refrain from going back to that awful spot without us. I’d like to go with you, and I have lots of friends who –”

“Why would I throw my life away going to that place alone? When I can back to bring an army.”

“That’s very good to hear,” says Jean Luc.

“But,” Vilia says, coming seductively close. Her voice a soft and sultry. “You wouldn’t have… you wouldn’t try to keep me safe, would you? You’ve always been warm and sentimental, right?”

“I remember an oath to that…” Jean Luc says.

Vilia’s tone becomes suddenly harsh and agressive, “You wouldn’t have told Leosin to bench me, would you? I mean you wouldn’t have actually done something like that, would you?”

“Heavens, no!” Jean Luc protests, backing up toward the window. “I understand that you can’t be caged! If there’s one thing I know about you, it’s that you must roam free. Certainly I understand.”

“Really?” Vilia’s tone darkens.

“I see they left you a beautiful library.”

“Don’t change the subject. It’s obvious I have a good library.”

“I have a friend who would like to come in here and ask you about tactical questions.”

“You’re ducking my question,” Vilia says.

“It was me. Please! Is there anyone else who takes pleasure in irritating you? No! I’m the king!”

Vilia smiles and with a wave of her hand casts Thunderwave. With an explosive bang Jean Luc is ejected out of the window and plummets towards the ground.

Vilia calmly opens the door and calls out into the hallway, “Hello? Jean Luc’s friend? Where are you?”

“Everything alright there?” Cora responds, having heard the explosion of the spell. She enters the room with her hand on her sword.”

“Everything’s fine, darling,” Vilia says. “I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name.”

“It’s Cora.”

“That’s right. Please come in,” she says warmly.

Cora glances at the broken window and a moment later Jean Luc appears in a flash of arcane light. He dusts himself off and Vilia gives him a dirty look.

“Had your chance to say ‘hello’?” Cora asks them.

Vilia sits in the only seat and says, “My loving, respectful husband told me that you had questions for me.”

“Vilia, Cora. Cora, Vilia,” says Jean Luc.

“Oh yes,” says Vilia, “She introduced herself.”

“Yes. Don’t stand by the window,” Jean Luc tells Cora. Vilia waves her hand and the window begins to repair itself. “Don’t show off, dear. It’s unbecoming.” He begins inspecting her library.

“Must you do that?” Vilia asks. “Really? In front of company? You’re going to catalog my library?” Cora becomes visibly uncomfortable. Vilia opens the bottle of wine, offers Cora a glass, who accepts, and pours a glass for herself. She places the bottle on the table.

“Vilia, thank you for taking the time to talk to us,” Cora says and takes a sip of the wine. “So, we have heard at the council your story about the Well of Dragons. I was hoping you would be able to give us more details.”

“I gave a full account of my situation,” says Vilia.

“How did you guys get in?”

Vilia’s voice drops. “We tried… We tried stealth first, but were spotted. We didn’t make it inside.”

“What did you see? Who were you spotted by?”

“Their sentinels. Demons, dragons, Cult members, mercenaries.”

“So not very good stealthing then, you’d say?” Jean Luc interjects.

“No dear. Obviously not very good stealthing,” says Vilia.” Our lack of good stealthing cost the lives of all of my friends. Hopefully with enough force we should be able to break our way through.”

“How strong would you estimate their force is to be, based on what you’ve seen?” asks Cora.

“Seeing as there were several dragons that attacked our position, and not just the tiny little baby ones… it doesn’t look good. And considering that the council can barely get along and decide what to have for lunch, who knows, realistically. I can probably get us in another way, but –”

“Would you think of going back?”

“Of course,” says Vilia, “but I need to find the right tools and it cost the lives of my friends. And I’m not going to let their lives be lost in vain. So, I will find a way.”

“How?”

“If I knew for sure what to do next, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”

Jean Luc scoffs at the name on one of the books in Vilia’s library. They argue about the author’s credentials and writing style. Cora clears her throat reminding them that she is in the room with them.

“Any other questions I can help with?” asks Vilia.

“I would be curious as to how you think you can find a new way in, and perhaps if we can help you.”

“You’re offering your services? I’m sure, very soon, I’ll find something we can do.”
“I’ll leave you to it,” Cora says. “Thank you for the wine and thanks for taking the time to speak with us.”

“Always willing to give time to a fan,” Vilia says. “Close the door behind you, darling.” Cora leaves. Vilia smiles and turns to Jean Luc, “I’m quite surprised, I half expected her strangle me based on her reputation, but she barely reacted?”

“Have you not met people in your travels who –” Jean Luc says.

“Have a sense of humor? I’m not that famous. And she doesn’t look like one who reads a lot.” Vilia pours a glass of wine and hands it to Jean Luc.

“No, that’s been my burden for these many months,” he takes a drink and sighs. “Is there anything I can do for you, anything that you need?”

“You can tell Leosin to let me do whatever the fuck I want to do. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be crass.”

Jean Luc’s tone becomes firmer, “What do you want to do?”

“Whatever it is I want to fucking do. I don’t mean to… oh I was crass again. It must be the wine.”

“I will,” says Jean Luc. “Just humor me. What do you want to do?”

Vilia answers slowly, “I need to do some research, kill a couple goblins or something. I don’t know, I need to vent. I need to find out how to solve this. I can’t do it cooped up in this old, dirty, smelly castle.”

“I thought you loved old, dirty, smelly things,” says Jean Luc. “Ruins…”

“Well, the good kind, but this is Waterdeep, it’s so typical. Silverymoon it is not.”

Jean Luc laughs. “You’re so right about that. All right. Yes, I’ll certainly rescind my order to my boss. You said to her just now that if you had the information that you needed, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. That’s all I came to ask, is that we do have that conversation. This could be the end. I just would like to be around.”

“Is that why you brought me flowers? To have a conversation with me before I go kill myself?”

“If you need anything besides room to fly, let me know. I hope I see you again shortly.”

“We’re in the same castle,” Vilia points out.

“It’s been too long. Good day, madam.”

“Good day, sir,” says Vilia.

Jean Luc leaves the room. To himself he says, “God damn fucking sexy bitch. God damn.” He casts Sending to Bellathor, and asks, “Do you remember that party in ’67 when you had that excellent cask? Was that Arbor Gold or Arbor Mist? It’s Jean Luc, by the way. Hope you’ve had a great 22 years.”

The response comes, “Oh fuck, Jean Luc! How are ya’ mate. Yah, it was Arbor Springs!”

Jean Luc says to himself, “Oh, you’re so right! Oh well, another time.”

Meanwhile Osrik spends the time repairing Leosin’s door and later cast divination. He ends the ritual asking, “Where he might find the succubus.” He sees a vision of the moon set, the sun rise, the sun turns blood red, and blood spills from the sun dripping on a stone floor.

Osrik realizes the floor’s patterns are similar to ones he has seen in Castle Waterdeep earlier that day. He needs to tell the others, but he tries reading his religious text as he waits.

9. Harlin’s House.

In the war room Vera and Dru sit waiting for everyone else to return. Vera casts divination while she waits and asks, "Where might we find the Green Dragon in the Misty Forest?” Her vision starts to fade away and she hears animals, as though she is in the forest. It suddenly stops and becomes eerily silent. She sees a waterfall appear before her.

Once the vision passes she turns to Dru, “Do you have any experience with divination, or omens?” Vera asks.

“No,” says Dru. Vera describes what she saw in her vision. Dru asks, “Did it seem familiar?”

“No. I’ve never been there,” Vera says.

Cora returns to the war room after her visit with Vilia. Vera turns to her, “Cora, can we go now?”

Cora takes a breath and nods, “Sure."

“You finished your thing?”

“Yes. You know he might not be there still," Cora says.

“Yes, but if he said he was going home…”

The two of them borrow some horses and ride to Harlin’s house and arrive twenty minutes later. The house is the same, and Vera notes the outline of the second door Osrik had constructed and hid. Vera and Cora walk up to the main door and knock. The dog barks in the back of the house and Cora looks at the street cautiously.

Vera calls out, “Harlin?” and knocks a second time.

After a pause, Riane says, “_You have to stop with this obsession with this man._”

“Isn’t there something in there that I’m supposed to get?” asks Vera.

“_How am I supposed to know_?”

“You told me that.”

“_No, I said that there’s something interesting in there_.”

“Same thing," snaps Vera.

“_So you intend to use him to get what you need inside?_" asks Riane.

“Of course not. But I have multiple reasons for being here.”

Cora senses something amiss and the hairs on the back of her neck stand up, after a couple minutes, she tells Vera, “I don’t think he’s here.”

The door opens with a creak. They see a small, ten-year-old boy open the door.

“Hi,” says Vera. “Is Harlin here?” She notices the boy has greenish markings like a tattoo around his neck and arms that seem incredibly familiar to her.

“Hello,” says the boy.

“Tengri?” Vera asks tentatively.

“Hello. How are you, child?” says the young boy.

“I’m okay. What are you doing here? Are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” says Tengri. “Come inside.”

“Oh, this is Cora,” Vera says, indicating her friend.

“I’ve heard of Cora,” says Tengri.

“Cora, this is Tengri, my… master?” Vera says.

“I’ve heard of you too, I just expected you to…” Cora trails off.

“Be a direwolf?” asks Vera. “Yeah.”

“Vera and Cora enter the home and Tengri closes the door behind them. The two of them notice there is no physical lock, just runes that create locks all around and seal the door.

“I’ve been wondering how to find you, or if you were even alive.”

Tengri says, “Yes, I’m alive.”

“How?”

“Reincarnation. It’s complicated. It makes you come back to life as a different body. Although it seems to work differently for me. Because I was Awakened, I guess the spell didn’t know what kind of consciousness to… I don’t know. But here I am. Ten years late.”

“Ten years late?”

“It should have just given me a new form, but I don’t know why it did it this way.”

“You weren’t just reincarnated?”

“No, I was physically reborn in this body as an infant,” Tengri tells the half-elf. “Very traumatic.”

“Did your consciousness not come until later?” Vera asks.

“No, my consciousness was fully developed.”

“Then why do you say ten years late?”

“Because it took me ten years to get here.”

“To get here, to Waterdeep.”

“To grow to this. An infant does not have the strength to walk. I waited until I was strong enough to run, and then I ran. Here.”

“Why here?” asks Cora. At the same time, Vera asks, “why did you come here?”

Tengri answers, “I saw it.”

“Of course,” Vera says.

Cora begins walking around the house.

“I would not do that, young lady,” Tengri says to Cora. “This house has very, very many traps.”

“It used to be her aunt’s home," says Vera.

“I fully understand that and I know this used to be her aunt’s home,” Tengri says. “It’s one of the reasons it was chosen as a safe house.”

Cora asks, “Why was it chosen?”

“We are being very cautious and we figured this was a place that most overlook, and in a lot of ways, it was done for your benefit,” Tengri says.

“My benefit?” Cora asks.

“Well, you wouldn’t want anyone else buying this place, renovating it and turning it into a shop or anything. At least this place is familiar to you, or at least that’s the story I was told.”

“Who decided this?” asks Cora.

“Yes, who’s we?’” asks Vera.

They see Harlin come in from the next room, wearing no armor, just shorts and a loose shirt. He walks in a weird awkward circle. He says, “Tengri, seriously I’m tired of cleaning up after you…” and looks at the women.

“H-hi ladies. This is awkward. Um, hmm. Didn’t tell me… why didn’t you wake me up?”

“I just thought this would be be amusing, that’s all,” says Tengri.

“Hello, Harlin,” says Cora with a laugh.

He stammers. “Hi.”

“Hi!” says Vera.

“Hi,” says Harlin. “Let me put some pants on.” He walks out and comes right back, now wearing pants.

“I’ll give you two a moment,” Cora says, and walks off to look around the house.

“Harlin, I have a lot to tell you,” Vera says. “But I have one very important question for you first. Do you have my dagger?”

“This?” He pulls it out of a sheath and hands it to her.

“Thank you. Why did you keep this?” Vera asks.

“It was important,” Harlin says. “And I didn’t want to leave it lying around in some old Dwarven cave.”

“What have you been up to?”

“Oh, this and that.”

“Two days. It was supposed to be two days.”

“We got into some trouble.”

“What were you up to?” Vera asks again.

“I was helping out an old friend with a thing. Tengri kinda helped.”

“How did you connect with Tengri? How did this happen?”

“About a year ago,” Harlin says, “I met him in a village and he told me that he knew you.”

“I’ve spent basically the last eight years looking for both of you, do you realize that?”

“Here we are,” Harlin says. “I wish I had better… furniture?” Vera notices there’s not really anywhere to sit. “I mean, this is really meant to strategically… lock people in and it’s a kill zone, really, if we ever get attacked. This place is really not very comforting.”

“So, do you actually live here then?”

“I mean, I sleep here sometimes. Just kind of always moving, doing stuff, trying to keep busy.”

Vera asks, “Are you going to join us, with what we’re up to now? If you know about it?”

“I know what you guys do. Um, kind of got this other thing going on.”

“Want to tell me about it?”

“Maybe later. Don’t want to distract you guys from what you’re doing. I mean the whole Cult of the Dragon thing, Tiamat, fire, kinda hell-on-earth kind of thing. That’s kind of important. Don’t want to distract you guys right now.”

“I made a commitment to helping out with that,” Vera says.

“I kind of did the same,” Harlin tells her.

“Something different?”

“Yeah. I mean, I went to help Reven out because he needed the help. So how have you been?”

“It’s been an interesting eight years," says Vera.

“We should talk about it. I bet you have a lot of stories. Maybe I can tell you some of mine," says Harlin.

“I’m sure I owe you a drink or something," says Vera with a smile.

Harlin laughs, “Oh, a few I’m sure.”

“Okay, well, are you going to be around?”

“Probably not," says Harlin.

“No?”

“Well, we have Sending Stones. That was a good idea,” Harlin says.

“Didn’t really help much when Dru was the first person I hear.”

“Yeah, I didn’t really know how to open that one. So… yeah.”

“Why this place?” Cora asks Tengri. “Who decided?”

Tengri shrugs, “Why is any place a place at all?”

“Be real,” Cora says.

“I am real,” Tengri insists. He calls out to the other room, “Hey, Harlin. Cora’s asking questions.”

Vera looks at Harlin. “We can come back to this later.”

“I’m sorry, I did not mean to interrupt,” Cora says.

“That’s okay,” says Vera.

“I thought Tengri would have the answers,” Cora says.

Tengri shrugs. “I’m human. I learned to lie.” He walks away.

“So, I just had a question of why this place,” Cora says again. “And who chose it?”

“I’ll tell you,” Harlin says, “ if Selvriane waits outside.”

“Really?” asks Vera.

“I mean, I’d rather you don’t… find out,” Harlin says.

Vera thinks. “Fine,” she agrees and walks outside.

Harlin turns to Cora. “Okay, you want to know?” He knocks on the floor and the floor disappears, revealing stairs going down. Cora looks at Harlin and cautiously descends the stairs. There is a bright flash of light.

About twenty minutes later Cora exits the building with Harlin close behind her. Cora seems confused.

“Are you okay?” Vera asks.

“Yeah, I’m okay," says Cora as she mounts her horse. "I guess I’ll see you tomorrow,” she says to Vera. She nods to the two of them and rides off.

“Are you staying?” Harlin asks Vera.

“Let’s go get a drink,” Vera says.

“Yeah, okay," says Harlin. The two walk off arm not say anything and just walk silently enjoying each other’s company. They enter a local pub and take a seat and orders some drinks.

“Why was that so awkward?” Vera.

“I don’t know,” Harlin laughs. “It really shouldn’t have been.”

“I guess it’s been eight years,” Vera says.

“Ten,” says Harlin.

“Oh, yeah. Well, it’s a different amount of time for each of us,” Vera says. "How did you find Tengri?”

“We just crossed paths," Harlin shrugs.

“It’s very strange,” Vera reaches out her hand to Harlin and makes a show of her ring. He smiles warmly and takes her hand. "So that riddle that Jean Luc asked about?”

“Oh yeah,” Harlin says. “It was a trap and basically the room was flooding and I had to figure out how to open the door. There was this weird riddle and basically there was this deck of cards and I had to find the right one and use it as the key. It was really intricate. A pain in the ass since a wet card gets floppy and makes a bad key, but I managed."

“Yeah, you’re alive and that’s great,” says Vera.

“Well the key made the entire floor cave in. Threw my back out, but I’m okay," Harlin laughs, “I’m here.”’

“Yeah, well, you’re a little older,” says Vera, “But you’re still pretty handsome.”

“Oh, thanks,” says Harlin. “Well, it wasn’t all completely for nothing. I have something for you.”

“What?” asks Vera. Harlin pulls out a fist sized opal shaped into a lotus flower. “Whaa…What is this?”

“I think you know what that is,” Harlin says. “It was really hard to get. Whoever hid it didn’t want it to be found.”

“How did you know about this?” Vera asks.

“There’s things that I learned over the last twelve years. Tengri helped me find it. And you need all four pieces to put it back together.”

“So you had two, and I had two, and now I have…” says Vera.

Idiot! What are you doing, snaps Rianne.

“Oh. Hmm," Vera blushes.

Harlin laughs. “You’re really not good at keeping secrets.”

“No,” says Vera. “But I shouldn’t have to keep any from you.”

“That’s fair,” says Harlin.

“So this is for me. I may have this?”

“Of course. Unless you’d rather not have it," says Harlin.

“No, I think I should," says Vera.

“I think so, too,” says Harlin.

“Thank you, but why… you understand what this is?” asks Vera. “I guess you must think very highly of me.”

“No,” says Harlin. “I mean, yes. It just that you’re supposed to have them. At least that’s what I’m told.”

“Tengri told you this?”

“Yeah,” says Harlin.

“Well, I certainly trust him. Although, it’s weird to see him as a ten-year-old boy now.”

“You should see him when he gets mad.”

“Does he throw tantrums?”

“Something like that," says Harlin.

“You gonna tell me about the thing you showed Cora?” asks Vera. “I don’t understand why I’m being kept out of the loop on this.”

“You probably don’t want to know,” says Harlin.

“But why… you think I just can’t keep a secret…”

“Well, I think you’ve already proved that point to me," laughs Harlin.

“Or it’s just too dangerous…”

Harlin puts his squeezes Vera’s warmly and says, “It’s fine.”

“Alright, so any other adventures you’d like to tell me about, or anything specific?” Vera asks.

“Well, I can tell you about what I found in the Undermountain,” he laughs while he orders more drinks. They talk for what seems like hours and later in the evening they go back to Harlin’s house for the night.

10. Evening at Castle Waterdeep

Osrik frustrated with his studies on Dwarven religion heads out on horseback to the Plinth, the Interdenominational Temple found in the Trades Ward. He finds a dwarven priest of Moradin, “I’m just looking for guidance, help."

“What do you want to know?” asks the dwarf.

“I’m just trying to understand this," he holds out the holy text. "And I’m not getting it. I need help,” Osrik says. “I thought I could do this by myself, but…“

“Well, son,” says the priest. “You’re holding the book upside down." Osrik looks down at the book shocked, and the priest laughs a boisterous laugh, "I’m just kidding.”

“I’ve tried almost everything,” says Osrik. “You know, my path to the Wanderer hasn’t been a straight one.”

“But, it’s the Wanderer. It’s not supposed to be straight," says the priest. "It’s not about the results, no. It’s about the journey. ”

“Thank you for your time," says Osrik. “I’ll have to meditate on that.”

The priest grabs Osrik’s shoulder and asks, “want some ale for the road?”

Osrik accepts and the priest pours a generous mug full for Osrik and himself. The priest toasts, “Morndinsamman!”

Osrik repeats, “Morndinsamman!” and drinks.

He leaves the temple and donates some gold and walks back to the castle leading the horse contemplating what he has learned. After a few mintues he sees a red fiery streak in the air heading towards the castle. This looks like Mag’s flight spell. Osrik mounts his horse and picks up the pace back to the Castle.

After departing from Harlin’s house Cora makes her way back to Castle Waterdeep. Reven, Jean Luc, Gamora, Dru, and Xenara reunite and discuss the discoveries of the day.

Jean Luc after acquiring some pineapple from Herald summons Bruce so he can enjoy. Mags rejoins them, soon followed by Cora, and not long after Rusty. They have dinner and Leosin joins them, they discuss their strategy about hunting the Succubus.

While they all agree that the Misty Forest is a priority they don’t have any information and feel that traveling to Loudwater and checking the map may be more of a leap of faith that they hope will pay off. The party is divided about either course of action but eventually agree to move forward after handling the Succubus.

Osrik discusses his vision and he interprets it to mean that the Succubus will be within the wing of the castle close to the Open Lord’s office, based on the patters of the floor in his vision, and it will be a few hours before sunrise based on the setting of the moon and rising of the sun.

They agree to rally before morning to search for the Succubus.

Gamora stands up and turns to Osrik, “Oh! Yeah! Also need a new black bishop. When you can."

Osrik takes the shaping hammer and strikes the wall which shapes a small piece of it into a dark stone bishop and he tosses it to her.

Gamora catches it and smiles, “Thanks, bye.”

Jean Luc walks up to Cora is standing by Reven, and takes her hands and says, “Vilia, you’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever known and you fill my heart with something more than joy. Have a good night.”

He looks right at Reven with a serious glare and walks away.

Reven looks confused and turns to Cora.

Cora simply smiles and shrugs.

11. The Seductive Fiend
1st day of Hammar 1490 DR the Year of the Star Walker’s Return

It is in the early hours of the morning that the party wakes and searches the halls of Castle Waterdeep. Osrik finds the familiar floor pattern Using his divination magic he casts Locate Creature and sense a fiendish presence down the hall where the Neverwinter delegation is housed.

Osrik identifies the door where he senses the fiendish aura. Jean Luc positions himself by an outer window facing the rear window of the room, in case the succubus tries to escape.

Cora listens by the door and hears something rhythmic can’t figure out what it is. Osrik indicates that the succubus is still in the room. Cora looks through the keyhole and sees a pool of blood. She hears gasping and decides not to wait any longer. She slams her shoulder into the door and Gamora reacts with her and the two knock the door off it’s hinges.

Before them lies a Dwarf dead in his own pool of blood, and hanging by a noose from the rafters is an aged man in robes. Cora and some of the others recognize this as Iarno. The old mage is trashing about gasping breathlessly for air.

Between them is a beautiful fiendish woman with a long tail and long batlike wings. She filches at the party’s entrance. Cora attacks the succubus with her bow leaving grievous wounds.

Gamora leaps and cuts the rope that is hanging Iarno and he falls in a heap on the ground. She then closes the gap and strikes the succubus but she evades the blow.

Osrik lifts his hand and releases a bolt of brilliant light that strikes the Succubus. Her body is wrapped in divine light and Dru slides in with Hummingbird drawn, the blade singing its death song as she drives the blade deep into the succubus heart. The creature shreeks and bursts into dust.

Jean Luc enters the room in a flash of arcane light and are soon joined by Xenara and Reven.

Osrik checks on the Dwarf, who appears to be a delegate from Mithral Hall. The Dwarf has been dead too long for Osrik to revive with revivify. ,

Gamora takes the rope off Iarno, who is gasping and retching. “Are you alright?” she asks.

“Thank you, yes,” says Iarno between gasps of breath.

“What happened here?” Cora asks.

“Oh, hello,” says Iarno. “That thing got in my mind.” Osrik casts Cure Wounds on Iarno. “Thank you,” says Iarno.

“Did she do this to him, or did you?” asks Gamora.

Iarno sighs and looks at them all. He says, “I am embarrassed to say this was me. Maybe it was better if I ended up dead.”

“I mean, did she make you kill him?” Gamora asks.

“She made me do things I should not have been doing,” says Iarno.

“Like what?” asks Gamora.

“This seems to be happening a lot to you,” says Cora.

“Well, I do have a weakness for the ladies. The creature did something to my mind, and I don’t understand how, but she compelled me to do things I normally would not have done,” Iarno says.

“Such as?” Osrik asks.

“Relinquish information,” says Iarno.

“What kind of information?” asks Gamora.

“Council notes,” says Iarno.

“If we know specifically what she was after, we might be able to find out who she was working for and who she was giving this information to,” says Osrik.

“Anything, everything. She wanted me to give everything. She wanted me to tell her information,” says Iarno. “I met her at some brothel.”

“What did she look like?” asks Osrik.

“Not very inspiring,” says Iarno. “Blondish hair, brown eyes, a little bit of meat in the right places. Pretty enough to catch my interest but probably wouldn’t catch too many people’s eye. This poor soul, this Dwarf here, he seemed to know what was happening and confronted me. And I… was compelled to killed him.”

“How did you end up on the rope?” Cora asks.

“She told me to kill myself,” Iarno says.

“How do we know you were under her sway? You do realize you’re going to have to try to prove any sort of innocence, right?” asks Gamora.

Iarno sighs. “I am well aware of that. This is not going to go well for Lord Neverember. He already has enough shame on his house right now. Damn it, there goes my career. Well, I guess retirement is inevitable for everyone.”

“Do you know who she was giving this information to?” asks Cora.

“No idea,” says Iarno. “Likely our enemies.”

“Do you know if anybody else was under her control like you?” asks Cora.

“Allow me one bit of snarkiness, Madam Cora,” says Iarno, “If you were a master infiltrator or spy of any sort, would you tell your targets anything?”

“Perhaps if she was as confident in herself as you are,” Cora says.

“That’s a fair statement," he concedes. "No, she was not as confident or as foolish as I am,” says Iarno.

“What did our deceased friend say to you?” asks Osrik.

“It’s hard to remember. I don’t know the exact words but I think he was threatening to expose me,” says Iarno.

“How did he find out?” asks Cora.

“I think he stumbled upon my meeting and followed me,” says Iarno. “Thought I was being suspicious, I don’t know. Ah, hello gentlemen.” Some guards enter the room.

“We seem to have found a leak,” says Gamora. “And a murderer.”

“Alleged murderer,” corrects Iarno, “I was compelled. But, yes.” He unties his belt and throws it on the ground. “I am going to submit until this is all clarified.”

“That is for the best,” says Osrik.

Iarno allows himself to have his hands tied and follows the guards begin to escort him out of the room. “Thank you again, Madam Cora, for saving my life,” says Iarno.

“I’m the one who cut you down!” protests Gamora.

“I remember well, Madam Gamora. This is going to be a terribly bad day,” says Iarno on his way out.

The group looks around. There is just a pile of dust. Reven collects some. Out the window, the sun appears to be beginning to rise. They discuss whether or not Osrik’s vision has come to pass.

“You used to be able to do that thing where you could talk with the dead,” says Gamora. She asks. “Are you able to do that today?”

“I cannot. I did not pray for that spell this morning,” Osrik tells her.

“Ugh. This is going to cause a war inside this building,” Gamora says.

Osrik leaves the room to get someone from Mithril Hall. He tries to explain the situation with the succubus but as expected this causes a mix of outrage and fury among the dwarves. “This man was compelled by a fiend, which was saw. It turned to dust. The man seemed genuinely remorseful," Osrik tries to explain but it seems to have little sway with them.

“I need to see that shit with my own eyes,” says Brawnanvil as he pushes past to see what has happened.

As the attention begins to mount Dru sneaks away unnoticed. Others eventually make their way back to their quarters while Osrik makes a full detailed non-partial report and signs. None of the other party members seem interested to sign it. interested.

Jean Luc after the encounter leaves and dashes to Vilia’s room, he arrives out of breath and knocks on the door. “Vilia, if you’re in there, please open the door.”

A moment later and door opens, the lovely moon elf stands barely clothed in a nightshirt her hair windswept as always.

Out of breath, he continues, “I just… we had been concerned that there was an infiltrator…. I was worried about you… and I just wanted to make sure you were okay… but you’re fine, so I’ll leave you alone…I just wanted to make sure you were okay… is that what you wear to bed now? When did you start wearing nightgowns? That’s…“

Vilia grabs Jean Luc by the front of his robe and pulls him inside the room and the door slams shut.

Back in the war room Gamora enters saying, "The wormy little shit was right. He gets to live for another day. He said one of the Thayans might have summoned her, he doesn’t seem to like them much.”

“Who told you that?” asks Cora.

“Eh, I went down there,” Gamora says. “I kinda went down there to gloat a little bit. ‘Cause we killed that thing.”

“Do you think that was smart?” asks Cora.

“Probably not,” says Gamora. “But I don’t really care anymore. I’m sick of this building! It does make me a little nervous that fighting her wasn’t as challenging as I thought it would be. But we’re also going to get some information out of it.”

“I’m still not convinced that Varram is being completely honest with us, “ says Cora.

“Neither am I,” says Gamora.

“He’s still working for the Cult of the Dragon," says Cora.

“We’re going to leave him in that cell to rot forever. It doesn’t matter," says Gamora.

“He could still be communicating with them. This could be just a ploy,” says Cora.

“How?”

“Sending?”

“Isn’t he wearing shackles that prevent him from doing magic?” asks Gamora.

“I don’t trust it,” says Cora.

“I mean, neither do I,” says Gamora.

“Perhaps I’m just being paranoid,” says Cora.

“No,” says Gamora. “He’s a shitty little shit.”

“Certainly, to be alive this long,” says Cora.

“I don’t care if we kill him right now, or we put him in a prison cell,” says Gamora. “So now we have to play by the rules. I mean, what else are we going to do with him now?”

“Keep him there,” says Cora. “Alright, so, have we decided where we are going next?”

“I don’t know. Anywhere but here,” says Gamora.

“Tiamat’s still gathering her army while we’re sitting here,” Cora says.

“The lords here need to gather their armies, too,” says Gamora. “But all they can do is fight with each other. They’re pretty much useless. We don’t exactly have many points to go on, except going to the Well of Dragons and Misty Forest and going after that girl who disappeared three years ago. Short of chasing down Talis, and running her through, which seems as bad an idea as going to the Well of Dragons, I don’t have any ideas.”

“What’s the deal with the map?” Dru asks.

“We don’t know what was on it,” says Cora. “Perhaps there is something important there as it was sold to us by Jokel.”

“If it gets me out of this castle, lead the way,” says Gamora. “I’m down for treasure hunting.”

“But we don’t know how this will help us against Tiamat?" says Xenara. "I’m just concerned if this goes into the category of allowable for the Seven Swords Portals.”

“It should be fine,” says Reven. “Abuse means running from the law or things like that.”

“Yes," says Leosin. "Generally, you use it for bad things, that abusing.” says Leosin.

“Thanks for clarifying,” says Xenara.

“Also,” says Leosin, “you might want to make sure that not too many people know how to use them.” He looks at Reven. “You may want to make sure that none of them know how to activate them. Also good job with the Succubus. Good night."

“Do you know how to activate them?” asks Xenara.

“Of course, I’ve used them a few times already," says Reven.

might be talking about the closet,” Gamora says.

“We need Rusty and Vera and then we can head out,” says Cora.

“Where is Vera, anyway?” asks Gamora. “She disappeared like forever ago.”

“Harlin’s,” says Cora.

“Where’s Jean Luc for that matter?” asks Mags. “Look, it’s still rather early. Lets get a bit more rest before we head out and give everyone a chance to get their stuff sorted.”

As some depart Mags pulls Dru aside, “I forgot to mention since I haven’t seen you in forever, but one of the jobs these guys gave us was to go find someone you know.”

“Okay?” says Dru.

“Maccath,” says Mags.

“Are we going there now? Is that what this is?” asks Dru.

“She’s some sort of expert on dragon lore and ruins and a member of the Arcane Brotherhood,” says Mags.

“Ruins is probably correct,” says Dru.

“Well, she went somewhere up north in the Sea of Moving Ice and they never found her again,” says Mags. “I’m not sure if you knew about Maccath.”

“No, I didn’t," says Dru. "I don’t know what will happen if our paths cross again. I can’t necessarily keep the promise that I made you. I said if I ever see her again… but who knows. Circumstances may have changed.”

“Yeah,” says Mags. “Probably for the best. People change.”

“I understand, but sometimes they don’t,” says Dru.

“And then you kill them," sighs Mags sarcastically. "I’m sure you’ll dot the right thing, regardless. Just wanted you to know,” says Mags.

“Thank you. I appreciate the forewarning,” says Dru.

“But it doesn’t seem like anyone is interested in going there anyway…” says Mags. “I guess you’ve got nothing to worry about.”

“That could be good,” says Dru.

Xenara retreats to her room and washes the Gauntlets of Ogre Strength and dons them. After an hour her body swells with physical strength and muscles strengthen and swell and she feels stronger than ever.

12. Epilogue

Selvriane’s eyes snap open and her green eyes turn to see Harlin asleep. She squints her eyes menacingly and opens her hand a white burnning blade forms in her hand humming in and out of synch with the world around her. She thrusts her arm to drive it in his chest, but her body freezes in place.

Harlin’s eyes snap open, “Riane, why do you have to do that?”

Vera blinks her eyes and is awake, “What a strange dream.” She mumbles. As Harlin enters the room with breakfast. “Morning love, some food before you go off and save the world.”

Next: Season 3. Episode 8 – Deep Dive

Previous: Season 3. Side Story – Heart of the Black Trident

View
The White Sparrow's Song
Season 3, Session 6

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

Jean Luc, Gamora, and Osrik discuss the several options before them. They agree to interrogate Varram in the morning but debate if they should return to the Tomb of Diderius to investigate the chamber Cora and Reven found or head North to the Sea of Moving Ice to search for Maccath the Dragon Lore expert.

Gamora suggests waiting until after they speak with Varram in case he has new information.

Jean Luc suggests if it is worth trying to take the White Dragon mask from Talis.

Cora, expresses her disapproval of Jean Luc contacting Talis, “She has learned far more from us than we have learned from her. This will give her an advantage if she moves against us. The mask is safer in her possession, she will be able to hold off anyone who tries to take it from her. When the time comes if we need it we know where to find it. The other masks should be the priority.”

“She’s dangerous,” adds Gamora, “But she’s dangerous to the Cult too.”

“I keep hearing these mask are powerful,” asks Osrik. “Do we know what they do?”

“They do two things,” says Jean Luc. “Augments a warrior much like any magic item, but I believe it’s a necessary component to the ritual to free Tiamat.”

“There is no way to destroy it,” ask Gamora.

“Oh there must be,” says Jean Luc. “Though I’m drawing a blank on how to do it at the moment.”

“Would destroying just one mask prevent her return?” ask Gamora.

“That…would be ideal,” says Jean Luc.

They discuss on possible solutions and spells to hide the Black Dragon Mask in their possession.

Xenara rather exhausted from the previous battle turn interrupts, “Could we possibly, um maybe discuss this over breakfast. I am only able to process every other word being said.”

“You do look pretty bad over there,” says Gamora

“I’m… I’m fine.” She replies.

“Well you took a nasty tumble, we all did. It was a pretty bad day,” says Gamora trying to reassure her.

“Thank you, for the reminder,” says Xenara.

With that the tiny hut is dispelled and they make they begin to retire for the evening.

Jean Luc grabs a bottle of liquor and heads to Leosin’s room. Seeing no signs that he is awake he decides to leave it for another time. Jean Luc instead returns to his room and begins looking over the Mulhorandi book titled, Transubstantiality across Potentialities which he found in the Tomb of Diderius. The manuscript reads like a journal of an individual who had visions through time and space. The idea of probable time, multiple futures and pasts, and co-existing universes are all rather interesting.

Osrik returns to his room and continues his studies on Morndinsamman rites, history, and lore. There is a knock on the door and Reven is standing in his doorway.

The half-drow makes a rusted battleaxe appear in his hand. “So this is Hew, I found this it a long ago when we fought a green dragon,” he begins. “It has the ability to destroy anything made of wood. It’s a little rusty, but you know… I figured a little rusty axe for… yeah you get it.”

Osrik takes it and looks it over. “It’s beautiful,” as he notes the Dwarven design and magic runes on its blade.

“I’d like you to have it,” Reven says.

“I appreciate that, thank you very much,” says Osrik as looks over the axe.

Reven returns to his room and begins to meditate forging a weapon bond with the black blade called Raven. “So, here we are… It was a tough fight, but you’re beautiful. Hope it’s worth it, so show me what you can do.” There is a moment of silence and there seems to be no response from the blade. Reven dismisses it in the pocket dimension and goes to bed for the evening.

Cora spends time meditating with her bow and praying to Solonor Thelandria.

Gamora crashes in bed and falls asleep her head aching from the events of the day.

Riane returns to Vera’s room and lies down. “I’m done. This place is boring. I’ll leave the rest to you.” Rianne’s purple hair shifts spectrums into the vibrant green color. Vera returns in control of her body.

Vera takes a deep breath and concentrates using powers to cast divination asking, “Will we be successful in interrogating the White Wyrmspeaker?” A moment later there is a knocking on her window, three times as she sees a white sparrow fly away. Troubled by this omen she ponders its meaning until she falls asleep.

Jean Luc wakes for his medication at nearly 8 in the morning. A far later rise than he is used to but it can’t be helped. He locks his books away in his footlocker and begins to start the day when to his surprise Xenara knocks on his door. “Hello, do you happen to have an empty book laying around?”

“Yeah, I think I have something.” He takes an empty spellbook and hands it to her. “Will this do?”

“Yes, I think it will do for now, thank you.” Xenara says.

“Are you working on more diagrams?”

“I’m not sure,” she says.

“Well, whatever it is, I’m excited to see it.”

“Can I use your desk?”

“By all means,” Jean Luc tells Xenara. She sits and immediately starts scribing into the book. Jean Luc observes her work and is fascinated. From her own memory she is scribing arcane formulas. He realizes she is scribing a spellbook. He observes her style and it seems the equations have a hybrid elven and Nethrese influence but some very modern structure designs. The work is structured, condensed, and more advanced than his spell formulas, but despite this he can tell she is writing the fly spell.

Jean Luc goes through his collection and finds a tome in Netherese. “Xenara, I certainly can’t read all of these immediately and I thought you might be interested in this.” He puts the book into her bag. She looks up, not wholly engaged. “In your spare time, I thought you might enjoy it,” he says.

“Thank you,” she says. “Though her focus is largely directed to her writing.”

The party meets later in the day over brunch. Everyone except Xenara is present.

Jean Luc says to Reven, “You know what’s very interesting? The practice we were talking about the other day? Your sister’s doing it right now. She asked me for an empty journal and then sat down to writing a relatively complex spell in her own book.” Jean Luc smiles rather impressed, “I’m willing to bet you are under the impression she has not spent a lot of time training to do such things.”

“Correct. She hasn’t made it known she was doing such things. I find that interesting,” Reven confirms.

“Yes, so do I,” Jean Luc says, laughing. “She seemed very focused and I was going to bring her a plate. Do you know what she likes?” Reven hesitates not knowing how to respond.

“Everybody likes eggs,” says Gamora.

“I don’t like eggs,” retorts Jean Luc.

“You’re insane,” says Gamora.

“Well, maybe,” Jean Luc allows. Gamora stuffs her face. Mags disturbed Gamora’s gorging picks up a plate and walks out.

“You bring up an interesting question,” Reven says, “Because I’ve been so focused trying to figure out my sister’s fighting styles and other things about her, that I never asked her simple questions like ‘what do you like to eat’ or ‘what do you even like at all.’”

“Let’s experiment,” Jean Luc says, and makes a variety of plates for Reven’s sister. They take the food to Xenara, who has worn out one of Jean Luc’s quills and gone through many pages of the spellbook. He peeks over to see that she seems to have finished the Fly spell and is now working on Lightning Bolt. She seems to be writing the spell in an exceptionally efficient, compressed way, an attribute found in writings of archmages. He leaves the food at the edge of the table.

“Is that all things you already know, or things you are experimenting with?” Jean Luc asks Xenara.

“Its things in my head. I’m trying to get it out so it’s not just floating there,” she tells him. She sees the food, including fruit, meat, breads, eggs and grabs some fruit with one hand. Xenara bites into the fruit and continues working with her other hand.

“So she’s a fruit person,” Reven comments.

Jean Luc nods, “Reven, as we did have plenty of time on our extremely long journey to the Serpent Hills, I had time to think about why I failed previously with Featherfall. And I would like to give it a second chance, if you’re up for it.”

“Absolutely!” Reven agrees. Jean Luc takes Reven to the roof.

Vera goes over to Gamora, who is stuffing her face with eggs.

“Gamora,” the druid starts, “You asked me if I could teach you the thing that I was doing when I healed everyone earlier…”
“What?”

“You said I should teach you that trick someday.”

“Oh with the switchies?”

“Huh? No, no. When I healed everybody.”

“Oh yeah, that’s cool,” Gamora says, recognition on her face.

“What did you see?” Vera asks.

Gamora shrugs. “Her…” she says softly.

“You saw her during it?”

Gamora looks confused as she chomps a mouthful of eggs. “You’re going to have to be more specific.”

“Okay, well next time, you tell me,” Vera says.

“Oh, I will,” Gamora says spitting out some egg particles. “Or maybe I just need nourishment.”

Back in the war room, Herold enters carrying a fresh supply of arrows for Cora. She asks him, “Has anyone seen talked to the prisoner? Where are they keeping him?”

“He is being kept in the dungeons and….” he starts but is abruptly cut off by an excited Vera.

“Oh! I cast divination last night and asked about interrogating…A white bird showed up pecking at the window…I don’t know if it means yes or no. If it’s worth our time. Anyone got a feel for these things?”

Herold betrays a small amount of annoyance at the small druid. Cora turns to her clenching her jaw, “What do that have to do with the question, whether anyone has talked to him?

Vera looks confused, “I just want to know if it will be worth it for us.”

Cora sighs making a show of dismissing her ramblings. She turns back to Herold, “Has anyone talked to him yet?”

Vera deflated, “Okay.”

Herold continues, “Not yet. We are letting him. Sweat-it-out, as they say. He is in chains and his undergarments.”

“Very well,” says Cora. “Please inform us if anyone speaks to him before us.”

Vera apologizes to Herold as he departs. Cora stares at Vera for a long moment. “Should…should I leave?” she asks.

“No. I am concerned about the flow of information,” says Cora. “As nice as Herold is, I would rather if you know or learn anything that information should stay with us. I suggest being more cautious about the information you let be known in front of other ears. So now tell us about this divination.”

Vera nods, “So we asked about interrogating the White Wyrmspeaker. If that may or may not be successful, and the response I received came in the form of a white bird, pecking at the window several times.”

“What does that mean,” asks Cora.

“I don’t know,” replies Vera.

“Is he still in his cell?” asks Gamora with a worried tone.

“What did the bird do when you saw it,” asks Osrik.

“It pecked at the window, three times I think and then it flew away.” she says.

“What kind of bird,” asks Cora.

“A white sparrow I believe,” says Vera.

“Birds fly…” says Osrik.

“We need to check,” says Cora. The four of them make their way to the dungeon fearful of the omen’s meaning and hoping that they are not too late.

Meanwhile standing on the edge of one of the west towers, Jean Luc and Reven stand looking at the splendor of Waterdeep before them. The cold winter wind blows and Jean Luc excite says, “As a scholar and historian I am very excited about how things are put together and understanding how it works, but for the practical user understanding magic is not something you need to know. Let me explain what you need to know,” he pauses and looks at Reven. “Write it down…”

Jean Luc begins to explain how to write and understand magic script on a very practical and basic level, at times almost elementary level. Reven swallowing his pride listens and intently takes notes and follows Jean Luc’s instruction.
Rusty, Cora, Gamora, and Vera make their way to the entrance to the dungeons, and a guard named Steve escorts them down into the dungeons, they walk down a tight stairwell that opens into a bitter cold dark labyrinth. Steve’s torch is the only source of light and heat that provides mild relief against the frosty cold moisture. He walks through the darkness with no landmarks to show the way. He eventually turns down a tight corridor and finds a steel door which he opens and locks behind him as he continues. This leads deeper into the dungeon and down another path. After some time there is torchlight in the distance and Steve leads them to metallic door guarded by two other sentries.

Cora opens slides the viewing window and looks in the cell to find Varram chained and wearing a sack cloth garments. The Wyrmspeaker sits on a small wooden stool and makeshift table eating some scraps. His eyes raise to look at the Cora’s eyes and he smiles.

Cora turns to the guards, “Who gave him food?”

“Um… he requested food. He was hungry…” said one of the guards.

“This isn’t a fucking hotel! Open the door!” says Gamora.

“No,” says Cora. She places a hand on Gamora trying keep the situation under control.
Gamora angrily turns to the guards, “I thought we told you to keep him gagged!”

The guards look at each other confused.

“Fucking idiots,” curses Gamora.

“Sorry, ma’am,” says one of the guards. “We can gag him now if you like.”

“No, wait,” says Osrik looking inside the room. He begins to gather his magic to cast a spell to strike Varram, but Cora grabs his arm.

“Stop, what are you doing?” she says.

“It’s just going to jolt him,” he says.

“No,” she says frustrated. “Just stop, wait.” Osrik stops casting.

Vera whispers, “He can hear everything we say.” They wait a moment in silence and hear Varram’s humming a tune as he continues his meal. Vera motions to Osrik to cast Silence.

Osrik complies and casts the spell on Varram’s stool, the Wyrmspeaker looks confused at the supernatural silence but continues to eat.

Cora turns to the guard and shouts, “Why did you open the door?!”

The confused guard stammers, “What do you mean?”

“Who gave him food?” she asks.

“It wasn’t us, it was the last shift.” He says. Cora demands to know where they are but he simply replies they are resting.

Gamora asks the names of the other guards to which the guard replies, “Adren and Joe were the last watch.”

“And who are you,” asks Gamora. “I’m Hill and this is Capper,” says the armored guard.
“You better hope Adren and Joe aren’t dead now,” says Osrik.

“His mouth needs to be bound or he will convince these idiots to open the door,” says Cora.

The guards look at each other a bit frustrated at the insult.

“Does anyone have a needle and thread?” asks Gamora.

Vera asks, “How do we interrogate someone without talking to them?”

Osrik considers using spells to restrain him, but it’s not long before Gamora loses patience and bursts into the room. She finds Varram sitting in the corner facing the door sitting in a submissive position raising his arms up in the air showing he is unarmed. Gamora grabs his food plate and throws it out of the cell.

She storms over to Varram and wraps rope around is face gagging his mouth and ties it in place. She begins to leave, but turns and grabs both of Varrams hands and pulls back until she feels a snap of fingers. Varram drops to the ground in writhing in pain, his mouth open shouting in eerie silence. Gamora nods rather satisfied with her handiwork leaves the cell to rejoin the others.

“Alright, so I broke his fingers don’t know if anyone caught that,” mutters Gamora as she exits the cell. “Maybe he’ll be more friendly to someone who can unbreak his fingers?”

“You seem to know the most about him, maybe you should ask the questions,” Gamora says to Cora no shakes her head.

“What questions are we going to ask him,” says Cora.

Vera exasperated, “How do we even know if it’s worth it? I’m going to find Jean Luc. We don’t even know if this is worth the effort.” She leaves the others to their discussions.

As she leaves Osrik says, “Or I can just make him tell the truth.”

“You can do that?” asks Gamora.

“Heck yeah I can!” says Osrik. He discusses how the Zone of Truth spell works. Cora is concerned it would force them to tell the truth as well. Osrik concludes this can’t be helped, and adds, “If you are a really good liar you can find a way around it.”

Gamora says, “I’m concerned that he may be a really good liar.”

“It’s better than nothing,” says Osrik.

Cora turns to one of the guards and asks him to bring some fresh bandages and water. Steve nods and leaves returning some minutes later with the supplies.

Osrik and Cora walk inside the cell. Cora pulls the stool up to Varram and begins to silently treat his broken hands. He winces at the pain through his gag.

Osrik says, “Sorry about that.” Osrik casts Zone of Truth in the cell he realizes that the spell has no effect on Varram or Cora for that matter.

Varram replies through the gag, but it is incomprehensible. Cora after finishing instructs him to sit on the stool. He complies and takes a seat.

“Now,” says Cora. “We’re going to remove your gag. If you try any of your tricks it will be more than the gag we will be removing from you.”

Gamora slides open the window of the door her teeth visibly smiling menacingly, “Hi..”

Varram nods and looks totally willing to comply as Cora cuts off the gag he nods and says, “That is some very fine rope you have there. Really no need for all the excess force I am wholefully at your disposal.”

“What we you doing in the Serpent Hills?” Cora asks.

With a dramatic sigh Varram says, "What a sad tale. I’ll be glad to tell you. Well, sadly there was a scenario where something had been taken from me. That wasn’t very nice, but losing it is going to cost me my neck. So I went out looking for it. I can kind of tell you have an idea what I lost.”

“When did you lose it?” Cora asks.

“About three weeks ago. Well, anyway, I was enjoying my luxury suite, with some very interesting company I must add. And then all of a sudden I wake up and my property is gone. I have no idea how, who, or where.”

“Where was your suite?” Osrik asks.

Varram squirms a bit and says, “In my quarters…”

“… which would be located…” Osrik continues.

“in the Well of Dragons. It’s a hollowed out volcano with a lot of weird dragon stuff."

Osrik nodds, “I had an idea but I wanted to make sure we had an understanding.”

“Yes. Well anyway, I kicked out my two friends….well if you can really call them friends… we barely knew each other… and I discovered that someone stole this thing.

I quickly and quietly gathered some forces to try to hunt this thing down because once my boss figured out someone stole this out from under my nose, well that’s kind of not a good thing.

Well, I scoured some vast knowledge and I learned that this Tomb of Diderius, if you look into the pool and ask it a question, it answers it for you. Just when I was at my wit’s end with all these trolls around us – fucking Talis – for some reason, the pool filled up with water. I have no idea how it happened! And I was able to finish the ceremony. I did lose one of my men in the process, but hey, what are you going to do? And then I learned, now I know who has the mask. And well…"

“And who’s that?” asks Osrik.

“Let him finish talking,” whispers Cora.

“Sorry go ahead,” says Osrik.

“Ah..ha ha. Well the mask is no longer in my capable hands. So, I’m pretty much a dead man. If I go back, Severin will probably lop my head off, feed me to one of the dragons…” Varram trails off. “So, yeah… I’m at your disposal. Anything you want to know, as long as it keeps me alive.”

“Where is Severin?” Cora asks.

“Well, luckily when the mask got stolen, he had been on expedition. But he probably is at the Well of Dragons consolidating power and getting ready for the ritual.”

“When is the ritual going to take place?” Cora asks.

“Oh, when all the pieces are together,” says Varram.

“What pieces are needed?” asks Cora.

“We are missing two masks at this point. A handful of people, treasure, mages doing their thing, convergence of some sort of stars… I don’t really know, it’s not really my thing.”

Osrik says, “You said Severin was on expedition. Do you know where?”

“Ah gathering forces," says Varram

“Not a specific place?” says Osrik.

“He didn’t share with me at that point in time. But he’s been playing things close to the vest since, well, since there’s been some betrayals in the inner circle," says Varram.

“What’s been going on?” Cora asks.

“Complicated stuff over the last ten years," he says. "But you know, I’ll be really glad to talk about this and give you guys some more information–“

Cora cuts him off. “Where are the other Wyrmspeakers? Are they all at the Well of Dragons?”

Varram stammers. “Uh, one of them is here. I’m pretty sure I’m demoted. I wouldn’t say I’m affiliated with them much anymore. I’m probably on their hit list.”

Gamora asks through the door, “Who has the mask that you lost?”

“It was stolen, to be fair,” says the gold Dwarf.

“I’m sorry, ‘stolen.’ WHO has it?” Gamora asks.

“I’m sorry, what did she say? I can’t hear from there.”

Osrik says, “She was wondering who has the mask. We got a little sidetracked.”

“I apologize. Yes, Talis,” says Varram.

“Who is she?” Osrik asks.

“Ah Talis Katstra…no that’s not right. Something with a K I think.” Varram squirms more. “Well, she was… how do I say? She doesn’t like me very much."

“But you seem so friendly,” says Osrik smiling.

“I know right?” says Varram. "I might have unintentionally wronged her in the past.”

“Did you bone?” asks Gamora.

“Ugh, Half-elves, they’re just not my type,” says Varram.

“Spindly,” comments Osrik.

“Yes,” says Varram. He looks Osrik over and winks. “You are a man of taste I see. A bit meaty, aren’t you?”

Cora, not to be derailed, asks, “So, specifically – what is missing for the ceremony? The two masks, and?”

“Well, Rath Modar is really the one who knows everything about the ceremony. I just kind of follow orders and try to consolidate wealth and power, and keep myself comfortable.”

“Rath Modar? Is that the Wizard of Thay?” Cora asks.

“Yes, the Red Wizards of Thay," he says with disgust on his face. “He’s the one in charge of them.”

“That was going to be my next question,” Cora says. “How are the Wizards of Thay involved?”

“They’re the ones doing all the demon summoning to outfit our army,” Varram says.

“Are they at the Well of Dragons also?” asks Osrik.

“Oh, did you not know that? Oh, sorry. There are demons in our army. Well, it’s not my army anymore, sorry. Their army. Devils. I always get them confused. Devils in the army. A little bit more trustworthy that those demons.”

“You can make a deal with a devil. Demons are, well I wouldn’t advise it,” Osrik says.

“It’s problematic on either end, that is true. But you know, when you have a pact and a deal they kind of follow through,” Varram says.

“Well now, I don’t mean to be presumptuous and I’m totally glad of supporting your cause of thwarting the Cult of the Dragon and pretty much smashing their entire existence as it really benefits my lifespan. Um, I don’t mean to be presumptuous… what do I get out of this? Do I get to live maybe?”

“You get to keep your tongue for starters,” Gamora says.

“Well, that’s a bit harsh,” Osrik says. “That seems inhumane.”

“If you cut my tongue out,” Varram says, “I’m pretty sure it will be very difficult for me to give you guys the information that you’re asking for.”

“That’s why I’m standing out here,” says Gamora.

“If you continue to break my fingers, I can’t even write them down. So I think you kind of need my tongue.”

“Again,” says Gamora. “That’s why I’m out here.”

“You can kind of disregard some of that,” says Osrik, “she’s enjoys that."

“I can see that. It’s quite frightening,” says Varram.

“When?” asks Cora. She repeats, “When is the ritual going to take place? What is the plan?”

“Like I said, I’m not really in tune with that information,” says Varram. “That information is really more of the Wizard’s domain. Um, I can give you operational information, I can give you maybe some numbers based on the last time I was there – how many dragons have joined the cause.”

“Tell us who is at the Well of Dragons right now,” Cora says.

“Well, at the last count there were seventeen chromatics that had joined the cause with more coming daily,” says Varram.

Osrik whistles.

The gold Dwarf continues, “That damn Drakkhorn. So hard for me to get some rest. Actually pretty glad I’m out of there. Blaring just awful.”

Osrik says, “You know, we could hear is here.”

“Really?” asks Varram. “That’s fascinating.”

“Who was blowing the horn?” Cora asks.

“Well, we lost a couple people when they were trying to blow the horn. One of the Red Wizards got a little creative.”

“There was some blowback, you would say?” Osrik says.

Varram guffaws. “That’s a good one. No, no seriously. I believe one of the Red Wizards had summoned an air elemental that just keeps blowing all day. Quite a frightful thing to be blown for that long. But seriously, no, yes, there is an elemental that is forcing air through the horn nonstop.”

“Seventeen dragons, what else?” Cora asks.

“Pretty much 85% of our forces are gathered there. Mercenaries, devils, Red Wizards.”

“How many wizards?”

Varram thinks. “Well, most of the rebels were about thirty I think. Maybe more. They keep trying to pull more people in daily. A lot of the resources are still spread out as they’re bringing in more loot for the ceremony.”

“How many members of the Cult of the Dragon?” asks Cora.

“About eight-five percent or so. You’re looking at about 600.”

“How many devils?” she asks.

“It all depends on how many they summon. I’ve seen as many as fifty on the ground patrolling." They can’t help but feel overwhelmed by the Cult of the Dragon’s united forces.

Meanwhile Vera had returned to the war room looking for Jean Luc to no avail. “There outside,” comes a voice. Mags in the war room sits reading a book. She points upwards, “The tower.”

“Thanks,” says Vera and heads upstairs. She makes her way up the tower to find Reven focused on writing in a book. She breathlessly starts asking Reven for Jean Luc, but he simply puts up a finger as he is writing.

Jean Luc wandering the tower’s lookout sees Vera and joins her. She tells Jean Luc about her divination and asks if he can make out the omen.

Jean Luc notes that a some symbology and divination texts he read he believes the white sparrow is a rare songbird and brings with it wealth and positivity. It was probably a good omen, but he’s not sure why it was pecking at her window.

Reven looking over at the two of them suggests they talk to Xenara as she might have some more knowledge on omens. The two agree and leave him to his work.

When they return to Xenara they find her several dozen pages into her spellbook. Jean Luc is amazed at her progress. He notes that she has eaten nearly all the food they left for her as well. Xenara seems a little confused by their questions and apologizes that she doesn’t really know much about omens, and apologizes that she needs to finish her work.

Understanding they leave her to her studies. Jean Luc asks where the others are and Vera mentions that they are interrogating Varram. Jean Luc and her head down into the dungeon, without Steve it take some navigating but Vera eventually finds the path that takes them to the others.

Jean Luc and Vera arrive to see Gamora looking into the door through the view window and three other guards at the ready. Jean Luc turns to Gamora and says, "What are you doing?”

“I’m not allowed in,” says Gamora, “Because I would probably rip out his tongue and that won’t help our cause. Want to go in?”

“Turns out this is a good idea,” Vera says.

“Well, yeah," Gamora says. “He’s singing like a freaking canary.”

“Which is not a white bird by the way,” Jean Luc says to Vera.

“Birds,” says Gamora, “They all tweet.” She opens the door for them.

As they enter Cora asks Varram, “Do you know who stole the mask?”

“Oh! We have new guests. Hello! Hello!” Varram says.

“Hello, I’m Jean Luc and I’m having conflicting feelings about my estranged wife who I just saw for the first time in ten years,” says Jean Luc as he enters the Zone of Truth. “Oh, I don’t know where that came from.”

“Oh! I can’t relate,” says Varram. He puts his hand out to shake Jean Luc’s but Cora smacks it away. “Sorry, habit.”

“It would be bad for our hand,” says Cora.

“Do you have an idea of where you are?” Jean Luc asks.

“I have my suspicions,” says Varram, “A dungeon obviously.”

“When rumors began to spread that we were pursuing you, we were approached by somebody who was interested in seeing you suffer,” Jean Luc says.

Varram laughs. “My boy, that could be quite anyone! Who are we talking about?”

“I want to know, in a realistic sense, what do you hope happens next for you?” Jean Luc asks the gold Dwarf.

“Ah, well, in a realistic sense, it would be nice that me helping the forces of god in the North and the Council of Waterdeep help rid of all kinds of evil things, a full pardon would be fantastic,” says Varram. “And maybe with a small stipend so I can have a little hut somewhere where no one knows where I am.”

“Well you are assisting the forces of good. You have said you are no longer on the side of helping…“ says Osrik.

Cora cuts him off. “That is not what he said.”

“Let the man finish, please,” says Varram.

“How do you know we’ll help you?” asks Osrik.

“Because they’ll kill me,” says Varram. “Anyone who helps me is pretty much my friend at this point. And, let’s be fair, I’d rather not go to a Dwarven execution.”

“I could imagine,” says Osrik. “But you were originally with them in wanting to summon Tiamat?”

“Oh, no no no. That idea seems crazy.”

“But that is what they are working on now.”

“Yes, definitely. But you know, it paid the bills. No one thought he’d do it or actually be capable of it. It’s like they say, cults are fun to join, even better to be a leader. Great money in it.”

Jean Luc says, “So, as you can imagine, a full pardon is a steep hill to climb. However, we are already in the middle of climbing a steep hill. Your cause will be buoyed by any information you can give us. So I take it from all these notes my friends have written, you have already loosely described the forces inside the Well of Dragons.”

“Oh, the best I can yes."

“Alright, then we need two other things from you,” says Jean Luc. “A list of individuals or forces outside the Well of Dragons. Where they are, or when they might be expected to be in specific locations. And a list of anybody like yourself who may not be on board with summoning Tiamat.”

“Oh, I believe I can provide you that information. There are quite a few defectors. Especially those that follow the old ways.”

“The more information you can give us, gives us more leads to follow, and the longer I can make a case that you are good to keep alive,” says Jean Luc.

“Well,” says Varram, “I do have some provisos, minor details, that needs your attention.”

“We can certainly try," says Jean Luc.

“Well, first of all, if they find out that I am captured and have turned to your side, very likely they will try to kill me. As you know, and my first statement was that I am very averse to this scenario. So you may want to plug the leak within the council.”

“Well,” says Jean Luc, “That ship might have sailed, but we could take other precautions.”

“Do you know who the leak is?” asks Cora.

“Yes, I do. There is a succubus that has infiltrated not the council per se, but is canoodling with some of the aides of the council members,” says Varram. “I’m not sure exactly which one, but I do know that she’s there, talks to whoever she needs to, gets the information from the aides and covers her tracks pretty well.”

“Do you know any aliases she went by?” asks Jean Luc.

“No, she’s pretty much independent. She reports to Rath Modar.”

“Do you know what she looks like?”

“They’re shapeshifters,” says Varram.

“Are you under the impression that she is located at a specific place?” asks Jean Luc.

“I’m sure she’s here in Castle Waterdeep.”

“There we go. I was waiting for you to make a guess," says Jean Luc. "Alright. Well that’s an extremely vague lead but we can certainly look into that.”

“I hope so," says Varram.

“Do you have anything else right now?” asks Jean Luc. “Someone we can pursue outside the Well of Dragons? So we can make the case that you’ve already been useful?”

“Well, I thought I’ve been useful,” says Varram. “I don’t know if I have any actionable information I can give you right now. The only thing I do remember is Neronvain had taken to the Misty Forest.”

“Neronvain?” asks Osrik.

“Yes, he’s the Green Wyrmspeaker. He more of a hands-on guy. He’s leading attacks in the Misty Forest, raiding, pillaging, doing all that fun stuff. You know, things that psychopaths generally like to do.”

“How big is the force he travels with?” Gamora asks through the door.

“Do you want to just come in?” asks Osrik.

“I’m not allowed because I might break him more,” the half-orc replies.

“Valid,” says Osrik.

“Well, he does have small forces that he travels with, but he generally doesn’t trust them,” says Varram. “No no no, he’s much more connected with his Green Dragon friend.”

“Wait, that means you have a White Dragon friend?” asks Vera.

“Me? No, no. They hate me.” says Varram.

“Then how did you get the… no, never mind,” says Gamora.

“That’s part of the reason Talis kind of wants to kill me,” Varram says, his voice breaking. “But no no no, seriously. I’m not affiliated with dragons much. Is that enough to grant me maybe at least a week of air?”

Jean Luc says, “Possibly. We will make the case for you. Although, now it’s tricky. We can’t confess what we’re pursuing knowing that you think it will get back to our opponents’ ears quickly. We’ll make the case for you and we will try to keep assassins out of your bed.”

“Well,” says Varram, “I appreciate your honesty.”

“Alright, well I’ll get you some stew. And a bucket. Maybe a blanket,” says Osrik.

“That would be of the absolute most fantasticness. Thank you. I don’t care what they say about you and your group,” says Varram, “You are great people.”

“I care,” says Jean Luc. “What do they say?”

“Well, that you’re a resolute bunch, very tough-as-nails,” says Varram.

“What do they know about us?” asks Cora.

Varram says, “Well, I can tell you this much. Since your actions at Skyreach Castle, the lens has focused in on your little band. At least last I was there. And of course, killing our top assassin, well that also doesn’t exactly exclude you from notice.”

“Which one was the top assassin?” asks Jean Luc.

“Oh, that would be Rezmir,” answers Varram.

“Do you happen to know the name of the succubus?” asks Osrik.

“No,” says Varram.

“I appreciate your honesty,” says Osrik. “So we’re going to go, talk to the guards, and get you those things.”

“Fantastic,” says Varram, eyeing Osrik. “Thank you. Thank you all for your time.”

“Sorry about your fingers,” says Gamora.

“That’s quite all right. I totally understand,” says the gold Dwarf.
The group leaves the room. Osrik follows through on asking the guards for the items he promised Varram.

Steve asks them if they are ready to leave. The party agree and follow him through the lower dungeons.

Once they leave earshot of the cell Osrik curses, “I hate being nice. I was trying to do what Jean Luc would do…”

Jean Luc says, “We may be able to hire a paladin to find this succubus.”

Vera and Osrik both think they would be able to track the succubus tomorrow with their spells. Steve leads them out of the dungeons and they make their way back to the war room.

Reven completing his work makes his way downstairs and notices that Xenara is still hard at work. He sees Mags sitting along reading. He sits next to her and excitely says, “Mags, I did it!”

“It’s Yashira. My friends call me Mags,” Mags says.

“Okay, well I did it,” says Reven.

“Yes, I think we learned that last night,” says Mags.

Reven laughs. “No, you don’t understand,” he says, “I had it written, I wrote it in the book, I thought I got it, I took a cat, I brought it up the tower, I tossed it off. I’m not sure it made it, but the second thing was a goat. That one I think made it. But I think I got it. Wait, that wasn’t your goat, was it?”

“You’re sick,” says Mags. She walks out of the room. Reven hears the door slam shut and the bolts click into place.

“Featherfall,” he whispers to himself, grinning. The others walk into the room at this point.

“What are we celebrating?” Gamora asks.

“Oh, did you get it?” Jean Luc asks.

“Featherfall!” Reven exclaims. Jean Luc jumps but the effect is imperceptible. Reven says, “it worked, trust me.”

Jean Luc shakes Reven’s hand. “Congratulations, sir!”

Xenara walks into the war room and hands Jean Luc his ink back though most of it is gone. She motions to the book. “I can keep, this, right?”

“Absolutely, it’s yours,” says Jean Luc. “however, like I said – anything really interesting that you come up with I would like to see.”

“Of course,” she says. “It would be my pleasure.”

“Sorry for bothering you earlier,” Vera says.

“No, that’s fine,” says Xenara. “It’s just nice to have all my spells in one book.”

“I know you don’t remember a whole lot,” says Gamora, “But do you happen to know anything about," she looks around and whispers, "succubi?”

“Oh my!” Xenara blushes a little bit.

“No! No, no,” says Gamora, “I’m just, you know, we’re trying to figure something out, and I was wondering if you knew anything about them. I didn’t mean to upset your sensitive sensibilities.”

Vera asks what she missed when she went to find Jean Luc. Osrik recounts the interrogation bringing everyone up to speed.

“So our next step is to take out the succubus?” Vera asks.

Osrik hears a ringing in his head and then Aeron Glitterstone’s voice. “Yo buddy! Your shield’s ready. It’s quite a beauty. How do you want me to send it to you? Should I ship or you picking up…”

Osrik replies, “We’re currently in Waterdeep if you can make it here.”

Another ringing, and Aeron’s voice through Sending again says, “So you haul your ass up north and pick it up yourself, or I send it out with the next shipment to Howard, you know…"

Osrik thinks for a moment and replies, “Hold on to it for now. I’ll give you a Sending shortly with an update.”

Osrik tells the group his shield is ready.

“Is there something only you and Leosin would know to prove that he is himself?” asks Gamora. “Because now I’m beginning to question everybody.”

“It’s a difficult thing to do a test like that because if they are the impostor and you did it wrong,” Jean Luc says, “you could tip them off. I would say, as awful as I feel about it, it’s just a question of how we talk about sensitive stuff. However, I would still make a case for who I must say is easily the most adorable villain we’ve fought for far. But if we’re going to keep him alive, we have to give them something. And I don’t know what that should be, because we don’t want to give them the truth.”

“If we say anything he’s given us and they perceive that as a threat,” says Gamora, “They know where to find him.”

As group discusses their options and their next move. Reven says he wants to go back to Seven Swords Mountain. He says they have a portal system that they might be able to use and he needs to understand why more about his visions.

End session.

Next: Season 3. Side Story – Heart of the Black Trident

Previous: Season 3. Episode 5 – Trials and Trollblilations

View
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

View
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

View
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

View
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

View
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

View
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 moon elf enters the room. Her white 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

View
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

View
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

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.