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:
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.
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.