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:
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.