Friday, August 31, 2012

Spy vs. Spy


From the high eves of Castle Waterdeep, perched comfortably near a pair of stylized gargoyles, Lakari watched as lavish carriages pulled by threaded horses arrived delivering the Gunslinger-Knights of the Firelance as well as highborn nobles to the formal announcement. Lakari was determined to know everything about the entire Order of the Firelance and her sources implied strongly that tonight Piergeiron was going to grant honors of First Knight.

A little late for a palaver Lakari mused as she directed her attention back to her surroundings. She looked to the night sky were occasional snowflakes fell lazily on the already ponderous layer of existing snow fall; with the ever present danger of dragon attack, one always kept a wary eye on the sky.

What she saw was not dragons (for a wonder) but subtle disturbances in the white snow—someone else was up here as well. Now she had a choice: continue with her reconnaissance or investigate this new curiosity. She would not be distracted from her course; so Lakari dropped to a lower snow laden roof-top and began her perilous task.

She mentally recalled the layout of the castle and reached the ledge just outside Piergerion’s administrative office where she saw the ruler of Waterdeep himself and his attendees leaving to join the palaver below.  Lakari only say them for an instant but was glad she did; they would not be returning for some time if at all tonight.

The office was spacious and ostentatious which rekindled her loathing for the Firelance and what they stood for. Paintings of previous Waterdeep lords; preserved heads of elk, peryton, and other beasts of the hunt decorated the walls as bear and tiger pelts adorned the floor.

As Lakari examined the wards and traps she would have to overcome before she could begin her objective in earnest when movement in the office caught her eye. Through the frosty glass Lakari watched in fascination as an individual stepped out form the mural on the office wall; previously undetected by herself and apparently the Eld himself.

The individual dropped his chameleon guise and began to search the office in haste. Lakari could only watch as the intruder, a human man of average height, quickly discovered Piergeiron’s strong box and began the course of opening the safe. Anxiety gripped the Wraith as she began to work on the window hoping to find out what this individual was after; Lakari’s insight told her it was something to be had.

The individual had it open faster than she would have believed; Lakari was not even close to opening the outer casement, she doubled her attempts and just as the trap was triggered the ‘chameleon’ saw her. 

Magically held in place Lakari could only watch as the man escaped with his untold spoils.

The minutes seemed like hours to Lakari as she knelt in the cold night air on the roof facing the office window. Finally, when the enchantment abated the assassin moved—like a wraith.

Reaching the snow-covered streets of the Castle Ward Lakari quickly found the assailants tracks and began to follow them. The long boot strides told her the individual was running but as she followed them they narrowed indicating his over confidence; she however did not slow.

Turning onto Wall Street Lakari came to an abrupt stop in front of Claudanius’ Owlery where she found the man dead in the street; fresh blood painted the street red. She knelt to search the man but knew before she began she would find nothing. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Week in the North

Our journey began with the purchase of a bonded pair of war-mount trained hippogriffs from the Gundwynd ranch in Waterdeep. Leaving Thursday, a cold lonely march on the wing ensues, with a brief encounter with a herd of peryton the only excitement during a week of wind and snow filled skies.

     Early Thursday night, the Shield Tower of Torm came into view as we descended toward Yartar. A tribe of barbarians were using the cover of shadows created by the setting sun to launch an attack on the Shield Tower. They were supported by dragonkin, including a wyvern, a bladewing, and a horrific razorfiend. The whole group was led by a pair of yuan-ti Cultists.
     The Tower was defended by dwarven dog handlers and a pair of hound archons, celestials under the command and watch of Treydarr, an older, other-worldly seeming human. Eva made palaver with him as we battled the monsters within the horde. The battle was quick, delivering death to the draconic beasts, and one of the yuan-ti cultists. The other cultist was captured and questioned later. Treydarr revealed an operational treaty between Torm and Waukeen; Waukeen would provide the citizens in Yartar, and Torm would protect them and their walls. He saw our griefs agianst Waukeen as an issue of honor, and regarded our quest as a legitimate one. While he stated that his men would not stand in the way of our dispute, he cautioned that to destroy the church of Waukeen was essentially a death blow to Yartar. Most of the city saw them as the leadership of the community and credit the church as the reason for their success. He was not at all aware of any presence of the minions of Set within the church, but he was aware of the heavily intertwined trade company, The 10,000 Trade Kings. He was not suspicious of their relationship. Overall he was leery of Bordane and Damian, but seemed to accept us politely, if not as friends.
     Interrogation of the yaun-ti yielded mixed results. We had decided to test the ingestion of hearts of lesser dragons, and to do it while we were questioning to intimidate the survivor. Well, it was a negative reaction we experienced, and it even left a lasting pall over Bordane and Tauren. Bot are certain that only when they have cleansed their palates with blood from a true dragon heart can they lift this pall. Finding much humor in the turn, the survivor did yield some information before he was killed, and it was confirmed thru the questioning of the other yuan-ti. They called themselves Sons and Daughters of Dragons, and they were the Cult of the Dragon. In their view, they served all dragons, and the Tribe of the Great Wyrm had been included into the Cult. The Cult was based in the church of Set and the 10,000 Trade Kings in Yartar. The closest dragon they knew of was a copper dragon who arrived in Yartar on the feast of the Moon.The attacks on the Shield Tower were a matter of standing orders from cult leaders.
     We approached the city late, but were able to secure lodging at the Pearl Handled Pipe under the guise of wealthy traders. Fallon served as our face man, and with Eva's terrific disguise skills, we went un-noticed. The next day, we all went about different ways of gathering information. Fallon went out and asked questions about the 10K Trade Kings and purchase barding for our vulnerable hippogriffs. Bordane and Damian walked about, scouting the city, and found the ruined temple of Tymora to be covered by a powerful illusion,
not destroyed. Only they could see through it because of their birthright gifts. Eva used her scry spell, and flexing her magical might was able to communicate with her brother through the spell. He was in the mines of Mirabar, they all were, captured and held by the 10KTK. Tauren overheard talk in the inn pub that the uprising (our family) had not ended until the copper dragon appeared.
     All of this led us to the conclusion that all of our true fights lie to the north, in Mirabar. We decided we would leave immediately, stopping only to investigate the mysterious illusion-covered fallen temple. Most of us anticipate discovering a shrine to Set, hidden and coiled within...

Test of Faith

Barnathrum, known as the Lord of Warlocks was also one of several minor kings of the Whalebones: a collection of over fifty tiny Trackless Sea islands, some no larger a mile to two miles across. Over the past year Barnathrum worked tirelessly to accumulate power, wealth, as well as a trusted cohort. His mastery over diplomacy complemented his penchant for making pacts with evil outsiders.

Clara Graves was a necromancer and renowned island guide. Her beauty was legend across the Whalebones as petty kings vie for her attention by sending invitations for feasts and celebrations in her honor. Together Barnathrum and Clara worked behind the scenes to install a puppet-king as monarch of the Whalebones and themselves as his chief advisors. King Garr Ulfsson was just the Northman king they choose; strongest of any Finback islander and a keen naval warrior who cared little for the administration of the islands but who longed for open sea adventure. King Ulfsson was perfectly at ease while his advisors dealt with the day to day giving him leave to explore new islands and new dangers.

War came to the Sword Coast on this Year of Shadows as well as the calamitous godsfall; deities of Faerun found themselves dethroned and their crown jewels spread across the seven realms. The war, all over a stolen grimoire, started with an attack on a Luskan merchant caravel as a Rauthym warship searched for the stolen tome. Open sea conflict arose threatening all sea trade north of Waterdeep. The Northmen and pirate kings soon discovered that they had more in common than they had as differences and joined forces.

It was Barnathrum who advised King Ulfsson to band all the Whalebones kings together and join with Rauthym and Luskan to begin raiding the Sword Coast in large numbers, disrupting trade, and agriculture to monopolize sea trade in the North unawares of the genesis of the conflicts.

......................

Now on the deck of the newly seized Mermaid Sword, Barnathrum looked across the prow of the ship and spied the first of Luskan’s naval vanguard, a welcome sight and then turned to Clara.

“Ready the Waterdeep prisoners Sai.” Barnathrum said in a low voice, his hair and robes flapped briskly on the windy deck. “The Captain’s Confederation will have some questions for the Waterhavians.” He dismissed her by giving her the ship’s Ring of Water waking while looking at her solemnly.

“As you command,” Clara purred looking at Barnathrum lustfully. “Are we to keep them alive? The dead tell no falsities master, I can make them sing if it pleases you.”

“Yes my dear, High Captain Suljack wants that pleasure for himself… after of course he is satisfied they serve no further purpose and he has learned everything they know.” Barnathrum answered flatly.

......................

Below the two islanders Ord, Malakan, and Arnivon sat shackled and exhausted in the Mermaid Sword’s brig, a small dank room that was as cold as mid-winter’s night; their weapons and personals confiscated and the link to their god severed. Each had a look of dire expectations ahead, this was a test of faith that will either guarantee them position in the afterlife or damn them forever.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Tales from Deepwater Prison

Meritt Archneie loved the Sea. The sun in its reflection, the power and the force of the waves excited her beyond her physical state and entered the realm of spiritual. To Meritt the Sea had a language all its own; a dialect that no one else seemed to understand.

When little Meritt was thirteen, a chance meeting with a similarly young merfolk girl of Deepwater Harbor, changed the current of her life forever. Meritt found that she could speak with the sea-girl and was therefore was delighted. All that rainy summer, Meritt would swim out to play with and in one case actually defend, her new friend Kiiri.

That year, Meritt’s parents announced they were fed up with the ‘storms of the North’ and had decided to move south and away from the Sword Coast before winter. Despite Meritt’s deepest and sincere objections, they were adamant. Despair gripped Meritt in a way she had never felt before; she could feel the tide receding and her heart and purpose going out with it.

The night before the family move, a tempest came to call upon the City of Splendors. It was a storm to end all storms like a pyrotechnic finale at Midsummer. Dark billowy clouds raced with pounding winds and thick pouring rain. It was beautiful Meritt thought, like an orchestra playing a triumphant sonata.

Outside, with the late summer storm dancing and pirouetting around her, Meritt stood fearless in the warm downpour; back to her home as she faced the Trackless Sea beyond the towers and villas of Waterdeep. They did not understand, she pondered as she shifted her haversack thinking of her parents; a life away from the smell of ocean as well as the taste and feel of the Sea would be like an eternity in purgatory. Without looking back the young Meritt Archneie left her home and paced her way toward Deepwater Harbor and to her fate.

Seven years later…

The ship was getting closer! The daemon's words prove true. His power over the winds was bringing them salvation and escape from Deepwater Prison. Meritt stood amongst other anxious prisoners; cold and feverish to escape, waiting to board and hijack the late night ship.

As the ship neared and the battle had begun, Meritt noticed how the harbor continued to wash up the convicts like seaweed on the beach. Then something caught her eye, the large waves had uncovered something—a magic abalone shell. Meritt carefully gathered up the shell and examined it, suddenly oblivious to the battle waging around her; indeed it could have been wheels away from the woman and her fascination. Her breath stopped as she realized what she had found; no, what the Sea had blessed her with. Excitement welled up in her like a coming storm—it was the mythical Orglara, an ancient text sacred to Umberlee!

Meritt reverted her attention back to the situation; the conflict at hand; and began to realize that several prisoners were retreating back into the ‘safety’ of the prison and that Agglemax’s plan had gone awry. She smiled as coldness filled Meritt, a deep-ocean cold where the warmth of the sun dare not venture; with the Orglara she could elevate herself to become Umberlee’s Dread High Trident. Maintaining her emotionless smile, Meritt turned with the flow of convicts reentering the prison where she returned to her cell and began to contemplate her plan and the seduction of Agglemax the Corrupted.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Chapter Five

The countryside surrounding Yartar was an oasis in the midst of hostile winter weather; the snow was not as thick and the Evermore Way looked to be well maintained. The large town sits comfortably along a northern eastern peninsula where the Subrin River joins the River Dessarin, the main two rivers of the North.

A third smaller inlet river flows into the Subrin just north of Yartar where you can also see a number of buildings where several river barges are docked.

On the west bank of the River Surbrin lies the Shield Tower; a serviceable fort surrounded by a simple timber wall; a flag of Torm flies proudly high along with two other flags of color.

As you take in these details a battle trumpet is sounded from somewhere within the fortification spurring tired groups of men-at-arms into action, and with them dwarven animal handlers complete with daeraman hounds that barked viciously in anticipation of battle.

Beyond the fortification scores of Uthgart, barbarians of the Great Wyrm, emerged from a northern hillock and began to charge the Shield Tower their weapons held high; cries of battle and blood filled the late day countryside.

Back at the Shield Tower you see several war hounds have broke off and darted up the steps, to the battlements heedless of any obstacles; followed by a pair of dwarves and a wizened old man. The dogs bark and growl and seemed to clamor over one another until their bodies suddenly began to meld together; their form grew taking an upright stance, and shifted into two magnificent Hound Archon paladins clad in full shining plate armor—a symbol of Torm over a glyph of Fire design blazing like an inferno on their breastplates.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

It had been a long week for Galoban. From the time he had gathered Trustcoin in hopes of garnering Lord Samular Tauren's ear, he had been caught up in the whirlwind pace of gathering power and position in the service of his lord. For weeks, he had been scouting rumors, scouring the city for hidden clues, and delving into the finest libraries of Waterdhavian nobility. The amount of information he had collected was astounding. Even as he palavered with and bore witness to palaver within his lord's Samular tet, and became aware of the "aspects" they pursued so aggressively, he had dismissed it as a different type of magic, a type of magic only a few could assimilate and master. Until he started researching why magic was in Toril, and how it followed rules that allowed it to be harnessed. Then he started listening more to the Samular discussions of the new magic and the ascension, and their grave concerns over who would gain control over the magic of the world. Then he saw the Samular Tet, nay, Pantheon, assembled for the first time all in complete divine form, and he knew he was standing among Gods. This moment struck Galoban as the world was struck the night of Godsfall. For the next week, Galoban contemplated, and reflected, and tried to decide what he really believed. Exactly 7 days after his enlightenment, he finally succumbed, and prayed. Not the quick prayer he used to implore the Lady of Luck with a dozen times a day, nor the thoughtless prayer of a traveller wishing for good weather. No, he gave himself to his fate, and begged the Samular Lord Horseman, Gypsy Lord, The Charging Knight to take him as his destined servant and show him his path. He sobbed his prayer in a song, sung and strummed across a golden harp. He sang until he heard an accompanying voice, a golden voice that answered him in time to his harping. It was Taurens voice, and it sang of service to Glory, and Battle, and Knowledge, and Retribution and Death and what lies beyond it. It was a song of destruction toward dragons, and preservation of humankind. It was a song of bravery, and battlefields in the sky above Waterdeep, and platoons of cavaliers charging forward in devastating sweeps of dragons in mid air. It was a song of Gods' Ascension.

He awoke and was clear headed for the first time in a week. He finally knew what he must do. You see, magic was the key. In what was to come, wars needed to be won, and they would be, by someone. Whichever side had better command over magic certainly had the advantage, whether that came in the form of arms and equipment for troops, or healing enough to keep them alive. But it was clear that magic was bound to divinity, and to master it, one must serve divinity.

As Teldicia lay the mantle of priesthood across Galobans shoulder, his thoughts were on the holy song that called him to service. He felt incredibly inspired by the visions of cavaliers and their coursers charging up into the air to slay dragons, and he envisioned calling upon his domains of Travel and Glory to bind the necessary enchantments.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Daeraman

Daeraman (pronounced DEER-eh-men by everyone but the dwarves, who pronounce it da-ere-A-man) is also known as the Dwarven Hound, for many reasons, though not because of its size. The name itself is likely a synthesis between two dwarven words: daern, meaning familiar or known, and samman, meaning a trusted friend through battle. 

It stands about three and a half feet high, and its burly frame can often reach up to two-hundred fifty pounds. Their fur is often mottled brown and black, though all manner of earth tones may be found. 

They have a fantastically tough hide, and have been known to walk across hot coals without noticing, and to survive for many days in the harshest permafrost environments. Various body parts of the daeraman are reputed to be useful in elixirs involving hardiness and stamina. 

Daeraman seem equally comfortable with all the major civilized races, but dwarves seem to have a special fondness for them. They will let dwarven children ride on their backs, and they can (sometimes) carry up to fifty pounds of supplies. Daeraman seem very comfortable in northern climates as well as underground, and do not appear to be affected by lack of exposure to sunlight. 

However, daeraman have never been a truly popular breed of pet, for one reason: as they age, they seem to lose any emotional attachment they may have once had to humanoids. Many will wander off after the age of ten or eleven, to live out their final years away from civilization. This seems less likely to happen if the owner of the daeraman is also a cat owner, as the two animals will often get along very well.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Preaching to the Choir (or Herding the Cattle into the Pen)

"It's a meager draw, Randal. We've got a boy who's more interested in what's in his nose than what will appear onstage, a whore who's more interested in potential patrons' pockets and a cripple on a crutch," Dannrlee said over his shoulder, peering out of the tent flap that had been erected in the alley between two buildings.
 "The words of Samular Bordane aren't just for the ears of the noble, but for the commoners as well. They do his works, yet they don't know his name. That's what the clergy is for," Randal Flagg replied as he donned his holy vestments and hung the heavy holy symbol around his neck. He handed the goblet of wine he'd been sipping from to Morrandar, a newly ordaned priest who'd proved himself at the Hater's Ball, taking command of some of the party workers and keeping their deaths to single digits.
 Flagg brushed Dannrlee aside and passed out into the cold, weak sunlight. He stepped up onto the stage and spread his hands wide. "Citizens of Waterdeep, my Waterdhavien brothers, hear me! Mine is the voice of the coming times. I am Randal Flagg, high priest of Samular Bordane Agundar. He sees your actions, he knows your hearts and he approves!"
 Slowly, as his voice drifted up into the midmorning air, passersby stopped and listened. The audience grew to five.
 "Are you the wife who's husband would be a drunken lout, were it not for your constant nagging? Are you the parent of childen who would be unruly heathens, were it not for your switching? You!" Flagg pointed to a tradesman in a leather apron who was pushing his way along. The man stopped and looked at Randal. "Are you a trademan who takes pride in his works? Or are you a second rate merchant who's been undercut by his competetors, and has hate in his heart? Know that the Samular Bordane sees this, hears your callings and approves. Pray to him, and he will give you the means to achieve that what you wish! An orderly house, a strong family, knowledge that your enemies will not be able to blackmark your names for fear of retribution! Samular Bordane Agundar will do this! The Iron Hand, the Grim Lord!
 "Say his name!" Randal's hand shot out, pointing at a scribe who'd been hurrying by and had stopped to listen. "S-Samular Bordane?" stammered the man.
"Say his name!" Again Randal pointed, this time at a woman, clutching the hand of a child. "Samular Bordane!" she called back.
 "SAY HIS NAME!" Randal shouted, raising his hands to the sky. "SAMULAR BORDANE!" the throng, that now number thirty cried back, also raising their hands in the air. Randal ended the sermon, waving the throng into Geller's, and the high temple below.
 Morrandar, who had been watching with Dannrlee out the tent flap, murmurred "And that's how the cattle are driven into the pen."

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Tales from Castle Waterdeep

Marching double time down the castle corridor Madeiron Sunderstone once again responded to the castle chimes. Peals of sound that usually meant dragons or their workings have been sighted somewhere in the city. It meant him as well as any on duty guards and gunslingers are to report to the First Knight.

Maderion was not awakened by the night terrors as what usually precedes the chimes in the past week. Instead this particular tone of alarm indicated an internal danger to Castle Waterdeep. Although Madeiron was faring better than most sleep deprived servicemen, the constant vigilance he must be in was wearing on his mind.

Entering Piergeiron’s war-room Madeiron saw Armult Tesper barking instructions to several castle guards and gunslingers. Bright magical lights revealed that the tabletop-model of Waterdeep was gone; instead floor plans of the Castle were spread across the main table and to Madeiron’s surprise- Sai Tesper was dispatching Knights to the castle Vaults.


“Sai Sunderstone, glad you could join us.” First Knight Tesper said, condescension clear in is voice. “For those of you who are now joining us… in short, the castle us under siege by several groups of thieves; I have already sent men to secure the Vaults and now need the rest of you to search and secure every room, closet, and privy for any rouges, and chance hidden cashes of stolen goods. It is assumed their target is the Vaults so I am moving command there.”

One by one Sai Tesper grouped gunslingers and swordsmen separately giving them details on how he wanted a sweep of each level of the castle, pinching trespassers into key corner rooms where there is no escape. Madeiron voiced his objection of this tactic garnering silence from room, citing the predictability of guard movement and the overall weakness of the plan.

To which Sai Tesper responded: “Your demotion means that you now follow orders Sai Sunderstone and if you undermine me again you will find yourself in the city as a watchmen guarding lamplighters and dungsweepers!”

Watching the exchange from the hall, LeCarre waited for Madeiron to pass and dexterously fell into step with the huge man. “I agree with your assessment.” LeCarre said sympathetically to his old friend as they reached the ‘Colonnade’, a grand hall where the main staircase was located. Several Knights broke off at this juncture, some ascending to upper levels and others going down.

LeCarre stopped, “You and I have to do something or you know these thieves or whoever is as good as gone. To Hell with Armult’s plan and let us hunt them down…. It will be like old times.” LeCarre said invitingly holding his hand out revealing his signature magical lenses. Maderion did not argue.

………………………………………..



Armult Tesper was lost; lost in the very castle he trained in and lived in for the past forty years. The lack of long-term rest was now taking a serious toll on his sensibilities; he now cannot even discern friend from foe.

Armult had no idea where his guards were or how he got separated from them. Looking around he was sure this was still Castle Waterdeep, but it was strange… alien.... nightmarish. Noblemen moved and gestured in their frames on the walls while tapestries and furniture danced joyfully in place. Composing himself amongst his funhouse surroundings Sai Tesper marched militantly off to find his guards.

………………………………………..


LeCarre and Sai Sunderstone went directly to the kitchens and immediately identified the thieves’ means of entrance. By accessing the kitchens through a hatch that was used to dispose vegetable matter below for stable animals; the intruders then used the dumbwaiter in the butler’s pantry to lose themselves. 

LeCarre looked around with his lenses and quickly ascertained the level where the dumbwaiter stopped allowing riders off, but before they did Maderion received word from a guard that another thief entrance was discovered… he lamented, there were more rogues than originally believed.

………………………………………..

Armult was rocked head first to the ground as the whole castle shook with a single colossal jolt. All around him furniture ceased their dance; wall hangings broke apart in splintered pieces, as doors escaped their captive hinges. As disorientation melded into mild comprehension the First Knight focused upon a single figure, a nobleman standing over him. Surely the nobleman from the wall frames; although the man had a companionable disposition, Armult felt an aura of darkness and Sin about the man.


“Sai Gunslinger!” the nobleman said helping Armult to his feet. “There now, you look ok… I was hoping you could direct me… you see I have become lost in this beautiful castle…” The man said with a smile. Armult’s only response was a stupid expression of gratitude.

………………………………………..

They were on the trail of two women, Maderion was certain even though they wore masks- they were women. Other trespassers were about say true, but LeCarre himself discerned there were only three mayhap four bands of miscreants about each with two or three thieves among them. This particular duo they were tracking were cunning but both thief hunters were experienced and knew the strengths and virtues of each other.

After the trail dead-ended twice and after the two investigators picked up on yet a third track LeCarre commented admirably on their cunning. It reminded him of thieves he had tracked before…

To the east sounds of fighting broke LeCarre from his meticulous investigations whereby he immediately drew weapon, motioned to his partner, and stealthily advanced in the direction of the gunshots. 

Maderion checked to make sure his sword was free then turned to follow LeCarre, but stopped short when a white, graceful woman caught his attention. He was immediately enchanted and thought her faerie-tale beauty should be sung from from this day forward by all bards from now on. In his heart Maderion immediately knew that he wanted to kiss this woman- no needed to kiss this woman.

With all urgency forgotten Maderion approached the woman where he discovered that even the perfume surrounding her had its own primal effect on him. As the eight-foot tall, former First Knight, bent and kneeled before the woman he thought to himself, he would do anything for just one kiss from her… one kiss from this beauty incarnate.

Now almost eye to eye the woman, without as much as a word the woman embraced Maderion in a deep soul kiss that to him ended every other kiss before this. As far as Maderion was concerned there was no other kiss than from this lady. Need and pleasure sated, he escorted her to her own kiss she bid from him.

………………………………………..

Armult hoped that by escorting the lost nobleman he would also find his personal retinue of Firelance Knights, but his hopes failed him because not only had Sai Tesper not found his guard, but he now suddenly realized with grim horror that he had led this lost man straight to the castle Vault!

“I am terribly sorry Sai, I believe that if we back track we- agggh…” Armult’s apology was ceased when the nobleman suddenly produced a blade and sliced a neat line across the First Knight’s neck.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Griffon Guard


Standing in Mt. Waterdeep’s Cleft, the area that accommodates the griffin aerie, stables, and barracks, stand twenty-four trained and battle tested animal handlers, warriors, riders, and clerics gathered in four firm, militant rows of six. 

Each soldier was outfitted in military Frost-Suit uniforms and their weapons: spears, swords, and nets were clearly displayed for inspection. Flakes of snow fell lazily as fire drums burned flicking their red tongues to the sky making it and everyone around appear as if they were bathed in blood. Above, winter clouds hung so low that even the Peak of Waterdeep Mountain could scarcely be seen.

Rodrigo Jardeth and Vance Jhansczil stood shoulder to shoulder among their ka-tet, each sworn by blood and by bond to either the Vigilant One or the Lord of Battles. They were all a part of Waterdeep’s new Griffon Guard, a joint coalition of Helm and Tempus disciples sworn to turn the antiquated aerial patrols into an elite early warning and aerial support system.

“Therefore it is important that the Griffon Guard discern the color of the dragon early and relay that information to the Watchers at the Castle and on the ground. Each dragon has its own unique method of siege warfare, not all dragon attacks are with tooth and talon.” Kelemvor Lyonsbane said to the men and women he had come to love and respect in past seven days. “Some wage physiological warfare as we have seen this week with terrorizing late night fly-overs while other dragons would see us slowly starve to death before the end of Wide Earth.” Kelemvor gave a nod to Sai Hawkwinter indicating for him to proceed.

“You have all done exceedingly well.” Brother Carmichael Hawkwinter said beaming at the gathered warriors and clerics. “Remember the sky is the dragon’s domain; do not let them lure you into combat. When they are otherwise distracted with combat from the ground drop your nets on them; if they be kings of the sky… then we will cast them from their thrones!” Thrusting his fist into the air Brother Carmichael looked to the sky.

Clouds slowly parted above as a huge pale silhouette took shape over the mountain and the gathered disciples. Men and women drew weapons and called for alarm, but it was not a dragon or anything else the Griffon Guard could have ever imagined even if given a dragon’s longevity.

Cold gripped them suddenly as what emerged from the grey soup of white and grey clouds was a massive stone face. 

First separating the clouds a forehead emerged, then as realization turned to terror the Griffon Guard broke ranks and moved for cover. It was as if the sky was giving birth. The face was handsome, with the stern look of a man of authority and wisdom.

Impossible silence fell over the Cleft as the ten foot head fell lazily from unseen heights within the clouds. The stone head hit the mountain top with a loud crack sending shockwaves down the mountain side and throughout the city knocking nearly everyone in Waterdeep to the ground. Slowly it began to roll down into the Cleft. 

Rodrigo quickly assessed the sky and both he and Vance agreed that any dragons about were not making themselves known, so they turned their focus the colossal marbleized head. The huge face tottered along the back of its head, eyes blankly surveying the winter sky. It rolled ten feet then rolled twenty feet the other direction threatening to crush Castle Waterdeep and the Ward beyond.

The Griffon Guard raised their hands, voices, and holy vices for the Strength needed to Protect Waterdeep. The head rolled again, this time coming within less than ten feet from the edge and the Castle Ward. Joining their disciples Brother Carmichael and Kelemvor, each the Aspects of Strength and Protection, stopped the progress of the head. However, the stone head began to roll the opposite way again. Vance knew if the head were to reverse direction again…

“Push it into the ocean.” Vance screamed his whole body rippled with divine strength and purpose.

Before the stone head had a chance slow in its backward movement toward Castle Waterdeep, the Griffon Guard as well as the Avatars of Tempus and Helm rolled the colossal head away from Waterdeep, down the west side of the mountain, and into the ocean.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Yartar At A Glance


This fortified town is the site of a bridge over the Surbrin, just north of where it meets the Dessarin. The major industry here is the construction of river barges, which are used the length of the Dessarin river network. The folk ofYartar fish the ‘Three Rivers’ (the Dessarin, Surbrin, and Laughingflow) for their table fare. Each year, Yartar is the scene of the vast Shieldmeet of the outcasts, bandits, homeless, and isolated landholders of the North who gather here in thousands.


Beldabar’s Rest: This is perhaps the most unusual human-built inn of the North as it is located completely underground, beneath Yartar’s central market.

The Cointoss: A mediocre tavern, the Cointoss is a low beamed, smoky, poorly lit place with wooden tables and benches. Its primary occupancy is by locals who drink the night away.

Dannath’s Pickles, Nuts, and Foods: Alukk Dannath runs a shop with his three strong daughters, specializing in foods practical for northern travelers.

Esklindrar’s Maps, Books, and Folios: This is the home and shop of Esklindrar, a sage whose expertise is written humans works of the Sword Coast, from earliest known times to the present.

Firelust Fabrics and Tailoring: Firelust Fabrics is run by the jolly Firelust family. All are quality tailors, from whitehaired grand-dames to fat and tumbling youngsters.

Fishyard: The visitor to this bustling town always finds his way to the noisy, crowded, market area in front of the Waterbaron ‘s Hall. Known locally as the Fishyard, the market always has fish on sale. Even in the depths of winter, ice fishermen bring their wares to the stalls.

Halassa’s Waterwell and Fine Wines: Halassa’s is run by a short, sharp-tongued old woman who seems to know everyone. She’s seen most days giving strangers salty advice as if she were their grandmother.

The Happy Hall of Fortuitous Happenstance: This hall used to be a temple to Tymora but now its a blackened ruin looking down on the town from the temple’s own small hillock.

Gerritt Hasklar’s Arms and Armor: Gerritt’s shop contains the best on public display of high quality armor and weapons in the North.

One Foot in the Boat: Alazar tends bar at this noisy, smoky, and raucous tavern that’s often too crowded to bear, nevertheless a lucky patron usually overhears something valuable that may lead him to adventure, or at least give him something to talk about in other taverns.

The Pearl-Handled Pipe: A large excellent inn considered to be the best place to stay in Yartar, and in fact one of the best in the North.

The Shield Tower: The west bank of the Surbrin River is the site of the Shield Tower, home to the Shields of Yartar.

Waterbaron’s Hall: The Hall is the residence and court of the ruler. Rooms are provided for merchants, and feasts are thrown for important guests.

The White-Winged Griffon: This creaking hostel threatens to come down during high winds, letting the chill blow through the bones of tenants. Known locally as the Whitewings, its only virtue is that it is cheap.

The Wink and the Kiss: This gaudy festhall is fun and informal. Easy camaraderie is encouraged here; rowdiness is frowned upon.

Winter Winds: This clothes shop is run two arguing brothers from Baldur’s Gate who moan and complain of the conditions of the North as they drape customers in cloaks, boots, furs, leggings, and mufflers.

Monday, August 13, 2012

While you are gone...

Teldicia knew, even before The Gypsy Lord spoke to her, that everything was different. It was a cold, but dry Monday morning, and she marvelled at what she considered a miracle - Samular Damian's control over the weather over Waterdeep. She was happy that her lord was generous with information pertaining to the Pantheon goals and aspirations. He was more secretive about the thoughts and motivations of his tet than he was his own, but she knew all of their aspects and had a firm grasp of how they were gaining their followers. As Tauren was over-explaining the importance of a Faerun pantheon, and Tymora's place within it, Teldicia suddenly realized what he was so reluctant to say. Tymora had ended their romance, and chosen the Avatar of Tempus. She was stunned, but not necessarily surprised, if such a thing is possible. Frankly, it was news that pleased her. She felt it was time the Gypsy Lord focused all of his efforts to elevate himself and his own tet.

The two held palaver as they discussed his plans for an extended trip north. An important trip, one meant to gain information and possibly wreak some havoc upon their dragon enemies. She had been testing her apprentice acolyte, Volo, since they arrived back from Amphail. He had successfully brewed a healing potion each day, 5 in a row. Tauren was pleased, and allotted resources to allow him to brew a potion every day for the next 8 weeks. He grew serious, and asked her if she was ready to try her skills at blessing weapons and armor into magical items. She beamed with pride, and showed him the lance she had prayed over for the last 3 days. It was carried in battle by the Horse Lord himself early in his carrier, a masterwork hurtful lance. It now imperceptibly glowed with its enchantment, applied through her dedicated prayers to the Gypsy Lord. He smiled, and she basked in his appreciation. When they were done, he detailed and allotted for funds for her begin enchanting the other masterwork tools of war in his church's hoard. She brushed her hair back out of her eyes, and started to prepare for the next six weeks of work.




Tales from the Ethereal Plane


Shabala was the name reverently bestowed to him by the Uthgardt barbarians; for untold years Shabala was feared and worshiped as their guardian and totem spirit. The barbarian lands fertile, the people prospered under his protection and eventually grew to inhabit all the Valley of Khedrun. Their people became enlightened in spirit while venerating Shabala in ritualistic ceremony every season. That was ten years ago…

Shabala padded through the ethereal leaving icy-prints everywhere he strode, his breath came out in frosty clouds. He was fearsome and knew it, everyone cowered to him—everyone except for Darien. She was his bond and his Magi; he would kill every one of the mountain lion tribesmen, the people he once protected, with his own ripping claws if she so desired.

Following lazily amid the gemstones that floated silently in Shabalas wake was Retina, a small outsider that consisted of a red segmented eye; two sets of bat-like wings that beat rapidly like a dragonfly; and  a scorpion-like tail, save that it curled down. 


The eyewing could see virtually anything, as long as that thing were perceivable: camouflaged creatures, magical auras, it could even tell where a person’s moral compass lies. Naturally it was Retina who saw Randron while it traversed the ethereal one fateful day. Retina understood the drow was calling for a companion, a creature to share magic and insight with. The eyewing understood drow elves were widely considered to be the most talented arcane sorcerers in the realms. Retina hastily answered Randron's summons. That was before the Time of Troubles...

I did not see any lies in the imps claims his words rang true, strange as that may be, but I believe Lord Pinprik may be on to something. I shut my eye every time my Magi begins any spellcasting, fearing that a surge could occur at anytime. It is a gamble with every incantation.” Retina imparted telepathically to Shabala as the large fearsome white lion led them through the ghostly environment. 

Unlike the real Waterdeep, the ethereal waterdeep had no property; everything ‘real’ was insubstantial and ghost-like to the two travelers. 

“You are fortunate,” the white lion began. “I live in a house with an overwhelming number of drow mage-daughters that prove the imp's assertions of inter-class disputes. To make matters worse, very spell cast on me by my Magi cause me to radiate a surge of magic.”

Baloreik
I have not seen that one before." Retina's eye widened in response. "I did not know your Magi was a drow elf!” The eyewing’s exclamation caused Sabala to roar out causing a huddle of meager doppelgangers to cower and scamper deeper into the ethereal plane. 

My apologies mighty Shabala,” Retina sincerely relayed. "It is just that another coincidence has just revealed itself to us. Not only can we both travel as we do, but our Magi are both drow."

The lion stopped and turned to face the eyewing who took an instinctive backwards lunge. “We should arrange a meeting between them.” The lion; with a rare showing of cunning said with all seriousness. 

"Hopefully a new face in House Auvryndar will break the in-fighting one way or another. We need to get everyone working on the same goal,” Shabala looked toward the Celestial Staircase, “restoring arcane Magic.”


From above, Baloriek followed the great white lion listening to his one-sided palaver and the House whom Shabala spoke of.


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Putting One's House in Order

"Sai Bladesemmer, Sai Umbrusk left word she was not to be disturbed while she was entertaining at teaUMPH!"
 The liveried manservant bounced off the wall as Dannrlee strode pratically through him, barely slowing. Dannrlee's face was a mask of scorn and anger. At a more leisurely pace, Cherilyn Anteos followed, a smirk playing on her lips. With a casual flick, she cast her heavy cloak at the doorman and sauntered after her husband's cohort.
 The Lady Umbrusk and her court of hens' laughter was abruptly ended as the double doors to the tea room burst open, Dannrlee stalking into the room, his eyes riveted on his bride-to-be. Lady Umbrusk stood. "Dan- Sai Bladesemmer, what are you doing here. I left word I was not to be disturbedAH!" The room was filled with sound of flesh meeting flesh as Dannrlee backhanded the matron of the house, driving her to the carpeted floor. Gasps escaped from the lips of the group of women, though one or two looked with hungry appreciation at the young Bladesemmer.
 Lady Umbrusk looked up from the floor, her eyes filled with loathing, and fear. A trickle of blood ran from a split lip. Dannrlee stood over her, gazing down at her with expressionless eyes. "Our lord and master directed you to have the helm horror delivered to the temple. Randal reports that it has yet to have appeared."
 "I will send it, I've just been so busy seeing to getting my house's own chapel in orderOH!" she ended as Dannrlee flipped her over, onto her back with his boot. He then placed his foot onto her throat and leaned forward.
 "Samular Bordane does not expect us to make time for him. We are expected to hear and obey, immediately. One hundred years of service under an old god means nothing to him, we must prove ourselves anew. Deeds, not words, are how we prove our loyalty. When we wed at the end of this month, this rebellious, independent streak will come to an end. Once our houses are joined, I will need a wife who will be tractable. I will have a covered wagon here at your estate by sundown, have the guardian ready to leave. Understand?"
 The pinned noble woman bit back her retort and nodded. Dannrlee straightened and removed his foot from her neck. He swept the room with a cold gaze, the tempurature in the chamber dropping a few degrees. The other noblewomen in attendance lowered their eyes, some sipping from the just remembered teacups in their hands. Dannrlee swept out of the room without another word. Cherilynn, witnessing the entire spectacle silently and approvingly, beamed at the attendees. "Ladies, it has been a delight. We must do this again sometime!" She turned to go, and then stopped and turned back abruptly "Oh, and Maribell? We are indeed still on for tomorrow night. The whips and irons will be ready." Cherilynn chuckled at the woman's discomfort and left.

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Port of Shadows

Besides the ancient and magnificent hoists and locks through the south sea-caves and the subsequent tolls levied by the Keepers, there are others ways one can arrive to the Port of Shadow—if such a place even exists that is; but it is also said that Skullport is Waterdeep’s worst kept secret. Nevertheless, Underdark port and its secrets exist and operates outside the knowledge and purview of many Waterhavians.

One such passage located in a well in the basement level of the Blue Mermaid tavern in the Dock Ward, a saloon targeted by the Cult of the Dragon during the first dragon attack. The course leads to the Underhalls, but was blocked off by the Knights of the Firelance after it was discovered that a band of slavers was using it to transport captives to Skullport.

Unknown to the Gunslingers, in no time the Shadow Thieves reopened the passage and had a permanent illusion of the wall emplaced to fool the unwary. The well shaft drops down more than 75 feet to a dank, fetid stone floor that faces the illusory brick wall. The tunnel behind the illusion is more a steep, slippery stairwell of well-worn rock than a passageway. It winds for a long distance through rank passages and poorly lit areas dripping with slimes, molds, and fungus.

At least once every mile along its length a pair of doors flank the passageway: One is a lockable cell door into an empty 40-foot square room for slaves, and the opposite one is a guard room for the slavers, complete with two sets of bunks and small chests for holding spare weapons and gear.
  
The long ways from the Blue Mermaid can be traveled in about eight hours if one moves at breakneck speed and is not either transporting slaves or attempting to move quietly or carefully. On average, traversing this passage nonstop from the Blue Mermaid to its exit takes 12-16 hours. It exits onto an opening on the western wall of the Upper Trade Lanes, opening on to a catwalk over a warehouse.

Another means of access leads to Skullport from the dungeons of Castle Waterdeep. It winds like a massive corkscrew into Undermountain, bypassing the underhalls and going straight to the The Threads. This route is shorter but due to its location under the castle, it has been blocked off as well by the Knights of the Firelance. This winding passage has a final descent down a well shaft of 120 feet, complete with an iron rung ladders set into the side of the shaft. The shaft apparently ends in the open air, stopping in the ceiling of the Heart directly south of The Threads. An iron spiral staircase actually connects with the well shaft, though the stairs have been rendered invisible to normal sight and infravision.


A Familiar Destiny

My associates,” the speaker began tactfully. “Let me first speak of the unpredictability of magic as we are all aware: it was not long ago when the magical power used during the aberration exodus caused teleportation to be a fools gamble; and now this year over the summer, anyone with the skills to pen a magical scroll were purged of the talent.” With practiced tongue, Lord Pinpirk continued. “The winter brings wild surges to any endure elements magic and mayhap some other fell surge or catastrophic effects we have yet to see or discover. Magic is our lives, our existence, and we are united in its enduring survival.”

Gathered in cloistered groups, listening to the silver-tongued Imp, were scores of wizards’ bonded creatures. In the newly rebuilt attic of the Trades Ward hostel, the sight of House Umbrusks Hater’sBall, were familiars both native and outsider, common variety and magical creatures. Felines ranging from alley cats to a wondrous white lion who listened with casual interest; an eyewing fluttered bat-like from perch to perch seeing everything; and a scamp of sinister fey-gremlins were too listening to the tiny demon.

“These changes could not have happened without the aid of significant magic: a wish.” Lord Pinprik said with an air of authority, his claim was met with affirmative gestures of purrs and quick jerky nods. Ravens, owls, weasels, and rats; they all reacted to his words—a voice from one of their own, a familiar, it unified them in mysterious untold ways.
 
“Our Eldrich-Lords,” speaking of their wizard-masters but avoiding the slave connotation, the Imp continued. “can undo these fundamental alterations and repair the Weave.” The Imp felt each pair of eyes on him now, mammals, birds, reptiles. “However such a collaborative effort cannot hope to succeed while they each toil at the helm of their own master-plans; waging conflicts against each other, wizard against wizard!” This was met with several sharp barks, thin hisses, and rude gesticulations of outrage.

My associates… if we can come together now and palaver then we can come together in epic purpose. We will do what the Magi refuse to do and together share insight into the Aspects of Magic, we familiars will impart what they know and bring about the restoration of magic and the preservation of the weave... fulfilling our destiny.”


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Fejyelsae’s Ring

The gem, a pink diamond is to be set in a platinum ring forged from several platinum pieces. The gem is not yet cut. Instead the jewel sits in a velvet lined box, upon a card;an appointment with the jeweler Jacinth Lathkule. Jacinth is a recent arrival to Storm Keep, a new follower plying her expert trade under the protection of the Samular Seven. The jeweler, unlike most followers, feels a strong connection to the pantheon, paying respects to all seven deities. She intends to earn a “master” status through the crafting of Fejyelsae’s wedding ring. The master work quality of the ring will then allow the addition of magical properties. If Fejyelsae accepts my proposal her noble title will be The First Lady of Storm.

James if you will allow a little backtracking, when I was in the carriage with Piergeiron and he spoke to me about the weather, I spoke with him about my true love of Waterdeep and a few other things. I would like to have requested that he marry us pending her acceptance and a time when the city is not starving or under attack.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Talmost Clothier and Furs

Tauren walked briskly in the morning sun, silently thanking Samaular Lord Damian for another day of dry weather. Though he tried to not dwell on Heilean and her new lover, he found it hard to escape his thoughts. He certainly had not seen it coming, but he also didn't feel particularly surprised by it. He thought it was a good match, and could not blame anyone for following the call of their hearts. He was still mulling over in his mind how he would approach Kelemvor, but he knew for certain he would approach him as an ally and friend. He reflected a little on how that relationship further strengthened the ties between the Faerun pantheon and the Samaular pantheon, and those thoughts pleased the would-be god.

Today he hoped to focus on the upcoming journeys into the north. He wasn't sure exactly where they were going, but he knew that griffon flight at high altitudes in this season of Frostburn was going to be perilously cold. As the caravan master, he had decided to start gathering the equipment and goods needed for their flights north. Of course, by reputation, the Talmost noble family were the finest providers of both exquisite and functional furs in all of Waterdeep. This trade and their tailors and seamstresses were the core of the families financial standing, and they operated a large very popular clothing shop. Tauren also remembered a big push from the family's new releases at the greengrass festival. They were introducing a new line of high end winter wear that was exceptionally resistant to cold and water. Tauren sought to invest in such gear for the entire party, knowing full well that it could make survival of the lethal cold much more likely.

As he stepped into the shop, warmed by three fireplaces, his mood was lifted and pulse quickened as he noticed all of the young women in the shop. He was greeted immediately and showered with attention as he perused the wares and inspected frost suits, frost boots, frost gloves, frost goggles, even frost horse blankets .It was just what he needed, and he loved every second of it.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Back To The Drawing Board

As the old-woman entered the house’s expansive library; a cavernous chamber of tomes and legers of the Highborn family, the Lady of the Mists dropped her elder pretext and appeared younger and vibrant, a contrast to her previous portrayal. She loved masquerades and the joy behind playing different roles; everything she did was shrouded in layers of illusions and lies.

The library was diamond-shaped with a raised central dais that featured a large oaken table under a model of the Savage Frontier on the vaulted ceiling; the Star Mountains being a central source of light. 

Elsewhere in the room, illumination came from small glass bottles that sit stoically on shelves; shelves that are placed over paintings of several Waterdeep’s most notable and distinguished historical figures. The glow gave them a dark sinister look. 

Embers glowed blissfully in the fireplace keeping the winter chill at bay but produced no meaningful light for the women attending the tomes and scripts. In the corners of the archive were smaller study areas where the best chronicliers of the house worked for at their goddess’ need. Whispers danced at the limit of sound as not to disturb researchers in their holy work.

Leira ascended to the table, her footfalls light and graceful, to find all Lilith’s dark—angelic duplicates pouring over texts, records, and books; volumes all thought to be exhausted or eliminated from their research.

“Starting over again? I thought these tomes to be irrelevant… we eliminated them ourselves.” Leira said apologetically though secretly enjoying the misdirection inherent in these endeavors.

“Jarred Mallred does not know anything. Incredible really that someone like Mallred who inherits the wealth of history and knowledge that is Blackspire Gap and still be utterly ignorant to the things occurring right before him. He is useless and I hope someone ends his idiocy soon before it spreads.” Lilith said absently while paging through her latest book. 

Leira, silent as a thought, took stock of the nature of Lilith’s research as one by one each of the Lady of Loss’ replicas finished their read and joined their host.

Leira’s eyes fell upon Historica-Magica a record book that documented houses with any arcane magical talents be they sorcery or wizardry. “What of the godson? Was he not gifted with insight as to the Aspects of Magic?” Leira asked wistfully her fingertips walking across the covers and bindings of the books. From the darkness a cleric requested an act of contrition and Leira acquiesced with a task: "Send word to Hlantos Melshimber that I wish to speak to her for tea." 

At this Lilith asked, “Why do you not punish for incompetence? Instead you send them on…”
 
The fruits of my labor are slow to flower, Lilith. Sometimes even I do not know—for my efforts are is still shadowed in the mists of Time, but I have belief in my followers. One does not need to overwhelm with fear; delicacy works better than blunt terror but one needs to have patience.”

::Sigh:: “No, the godson is just an idolized tiefling.” Lilith spat. “He knows nothing... and therefore he is now nothing—a ‘god’ with no pantheon. He is abandoned and mayhap begging for scraps as we speak.” She purred at the loss and ruin. “... neither did Huld Belabranta or anyone else know—it is clear we must focus our efforts on their guild sister… someone within the Order of Magists and Protectors must know of the shape or existence of the Aspects of Magic.”

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Awakenings

Norsinnow waited until the Samular group left his workshop before rushing back over to the liquor cabinet replacing his empty cup with a full bottle. Norsinnow’s used both hands to grip the bottle and drink, his body trembling with adrenaline and fear. Gathering his thoughts, Norsinnow wryly thought that he must be held in some regard by the group since he was given an option to co-operate. Quickly deciding that his work would have to wait, the wizard hurried to his private quarters to gather his belongings. Norsinnow had already had enough problems with the warriors of Tempus and without the Samular tet’s backing here at the Fields of Triumph, he was far too exposed. Once in his quarters he finished his bottle and focused on gathering the essentials he needed. Deciding the risk of wild magic was necessary, Norsinnow used a spell and magical ointment to disguise his appearance and made his way out into the night towards the church district.


The creature once known as Balin Jardeth wasn’t certain what had occurred but suddenly he could no longer feel his master’s omniscient presence, his master’s will. His existence was his own again…at least it would be once he had sated his hunger. The creature who once had been Balin must feed. Not certain how he had arrived in the church district or where he was headed the creature peered around, instinctively careful to avoid any priests that might be about. The Balin creature heard the heartbeat first, his tongue engorged, teeth extended as the fresh blood of an unprotected soul was approaching. Moving quickly, the creature found a series of small tents battered and torn by the storms of the previous evenings. The remains of the tents would provide enough cover eliminating the creatures need to alter from his humanoid form.

Norsinnow now shivered from the evening’s cold but was pleased that the snowstorm had finally stopped. It didn’t please the wizard to go into hiding but he was almost certain that none realized he had a sister who was a priestess of Tymora. Chuckling to himself, Norsinnow realized he was weaving in the snow covered road, the liquor beginning to hit him. Not too much farther before he could call upon his sister’s hospitality…

The Balin creature unloaded both his pistols into the backs of the human’s knees, dropping him instantly into the snow. The wind would hide the human’s screams the Balin creature realized as he fell upon his victim. Fangs extended, his bite tore at Norsinnow’s neck, ending the wizard’s life and beginning his undead one.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

People to Trust


Claudia Kelton is an agile thief who loved the city and the adventure of the streets or the ‘hustle and bustle’ as everyone called it; she never lacked for a challenge or for excitement in Waterdeep. Before the dragon attacked her home she and her best friend Jovena Roaringhorn would frequent many of Waterdeep’s well-to-do taverns and pubs; having met after being finalists in an impromptu drinking game-- they have been friends ever since they woke from that night.

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Elad Edals, cold infecting his joints, pointed to a brutish man across the High Road. Claudia, following the direction from the older man, saw emerging from a below-street apartment a hulkish man who was unspeakably built. Iron corded muschles over a seven-foot warrior’s frame—seemingly immune to the bitter cold until finally the man drew out a cloak and drew it tight around him. Her mouth dropped as she saw the warrior shrink to average height and merge with the hustle and bustle of Waterdeep.
 
“His name is Sanford. Did you happen to see his scars?” Elad asked formally. “Acid from a dragon; I set my watch and warrant on it.” Listening, Claudia kept her eyes on Sanford as they followed Sanford south along the High Road. “… Sanford has been making house calls to everyone he believes are Cult of the Dragon agents.”

“He does not look like the private investigator type Elad. Do you know if he works for Piergeiron?” Claudia asked, now identifying where Sanford was going: the Pampered Traveler.

“No, but one of his contacts does… or used to… I do not know yet, however Sanford visited a man named LaCarre—who may have told him about this last call.” Elad said thumbing back indicating the apartment where Sanford left from.

“What does this have to do with the book you are looking for and why you think House Wands involved in all this?” Claudia asked leading them to the walnut-shell littered deck of the 'Traveler.

Elad regarded his young companion quizzically. “Nothing, were not here for that. We are here to discover why dragons attacked your house or why the cult sought to attack; mayhap present ourselves sympathetic to yon brute because if my assumption is correct then we all have something in common.”

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One less cultist kowtowing to the dragons of the North, Sanford thought as he easily slipped into the flow of Waterdeep traffic. His palaver with Kafcar yielded him valuable information as well some convinces, the cloak being just one of many; but what Sanford loved the most was the satisfaction of giving them a taste of their own. 

Earlier in the summer, Sanford suffered terrible acid burns on his face and half his upper body when a black dragon attacked Secomber. He spent many weeks recovering—justice and retribution simmering under his gauze and wrappings giving him strength and purpose. When he was travel worthy Sanford left behind his job as a High Moor adventurer and ventured to Waterdeep. These days he seeks revenge by burning away the faces of dragon cultists with corrosive acid like Kafcar. 

Stomping his boots to remove the snow and slush, Sanford scanned the Pampered Traveler and spotted his associate—appearantly as did he judging by his wide charismatic smile. Sanford had made many acquaintances since arriving to Waterdeep: LaCarre, Durnan, and this man Adon. After ordering an ale Sanford removed the cloak revealing his acid scarred bulk and sat down opposite Adon.

“The cloak serves you well my friend.” Adon said companionably. “What did the man tell you before you burned away his life?”

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At a nearby table Elad Edals and Claudia Kelton listened intently as Sanford relayed to the other gentleman what the cult of the dragon had planned next for Waterdeep and the North

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Tyrus Skullstorn watched it all with curious detachment; the brute, the couple-- he was intrigued by this Damian Agundar, Lighting Sai and Lord of Retribution and wondered what the future may hold for the Realms. Tyrus resolved to understand this new faith… a force of the coming storm and decided how else was he to judge a faith but to observe those who venerate that faith? Tyrus needed people to trust, he was a stranger in a strange land and in these times of troubles enemies are at every turn.