Thursday, November 6, 2014

(Shadows of Waterdeep) Happy Birthday

From the Desk of Maskar Wands.
Moonfest 1370

Smendric turns 12 today, an important age, an age of maturity and responsibility in most cultures- but not in Smendric's case unfortunately. I had hoped that enrolling him in the Specularum would instill some responsibility in the lad. The institution prides itself on new forms of magic but it only further fed Smendric's insatiable need for exploration and wanderlust. The more I tried to restrict the boy's extracurricular activities the more persistent Smendric became. The boy does not like to be told no. 

On the other hand I had also hoped that some formal instruction and structure would calm Smendric's wild surges, but as of this writing no one can state with any certainty that Smendric's magic surges are indeed wild in origin, wondrous, or a form of chaos magic.   

Not making himself too comfortable Smendric Wands waited impatiently to be dismissed from class. It was all a formality. Today was his birthday and Moonfeast for everyone else, Smendric nor any of his classmates expected to be in class any longer than it took to take roll call. 

One by one Smendric was joined in the science hall by Mykka Cragsmere, a loremaster acolyte to both Oghma and Mystra; Teena and Tanner Tarm, twins sired by Tauren Tarm; Dimitros Cassalanter, the youngest at 10 who reverently regarded Smendric in all things magical or otherwise and finally the eldest twins Alyssa and...

"Alyssa, where's your brother Sanits?" Smendric asked merrily. Alyssa Roarninghorn was 17 but that did not bother Smendric he liked her nevertheless. Her brother Santis Roaringhorn however was Smendric's best friend and the two had been inseparable all that past summer. The look Alyssa gave Smendric stole the mirth from his ruddy features and was replaced with disbelief when she told him the shitty news. 

"Hey Smendric happy birthday!" Dimitros said worshipfully. 

"Thanks Dimi." Smendric replied to the young boy still looking at Alyssa's saddened eyes. 

Silence fell over the dark alchemy laboratory when the heavy oaken door opened from the hall. Smendric noted Teena Tarm gave a start, but when Smendric looked to the door to see what had frightened her, he saw only Rhodhan Eltorchul, the school's librarian walking down the hall just as the Dean of Students walked into the class room. Dean Ezren Eltorchul was the over-the-top school disciplinarian and final word on enrollment candidates in Specularum. He was followed by a bald young man around Santis' age. The boy was lean with a look of nobility and intensity that Smendric somehow recognized. But Teena payed no mind, she was still shocked at whatever she saw. 

"Happy birthday Smendric." Alyssa said soberly but with sincerity and with the cute smile he loved. He returned her reluctant smile. 

"Students," Ezren began, "I want to introduce a foreign exchange student from Thay. I present to you Bindon Salt." So that was it, Smendric thought his best friend for a Thayan.

"Sarutations." Bindon said in his barely discernible eastern dialect. "I am happy to be here in Waterdeep." 

From the doorway stepped yet another new face, a woman and obviously not a student or from Thay. After each of the students stood and made their introductions Ezren motioned for the woman to enter the classroom. Smendric could feel anxiety building up, he wanted to be out of here already. 

"Before I introduce our next visitor I want to thank you for extending your best Waterdeep well-met to Bindon," Ezren said at length. "Now, I know each of you are expecting early leave today because of the Moonfeast celebration, and I want to assure you all that I do not intend to keep anyone of you here any longer than is necessary." 

'Really?' was the magical message sent from Alyssa, 'he could have fooled me.' 

Smendric felt the tide of wild magic swim over him threatening to surge at his reply.  

"but before any thoughts toward early release can be entertained I have one more individual to introduce to you." Ezren Eltorchul said while motioning in the woman. 

She had short brown hair and chestnut eyes with red leather armor like an adventurer. Without waiting for introduction the woman stood forward, produced a large satchel and produced seven potions in various vials, flasks and decanters. 

"Thank you Dean Ezren, I am Agenlian Starwand and I will be your alchemy teacher for the rest of the term. Together we will discover the secrets to advanced alchemy and how to brew potions. But that will come later, today is a day of celebration and discovery students." Agenlian said with the enthusiasm that only comes from total dedication and love for one's craft. Walking down the causeway between seats she handed out the seven potions. 

"Is this homework?" Smendric asked incredulously earning him a cute scornful look from Alyssa across the causeway. 

"After you receive your potion you are dismissed until tomorrow. Your assignment will be to properly identify the contents of each potion. Each potion is different and not all of them are beneficial so a blind test is not advised." Agenlian said cryptically. 

As promised Smendric and the rest were hastily dismissed and later reassembled at their hangout- in the shadows of Waterdeep's Seaside colossus

"An assignment on a holiday? did not someone inform her that it was my birthday?" Smendric asked Mykka, Teena and Tanner Tarm. 

"One thing I will say for our new teacher," Mykka Cragsmere said. Mykka was the same age as Smendric and every bit his intellectual rival. "She picked a day we could not have the potion identified in the city. Merchants will be too busy to inspect a potion from a child." Speaking as if we was not in fact one himself.

Beyond the colossus crowds of people, acrobats, knife-throwers, dancing bears, and minstrels populating the streets. Smells of grilled meats, breads, sweat, and wine mingle in a strange but inoffensive odor. 

"What had you so startled Teena?" Smendric asked now that he had a chance. 

"You will not believe me, Tanner doesn't but I saw a drow elf with Rhodhan in the science hall." Teena said with certainty. 
Emerging from the bustle of people walking toward the colossus were Alyssa Roaringhorn and Bindon Salt who together now represented the 'older' students. "Dean Ezren suggested that we familiarize Bindon with Waterdeep." Alyssa said cheerfully, with the smile that Smendric loved but somehow now stirred jealousy. "Where is Dimitros Smendric? I thought he would be with you?" she asked. 

"That's a good question, I have not seen him since...

Suddenly the celebrants began sway to the sides of the street clearing the way for a small procession. The street music faded and changed to chimes and magical song. 

"Look its the Parade of Maidens!" Tanner Tarm exclaimed climbing to the base of the colossus to better see the procession. 

Advancing down the street was a procession of seven women each dressed in colorful clerical vestments, they carrying no visible weapons only ceremonial candles atop brass staffs that were carried reverently. 

Smendric watched as the general mirth was drowned in the somber procession. "Fanatics." Smendric said, "they always ruin the mood." 

"The Parade of Maidens," Alyssa began to explain to Bindon, "is to commemorate the clerics of Mystra, Tymora, Sune, and Myreva who perished defending Waterdeep during the godsfall. There are seven maidens, six clerics with one priestess chosen to symbolize the avatar. I wonder who it will be this year?" Alyssa finished looking toward the Parade of Maidens trying to answer her own question. 

Slipping on his magical goggles Smendric ended the mystery. "Hey its Dimitros' mother Gloriana and it looks like he's down there with her." Smendric said but then is entire demeanor changed.
"Smendric what is it?" Teena Tarm asked, both she and her brother wore identical expressions of concern. 

"They've stopped. Something is happening." Without another word Smendric dashed down the street, the others running closely behind. 

Stopping thirty feet from the procession a general hush had fallen over the crowd, the air had a taste of tension to it. Now that the kids were closer they recognized Rhodhan Eltorchul was also among the Maidens. The procession had stopped because a group of men were distastefully accosting the priestess. 

"I know a way you lovely ladies can make our street party the envy of Waterdeep." a large intimidating man said lustfully taking Gloriana and roughly forcing his mouth upon hers. Dimitros could do nothing but cry. 
Smendric became instantly incensed as wrath filled his veins. He reached for his potion assignment and held it to his lips. 

"Wait!" Alyssa said in a panic reaching out, "you don't know what it will do." 

"Sure I do," Smendric said with a mischievous grin, "I figured it out as she handed them out. You have a potion of haste, I have a potion of expeditious retreat. Now, I have to get him out of there!" 

Thirty feet from where the children stood the situation became more tense, Smendric needed to get Dimitros to safety so that his mother can focus on the creeps. Imbibing the magical potion he could feel the familiar surge of wild magic wash over him. 

"Meet me behind the Pampered Traveler Inn." his eyes glowed with blue light; with these seven words Smendric bolted toward the confrontation heedless of the danger. 

Several individuals were stepping in now and just as the first attacks were made Smendric scooped up Dimitros, who fainted, allowing his mother the freedom to turn on the offensive. 

An hour later the seven classmates were once again reunited, Smendric could not help but notice a change in Bindon- he was enjoying his too much. As he made is observations Alyssa and Teena rained affections down upon young Dimitros. "are you hurt?" "did they scare you?" to which Dimitros answered no to all- while he was in Smendric's company and wanted to impress his hero. 

"You lost your assignment because of me." Dimitros said obviously distressed.

"I drank it, there's a difference." Smendric said jovially. "If I didn't you would have been trampled under the mob." 

"I saw your mother," Bindon said to everyone's surprise. "you have seen the rook on him face when she attack." His smile brightened Dimitros' composure as Bindon did his best to describe the combat. 

Feeling bored Smendric wandered toward the back of the Pampered Traveler and to the sound of voices. 

"... yes the Jade Sea is what Lady Hawk said. That is where you pick up the package." Smendic did not know the voice. 

"Did she mention how I was to be paid?" Asked a second voice that Smendric did recognize. Slowly the boy peered around the corner. 

"It will be with the package." said a third voice, all were men. 

It was all that was said between the three men but Smendric clearly saw Bryan Kormallis taking with Wykkar and Greywolf. 

"What are you doing?!" slurred a voice from behind Smendric that stank of too much ale. Rough hands turned the boy-wizard about. "You look like a rich kid where are your parents?" the man reached for Smendric's satchel. 

"You must be looking for me friend," Bryan Kormallis said from behind Smendric. "I would not advise that." taking the drunkards hands gingerly while manipulating his joints causing intense pain.

"Ahh fuck you let me go!" the drunkard pleaded.

Breaking his thumbs first Bryan did let go of the man as requested and allowed him to flee into the streets. 

"I think he will find it difficult to have any more to drinks tonight." Bryan said laughing to Smendric. "Does your father know you are not in class? Happy birthday by the way." 

"Many thanks but you know I could have dealt with that guy, he just got the jump on me that's all." Smendric said to his 'other' mentor. "And Ezren dismissed us early." 

"I know you had the guy." Bryan conceded, "So what do you hear?" 
"Its early but I just came from a scuffle west of here. A group of brown back hard-men interrupted the Parade of Maidens. To me it looked like they specifically targeted Gloriana Cassalanter." Smendric then went on to describe the battle. 

"As the brown back hard-men escalated the confrontation Rhodhan Eltorchul and Avren Cragsmere came to Gloriana's defense and that is when things turned violent, so I grabbed Dimitros Cassalanter and here I am."
Bryan remained attentive, "I will look into it. Anything else? What about early dismissal is that unusual?"

"Actually yes, we also gained a new student and instructor, Although I just thought that because it was my birthday that we were released..." Smendric trailed off as he silently reminded himself its not all about Smendric Wands then added, "Teena Tarm got a real shock this morning in class, she says she saw a drow elf."

"A drow in the Specularum? Now that is interesting." 

A few moments later Smendric Wands was back in the company of his class mates with the rest of his birthday in front of him. Oh the possibilities! 

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