W:DH Week 18 – Is it getting warmer?

Our grand opening was tonight, and I couldn’t wait.  This was going to be our night. Nothing was going to ruin it.  Well, except for the dead body upstairs, or the evil-aligned troupe setting up to perform for our guests, or the increasingly frustrated Sgt. Cromley who keeps popping up at the least opportune times, or – I don’t know – the leader of the Zhentarum staging an attack against us.  While all of those things were bad, I think a portion of the guests who endured it all may have had a good time!

We started our evening by learning a bit more about our performers.  They call themselves the Sea Maiden’s Carnival.  We watched as they set up and noticed nothing negative about their actions – they were quite busy prepping for the performance.  We immediately noticed our friend Sgt. Cromley scribbling in his ever-present notebook.  He had somehow heard about the break in we had last night.  He insisted that we let him up on the roof to see where it had happened, and we grudgingly allowed it.  A short time later, he began shouting orders to some of his men below.  We couldn’t make out his words, but if Cromley is excited, we will likely not enjoy the results.

We were split trying to monitor Cromley, entertain our guests, watch for suspicious activity from the performers.  It was on this last task that Tobby may have landed.  He noticed a window open on the second floor with talon marks in the snow outside.  He, Boaz, and I investigated.  Our search ended in the library, where we found Kenku turning over the place.  Tobby was the first in the room and they immediately attacked him.  We fought back and killed two of them.  Moments later, they stood back up.  Their wounds were still visible, so this didn’t seem like healing.  I attempted to turn undead.  Before I could finish calling for Tymora’s aid, a large being appeared in the corner.  It spoke, and my holy symbol melted in my hand.  Never have I experienced such power.  Tobby killed two of the Kenku, and the large creature let our a bellow that caused the last living Kenku crumple and die.  The creature then vanished.

Cromley came to the room and we began to explain why we had yet more dead in our manor.  He blew a whistle and his investigation started immediately.  The watch showed up in force.  Our grand opening wound down, with the remaining patrons moving outside.  While Cromley started his work, we spoke with Barnabus.  He told us the large creature we fought was likely Manshoon, the undead leader of the Zhentarum. It seems we have gained some very unwanted attention.

We realized that the dead body was still upstairs.  Shava had cast invisibility on it earlier, and we could only hope it had gone unnoticed.  Jumanji bluffed his way past some guards and went upstairs.  With guards both above and below, he somehow found an opening to toss the body out a window unnoticed.  He gabbed a large bag and made his way down.  He was able to find the invisible, but surely mangled body at the base of the building.  He was able to fold the body into the bag, make his way to the sewer, and deposit the body into the water below.

We spoke with Renaer.  With all that was happening, we came clean with everything we had done.  We even told him about finding the Stone.  We discussed what we hoped to do with the stone, and how our plans may affect the attention we were gaining.  We need to tread carefully here.

W:DH Week 17 – Elementary, my dear Watson.

We needed to figure out exactly what happened to Jumanji’s guest, Istrid.  We combined our efforts and came up with a few leads that may bear fruit.  It seems that she is missing a necklace that she was previously wearing.  We spoke with some people outside that saw a large humanoid on our roof last night.  Inspecting the area, we found large footprints in the snow on our roof, as well as the sides of our house.  The murderer could walk on walls, apparently.  Given the information about the intruder’s size, we realized that the hand marks on Istrid’s neck were much larger than any of ours.  It all fit together, but we still need to find out who this person is, why he killed the girl, and why he took her necklace.  We were going to need some help.

We decided to pay for the services of our neighbor, Trench.  We spoke with him and told him about the intrusion, but left out any mention of the murder.  He agreed to help and spent some time inspecting our roof.  Hopefully he can help us fill in some of the missing pieces

Boaz made his way to the Pink Flumph and convinced a fellow bard to teach him the Dwarven song required to open the Neverember vault.  It sounds as if she will be coming to our manor to work with him.

I decided to stop by our cab driver’s place to check in with Maxine.  She seems to be happy with her current arrangement.  She only had one report for me.  She mentioned  a group of three people who seemed to be acting drunk as they were being picked up by the cab.  During the ride, they seemed completely sober. When they left the cab to enter a second establishment, they had somehow changed their appearances.  Could these people be the shape-changers seeking entry into the Harpers?  We might want to check them out.  I got the names of both establishments they had visited from Maxine.  At least it might be a place to start.

Shava seems like she might be having some trouble communicating with the Stone.  I think what I am sensing is probably frustration.  It sounded as if she was finally able to verify the keys needed to enter the vault.  She also learned the name of the dragon guarding it – Aurinax.

Tobby and I stopped by the Bloody Fist to invite Mirt to our grand opening.  He didn’t seem very excited about our tavern, but I think he may show up.  It really was more about extending the invitation anyway.  We mentioned the shape-changers, and Mirt confirmed that it was likely the group we had been asked to investigate.  He seemed unhappy that we had yet to look into this matter.  I’d like to take care of this, if only we could stop producing corpses at our manor…  Mirt also suggested that we keep an eye on the performers that were hired to put on a show in front of our manor.  He mentioned that they were members of the Bregan D’aerthe.  This is just great.  We were warned not to work with that group, and now we appear to be paying them to come directly to our home.  What could possibly go wrong with this arrangement?

W:DH Week 16 – Romancing the Stone

Seated in the viewing booth with Jumanji, Tobby, and Cromley, I got the uncomfortable sense that something was off.  I knew the Harpers wanted to disguise the identity of the priest, but the goat-head mask seemed a bit much.  The priest brandished a weapon and then killed a child with it.  Have the Harpers gone insane?  I’m not sure how I kept myself from beating my way through the glass. I could sense the outrage from the other occupants in the booth as well.  We watched in stunned silence as the questions were asked.

Usrtul refused to answer any questions about the specific identities of his employers.  He confirmed that he was following Dalakhar, intent on stealing the Stone before it was delivered to us.  He retrieved it after the fireball and went to the Gralhund Villa.  The Gralhunds double crossed Urstul and gave the Stone to the Nimblewright.  The confrontation at the villa ensued, and Urstul followed the Nimblewright to get the Stone back.

As we were leaving the ceremony, Cromley punched Barrage in the face.  I felt no need to step in here. I wanted answers too.  After Cromley left, Barrage introduced us to the recently murdered child – alive and well.  It was all an act to ensure Cromley’s silence.  I understand the logic of the ruse, but do not care for it.  We invited Cromley to a ceremony run by those we are allied with.  While we mentioned no name, Cromley must now think we have an affiliation with a cult of some sort.  One problem solved, and another created.

We returned to our manor and found that Shava had attuned to the Stone.  It seems that the thing is intelligent.  Shava was conversing with it, trying to gain information about the Neverember treasure.  She learned that the vault is protected by an ancient dragon.  This dragon apparently also carries Aghairon’s staff.  The Stone then went silent.  Apparently, it can only talk for short intervals between periods of rest.

While discussing this, we realized that Jumanji’s house-guest was one floor above us, and had possibly heard everything we had just discussed.  Tobby snuck upstairs and snatched a journal from the woman’s hands as she was writing in it.  He was back with us before she could even react.  And react, she did.  Luckily, Jumanji defused the situation, and she returned to her room.  The only one among us that could read the journal was Jumanji, and he said that the entries that mentioned us were less than flattering.  We discussed it, and decided she needed to leave in the morning

Shava, having waited an hour, started speaking with the Stone again.  It now insisted on being referred to as, “Your Highness.”  This cannot be a good sign.  The Stone spoke of three keys needed to enter the vault.  The 1st is the freshly severed hand of a Drow.  The 2nd is an unerring rendition of the Dwarven drinking song, “Your Bearded Face.”  The 3rd key is having a beholder present.  If these are indeed the keys to the vault, we have our work cut out for us.  Are they really the keys though?

The next morning Jumanji found his house guest dead in her room.  She appeared to have been strangled.  We need to stop producing dead bodies in our manor.

Boaz made his way to the performer’s guild to learn about the Dwarven song needed for the vault.

Tobby and I went to the Yawning Portal to ask Volo about Emek Frewn.  We learned that the man attempted to hinder Volo’s efforts to purchase Trollskull manor, and later tried to drive him away.  We should be able to find the man at his place of business – Frewns’ Brews.  I think we should pay him a visit.

W:DH Week 15 – Wait, did we just get the Stone?

Tonight was the night for our soft opening.  We have been so busy chasing the elusive Stone of Golorr all over Waterdeep, that we’ve barely had time to prepare.  Luckily, Renaer did much of the heavy lifting for us.  Before the guests began to arrive, Barrage came asking about the body of Urstul Floxin.  He suggested it would be best to remove the body as Crawley would be attending in his official capacity as a member of the watch.  We reluctantly conceded, unsure of how Crawley would react.  We agreed to meet the Harpers at midnight to get answers from Floxin’s corpse.

As the guests began to arrive, things were going smoothly.  Our plans to run a successful tavern just may work out.  Boaz gave an amazing performance from the stage, and the guests seemed to be enjoying themselves.  Then Crawley arrived.  As predicted, he was in uniform accompanied by Barnibus Blastwind.  We feigned ignorance of any dead body in our possession, and Crawley fumed at us.  He left in a rage. I have serious concerns for our ongoing relationship with him.  It will be a complication to be sure. 

Jumanji met a woman that needed a place to lie low for a while.  He agreed to let her stay up in the attic. Trench, from the Tiger’s Eye was in attendance.  He mentioned that he dug up some information on the Shard Shunners.  It seems they were working for Emmek Frewn.  We must ask Volo about this man as soon as possible.  Trench also introduced us to a woman named Vevette, who works for a trading guild.  Boaz took this in from the stage and noted that Vevette seemed to get nervous at the sight of Crawley.  She immediately made her way to the kitchen.  Jumanji followed and found her outside the servant’s entrance.  She confided that she was worried that the watch may be looking for her.

Barnabus was finally distracted from his drinking when he became curious about the area where Vevette was previously seated.  Again, Boaz noted this from the stage.  He stopped playing and approached the man to ask what he was looking for.  We convened in our private room.  Barnabus told us that Vevette had a powerful magic item on her person – so powerful that he could still sense where she had carried it.  He also mentioned that we might make peace with Crawley if we help him with the investigation into the fireball in our alley.  As we left Barnabus, Tobby shared an idea he had.  He suggested inviting Crawley to the Floxin questioning tonight.  It was brilliant.  I left to get permission from the Harpers immediately.  There was no time to lose!  Mirt gave his blessing for Crawley’s attendance under strict guidelines.  Shava and Jumanji left to meet Barnabus for a meeting at 10:00.  Things were happening quickly.

We received a note from a cab driver dispatched by Shava and Jumanji that they were following Vevette, and we raced to join them.  When we arrived, a chase ensued.  Shava and Tobby were racing after Vevette who was leaping from rooftop to rooftop.  They were just barely able to keep up.  We watched from the ground below and did our best not to lose them.  At one point Vevette jumped from a roof and landed in the back of a moving wagon.  Moments later she rolled from the wagon and continued to flee and made her way into a building.  Boaz, Shava and I followed.  There was a distracted
matre d’ in the lobby, so Boaz and Shava wisely snuck past the man.  I am not the quietest person, so I opted to toss the man a coin, hoping for the best.  Behind a black curtain, there seemed to be a meeting filled with black-hooded people gathered in a darkened room.  I attempted to use magic to gain an appearance close to theirs.  If only I were better at concealing myself when casting the spell, it might have worked.  At least i was a distraction for Boaz and Shava who made their way to the kitchen.  The cooks were already in an alarmed state.  They followed the sound of commotion up a set of stairs.  There they found a ladder to the roof.  They witnessed someone get kicked in the face , then falling to the ground.  They climbed and ended up cornering Vevette on the roof.  Shava determined that Vevette had the Stone of Golorr, and convinced her to trade it for a cache of valuable gems.  The trade complete, Vevette fled once again.  We brought the Stone back to our manor in order for Shava to determine just what the thing is.

With time running out, Tobby made his way to the home of Crawley.  He was still upset, but ultimately agreed to the terms of the meeting.  Perhaps we haven’t completely torched our bridge with the man after all.

W:DH Week 14 – The slippery Stone

We asked the cab driver to take us to the city of the dead, but he asked more questions of us than the usual cabby does.  Tobby investigated the contents of his pockets while the man continued with his questions.  He found a storage-box key, not unlike the type used by the lamp-lighters guild.  We exited the cab, and made our way to where to the lock-boxes are located.  We needed to examine the contents before the cab driver realized his key was missing.  Inside the locker, we found a note with instructions to keep an eye on some unnamed group, with a promise of payment.  It was signed by someone named Frewn.  We can now safely guess that this Frewn was paying the cab driver to watch us.  For what, we don’t know, but we may have more than one reason for people to be interested in us!  If memory serves, Volo may have mentioned someone named Frewn in relation to our manor.  Perhaps we should revisit the topic when we see him again.

We returned to the city of the dead once again to follow our map.  It led us to a mausoleum that Tobby unlocked for us.  I stayed outside to keep watch while the others entered.  I decided to act as if I was relaxing under a tree right across the street.  Something seemed odd about the tree and as I investigated, an incredible thing happened.  The tree began to converse with me!  It told me that it had protected the city from trolls long ago.  It mentioned that a metal man had entered the mausoleum we were investigating along with many other people.  Some people had since left.  As the group fetched me to investigate the lower level of the crypt, the tree mentioned its name – Branite.  I shall have to return to this spot in the future.

As we descended the stairs, we followed a trail of blood.  Foul deeds had been carried out here.  We found not one, but two corpses along the way.  Assuming we would find nothing but death, we were startled to hear a faint cry for help from farther down a passage.  We approached and found an injured woman clinging to sanity.  Boaz offered some healing and her eyes focused on us.  She said that she works for the Casselanters.  She was apparently here with members of other families, but she would not tell us which.  She did mention two other individuals – Arn and Seffia, who were here, but had since left with the Stone.  She seems certain that they would take the Stone to a windmill hideout in the Southward.  As we put her in a cab, Tobby listened for the address of her destination to confirm her story.

We arrived at this windmill hideout and encountered a number of homeless families.  I spoke with one, and determined that our quarry was likely in a room near the top of the structure.  We made our way up the stairs and when we opened the correct door, we were immediately set upon by two men with daggers!  There were also three flying monstrosities hovering just outside a window.  One of the men moved to the window and handed a stone to one of the creatures outside. The other two creatures climbed in to join the fight.  We fought well, and slew those in the room, but the remaining creature with the stone had escaped.  Tobby scanned the skies and spotted the thing flying in the direction of Mt. Waterdeep.  The Stone seems to have slipped from our grasp once again.

While deciding what action to take next, I was struck with the feeling that we may have forgotten something…

-Our tavern is holding its soft opening tonight! 

W:DH Week 13 – City of the Dead

We’re taking a late-evening stroll in the City of the Dead.  There’s no harm in that, right?

Our goals: Find and question Urstul Floxin – and – don’t get arrested

Without any other source of direction, we decided to use the Nimrod to give us a clue, and it worked!  The thing was spinning quite rapidly.  We followed it for a bit and located a mausoleum that seemed to be the source of the Nimrod’s flurry of action.  We noticed movement up on top of the structure so we split up to approach.  Shava snuck around one side while I snuck around the other.  The rest of our party approached from the front.  Tobby stealthily made his way to the entrance of the structure, and waited.  When Shava and I met at the back, we realized that our silent approach was fairly loud, as the noises up above had stopped.  Shava cast invisibility on me, and I climbed to the top of the structure.  My ascent to the roof was a bit too noisy, and the man on top spun to look for me.  He seemed to be holding down the Nimblewright in a threatening manner.  I used a cleric trick and amazingly, it worked!  The man rushed for my illusion and fell from the top of the structure.  The others saw this and rushed to confront him.  As I approached the Nimblewright, it stood and leapt an incredible distance off the roof.  I swear it was easily a 60 foot jump!  I made my way to the edge of the structure and again used some cleric abilities to convince the man that I was his friend.  The man turned out to be Urstul, and we convinced him that we were looking to trade information for safe passage out of the city.  He agreed and gave us his info, he also mentioned a map the Nimblewright had that would lead to the Stone of Golorr.  I quickly realized the error in using a spell to convince the man.  When the spell wears off, he will probably be a bit upset at me.  There was no time to lose.  We needed to get him to Sgt. Crawley quickly. 

We took Urstul to our manor and Tobby locked him in the basement with a bit of quick thinking.  I must admit, I didn’t like having this man in Lif’s space.  I ran to fetch Sgt Crawley, leaving behind the sounds of Urstul trying to batter his way to freedom.  I ended up interrupting Crawley in the middle of his duties and he agreed to meet us at our manor shortly.  I returned to the manor to find that thankfully, Urstul had given up his attempt to escape as all was silent in the cellar.  When Crawley arrived, we opened the cellar door and found Urstul dead – crushed by some of our stock.  I knew Lif would not appreciate the intrusion, but this was a rather intense reaction!  Crawley immediately suspected us, but we convinced him that it must have been an accident.  He will return in 24 hours to meet with us again.

-The other half of our party-

Shava and Jumanji took the Nimrod to try and find the Nimblewright.  They followed the signal back to the Temple of Gond.  There, they spoke with Valetta who took them to see Nim.  It turns out that the Nimblewright had returned, and Nim had disassembled it.  They convinced Nim to give them the map it was carrying.  They looked over the map and returned to the City of the Dead to follow its directions.

Zhent Crackdown!!

They just walked in and starting grabbing everyone in black!

After last night’s North Ward bloodbath, the City Watch has finally found their misplaced manacles and have begun a sweep of known or suspected Zhentarim gathering places, snatching up anyone who might know something of the murderous assault on Villa Gralhund.

Even prominent locales such as the Yawning Portal were not immune from the sweep. “We were just having some drinks after mid-day when the Watch arrived in force. Some people began to scatter, but the Watch was everywhere. My friends and I just settled in and watched the fireworks!” one Portal regular reported.

This Season of Blood has seen open warfare between the Black Network and another faction that some believe is affiliated with the rumored Xanathar Guild. The body count was high all through the long, hot summer. Most Waterdhavians placed hope in an easing of hostilities once the snow began to fall.

Instead, the Zhents have now moved on to wholesale murder against even the nobles of the North. Can anyone think themselves safe?

What has prompted this Black Network campaign of death is unknown. What can they hope to achieve?

At least the Watch has finally, if too late for Lady Gralhund, determined that enough is enough.

“We consider it our highest duty to protect the lives and livelihoods of our citizens,” North Ward Watch Civilar Emmer Jundhyl stated.

Bloodbath at Gralhund!

They carted the bodies out, one after another…

Last night, this terrible Season of Blood stormed over a new location: Lord and Lady Gralhund’s villa. Neighbors reported hearing what they initially thought was another of the Gralhund’s famous parties being conducted at the lovely compound in the North Ward. However, the evening turned out to be anything but festive. Nearly a dozen armed men, clad in black leather armor (sound familiar, Dear Reader?) met their demise inside the walled villa, alongside an equal number of Gralhund’s own guards and employees.

Lady Yalah Gralhund herself was cruelly put to the sword by these assassins. Lord Orond sustained only minor wounds while trying heroically to defend his dear wife.

The City Watch, in an all-too-frequent refrain, report that they have no leads on the purpose of this murderous assault or on those who may have coordinated it. Citizens reported variously that an evil-appearing human male, tall, broad and clad in — guess what? — black leather armor, was seen fleeing the villa during or immediately after the vicious melee. Other reports suggest that, rather than a man, a mechanical creature departed the villa at that time, springing dozens of feet into the air. Or perhaps both?

It’s clear that the City Watch is unable to guarantee our security, in our City of Splendors during this dangerous time. Lock your doors, citizens. And beware the Black Clad!

W:DH Week 12 – Down to Business

As predicted, the watch wasted no time in questioning us.  As I cordially opened the front door for Captain Stagat, it seems the rest of the watch was poised to break all of our windows and leap inside.  Stagat had little interest in what we had to say and quickly took us to prison.  I had hoped to never see the inside of the place again…  We waited there for a hearing in front of a magistrate.  Tymora was with us, as Ranaer was there to plead our case.  He told the magistrate of our heroic deeds of late.  The Harpers came through for us as well, as we had several witnesses to back up our story.  The magistrate took this all in and decided to let us go.  Although it all turned out well, I fear we have strained our relationship with Ranaer

In order to let the heat die down with the city watch, we decided to focus on the matters of our manor.  We decided we needed someone to man our cab, and someone to bar-tend / man the everyday operations at Trollskull. 

The cab guild sent over a man named Abraxis.  We interviewed him, and he seemed a decent man.  Maxine gave him a passing grade as well, so we made an agreement with him.  He would stable the cab and Maxine at his place and would work the hours we requested

Ranaer sent a man named Calahan to interview for the management of our tavern area.  He would tend bar and hire the professionals to wait tables and cook.  He detailed prospective costs and earnings for our establishment, and he agreed not to smoke his horrible-smelling cigars in the tavern.

While our interviews were taking place, a Sgt. Crawley came to ask some off-the-record questions for his investigation.  He was leading the investigation into the explosion near our place, and wanted to know if we had anything we could share that we might not officially want to reveal to the watch.  He gave us some information to help spur our responses.  The name of the Zhent who survived the explosion is Urstul Floxin.  This Floxin had apparently been at Gralhund Villa.  Crawley wants to know what caused the violence between the Zhents and the Gralhunds.  He told us that the watch was now cracking down on known Zhent members.  If we uncovered any information we would like to pass on, we agreed on a plan. We would meet at a designated location when either of us placed a specific mark on our cab as a signal to the other.

We later returned to the Yawning Portal to speak with Ranaer.  We told him of our progress and plans for the manor.  He seemed genuinely excited about the project.  He has plans of his own as well.  He hoped for a grand opening with street performers out front.  We mentioned our desire to host our neighbors and came up with the idea of an early cold-open for them tomorrow night.  We split up to invite the locals in preparation.

Boaz finally convinced us to purchase respectable clothing.  He has a point.  We will now be hosting guests instead of slaying monsters in the sewers.  We should at least look the part!

W:DH Week 11 – What have we done?

Stepping past the dead servants, we opened the door between us and the sounds of battle.  We found two Zhents on the other side and immediately sprang into action.  Thankfully Boaz was there to bring Jumanji and I back from the brink of death.  After dealing with the Zhents, we followed the sounds of combat upstairs.  We found house guards fighting more Zhents.  I voiced allegiance with the guards as we stepped in to help slay the apparent invaders.  As we fought, a female voice called out that the city watch was on its way.  One Zhent fled downstairs.  As the last Zhent upstairs fell to the combined might of our group and the house guard, the female voice called out again, “Kill them too.”  The guards turned on us!  Tobby sprinted into the woman’s room and quickly dispatched her.  Her half-orc bodyguard shut and locked the door separating them from us.  Moments later, he opened the door and joined the fight against us while blocking our passage into the room.  Tobby’s unconscious body lay bleeding just behind him.

A small man opened another door to our space and poked his head out.  He glanced around with a terrified expression on his face and slammed the door shut again.

The fight was going badly for us.  The guards and the half-orc were proving too much to handle.  Luckily, Shava was there to work her magic.  She slipped past the half-orc and disguised herself as the dead lady in the other room, knocking a screen over the corpse to conceal it.  She dumped a healing potion down Tobby’s throat just as his life was slipping away.  Then she ordered the half-orc to pursue the lone Zhent who fled downstairs.  For a moment, I didn’t think he would obey.  He then sullenly stomped off to do as ordered.

The small man checked the fight again and quickly shut his door.

Shava then ordered the remaining house guard to follow downstairs to kill the Zhent. They obeyed as well.  Tobby expertly opened a chest in the woman’s room and found a concealed compartment.  It contained ceremonial robes and holy symbols.  Curious – were those symbols of Asmodeus?  We confronted the slight man who was keeping tabs on our battle from his room.  His name is Orund.  Shava took the lead with her disguise still up and Orund addressed her as Yalla.  We convinced him to show us a quick way out as the city watch was coming.  We certainly didn’t need to be seen with more dead Zhents.  As we made our way, we questioned Orund, and he indicated that Yalla had sent the Stone of Golorr away with the Nimblewright.  It appears we had just missed both.  We escaped just as the city watch was arriving.

The next morning we had a guest.  The Harpers sent this man, Barrage, to help us with the absolute mess we had made at Gralhund Villa.  It turns out the woman we killed the previous night was a Lord of Waterdeep.  The watch will be investigating, and we do not want to be implicated.  We came up with a story and alibi, and Barrage departed to arrange the other parts of our story.

Tymora watch over us.