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.
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!
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!
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.
The nimrod whirred and spun as we left the temple of Gond. We spent some time tracking down the source, trying to get closer, but determined that no matter how we searched, it would spin no faster. We later met with Ranaer who had a proposition for us. He wanted to speak with the dead from the explosion. Shava volunteered to accompany him, and we started coming up with question for her to ask. While this was happening, we realized that the contractors working on our manor were proceeding at an amazing rate. It seems as if they may be finished soon. The opportunity to make any changes to the place is rapidly closing. Boaz and I brainstormed to make some positive changes to the layout, and the contractors quickly added it to their plans. We added an interior set of stairs to the second level, a dedicated gaming space, a private room, and a stage. Excellent.
Shava returned from her questioning and filled us in on some of the answers she received. The dead gnome was Dalakhar. When Shava spoke with him, he indicated that he was carrying the Stone of Golorr. He was trying to deliver the Stone to us. The Zhents were the ones chasing him. The dead Zhent indicated that the destination of the Stone was Gralhund Villa. The dead halfling seemed to be an innocent victim of the explosion.
We made our way to Gralhun Villa. Tobby did a bit of shadowy scouting and reported that he heard a loud party taking place inside. Was the nimrod spinning faster now? We all made our way to a portion of the wall that seemed relatively easy to climb, and with the help of Jumanji, scaled it. One, by one, we topped the wall and were hit with the sensation that we were being watched. Boaz was the first to drop to the ground, and he was immediately attacked by shadow-dogs and a shadow-man. Our group proved itself once more, as we vanquished the shadows in short order. Tobby took the lead once more as we moved into the outer structures of the villa. We found empty rooms – a barracks and a kitchen with a roaring fire. As we made our way closer to the sounds of revelry, Tobby realized that the sounds were actually more like a battle! We opened another door and found three recently murdered servants.
As we survey the scene, we are preparing for a fight with foes unknown.
stopped by to welcome us to the neighborhood. She is the owner of
Corellon’s Crown, an herbalist shop nearby with a greenhouse on top.
She was looking to trade stories with us regarding the recent
explosion. She told us that she saw a survivor dressed in black fleeing
toward the Bent Nail. Before we could depart, another of our neighbors
approached. Rishaal, a golden dragonborn, also wanted to greet us. He
owns Bookworm’s Treasure. He knew a bit of the history surrounding our
manor. He let us know that our friendly spirit is named Lif. He also
indicated that he could help us restore many of the damaged books in our
library, should we want.
After the pleasantries with our neighbors were over, we made our way to the Bent Nail to investigate the path of the fleeing survivor. Tobby learned of a nearby sewer entrance, but not before freaking out the owner a bit. While this was happening, Boaz noticed some children playing a bizarre game nearby and asked them questions about what they may have seen the previous day. One of them told Boaz that she saw the man leaving the scene of the explosion go to the sewer grate, knock, and then enter. She also mentioned that he was carrying something that looked like a stone about the size of a loaf of bread that resembled a frog with lots of eyes. Could this be the Stone of Golorr? If it is, then the target of the explosion may have been Dalakhar. We were told that he had stolen the Stone from the Zhents. We had all the information we needed. We were ready to head back into the sewers. Tobby made sure there were no traps on the grate, we opened it up, and we found ourselves face-to-face with a city watchman. Sgt. Walmis was not very pleased to find that we intended to enter the sewers. I find it fitting that a man with such a foul attitude has been assigned to work in the filth of the city. It’s quite fitting. As we talked, Vajra appeared to diffuse the situation, and we retreated to continue talks with her.
Vajra told us that we should let the investigation of the Zhent survivor go as the watch were already involved. She suggested that we might follow up on the construct that appeared to have thrown the fireball. She advised that we should tell the members of the temple of Gond that, “The Blackstaff will call in her favor.” She seemed to think that relaying this message would pave our way.
we approached the temple of Gond, Boaz noticed a mechanical arm extend
from an upper window in our direction. He then saw a mechanical bird
flying down toward us. That this artificial bird struck Jumanji was no
surprise – artificial birds seem to be drawn to him, it was when the
thing slammed into him and pierced his chest that we realized foul play
was at hand. We entered the temple and met a female dragonborn named
Valetta. We told her of the attack outside, and mentioned that we were
calling in Blackstaff’s favor. She immediately led us upstairs to meet
the construct Nim. Assuming that Nim was responsible for the explosion
in our alley, we began to question the him. It turn out that this
construct has been creating other constucts. Boaz asked if any had
recently gone missing, and Nim admitted that one had been missing for
some time. He called it Nimblewright, and gave us a bizarre tool that
would help us locate it. It seems as if this Nimblewright must be
working with others as it requires daily help to wind its gears.
In the immediate aftermath of the explosion, we rushed into action. Some tried to assist the casualties, while others investigated the scene for clues. The watch arrived shortly after the blast and started their own investigation. They brought with them a mage by the name of Barnibus Blastwind. Our efforts, and our later conversation with Barnibus revealed several findings:
11 people died in the blast.
A puppet-like creature was seen tossing something down to the street immediately before the blast from atop the roof of the Tiger’s Eye building.
This construct was similar to those operated in parades and used by followers of Gond.
A youth at the scene recovered a necklace of fireballs that likely was the source of the explosion.
Shava traded with the boy for the necklace.
2 of the fireball beads were missing.
The likely target of the explosion was a gnome.
He was being chased by 3 Zhentarum, 1 of which lived and seemingly escaped.
The gnome was seen to be concealing something while being chased.
He had dried waste on his boots, suggesting possible recent sewer activity.
He had on his person a dagger and pouch, neither of which were likely to be what he was concealing.
the excitement of the explosion began to wind down, we were approached
by a man named Vincent Trench. He told us that he works as an
investigator for those that need to track down information. He
mentioned that he owns the Tiger’s Eye building, and he generally
charges a flat fee of 50 gold. We decided to talk over his offer and
possibly seek him out in the future.
Shortly after, we agreed to follow up on a task previously given to us by Mirt. We made our way to Felzoun’s Folly to find Uza, and assist her with the monster trapped in her bookstore. Once we made contact, she readily agreed to escort us to her shop. She described the monster trapped in the cellar as a floating head with many eyes. This description left us a bit nervous. We are not equipped to handle a beholder. We then realized that this woman had trapped it in a cellar, and our fears were somewhat alleviated. Somewhat. Uza also asked that we save her cat, which was likely still in the shop. As we entered, we found the cellar door open, and heard cat noises from upstairs. Jumanji immediately went for the cellar, and I followed. Shava, Boaz and Tobby went upstairs to investigate the cat sounds. Shortly after getting to the bottom of the stairs, Jumanji found Uza’s cat and we heard a shriek of terror from upstairs. We rushed back up to find a scene that I found hard to believe. Shava was clawing at the front door desperately trying to flee from something unseen. I turned and saw Tobby casually walking down the stairs. He said, “Goodbye” to us as he calmly strode to the exit as well. It was at that point that I noticed Boaz seated in a chair, idly flipping through the pages of a book. All three shortly shook off their enchantment and explained what was upstairs. Many of us made attempts to kill the thing, but it was ultimately Tobby who eliminated the gazer with his arrows and daggers. We exited the building to let Uza know that the monster was dead, and that her shop had only suffered minor damage from an errant fireblot. She thanked us profusely. I must say, this kind of work is rewarding – which is beneficial because as I understand it, there will be no other reward!
We returned to Mirt to tell the tale of the bookstore monster. He was pleased and offered us another task if we were interested. A man named Mattrim Mereg, that can be found at the Yawning Portal, wishes to invite a gang of doppelgangers into the Harpers. Mirt would like us to investigate the worthiness of this gang. Before we left, we asked Mirt about exchanging our silver bars for actual coin. He agreed to pay us 40 gold for each bar. We accepted, and exchanged the three bars we had with us.
feel a new sense of affiliation with the Harpers, and I must say, I
don’t like the idea of doppelgangers as members. I’ll try to keep an
open mind, but I have a bad feeling about this…
got an unusual summons today. No, not a paper bird hitting Jumanji in
the head. That somehow no longer seems unusual. Vajra Safahar appeared
in our manor to invite us to Blackstaff Tower and then vanished in a
flash. We were so struck by the odd delivery, that we decided to follow
the instructions immediately. There was a rather conspicuous cab ready
outside for our trip. We talked with the cabbie and learned that he was
indeed sent by Vajra to be our ride. He was a helpful fellow, offering
some advice for our meeting. He mentioned that his name is Deniro.
arrived at Blackstaff Tower and saw what we have all seen many times – a
smooth black tower with no openings. As we approached, we were
presented with a glowing opening and we each filed into the tower,
disappearing one-by-one. The inside of the tower appeared much larger
than the outside, and it was housing a party of some sort. We were
guided thru the party toward our meeting with Vajra. The building is
truly a wonder. We passed thru a door and somehow held our meeting on a
sunny beach. Amazing.
told us about her organization – Force Grey, and it’s subordinates –
the Grey Hand. I had heard of this group but knew very little. It all
sounds very interesting, and I wanted to hear more! She had a task for
us to undertake, if we were willing. Apparently, an associate of hers
had stopped sending regular reports some time ago. She told us that the
man was a recluse monk by the name Hlam. He had been living in a cave
on Mount Waterdeep. She needed us to find him, ask what he had found,
and request that he send more frequent reports. I was not alone in
readily agreeing to this task. Vajra indicated that Deniro would
regularly check in with us to pass on word of our success.
We returned once more to the Yawning Portal to speak with Volo. As odd as Volo seems, he does know a great many things. While we waited for our audience, Boaz decided to fill a quiet moment in the tavern with a performance – and what a performance it was! The other bard, who had been taking a break, actually tipped Boaz from his own earnings. Immediately after, we were shown to Volo’s suite, Ranaer was already in attendance. Not only did Volo know Hlam, but he was able to provide us a map to his cave! He also mentioned that Hlam was fond of Red Dragon Whiskey. It suddenly looked like we might be able to accomplish our task this very night. Ranaer reminded us that he would be of great help when we decided to start work on Trollskull Manor. As we departed, Tobby noticed Davil Starsong watching us. He mentioned that he had also spotted him earlier in the evening. He had been wearing a disguise at the Blackstaff Tower party. It seems he has become quite interested in our movements. Shava disguised herself and waited behind to watch for pursuit as we left. When she determined the coast was clear, she met us at our next location – The Singing Sword, at the base of Mount Waterdeep. We ate a hearty stew to get ready for our climb, and Tobby thought to purchase a quantity of Red Dragon Whiskey.
We hiked and climbed all night looking for Hlam’s accursed cave. When we finally did find it, Hlam seemed less than willing to talk with us – until Tobby produced the whiskey. Hlam agreed to send more reports and asked that we relay his findings to Vajra. He said, “Evil’s twin hides its face for now. Expect that to change before winter’s end.” We then made the long trek back to our tower for some much needed sleep.
Deniro was available later that day to carry us to Blackstaff Tower to deliver our report. Vajra was impressed. Not only had we succeeded, but we had done so in less than twenty-four hours. We let Vajra know about Davil Starsong’s presence at her party earlier. She warned us against cooperating with the Zhentarum and a drow faction called the Bregan D’aerthe. I had never heard of the second, but she mentioned they fought both the Zhents and the Lords of Waterdeep.
When we returned to our manor, we found Maxine harnessed to Anxer’s old cab – painted a different color. Jumanji had been busy. He and Maxine had found it abandoned on the street, and they brought it back. As we were trading the details of our recent dealings, the conversation was cut short. A fireball suddenly exploded without warning on the street!
Shava, Tobby, and Jumanji just returned safely from the Zhent warehouse. They brought back a wealth of silver bars! Tymora is with us.
I decided to have a chat with the spirit inhabiting our manor. I borrowed some ball-bearings from Tobby and set up in the library. I explained to the ghost that our intention is to restore the manor to its previous glory. I guessed that the cellar door constantly slamming shut was a sign of anger or frustration from the ghost, so I vowed not to enter the cellar unless absolutely necessary until it lets me know I am welcome there. I shared some wine, and began looking for a journal or history book in the library to help our restoration efforts. A book soon dropped to the floor, but it turned out to be elven book detailing wineries. I began to read it, and the ball bearings moved to spell out three letters, “LIF.” Perhaps this is a reference to the ghost’s name, or it may be a clue as to what I am to find in this book. I shall have to study it to find out.
Jumanji called out that another paper bird had just hit him in the head. A message from Mirt, no doubt. It gave us the name of a stable – Estadio. It was just the lead we needed to get started in our investigation. We all made our way to the stable and began our work. Tobby snuck in to try and find any sign of Maxine, while the rest of us asked questions of the stable hands. Boaz was particularly quick on his feet here. When the employee helping us left momentarily, Shava disguised herself as a stable hand and entered the offices looking for information. A short time later, an alarm bell sounded and virtually all of the workers poured out of the stable in pursuit of someone. Jumanji figured that it must be Shava they we chasing. I agreed, and we joined the pursuit. Boaz stayed behind to calm the horses and watch for clues. After fleeing for a time, Shava found an opportune moment to drop her disguise and feign ignorance. The stable hands bought her story and continued their efforts to capture the fleeing criminal. While chaos was taking over in the front of the stables, Tobby found Maxine in the back. They slipped out and made their way to our tower.
After the events at the stable, I decided to make my way back to the tower. I wanted to read more of the book I had started earlier. Jumanji went to the Yawning Portal to have his meeting with Yagra. Boaz and Shava accompanied him. Once there, Yagra introduced them to a sun elf named Davil Starsong. He was impressed with Jumanji, and offered him a task to perform for possible entry into their organization. They want him to investigate murders of elf and half-elf sailors at the docks. They also revealed that they are members of the Zhentarum. I must admit, my feelings about the Zhents are fairly strong, but I know that Yagra is a good person. Her membership in their ranks does give me doubts as to those feelings.
our manor, Tobby had a chance to ask Maxine some questions. She
indicated that she didn’t know what ultimately happened to Anxer. He
went into a bar and never came out. The last day she was with him,
Anxer picked up a sun elf and his half-orc bodyguard on their way to the
Yawning Portal. It seems likely that they are the same individuals
Jumanji had just met with. During their cab ride, they discussed hiring
spies to root out Xanathar operatives.
A Waterdavian guild representative came to our manor to establish a relationship with us. His name is Hammond Kraddoc, and he is a member of the guild of Vintners, Distillers, and Brewers. It seems as if we will need to use the services of this guild when we are ready to open the manor for business again. We will have to ask Ranaer for advice when dealing with these guilds.
Tobby left to secure forged papers indicating ownership of Maxine so we can return her to service.
and Shava went to talk to Mirt at the Bloody Fist. He was very pleased
with the results of our efforts. He was especially happy that we had
already started moving to get Maxine back into position to resume her
work. He offered us another task. A bookseller named Uza Solizeph
claims to have a monster trapped in her shop. We can find her at
Felzoun’s Folly for more information.
Work with the Harpers or the Zhentarum – It’s an easy choice for me, but we each must make these decisions for ourselves. Tymora watch over us.
With Shava out to complete
some business on her own, the rest of our group settled in to spend the
first night in our new manor. It had been abandoned for years, so I
expected the night to pass without incident. How wrong I was!
It all started when I heard glass breaking on a floor above me. I roused the others and we investigated our way to the attic where we found a broken window. I then heard bottles breaking downstairs. We rushed down while Tobby deftly used the fireplace to descend in order to eliminate that as a possible route for the intruders. When we arrived at the first floor, we encountered a grisly sight. There was a headless corpse attached to a large fishing hook. The eerie glow it was emanating was later discovered to be a type of glowing paint. I can only assume the intruders placed it there to frighten us, but why? We needed answers. Tobby and Jumanji checked the cellar and found a message scrawled in the dirt that read, “Get out.” That door has a nasty habit of slamming shut randomly, so i propped it open with a chair. We then heard noises coming from upstairs. The intruders had slipped past us again! We split up. I took up position outside to watch the exterior while Boaz and Jumanji rushed back upstairs. They discovered that someone had set a bed on fire in one of the upper rooms. Springing to action, they quickly pushed the bed into a fireplace and extinguished it. They likely saved the entire manor with their quick thinking. I continued my survey of the outside of the house, when I spotted a shadowy figure seemingly get pushed from an upper balcony and fall to its death. Shortly afterward, Tobby saw the chair being used to prop open the cellar door move out of the way. The cellar door slammed shut once more. Tobby forced the door open and found a new message written in the dirt. “They’re in the house.” Tobby and I made our way upstairs to inform Boaz and Jumanji of what we each witnessed. Tobby had some ball bearings scattered across the floor of his room and they suddenly moved to form the word attic. We all rushed to the attic only to once again find no intruders. Tobby yanked the cover off of one the the large padded chairs and a rat scurried out from underneath. I had let a rat scurry past me earlier in the night without a thought, but Tobby quickly lashed out and hit the rodent. After the hit, I expected to see a dead rat, but was shocked when it suddenly grew into a were-rat! In a flash of steel, Jumanji separated the creature’s head from it’s body. Markings on its body showed it to be a member of the Shard Shunners. They were likely the ones who put the headless corpse in our house, but we still didn’t know why. We also seem to have a spirit in our house. He seemed to be helping us, and perhaps he may have even been the one to push the intruder from the balcony outside. Perhaps this ghost is friendly. Boaz gathered the ball bearings and asked the ghost some questions. The bearings spelled nothing but insults. So the ghost isn’t exactly friendly.
numerous corpses in our manor – two missing their heads, we decided to
call the watch and come clean with all that had happened. Stagat, who
we met in the Zhent warehouse arrived and reluctantly cleared us of
charges, but not before he reminded us of the laws and punishments of
The next morning, Boaz and I went to see Volo. We recounted the night’s events, and he informed us that the ghost likely had been in the manor for over 500 years. He also indicated that it was previously helpful the those that lived there. On our way out, Yagra approached us. She had survived our trip to the sewers! She asked to set a up a meeting with Jumanji, and I agreed to pass on the message when I see him next. While Boaz and I were talking with Volo, Jumanji and the others had returned to the Zhent warehouse to inspect the secret room that Jumanji had discovered there. Tymora bless their bold actions!