The Journal of Micar’eyl Auvrymtor: Homecoming
This may be the last entry I get around to making for a while. I’m busier than ever these days, but a lot of my job involves endless writing and I’m disinclined to spend my off-hours at it as well. It also helps that I have friends I can talk to these days and less need to talk to myself.
Ahem. I tell you now the story of the final adventure of the Northern Five. More final for some of us than others. I tell you now of the final adventure of Valtha Bonecarver, may her reborn god clutch her soul to his secretive bosom. Of the end of the crown of Neverwinter, but not of a lord’s rule, and the great experiment that has begun in half the city.
But maybe I should start by picking up where I left off, in Luskan. Having defeated our foe, we took shelter with the Bregan D’aerthe’s allied gang, Ship Kurth, on Closeguard Island. They were pleased to see the last of Valindra Shadowmantle and perfectly willing to put us up while we arranged passage back to Neverwinter and send a messenger to let the dwarven expedition know what was up.
I used the time to think long and hard about Faeryl and House Auvrymtor and what she wants for the future and what I want. I have no interest in returning to Menzoberranzan and trying to rebuild a great house in that Lloth-ruled place, but it’s not for me to order my sister around. The point was to rescue her from slavery, not to make her my slave, doing what I think is best. I decide I owe her my support and I tell her so.
Faeryl is pleased, but I try to be clear about the ground rules. This is her quest, not mine. I will give her a safe haven and what support I can, maybe even help out on a mission if it seems like a good idea, but I am not a full partner in this. Furthermore she has to respect my allies and my resources and behave herself around Neverwinter and my allies. I won’t tolerate her going around insulting and killing my friends. She agrees to this, though she’s not pleased when I make her demonstrate her commitment by apologizing to Guldor.
I know what you’re wondering: isn’t this some grand plot to manipulate her? I don’t have a twelve step plan to turn her away from Lloth. It may very well be that this plan will only drag her deeper into Lloth’s darkness, embracing the worst of our people. But maybe it won’t! Perhaps if I show her some unconditional sisterly love and support, if I don’t try to change her but instead support her, she’ll get used to having someone around who actually cares about her. She won’t have to cling so hard to a dream of power that got her through days of slavery, because she can cling to me instead. That would be nice.
And if not, then when Lloth demands she sacrifice me to prove her commitment to the faith, I’ll be ready for it and give her a good spanking.
So we catch a ride back to Neverwinter in the good ship Grim Belt with Captain Houn Lharaendo. Rodrik promises him we didn’t see any smuggling! We are assaulted on our way back by a pirate ship. It is the Umberlee’s Revenge, the ship of the infamous Reginar Blackstrand.
I lead off with a fireball spell I picked up recently and Cefrey boards the Umberlee’s Revenge and begins killing all the pirates and soon enough Rodrik convinces them to surrender. We hand the prize over to Houn with a privateer’s license and the understanding he’s free to attack pirates, Netherese flags, and ships from Lylorn.
When we get back there are Zhentarim patrolling the docks, which is slightly ominous as Rodrik had point-blank refused to hire them. We move to the Hall of Justice, happening on a meeting of Regent Lander Greycastle, Minister Jelvus Grinch, Maspero of Ererlund (our Zhentarim contact), and Donn Stormchapel. Lander welcomes us back and tells us what’s up, and wow, a lot is up!
According to Lander, the Brightwoods had a scheme to start riots through the city by distributing free food (uh-huh). “Fortunately” a prominent citizen named Falken Bryce sent his house guards to stem the tide of … rebellious food distribution, I guess. Many of the Brightwood not-leaders got hauled off to prison, including Arlon.
Then Cale Dalren, a rich man with anarchist sympathies, spent his money to buy the loyalty of the Mintarns and get them to step aside and allow a raid on the prison that freed everyone in there, both Brightwoods and common criminals. Lander responded by declaring the Brightwoods an illegal criminal organization. They tried to fortify in Blacklake but Mordai Vell gave them trouble on the regent’s behalf, so they all fled to the River District, where they’ve barricaded themselves. Lander obviously couldn’t trust the Mintarns, so he hired the Zhentarim to help keep the peace. The meeting we interrupted was a planning meeting on marching to the River District and taking it back by force.
Rodrik decides to get Donn Stormchapel’s version of events. Donn tells us that his son Luth is involved with the Brigthwoods and they had indeed announced plans to distribute food for free. Lander thinks that this would have caused riots, but that is not exactly an undisputed conclusion. Falken Bryce tried to confiscate the food before it could be distributed, which some might call “theft.” Rodrik orders everyone on our side to stand down and take no further actions while he tries to cool the situation down, then calls Falken Bryce to the Hall of Justice for a quiet word about stealing food and what Rodrik thinks of that.
Seipora checks in with her people and finds out the Waterclock has been running a story about how Bryce saw the error of his ways and distributed the food. Must be a heck of a story behind that! They print both sides of the controversy, both the Brightwoods side and the Lander Greycastle side.
I suppose I will never understand Cefrey, as she is surprisingly critical of the prison raid. She seems to buy into Lander’s story that there has been a crime wave where murderers and rapists were unleashed onto the unsuspecting populace and holds the Brightwoods responsible for any damage that was done by those released from the prison.
After taking some time for everybody to check in and take stock of the situation, we all head up to the barricades with Donn Stormchapel. There’s a bit of jeering and some of them shout “the King is Coming.” Eventually Arlon and Donn’s son Luth show up. Arlon tells us they held off on open revolution to see if Lander was acting with Rodik’s permission. Rodrik tells them that he wants to make peace and invites them down to talk.
They’re wary of a trap, so Cefrey promises to chop up anyone who tries to take them to prison. I think Arlon knows that’s not our style, though.
So now we get the Brightwood side of the story. They made some deals with the local farmers and brought food in. Falken Bryce sent his house guards to steal it. A fight broke out, and the regent took Bryce’s side afterwards. It didn’t take a lot of convincing for him to think the Brightwoods were at fault. Luth was one of the ones taken into jail but Donn had him released. Two of their friends stole the food back and distributed it, forcing Bryce to pretend he had authorized its distribution rather than embarrass himself by admitting he had been thwarted. I knew there was a story behind it!
Lander still felt they were responsible for sowing discord in the city and kept them in prison, so a friend spent the money to buy the Mintarns. They’re mercenaries, of course, and already sympathetic to the cause to boot. They made a good bit of gold to just stand by while the Brightwoods threw open the gaol. They took the liberty of ending that “immoral practice of imprisonment” and let everyone else loose at the same time. Lander wants to terrorize everyone and claimed a crime spree followed, blaming every bad thing on the people they let free. They would have been happy to help with the so-called crime wave, but had been trapped by the regent’s forces.
Seipora’s research shows that both sides were both right and both wrong. Some of the released people committed crimes and some went to Helm’s Hold. Some of it is the Dead Rats making a move, taking advantage of the fears Lander fanned and sticking the Brightwoods with the blame, but there’s at least one murder committed by a man who never should have been set free. The Brightwoods are being a little naïve, and the Regent is being a bit of a fearmonger. Seipora reads her reports to both Arlon and Rodrik.
Rodrik announces a general amnesty for all but the most serious crimes and cuts a deal with the Brightwoods. They will be “exiled” to the River District and be able to run it their way, trying to prove that life without a government can actually work. In return, they stay out of Rodrik’s hair in the rest of the city and allow him to prove that life with a government works better. I mean, Rodrik doesn’t say it that openly but that’s the gist.
Naturally Arlon has to take it to his people, but they agree with a surprisingly small amount of discussion. Rodrik is a pretty sharp guy, and I think he knew that a contest of ideas would appeal to them. Maybe there will still be a confrontation someday, but it goes a long way to averting a civil war right now.
Cefrey is still really upset about the crime wave and gets her Uthgardt warrior friends to serve up some rough justice to the streets. Just as Seipora said, it turns out to be a real mix of troubles. Some of it is the Dead Rats and others using the cover of a “crime wave” to commit their own crimes, but there is genuinely at least one murderer out there.
After things in the city calm down, we decide to go explore the Waterclock Guild Crypt in Neverdeath. Remember, we still have a bowl to fix, and Jarlaxle said this was the place where we might find the answers to do it. Neverdeath is not nearly as covered in undead as it used to be, thanks to our efforts and those of the Black Blades.
It’s a fairly plain-looking mausoleum. The doors are sealed, but there are two bowls on either side. Seipora pours water into the first bowl and it shifts down and the other one shifts up. Then the water pours out. Eventually Valtha does some engineering like a waterlock artisan using pipes in the inlay and gets the bowls to balance, making the doors open.
Inside it’s just a simple mausoleum. It’s a few crypts and that’s it. Seipora takes a look at it and notices pipes running between the crypts. They themselves are waterclocks. It’s a sealed system. There is some something like water moving around. I realize there is a tiny water elemental running around the pipe. The whole system is rigged to gears that will reveals stairs down if we can get the water elemental to spread out over the entire system. I use a little magic to convince it to follow me as I run around the pipes in an undignified manner, and stairs down open up.
When we go down, we start to explore when water elementals appear. Seipora tells us that the water elementals were dealt with by the waterclock guild and are here to ensure that their secrets are not plundered by tomb raiders. They’re probably the ones make the whole place run. We fight them and then have to activate four magical circles at once (including fighting animated statues). Cefrey is briefly stuck behind a blood barrier and it starts to flood around her when we strike down the last of the elementals, but we disarm the magic in time to prevent her from drowning.
We study the books we found. The founder of the Waterclock Guild, Rolen Nightstar, was very interested in the old lore kept at the Host Tower, especially the Illuskan mages who helped build Gauntlgrym. He has a lot of notes about how Gauntlgrym was formed and the systems that trapped Maegera. He has notes about how to repair elements of that system. Bowls of commanding water elementals are standard, but the ones in Gauntlgrym were grounded by bringing them out of the mountain itself. That was done by using powerful earth magic to craft water magic to trap fire magic of the highest order. The key to repairing it would be high level earth magic. It’s not just a matter of shaping bowls, it’s bowls that are shaped from the deepest heart of the mountain. Rolen was fascinated by the way that earth and water magic could be used in conjunction rather than being opposed. He has notes in the margin about “must give earth tome to Horst for study.”
“Arathluth will trade tome for card, must find card.” is another note. Seipora uses pull with the Harpers to ask about Arthluth and Luusi comes to talk to her. She asks where we heard the name, and eventually reveals that it’s the name of a malaugrym, a race of powerful, shapeshifting, magical creatures that came through the Shadowfell. Luusi told her the story of the Harpstar Wars — forty years of conflict between the Harpers and the malaugrym, in which they ravaged much of Faerûn. Luusi said that the malaugrym did not come from the Shadowfell, but passed through it to Toril from someplace else, someplace that they’re now cut off from. She guessed that this Arathluth was interested in the deck of many things in the hopes that he would get a wish spell and open the way to the malaugrym home plane once more.
We need to find a powerful earth mage, and archmagi are thin on the ground these days, much less ones specialized in elemental earth specifically. A divine caster might be able to help, but we have even less clue where to go on that one. So those are our options, and we don’t like any of them. Who knows how long it will take to find these guys and convince them to help, with Maegera’s escape still looming at any moment. Not to mention that we saw what happened the last time Rodrik left Neverwinter, so forget about him coming along on this quest.
Then Valtha takes it out of our hands.
See, while all these investigations were going on I called in some favors and helped Valtha get that teleportation circle set up to Gauntlgrym. Valtha puts it in the shrine to Dumathoin in the River District, the one we discovered in our first adventure together when we slew the volcano dragon Koravakarios. For more than one reason, i think. Putting the lifeline to Gauntlgrym in an area not controlled by any government — but I digress.
Anyway, the dwarven expedition makes their way back and goes through the circle, now calling themselves New Delzoun. They begin the hard work of securing Gauntlgrym. Once things are stable enough, Valtha visits the shrine to Dumathoin in Gauntlgrym and takes Cefrey her. Remember that the Sharn told her that Dumathoin was hiding in the Spellplague and could be reborn once dwarves occupied Gauntlgrym again. Cefrey was spellscarred after throwing off the aboleth’s madness, so she could maybe be a conduit to Dumathoin.
“Well, it’s worth a try I guess.” I can’t remember exactly what I said, but it was words to that effect. That was the last thing I ever said to Valtha, the last time I saw her alive.
Cefrey has been reluctant to talk in great detail about it, but the short version is that they went to the temple and were offered a choice. Dumathoin could be reborn if Cefrey would be the channel for his rebirth, but she would have to be transformed into a dwarf. Valtha’s life would be the fuel to make it happen. She would have to die. Both of them said yes. Filled with divine power, dwarf-Cefrey descended to the Great Forge and repaired the bowl of elemental water using Maegera’s own primordial power to carve the rock. Once more the prison is secure. Then she collapsed, drained of elemental fire, but still a dwarf. They say that Indrek descended into the catacombs and laid himself to rest once more in the tomb carved for him.
Cefrey says she’s a cleric of Dumathoin now, his first true cleric since his death. I’m not sure if she’s happy exactly, but it is a new start for her. She no longer talks of dying, and the Delzoun honor her. She even let slip to me that she’s fertile again. Cefrey, I know it’s not the life that you imagined but it is life instead of death. And as a dwarf, you get to drink all the booze you want. Bonus!
The Delzoun also honor Valtha as the savior of their people, and have given her a fine tomb. I’ve even seen it. I’m the only drow allowed in Gauntlgrym. Ancestor worship seems on the rise there, as they seek wisdom in the ghosts of their past. Perhaps we will hear from Valtha again. Dumathoin will surely reward her hard work with more hard work to do. That is, after all, the way of dwarves.
Well, that takes the looming doomsday out from over our heads. The aboleths are still out there, but they’ll have to find some other way to destroy the world. The war with Netheril grinds on. The shadow of Klauth hangs over our head.
Oh yes, Klauth. I learned some things about him, I did.
- Ander Brightwood had an encounter with Klauth during his adventures long ago. Klauth’s behavior started to change after that. Seipora eventually tracks down a source, she says it was Ander himself, and apparently Klauth got his hands on the Words of Power crafted by the Sarrukh, and they revealed to him his role in the universe.
- Klauth does want to take over Neverwinter, probably in the service of some grander plan, but it’s important to him that his rule not be entirely by fear. Hence the currying of favor with the people.
- He has some experience with that, as I find out when an agent reports back from the Klauthen Vale. It’s home to a fire giant tribe loyal to Klauth. The tribe has a village of human vassals that live there. It’s a training ground for agents like Brandis Vrye who have been sent to cities across the North. It’s not just Neverwinter Klauth wants to take over, though he does seem to be using Neverwinter in particular as a testing ground to try out his ideas on how to gain the loyalty and worship of humans.
- Klauth is providing patronage to dozens of adventuring parties to see which will be powerful enough to send to Returned Abeir first. He is very interested in Returned Abeir in every way. The Northern Five would be his first choice, except he doesn’t trust us.
- So what’s he after? There’s some dragon empress in Returned Abeir who has an artifact called the wyrmcrown. Any dragon wearing it can instantly kill any other dragon, at any distance, if they have tasted that dragon’s blood. Klauth is scared spitless of it, and he won’t feel safe until he wears the wyrmcrown.
He’s right to be frightened. I consulted with Jarlaxle. The Bregan D’aerthe will make it a priority to get a sample of Klauth’s blood. He’s fighting enough monsters in public these days that there’s bound to be some on a tooth or fang.
So what else?
Given some breathing space, Rodrik refines his approach to rulership, He wants to be first among equals in the city and persuade people rather than rule with an iron fist. To demonstrate this, he has the crown of Neverwinter melted down in the forge of Gauntlgrym and forsakes the title of king, now calling himself only “Lord Alagondar.” Well let’s face it, the “king” title was always a little pretentious for the ruler of a small city-state, wasn’t it?
He ends up marrying Grandthur’s daughter, an Uthgardt tribal leader (I don’t understand their leadership structure exactly). I don’t know how much it helps him diplomatically, but she’s a pretty formidable woman.
Seipora is continuing to publish her newspaper, but she’s also working on a book about the Northern Five and our adventures. I fill her in on the parts she missed.
As for me? Well, I consider going underground to fight Klauth, but I’m really more valuable to both the Bregan D’aerthe and to Rodrik where I am. I’ll just have to hoard what I know (like a dragon) and try to intervene at the right time. Hopefully there will be some up and coming adventurers who can continue the fight. So First Secretary Micar’eyl it is. Somehow trying to balance that with the Bregan D’aerthe, to whom I will always be grateful.
I turned the Moongleam Tower over to the church for good. It belongs to Selûne, and after all I’m a mere lay worshiper. I’m just glad she let me use it for a time. It floats over Neverwinter still, a symbol of the Moon Maiden’s protection and our watchtower in the sky.
Now I’m going to put my pen down, maybe for good. I have an appointment with an old friend. Horst and I are the last ones alive from those first days when these adventures began, the last two who remember the beginning. Marcus. Branwen. Valtha. I miss you all. So I’m going to see Horst and reminiscence, and we’re going to meet at the Sunken Flagon.
He’s an evil man and a crime lord. I am a … sigh … a reformed drow and I suppose on the side of helping the helpless and fighting evil and general do-goodery. Not to mention being part of the law around here. But that doesn’t mean Horst and I can’t share a drink tonight, even if we fight tomorrow.
Look at me rambling on. Time to go. Time for new heroes to step up.