The Journal of Micar’eyl Auvrymtor: The One That Got Away
The war behind us (for the moment), we all head back towards Neverwinter. It turns out the day after what people are now referring to as “the Battle of Xinlenal” is some kind of surface holiday called Greengrass. Celebrates the end of spring or the beginning of summer or something like that. Valtha and I make nothing of it, of course, and Marcus barely grunts. Guy has a lot on his mind. Branwen gives in to her surface elf blood and braids some flowers into her hair.
She looks ridiculous. She should look ridiculous, but I guess it kind of works for her.
Anyway, we get back to Neverwinter on the 6th of Mirtul. I’ve been mulling things over since Marcus suggested we make a formal group, and propose we formally register as an adventuring company. Nobody likes my first few suggestions, but it’s not like they have any better ideas. I get nothing but silence when I suggest we call ourselves the new “Northern Five” (a play on the famous Northern Four), so guess what suckers, that’s what it’s going to be. At least, once I find Horst and talk him into signing up.
Marcus comes with me to go to see Garius Knox, the adventurer liason officer for New Neverwinter. I tell him we’re going to be the Northern Five. In a moment of inspiration I figure we can recruit Luusi as at least a part time sixth member and nicely confuse everybody about the disparity between our names and our numbers. It’ll be funny! Knox wants to “sort” the group by having us all tested the next day and determine what kinds of missions we can handle, which seems fine to me.
Meanwhile Marcus attempts to sell Knox on the idea we should be assigned a mission to take out the Dead Rats. Primarily he wants to use this as leverage to see the harbor records. Marcus isn’t doing a great job at selling it at first, and Knox doesn’t look too impressed. Things change when he drops that the Dead Rats have a connection with the Sons of Alagondar, which sure gets Knox’s attention. We are requested to come back tomorrow for the test and to talk more about our domestic terrorism connections.
Later that day I hear that Horst is working up on the Wall, apparently as penalty for some minor violation of civic order. Just going to put this out there, but if you’re strong then you can easily brush aside crimes by doing some minor service to pay them back. If you’re weak and caught in a crime, the penalties are more severe. Another one for the “when surface worlders brag about their moral superiority” file.
I visit Horst that night and and sell him on signing as part of the Northern Five. It’s not the sort of thing he would normally go for, but the secret in any sales job is to angle your pitch to your audience, and he quickly sees the advantage in having a literal license to commit violent acts as a killer on the city payroll. Sorry, I mean “adventurer.”
I run into Branwen and Marcus on the way home and decide to clear the air on what he told Knox earlier. Believe it or not, but this isn’t an attempt to stir up trouble for fun. I think this needs to be gotten out as soon as possible. Branwen was always going to see spilling information on the Sons as a betrayal, but I think she’d be more angry if it were kept as a secret and found out later. This way she and Marcus can discuss it, as indeed they do. Loudly.
So right about then a woman shows up whom both of them seem to recognize. After a confusing couple of minutes of conversation where I have no idea that’s going on, they let the coin drop that this is Cymril. Famous Cymril, founder of the Sons of Alagondar and also (apparently) a Harper agent. She supposedly died in an ambush, for which Marcus was blamed by some of the other Harpers. Not dead after all.
Whoa, whoa. Dead after all. She’s a vampire! I’m trying to recall where I left my adamantine neck choker, but apparently she’s just there to monologue. I mean talk. She wants Branwen and Marcus to join her. Not in undeath (or at least that’s not on the table yet), but as agents for the Zhentarim. She pushes that the Zhents have been enemies of the Netherese for a long time now. They are doing good work in the area. Go Zhentarim, is her basic pitch.
Branwen is all like, “Ick, no, evil undead!” Cymril has the nerve to try and turn that back on me, asking how trusting a drow is any different. I’m all like, “Branwen trusts me to be me, bitch.” Which is basically true.
Marcus is all like, “Hmmmm, tell me more.” Cymril tells him that if he’s really interested he needs to help root out all the remaining Harpers in Neverwinter. Then she leaves.
It’s nice to get to witness one of these interesting conversations for once. Sometimes I get the feeling I’m left out of half of what Branwen and Marcus are up to. Not like me. When I hear something interesting I tell them. I’m not great at keeping secrets.
Or at least, that’s what I want everyone to think. Mwahahahaha — No, I’m stlarning with you, I’m rubbish at secrets.
We go back and consult with Valtha as our resident necromancy expert. She tells us the senior leadership of the Zhentarim is all vampires now. It’s a thing. There are necromancers that could have turned Cymril into a vampire after death as a reward for her service.
The next morning we bring in Horst to brief Horst on what has been going on. He lets us know about his ongoing feud with this one-eyed gang leader called Rsolk, the leader of the Dead Rats in Neverwinter. I tell him that if this guy is such a pain in his side, we can help Horst murder him. Lure him off on his own and kill him, straight up. Decisive action! Horst isn’t up for it, yet, though. He says it’s not the right time and that he needs to consolidate support so that Rsolk’s death doesn’t lead to the entire rest of the gang coming after him.
I guess it’s Horst’s call. We talk a little more about who exactly in the Sons of Alagondar is working with the Rats, and Branwen says it’s the so-called “Nasher” faction. She’s going to go see them soon to try and talk them out of it.
Then a flamboyantly dressed elf comes in and I tell everyone that I have to take this meeting now. That’s because this is my boss, Jarlaxle Baenre, barely in disguise. I mean, he’s using magic to make himself look like not a drow, but otherwise he’s himself. I give him a full briefing on everything I know about the factions around here.
He gives me some news in return. The big question is that the Bregan D’aerthe has been trying to make a deal with this Netherese lord for a while, and Kimmuriel is mad because Jarlaxle trashed the guy’s house recently. So should we keep trying to go with this Lord Draygo or throw in with Lord Neverember? I tell him Neverember (and by extension the riches of Waterdeep) is a better deal than some Netherese lord, and he agrees. I’ve got the go-ahead to sell some of our services to Neverember in support of the war effort. I can even offer bulk pricing if necessary, which is craaaazy. We almost never do that.
In other news, that half-drow member I was working with named Aerlyse Cresthill is dead. From the evidence, Jarlaxle believes that that the Ashmadai killed her. I say we can’t let them get away with that and he agrees, so I put screwing over the Ashmadai on my “to-do” list. If I get the chance to randomly kill one I will, though messing up their plans would be even better. It’s only after Jarlaxle leaves that I wonder if them killing her has anything to do with me using her name back in Neverwinter Wood. Eh, if so better her than me, and anyway I’ll never know for sure. One way or another it’s the Ashmadai’s fault, not mine. But I am so going to screw them over.
In other news, he tells me Thay is involved with the Cult of the Dragon. The Zhentarmin are operating out of Evernight (which makes sense if they’re led by undead), and the Thayans are also really busy in the area. They have a post in there as well.
Big revelation though is that the Thayans already tried to use their Dread Ring. The eruption twenty-eight years ago was started by the Thayans to fuel it, but the ritual obviously failed. Now they’re trying to do something else with it. Each ring is supposed to be usable only once, so it’s something other than elevating someone to godhood. Well, I guess that’s one less doom to worry about.
We talk a little about Gauntlgrym and Jaxarle tells me about Athrogate, his dwarven buddy. He was the one who pulled the lever in Gauntlgrym to set off the eruption and he never forgave himself for it. He wants me to make the Thayans pay for it. So that’s screw over the Thayans, screw over the Ashmadai, and screw over — I mean, make a deal with Neverember. I have a full quest log here!
We gather up Luusi and go meet with Garius Knox at the Hall of Justice. We are do a bunch of rating tests and are and stamped as level 2, which seems a little low to me. We talk about the Dead Rats job, and he tells us we need evidence of a link with the Sons of Alagondar, locations, names, and forces that they have at their disposal, and then they assess and rate the job. If we qualify for the rating, we can have the job to destroy them. Branwen kind of fumes but holds her tongue. Horst boosts a copy of the list on how to rate jobs so that we can ‘adjust’ the rating by how we report in later. I make an appointment with General Sabine in a couple of days to talk about purchasing Bregan D’Aerthte services, and we leave.
Branwen tells us that she wants to meet with Arlon Bladeshaper, the leader of the Nasher faction she mentioned, as soon as possible. She’s going to try to talk them out of their Dead Rat alliance. I ask if it’s really safe for her and try to persuade her to let some of us come along as back-up in case things turn ugly. Branwen doesn’t want to hear that though, and says that they’re all part of the same group and she’ll be safe with them even when they disagree.
So while Branwen goes off to try and talk to the Nashers, the other four of us investigate Neverdeath, the city’s ridiculously-named cemetery. We’re looking for a transition point to Evernight, figuring we’ll find it somewhere around here. With some magic from Valtha and I and Horst, we find a shadow crossing in the so-called Tomb of the Betrayers. It houses the bodies of Neverwinter’s most famous traitors, Fenthick his lover, Marcus’s old relative, .Aribeth de Tylmarande.
Valtha interrogates some spirits and finds out that Thay has been interested in the Dread Ring site since its failure because of necrotic magic seeping into the soil for centuries. Turns out it was a good site for the Dread Ring because it’s the final resting place of an ancient black dragon called Lorragauth. The Dread Ring failed, but if you take that out of the equation, the Thayans are trying to modify a lich ritual, probably the dracolich ritual, to raise a dragon long dead as a dracolich. This would be the most powerful dracolich that has ever been raised. He’d smash the whole city on a whim. So that’s bad, but at least we have some idea of their plan now.
That’s when Branwen shows up, dripping with seaweed. Apparently things did not go well during her meeting with the Nashers at their base in the old Kraken Society tunnels. I resist the urge to say “I told you so” because we both know it. Apparently this thug named Karzov has imprisoned Arlon and taken over the Nashers. More than that, he’s planning to burn down the Driftwood Tavern with a bunch of his rivals in the Sons of Alagondar inside so he can take over the entire organization. He really should have put some manacles on Branwen before revealing all his plans, though, because she was able to dive into the water and swim to an escape.
We all head towards the Driftwood Tavern, but on our way there we are ambushed by some Nashers working for Karzov. We kill many of them and capture one for interrogation. The captured one tells us he fought because he was afraid. Anyone who says the wrong thing gets killed and put into the river. Karzov’s power is based mostly on personal fear, not because anyone agrees with him.
Which gives me an idea. Instead of continuing to the tavern, I tell Branwen we should make a strike at Karzov right now. He has a lot of his people out for the tavern job, so he shouldn’t have that many guards. We can kill him before he can make any other moves. She looks pretty torn, but she agrees to it. Marcus asks Luusi to go warn everyone in the Driftwood Tavern and try to evacuate as many of them as she can. Meanwhile we head to the Kraken Society tunnels, wearing the Kraken medallions from the Nashers we just defeated to get us past the traps. Along the way I grab a Bregan D’aerthe ally to help in the fighting.
I charm the first sentry and get him to run. There are more guards as we we move in, and fighting quickly breaks out. We drop one of them into the water and he is eaten, revealing that a kraken is still lurking in these tunnels. An old, powerful kraken driven mad by centuries of captivity, hunger, and neglect. We rush forward and find our way barred by a portcullis with Karzov mocking us from the other side.
Then Horst casts
Then Karzov opens the portcullis, allowing the kraken to swim out of the tunnels and towards the harbor where it will destroy every ship docked. He mocks us telling us this was his plan all along and he was planning to do it anyway and we showed up just in time to see it. That is exactly how it happened. Because Marcus is insane he dives into the water after the kraken, stabs a blade into its side, and is carried away with it. To his death presumably.
But when Karzov (and certainly not Horst) opened the portcullis, it gave us access to him. We rush in and quickly push back his guards long enough to kill the man himself, after which they quickly surrender. Everyone except me and my company ally run for the harbor. I figure there’s not much I can do up there and instead decide to watch Karzov’s former guards and see if there’s anything else interesting or incriminating down here.
There’s nothing to prove that Karzov was working for another faction, though he totally was. However I do find some cells with a couple of people, including Arlon. He’s pretty freaked out about the drow visitation, but I explain I’m rescuing him on behalf of Branwen. He seems humbled by the whole thing and I convince him that Branwen was right all along and he should start listening to her.
By the time I get up to the Harbor it’s all over. Marcus miraculously survived and managed to warn some ships, probably saving a few lives. But the hero of the day is Horst, who carried out some kind of magic ritual to drive the kraken back out to sea (though not kill it) by calling some whales to cause a big scene or something. It leaves after destroying only two ships, which seems like a victory by dealing-with-kraken standards.
Horst does not seem pleased with the attention but can’t avoid the spotlight. He spontaneously makes up a pseudonym in an attempt to slip away but it doesn’t work, so I guess that’s his last name, Horst Stevinn, now. The harbor master Len-jes hails him as a hero and pretty soon he and Marcus are getting a banquet thrown for them. Valtha and I attend. Branwen has better things to do, apparently. Dagult Neverember gives a speech about how Neverwinter is great because of heroes like Marcus and Stevinn. Marcus does his part to promote us by saying how the Northern Five was hired by Garius Knox.
We find out later that the Driftwood Tavern was burned down, but Luusi saved several including the leader of one of the other Sons of Alagondar factions, Madame Rosene.
When I meet with General Sabine on hiring the Bregan D’aerthe it’s a pretty easy sell. She’s kind of sour, though, implying that this is the first step to forcing her out of her position. After all, she’s in charge of city security because she brought in her army of Mintarn mercenaries. If they’re now going to be using someone else’s mercenaries … I barely don’t laugh in her face and explain how I’m not the slightest bit interested in her shitty job where she takes the blame for everything and gets treated like crap by Neverember.
Really. That was the funniest joke I heard all week.