The Journal of Micar’eyl Auvrymtor: Into the Shard of Night
With the Sunken Flagon still out of commission, the Northern Five (four of us; Horst still AWOL) are using the Beached Leviathan as a meeting spot. The story behind the name, which the regulars insist on telling everyone who comes for the first time, is that it was a ship named the Leviathan that ran aground during a storm, so the captain made it into a tavern. Hoary old stories aside, there are a lot of connections to be made here. Beyond the usual scum, Len-jes keeps a room here (shouldn’t she rent an apartment or something?) and our old friends the Ardents hang out here.
Marcus tells a vaguely worded story about how some halfing air pirates (!) from “Company Yargo” kidnapped him to get their hands on his card from the Deck of Many Things. Which he doesn’t have any more. Of course he’s Marcus so he didn’t tell them that. No, apparently he sold them some story about how he’ll get them the card soon, which of course means they’ll be coming for his head when they realize he lied.
Such deceivers I hang out with. As an honest Bregan D’aerthe salesgirl, I would never make a deal I didn’t intend to keep. At the time that I made it. Keeping in mind that circumstances change. Still, some people…
In the middle of our conversation, a man named Brandis Vrye approaches us. He says he runs a rookery where he raises young orphaned dragons. He is on the look-out for red dragon eggs and thinks we’re just the adventurers who can bring them to him. Of course, this leads into a series of questions from the whole group about how he thinks he can raise creatures who will grow up to be color-coded evil and mighty and all that. He fends off every question, insisting he makes no assumptions about how his evil dragon hatchlings from evil dragon eggs will grow up. Uh-huh.
I’m going to lay it out; I give 50/50 odds this guys is a polymorphed dragon himself. Not sure; think it’s a possibility.
Anyway, good old Brandis will hand over 200 toals for every egg we can bring him. Despite not caring about our other questions, he does gets offended at the idea that he would be connected with the Cult of the Dragon. Says they have spies in the city and in the woods and they are working towards some terrible ritual (which we knew, but that’s a nice confirmation). He does add an interesting piece of information, though: apparently in the Rothé valley there is a blue dragon named Venfithar working with the cult. Huh.
That digression over, we talk about the kraken and the need to do something about it (I guess). There is a lot of speculation about what it would take to get an airship. Marcus also tells me about blastglobes, which are this very powerful explosive that Neverwinter used to produce and which he thinks we could find in the ruins near the Chasm. Random cavern plans aside, though, we agree we need more intelligence on the kraken, and the best place to get that is from the sahuagin refugees crowding the Swamped Docks.
Rather than starting directly with them, we figure to make contact with Palas Aumble, leader of a halfling gang that was holding the Swamped Docks before the sahuagin and the Dead Rats started to push him out. I make a deal with the barkeep Harrag to set up a meet with Palas’s gang in return for slipping him some guard patrol schedules. That won’t be for a few days, though.
So what to do until then? I push a plan that it’s high time we make a raid on the Shard of Night. We know the Netherese are using it, and this would be a great chance to boot them in the rear and take whatever goodies they have stockpiled there. Maybe even take control of it! Branwen is reluctant, but I eventually talk her around.
Marcus tells us he needs to go down to Waterdeep after the mission. He has Harper business — but also surgery. The Netherese put some kind of shadow thing inside him when he was a prisoner there. It’s shadow magic that he doesn’t understand fully and it sounds like it’s eating him from the inside and has been ever since I rescued him from Xinlenal. Recovery from the surgery will be at least a month if he comes back at all, and apparently not surviving is a real possibility.
That Marcus, always keeping troubles to himself. I knew something was going on with him! And to think he only told us to warn us that the Netherese in the Shard of Night might be able to use it against him somehow.
The next day we head out into the River District to the Shard of Night. As we pass near the Shard of Night our shadows disappear and it’s the same creepy feeling Branwen reported the time she was here before. Speaking of, Branwen does some tracking and determines there are a lot of people coming and going dressed in a variety of ways. Some paupers, some aristocrats, and some some as servants. They teleport out of the shadows below the Shard and head off into the city. The Netherese have spies infiltrating every level of Neverwintan society!
We speculate over how they’re getting in and out, with Valtha and I trying to detect an entrance to the Shadowfell. That doesn’t seem to be it, though. It looks like they’re using some sort of innate shadow-people teleportation power that lets them pass through shadows to the tower and back. Very slick, and it makes things difficult for us who can’t teleport. The Shard is way too high to reach with ropes or grappling hooks, and none of is has any flight magic.
But as Marcus always says, the solution is not always magic. Sometimes it’s torture!
We make a plan to capture one of the Netherese and force him to transport us up. Marcus and Branwen try to capture one, but he makes us and runs straight into an orc patrol that we then have to fight. Some of the aboleth-controlled spellscarred orcs too, so there’s no point even in trying to negotiate. Marcus manages to keep on the Netherese spy even after he tries to use his shadow teleport to escape, and Branwen downs him with an arrow. Then after a somewhat difficult battle, we’re able to kill or drive off all the orcs.
The whole thing ends up yielding no benefits, though. I try twisting the arrow some to torture the Netherese into helping us, but it’s too much and he dies. No luck!
So at this point Marcus is all like, “Hey, I can use the shadow thing inside me to transport us up.” Yes, which will probably make it grow again and make his already chancy surgery in Waterdeep into sure-fire death. Branwen and Valtha are all set to let him do it, but I flat out refuse to go if he tries that crap. Valtha says she won’t go if everyone doesn’t go, and Branwen backs off when it looks like it’ll just be her and Marcus. For a minute I wonder if he’s crazy enough to go alone, but he backs down and agrees to try the plan again.
I know, I know, Micar’eyl why do you care so much? Well Marcus and his self-sacrificing ways annoy me. To go along with him would have been like approving of it in some way. So I drew my line in the sand on behalf of selfishness. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
It’s harder now, though. The Netherese have realized something is up and we have to fight a squad of six they send down as a patrol. I’m thinking that’s not so bad. We fight them down here so we don’t fight them in the Shard of Night, right? (Oh more the fool I as you’ll see.)
It’s a tough fight, especially since some of them regenerate, but we manage to win and take a prisoner. This time I use enchantment magic to make him think I’m his friend and get him to take us up. See, Marcus? I showed you.
But when we arrive it doesn’t quite … meet expectations. There’s no huge garrison, no stacks of supplies and magic items. It’s just a big empty room with nothing but a portal in the center and a squad of guards around it. Who attack, except one of them slips through the portal. We defeat them with all due speed, and Valtha manages to jack the portal and get it to activate. We follow through, figuring it will take us to the next level of the tower or something.
Uh, no. It takes us to Xinlenal! We gape at the mustering guards and they look at us, and Valtha manages to active the portal again and we’re back to frantically trying to destroy it before they come through. Marcus smacks it with a mighty blow (he’s sure getting a lot of time in this set of notes, isn’t he?) and manages to shatter the shadow runes.
And then there’s silvery light everywhere. See, apparently this used to be a temple to Selûne, goddess of the moon and sworn enemy of Shar, the goddess of nihilism and revenge that the Netherese worship. It got corrupted by shadow somehow or other, but now its former divinity (who is totally anti-shadow) is back and in charge.
I have Marcus stand in the new Selûne-approved circle and offer up a prayer asking if, in payback for the solid we just did her, she could see clear to getting rid of the shadow inside him. Nothing happens, but I figure maybe it’s because Marcus is the one who has to ask (or maybe Selûne just doesn’t like drow). So there’s a lot of debate and reluctance and he tells us about how his family was betrayed by Tyr, but finally he agrees that Selûne might be different and takes it upon himself to utter a prayer.
More silver light and Marcus collapses in pain, but apparently that was the shadow burning away. It worked!
So now we’re trying to figure out how to escape, because the Shard of No-Longer-Night is still floating where it started, and we’re in the same “no one here flies or teleports” situation. Branwen and I try controlling it by willpower but that doesn’t work, and we’re down to figuring out how to make a rope out of corpses. Valtha has some ideas.
Then Marcus tells us not to be dumbasses and that only a true follower of Selûne can command the tower now. Like him. And he does!
Does this mean he’ll be less grumpy now?