The Journal of Micar’eyl Auvrymtor: The City of Splendors
So in my lifetime achievement list, I can now safely check off “listening to two dragons of great power fight to the death in the skies overhead”. Yeah, that’s right. I don’t know exactly how Klauth lured him out to Neverwinter, but one fine morning the residents of the city looked up to see Klauth killing Fulminorax in a duel in the sky, just as promised. We mostly heard it, as the fight itself was largely obscured by clouds, but fire and lightning filling the sky was quite a sight.
Not sure what I would have done if Klauth lost, but he didn’t. I mean, Fulminorax was supposed to be a hotshot wizard as well as a dragon, not that he showed much of that last time I saw him in action. Anyway, Klauth killed Fulminorax and threw his corpse onto the Upland Rise. Then in a big booming voice (that must have been magically amplified) he announces: “People of Neverwinter, I, Klauth, have crushed the Thayans who threatened your city. You are safe now — safe beneath my shadow.”
Well I feel safe! Not. What the hell is big red up to?
I had a bit better view of things than most Neverwintians (Neverwintites? Nevwinfolk?), being as I was in the Moongleam Tower. I’ve been spending a lot more time in the Moongleam Tower lately. Got it all fixed up with some furniture and supplies, frames I can hang curtains on for privacy, and a fire area for heating that vents out one of the windows. It’s … comforting. I feel safer there than I do anywhere else. Not only is it suspended in the air, but the whole tower is suffused with the Silver Lady’s power. I haven’t run any experiments, but I’m pretty sure that should hedge out Netherese shadow-teleportation and stop any flying vampires from entering. I’ve made a lot of enemies lately, and it’s important to have a refuge.
I don’t go to the Sunken Flagon anymore. Too many memories.
Anyway, I’ve been using the tower to support Branwen’s old comrades on the Wall when I don’t have anything better to do. It makes a great observation post, especially during the night when they can’t see the monsters coming. I use flags and whistles to signal. I’m just off a night on post when the aforementioned dragon duel happens.
I take the tower back to the Temple of Selûne, which is generally where I leave it parked. From the air I spot Cefrey being escorted into the temple by some Mintarns, naked and covered in blood. I grab some spare clothes and rope down to see what’s up. It turns out she caught lycanthropy from that fight in the woods back where we first met her, and she had a rampage last night. That’s the most annoying part of fighting those Grey Wolves! Anyway, they brought her to the temple here for treatment.
Cefrey asks for my help negotiating with the priests, so I give her some pants to put on and she starts giving me lip. I’m all, excuse me, who asked who for help here? So she puts on the clothes and we go inside and meet with Randar. Cefrey makes a suitable donation to the temple, and they’ve got a ritual that can help her. It will take a full day, plus she has to drink some belladonna (a poison). I’m not too worried about the ability of her constitution to handle it.
While I’m there I duck into an alcove and take the opportunity to catch up on some of my correspondence. Among other things, I’m hoping that someone in the Iliyanbruen can help put in teleportation magic to make regular access to the Moongleam Tower a little more convenient. While I’m writing that letter, Seipora Gend and Rodrik Thann both show up looking for me. I’m surprised to see Seipora in the city, but it appears she’s relocated here permanently and set up her own broadsheet called The Waterclock. She figures informing the public will help put a stop to stuff like what Lord Neverember was trying to pull with Helm’s Hold.
I ask both of them to meet up with me tomorrow once Cefrey is free. I think the four of us should get together to talk about the future of the Northern Five and our mutual endeavors as a group. With both Marcus and Branwen dead, I guess someone has to push for the idiot heroics, and nothing will get done unless I get everyone together to move on it.
Speaking of “moving on it”, now that Klauth has delivered on his end with the Thayans, I’m ready to improve my relationship with the Cult of the Dragon. Further investigation reveals that the head of the local Cult is oneAdimond Kroskas. The ring of dragons I snagged off Valindra Shadowmantle is more a symbol of authority than a necessary component of some gods-awful ritual. If his superiors in the Cult knew he’d lost it, he would be in deep doo-doo. That’s how the Thayans were getting cooperation.
Knowing that, I “recover” the ring and turn it over to them. It snags me a meeting with Adimond and the rest of the local Cult’s movers and shakers. Adimond appears to be on the more religious fanatic end of the cult. That or he’s putting on a great performance as he declares me an instrument of fate and states, “Behold, nothing can stop the coming reign of the dracoliches!"
I can see Vlad Kulenov, who is more on the criminal business end of the Cult, rolling his eyes. Other prominent Cult members I’m introduced to are Anlow Fallbridge, who recruits adventurers for missions, and Daerruth Orvalan, a local shop owner and a spy for the cult. He is fascinated with dragons and loves secrecy and deception that has a larger impact. I also hear about Broegran Waethlunter, a woodcutter who mostly operates in the country as an agent of the cult. It’s a real information bonanza.
There is also an elder blue dragon Venfithar in the Rothé Valley. They’re harvesting his lightning breath to activate an artifact from the cloud giants. They figure he’ll be ready to make the transformation into a dracolich sometime soon. Speaking of which, I also ask about their fettered dracolich and how that squares with the idea that the dracoliches are supposed to rule the world.
There’s some awkward foot-shifting, but they’ve long since come up with some innovative self-justification. Adimond justifies it based on their need for greater power that won’t ask questions. Apparently they can trick dragons into a variation of the ritual that leaves them as the Cult’s slaves.
Interesting. If someone were to spread that bit of information around, the Cult as a whole might find a lot more difficulties with its dragon recruitment. No rush or anything, but there will definitely be a day I can use that.
So the four of us, Seipora, Cefrey, Rodrik, and myself, meet and talk to each other. Seipora Gend reiterates that she’s decided to stay here in Neverwinter. She says there are too many voices trying to hide the truth about what’s happening in Neverwinter. Rodrik Thann talks about himself. He’s been trying to learn more about both the North and what he calls his “true family.” After some thought about whether he wants to reveal this secret, Rodrik trusts us enough to let us know he was adopted into House Thann from the Alagondars. His mother escaped the city just before it got smashed and died giving birth to him. By many humans’ calculations, he would be the rightful king of Neverwinter. If you go in for “rightful kings” I suppose.
After hearing about all the menaces threatening Neverwinter, Rodrik thinks he has a responsibility to try and help. He thinks Neverwinter needs a symbol to show they can still achieve “Great Things.” In immediate terms, he he suggests taking back the House of Knowledge, an old temple of Oghma abandoned when they went to Helm’s Hold (and currently held by that Ashmadai faction helping guard the wall).
Seipora has more information for us about the aboleths. Studying the propehcies of Augathra the Mad, she has reconstructed what Augathra’s visions were hinting at. Over 30,000 years ago Abeir and Toril were separated into two distinct worlds. The prophecies suggest the worlds were torn apart to isolate the Abolethic Sovereignty so that it couldn’t unravel the world. 95 years after the Blue Fire, the aboleths will succeed in their plan. Seipora says that it’s not a prediction of the future, but a memory, because each time the aboleths near success, the gods narrowly succeed in restarting the universe. Augathra didn’t predict what would happen, but instead remembered that this had happened many times before.
I’m … skeptical, to put it mildly, about putting faith in anyone known as “the Mad,” even if she did write the Roll of Years, and even if those names do keep lining up with historical events. However, knowing what the Abolethic Sovereignty thinks it’s going to do is helpful whether or not it’s actually doable. Releasing the primordial would be bad enough, certainly.
As for me, I make a case that we need to follow up on Marcus’s old mission. If we’re going to save Neverwinter we need the help of the Harpers, which means convincing them to not pull out of the city. We need to meet with Luusi’s boss and tell them about how this stuff doesn’t just menace Neverwinter, but maybe the entire North.
After some more discussion, everybody is agreed on that as a first step, and Rodrik and Seipora agree to formally join the Northern Five. The missions starts with a visit by the four of us to the House of a Thousand Faces to meet with Luusi. As I’ve mentioned earlier, it used to be a fashion boutique that is now a bar. It’s owned by an elf named Theryis.
When we arrive, Luusi is there. Other familiar faces include Charl, the go-between with the Dead Rats and the Sons of Alagondar. There’s also a tiefling named Ammon Hornraven hanging out in the corner. pparently he was instrumental in stopping the whole “Lost Heir” business that Marcus’s sister started.
We go to a private room and make our case to Luusi, ask for a meeting with her boss, “the Shepherd.” Luusi doesn’t have a lot of hope left, but she’s pretty interested in Rodrik.
Luusi asks about Rodrik’s relationship to Lureena Thann, who is apparently the head of House Thann right now. Rodrik says she’s like an aunt or a grandmother. He’s kind of charmingly self-effacing, saying he was never the most prominent member of the household, but Lureena does like him.
From the back and forth between Rodrik and Luusi, it appears the Thanns are sponsors of the Harpers. Guess that explains why he was so willing to go along with this idea and why Luusi has been willing to speak freely. Anyway, Luusi says that if we can help her meet her original goal and root out the traitor or traitors among the local Harpers, she’ll get us a meeting the the Shepherd in Waterdeep. I don’t think she means for it to be quite so mercenary. It’s more that if she can’t even achieve this, she doesn’t think the Harpers in Waterdeep will listen to her.
She runs down the suspects for us. Theryis (who is apparently a Harper!) seems loyal. Her brother Toram is the leader of the local Harpers and one of the big question marks. He was Cymril’s lover. Is he a dupe or a collaborator? Ammon Hornraven is a new Harper recently inducted, so she doesn’t think he’s involved. Then there’s Aron Lanser, their man at the Moonstone Mask. He’s helped a lot gathering information from the drunk Mintarns]there, but she can’t get a good read on him. Luusi is most worried about Toram and Aron and wants us to find some way to test both of them.
I guess I should step back and explain exactly who the traitor would be traitoring for. As I mentioned in earlier entries, Cymril was apparently working for the Zhentarim all along. What we’re after would be remaining Zhentarim agents in the local Harpers. It’s made more difficult that even some loyal Harpers have Zhentarim sympathies, seeing them as allies against the Netherese.
We decide that the only way to smoke out a traitor is to bait them with the idea that we are intervening in a real Zhentarim operation. Only a direct threat to their real patron would smoke them out of hiding.
We know the Zhentarim have been sending patrols out along the High Road, so we spend some time investigating that. Rodrik finds that Sevenson Hawkes is talking up trusting the Zhentarim. My investigation also turns up that the main person arranging the contracts is Sevenson Hawkes as well. There are groups patroling the High Road, there’s a group helping at Crossroads Keep, and there’s a group protecting the town of Leilon. Also heard thatTaman Danamark helped his cousin Brey organize a contract for Leilon.
Neverember launders the money to pay the Zhents through Aurora’s Realms Shop, because he’s got some kind of blackmail on the proprietor, Kerri. We decide to use this information as leverage by telling each one of our suspects that we’re going to help Kerri, then see which one of us gets jumped. To prevent multiple traitors from coordinating, we give each one only a few hours’ notice and arrange to meet them all in the same night.
I take the responsibility of approaching Toram and sell him on going after the Zhents. It’s not too hard. Rodrik on the other hand reports that Aron is very bitter at the idea of moving against the Zhentarim, claiming it’s a waste of time and resources to fight people with the same goals. Seipora approaches Ammon, and Cefrey and Luusi approach Theryis.
Our first meeting is with Toram. Not only is he not the traitor, but I manage to convince him that I personally saw Cymril appear to Branwen, Marcus, and myself as a vampire. He’s crushed that his lover was a traitor. I think there must have been signs, little giveaways, and he was in denial until I forced him to face the truth and really think about his time with her.
Long story short, Aron turns out to be a traitor and the other two were loyal. Sometimes matters are just as they appear, and the guy who is openly sympathetic to the Zhentarim is actually the guy working for them.
Next step is for us all to go to Waterdeep. Rather than chance sea travel we take the Moongleam Tower. It means everyone knows where we’re going, but it eliminates almost all of the dangers of travel. The Tower doesn’t move very fast, just at about a person’s walking pace, but much like a ship on the ocean it never stops and isn’t hindered by terrain. It takes us about 3 ½ days in a very cramped quarters to get there.
I talk with Cefrey, who spends a lot of the time drunk. She tells me a rambling, depressing story about how her husband and children were killed in the eruption of Mount Hotenow and how she spent years in deep depression before waking up to become the champion of her tribe. She thinks she can never love again as she’s barren now. This is why she is always loading out her whole “we are all definitely going to die” talk on everyone. We actually almost come to blows when I express how sick I am of that attitude.
I don’t think of it then, but over the next few days I decide what I am going to do about that woman. Someone who thinks our whole group is going to die is only going to get me killed. When I get the chance, I’m going to start setting her up with some people I think might be interested, see if there’s anyone who might leave her feeling like she wants to live again. Give her something to look forward to besides alcohol and fighting.
I also talk with Luusi, who is pretty deeply depressed. She was apparently counting on Branwen and Marcus as her hope to save the city and now feels it’s doomed to failure without them. She tells me that she thinks the entire Realms have been getting worse for the past 100 years, that everything is headed to destruction and misery. A hundred years isn’t’ a lot time of course (something I make the mistake of telling her).
Ever since I was in the Shadowfell, I’ve felt this conviction that everything will work itself out in the end. I don’t know, maybe I’m just delusional (no seriously, I think I might be) but I still beleive that everything will work out. Somehow. I keep telling her that, and eventually she smiles and says maybe she sees some hope after all.
When we get to Waterdeep we are intercepted by their famous griffon cavalry. A few words from Rodrik are all it takes to settle them out, though. I knew his family was important, but I didn’t realize they were that important, and I tell him so. He seems almost embarrassed, which is cute.
We park the tower in the North Ward over the Thann estate, which is, of course, huge. Rodrik’s mother Mara hugs him when he comes in. He introduces us to her. Lureena comes with her retainers and greets him as well.
From the following conversation, apparently Dagult Neverember has been buying up the Brewer’s Guild and the Harper safehouses to get leverage over their family. Nevermber practically ordered Rodrik out of Neverwinter, which he hadn’t exactly concealed from us but hadn’t been totally clear about either. Rodrik and Lureena agree he can’t be allowed to strong-arm the Thann family.
Lureena has heard that we want to see Tam Zawad, which is apparently the real name of the Shepherd. She promises to arrange a meeting for us at dinner, but she makes it clear she views the biggest priority as being the war with Netheril.
We meet with Tam Zawad. Luusi told him we helped ferret out the traitors in Neverwinter. Rodrik is modest and then puts to him the reason that we came down there. He asks about the Ashmadai and if they are still in power. Last time he was in the city he was hunted by four of their devils.
We argue extensivelty and eventually he agrees to send Luusi, Toram, and Theryis to help us. But he has an ultimatum for Rodrik. Will he return incognito or openly claim the crown? If he’s not to seize the crown, he needs to stay out of Dagger’s way. If he’s going to challenge him then he needs to challenge him. The population needs something to rally around. After a lot of thought, Rodrik agrees to seek the crown of Neverwinter and announce himself as king.
Following up on our Zhentarim information, we go to see Kerri of Aurora’s shop. I try to get her to open up about why she’s being blackmailed, but she just tosses us out of her shop. Undeterred, we lurk around and ambush some guards who appear to have been shaking her down. We beat them down and find she was involved with the Oghmanyte Church in Exile and helped them with this school where they were kidnapping Uthgardt kids from their parents and bringing them down to “civilize” them.
Needless to say, Cefrey is super mad. I try to calm her down, but it doesn’t exactly go well. Then we go to the shop and get the word from Kerri that the school is in the Font of Knowledge in the Castle Ward. Delan Varcona is the savant at the Font of Knowledge. There are still children there apparently. The local Uthgardt known about the school (though not about Kerri) and have made multiple rescue attempts every time.
Meanwhile, Seipora goes inside and does some kind of theological smackdown on Kerri that leaves her crying and repentant. She admits that she was one of the school’s organizers. She agrees to dismantle the school and begs for mercy. Cefrey agrees to let her go with a lot of conditions. Needless to say, Kerri won’t be funneling money for Neverember anymore.
We follow it up with a tenday in Waterdeep doing some research. Foreign correspondents, research with sages, and that sort of thing. Well rested and presumably well informed, we head back to Neverwinter.