Sunday, May 17, 2015

Session 13 Synopsis

We rejoin our heroes as they trudge back up out of Neverwinter's sewer system. They brought with them the remains of the two Sarenrae clerics that gave their lives helping to save the city, and their charred holy symbols, which they returned to the temple high priest. Jobi even gave the temple 500 gold pieces for each of the clerics' families and Kel donated 400 gold to the family of the paladin who was slain by the mutated creatures the day before.

Next our heroes went to meet with Telliann at her office to relate the whole story to her. She had already suspected that the group was successful for the symptoms she was suffering from were completely gone now and she felt much better (as did many
citizens of Neverwinter). As promised, she gave each of the 500 gold and thanked them profusely. She also stated that Lord Neverember wanted to meet with them as soon as they cleaned themselves up. So they thanked her and rushed back to the Bloated Float (or home as in Jobi's case) take baths and get some clean clothes on.

Now that they were all clean and minty fresh, they met Telliann at the Hall of Justice, the former temple of the fallen god Tyr, for their audience with Lord Degault Nevember. Telliann joined in the antechamber and escorted them into the audience chamber to announce their arrival, "Lord Neverember, may I present to you Asphodel, Zola, Jobi, Kel, Blackwell, and Zerak. These are the brave adventurers that have been kind enough to help us solve the recent murders."

Neverember stood and began speaking,
"Welcome, Welcome, brave adventurers! My trusted captain, Telliann, has told me all about your heroic efforts on behalf of our wonderful Neverwinter; first, with saving of one of the favorite local establishments, The Bloated Float Tavern, and now with uncovering and defeating a heinous plot of the aboleths to dominate and murder our great citizens" (gasps and whispers through the crowd).
"I must congratulate and impart to you not only the city's thanks but my personal thanks as well. These are dark times we live in, full of greed, selfishness, and evil. And to find a group of people dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of the good
people's lives here in our fair city is a rare thing indeed! I am truly very grateful for your efforts and consider you most worthy allies in our fight to drive the darkness out of the Northern lands so that, once again, Neverwinter can become the shining jewel, the beacon of truth and justice, and the safe and prosperous city that the good people living here for generations have always known Neverwinter to be!"

The whole place erupts in applause, cheers, and whistles. It’s easy to see why Neverember is the open lord of Waterdeep and why he has many followers and supporters. A table covered by a white sheet is rolled out by a Mintarn guard as Neverember continues speaking.

"So please, dear friends, accept these small tokens as the gifts of appreciation they are. Use them well for the good of all and may your gods keep you safe and victorious in all your endeavors."

With that, Lord Neverember pulled back the sheet covering the table and revealed some two dozen objects that were obviously magical in nature. The crowd again broke out in cheers, applause, ooohhs, ahhhs, and whistles while Lord Neverember told them each to pick out two items and thanked them for all their help.

Telliann escorted them out of the audience chamber and when they were away from any prying ears, she said to them, "Lord Neverember has asked me to ask you to meet with him privately this evening for a dinner meeting. He has a situation that needs competent and discrete people to handle. Your recent accomplishments leave him, and me, believing that you are the right people for the job. I can't tell you any more about this here, too many wandering ears. Please come to Neverember's estate this evening at dusk. Oh and please remember to dress accordingly. This is a dinner engagement with nobles. The Open Lord of Waterdeep is a practical man, but does enjoy proper, civilized, and well-dressed company. If you need something, visit The Silver Lining. It’s just a few blocks from here and they have excellent clothing for these types of occasions. I'll see you tonight."

So the group headed over to the Silver Lining and all purchased new clothes for their upcoming dinner engagement. But immediately when they left the store, they were accosted by an enemy they had met just a few weeks before. They were surrounded by 8 werewolves in their hybrid forms brandishing silver weapons. The leader of the gang was the only one to speak, “Marrowslake told us we only have to bring back your heads this time. And there’s nowhere for you to run." And then they immediately attacked.

The battle wasn't very long, only about four rounds, but the werewolves were able to do some significant damage to Blackwell, forcing him to backup and drink a healing potion. Unfortunately his backing up left an opening for the enemy to advance and Zerak was the first to go down hard. Jobi then tried to help him but she was also attacked hard and nearly lost consciousness. The leader was the first to be brought low by the efforts of Zerak (burning hands), Jobi (spider swarm), Blackwell and Asphodel (melee attacks). The werewolves were trained well though, and did not route when their leader fell. It took three more falling before the two using crossbows broke and ran away into the crowds. Asphodel attempted to follow them, but they had changed back into human form while she wasn't looking at them and quickly lost them in the crowd. Just at this time, Zola, Kel, and Blackwell, beat the last werewolf into unconsciousness. Blackwell asked the guards to keep the werewolf locked up until he could interrogate him and they agreed to put him in jail.

Now that the unsuccessful ambush was over, the party needed to go and clean up again to get ready for the dinner engagement with Lord Neverember at his private estate. When our heroes arrived at Neverember Estate, he made all the introductions; Telliann Sommsett (whom they obviously know and seeing her without her armor on, Blackwell was definitely smitten with her and tried to flirt with her all night long), Soman Galt, Mayor of Neverwinter, Mordai Vell nobleman from Neverwinter, Lady Lestra of House Urmbrusk in Waterdeep, and Lord Ernest Padraig of Winterhaven. Everyone had dinner before business was discussed. The dinner was a light-hearted affair with the guests interested in the stories of the party's exploits to date. Lord Neverember, Lord Padraig, Soman Galt, and Lady Lestra’s brother, Lord Quarren, did some adventuring together early in their lives and have remained friends since. They told a couple of stories about their exploits against the Many-arrows Orc tribe. And all of them mentioned they want to get rid of their presence in the city.

A brief synopsis of the party's new acquaintances:
Soman Galt, Mayor: He was an accomplished warrior and has led a military life for most of his adult life. Once a great explorer, Soman Galt has atrophied into a weaselly politician who projects a cold, disconnected presence. The dwarf stares absently, his eyes seeming to watch something no one else can see, and he often mumbles to himself.

Lady Lestra Urmbrusk: Very well dressed and attractive – curvy figure, black hair with brown eyes, and well-endowed. It was pretty obvious that Neverember is attracted to her. She is well refined and cultured with a good vocabulary and seems knowledgeable about the entire region. She definitely doesn’t enjoy the gorier side of adventuring tales, commenting on those as barbaric and totally unfit for civilized ears.

Mordai Vell: Tall and dark, Mordai has luminous gold eyes even though most tieflings boast red or black ones. Charisma practically drips from him, setting all around him off their guard. His obvious wealth doesn't hurt, either. He has two swept back horns and a long, supple tail. As the last heir of a noble family (one whose holdings remained remarkably intact after the cataclysm), he exerts great influence over Neverwinter's economy and politics. Mordai is arrogance incarnate. He pursues whatever interests him, regardless of how far he must reach. He trusts in his combination of charm, status, and wealth to gain him what he wants. Mordai is a smooth operator-charming, rich, and always keen on how he might ally with new acquaintances. He is generous, appealing, slick, flirtatious, and is the most prominent and active noble in supporting Neverember’s reconstruction efforts.

Neverember began the meeting: "No doubt you must be wondering why I invited you here. One reason is now that you are becoming more well known in the city for your heroic efforts; you should become acquainted with the more important movers and shakers here in Neverwinter. Myself, Soman, and Mordai are some very powerful people to have as your allies and we certainly feel you are the right people to count as friends. The other reason is that I believe you are the type of people that can help us out with a difficult and delicate situation that has come up in Waterdeep. We all need as many good, reliable allies as we can get to battle away the horrors of the spell-plague and the machinations of our common enemies. Lady Lestra's house and the Neverember house have been in alliance, friends actually, for many years and she has come to me with a matter that needs immediate attention. Lestra, would you be kind enough to explain the situation to our heroes?"

Lady Lestra speaks, "Certainly Dagault. Please excuse my caution," she says in a voice that reveals both refinement and worry. "I have some standing in Waterdeep, and I do not wish others to know my plight. My nephew, Rutherford, went into Undermountain four weeks ago. Naught has been heard from him or his five companions since. His father, my brother Quarren, disappeared in Undermountain three years ago. Before he left, Rutherford swore his father's whispered voice spoke to him, imploring him to bring a rescue party into the dungeon. I told my nephew it was folly, but the impetuousness of youth and his father's blood won out. After hearing of my plight, Dagault thought it would be best to hire some reliable people who are not known in Waterdeep, and I agree. I can offer you 200 pieces of gold each plus travel to Waterdeep to look for Rutherford in Undermountain and to keep this information to yourselves. If you recover my nephew, or provide proof of his demise, I offer a much larger reward, say 500 gold each."

"In addition," Lord Neverember says, "I would consider your doing this for Lady Lestra as a personal favor for me." At this point the party sees Neverember put his hand on her knee and look at her smiling and her smiling and looking down as if a bit embarrassed and also notices that Telliann briefly looks a bit disgusted, or maybe jealous.

Then he says, "So what say you? Will you do this for us?" After a short deliberation, the party agreed to help Lady Lestra (and Lord Degault Neverember). He exclaimed, “Excellent! We knew we could count on you to help. Get with Telliann in the morning and she will tell you all the details of the ship that Lady Lestra has in the harbor ready to set sail.”

Mordai Vell spoke up at this point and said, “If I may be so bold as to ask a favor of all of you. Since you’ll be traveling to Waterdeep, I have a small shipment that needs special attention to be delivered to my colleagues in Waterdeep. Could I impose on you Mi’Lady to garner a small space on your ship for my packages?” “Certainly you may, Mordai. My ship won’t be traveling full. Just give Telliann the details and have your cargo ready to load by nine tomorrow morning.” At this point the party noticed Telliann looking a bit suspiciously at Mordai but quickly puts on a smile and acts if it is no trouble at all and says as much.

“Thank you, Lestra. You are always so kind to me.” He turns his attention to Jobi and Zola and with a large smile says, “And may I, my dear, also impose a favor of you and your friends, to ensure delivery of my cargo to my contacts in Waterdeep? It would mean a great deal to me and I would be in your debt.” When the group mentioned that cash is better than a debt, Mordai then offered 100 gold pieces each. With that they agree and he beamed a large smile and declared, “That is most wonderful. Please when you return to Neverwinter, come visit me at my estate in Blacklake and we’ll have a grand party.”

As they are shaking hands and bidding farewell to everyone, Mordai Vell slipped a note to Jobi asking her to meet him at his manor in Blacklake alone tonight. She rushed home and changed (again) then left for Vell Manor. Any more details of her encounter with Mordai will need to be revealed by Jobi herself).

In the morning they all met at Telliann's ofice and she greeted them, “Good morning. Well I guess we’d better get you everything you need for your little ‘trip’ for Lord Neverember.” She sounds a bit annoyed at this. When she is asked what’s wrong, she is obviously debating with herself if she should say anything to you, then shakes her head and says,
“I just don’t trust them. Lady Lestra has always seemed like a ‘schemer’ to me. There’s got to be more to her story about her nephew and brother. If I had to guess, she had something to do with her brother’s disappearance and something may be coming to light that she doesn’t want to happen. She basically inherited all his holdings since Rutherford was too young by law to assume control of the family’s holdings. But now he is close to the age where he can take over. Now he goes off to look for his dad because of some ‘dream’ and disappears too. It’s just too much of a coincidence for me. If you find anything underhanded, take the evidence to Corporal Endroth Knag and tell him that I sent you to him. He’s always looking for evidence of foul play from the nobles in Waterdeep, and he usually gets justice for the ones wronged by them.”

“And Mordai Vell is an opportunistic snake. Rumor has it that his family kept their holdings intact during Neverwinter’s cataclysm because they were somehow involved in it. Don’t know how that could have been, but he definitely is the wealthiest and most well connected noble still around. He embraced Neverember like he was a long lost child or something when he first arrived, claiming to be some distant heir of Neverwinter’s ruling blood-line. Neverember still hasn’t shown anyone real proof of that yet, but he also doesn’t make a big deal of it. Almost every new major program or development in the city has Mordai’s hands in it, so much so that I’m beginning to think that he is vying to be the real power here, and with the hushed rumors of him being somehow affiliated with the Ashmadai cult, that is truly worrying if it turns out to be true. Maybe you can dig a little into what his cargo is and report back to me about it. Don’t do anything that would pin something on you by his ‘contacts’, if you can help it. You definitely don’t want Mordai on your bad side, if you plan on sticking around in the area.”

“Anyway, I guess I’d better give you the information from Lestra and Mordai so you can get on your way. Lestra wants you to investigate Rutherford’s disappearance discreetly by going to the Yawning Portal Inn and posing as just another group of adventurer’s seeking fame and fortune by descending into Undermountain there. There might be some people there that would remember Rutherford and his group, but be discreet asking. His companions were Zarr, a male half elf, Aizel Treemaine, a female elf, Enda Yate, a female Halfling, Squam, a male half-orc, and Rotwile, a male half-orc. Corporal Knag usually spends his evenings there so he would be a good one to talk to before heading down.”

“Mordai wants you to escort his cargo to its destination in the city. He says he’ll have a wagon with several porters and guards and you should go with them and speak to Callum Openwise, that’s his business partner in Waterdeep who is expecting this delivery. That’s all I have on that. Now, the ship taking you to Waterdeep is called ‘The Fair Merchant’. Its captain is a moody half-elf called Holoworth Dregain. Give him this sealed envelope and tell him it’s from LuLu. If the seal is broken before you give it to him, he won’t accept it, so don’t open it, let him.”

Our heroes go to the docks and find the boat is ready to leave by 10 AM in the morning and the ride is 4 days long and uneventful. The captain says he’s going to be going back to Neverwinter in about one week’s time, possibly up to ten days from now and they
are welcome to get a ride back with him if they are back in time.

Once they reach Waterdeep's docks, the boat is greeted by a wagon, several porters and several private guards who introduce themselves as part of Mordai Vell's organization and ask the party to escort them to the warehouse where they will meet Callum Openwise and receive their payment. The warehouse is only a short walk away from the docks, maybe ten minutes. When they arrived they met Callum, who inspected the crate intensly and then thanked the party and gave them a sack of coins, 100 gold for each member.

So our intrepid band went to locate the Yawning Portal to begin their adventure and investigation into Undermountain. When they entered the saw and learned the following from the people there:
The Yawning Portal houses the most famous and accessible entrance to Undermountain. Built around a vast pit in the earth that drops to the Dungeon Level, the inn has for more than a century used its connection to the dangers below to attract the brave, foolhardy or merely curious. 

Built on the site of Halaster's ruined tower and founded with loot claimed from Undermountain, the Yawning Portal is a rambling structure that boasts three upper floors of guest rooms and a huge taproom. The centerpiece of this taproom is a 40-foot-wide well with a low wall. This is the "yawning portal" to Undermountain. Tables for patrons surround the well, and a large winch-and-pulley contraption grips the thick rope dungeon delvers use to descend the 140 feet into Undermountain. 

Entrance costs 10 gp per person and takes 10 rounds as Duman lowers the individuals crowded onto the platform. Duman the Sixth, descendant of the Duman who originally built the inn, happily lowers any paying patron into the well by means of the winch. If a dungeon delver returns to the well room below and wants to come back up, he or she must drop 10 gp into a bucket Durnan lowers down before the innkeeper will haul the person back up. 

Duman doesn't provide healing or other help to returning adventurers, but he'll send a runner with a message to one of the temples for no extra charge. (He considers the Undermountain entrance fee enough to cover such service.) When adventurers pay to enter the well, patrons cheer, share rounds of drinks, and generally give the dungeon delvers a grand going-away party. For those the celebration doesn't distract, the scene might seem a bit grisly as customers and inn workers openly bet on whether the adventurers will return, and how many will live to tell their tales.

Our heroes met Stannoc. He keeps a record of everyone that enters the yawning portal and if they return or not. He did have Rutherford and his party listed as going down about a month ago and to date, they have not returned. While they were talking with Stannoc, another group of six adventurers paid to be lowered into Undermountain. They seemed capable people and the bets placed on them were at 25:1 odds that they would return. Durnam lowered them down into the entrance of Undermountain. A barely audible voice echoes up, "All clear down here!" A few tavern bystanders sigh with relief as others jovially shout, slosh their ales, and exchanae a couple coins. After a few heartbeats, screams and the clank of metal echo hollowly up from the well, and patrons rush to its edge. Durnam begins to frantically wind the winch, and he shouts at you: "Are you adventurers? Do you seek entrance into Undermountain? "I don't think I can winch the rope fast enough to get you there in time to aid the others. But if you can tell me what's happened down there, I'll waive your fees for this trip."

As soon as the party agreed, Stannoc quickly wrote down their names and declared the bets at 10:1 odds. So our heroes seeing a quick way to make even more coin on this adventure decided to bet on themselves: Asphodel put down 150 gold; Kel and Blackwell each put down 100 gold; Zerak slapped down 120 gold; Zola placed a 91 gold bet, and Jobi put up 50 gold. These amounts astonished Stannoc a bit, but he figured he wouldn't end up having to pay out so he took it all.

When they got down, they found two of the former group dead and a third nearly so. He had placed himself in between a secret door to keep it open. Once Zola and Kel healed him a bit, he was ablel to tell them that a group of goblins had ambushed them through the secret door and dragged away the other three. So the group piled the dead and wounded onto the elevator and shouted up for Durnam to take it up. Then they proceeded to follow a blood trail the discovered through the secret door and into Undermountain.

They followed the blood trail through several narrow hallways which ended at a door. Opening the door revealed a long wide hallway with many statues on either side. The blood trail actually split at this point and went in both the east and west directions. So the group went east first since they could hear some moaning coming from that direction. Zerak had pulled off an ogre zombie off of his new robe of bones and directed it to start down the hallway. It immediately got fired at by crossbow traps. Asphodel started to fly down the corridor and also triggered the traps but her highly armored eidolon didn't take any damage. Kel also walked slowly up the corridor and Blackwell went and disabled each trap as he advanced up the corridor. The rest of the party followed along. This hallway led to another interscetion with a door in the east wall where the screams were louder.

The zombie broke the door down and entered the room beyond. The party had surprised three goblins and a kobold who were watching a female half orc they had placed onto a throne of bones in the back of the room. The throne animated two snakes along its arms that bit into the half orc, who screamed and passed out, then the snakes turned back into marble. There were also two lit globes hovering fifteen feet above the ground near the throne.

The ensuing battle took a little bit for the party to prevail for the goblins and kobolds were actually accomplished warriors. But in the end our heroes won the day and saved the half-orc who was a member of the previous group that made the descent earlier. Just as the battle was nearing its conclusion, the kobold had attempted to break one of the glowing floating globes but couldn't before Asphodel cut it down. Now the globe was making crackling noises and started to jerk around as if it were going to burst open. And a few seconds later it did burst in a great flash of light and revealed that a young green dragon had been trapped inside. And it was extremely angry and proceeded to attack.

Everyone started the battle by making a quick attack and then backing out of the room trying to keep their distance for fear of the green dragon's acid breath weapon. Kel carried the half-orc out of the room and put her around a corner trying to protect her from the dragon. The first attacks from the dragon tore Zerak's plague zombie to shreds, giving the party more time to back away. The dragon breathed its acid while in the room and caught a few of the heroes in it, fortunately not injuring anyone very badly.

The dragon followed the retreating party out through the room's door and into the hallway where it again was able to breathe its horrible acid weapon, causing more damage to the party and killing the half-orc female. Blackwell was able to keep himself out of range of the dragon's attacks the entire battle, while peppering it with arrows. Asphodel kept flying to keep out of the way of the dragon and when it had advanced far enough into the hallway, she swooped down and ferociously attacked it from behind. This last attack was enough to bring it low when combined with all the other damage the rest of the party had done to it in the previous rounds. After the battle, the party took a bit of time to heal up and strip as many dragon scales and parts as they could.

Then it was time to look for the last two members of the previous adventuring party they were trying to rescue. But that is a tale for next week's adventures.

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