Ahhh session 18. What can I say about session 18. What happens at Mordai Vell's, stays at Mordai Vell's, I guess. But I'm getting ahead of the story so let's backup to the docks of Waterdeep, just after they had defeated the ambush put in place by someone known only as 'O'.
Zerak had animated the cleric as a skeleton and commanded it to pick up the body of the wizard so it could carry it to the ship for them. BUt once at the ship, the captain flatly refused to allow an undead skeleton and a dead body onto his ship. So Zerak went away taking the skeleton and body with him. When he was out of sight, they ended up in a bag of holding. Then after seeing that the party got rid of the bodies, the captin welcomed them aboard, albeit suspiciously.
After a couple of days, the party met secretly and Zerak performed a speak with dead spell on the wizard. Kel and Jobi just couldn't get comfortable with this and decided to leave the room and be on guard. They got three questions and the wizard was able to resist Zerak's spell somewhat so the group knew that the answers would be questionable at best.
The first question was aimed at who wrote the note and the answer was "Orpheus" which did nothing to clear up who that was since no one could think of anyone named Orpheus that they had heard about, let alone met. The second question was asked regarding what the nature of the note was and they received an answer of "You're the king of Neverwinter", but who was the corpse referring to was at best unclear. The third question was asked to try to determine how long the people were waiting in ambush for them. The answer was unclear as well, being something like, "Since you've been here." Once they were done with the questions, Zerak put the body in a bag of holding, snuck to the side of the ship and dumped it into the ocean to get rid of it.
Four days after leaving Waterdeep, they pulled into the Neverwinter harbor. They at once went to Telliann's office to report back to her. She was pleased to see them back and was eager to hear their tale of their adventure to Waterdeep and Undermountain. She asked if they were able to get any info on Vell's shipment to Waterdeep. The party responded with they weren't able to get to it during the trip so they didn't find anything out. While disappointed, she was nonetheless appreciative of their efforts. They mentioned the ambush and the note signed by Orpheus to see if Telliann knew anything about any of this. She didn't but would see about looking into it for them.
She then escorted them to Neverwinter's estate to meet with Degault and Lestra. When they arrived they were greeted with supressed anticipation. When the party showed Rutherford's possessions and gave them to Lestra, Neverember was immediately playing the comforter role for Lestra. Lestra appeared devastated by the proof of Rutherford's demise, but the astute party members saw for a split second the almost imperceptable smile come across Lestra's face when she heard the news of his demise. Rutherford's and Quarren's accusations seemed to be true. Maybe it would be worthwhile to visit the two in Waterdeep after a month's time like they had offered.
Lady Lestra "composed" herself and then gave the gold that she had offered them, 500 gold each, for undertaking the adventure for her. Lord Neverember also added that he was quite appreciative of their efforts and said that he owes a favor in the future to each of them and all they had to do waS ask and he would do everything in his power to grant it. This prompted Jobi to ask if he would be able to have some of his scholars take a look at all the paperwork she had done trying to find out who her real father was. Neverember said of course and all Jobi had to do was bring him her research and he would have the best people he has take a look and start researching it as well.
The party then took their leave and decided to do a bit of shopping while Jobi went to Mordai Vell's estate to let him know that they were back and his crate was delivered successfully. Mordai was ery happy to see her and was elated by the good news saying that he would hold a party that very night for the heroes and that they should come back around 10pm. With that Jobi left and joined the others in a small shopping spree that included some new dresses and magical items.
They arrived at Mordai Vell's estate promptly at ten that night. The party started out as any normal upper crust party starts - full of pleasantries, introductions, small talk, etc. In addition to our heroes, there wer many very beautiful women and men at the party and soon the converstaions began injecting sexual inuendos which led to outright propositions. Kel played the part of a noble woman and was very much in her element conversing with everyone who would talk with her. She managed to find out that there is a rebel group dedicated to the ouster of Neverember, called the Sons of Alagondar, a reference to the original king of Neverwinter, King Alagondar the First. Asphodel and Zola were very much put out by the other party attendees, for many of them appeared a diabolical in nature, and Zola was sure that at least some of them were really devils in not so much disguise. They quietly left the party as soon as an opportunity presented itself and headed back to the Bloated Float Tavern and Inn (and probably taking baths to wash all the stench of evil that permeated throughout that party).
Zerak, on the other hand, was having a blast. He was mixing up vile and not so vile drinks and offering them to anybody and everybody who would take them, getting mighty drunk himself. He vaguely remembered ending up in a bedroom with a couple of very beautiful females, who he was certain were actually erinyes devils, but he just didn't care. He let it all out and partied like there was no tomorrow. <i>(Fortunately for him, the two erinyes were on holiday and decided that they didn't need to mix work with pleasure and just planned on the pleasure part for the evening.)</i>
Blackwell also stayed at the party and found that he found acceptance and fun with this group of creatures as well. But he mostly stayed out of the limelight of the party and enjoyed a quiet time with the ladies.
And of course, Jobi was stuck on Mordai Vell the entire night. Let's just leave it at that, shall we.
The next morning, at the crack of noon, Zerak had a <i>hell</i> of time getting out of bed and waking up and nearly drank some Stygian Fire Water, almost mistaking it for normal water. He finally wandered out of Vell's estate and back to the Bloated Float to meet up with everyone else. Jobi also woke up late, untangling herself from Mordai and making her way out.
It was at this time that she now discovered something very bad had happened to her house, well, actually the whole block where she used to live. It seemed as though during their trip to Undermountain, a new Spellplauge fissure had erupted and destroyed the entire block where her house was. There was nothing more than a blue glowing crater and some rubble left in the area. There was nothing left of her home or possessions she had left there, which included all her research notes into the identity of her father. She would have to recreate them from memory in order to give Neverember's scholars something to go on. But that would have to wait for a few. She had to think about where she was going to stay from now on. Jobi went back to Mordai Vell's estate and told him what had happened. He was very sympathetic and offered her a place to stay with him, even offering her an entire wing of his estate for her to live in. Still a bit in a daze she then went to the Blaoted Float and met up with the rest of her party and told them the bad news. The party reminded her that they all had free rooms here at the Bloated Float for as long as they wanted. But she decided that she was going to live at Vell's estate for now.
And so our heroes decided taht they needed a bit of downtime, including some research time, and went about doing some personal tasks, projects, errands, etc. Zola decided to give Asphodel some help in researching dragons and anything that may relate to her amulet, and/or her past and ancestry. After a couple of days however, she continually found her attention being distracted to finding small passages and snippets regarding the Deck of Many Things. Then the card she had been carrying (and hadn't shared with anyone else in the party) began to feel hot against her skin in her belt pouch. She took it out and held it for a while. She was getting a sense of urgency about finding the other cards and completing the deck for some reason. It must have been coming from the Donjon card she held. Afterall, it was an artifact. But the passages she read called it an artifact of Chaos and she thought that nothing good could really come of it. Nonetheless, she was certain that she had to act. The feelings were just so pronounced that she finally let Zola into her confidence about the card and let her hold it. Immediately, Zola knew what the Donjon card was capable of and also experienced the urgent sensations of wanting and needing to find the rest of the cards. She also thought that this could be dangerous and maybe they shouldn't do it, but also thought that if others had some cards, they would be trying to reassemble the deck as well. The librarian was able to tell them that there was a leading scholar of artifacts living a couple fo days away in Winterhaven and that they should seek his counsel on anything related to artifacts. He would certainly have better resources than they did hear.
Meanwhile, Zerak was doing his own research into Neverwinter and its noble houses and rulers to see if he could find out anything about any Orpheus or any connection between Neverwinter and Waterdeep - be it from marriages or migrating noble houses, etc. But he found that all the books in the library that had anything to do with Neverwinter's past were "missing." The librarian had no explaination and looked as though he was troubled and didn't know anything about the missing tomes until now. So for now he had hit a dead end.
Then Asphodel and Zola both went to Zerak, told him about the card and let him hold the card as well. Armed with the same knowledge as Zola and Asphodel, he was also concerned about the gravity of situation they found themselves. They decided to ask the others about it and offered each of them the chance to hold the card and find out what they knew (others being Kel and Jobi - Blackwell was back at his and his parents' enclave). After some thought, Jobi declined holding the card. She didn't want to know but said she would help them. Kel was curious and decided to hold the card. She also thought that a proactive stance on this may be for the best instead of waiting to see what happens. They told Blackwell that they were going to Winterhaven to do some more research for Asphodel and would he like to come along. He readily agreed since it was something to help out one of his pack adn off they went to WInterhaven in search of Valthruun the sage.
The trip there was uneventful and lasted only a couple of days. Late in the afternoon they arrived at Winterhaven. It was a fairly small town, maybe around 1000 inhabitants, mainly human with small numbers of dwarves, elves, and halflings. They took a quick look around the town at the shops and did some quick shopping but soon learned that a small town usually doesn't have a lot in the way of magical gear. They did find a wizard's tower in the town and went there to see what magic he or she may have to sell. An old white haired man answered the door. He had a few items that the party wanted to buy and he gladly batered with them for a bit. Zerak also asked if he might be able to purchase some time in his library to look up the history of Neverwinter, specifically the ancestral lineage of its rulers. The sage was agreeable and Zerak went in and spent some time purusing the man's library. Opening the first book, Zerak saw that the man's name was written in it, for a small print line said, "Property of Valthruun." Zerak found that according to all the texts he read here that there was never any mixing of noble lines between Neverwinter and Waterdeep. In fact they saw each other as rivals and no known recorded marriage between any of the noble houses occurred. And there was no mention of anyone named Orpheus either.
The one local tavern and inn, called the Wrafton Inn was a nice clean place filled with friendly patrons. There they met Sir Oakley, a knight of Bahamut the dragon god, who was looking for a group of trust-worthy adventurers to accompany him to the ruined temple at Gardmore Abbey. He intended to go there and purify the temple, ridding it of its evil stench that befell the entire Abbey more than a 150 years ago. His quest is to try and regain every temple that had been at least in part dedicated to Bahamut and this would be the last one of his career, for he was getting up in years and the rest of this quest was laid at the feet of the next generation of Bahamut's knights.
Asphodel was very interested in this man for she wanted to find out as much about dragons and the legends as she possibly could. And here was a knight of a dragon god! She immediately offered to help and asked if he would share his knowledge of ddragons with her. Sir Oakley said that he would gladly tell her whatever she wanted to know. The rest of the group was a little skeptical until Sir Oakley mentioned that the temple also was dedicated to Sarenrae, Desna, and several other good-aligned gods and all would benefit from its cleansing. Sir Oakley was estatic for finding the help and everyone else in the tavern cheered as he exclaimed that tomorrow would be the day the temple would be reclaimed for the forces of good! He then turned to the party and said, in a much lower voice, that his order had authorized him to pay them a sum of 500 gold pieces each for assisting in the temple's reclaimation and he would pay them when the job was finished. He then said that if they were, he would be ready to make the journey in the morning.
And so we leave our stalwart band drinking in the Wrafton Inn in Winterhaven on the eve of their next adventure to the temple at Gardmore Abbey...