dungeons and dragons and fighting games
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The Storm King's Thunder: session 22

Uninvited guests

With shiny new mithral equipment and their questions answered by the Eye of Annam, the party flew their castle out over the Sea of Swords and toward Maelstrom. Along the way, Maalora continued training Cinderhild on how to use her ballista. Once they were near Maelstrom, Corvyn used the Conch of Teleportation they acquired from Duke Zalto to bring them all into Maelstrom proper.

They appeared on an enormous run in a gently glowing cavern and, following music echoing from above, entered into a lounge filled with giants! The performers - Mirran and Nym - turned out to be the sisters of the regent - Serissa - and the others were most of what remained of King Hekaton's court.

Bryn and Maalora snuck around the stronghold and found what appeared to be the king and queen's tower, guarded by what had to have been the worst guard available.

Meanwhile, Sashura appealed to Braxow, the stone giant seer to support the party because they're enacting the will of the giant gods (and Lathander).

Ghore picked a fight with Jarl Hellenhild and tossed her on her back, earning both her consideration and attention! He spent the rest of the evening with her, as well...

Corvyn chatted with Vaal, trying to feel him out but the conversation didn't amount to much.

At that point, the storm giant princesses finished their performance and Mirran announced that it was time for their uninvited guests to leave. Corvyn asked them to let the party stay and that they'd be happy to wait until an audience with Serissa could be arranged. Mirran was furious at this but Nym stepped in and allowed them to stay in guest chambers.

Guards escorted the party back downstairs to Cinderhild's guest chamber but rather than be escorted to chambers sized for small folk, the party insisted they would stay with Cinderhild. If the guards had a problem with that, they could tell Serissa and she could deal with it.

Orphans & Organizations: session 15

The story of the cave

The monk(?) has a pleasant smile and calming demeanor. He said he's defended himself recently after trying to talk to those who've tried to attack him. Vivi told him that we hoped to warn him and he cut out again to say Evil grows more paranoid and less patient, daily. They will strike when no one is ready.

After showing him the note I found, he was interrupted again and repeated nobody is who they seem yet they will reveal themselves to those who pry enough several times, during which I cast Detect Thoughts. The thoughts reminded me of sea salt and the Mask of Many faces, as they shift between images. I tried to pry deeper but lost my connection to the thoughts.

I realized that we hadn't exchanged names and introduced myself. The monk intoruced himself in return as Halam. He said that he's felt an inner schism and was trying to mend it. He'd come across beings that can interpose upon peoples' dreams, which seemed to line up with what's happening to him.

One of the notes from Halam's attackers instructed them to bring him back alive. I asked him if the note said where they were supposed to bring him, having a terrible great idea. One did say "home base".

Halam told us the Peryoton - the antlered flying beasts - are most active at night.

Apparently, three separate entities wrote the instruction notes.

We asked him about his chant about the eyes and Halam seemed concerned.
One eye: trolls, cyclops, abominations? Four eyes? He didn't know. Ten: he said was more straightforward about Xanathar's Guild and recommend we avoid the interest of beholders. Borrowed eyes: illusion, a doppleganger or something more gruesome?

Halam agreed to let us know at the Tavern if his meditation on all of this reveals any wisdom and Vivi asks him if there's a safe shortcut down the mountain, and there is! It exited into Fetlock Court.

The route looked a little treacherous but we all make it down successfully. On the way, I used the sending stone to update Davil More information - their next target has been unsuccessfully attacked by several organizaitons. If those persist, there may be other groups attacking elves soon also.

After a couple minutes, I recieved a reply: Well, that's good to hear. Which next target? Another elf? By the way, your previous quary already escaped. Next time, let's keep it in house please.

Vivi hired someone to clean the peryoton skulls and antlers and mount them next to the troll skull. We finished the evening by continuing to prepare for our opening the next night.

When we arrived at the Tavern, there was a note on the door from Volo saying that he was going to be out of town, and possibly the plane, for a while researching for a book. He apologized for any lack of funds and there were five bags, containg 100 gold each.

Furthermore, Fala said she scared someone away from the coin purses also. This individual had come up to our door several times in the past tenday. Each time they wore a frayed crimson hooded cloak. She didn't know who they are or where they're from but it seemed really suspicious. Fala agreed to let us know if and where she sees them again.

Soft Open

Arabis was the first one to arrive on our soft opening. I welcomed her in draconic and told her that all of us would be happy to help her with Common, as she wished. Baraht arrived next and Davavor showed up about half an hour before opening.

Vivi visited Wren to the smell of burning and received a hand crossbow! It uses a clip of four bolts and while well-aimed shots will damage the target further, it could also jam, preventing it from firing unless cleared.

People started to filter into the tavern. It wasn't packed but at several points, all the seats were filled.

  • Zephyr was barbacking, managing her homebrew and alcohol supplies. Things got away from her a bit and she got in the way at points. (-5)
  • Vivi cast Enhance Ability (Eagle's Splendor) on Lif and performed to entertain the crowd. When Lif looked jittery, she played tunes he enjoyed to help him shine. (+5)
  • I spent the evening moving around, looking for potential trouble spots: empty glasses, missing glassware, soothing tempers and boosting morale, etc. (+15)

Renaer and Floon stopped by and gave me a signed (cover and inside both) copy of Volo's Guide to Monsters. I say hello and well met to make sure the pair of them feel welcome and make sure that Vivi knows Renaer wants to speak to her.

Vivi's acquantance, Threestrings, stopped by and tries to distract her and throw off her mood in between sets. He told Vivi that he's heard rumors about her entering a new line of business. He offered to trade tales with Vivi and tapped his tunic in a way that revealed a small silver harp pin.

Rishal and Fala were seated together, trying desperately to make small talk. As they drank more, they started talking about the philosophy of sourcing paper and the ethics of doing so. They got sloppy drunk and made peace after talking through the conflict about scroll paper.

Yagra was cleaning up in arm wrestling and stared down Zephyr, calling her out. I told Zephyr not to hurt herself in a contest with Yagra and cast Guidance on her. Zephyr tried to challenge Yagra to cards, unsuccessfuly, and had to settle for finding another victim for Yagra. There was a group of off-duty guard members arm wrestling among each other - one of them is particularly drunk and eagerly agrees to challenge the mercenary. They out-raised each others' bets until two stacks of 20 gold were stacked on the bar. After a few moments, Yagra mechanically levered the guard's arm down and collected the coin. The dwarf seemed to enjoy the whole experience and started chatting Yagra up and what's more, she actually enjoyed it!

Once Vivi has a break, Renear told Vivi that his father reached out about the Grand Game. He sent a Waterdeep native to give something to Renear and needs a secluded place to meet and would like it to be Trollskull Tavern. He invited VIvi - and the rest of us - to sit in on that meeting. Naturally, Vivi agreed to host them.

Vivi asked after Floon and Renear said he was concerned. Floon wasn't really himself, he said that something was still with him. He said that Floon seemed to be constantly listening to everything around him but couldn't be convinced to talk much. Is he the borrowed eyes?

Overall, we came away with a profit of 110 gold! After Mirt's cut, that leaves 99 gold. We decided to split Volo's payment to 150 gold each with 50 for the tavern fund.

The next day would be Brightswords!

The Storm King's Thunder: session 21

Questions answered

The party ended up basically adopting Cinderhild after successfully raiding Ironslag and turning it over to the dwarves of Citadel Felbarr and the Xorlarrin exiles.

They flew Ironslag's mithral doors back to Citadel Felbarr and used one as raw material for equipment and the other as payment for the crafting and enchanting.

After spending a couple tendays recovering, fitting their new gear and training Cinderhild to use a "crossbow" (read: a ballista).

While preparing to go to Maelstrom, the group took another visit to the Eye of Annam. There, they found the body of their fallen friend, Harshnag, where he apparently fell holding off a blue dragon so they could escape. They performed funeral rites for Harshnag and vowed vengeance upon the dragon!

Cinderhild took the greatsword from the statue of Surtr and used it to open the portal to the oracle. Inside, they asked more questions and learned:

  • the castle won't fit into the destination for their Conch of Teleportation
  • Maelstrom can't easily be reached from the castle
  • Queen Neri was slain by adherents of an ancient kraken
  • the dragon that killed Harshnag is hidden in Maelstrom
  • Cinderhild can remake the Ordning with Fire Giants supreme by claiming the Wyrmskull Throne for her own

Orphans & Organizations: session 14

To the summit

While going about some errands, Zephyr couldn't find her regular contact (Merrick) and people who know him say they haven't seen him since the night before. Since Merrick is the central hub for the few Shadow Thieves in Waterdeep, she was concerned that it looked like he just disappeared. She left a note for him (in thieves' cant) at a dead drop at a nightclub. Zephyr recalled that even if in disguise, Merrick wears a blue orchid in his lapel.

When Vivi and Zephyr returned, I informed them the payment from the Zhentarim Doom Raiders wasn't coin but instead a powerful restorative ointment. It seemed curious that the payment wasn't in coin but it would likely be very useful. Since it wasn't coin though, we pooled our purses to collect the funds to open the Tavern for Brightswords.

Zephyr used Vivi's other sheet of magical bird message paper to send a message to Merrick while Vivi told Lif everything she knew about the gryphons on Mount Waterdeep, and the rumors of the fledglings raised under the mountain itself.

While they did that, I went to the Bookwyrm's Treasure, hopeing to find a map of Mount Waterdeep's paths. Rishall's map collection was hopelessly disorganized and as an apology, gave me a four hundred year-old map of Baldur's Gate. It wasn't in any way useful to our current situation but could make an interesting decoration for Trollskull Tavern.

We gathered some basic rations from the tavern and left to climb a mountain. On the way through the city, Vivi practices her piece about Lif the ghostly bartender. I used minor illusions to create spectral images to accompany the music and Zephyr tried (unsuccessfully) to hype the crowd. Luckily, by Vivi's third take, we settled into an effective performance.

Night hiking

We found a path up Mount Waterdeep and started climbing without much of a plan for finding this rumored monk.

As the sun set on a mountain path, two winged and antlered creatures swept down at us from above! Vivi was almost immediately dangerously wounded by a surprise attack as was Zephyr. Vivi's wounds put her in danger of dying until I stabilised her with a panicked spell.

The next morning

19 Eleint

Zephyr lead us further up the path and noticed smoke coming from a cave. We decided to take a closer look, thinking that it was a more likely place for the monk in the note than at Peaktop Aerie.

The cave had bodies posed in - at best - uncomfortable positions:

  • two wearing purple
  • one in primarily black and red
  • one with pointed ears, black skin and white hair

While looking at the bodies, we were stopped by the light of a fire and a voice coming from further inside the cave:

One eye
Four eyes
Ten eyes
Borrowed eyes

There was a figure seated by the fire, facing toward the fire while reciting the chant. With Guidance from my cantrip, Zephyr crept closer to the figure and saw they were wearing brown robes with a shaved head.

Vivi created a gentle illusory sound to see if the person was trying to finish a ritual or just meditating. It turned out that he was just meditating and after opening his eyes, invited us to sit and talk since it seemed that we had questions.

After we sat down, his eyes went white, his head snapped backs and said no matter good deeds or evil, innocent blood shall spill.

That's probably fine.

Orphans & Organizations: session 13

Aftermath

Vivi searched the downed assailant, taking some crossbow bolts and almost all their coin (leaving some to make it look less like they were robbed).

"Our path forward is branching off", Istal tells Zephyr. He implied that Zephyr is stuck in some old ways. He says the guild will never return to this city. Istal was sickened by Zephyr associating with one of the "pale skins".

Zephyr got Istal to admit he was tasked to do a job and asked him who he works for. He stalled some more and Zephyr finally got him to whisper something to her. Vivi and I only overheard a few words.

Quickly looking Istal over, I found he has 22g, 7s, some kind of handheld miniature cannon and a note:

Istal,
Prove yourself. Five palekind, then the monk on the mount. Enclosed is for last resorts. Use will draw attention, I'm sure you know.
- Z

I asked Vivi to raise the guard and bring them back. Once she was there, I convinced her to take Istal away. As they're leaving, Istal asks the guard "What do you know of the Shadow's Thieves"?

Once the guard had taken Istal away, I showed the paper to Vivi and Zephyr.

On the way back to Trollskull Tavern, we discussed the note. Mount Waterdeep seems like an obvious connection to "mount" from the note, but there were no monastaries or anything... There's rumored to be someone on the mount who can help people find solace but that dreams and truth intermingle there.

The next day

3 days from Brightswords (18 Eleint)

After watching the staff mount the troll skull above the fireplace, there was a knock at the door. Zephyr opened the door and had a parchment thrust into her face and was asked "are you the ones responsible for this?" - Fala Lafalier was at the door.

Fala was surprised the Tavern was clean and functional. We invited her in, disarming her tantrum and talked about Rishal's paper supplier situation. She was surprised at how helpful we were and told her friends outside to get away and to take the paint with them. We were pretty sure her crew vandalized the tavern but she'll fix it and give us a discount on our first visit to her shop.

Discussing Istal's note, it finally clicked what Mirt was trying to hint at - Bregan D'aerthe! Zephyr suggested that Bregan D'aerthe could be connected to the Shadow Thieves and that she's looking to forge her own way from them. Awfully convenient timing that the Shadow Thieves started to show back up now that the Grand Game is happening.

I used the sending stone (given to me by Davil) to report in that the issue in the Dock Ward should be resolved but that we're continuing to investigate. I was told to see Bonnie (at the Yawning Portal) for payment. I headed down there to collect it and drop off a letter to my family in Neverwinter.

Orphans & Organizations: session 12

Messages

Mirt was the one at the door, with a big bundle under his arm and Vivi invited him in. We "introduced" him to Lif and briefly discussed our plans to open the bar. He brought the skull of a troll as a gift - the one we fought at the Yawning Portal! The skull reminds of how Gwen was instrumental to saving all our lives that night and we miss her...

Meanwhile, Zephyr charmed Mirt into accepting our offer of 10% ongoing profits in exchange for 500 gold. He asked if we're keeping the name Trollskull Manor - after a brief discussion, we agreed that Trollskull Tavern would be a stronger brand.

Mirt got to the point of the visit and asked what we found out from the job. We told him pretty much everything we found out while keeping my membership in the Zhentarim under wraps as much as we can. He paid us for the investment and the job - a total of 750 gold, which we put toward the opening of the tavern.

After handling the coin, Mirt offered Vivi a full partnership "in his organization". He also offered Zephyr and I unofficial affiliation on the condition of our discretion and that we don't endager Vivi or the city. Vivi tried to get Mirt to confirm which organization it is (the Harpists' Guild?), and he refuses to confirm it.

As Mirt was leaving, Vivi asked him if he knew anything about the murder of people of elven heritage in the Dock Ward. He replied "I don't want to brag on the wealth of information I have", heavily emphasising those two words. I'd heard of a similar and subtle org in the city. Bragon? Bragan? Bregan? It's hard to tell, but they're players in the underbelly of Waterdeep.

We decided to get Lif a nameplate that says Spiritual Advisor for the bar, as a title for Lif.

Hunting a hunter

We decided to go to the Muleskull Tavern and I went in first, alone, trying to draw out the elf killer. The entire place smelled like excrement and I found out that it's mostly a Dungsweeper's Guild tavern. Among the various patrons, there was a cloaked figure who seemed to be watching me without drinking.

Vivi ans Zephyr entered a few minutes later and got a booth by themselves. They noticed that the bartender, Richard, was weirdly clean considering the rest of the place. After getting a second drink, he asked me to pull my cloak up and get out to be safe.

Errol, the (former) dungsweeper, was the cloaked person watching me. I got him a round and argued about how we ruined the good thing he had going when the Carrion Crawler attacked. He said because of that, he lost the ring that hid his elven ears. During my whole time in the bar, I was doing my best to obviously be present and an elf. Vivi and Zephyr stayed a bit longer so it seemed like I was alone when I left.

A bit after I left the tavern, something cracked into the building next to my head! I turned to see a cloaked and hooded figure where the attack came from with another rushing me with blade drawn from a different direction. I flooded the mind of my hooded attacker with the futility of existence from a cosmic perspective, incapacitating them and tried avoid being murdered by the other attacker in the meantime until my allies showed up. Luckily, they quickly did and killed my remaining attacker, leaving the one cackling on the ground.

I put a knife to their throat, let the spell drop and asked them why they were killing elves. A spell to read thoughts gave me a sense of overwhelming greed but no real answers, and the person wasn't willing to tell us much.

My patience started running out and the cloaked figure pulled their hood back to reveal themselves as a drow - Istal, a member of the Shadow Thieves.

Orphans & Organizations: session 11

Counter-espionage

17 Eleint - four days from Brightswords.

Davil pays me a platinum coin to tell him who hired us to identify the person who hired us. He also cautioned me to know as much as possible about who I work with and for.

He also gives me a big picture overview of of the internal conflict in the Zhentarim. Irstul Flocksun is Davil's counterpart in the three-headed serpent faction. Davil asks me what I plan to tell Mirt and offers me another task: someone is targetting elves and Davil asked me to find who has killed three elves and half elves in the Dock Ward, around the Mule Skull Tavern. I should find out what I can or else guarantee that the problem won't recurr. Davil gives me a pebble with which to contact Marsaili when the issue is resolved.

I suggest to Vivi and Zephyr that we should discuss this back at the manor.

On the way, Vivi looked for paper sellers and while she doesn't see anything specific, she realized the Watchful Order of Magists and Protectors needs the same kind of paper as Rishal.

There's a Magist's Guild tower on our way back to the Manor. Vivi walked in, as if she'd been there a hundred times. A member is working at a desk across from the entrance, doublefisting quills and writing with both while talking with us about paper used for scrolls. Upon condition of discretionary selling, the Magist would provide a recommendation.

As we're leaving, we notice a set of doors watched over by an ornate statue, which isn't made of stone - perhaps bronze? It looks like parts of it have gears inside!

A soft open

We wanted a runner and a server as well. Maybe another person behind the bar, depending on what Lif thinks. The Manor can comfortable fit up to 40 or 50 people, standing.

Instead of offering real kitchen offerings, we decided to have breads and cheeses ready for patrons.

Our other considerations:

  • servers - need to hire!
  • management - Azthoran to handle on Brightswords
  • entertainment - Vivi looking into recruiting family or students from her bard school
  • promotion - handled by Volo
  • security

Debriefing

We talk about what happened in the Yawning Portal and decide that our loyalties are more to each other than our respective organizations.

After getting our story - and allegiances - in line, we stop by The Bookwyrm's Treasure to talk with Rishal. He sounds happy to agree with the Magists Guild's terms.

Zephyr bought a Wand of Secrets and I bought a Scroll of Comprehend Languages. I also left a note at Corelyn's Crown for Fala, telling her that we're helping Rishal get another paper source and that we can mediate between them when she returns.

After finishing at the Bookwyrm's Secret, Vivi sends a message to Mirt inviting him to the Manor to report in and discuss an investment. Lif was excited about being the main bartender and wanted to be part of hiring help. We thought we would need two servers and a runner who could help pour beer if needed. Vivi told us that two copper a day is the minimum we could pay for servers and that we could expect it to cost six gold per day to run the bar.

Bar prep

Zephyr began brewing a specialty ale that would be smoky both in flavor and actual presentation to keep with Trollskull Manor's theme of spirits and ghosts.

I look for somewhere to get our opening supplies - bread, cheese and brewing supplies. The baker I found isn't anything to write home about and I didn't get any kind of a deal. The other supplies - brewing, firewood, cleaning, etc - are high quality and saves us a pretty good amount.

Vivi starts looking for bar staff - two servers and a runner or barback - and wants to pay a little more for reliable people. The first candidate - a youngish male dwarf namaed Baraht - seems reliable and we hire him. The second - a silver fox half-elf named Davavor - gives kind of generic answers but Vivi thinks he's ok. The last is a dragonborn woman named Arabis that Vivi has a hard time undersanding, she only spoke Draconic. I stepped in to interpret and (after being invited) Lif surprised her by appearing right behind her! After the shock wore off, Lif showed that he can write in Draconic to communicate with her.

After finishing hiring, we heard a loud rasping at the Manor door.

Orphans & Organizations: session 10

An unusual conversation

Before the show resumes, Mirt informed us that they're looking for a specific agent that could be causing trouble. He's hoping for the agent's location in a day. He didn't have the name of the person but says Maxine should be forthright. She probably won't speak if she thinks it'll cause a stir.

Maxine's dray goes up and down the High Road. The driver and tolltaker - the Wolfwood brothers - are not aware of Maxine's capabilities and should not be made so. She'll have a violet flower behind her left ear.

After the show ends, he offered to invest in the tavern. For each 200 gold, he would want a 5% share. He gave Vivi an enchanted paper (which will turn into a bird) to debrief. If we're lucky we could find him at his manor in the Sea Ward.

Vivi had heard of the Wolfwood brothers and thinks their dray works around the Trade Ward.

There was a Stablemaster's Guild, and I remembered where it is!

I take the appearance of a city watch guard - Gregan - that we've run into before to give us the appearance of authority and head to the stables behind the guild hall.

I get spotted walking into the stables and the stablehand tried to ask what I'm doing. As I turned to respond, I cast Charm Person and ask him to help us confirm the safety of the Wolfwood Brothers' horse. He pointed out two horses they use, Maxine and Marjorie. I asked Vivi to talk to Maxine and that I will check Marjory.

Vivi asks Maxine about the Zhentarim agent. Maxine asked if she means Blondie and Greenie? They were talking about putting agents in a guild. Vivi made plans to meet the horse at noon on Snail Street near the Honorable Knight walking statue.

On the way back, I notice two other Zhentarim - Sarborin and someone else whose name I don't know - making general nuisances of themselves on the High Road. I offerred to buy them a round if they agree to lower the volume, since they're making a bad impression of the guild. They agree but are obviously full of shit so I ask the bartender to give them drinks that will put them down for the night.

When we get back to Trollskull Manor, a gold dragonborn is watching us from their back door. This was the same place that had people working the lock and Gwen has put a note under the door advising them to get a new lock. We agree that we should learn more about our neighbors.

After Vivi relayed her conversation to us, Blondie doesn't mean anything to me, but Greenie is probably a description based on physical characterstics. It would be a bad disguise in the Zhentarim.

We discussed the terms of Mirt's investment offer. We don't want to allow more than a 15% stake and would prefer it to stay closer to 10%. Hopefully we could get 500g for a 10% stake. Our goal is to have something open for Brightswords; just the bar if necessary but the full tavern is possible. It's even possible that we'll be able to do a soft opening the night before Brightswords.

Hiring practices

17 Eleint - 4 days from Brightswords.

Before going to the Honorable Knight, we decide to start looking for servers and kitchen staff. We wanted to meet our neighbors and started with the suspicious(?) dragonborn's place. Apparently, it's The Bookwyrms Treasure, a bookstore.

The dragonborn said Fala is the (wood) elven woman who came around a couple nights ago, trying to get him to change something about his business. He finally introduced himself as Rishal and explained that Fala wants him to change which paper he uses to inscribe his scrolls (Duskwood). Vivi knows that Duskwood paper has been harvested to a dangerous level. Rishal said that he wouldn't mind changing paper providers if he doesn't have to pay more. He told us that Fala is at Corelin's Crown in Trollskull Alley also.

Nearby shops

The Tiger's Eye: ??
The Bent Nail: furniture store
Steam & Steel: a forge and shaper
Zephyr Post: messenger bird post
Brewn's Brews: brewers
Corelin's Crown: apothecary - back in 2 days

The wrong way

We get to the Honorable Knight early and wait. I catch a ride on the dray while the others follow on foot. Maxine was acting stubborn and slow, directing the dray off its normal route and toward the Yawning Portal.

Zephyr and I enter separately, me disguised as a dockworker. I see a hooded figure at a table with Yagra. I ask for a drink and sit a the booth next to them. Zephyr heard two whistles, while I hear only one from behind me, coming from Yagra's table. When I turn to look, Yagra beckoned me with a finger. I go over to their table and ask what they wanted. The person in the hooded cloak asked me if I preferred to be called Azthoran or Master Chryssel and since I was already identified, I dropped my mask and ask whom I'm speaking with.

The blond figure pulled back their hood and introduced himself as Davil Starsong. Fuck.

Orphans & Organizations: session 9

A funny thing happened at the theater

16 Eleint - 5 days from Brightswords.

As we wake up in the morning, Zephyr finds a goodbye note from Gwen. I checked her room, which was emptied of all her belongings. It seems that Gwen is gone for at least some time. Over the last few days, Gwen had been sullen and withdrawn. She was transparently changing the subject every time Octavia's name came up.

During breakfast, a tinking sound on a nearby window drew my attention and it was a paper bird! I opened the window and as I said hello, it flew past me toward Vivi. It was a request for Vivi to meet someone named Mirt at intermission of the opera at the Lightsinger Theater tonight in Sea Ward. The note was referred by Renaer and sealed with a Harper symbol.

Our work and adventuring clothes were clearly not going to suffice - we went and had clothes custom tailored for us.

I went to scout the theater, accompanied by Zephyr. The opera is The Beast's Struggle, which starts at sundown.

At sundown, I was able stroll into the theater with nothing but confidence. Zephyr and Vivi got stopped by the ticket-takers though. I used Mask of Many Faces to disguise myself as an usher and pretended that I had their tickets and box ready for them. The lie easily got them inside as well.

As much as I want to trust Renaer, I'm not fully convinced that this note came from him or that this meeting will be safe. We agreed to stay together for the meeting at intermission if nothing else.

Vivi recognizes Victorio and Alanter Caselanter looking out of sorts.

We make our way to the balcony and find Box C, which has eight seats: two rows of four. The box is spacious and seems relatively private. There's already a guest in the box, enveloping the entire rear left seat and wearing hat with an enormous feather. I silently take the back right seat, Vivi and Zeph take the two seats in front of me. The first act of the opera is enthralling for Vivi and I but Zeph is left a weepy mess, she's so moved by it.

At the intermission, the person - we assume, Mirt - addressed Vivi from right next to her. We all tried to cover our surprise that he was able to move there without us noticing.

I pulled out a copper piece and circle its edges to cast Detect Thoughts: his surface thoughts are curiosity, unassuredness and pure delight - like a parent watching their child take their first steps.

He says that he can teach Vivi to move past her assumptions by joining his organization but didn't want to say what it was. "Words are our weapons and knowledge our whetstone." His test for Vivi is to find someone they've been seeking for some time. He offers 100 gold for Vivi and 75 gold for any others to complete the job. The man places his hand on Vivi's and she palms something metal and irregularly-shaped that he places there.

The job is find and talk to a specific horse - one that can speak the common tongue should it choose - Maxine the Mare. It will only choose to speak with one of Mirt's ilk. She pulls a dray around the city. He needs us to ask about the Zhentarim.

The Storm King's Thunder: session 17

Let's Forge a Deal

With a job to do in exchange for Duke Zalto's conch, the party talked through some ways to give Duke Zalto what he wants without betraying the trust of the various dwarf clans by permanently stealing Maegera from the forges of Gauntlgrym.

The group went back to Citadel Felbarr and spoke with the king and queen there and with their counsel, devised a plan to set a trap in the Iron Flask. The Felbarran engineers said they could make something that would last at least for a few hours, which they thought would fool Duke Zalto long enough to get information from him about King Hekaton's Court. Unfortunately, the engineers need to take some part of Maegera to make it work, and so they need to make a trip to Gauntlgrym.

While Corvyn, Bryn and Sashura flew the castle to the Gauntlgrym, Ghore and Alun went back to the Yakfolk village to foment a slave rebellion. Unfortunately, when they got there and started sneaking around the village, they realized the Yakfolk aren't slaves to the fire giants - the Yakfolk are keeping slaves of their own. Ghore marched into the chief's hut and challenged him to a fight, which a group of other Yakfolk stepped up to join.

The Storm King's Thunder: session 16

Negotiations

The stairs along the cliffside of Ironslag already had another party ascending them. Our heroes split into two groups: one to climb the stairs from the bottom and another that started at the top of the stairs and descended. By the time the groups met, they were in a cave halfway up the stairs. Inside, they found the other adventurers recovering from what looked like a surprise encounter with a chimera which killed two of them.

The rising sun revealed the other party as drow, setting everyone on edge. Sashura provided some minor healing as a gesture of goodwill and the drow told him that they were on their way to meet with Duke Zalto about a job. The two groups parted ways carefully.

Upon reaching the mountaintop, the party found a village of Yakfolk, who welcomed them into the cheif's hut for a modest feast. After a time, word came that Duke Zalto would meet with them.

On the way through the giant's forge, Bryn and Corvyn noticed several collosal pieces of armor, too large even for a giant.

The party was introduced to Duke Zalto and they asked for his help to get to King Hekaton's court. He said that he would help them if they did a job for him first: acquiring a flame primordial named Maegera. If they capture it in the Iron Flask he gave them and bring it back to Ironslag then he would allow them the use of his conch to get to Maelstrom and prepare them for court.

The Storm King's Thunder: session 15

Mutual Enemies

A blue dragon snuck into the temple of the Eye of the All Father! Harshnag charged at it and told the party to flee and they eagerly did.

They flew the cloud castle to Citael Felbarr, where the party was welcomed with open arms once they explained that they had slain giants. They had an audience with King Morinn and Queen Tithmel and got their blessing to approach Ironslag - the forge-mountain controlled by Duke Zalto, the fire giant representative in King Hekaton's court - along with advice and supplies.

After arriving at Ironslag, the party was stopped by two enormous adamantine doors, which they couldn't find any way to open. Fortunately, there was a staircase climbing along the cliff side...

The Storm King's Thunder: session 14

The Eye of the All Father

Before interacting with the arch, the party decided to investigate to the north of the temple chamber. There were two floors of what appeared to be guest housing for visiting giants. After getting part of the way through the hall of guest chambers, Alun set off a trap that sent a boulder rolling through the hall! The party all managed to hide in the guest rooms while the boulder passed and a statue of a hill giant pushed it back into place. After that, the party searched the rest of the rooms and found a Shard of the Ise Rune.

After some extended trial-and-error back in the temple chamber, the party managed to activate the archway and went through it to another chamber, which Harshnag called the Eye of Annam. They asked the oracle six questions:

Questions to the oracle

1: How do we restore the ordning? Use a conch to go to King Hekaton's court, root out the evil there.
2: How do we get a conch? They are held by the leaders of King Hekaton's court.
3: Where is King Hekaton? Unknown?! Talk to Serissa, at her father's court. She needs their help too.
4: Where are the giant chiefs?
5: How can we befriend who's necessary in court so we can survive negotiation? Court is in chaos, they can do whatever they would like, basically.
6: Any of the giants help us willingly? Duke zalto, maybe?

Orphans & Organizations: session 8

Job's done

Last day of the job for the dungsweepers - a tenday from a holiday.

Az and Gwen go to send some letters. Zephyr gives a letter to Az to drop at the post as well.

At the day's job, there are a new set of dungsweepers - a pair of twin(?) half-orcs who are very intense about their work named Siku and Tan.

The guard work is boring and after some time, Vivi notices an apparent robbery in progress: a couple humans and a dwarf pushing a halfling around. The halfling gets pushed down and one of the humans runs into the building behind him and runs back out carrying something.

Zephyr, Gwen and Farah go see what's going on - Farah stopping to check on the halfling - while Vivi and Azthoran stay put watching over the dungsweepers. Gwen threatens to beat the shit out of the thieves, who give their stolen loot up without a struggle.

Personal tasks

The halfling's name is Cloret and is so grateful that he offers them a 20% discount on anything* in the store: Balthor's Rare and Wondrous Treasures.

Azthoran talks to Yagra at the Yawning Portal about Zhentarim faction stuff. The three-headed serpent faction is still using the Zhentarim name but is acting more like Xanathar's thugs, damaging the good public name of the guild. Urstil is a name Yagra has heard attached to all this.

Yagra hasn't been able to talk to Davil Starsong (head of the Zhentarim in Waterdeep, and a relatively public face) recently, either.

Zephyr starts setting up to brew craft beers in Trollskull Manor. If it goes well, she can probably get away with selling it for a couple tendays before the Brewmaster's Guild comes calling. Then she'll need to pass a quick test and pay dues from then.

Gwen paints Trollskull Manor a fresh coat of cyan, saving us 75 gold from the total: 1100 gold.

Vivi talks to her family about how to run a tavern. This saves ?? gold initially: 1070 gold remaining.

Azthoran tries to go to nearby taverns and tries to push the public to want a new tavern. Several attempts get him thrown out (a natural 1 and 2) but a couple go rather well. One at a bar for offduty Guard members and one at The Silent Shield - a sanctuary bar. People can stash things and people here. Neutral ground, not under the wing of any of the guilds or anything. We seed demand for another tavern that's neutral ground.

Pay me!

On 12 Eleint we go back to Blackstaff Tower to get paid. The Blackstaff can't meet with us and we're met by Garlan instead. They claimed not to expect five of us and Azthoran explains that the Blackstaff didn't limit it to just those present. For the unexpected difficulty of the task, we're given a total of 600 gold to split.

Vivi tells him that Stooge - Renard Maneim - has a fortune-stealing amulet. Gwen says she doesn't believe that we were hired just to watch some random Dungsweepers and there has to be more to it. Garlan acknowledges that there is more to it and that they suspect there's faction interference at play.

Azthoran asks if the Grey Hand have access to extra resources - libraries, etc. Garlan replies that the trial for the Grey Hand was only for Gwen but could include Azthoran if he was interested. He said not to worry and Garlan suggested he look to the library run by the Watchful Order.

As the information Gwen was promised, she hands him a piece of paper with a name of a person to find. The person was part of the Lord's Alliance team that was pulled from this task. Isn't life funny that way?! Garlan offers to let Gwen know as soon as the team is back in the city.

The Storm King's Thunder: session 13

Barbarians at the Gate

The session starts with a fiery red pebble flying past the party's heads, toward the barbarians ahead. When it arrives, it explodes, covering the warriors in flames. Once they realized they were under attack, they turned and rushed the party.

After a short melee, the Great Worm barbarians were all killed leaving the party winded but all right overall. Ghore skinned the barbarians' pet white dragon wyrmling, and is planning on making armor from it.

The next chamber - beyond the gates which the defeated barbarians were pounding on - housed seven enourmous statues. One, in the center, even larger than the others, surrounding it.

Harshnag told the adventurers that the statues are:

Annam: the all-father
Grolantor: god of hill giants, holding a bone club
Skoraeus Stonebones: god of stone giants, holding a boulder
Thrym: god of frost giants, holding... nothing?
Surtur: god of fire giants, holding an iron greatsword
Memnor: god of cloud giants, holding a mithral spear
Stronmaus: god of storm giants, holding an adamantine trident

Inside the chamber is an archway, lined with runes representing the kings of giants, and filled with a magical mist, radiating conjuration magic. The party decided to continue exploring the complex and come back to the archway after, since they believe it to be a teleportation device.

South of the statue chamber is a feast hall, where Corvyn stumbled into a Remorhaz! The fight was dangerous and frightening but the party made it through - needing a long rest in the aftermath.