City of Splendors: Waterdeep

Road Trip
Investigating the disappearance of an old antagonist

One month had passed since the group's last investigation and few events, with the exception of the Open Lord's funeral and the return of the Priestess of the High Moonlight Suaril at the House of the Moon, went in the way of disturbing the daily routine of the orphans that were slowly becoming South ward's heroes.

Recently returned from the evereskan front, Lady Suaril rapidly called all her priests to the temple to annouce her choice as the new prior.  With the dismissal of High Initiate Orkalion for medical reasons, the high priestess had to select a new second in command.  In front of many followers and all the selunite clergy of Waterdeep, she officially named Moonmother Stardust to the office, promoting her to the rank of High Initiate.  Immediately, the new prior announced her resignation as Stardust Hall's principal and the promotion of Moonsister Anika Dahlgren as vice-principal under Revered Mother Al-Fulani of Ilmater.  On the same night, holy to the Silver Lady, the clerics organized the Conjuring of the Second Moon, an important ritual that would summon two of the goddess' most powerful servants to serve the temple for one night.

After a beautiful and serene ceremony, two Shards appeared and performed the services that were asked of them before returning to the Gates of the Moon, bringing an old cleric with them to join their ranks.

The next day, the new prior called the Companions to her office at Stardust Hall, informing them that her predecessor, Felnarra Orkalion, had disappeared from the Wyttman Institute for the Mind, an hospital specialized in mental disorders and traumas, where she was treated for her mental breakdown after Morigard's death.  Rhivaun and his friends were tasked of investigating her disappearance since the details concerning it were strange.  The Church, a sponsor to the Institute, had been informed through magical communication, that the former prior had received the visit of a priestess who  performed the Conjuring of the Second Moonand then left, along with Felnarra, in company of two Shards. Doubting these informations, especially since the said priestess was at the House of the Moon that night, Vivian wanted them to discover the truth and bring Felnarra back to the temple.

Leaving the next day and heading south, the companions quickly realized,at the sight of many caravans transportig wounded or dead people, that the roads surrounding the City of Splendors were not as secure as they were in the past.  These sightings confirmed the informations concerning the increase of bandit and monstrous raids in the region.  Fortunately for them (or for the bandits), nothing happened and they rapidly reached the river Ardeep close to which was the Wyttman Institute.  Leaving the High Road to travel on a trail leading to the asylum, the coach transporting the agents of Selûne's church was forced to slow down when it entered a flooded zone.  An hour later, they came under attack by two aquatic monsters who saw the flooding of the road as a good opportunity to extend their hunting territory and who had selected their coachman as their prey.  Unable to save the poor man who sank into the muddy water, the group easily defeated one of the tentacled monsters using Rhivaun and Petyr's magic.  After a little hide and seek game in the marsh, they hunted down the second one before resuming their trip towards the asylum.

When they finally arrived at the Institute, they were politely but coldly welcomed by Strogg the dwarf, head of security for the Institute, and Doctor Heraldus, the administrator. After hearing a detailed resume of the events leading to the disappearance of High Initiate Orkalion, the investigators were given full access to the cells. While Arya was inspection Orkalion's cell with Rhivaun, the others started to ask questions to the patients, receiving insults and body fluids as answers.  Fortunately enough, one patient, a man named Carl Czmaska, told them he saw a "woman with many shadows" walking to Felnarra's room.  Questionning Strogg about Czmaska, the dwarf answered that the man wa addicted to Greenwort, a drug believed by many wizards to enhance the oracular abilities.  Petyr was convinced that the man had seen invisible creatures accompanying the false selûnite visiting the High Initiate.  

With the conviction that nothing in Felnarra's disparition was linked to the will of the Moonmaiden, the group left the cells and started to interrogate the employees.  While talking to the nurses, Ayanna and Rhivaun noticed that one of them, Gyl, was actually hiding something.  Isolating her from the rest of her colleagues, the woman admitted that out of curiosity and religious fervor, she had spied on the visiting selûnite, hoping to see the Shards.  Questionned by Rhivaun about what she saw, she stated that the ritual that summoned the two servants of the Lady was very different from the one she had seen at the House of the Moon a few years earlier, confirming that it was an hoax.  Ashamed of herself and afraid that she would be fired for her indiscretion, Gyl pleaded for the group's silence, telling them about Doctor Heraldus' strict order to hide the truth to the investigators sent by the Church.

Tired from their walk in the marsh and their fight with the monsters, the companions asked for a place to sleep and were offered the office of Doctor Jevasic, a specialist in phobias who was acting as the Institute chief medical officer.  Unfortunately, their sleep was greatly disturbed by horrible nightmares that, to Petyr's estimation, might have been sent magically.  While Rhivaun, Arya and Petyr continued their investigation by questionning the doctors, Ayanna and Mersenne walked out to the guards' barracks, hoping to interrogate the dwarf Strogg who was on duty on the night of Orkalion's disappearance. 

The dwarf refused to cooperate, locking himself in his room and threatening the catfolk and the bard with an axe if they ever forced their way inside his quarters.  Strogg seemed afraid of something and accused them of endangering his job at the asylum.  The disappearance of one of the patients made him and his guards look bad and this could mean the end of a well paid job for the greedy dwarf.  It is only through guile and the use of Mersenne's bardic music that they forced the mercenary to cooperate, admitting that he was not clearly remembering the patient's departure in company of two selûnite angels.  He also had no souvenir of how the priestess left the building.  Foul play was confirmed.

Inside the Institute, a discussion with Doctor Jevasic shed some light on Felnarra's mental state and, while he could not say anythin more about the mysterious events, Jevasic confirmed that he had spoken to the priestess before her entrance in the cellblock, explaining that as a selûnite who had been away from the House of the Moon for long, he wanted the blessings of the goddess.  To him, everything was normal with the priestess even though he felt she was stressed.  Questionned about the Shards' departure from the asylum by Mersenne and Ayanna who had returned inside after their discussion with Strogg, Jevasic admitted that he did not remember actually seeing the angels leave but that he saw a group of people leaving towards the cliff.  He had assumed it was the priestess and that a boat was waiting for her.  He also admitted he had withheld this information because Doctor Heraldus had ordered him to. 

When confronted by the companions about these new details, Heraldus admitted he had ordered his staff not to cooperate with the investigators, fearing for the Institute's reputation.  He summoned Strogg to his office with the intention of ordering him to restart the investigation and offer his cooperation to the agents sent by the church but the dwarf did not answer.  Sending guards to the barracks, Heraldus also told them about the only witness that they had not questionned: a old man named Vunik who claimed to have been possessed by the god Oghma in the past.  His cell was next to Felnarra's and, after an intense fit of rage, was sent to the isolation block on the second floor.  

Authorized to visit Vunik, the companions discovered a very old with many unexplainable knowledges.  When asked about Felnarra, the man started repeating the same cryptic words, ignoring all their other questions.  With some deduction and analysis, Petyr suggested that the kidnapping might have been done by agents of Lord Urmbrusk using manipulated angels.  He also supposed that someone in the staff was helping the kidnappers.  When Doctor Heraldus came back into the cell, announcing that Strogg's body had been found in the marsh, the investigators' instinct told them to question Doctor Jevasic again.  As a specialist in phobias, he could have been responsible for the nightmares they had experienced while sleeping in his office and he had the reputation to be tyrannical with the staff and the patients.  

Confronted by Rhivaun and his friends, Jevasic admitted his participation in the kidnapping but, before he explained his exact part in it, he teleported.  Using magic, Petyr tracked down the evil doctor to Waterdeep, watching him enter a tailor shop.  Inside the shop, Jevasic talked to a redhaired man, clearly afraid.  The tailor invited him to the back of the shop but before he entered the room, Jevasic was attacked by a tall man wearing a black armor and wielding a maul.  The doctor was instantly killed, ending Petyr's divination.

Accepting the apologies of Heraldus, the party left Wyttman Institute, hoping to catch Jevasic's assassin and force him to reveal where was Felnarra.

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A Ghastly Problem
Hunting down a necromancer disturbing the peace

A little less than a month after Morigard's death, the Companions of Stardust Hall were called back into action when a citizen asked for their help in getting rid of an undead menace around his house.  The man, Valorin, explained that his brother, who had died during the Night of Chaos, had returned and tried to killed him and his wife.  Valorin described his dead brother as a monstrosity covered in sores and pus who had two tentacles sprouting out of his hips.  Strangely, this description seemed to fit a Bonedrinker, a rare type of undead usually created by goblin shamans. 

Walking in the dark and hazy streets, the group fell in an ambush prepared by the bonedrinker and his ghast minions.  Prepared for a fight against the undead this time, the heroes succeeded in destroying all the living dead, realizing that all these undead sightings could be linked.  Ayanna and Rhivaun remembered that the Watch was actively seeking a necromancer and a tomb-robber they had nicknamed The Coachman for the only clue he had left on every site he visited was the tracks of a coach.  None of these tracks had ever been helpful in identifying the vile wizard and his crime spree had stopped suddenly a few month after it had begun.

Visiting the City of the Dead and the small chapel of Kelemvor, the investigators discovered that many unidentified corpses from the victims of the Night of Chaos had never been claimed and were placed in a single tomb by Kelemvor's clergy.  All the cadavers had been picked up by the Watch and by the Dungsweepers' Guild.  Questionned about the possibilities of grave-robbing, the cleric of Kelemvor admitted that some bodies might have never reached the cemetary.  This meant that the culprit might be a member of the guild, leading the party its office in Dock ward.

When they arrived at the place, the office looked empty.  Most of the guild's agents were on the streets cleaning and gathering the garbage.  Too curious to wait until the office hours, Petyr decided to enter the building using his teleportation magic.  Inside they found documents concerning the cleaning operation organized by the guildmaster Helberad and led on the field by one of its important agents: Nuchar, the guildmaster's son.  Leaving the office, they started to ask questions in South ward about the operation and learned that some of the carts transporting the corpses had been seen stopping at the Carver mansion before entering the cemetary.  This house, property of Ephraim Carver, a renowned sculptor and palbearer, was where the monument dedicated to the people who had died in the events of the 28th day of Tarsakh was supposed to be sculpted. Pretty sure that the answer to this mystery was in this house, the investigators sent their two more stealthy members: Aria and Ayanna to investigate. While the two girls were entering the building through a window on the second floor, the three guys walked to the front, passing for customers interested in purchasin a tombstone.

 Inside the two stealthy ladies discovered a serie of strange rooms that were almost inaccessible and that had not been used in a long time.  Some of them had old relics from the Carver family, a clan of artisans renowned for their fascination with death.  Already suspicious, Ayanna and Aria confirmed their doubts when they discovered an alcove in the library inside of which they found a tome of necromancy written by a follower of an old god of death, Myrkul.  Finally, in another room, they found the mummified remains of an unidentified man.  Convinced that something weird was happening in this house, they left the building, waiting for the return of the three men to report what they had seen.

Returning inside and forcing their way inside by intimidating and bluffing the staff, the companions discovered an elevator in a small room close to the kitchen.  Going down, they fell into a trap and the machine started to gas them.  To save themselves, they jumped or teleported out the elevator only to be attacked by a creature built using the parts of many species of devils and identified as a stitched devil by Petyr.  Defeating the devilish golem and, later, a fearsome undead known as a Blaspheme, the group finally reached the Coachman who appeared to be a gaunt creature wheeping blood from his hands and displayed some mental powers.  He was protected by Valmer, the Carver majordomo who was in reality a monk from the Order of the Long Death.

Destroying the undead Coachman and his bodyguard, South ward's heroes discovered a man hidden underneaht a pile of corpses in another room and, searching the subterrenean complex, discovered a cache of magical objects and an old set of items strangely looking like the ones that would fit on an Hidden Lord.  The also found informations about deals made by the necromancer and the Shadow Thieves but also possibly involving important citizens or noble houses.

On the same day, as they were walking back towards the orphanage, they heard the sounds of many bells in the city.  Changing their route to get to Castle Waterdeep before the announcement, the group arrived just in time to hear the Castle's chamberlain announcing the Open Lord's death.  As his little speach ended, a hidden lord moved forward and removed his helmet, revealing himself as Caladorn the swordsage.  This man would become the next Open Lord.  Would this bring back order in the City of Splendors?

 

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Aftermath
Tracking a new threat while mourning a friend

As the cleaning of the orphanage began, less than an hour after the discovery of Morigard's body, Thoros and his two associates returned, the two kidnapped victims in tow.  The wizard, badly injured, informed his pupil and his friends that Lord Urmbrusk would not become a lich and that his plans had been foiled thanks to the participation of his two allies, revealed to be the former Zhentarim leader Semmemon and his wife Ashemmi.  Saddened by the news of his friend's death, Thoros left Stardust Hall and returned to his home, leaving the job of bringing home the two victims to the Watch.

Leaving the clean up to Ashraf and his mercenaries, the group moved their prisonner away from the crowd and interrogated him, using Mersenne and Petyr's magic to break him.  The shade admitted his appartenance to the Shadow Thieves and revealed that the Scarred Beasts were actually a sub-group for the criminal organization, focused on removing the guild's business rivals and spreading chaos in the streets. Leaving him bound and gagged in the orphanage's basement for the night, they then moved to Thoros's tower to interrogate their other prisonner, Magnus Svarlsson.  

The werecougar, knowing too well that the Grey Beast would eat him alive for his last failure at the Thirsty Throat, accepted to give information on his gang in exchange for the group's promise that they would ask for clemency at his trial.  Svarlsson told them about the gang's leaders, habits and their links with some unidentified noble houses.  Clearly, the Scarred Beasts were pawns in the game of some of the city's powerfuls.

The next morning, the companions were awakened by Prunis who informed them that Morigard's assassin had been found dead in his makeshift cell in the orphanage basement.  None of the watchmen left to guard the place had anything strange to report and even though the officer in charge officially complained to Moonmother Stardust about the lack of security in the Hall, the investigation was quickly closed as no one really wanted to know who had killed one of of South ward's legends. The Watch filed it as a murder committed by elements of the Shadow Thieves wanting to silence him.

Taking a few days for themselves after months of adventure and action, the companions took some time to heal and grieve the man who had acted as their father for all their lives, preparing his funeral.  When Rhivaun received an invitation by Cynzia Wesberry, a sembian merchant and a cleric of Selûne, the group reunited and took a coach to travel to Fair Winds, the villa Wesberry had rented in North ward. 

As the coach was reaching the villa, they suddenly heard a scream into the night.  Investigating the noise, Ayanna quickly realized that their coachman was under attack by a group of shadows.  As quickly as the attack had started, the coachman was dead, his life sucked out by the undead creatures. Taken by surprise and not equipped to deal with the living dead, the group jumped or teleported out of the coach and alerted the nearest temple who was, luckily enough, the House of the Morning.  Rapidly, a legion of paladins and templars to the god of Dawn were in the streets, hunting for the shadows.  Returning to the site were the coach had crashed, they discovered that the body of their driver missed his left foot.  According to Mersenne, this was the calling card of the Shadow Thieves.  Taking this as an assassination attempt by the returning guild, the companions walked to Fair Winds, ready to meet with the sembian priestess.

Lady Wesberry was not alone in the mansion when Rhivaun and his friends entered.  Arkin Tossum and his pack were in the courtyard, living there since Arkin's appartment had been deliberately destroyed in a fire during the Night of Chaos.  The priestess revealed her association with Tossum's pack and her allegiance to the Pact of the New Moon, an allegedly heretical group of Selûnites dedicated to the destruction of evil lycanthropes and malarites.  The woman, using her function as a traveling merchant, was trying to bring more lycanthropes into the organization and had recruited Arkin and the others one year ago.  For her, the Scarred Beasts were the perfect example of ennemies that should be fought by the Church of Selûne.  She complained about the obcession about politics that affected many fellow clerics of the Lady.  Her objective was clear, create a large pack of New Moon hunters in Waterdeep to fight the rising influence of Malar in the region. She invited Rhivaun in the group but he politely answered that he needed time to consider the offer.  The Pact of the New Moon had been declared an heresy years ago and accused of link with the Church of Shar.  He could not join such a group without an investigation first!

One tenday later, the funerals of Morigard Dalrak took place in Stardust Hall's courtyard in presence of many dignitaries.  After an heart wrenching song by Moonmother Stardust and speeches by Petyr, Rhivaun, Mersenne and Commissioner Gundwynd, they moved the dwarf's body to the City of the Dead and into the Hall of Heroes, a tomb dedicated to dead watchmen and war heroes.  Later that night, the companions drank in the paladin's honor, returning to the orphanage at dawn.

Slowly after that, the lives of the companions of Stardust Hall settled and returned to normal, their investagations stopped by the lack of clues.  Awaiting new informations or the manifestation of the ennemy, they took back their jobs as teachers at the orphanage.  Soon however, another disturbance would force them back into the streets…

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Night of Chaos
The streets of Waterdeep are now in chaos...

Leaving the Thirsty Throat with their knocked out prisoner, the orphans were left with a dilemna about the next step in their investigation:  moving against Lord Urmbrusk or not?  Choosing the first option might be their downfall as an arcanist ready to turn himself into a lich would certainly be a challenging opponent.  However, choosing to avoid Favian Urmbrusk's mansion would signify the deaths of two innoncent citizens.

Unfortunately, the choice was made for them when a patrol of the Watch, alerted by the sounds of battle, stumbled upon them while they were still close to the tavern.  Using guile, they succeeded in convincing them that they were not involved in the incident at the Thirsty Throat and moved away.  Hearing the sounds of many Guard and Watch patrols, the investigators realized that something was wrong.  The Watch would have been much more thorough in their questionning.  Their fear was confirmed when Petyr received a magical call from his teacher, Thoros, ordering him to his tower with his friends.  The sound of his voice was clear: the grumpy wizard was afraid.

When they arrived at Thoros' appartment, they found him in company of two cloaked individuals.  He was equiped with wands and magical trinkets like Petyr had never seen him before. After locking the prisoner in a room, Thoros explained why he was so nervous and had called for help:  one of the many enemies of the city has strucked that night.  Many buildings were in flames and a few personalities, including the daughter of the Open Lord, had been assassinated.  The information that transpired was that the Scarred Beasts were the ones responsible and that they had done the job on behalf of the Shadow Thieves.  

Fearing for the orphanage, Thoros asked them to report to Morigard and help him in the protection of Stardust Hall.  The old mage feared that the institution would be targeted for its link with the Church of Selûne and the presence of Morigard, an old enemy of the thieves' guild.  He would, with the help of his mysterious partners, engage Lord Urmbrusk and free his victims.

Returning to the orphanage, they quickly discovered that Thoros' fears were shared by the Stardust Hall's staff as they were in the process of moving the children to the basement and secure the windows and doors with wood.  Everything was efficiently organized and under the supervision of the old dwarf paladin Morigard while Vivian was busy arguing with her superior from the House of the Moon, Felnarra Orkalion.  The orphanage's principal disapproved Felnarra's presence in this time of crisis, considering her too important to remain in the danger zone.  The prior argued that a vision had sent her there and that she would not leave. Ending their argument, the two women, accompanied by the orphanage's administrator, returned inside to prepare themselves in case of an invasion.

The invasion came during the night.  At first, it looked like an eartquake but soon, the defenders saw some strange creatures looking like stone scorpions emerge from the ground.  Identified by Mersenne as Stonesingers, these aberrations immediately tried to destroy the defenses of the building while singing a strange song.  As soon as the singers were killed, another wave of monsters attacked the courtyard of the Hall.  This time, the attackers were humanoid insects identified as Vivisectors.  These ones gave a lot more trouble to the defenders than the scorpions and the fact that they were able to fly facilitated their capacity to penetrate the defenses and even move inside the building. Finally, as two waves of attackers was not enough, a group of barbarians clearly sent by the Scarred Beasts pulled down the doors and moved in.  

Using all this combat as a decoy, another ennemy climbed the wall and entered the orphanage, followed by a large wolf.  Using their combat skills and luckily receiving the help of Ashraf Al-Jabari's mercenaries, the young heroes moved inside, tracking the tall ganger and his wolf.  On the second floor, a few battles were involving Vivian, Morigard and the others, each in a different place in the building.  The group had to face the ganger, later revealed to be the leader of the operation, his worg companion and a few vivisectors.  When they finally reached the sector were Morigard was, the found him dead.  At first, it seemed as if he had died defending the prior Orkalion from the ennemies.  A closer inspection revealed that he had been stabbed in the back while fighting a large specimen of vivisector.  The murder weapon was at the feet of a babbling Felnarra, lost in an intense and maddening vision.

Again thanks to Arya's elven eyesight, the saddened adventurers noticed the escape of an assassin and went to his pursuit on the roof.  It finally ended in the alley next to the orphanage when Petyr caught the culprit in a web.  The man, disguised as a scarred beast ganger was in reality a professional assassin with shadow-related powers close to what the Shadovars displayed.  

Brought back to the orphanage in chains, Morigard's killer would be interrogated very soon.  Then the would avenge the dwarf's death.

 

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Hounding
A race against time to find the two kidnapped victims before the deal between the Scarred Beasts and a candidate for lichdom is done

Fearing that the kidnapped victims might be delivered to the vile nobleman, the party decided to move quickly against their enemies, leaving Stardust Hall at night to scout the surroundings of the Thirsty Throat.

The place was being watched by junior members of the gang under the command of a werebat archer.  Using disguises and trickery, the heroes successfully neutralized the watchmen and their lycanthropic boss, getting access to the warehouse next to the tavern.  Finding nothing inside, they then moved to the other warehouse identified as Waukeen's Wares, property of the mercenary Orlen Grageon.  This time, Arya had harder times unlocking the door but inside they find exactly the same thing as in the previous warehouse: nothing. After a quick examination of a sewer grate at the back of the building, Rhivaun and his friends were considering moving to the sewers when Arya instinctively found a secret door on the second floor that seemed to connect to the Thirsty Throat.

They quickly realized that they were not alone as two creatures looking like small elves and armed with scimitars appeared out of nowhere with an angry look in their eyes.  The creatures, identified by Petyr as bralanis, were eladrins, extraplanar creatures usually serving the good elven deities.  However, those were clearly agressive and were theatening anyone moving close to one of the doors.  After an intense fight with the bralanis as well as with a ghost and a horde of drunken men, the adventurers succeeded in moving to the locked down room only to be greeted there by lightning bolts.

Inside the room were two persons, one man and one female waiting to conclude a deal.  Two large chests stood next to the lady who was actually the one shooting the spells.  The man in the room was Magnus Svarlsson, their old enemy.  The werecougar was now disfigured, a punishment imposed by the Elders of his gang for his failures.  He knew that his superiors would not tolerate another one.  He was fighting to the death as the lady wizard, probably representing Lord Urmbrusk, was trying to flee with the help of her bralani bodyguards.  

After a few attacks from Petyr, Mersenne and Arya, the magician was knocked down but her eladrin servant, grabbing her and using his flying abilities, helped her flee the scene, leaving the werecougar alone.  He was finally brought down alive but not before bragging that his rivals had failed and that the two victims were now in possession of Lord Urmbrusk.  

Time was of the essence. They had to move to save the kid and the old sailor before the evil malconvoker becomes a lich!  But how  could they succeed in moving against a rich and powerful noble?

 

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Pure souls
Without clue to continue their hunt on the Scarred Beasts, the investigators try to find two residents of South ward who disappeared on the same night

After Magnus' escape, the group realized that they had no other clue to find him.  They had to wait until he would manifest again. Unwilling to return to their regular jobs while mysteries remained unsolved, the party decided to follow another lead: the attack against Nindil Jalbuck.  With the grocer's authorization, they searched through his house, hoping to confirm the rumor that he was a masked lord. 

They indeed found a secret passage leading within the walls and to a secret basement but the place was filled with traps. After successfully moving through some of them, Mersenne and Ayanna were hit and Ayanna was teleported out of the building.  Fearing for the youngsters' lives, Jalbuck ordered them to leave.  They finally found Ayanna alive at Stardust Hall.  Again, without more information, the investigators were stucked.

The next day, on the 26th of Tarsakh, they noticed something in the Daily Trumpet.  Two citizens of South ward, a young boy and an old sailor, were reported missing by their respective families.  The two victims did not know each other.  Without hesitation, the heroes started a new investigation, suspecting the Scarred Beasts of this new crime.  After a quick investigation in the neighborhood and a discussion with a conspiracy theorist named Cletor, accusing demons, they finally found something about the two missing persons in a small dive where the old sailor went to drink.

Buying alcohol for all the patrons in there, the group rapidly became popular with them, getting an easy access to information about the missing sailor.  After a while, they were invited by a smiling man who claimed to have information about the kidnappings.  This man, Rhuul, was only asking for a bottle of 1358 arabellan brandy and some information in exchange.  He was clearly knowing the investigators.  Accepting the deal, the party answered some questions about the Scarred Beasts and their lair in exchange for the name of the ones responsible for the kidnappings.  

Rhuul identified the Scarred Beasts as the culprits, confirming the doubts of the heroes.  He however told them that this job was done for someone else.  Someone who wanted two pure souls for a vile necromantic ritual: lichdom.  Petyr,who knew that a noble, a conjurer named Favian Urmbrusk had previously pruchased vile magical components for a similar ritual, suspected the noble of being behind the kidnappings.  Rhuul also informed the group that the Beasts were just working for a more important organization: the Shadow Thieves.  The guild had returned and was using the gang as brutes to remove business rivals and to bring chaos in the city.  The gang leader, the Grey Beast, was actually the Silhouette of Thugs for the guild.

The mysterious informant finally sell them the location of one the Shadow Thieves former hideout, a tavern in Dock ward named the Thirsty Throat.  They knew he was telling the truth since they had previously met Scarred Beasts in this establishment.  Suspecting the victims to be there, the heroes prepared themselves to raid the tavern the next day.

Would they arrive on time to save the two victims?  Would they finally remove the Scarred Beasts once and for all from Waterdeep or would they make another enemy, this time a powerful noble? 

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Wounded Beast
Receiving new informations from an unsuspected source, the heroes track down some hidden elements of the Scarred Beasts

After a briefing of the recent events to Moonmother Stardust and a quick rest, the investigators resumed their research about the mysterious leader of the gang, Grey Beast and the possible lairs and associates he could have. After witnessing the plans of the gang and their allies for the city, the Stardust Hall heroes were more determined than ever to remove the murderous bandits from the streets.

Later that day, they received a visit from Beren, Arya's eldest brother and known associate of Elaith Craulnober, who informed them that someone holding information about their enemies was waiting for them in a warehouse in Dock ward.  Back there, they found a bound Tamarra, the werefox that had escaped them at the Full Cup.  Clearly the elf had been captured by agents of The Serpent, interrogated and then delivered to them.  She confessed her crimes and offered her full collaboration in exchange for protection.  She had previously asked protection to Craulnober but the pragmatic elven crimelord, realizing that she was not really an elf but a cursed human transformed into an elf by the werefox curse, turned down her offer.  

The penitent werefox told them about the motivations behind the attack on Nindil Jalbuck the grocer, about the way the gang operated, about their leaders and their mysterious informant, an elven diviner named Casrah.  The diviner was not a member of the gang but an associate of the Elders. She also informed them about a feasthall that was often visited by high ranking members of the gang to negociate with other criminal organizations and with decadent nobles searching for muscles-for-hire.  This place was the Lucky Cat in Trades ward.

Leaving Tamarra in the care of clerics of the Moonmaiden, the party then planned their visit to the feasthall, posing as mercenaries.  After a fight against mechanical gladiators to pay for the entrance fee, they were able to meet the owner, a cormyrean expatriate with a passion for cats.  They also met some of the patrons, from a Red wizard from the thayan embassy to  two lovely aasimars dealing in illegal magical components.  On the second floor, they found an old enemy: Magnus Svarlsson.  he was in company of two other men, playing a card game.  One of them was an haughty noble, Balthus Amcathra in company of a beautiful lady who seemed to be able to see through Rhivaun's cat form.  The third player was a mysterious and unamed man flipping a platinum piece between his fingers.

At the end of the card game, Svarlsson left the gambling hall in company of two of his men and returned to their former lair under Coachlamp's Lane, taking the portal to the Wyllowwood.  Not wishing to follow the werecougar in his lair, the heroes trapped the portal room and left, angry that the warblade had eluded them again.

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Infiltration
Undercover, our heroes try to get accepted in their enemy's pack

Motivated by their success in convincing the cell leader, the party headed towards the Golden Fields to deliver a mysterious package to one of the priests there.  The place was a serie of vast fields perfectly tended by devoted priests of Chauntea the Earthmother.  They met there Harvestmaster Felstun, a passionate man who loved apple pies. 

Opening the box, the priest found one of his favorite treats which passed all tests to confirm that it was not poisoned or cursed.  After a delectable meal in company of the enthusiastic cleric, the adventurers left Waterdeep's granary and walked in direction of the farm of Graven Silverkin, a sheep herder supposed to be a friend to an important selûnite (Arkin Tossum).  Not wishing to kill the friend of Arkin, they warned the man in advance to leave the farm so they could burn it and pass their initiation within the gang. As the were getting close to the farm, they quickly realized that they were watched: many foxes were following them, probably animals sent by the lycanthropes masters of the malarite gang.

After setting fire to the small farm and neutralizing an angry neighbor, the "Scarred Beasts applicants" returned to the Full Cup to inform the cell leader of their success. Unfortunately, someone has informed Erb and Tamarra of their real identities.  Almost as soon as they walked in the briefing room, they were attacked by a wereboar, a werewolf and a flesh golem under the command of Erb who revealed himself as a wizard. With some efforts and tactics, the party successfully dispatched the two lycanthropes, the golem and his master but were unable to capture the waitress who was in truth the cell leader, a werefox.

Before he was killed, Erb gloated about how the gang had tricked one of their enemy in doing their dirty job and helping them release a virulent disease in the Golden Fields.  Fearing the man was telling the truth, the young investigators left the Full Cup burning and ran to the House of the Moon, asking the clerics for help.  Fearing contagion, the selûnites isolated the group and tested them while warning the authorities about a possible outbreak.  It was later confirmed that some fields were showing traces of infection but the clerics and their attendants were fine.  A more thourough research revealed that the disease, affecting only plants, was brought in the temple by the investigators.  Nothing was in the mysterious box.  It was just an excuse to make them enter the walls of the garanary.  The disease, dubbed Talona's Rusting Kiss, was created in a lab in the basement of the Full Cup by an alchemist who was following instructions from a book written by clerics of the Lady of Poison. Immediately, the selûnite started working on an antidote while the group was moving back to their plan to remove the Scarred Beast threat from the streets forever.

 

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Saving the Garrulous Grocer
With new information, the heroes make a retributive strike against the Scarred Beasts

Using his contacts at the House of the Moon, Rhivaun accessed the great library of the temple, searching for details about the mysterious expedition that Moonmother Stardust led to the jungles of Chult before establishing Stardust Hall.  This expedition was considered a total failure and had led Moonmother Stardust to her self-imposed "exile" from the House of the Moon.  

With the help of Celenor, a old friend of the family working as one of the libary's curator, Rhivaun found a small journal written by Stardust as a report to her superior.  This journal confirmed that the priestess was not the sole leader of the expedition and that at least one lycanthrope was on the ship.  Elril Brokengulf, a member of the famous family of hunters and trackers and a natural lycanthrope was leading an hunting party joining the mission since his family was financing the project.

In the jungle, the group found a tribe of catfolk named "Tabaxi" and quickly gained their confidence through exchanges and diplomacy. The natives accepted to help Brokengulf's hunters to captures rare beasts in exchange of waterdhavian goods and better weapons.  In one of such expeditions to capture a exotic monster, Lord Brokengulf was ambushed by a creature, probably a black dragon, and horribly disfigured.  As a werebadger, he fell into a killing frenzy and slaughtered most of the natives before he was forced to flee in the jungle by Moonmother Stardust's templars.  The cleric never saw her noble partner again and returned to the city with less than a fourth of the explorers and the sole surviving tabaxi, a baby whom she adopted and named Ayanna.

Even though nothing in the journal confirmed the identity of the Grey Beast, Rhivaun was convinced that the leader of the Scarred Beasts was in fact Lord Brokengulf who had returned to Waterdeep.  The Grey Beast's apparent knowledge of the city, his sense of organization, his understanding of Waterdeep's traditions and politics could certainly fit for an exiled noble.

As knowing more about their enemy's leader was not enough, the investigators then worked on discovering the location of the predator's lair.  They already knew that the underground complex in South ward held a portal but Petyr was not sure about how to open it and more importantly, were it led.  Working in his master's lab for hours, the tiefling conjurer finally manged to understand a spell to analyze portals from Thoros' spellbook.

With this spell in hand, Petyr led his friends back into the underground complex of the Scarred Beasts hoping to understand the reasons explaining the presence of a portal in a street gang's hideout.  Casting the spell as his partners were guarding him, the tiefling discovered that the two-way magical gate was leading directly into Undermountain on a layer called Wyllowwood.  To Mersenne's knowledge, Wyllowwood was supposed to be a natural forest transplanted into the underdark by the Mad Mage. It was rumored to hold cults of the Gods of the Fury and more precisely one dedicated to Malar the Beastlord.  Using the same magical formula, Petyr managed to discover the password and the key to the portal in case they would need to investigate deeper into the gang's activities.

After a short rest while participating at the events of Waukeentide (and more precisely enjoying the events of Goldennight), the group resumed its investigation around South ward's second cell.  They started back where Mersenne had tracked one of the presumed member a few days before and were attacked by archers hired to kill any curious wandering around the boarding house.  The interrogation of the captured archers and the information gathered by Mersenne in the neighborhood led the party to another boarding house next to Grocer's lane.  

They quickly realized something was wrong when Rhivaun noticed the odor of one of the presumed thug outside of the building.  The traces in the street were leading directly to the Garrulous Grocer, South ward's most reputed grocery.  As he led his friends  closer, Rhivaun saw that the attackers had splitted in two groups, one going upstairs to the family's residence while the second one had entered into the shop.  Doing the same, the party separated with Petyr and Arya moving to the shop's door while Ayanna, Rhivaun and Mersenne climbing the stairs.  

Rhivaun's tracking was not mistaken as they found Scarred Beasts exactly where the cleric had said.  Three of them, including a werecougar were seizing goods from the store as two others were holding Sealamin Jalbuck hostage.  Almost immediately, the combat began and the young adventurers discovered quickly that the werecougar Magnus Svarlsson was also a warblade.  In one jump and one hit from his bastard sword, the martial artist killed the celestial creature summoned by Petyr to act as a shield for him and Arya.  Through team work and effective tactics, the heroes defeated the Scarred Beast party but a wounded Svarlsson abandonned his men and fled into the night.

After a quick but inconclusive investigation about the reasons of the attack and when they were sure the young Jalbuck was in safety, the victorious friends led their captives to Arkin's apartment in Trades Ward.  As they did with the other gangers they defeated previously, they wished to interrogate them far away from the watch.  This time though, the thugs would not answer to the usual threats and Petyr had to use more devious tricks to reveal the information.  The wizard used a spell enabling him to read thoughts as Rhivaun, Ayanna and Mersenne were asking questions.  With this tactics and patience, they discovered the cell official hideout, a tavern named the Full Cup.  They also discovered the reasons Magnus and his men had attacked the Garrulous Grocer.  First they had to collect foods to feed the gang.  Second, they were ordered to confirm if the owner of the Grocer (and Sealamin's adoptive father), Nindil Jalbuck, was one of the secret Lords of the city.  It seemed that this mission was done as a favor to one of the gang's allies.

After a few days of official work at the orphanage, the investigation took another direction as the companions visited the Full Cup.  There they met with presumed members of the Scarred Beasts and, acting as mercenaries, were hired for two jobs to prove themselves.  If the test was conclusive, they would work for the gang officially with all the benefits of a regular member.  This was the perfect way to understand the gang and to slowly work against it.  The first mission, for the less moral members of the mercenary band was to torch a small farm outside of the city.  The farm was owned by a friend of an agent of the Church of Selûne and was a message to the said agent.  The second mission, for the rest of the band, was to infiltrate a box inside the Goldenfields, Waterdeep's granary.

What were the plans of the gang's mysterious leader?  The only way to discover them would be to successfully infiltrate the Scarred Beasts.  The complicated part will be to do so without causing harm to the city or to a selûnite…

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Farewells and greeting
Mourning a friend while gathering allies for war

Grieving, the heroes left their ennemies's lair and brought back with them the bodies of Drudarch and the two lycanthropes they killed.  Realizing that the presence of a lycanthrope affiliated with the Scarred Beasts posed a great threat to the city, Rhivaun immediately informed the high ranking clerics of the House of the Moon who could in turn inform the authorities. Rapidly, the Lords ordered the selunites to hunt down the street gang as Commissoner Gundwynd would finish his cleansing of the Watch.

Leaving the official measures to High Initiate Orkallion and her subordinates, the heroes met back at Stardust Hall to decide on the next steps to take against the murdering bandits and more importantly, what to do with Drudarch.  Even though they wished to bring him back to life using their savings, they quickly learned that he did not wish to return.  Wounded yet accepting his decision, Drudarch's friends began to organize his funerals.  They would take place on a beach near the sea elf trade post.  There he would be sunk by the elves and returned to the sea.  

During on visit at the House of the Moon while they were preparing the funerals, the party met with Mersenne, a former occupant of Stardust Hall who also acted in the past as their music teacher.  He had just returned to Waterdeep after a few years of training in the South and had learned about Stardust Hall's problems.  

Two days after, on a beach outside the city, Rhivaun and Moonmother Stardust held the ceremony honoring their friend in front of most of Stardust Hall's residents and employees as well as a few strangers.  Some of them, unknown to the party and clearly lacking manners, were laughing and smiling as Rhivaun was reciting his oraison. Insulted by the impertinence of the strangers, Petyr and Mersenne went to them to inquire about the reason of their presence at the funeral and to shut them up. 

It seemed they were citizens of South ward who wanted to "honour their hero" for a last time".  Clearly, something was fishy with their story so as soon as Drudarch's body was sinking in the sea, the investigators started to follow them back into the city.  As Aria was away on a mission for her brothers, it was Ayanna who succeeded in tracking one of the suspected members of the Scarred Beasts back to a boarding house.

Returning to Stardust Hall, the young teachers, inspired by the Red Rubies, decided to organize a militia in South ward.  Knowing that laws against organized militias existed, they seeked the approval of respected citizens of the district and the support of Commissioner Gundwynd, the new High Priestess of Siamorphe and even from the monastery of Tyr!  When the legal aspect of their new endeavor was solved, they met with wealthy merchants and with people who would approve of a strong answer to the threats affecting South ward.  Together, they organized groups of mercenaries working for different residents of the city and only linked by the same principle: kicking the Scarred Beasts out of South ward!  The nobles, who would usually see this as a violation of their privileges, supported the idea thanks to the intervention of the church of Siamorphe who owed the group for their participation in the capture of the assassins who killed their previous high priestess a few months ago. With the financial help of the church and of some merchants, the militia started to train and to patrol a tenday after the original meeting and is now securing the ward hence improving the business to the profit of all waterdhavians!

Participating in their own initiative, the group decided to return to the underground complex in their search of the wererat responsible for Drudarch's demise.  Fortunately for them, the monstrous lycanthrope had returned to his former lair to collect some items and this time, failed to escape Rhivaun and his friends.  They brought him to Arkin's appartment in Trades ward were he was debriefed and later executed by one of Arkin's packmates.  He gave them important informations before his death: there was a second cell in South ward and it was led by a werecougar named Magnus Svarlsson. Also, the leader of the gang, a werebadger nicknamed the "Grey Beast" was a foreigner who knew Waterdeep well.

Realizing that the strangers from the funerals could be members of the second cell, Mersenne left to investigate on his own as his new friends returned to StardustHall to inform Moonmother Stardust about their newfound informations.  Her reaction to these new details made Rhivaun realize that his godmother knew something about the Grey Beast's identity.  To confirm his intuition, the young priest insisted to visit the temple's library, hoping to find more information about him.

With more knowledge about their leaders, their lairs and their methods, the hunted could now turn the table on their predators and hunt them back…

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