City of Splendors: Waterdeep

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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Savage streets part. 2
Tracking the hunter into his lair

After a night of streetfighting and a long day of work at the orphanage, the group decided to resume their investigation on the Scarred Beasts, hoping to find their source for silversheen, an alchemical compound expensive to produce.  After discussions with experts, including guild members and wizards, they returned to the orphanage without anyting more than a feeling that the watch might be involved.

As they  approched the gates of Stardust Hall, they noticed a coach parked in front of it and watchmen around it.  Morigard, who notices them, informs them that a watch patrol came for them, wishing to ask a few questions about the events of the previous night.  On the advice of both Morigard and Vivian, the group accepted to go to the South gate for an "interview". There, they meet the senior civiliar Rodvel Oyaun, in charge of the investigation on the events of Coachlamp's Lane.  Without any proper introductions, he informs them that they were seen on Coachlamp's Lane and indentified by some bystanders as those responsible for the deaths of some men.  Using his talent for manipulation and misdirection, Petyr succeed in fooling the watchman in believing that they actually were partying in a tavern when these dreadful events happenened.  Before releasing them, senior civiliar Oyaun asked his guests to fill a long report to help in his investigation.  Clearly, even though he was believing them, the investigator was trying to stall them and was suspicious.  As the discussion was about to end, a patrolman entered the room and discreetly informed civiliar Oyaun that a building was burning in South ward and that he was needed on the scene.   

Allowed to leave by the suspicious officer, the party runs towards the smoke, fearing it might be the orphanage.  Fortunately, they pass Stardust Hall on the High Road and realize it is safe.  The fire was a bit farther, near Curtain Alley: the Midnight's Sun, one of their favorite hangouts!  As they get there, they see a small crowd of shocked patrons and witnesses who plead for someone to rescue the few that are still inside.  The usual staff of the taverm, Neri, Horil and Belril Kevfalcon are nowhere to be seen.  Immediately, Ayanna and Drudarch enter the inferno and realize that the fire is not an accident: Belril, the owner and bartender is impaled on the wall with javelins, his body already burning.  The room itself shows that a combat happened here and after a quick search, Ayanna finds Neri, the waitress, unconscious under a broken table. Slowly awakening, Neri reveals that a small group of tatooed thugs started the fire, killed Belril and kidnapped his adoptive son Horil.  For them it is clear that this is another move of the Scarred Beasts.

Leaving Neri and the other victims to the care of the crowd and, using Rhivaun's keen senses, the group begin to track down the gangers' scent, finally realizing they had moved back to Coachlamp's Lane.  Even though he was convinced the bandits were on that street, their scent was now masked by an alchemical product.  Searching the building surrounding the entrance of the street, Drudarch realized that the abandonned furniture store where they fought on the previous night was right next to them…Since it was the only abandonned building on the small street, they decide to check it. 

Besides finding traces of their brutal fight from yestereve, the group also discovered a set of stairs going to the basement filled with furniture.  Behind large quantities of dusty old desks, tables and cupboards, one of the investigator finds a hidden trapdoor behind a false pannel on the wall.  Before they even have the chance to open it though, two incorporeal creatures looking like burned victims appear and strike them.  If not for Rhivaun's divine power over undead and Petyr's magic, the two undead would have been victorious that evening.  Opened, the hidden door revealed a set of stairs going down deep under the basement.

These stairs revealed a large subterrenean complex probably older than the Scarred Beasts filled with traps and strange rooms devoid of any architectural logic.  After a quick exploration of the first rooms, the party finally located Horil and his kidnappers in a trapped tunnel not too far away.  One of the thugs was explaining to the half-orc that he had been chosen to be the holy prey for an important malarite ritual.  If he would survive the whole day, he would be free to leave and would never again be targeted by the followers of the Beastlord.  Left alone with a dagger, Horil was soon joined by his friends from the orphanage and showed signs of injuries that could be have been infected by a lycanthrope.  Not taking any chances, the large half-orc was evacuated ot the House of the Moon to be treated.  

Wishing to capture the monsters, they immediately returned to the secret hideout, disguising Drudarch to look exactly as Horil, hoping this technique would fool the "hunters".  It actually did!  As Drudarch and the other were walking in a corridor, they were ambushed by a single opponent, the blonde man with claw-like nails.  Surprising Drudarch, the barbarian raked him a few times, striking him with solid blows before getting surrounded and neutralized by the group.  

After a quick search of the complex and the discovery of a chapel dedicated to Malar the Beastlord, the explorers found the missing teens of Coachlamp's Lane in a deep pit.  Most of them were afraid and starving but two of them, older than the others, were cocky and agressive.  Unsure about these two but unwilling to let them in the pit, the group left the complex with the kids, taking them back to their parents, promising to check on the two delinquents frequently.

Shortly after their return,  this time with Drudarch disguised as Horil to lure the malarites, the group was ambushed by a displacer beast, a werewolf and a cleric of the Beastlord.  Unsure about their chances, they used a web spell casted by Petyr and the divine power of Rhivaun to turn lycanthropes to take the advantage.  While holding the werewolf  and the cleric in check, Ayanna and Drudarch succeeded in killing the displacer beast but the taste of victory was short-lived as the priest of the Hunter transformed into another werewolf, howling loudly within the catacombs, clearly calling for backups.  His call for help was soon answered by another Scarred Beast, this time a large wererat and his pet, a tall grey creature with six eyes and gigantic claws.  

Using the same power of lycanthrope turning against the wererat, Rhivaun succeeds in making their newest opponent flee as the large monster is attacked by his monk friend and the rest of the party is still trying to finish the figth with the two werewolves.  Finally,after sending a volley of spells against one of them, he falls dead, leaving only one lycanthrope alive.Fearing the cleric might use his magic to save his partner, Rhivaun uses all his might against the fallen werewolf, ending his life with a hard blow of his moonhand mace on the werewolf's skull.  

Meanwhile on the other corner of the room, Drudarch is desperately trying to stop the grey beast's escape by engaging her more closely in combat.  Unfortunately for him, she was alot more powerful than the half-elf and seized him with her claws, ripping him apart with a few bites and rakes of her talons.  Discarding the broken body of her opponent, the savage creature, severely wounded, tried to follow her master in the tunnels of the complex but was stopped by another spell of Petyr, now specialized in ending battles.  

Alone and cornered, the cleric of Malar was easily dispatched by the catfolk swordsage and her adoptive brother after a long exchange of blows. This savage battle, probably the toughest ever experienced by the group left a terrible after taste since even though they were victorious, they had lost one friend and let escape one of their ennemies.  

After healing their most important wounds, the sadden adventurers inspected the bodies of their fallen foes in search for clues and were surprised to see that the first werewolf, who had reverted to his natural shape, was actually the seniro civiliar Rodvel Oyaun, the one and the same who had interrogated them a few hours ago!  They now had a proof that the Scarred Beasts were not only a street gang but a powerful and influent criminal organization.  

They would surely need help to bring down these foes…Bringing Drudarch's body with them, they left the tunnels, returning to the House of the Moon to prepare their retalliation…

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Savage streets part. 1
The hunt starts in South Ward...

After allowing Alikhan Hawkthorne some rest, the group asked her to explain what exactly happened in that store.  She answered by first telling them what the Disciples of Erathaol really were: conjurators specialized in the summoning of fiends and in their manipulation for the cause of good.  She also told them that on that fateful night, the grand master of their little group, was trying to determine who were responsible for the death of the Champion of Tyr and the High Lady Scion of Siamorphe by summoning a powerful demon at the service of Cyric, Lord of Murder.

As the demon appeared within the circle, ready to be interrogated, a group of tyrran knights entered the conjuration chamber with a declaration from Tyr's new champion, Harkas Kormallis.  This edict accused them of being tainted by demonic influence and would face Tyr's judgement for the crimes commited by the fiends they summoned.  As a loud argument started between the two factions, the glabrezu freed himself and summoned three demons to his help: a bar-lgura, a succubus and a vrock.  Rapidly, most of the disciples and a few of the inquisitors were butchered but not before the grand master had banished back the glabrezu.  

If not for the intervention of the group, the three demons would have killed the rest of the occupants of the shop's basement and would now be three wrecking havoc in the streets.  Realizing that someone had targeted the disciples for assassination, she admitted not knowing of any ennemy organizations besides demonic cults. 

After an heated debate over the morality of demon summoning for the cause of good, Alikhan and her rescuers went to sleep without any clues about all the problems they would face on the next morning.

Returning to Stardust Hall for his duties and to inform Moonmother Stardust about the situation, Rhivaun Silvermantle of Selûne saw the carriage transporting High Initiate Felnarra Orkalion, the prior of the House of the Moon, right in front of the orphanage. The High Priestess' assistant, reputed for her foul mood and her haughty attitude, was particularly mad this day.  She was accompanied by a small man dressed in a clerk's outfit.

Summoned to Vivian's office, Rhivaun was severely blamed for bringing the church of Selûne into a conflit with the clergy of Tyr. House of the Moon's prior informed Vivian and Rhivaun that Tyr's Champion, Harkas Kormallis, made an official complaint about the events that took place in the Disciples' hideout and the offer of asylum that the young priest proposed to the wizard wanted by Tyr's inquisition.  The zealot paladin asked for her immediate release and also demanded harsh punishment for the youngsters who interfered with hsi agents. Fearing long-term conflict with the most powerful church in town, Orkallion ordered Moonmother Stardust to accept the demands of Kormallis.

Already in conflict with her prior, Vivian defended her stepson and his friends as much as she could before the High Initiate stopped the discussions.  She would place the orphanage under the direct supervision of an administrator who would report to her directly.  The surviving member of the Disciples would be delivered to the tyrrans and Stardust Hall's "troublemakers"would lay low or be expelled from the building and from the church.Unwilling to negociate, High Initiate Orkallion left soon after, leaving the new administrator, Brandon "The Stern", in charge.  

Not willing to really punish her children, Vivian gave more them more tasks related to their actual occupations within the orphanage and begged them to stop any ongoing investigation for a while.  Rhivaun was assigned to the House of the Moon's library under the tutelage of Celenor, an old friend of his family.

Realizing Alikhan was wanted by both the church of Tyr and Selûne and unknown assassins,  Petyr proposed to help her search for a mean to leave Waterdeep, hiding her first in Thoross' appartment and then in Dock Ward, far away from her ennemies.  One week later, the malconvoker was on a ship bound for Baldur's Gate and left the harbor unoticed.  

 A month later, the stubborn adventurers were ready to resume their investigation, still concerned that an unknown criminal organization, presumably the Shadow Thieves, was active in South ward and in Waterdeep at large. Realizing that, as citizens they didnt had the authority to investigate properly and that the corruption within the watch was so generalized that they could not trust the watchmen, Ayanna and Drudarch proposed to start an official private investigators' guild with the blessing of the Lords.  

Finally getting an audience in front of Open Lord Piergeiron and his fellow masked Lords, Ayanna, Drudarch and Petyr exposed their ideas to the Paladinson. Unfortunately, the Lords rejected their demand since they did not wished to undermine the watch's legitimity.  Disapointed, the trio returned to South ward and joined Arya and Rhivaun at the Midnight's Sun for a drink.  There, a bearded man in an explorer's outfit asked if he could join them at their table.

This fellow introduced himself as Malchor Harpell, a wizard who had heard about their initiative with the Lords and who thought he could help by financing their operations.  As a powerful wizard, Harpell would also provide magical items and information.  He did not asked for something in echange, only adding that "Waterdeep's, an more importantly South Ward's security and prosperity were the best rewards he could ask for".  

After a honest discussion, their new patron left, giving them some information about some vandalism in a small neighborhood in South ward.  He also told them that even though the watch was warned, no one even bothered to visit or to investigate.

With these informations, the group went on Coachlamp's Lane to see for themselves what happened in that neighborhood.  Talking to traumatised residents, they soon realized that the thugs who attacked them not only destroyed their stores and houses but also kidnapped some of their children.  The kids who had disappeared  all had problems with authority or were to easily angered and prone to violence.  It did not took long for the investigators to understand that the attack was a way to recruit new members in the gang.  Since the attack happened at night and the brutes promised to return, the group decided to set up a vigil on the roof of one of the tallest building to assess the situation.  The gang did not returned that night and the tired adventurers returned to Stardust Hall the next morning to resume their ordinary fonctions as teachers for the orphans.

After a long day or work was about to end, our heroes were called by a despaired resident of Coachlamp's Lane, begging them to come to the rescue.  The brutes were back and were attacking some defenseless citizens.  The two fastest members of the group, Ayanna and Arya, immediately followed the old man, asking Drudarch to inform Petyr and Rhivaun of the situation.

The two heroic ladies soon realized that the distress call was a trap when three thugs armed with battleaxes and displaying barbarian-like powers, attacked them. Challenged by more powerful foes, Arya and Ayanna used their good sense of tactics (and dirty tricks)to stall their opponents who were soon backed by a fourth unseen ennemy.  Clearly disadvantaged at two against four, Ayanna still succeeded in neutralizing one of the barbarians but not before one of his fellows had stroke down Arya with his axe.  Using her as an hostage, the gangers, led by a tatooed man with claw-like nails, tried to negociate Ayanna's surrender.  Unfortunately for them, Drudarch arrived at this precise moment, giving Ayanna the opportunity to prepare a counterstrike.  

Understanding the dire situation the two girls were in, Drudarch retreated to get Petyr and Rhivaun's help.  Hiring a street kid to deliver the message back to the orphanage, Drudarch climbed on a roof to scout for more ennemies.  Back in the alley, Ayanna used the distraction of her half-elven friend's sudden appearance to neutralize another thug and save Arya.  Loosing the advantage, the tatooed leader fled the scene leaving his fellow brigand to the tabaxi swordsage.  

Beshaba had clearly chosen the party that day because as soon as Ayanna and Arya were out of harm, Drudarch was discovered by scouts for the gang who targeted him with their bows.  Using his draconic wings, the monkish half-elf left his hideout to face his opponents on the other side of the street.  Fortunately for him, he was soon joined by his friends inside the building were another little group of thugs were hiding.  Against six opponents, all displaying the same powers as their fellows in the alley, the fight was almost hopeless.  Especially since most of them had silversheen and were aware of Rhivaun's condition.  One of them even teased the young cleric by promising him a "worthy death when he would be sacrificed to Malar". He also had a tatoo on his arm identifying him as one of the Scarred Beasts.

With many wounded, the group was forced to flee but could proudly say that they had downed at least two of their opponent before.  They now had a better idea of who their ennemy was: the Scarred Beasts, a street gang that included worshippers of Malar the Beastlord, one of Selûne's major ennemy.  Rhivaun was furious and calling for an holy war against the malarites as the others' only wish was to rest and to be healed.

As one ennemy was finally revealed, our heroes now needed to plan their next move against it hence it would spread chaos, fear and death in South ward's streets… 

 

 

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Newfound allies
Unexpected allies...and ennemies appear as the investigation continues

The day after the capture of Elorus the crazed elf, the young heroes decided to visit the Naked Siren in Dock Ward were they could learn more about the next target of the mysterious criminal organization. As they went outside the orphanage to begin their mission, a moon elf politely invited them to get in the luxurious coach stopped on the street next to Stardust Hall.  Inside they met Elaith Craulnober, the infamous elven merchant who asked about their investigation and the stolen elven medallion, confirming that he wasnt involved in the murders but really interested in acquiring the sunite's necklace. He offered them great rewards for the necklace before they told him they already had brought back the item to its rightful owner. Accepting coldly their answer, he politely invited to think about him the next time they would find another elven work of art.  The elven lord was clearly upset.

After leaving Craulnober,  the group travelled to Sail street in Dock Ward and were about to walk into the tatoo parlor when three large thugs went out.  As they walked by, they rudely pushed away Petyr and insulted Selûne, sending Rhivaun into a violent rage.  Soon the three attackers, who were using lethal force, had been knocked out, dropped in an alley and disarmed. As the companions returned to the shop, it was closed and locked up.  The owner, an artist named Lenrik was afraid that some killers were coming for him.  He admitted to be the one who made the coded  tatoos on the elf's back, explaining that he never saw the one who delivered the drawings, receiving them, along with some money, at his door.  Trading his knowledge against some protection, Lenrik explained the meanings behind the tatoos and helped Petyr decrypt the newest one that was never executed.  Lenrik, who was an amateur of puzzles, also told that the he thought that the organization behind these tatoos was the Shadow Thieves and the rumor was that they were back. 

With the probable target's name, the Disciples of Erathaol, all the group had to do was to track them down and protect them from assassins.  But who were this strange group?  A religious cult? Using his vast knowledge about religions, Rhivaun confirmed that the Disciples were a small religious cult dedicated to Erathaol, the holy patron of scholars and seers and a powerful servant of Tyr, god of Justice. With the help of a monk of Ilmater and a dissident cleric of Tyr, they learned that a small group of Disciples had entered Waterdeep a few weeks before winter and were disagreeing with some decisions of the new fanatical leader of the church of Grimjaws. 

Using the information given by the two holy men, the young adventurers finally managed to discover the secret hideout of the mysterious scholars in a shop in South Ward, Zelgard's Bazaar.  The place seemed deserted even though they arrived there right in the middle of the afternoon. Something was wrong and it was rapidly confirmed when Arya failed to pick the lock of the front door and Petyr realized he was unable to teleport himself inside using his magic.  Things turned even more dramatic when an horrible scream was heard from behind the door.  Someone was slamming against the door, begging for help.  Before Drudarch and Ayanna even broke through the door, the screams stopped.  

As they went in, they discovered the mutilated body of a foreigner dressed in strange robes.  The store, who sold alchemical and magical items, was a mess and as they explored around, they found a trail of blood leading downstairs.  In the basement, who was actually a large conjuration room, they stumbled upon the surviving member of the Disciples of Erathaol hidden among the mutilated bodies of their comrades and of some knights bearing the symbol of Tyr. Still having no clues as to what had attacked the scholars since she was in shock, the group explored the rest of the basement, finally discovering two followers of Tyr and another conjurer, hidden in different conjuring rooms.

Things get even worse as  the surviving wizard accuses the other of being an demon in disguise. As Ayanna confirmed the accusation, revealing the third conjurator was actually a succubus, two large demons, one looking like a purple vulture and the other like an orange gorilla, appeared and attacked soon killing one of the two surviving tyrrans.

With the help of both the knight of Tyr and the conjurator, the group dispatched the succubus and the demon identified by Petyr as a bar-lgura but were unable to stop the vrock's escape.  He fled in the streets of South Ward, promising destruction and suffering to its inhabitants.  Desperately trying to warn the authorities about the demon's presence, the party was stopped by the zealot tyrran, identifying himself as a knight inquisitor of the church of the Maimed God. As he was trying to arrest the wizardess who had helped them on charges of demon summoning and public endangerment, Rhivaun interferred and offered asylum to her.  Realizing that he wasnt in condition to fight the group, the knight left the scene, promising to bring this matter to Tyr's Champion Kormallis.

Sending Ayanna to warn the authorities about the vrock's presence, Stardust Hall's heroes brought Alikhan the malconvoker to Thoross' tower to debrief her about what happened at the Disciples' hideout.

By protecting this mysterious woman, the group made a new powerful ennemy, this time on the side of the law…What exactly was the church of Tyr's part in all the recent events?  Maybe the interview of the young conjurator would bring new light to it…

 

 

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Scapegoats part. 2
Tracking the people responsible for the assassination attempts on religious authorities

Using information given by Aloryl, the group arrive at Gondalim's, a Trades Ward feasthall where Abryram Actonessen is supposed to hang out.  He is supposed to be an important agent of the Margaster noble family who resides in Waterdeep in winter.  He spents most of his time at Gondalim's gambling and spending his large salary.

Using disguise and trickery, they finally met with the man, discussing with him for a while.  Unfortunately, Abryram was far better at evaluating characters and soon realized something was wrong.  He politely left the table to finish the evening in company of an "entertainer" but also called for a messenger to be sent to his room.  

Soon after, the young boy left with a message that was intercepted by Ayanna.  The letter was adressed to a group of thugs that Abryram often hired to "solve" problems around his business.  This time the problem was the party.

Realizing that the merchant had just threatened their lives and those of the orphans of Stardust Hall, they moved against him.  Using magic and strength, they entered his room and knocked him and his concubine out, transporting him to the Warrens for interrogation.  

He was less talkative than Aloryl and refused to even aknowledge any involvment in the events that happened two days before. Using his status as an agent of an important noble clan, Abryram was answering to the party's threats by his own.  Seeing that their methods were not giving results, Rhivaun called for the help of Arkim Tossum, his godfather. Using unorthodox methods that made Drudarch and Ayanna uneasy, Arkin sucessfully made Abryram talk, revealing that he was indeed the one who hired Aloryl and the bards responsible for the riot in Castle Ward. The caravaneer also reavealed that he was working for an unknown organization powerful enough to pay him large sums for his services.  

Since they had proof that some elements in the watch were corrupted, Rhivaun proposed to give their new prisonner to the church of Siamorphe since his actions had led to the death of their high priestess. By doing so, the group made strong allies in the church of the Noble Lady.

As another suspect turned into a scapegoat, the young investigators resumed their search for the real culprit, this time breaking into a Margaster warehouse in South Ward. In Abryram's office, the found proof of his employers intentions to pinpoint Craulnober as the one behind these attacks.  Unfortunately the motives were not in the letters. 

Exploring the building, Arya discovered a secret passage leading to an underground room with an access to the sewers.  This underground complex, the remnants of a secret hideout for the Margaster family, was filled with traps, critters (rats, a choker and a gelatinous cube) and sewage that finally led to a small alcove hidden behind a secret door.  This alcove was the lair of a strange burned out elf wizard who immediately tried to kill the invaders.  After a quick and violent battle, Stardust Hall's elite knocked out with both the wizard and his vargouille familiar.

A thourough inspection of the elf revealed a tatoo and more burn marks that seemed to cover large parts of his body.  Petyr speculated that these burn marks were actually acid burns used to remove previous tatoos.  These tatoos acted as orders from the elf's superior.  An analysis of the actual tatoo revealed that he was the one who ordered Abryram to target the selunite and siamorphite priestesses.  The tatoo was signed by a tatoo artist from the Naked Siren, a tatoo parlor in Dock Ward.

Following an inconclusive interrogation of the deranged elf, the group returned to Stardust Hall after a quick stop to the House of Beauty to deliver the mad elf to the clerics of the Goddess of Beauty in response to his participation in the attempt to kill their High priestess.

They were closer to an answer but were they ready to face whoever had hire Elorus the Mad elf?

 

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Scapegoats
Investigating attacks on religious leaders
A few days have passed since the events in the Warrens and it is slowly returning to normal at the orphanage.  The youngs residents and their teachers are slowly preparing themselves for a new holiday organized by the combined churches of Sune, Lliira, Sharess and Tymora that is supposed to bring warmth in the hearts of Waterdeep's citizens.  The joy and hope brought by this new festival, called Brightwater, is rapidly toned down as Tyr's high priest Lord Hammer Hykros Allumen, is discovered dead in his own quarters in the Halls of Justice.  It is clear that he died by the hand of an assassin. 
 
As the death of Tyr's prelate is announced in the streets, a coach transporting High Initiate Felnarra Orkalion stops in front of Stardust Hall.  Waterdeep's second most powerful selunite is there to ask to Moonmother Stardust to assist her in the ceremony in the funerals of one of the most generous donator to the church, Lord Maernos who died a month ago. Rhivaun is asked to act as an underpriest and his friends as the honor guard for the cleric during the ceremony.  The next day after a sober and very spiritual ceremony, Lord Maernos' body is transported through the streets of the city to be laid to rest in the City of the Dead.  
 
As the procession reaches the Market, it is stopped by a large group of elves and half-elves manifesting their anger against the former mercenary lord who was, before his conversion to the Moonmaiden, a ruthless bigot.  Rapidly, the manifestation degenerated into a riot after a few elements into the crowd used magic to augment the anger of the mob.  It soon became clear that the riot was just a diversion as assassins came out of the shadows to attack the leading priests of the procession (Lady Belkerri Gulderhorn of Siamorphe, Ssaeril Shadowstar of Sune and Felnarra Orkalion of Selûne).As the priesteesses' bodyguards were busy pushing back the mob, it was up to the party to eliminate the threat of the assassins, led by a powerful half-silver dragon.  
 
After a furious combat, the successfully neutralized a few of the attackers but not before one had struck a fatal blow to Lady Gulderhorn and stole Shadowstar's elven made necklace.  A thorough investigation in the alleys used by the bandits revealed a clue dropped by mistake by one of them: a small bit of paper with the name of a Trades Ward tavern on it!
 
As they kept investigating, the companions of Stardust Hall discovered that most of their leads where accusing one man: Elaith "The Serpent" Craulnober, a rich elven merchant with a sinister reputation.  Craulnober effectively had arguments with most of the targets, was a renowned collector of elven artefacts and was also the secret owner of the Grey Griffon, the famous Trades Ward tavern.  
 
The Griffon was managed by a cowardly half-elf with an habit for gambling named Aloryl.  When questionned, Aloryl denied ay implication in the events that took place in the Market and called his corrupted friends in the watch to remove the noisy investigators from his establishment.  As Petyr, Ayanna and Drudarch were trying to escape the guard post, Rhivaun and Arya kept on trying to get more information from Aloryl, finally managing to get a confession out of him.  He had recently contracted an important debt while gambling with a caravan operator from the Margaster Clan, a man named Abryram.  In exchange for a total cancellation of his debt, Aloryl was to hire a few assassins including an half silver dragon.  Not aware that his real boss would be implicated and that he would probably loose more than money when the Serpent would discover, he accepted the deal and hired the professional killers.  
 
Aloryl was just one scapegoat in a complicated plan to remove some powerful citizens of Waterdeep but who were the real masterminds behind all this?  This Abryram?  Craulnober?  To find out, the adventurer would have to push their investigation farther and confront more powerful ennemies…
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Wonder Bringers part.2
Helping Waterdeep's little citizens

  What had started as a hunt for a criminal turned out to be more complicated as the Stardust Hall adventurers learned from the small clerics that the creature that was captured was an evil fey that appeared in the Warrens with a few others after a large in the hole in a wall was made by noble adventurers coming out of the sewers.  This hole also spilled some sewage in the tunnels, bringing diseases and rats with it.  The feys then started to attack the citizens, turning them in emotionless, helpless people.  When the clergy asked for help from the Lords and the plumber's guild, their demands were ignored, leading to a loss of confidence in the authorities. Unable to rely on the "Tall people" to remove the threats to their community, the leaders of the Warrens turned to vigilantes for help. 

These vigilantes turned out to be the Wonder Bringers, who helped the community by stopping the flow of sewage and water, and by fending off some attacks by thugs from the Scarred Beasts.  It seemed clear that the burglars were not criminals in the Warrens but saviors.  It would be tough to get help from them to track down Cobwheel.  It is again with the party's negotiation skills that they managed to get a meeting with a Wonder Bringers representative.

The party met with a gnome named Horace in Dock Ward the night after their visit to the Warrens.  Suspicious at first, he was protected by two dwarven sharpshooters hidden on the roofs of the warehouses near the meeting spot. Horace's mission was to see if the adventurers asking questions around were agents of the Scarred Beasts or just some other adventurers seeking excitement and fame.  Learning about their actions in the Underdark tavern the night before and realizing their genuine intentions to help the citizens of the "Hidden Ward", Horace accepted to organize a meeting with Nigel and was almost about to leave when he was savagely attacked from behind by a strange beast looking like an undead hunting cat (identified later as a Feral Yowler).  The two snipers supposed to protect Horace from their hideouts were mysteriously disabled by invisibles assassins as the magical blurry cat finished his job on the gnomish diplomat.  Fortunately, one of the two dwarven snipers was saved by Arya, leaving one Wonder Bringer alive to testify on the good intentions of the party.

With this testimony and the intervention of the allied churches of the Warrens, the gondar cleric turned vigilante accepted the party's offer to meet in a neutral ground, the chapel to Yondalla, Garl and Moradin. Realizing that for once, he had allies, Cobwheel explained his actions, justifying them with the apparent lack of interest from the authorities. A deal was then proposed by the selûnites: they would help remove the Joystealer threat and in exhange, the Wonder Bringers would give back the stolen weapons.  Cobwheel would also need to accept a meeting with his former high priestess.  In good faith, since he was really working to the improvement of the small citizens' lives, Cobwheel accepted the deal and he charged his men to move all the unaffected citizens in a school near the temple.  There the adventurers would bait the evil feys and capture or eliminate them.

After hours of patience, the two small-sized feys answered the call and one was easily dispatched by the might of the five adventurers.  The other fled through a wall but was caught and killed in an alley after a small chase. True to his word, the gnome leader to the Safebreakers' Guild organized the return of the stolen weapons in return of total immunity for him and his men as well as some help from the Church of Selûne to solve the other problems of the underground district. The only unsolved mystery on this investigation was the extinction of all the forges in the city as prophecized by a young nomad in Daggerford.

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Wonder Bringers
An introduction to Waterdeep's little races

Its the beginning of the Year of Wild Magic (1372 DR) in Waterdeep and its inhabitants are celebrating the beginning of new year.  The staff and residents of Stardust Hall, an orphanage run by the clergy of Selûne and Ilmater, are no exception.

Returning to their home after a long night of drinking and partying, the group surprises a small gang of gnomes and dwarves who are about to steal from a blacksmith neighbor. They stop them but, trusting the small thieves word that they were only acting to help their families and their promise to never steal again, the group let them go even though their friend Drudarch is against the idea.

The next morning, the Daily Trumpet, one of Waterdeep's newspapers, announces that almost all South Ward's blacksmiths have been robbed on the previous night. Strangely, only the dwarven one were left alone by the thieves.  The article also mentions that the authorities think that the thefts were done by an organized group, probably the same that is responsible for a series of thefts in a few nobles’ villas in North Ward.  Asking a few questions around, the group manages to identify the probable culprits: a group of burglars named the Wonder Bringers, a small non-violent gang usually operating in Dock Ward and composed only of halflings, dwarves and gnomes. Named in the honor of Gond, God of craft and invention, the small guild specialized in safe breaking and mechanical traps are supposed to be led by an rogue priest of the Father of Invention.

Following this lead, the young adventurers took upon themselves to track down the culprits and bring to justice, wishing to protect their neighborhood and correct their mistake of the last evening.  After a visit to the House of Inspired Hands and a meeting with its high priestess, they confirmed that the Wonder Bringers's leader was an exiled cleric of the Wonderbringer named Nigel Cobwheel. Cobwheel was a promising inventor and cleric of the church until he sold the blueprints of traps and safes to criminals.  Realizing that the high priestess would not reveal information that could lead to a loss of prestige for her church, Rhivaun suggested that the party could track down and capture the unethical priest and bring him back to face his peers' judgement.  Appreciating the tact of the young selûnite, High Seeker Zulthind accepted the offer and revealed what she knew about Cobwheel and his small organization.

With the details given by the Gondar priestess and some information gathering in Dock Ward, the five adventurers discovered one of the favorite whereabouts of the Wonder Bringers and a favorite of Waterdeep's small citizens: a tavern named the Underdark. Unfortunately, the tavern was burned to the ground by criminals two months ago.  Examining the ruins, one of them found a hidden safe filled with gold pieces given to the tavern's owner by Cobwheel himself. A small note attached to the gold pouch confirmed some rumours about the fact that the Wonder Bringers were actually stealing people to help their community.  It seemed suddenly that this little "guild" was really doing some good in the neighborhood and protecting its small citizens from thugs like the Scarred Beasts, a racist street gang operating a protection racket and suspected by many to be the ones responsible for the destruction of The Underdark tavern.

Still held by their promise to find Cobwheel and the stolen weapons, the investigators managed to find the location of the new Underdark tavern that relocated into the Warrens, an almost forgotten ward of the city populated with gnomes, halflings and dwarves. Even though the famed Morigard Dalrak gave them the location of one of the secret entrance to the district and told them to announce themselves as his friends, the young adventurers were attacked by suspicious halfling guards but quickly calmed them and managed to enter the tight but empty tunnels.  Something was wrong, the place was so silent and empty it looked like a ghost town. They soon confirmed their fear when they entered the tavern: all its occupants, from the gnome barkeeper to the customers were staring in front of them with emotionless eyes, as if their will had been sucked out of them.  

Unable to help them at the moment, the group started to walk away of the tavern when the gnome barkeeper pulled throwing axes from his belt and threw them in their direction.  One of them heard a small voice near the bar when the gnome attacked and a spell cast by Petyr revealed a small insect-like invisible creature flying around in the room.  Even though the gnome and his bouncer were experienced fighters, the force of numbers and good tactics managed to bring victory to the group who brought back the bound fey-like creature with them out of the tavern.  As they were walking out of the tunnels, they met with clerics of Garl Glittergold and Yondalla who invited them in their shrine to explain them what exactly was happening in the district.


 

 

 

 

 

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