Recap January 8, 2020

It’s a special evening at the Yawning Portal. The noisy taproom seems even more full than usual and patrons are brimming with excitement. A small crowd of well-wishers have gathered around the party of heroes who’ve chosen this night to brave the tavern’s namesake. The small band of would-be-heroes is carefully checking and securing their equipment, mundane and magical alike. As they begin their descent into the large hole in the middle of the tavern, the taproom fills with loud cheers and excited huzzahs. Behind the bar, Durnan, the grizzled proprietor of the Yawning Portal, shakes his head and smirks under his mustache.

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You sit around a sturdy wooden table lit by a brightly burning candle and littered with plates cleared of food and half-drained tankards. The sounds of gamblers yelling and drunken adventurers singing bawdy songs nearly drown out the off’-key strumming of a young bard three tables over. Then all the noise is eclipsed by a shout: “Ya pig! Like killin’ me mates, does ya?” Then a seven-foot-tall half-orc is hit by a wild, swinging punch from a male human whose shaved head is covered with eye-shaped tattoos. Four other humans stand behind him, ready to jump into the fray. The half-ore cracks her knuckles, roars, and leaps at the tattooed figure-but before you can see if blood is drawn, a crowd of spectators clusters around the brawl. What do you do?

The group stays back while it just Yagra the half-orc against the man with the eye-shaped tattoos. The man with the eye-shaped tattoos slumps over, looking to be unconscious and his friends jump on Yagra, kicking, stomping and punching her. Two of the group have gotten to know Yagra and they jump up to assist her. They make their way through the thick crowd with Jendragon arriving first. They had decided to not use lethal force but to subdue if all possible. The others were taking longer to get to the fight but Jendragon was able to hold his own. The sorcerer cast Sleep and a good number of the thugs are fast asleep but he also gets Nadia in the area of effect. St. Calmers tried to defuse the situation but things had already gotten out of hand. On the upside, not all 4 of the thugs were attacking Yagra anymore. Three-Strings, the Yawning Portal bard, started to play a fight song. Ginko wanted things to calm things down as well so she started to play a calmer song. Three-Strings knew a bard-off when he heard so he started to play more aggressively. Ginko stayed the course and soon Three-Strings was playing along with Ginko. He looked at her like he as mad and the shrugged and kept up with the melody she had chosen on her panflute.

Shouts of alarm suddenly ring out as a hulking creature climbs up out of the shaft in the middle of the tap· room-a monster with warty green skin, a tangled nest of wiry black hair, a long, carrot-shaped nose, and bloodshot eyes. As it bears its yellow teeth and howls, you can see that a 3 bat-like creatures are attached to its body, with 8 or more circling above it like flies. Everyone in the tavern reacts in fear except for the barkeep, Durnan, who shouts, “Troll!”

Durnan takes a large greatsword down from behind the bar and runs towards the troll. He shouts to the group as he runs by “Take care of the stirges and then bring oil and fire to throw on the troll once it falls.”

Jendragon took one last swing at a thug that was awake and then he made his way towards the stirges. Nadia awoke and ran over with her mace to get her swings in. Moonwhisper went around the other side of the troll and stirges and began to attack from the shadows. Once all of the stirges were taken care of, Moonwhisper and Jendragon assisted Durnan with fighting troll. Callie brought oil, St. Calmers brought fire, both candles, and lamps. As the troll fell, Callie through the oil and St. Calmers through the fire and soon the troll was turned a pile of ash.

Durnan called out to Bonnie the barmaid “Bring the broom and dustpan. Nadia asked if she could take some of the dust to give it a burial at the City of the Dead. Durnan agreed and dumped the rest of it down the large hole in the middle of the tavern.

Duran then said to the group “Next time, do what I ask of ye. But…you fought well. Your next round is on the house.”

Yagra looked pretty beat up. Jendragon helped her to her table. She said “I had them right where I wanted them! But thanks for the hand.”

As they were making their way back to their table, a man with a floppy hat and a large mustache approaches them “You be adventurers, am I right? I could use your help. Let’s find a table to talk, shall we?”

They agree and lead him over to their table. They sit down and he begins to speak.

The figure who approached you strokes his mustache adjusts his floppy hat and tightens his scarf. “Volothamp Geddarm, chronicler, wizard, and celebrity, at your service. I trust you’ve noted the violence in our fair city these past tendays. I haven’t seen so much blood since my last visit to Baldur’s Gate! But now I fear I have misplaced a friend amid this odious malevolence.

“My friend’s name is Floon Blagmaar. He’s got more beauty than brains, and I worry he took a bad way home a couple of nights ago and was kidnapped-or worse. If you agree to track him down with all due haste, I can offer you 100 dragons (gold) apiece now, and I can give you each ten times that 1000gp) when you find Floon. May I prevail upon you in my hour of need?”

Several of the group felt like he was not being 100% upfront about what he could pay them but still they accepted. He gave each of the group a pouch with 100gp in it.

The group was in general agreement to help Volo. They knew of his book Volo’s Guide to Monsters and Moonwhisper asked if he would sign her copy of the book. He agreed and then answered the questions that the group had about Floon.

Volo described Floon as a handsome human male in his early thirties with wavy red-blond hair. He was dressed in princely garb when Volo last saw him. Two nights ago, before Floon disappeared, he and Volo were drinking and merrymaking at the Skewered Dragon, a dark, bawdy tavern in the Dock Ward. Volo recommended that the characters start their search there.

They talked a few more minutes and then decided to head to the Dock Ward. It was about a 10-minute walk so they set out. Volo said I should be here waiting for your return. If I need to leave I will let Durnan know when I will return. Good luck.

They left and headed south towards the Dock Ward.

As you turn a corner, you find yourselves on a street that has been cordoned off by the City Watch. Lying on the cobblestones are a half-dozen corpses, seemingly the victims of some terrible skirmish. Watch officers have disarmed and arrested three blood-drenched humans and are in the midst of questioning witnesses. One of the officers sees you. “Get on,” she says. “Nothing to see here.”

As they were turning to leave the closed street, they suddenly heard a loud shout: “Get him!”. They saw three of the City Watch guards frantically scrambling to catch one of the thugs who’d sprung to his feet and was swiftly making his way out of the cordoned-off street – and right past you!

Nadia, Moonwhisper, and Jendragon moved to cut off his path and he tripped over them and fell to the ground. They heard one of the guards yelled “Don’t kill him!” as they were picking him up. The man looks up at them hatefully and says “We’ll remember that!”. The guards quickly dragged the bandit back to his mates and threw him forcefully down on the cobblestones.

A captain of the guard approached them. “Good reflexes there. Thank you for the assistance. But a word of advice: keep those weapons locked securely at your hip, and try not to get more of a reputation with these Zhentarim scum. Let us deal with them. Move along now.”

They went on their way to the Dock Ward.

Tall, densely packed tenements leave most of the neighborhood in shadow at ground level. Most of the streetlamps have had their glass smashed and their candles had been stolen, and the smells of salt air and excrement linger as you pass by rows of run-down buildings.

On the corner of Zastrow Street and Fillet Lane is a shop with a peculiar window display. One nearby shop stands out from the others. It has a deep purple facade, and in its window hangs a stuffed beholder. Above the door hangs a sign whose elaborate letters spell out “Old Xoblob Shop.”

Jendragon was familiar with the place as was Nadia, St. Calmers and Moonwhisper who were all from Waterdeep. They rushed in to see what new items Xoblob had acquired.

A cloud of lavender-scented purple smoke trails out of the shop’s door as you peer inside. Every wall is painted purple, and every dusty knickknack on the shelves is dyed a deep violet. The hairless old gnome sitting crosslegged on the counter wears plum-colored robes. His cheeks are decorated with nine purple face-painted eyes. The gnome lowers a pipe and exhales a cloud of lavender smoke before raising a hand. “Hail and well met! Come browse the shelves of the most curious curiosity shop in the world!”

The group came in and browsed with several of them buying oddities, all of the various shades of purple. He wished them farewell and hoped that they would return to visit his shop once more.

The Skewered Dragon was not hard to find. The Skewered Dragon looked like a ruin. Both of its front-facing windows were smashed, and a ship’s anchor was lodged in the roof. Through the windows, they saw a group of haggard patrons drinking from huge tankards.

They walked in and headed to the one long bar at the far end of the building. They passed several tables where the folks sitting there drinking and gambling. Ginko said to the bartender, this place could use some entertainment. And I am ready to provide some songs for a small fee. The bartender said “we are not that kind of place. If you want to do that, go to someplace like the Yawning Portal, but not here. Just drinking and gambling. What will you be drinking? We have one drink on tap.” Ginko said I will take it. That’ll be 1 copper piece. She took the drink and she could smell alcohol and seawater. And it tasted almost exactly as it smelled. Callie and the sorcerer went to see if they could find out anything from the gamblers.

Jendragon was seeing what he could do when a broad-shouldered dwarf with a smoothly oiled black beard and a multitude of different silver rings on his stubby fingers approach you. He sticks his chin out and plants two fists on the table in front of you. “Ain’t none of these durned fools ‘ere going to tell ye nothin’ ye can believe. If ye wanna know about that skinny boy and his pompous buddy, ye’ll have to win it from me. So waddaya wanna lose – ye coins or ye consciousness?”, the dwarf asks, his deep voice slurring.

Jendragon said, “I like to gamble so let us do that.”

You can call me Solo. Are you familiar with Sava? It is an odd version of chess invented by the drow. Two players play against each other using ebony pieces resembling drow warriors, mages and priestesses. The goal of the game is to destroy the other player’s ‘noble house’. It is a game of skill, deception, and insight. A game of sava takes roughly 30 minutes.

Solo called to the bartender who removed a dark box from behind the bar. He walked to Solo who took the box and opened it up revealed a really exquisite sava set. He laid out the board and the pieces, explained the rules one last night and they started the game. Solo wiped the floor with Jendragon in that first game. Ha! You owe me 10gp. Jendragon asked for a rematch. Solo was all for it. This time Jendragon ran away with the game. Solo congratulated him and then told him all he knew about Floon.

After Volo left, Floon stuck around long enough to meet with another friend: Renaer Neverember, the son of Waterdeep’s previous Open Lord, Dagult Neverember. Chip off the old block, that one said Solo. Though there are others that think he is just another spoiled rich noble. I like the guy but I digress.

The two drank and played a few rounds of Three Dragon Ante before leaving around midnight. Five men followed them out, and I do not know what happened after that. The men who left shortly after Floon and Renaer haven’t returned to the tavern since, but they’re known to frequent a warehouse on Candle Lane. “Look for the snake symbol on the door.”

They walked another 5 minutes and came to what they thought was Candle Lane. Gloom envelops a narrow alley as dark as a dungeon and as odorous as one, too. Nearly all the streetlamps have been smashed. The only light that pierces the darkness is a faint flickering from down the lane, like a distant candle. As they approached they saw that the flickering comes from the one streetlamp still intact on Candle Lane, kept alight by a continual flame spell. A warehouse is directly across the street from the lamp, which illuminates a black-winged snake on the large warehouse doors.

There was a fence with a gate on the front. The gate was not locked so they went inside the courtyard. They looked a window just to the south of the warehouse doors. The window had been frosted over and they could not see in. They went over to the main door to the north of the gate. It was locked. Moonwhisper had it unlocked in no time. She then opened the door.

Tables and chairs have been carelessly tossed across the floor. The corpses of a dozen men lie along the walls, their rapiers, and daggers lying nearby. On the north side of the area, stairs rise to an open level above.

Mason crept slowly into the room. Calmers cast Light so everyone could see inside the dark warehouse. Suddenly a small humanoid with avian features appeared from the shadows created by a large crate. It took a shot with its bow but it missed everyone that had entered the warehouse. Moonwhisper went into Stealth to hunt for what she was sure was a kenku. The rest of the group followed her lead.

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