After defeating the Dragon Cult in Calimport the group had two things on the horizon. First, everyone would accompany Thalaniel to Skullport to retrieve the item left for him at Thimblewine’s Pawnshop. Second, they needed to check out the coordinates that they and Flynrich had found within Nezznar, the Black Spider’s papers both at the labs of Kwalish and in the pocket dimension that Nezznar had created for himself. They figured that if the item that Thalaniel was to retrieve was magic in nature, it would be a help to the group as a whole so they decided to go to Skullport first. Before that, there was shopping and of course finding a way to get to Skullport.
They thought about who could get them information on Skullport and on how to get there. They knew that it was a place of rogues and thieves and possibly creatures from the Underdark so Thalaniel said I could get in touch with the Family and see if they have any knowledge of Skullport.
The Family did not have direct information on how to get there but they could get Thalaniel in touch with a group in Waterdeep called the Red Readers. Thalaniel was to meet the Red Readers contact at the Yawning Portal. His or her name was Jo. Thalaniel was told to come to the meeting table alone. The group was hungry and decided to go to the Yawning Portal for a meal and maybe some drinks while Thalaniel talked with Jo from the Red Readers.
A few sat at the bar. Others sat at various corners around the Yawning Portal. In the middle of the main room was a well that led down to the 1st level of Undermountain. No one was heading down at this time but folks would check the well out from time to time. Thalaniel was joined by Jo who said so you are looking for ways to get to Skullport. There are few. The most straightforward way is down the well over there in the middle of the main room. You could also take a boat. Or you could use a portal. But you will need a portal key. Thalaniel said that was the way that he thought was best. Jo produced a slip of paper. This is a one-time code for a portal to Skullport. I have been instructed to only charge you half our normal cost as you are a friend of the Red Readers. It will cost 3500 gold. Thalaniel agreed. Jo thanked him and said the paper will destroy itself as soon as you step out of circle. Also, we never met. Good day.
Thalaniel joined his companions and they had a meal and a few drinks. Chicken and veggies was the special. Durnan, owner of the Yawning Portal was all over the place that night. Bonnie his head barmaid was close behind. Mattrim “Threestrings” Mereg was the regular entertainment. He was pretty good for playing a lute with only three-strings. The crowd was not too large but bigger than a usual work night.
The next step was to find a portal that they could use. They would contact Lady Laeral to see if she could assist them (Ok, so I messed up again. Since you all went back in time before the dragon attacks ever happened the portals were not destroyed in the building where the Council of Waterdeep would have met. But, since you all had never been there in this timeline, you would not have access to them anyway. Sorry for the confusion.) They arrived at the Palace of Waterdeep and told the guards who they were and that they needed to see Lady Laeral. The guard let them in and escorted them to a room for them to wait. About 20 minutes went by and a courtier came in and said that the Lady would be in shortly and that she apologizes for taking long. The courtier left and about 5 minutes later Lady Laeral arrived. She thanked them again for taking care of the last remnants of the Cult of the Dragon. They would keep an eye on the Well of the Dragons. The group asked if there was a portal they could use to get to Skullport. She replied I am not sure why you want to go there but for the services you have given to Waterdeep, you can use one of the ones here. But, you cannot come back here. I am sure you understand. Thalaniel said yes we do. Laeral then said whenever you are ready, my courtier can escort you to the circle. And do be careful. I do not think I am telling you anything you do not know but Skullport can be very dangerous, even for people such as you. They thanked her again and then set off for the teleportation circle.
They arrived in what looked like a large broom closet. Getting their bearing they heard an old woman’s voice from just beyond the door. Who is there? Thalaniel responded. This Thalaniel and some of my friends and we have need to go to Thimblewine’s Pawnshop. The door opened and the old woman asked for the slip of paper. She looked at it and nodded and welcomed them to her home/shop. They stepped into what could have been any of their’s grandmother’s living room: complete with a fireplace, easy chairs for all of them and always there is a pot of tea or coffee at the ready. She introduced herself as Tas. She even had fresh made cookies. They declined her invitation to sit and then they asked for directions to Thumblewine’s. She said to go out my front door, follow the main series of catwalks to the west, take the stairs down to the first level (we are on the middle level) and then follow the signs. The entrance will be on the other side of the building directly in front of them when they came off the stairs. As they were leaving she said in a very serious tone, watch your back.
They thanked her and left by way of the front door. They looked at the front door and there was a sign that read The Poisoned Quill. Then they looked around at Skullport. Skullport fills an immense cavern. The town has three levels: a lower level, a middle level, and a top level. They were on the middle level but could see down onto the lower level as well as above to the top level. The town had clearly seen better days. Many buildings were caving onto themselves. The catwalks looked rickety but there seemed to always be traffic walking normally across them. The catwalks were a mixture of ropes and wood with some stonework on what looked like stronger point. The people were a mix of humans, duergar and bugbear but a good number of other races were also represented. They noticed that a good number of the duergar, humans and bugbear were wearing uniforms with an eye symbol on them. These must be the guards of Skullport. They guard paid the no mind as the group made their way across the catwalks to the western stairs. On the lower level they saw a sign pointing to the Thimblewine’s Pawnshop but it was another site that caught their eye. Outside of a single story building, hanging over the door is a huge fire-blackened mug overflowing with bones, presumably of those who died inside. Thalaniel used Truesight to see what was inside. It was a bar. Behind the bar was a fat, dour duergar pouring drinks from a large keg. Then he saw a large floating eye making its way around the main floor of the bar. It was not a beholder but it was certainly related to beholders. Thalaniel then saw a minotaur bouncer. The group after hearing what was inside, decided to move on the pawnshop.
They came to the door and Thalaniel knocked. A gnomish woman’s voice replied come in we are open. A cheery rock gnome was sitting on a high stool behind a high counter. I am Krystaleen and welcome to my shop. How can I help you? Looking for something? Need to get rid of something? I can help!
Thalaniel said I am here to pick something up and handed her the pawn-slip. She laughed and said we never thought this would ever be picked up. It has been here a long time. It was here before I was born back when Thimblewine my uncle was young and running this place by himself. Give me a minute to retrieve it.
She came back with a small brown clay house figurine that was 3 inches by 3 inches. It looked as if it was once painted by a young child but the paint has mostly been worn off. Thalaniel used Detect Magic and it was magical. It gave off Conjuration magic but he could not figure any thing else out about it. Althea and Stumbleduck were not able to as well. Krystaleen then asked if there was anything else she could help them with. What about you and looked at Grundy. Grundy asked if there was anything there that a barbarian could find useful. She said yes, this shield. He said I have a two handed sword I do not need a shield but it is a nice shield. She replied you have that warhammer on your belt. You can use the shield with it. He said that is true. She said and it is only 50 gold. He said I will take it. For quite awhile after, Grundy wondered why he bought a shield he did not need and would probably never use. Well, he had it just in case. Krystaleen then asked Grundy to take a message to the owner of the Black Tankard. Tell him that his shipment has come in and that he can pick it up later that night if that was convenient for him. Grundy agreed even though he knew that the Black Tankard was the bar Thalaniel had used Truesight on to see the minotaur and the floating eye creature. He ran over to the Black Tankard, gave the message and then hurried back to tell her that the message had been delivered. She asked everyone once more if they needed anything else. They did not. She said well, if you do need anything, almost everything that comes into Skullport eventually finds it way here at some point.
They left the shop and after a brief discussion they decided to leave the town. Several of the group did not have a good feeling about Skullport and were ready to leave. They went back to the Poisoned Quill to ask Tas about using the portal to leave Skullport. She answered the door and asked about using the portal to leave. Tas said that will cost you 50 gold each. As they entered the circle Thalaniel asked if she would give him the pass-code to her circle. She looked at him and asked him to leave her shop. Althea then asked her where the portal would take them. Tas replied, to do Waterdeep, into an attic of an orphanage. Althea and Nameless were not convinced that was the best place but there were definitely worse places for them to end up. Tas cast the spell and soon they were standing in a large attic. To the right of the disappearing teleportation circle they saw an extra large window. Investigating it they saw a latch to open the window and on the outside sill was a rolled up rope ladder. They unrolled it and and climbed down to the streets of Waterdeep. They were about to teleport to the Manor House when a halfling monk walked up to them. She said, I am Hetty and I am raising money for the orphanage and any gift you can see fit to give will be appreciated beyond measure. Nameless reached into his pocket and gave her 5 platinum. She thanked him and stared at him for a few minutes. This will help so many of the orphans! Thanks and the Triad thanks you. Thalaniel said here is some more and gave her 34 more platinum. She then ran into the orphanage and was back in a flash. Also, anything I can do to help you please do not hesitate to contact me. My name is Hetty and you can either find me here at the orphanage, or at the Yawning Portal. Give a message to Durnan and he will get to me. Or come to the Trollskull Tavern in the North Ward. I am part owner there. She then went back into the orphanage and Nameless cast teleportation in an alley and they were back at the Manor House.
They did some more investigating of the small clay house. They could not figure anything else out so they contacted Flynrich. He asked he they had been to the coordinates that they had found in the papers of the Nezznar? They replied that they had not. Flynrich said that is right. You all were headed to Calimport. I am guessing that turned out okay since you all are still alive. They filled him in what had happened. Then Nameless said my friend here has an item that needs Idenifying. Flynrich said, sure thing. I will be right back. He came back wearing an extra large hat that he had to keep pushing out of his eyes. He said that is a nice item. What you have there is a Wanderer’s Home. Once per day the spell Mordenkainen’s Magnificent Mansion can be cast through the figurine. An arcana check with a DC of 15 is required to cast the spell for the first time. If failed, the charge is expended and the spell fails but can be attempted the next day. If successful, an arcana check isno longer required. The Wander’s House recharges at dawn.
Thalaniel did his best with the Arcana check and he was successful. They decided to use the Mordenkainen’s Magnificent Mansion and get a good meal, be pampered some and have a nice relaxing night’s sleep. They discussed things and decided that they would leave the next day for the coordinates in the Sunset Mountains to look for the mysterious place that Nezznar had traveled to frequently. Nameless knew the area as that is where he had been teleported to after the fight with the lich in the Tomb of Horrors. The coordinates were several hours northeast from the area he knew. They decided to fly on the flying carpet. It would take two days but quicker than walking.
It was two days of quiet travel. They made it to the area Nameless knew and set off northeast. After a few hours:
As you proceed north up the track it becomes apparent that there is more traffic on this part, for it becomes progressively broader and well-traveled. Peering ahead, what you first take for a flat-topped mountain is something else. Atop a low peak is a two-stepped construction of basalt, a sort of pyramid from the way its sides slope. This place was hidden from view until you rounded the side of the mountain you are now on. You note that the trail leads directly to the strange, black building; and, as you come within 100 yards of the place, you begin to get some idea of its size. The construction’s upper story appears to be about 80’ square and 40’ high. The lower floor, seeming to grow directly out of the mountain rock, is some 160’ square and likewise 40’ high. The track leads across a bridge and up a steep ramp to the upper story of the place.
Just before the bridge in fields on both sides of the track they saw 30 or more dead bodies. Most of the bodies were goblin but there were a few humans. The bodies that stood out were the two drow. All of the goblins, humans and drow were wearing the same armor and had similar weapons. The drow had an insignia on them. Stumbleduck determined it was the symbol of House Hun’ett a drow house that was supposedly destroyed with no surviving members left. That is the drow way for a house to gain rank in their society by destroying the house above yours. Also, they could not tell how long the bodies had been there. The decomposing of the bodies seemed to have been slowed down but how they were not sure.
A. Narrow track about 4’ wide. It has a natural rock wall to the west, as if to prevent those using the path from plummeting into the deep ravine.
B. Deep ravine which separates the southern peak from the one upon which the building is built. There is a precipice to the west of the track (A.) which falls about 100” to the bottom of this ravine. The rock walls are climbable by a thief, of course, for they are rough and easily surmountable to an experienced climber.
C. Cliff-like stone face to the east of the track. This wall is at least a score of feet straight up, and in some places even higher. It is as if the pathway to the building was hewn from a ledge so as to purposely leave this wall on one side and a precipice on the other. It also is climbable by a thief or one with similar skills.
D. Natural and worked stone piers rising from the ravine to the track above.Here the pathway widens to about 6’ and is of great stone slabs. A 2’ thick wall on either side rises to about waist height.The whole forms a bridge from the southern mountain, over the ravine, to a spur of the northern formation. (A distance of about 50’ from natural stone to natural stone). The northern portion has been worked so that the track feeds to a steeply rising rampway.
E. Walled ramp widening from 6’ width at bridge mouth to about 16’width as it climbs to above the mid-point of the lower block of the building.
F. Similar ramp climbing to roof level of the lower block to permit entry through the great portal of the upper block of the building.
G. Rampway leading to flights of steep, narrow steps which allow entry to the roof of the upper block of the building.
H. Upper roof of black stone slabs. Here, careful examination will reveal worn glyphs in a strange language.
They made their way slowly towards the building and then made their way to the top. No one could figure out if the strange glyphs were a language or not. Stumbleduck could not place the historocal time-frame of the building but his gut told him that this building was probably built long before written history, maybe thousands of years. He just was not sure.
They went back down to steps to the front entrance.
As you approach the entry to this strange place, you see that there is a low wall of rough stones blocking the way. It appears to be about 3’ high and almost as wide. Some 20‘ beyond this obstruction is the gaping portal of the upper block and apparently the only entrance to the place.
Thalaniel used Truesight and saw several gnoll guards about 30ft into the room. No one else could see much further into the room even those with Darkvision.
The looming wall of black stone is pierced by a flat-topped portal. The entry is nearly 20’ wide and also 20’ high. A great stone lintel over 30’ wide and 6’ high supports the roof. There are places in the stone posts on eitherside which indicate that at one time some sort of doors closed off this entrance, but all traces of these valves have disappeared.
Althea and Nameless jumped on the wall and began to attack the gnolls. Thalaniel, Grundy and Shmoo ran into the room to attack the targets. Kriv and Stumbleduck stayed behind the wall and cast spells. The darkness cleared and the saw the following:
A net fell onto Althea and Nameless but they were able to get out of the trap quickly but not before many arrows were launched at them.
There was more than 8 gnolls in the room. There were at least 12 more gnolls and several of them looked tougher than regular gnolls. The rest of the monsters in the room were bluish-gray goblin-like creatures. Althea said they had to be norkers.
(Norkers resemble goblins, except for their three-inch canines and hairless hides, which range from reddish brown to dark gray in hue and are exoskeleton-like in nature. They are seldom seen in any clothing apart from a loincloth and a belt, which they use for hanging their favored possessions from.)
There was at least 40 creatures against the seven members of the group.
But the gnolls and norkers fell easy. Kriv took out almost half the room with a well placed Prismatic Spray that did Fire damage and Held others in place. Stumbleduck cast Guiding Bolt at the toughest looking targets. Althea used her Volley ranger feature to take out a group of 5 norkers in the northeast corner of the room. Grundy was taking out targets with almost every swing as were both Thalaniel and Schmoo. Soon there were only three of them left, all some of the tougher looking gnolls. One of them escaped being Held and ran down the stairs. Soon they heard horns and drums in the deep. They were coming. The last of the defenders of the first floor fell. Thalaniel cast Foresight and saw what was below: more gnolls and norkers, plus trolls, giants, ogres, worgs, giant spiders, giant trolls, night hags and more. The group all looked at one another and then made preparations for the next battle.