Recap July 25, 2020

The group decided to see if they could find any Rockseekers to let them now that they had found two of their family in the Wave Echo Mine. They had been told at the picnic on the lawn that dwarves in Neverwinter frequented the Fallen Tower Tavern, one of the most popular taverns in all of Neverwinter. It was popular not because of its food and drink which was good, but it was popular because of how it looked on the outside. At one time the tower was the home of a powerful mage. He studied the arts of magic hoping to one day take a position of leadership in the city. The Arcane Brotherhood learned of him and sent some of their wizards to destroy him. In the battle that ensued, the wizard set many of his protection spells off and in the top level of his tower he set the entire structure on fire. The supports gave way and the top part of the tower crumbled. The half-crumbled tower has been remodeled into the Fallen Tower tavern. The drink menu is one of the best in the north with a wide range of ales, spirits, wines, whiskeys, and more all at a reasonable price.

They entered and made their way to the bar. Henrik order the best dwarven ale for all his friends. He then preceded to drink as many of the dwarven ales as he could. He later said he did this to impress the dwarves in the establishment. Kataract did not drink the dwarven ale. Instead he ordered a wine and then started to play his lute (cannot remember the instrument he has) focusing on dwarven ballads and drinking songs. He cast Detect Thoughts to see what the patrons were thinking. A group was talking about business and taxes with a woman going over and over in her head, “Do not say anything bad about Neverember.” Kataract delved deeper into her memory and found that she had been arrested several times for what she thought was made up charges and she did not feel like going back to the Holes beneath Castle Never. He scanned the room some more and focused on a lone dwarf. He seemed sad about something – Why am I here? Why me. Things will get better? Not so sure. Oh well, I have dwarven ale.

Kataract began to sing a dwarven song but added the Rockseeker name into it. None of the people in the bar overly reacted to it. Kataract felt like the woman who was afraid of Neverember may be connected to the Rockseekers.

Kataract sent a signal to Hetty who was still working on the double party platter of bread, cheese and fruit she had ordered. She ordered another platter and took it over to the table with the woman who was afraid of Neverember. The woman was sitting with 3 dwarves and she was human. Hetty introduced herself and after a short conversation they invited her to sit down. They made small talk for a while, she learned something about dwarves in the city, some of the heavy taxes that had been levied on the wealthier folks and the rebuilding project implemented by Lord Neverember. She then asked if they knew any Rockseekers. She and her friends had sad and bad news for them if they could find any of them. They table all pointed at a lone dwarf, the one that had been thinking about why I am here and had been drinking out of a large tankard of dwarven ale. Hetty signaled to Riva, Henrik and Pixel. Riva ordered a dwarven ale and she helped Henrik to the table. He was on his 5th dwarven ale and he was a bit wasted. Pixel went upstairs to check out the second floor. There was a series rooms, perhaps rooms to rent but she could not tell for sure as all the doors to the rooms were closed. She came back down the stairs and made her way over to the table.

Hetty set the dwarven ale on the table in front of the lone dwarf. She asked if she could sit down with him. He agreed. She asked if he knew of the Rockseekers. He said I do. She asked if he knew Nundro and Gundren. He gave a small smile under his large beard when she had said Gundren. He took a large drink from his tankard and said I am Gundren. Nundro is, well, was my brother. Riva, Henrik and Pixel joined the table. Gundren saw how drunk Henrik was and ordered a #3 from the bartender. The bartender brought a glass of wine to Kataract and a hot mug of something to Gundren who pushed the mug over to Henrik and asked him to drink it. Henrik was hesitant but after Gundren had said you and your friends will thank me in the morning.

Hetty pulled out the letter written by Nundro and handed it to Gundren. Gundren read it and he looked like he went into a faraway zone. He spoke slowly in between long draws on his dwarven ale: “Yeah, thought we had found the mine. We were sure we had found it. The three of us (myself, Nundro and Tharden) made a camp. Two stayed at the camp while one of us went to get more supplies and to begin to make our claim in Phandalin. I went to town. Came back and one of me brothers was dead, surrounded by foul undead. I could not get to help him, and I could not see me other brother. The ground began to shake and the makeshift tunnel we had dug, collapsed. I spent several days digging meself out with partial hope that my other brother would return to our camp. He never did. I finally tunneled out and returned to Neverwinter. That was over 5 years ago. Never returned.

They told Gundren that they had brought the remains of his brothers so they could be buried. He said “You found both of me brothers? And brought them for proper burial? I am most appreciative. I have a plot in the Pauper’s graveyard. We have one in the main graveyard, but we do not want to go there. Undead. I will get in touch with the grave keeper and set a time for burial. Will probably take a day to get things in order.

Gundren continued “It is the mine? You found the magic green brazier? And mithral and platinum ore? They answered yes to all these questions. I would love to see it. Is the place safe? It is? Would you take me back there? I want to see the place of my ancestors with my own eyes.

He then told them about how his ancestors had worked the mine in its heyday and he had plans to come work it as well, but the Orcs attacked, and he never made it. Many years later, he could evidence of where the many had been lost and he and his brothers and a few friends decided to go to the mines and see about getting them back up and running. One of their friends was kidnapped by goblins and held for ransom. Once the ransom was paid, their friend left and did not join them to go to the mine. Henrik offered a him a drink, no, a job, in a very drunken state even after drinking most of the #3. Gundren said I will consider the job and we can talk more about it once he has sobered up, since he is the one that made the offer. He also said he knows workers that made be interested in working the mines as well. These were interested 5 years before so he was not 100% sure they would do it, but he would ask.

He then asked, “How secret are ye keeping it?” They said they had made the official claim here in town, but they had not told anyone in Phandalin so far.

He spoke again: “No – I do not want the claim. Doesn’t feel right without me brothers. Since I never made an official claim, it is all yours. “ They then drank to his brothers’ memories. Gundren would go to plan for their burial. He would contact them at the Shining Serpent Inn when things were in place. He finished his ale in one gulp, told them goodbye, went to see the bartender and then left the tavern.

Henrik went to settle his tab and he found out that Gundren had paid it. He gave the bartender and tip as did Kataract.

They went back to the Shinning Serpent Inn. They rested awhile before changing clothes and heading to the House of 1000 Faces to have dinner. The House of a Thousand Faces was a favorite of arcane casters of all types. Kataract had wanted to go there to see if he could get in contact with the owner of the establishment, an elf named Theryis.

House of a Thousand Faces was on a higher level than the Fallen Towers. As the approached from the south they saw an entrance with a lot of people going in. They got into the line and finally were able to enter. They saw a coat, hat and cloak check on their right. They noticed music as soon as they entered but as they looked around, they never saw where it may have been coming from. They found a table in sort of the center of the main floor. That was when they noticed the reason this place had the name it did. There were many mannikins and mirrors all around the main room and with the number of patrons, there was easily 1000 faces in there that night. They settled at the table while Kataract headed to the bar to see if he could speak to Theryis, the owner. The bartender asked if he had an appointment. Kataract did not. The bartender took his name and said he would message her, and someone would get back with him. He was not sure she was even in the Faces currently. Kataract was not happy but he ordered the most expensive wine that the bar had. The bartender said “Are you sure? Our most expensive wines range from 1000gp to 1500gp a glass. Kataract said what did they have that was more reasonable. The bartender smiled and gave him a wine list. Kataract ordered a nice wine and then came back to the table to try and figure out where the music was coming from. Hetty was ordering her meal – chicken, steak, bread and cheese, fruit bowl, pork chop, pasta and dessert. The others followed her lead and order similarly.

The only entertainment was roaming magicians doing “magic tricks”. Several the casters were always trying to recreate actual spells using only slight of hand and other magic tricks. The group also found out about the weekly Arcane Duels that took place. Duelists used modified Magic Missile Wands, and each had a starting number of Shield Spells. They would use Arcana to increase the number of Shields or the power of the magic missile damage. The first person to lose all their shields was eliminated. Folks could bet on the duelists and each week there were two or three favorites depending on who entered.

They were about to leave when a tall elf…no, said Riva, it was an eladrin approached the table. He was wearing a butler’s suit and spoke to Kataract. I have a note for you, sir. Kataract,

I apologize I am not able to meet with you this evening. But I can meet you here tomorrow evening at 6pm. Please let the person who gave you this note if you are not able to meet. Theriys.

Kataract told the eladrin that he would be able to be there at 6pm the next day. The eladrin replied. Very well, sir. Have a good evening and watch your back. He smiled and left the table.

Kataract was ready to leave but Hetty was still eating her 3 Cakes Dessert with 3 Dessert wines. They left about 45 minutes and headed back to the Shinning Serpent to get some rest. Hetty took a halfling bag including some sardines for Pixel’s kittens. As Kataract was getting ready for bed, he found another note in his pouch. It was in the same handwriting as the one that he had received from Theryis. This one read; you do not need to come alone. Bring your friends.

The next morning they headed to the Stable Quiver to see if they could get in touch with Oppal DeScart. They arrived and found that the Stable Quiver was a much smaller local pub than the House of a Thousand Faces and the Fallen Tower. There were no tables, so they went over to the bar and sat on the stools.

They noticed the bartender immediately. First it was his extremely good looks. The second was the thing on his face. It was either a birth mark or a tattoo that looked like a squid or octopus. Kataract studied him for a while and determined it was a birthmark.

Kataract was also smitten.

Over the next hour, Hetty played wingman for him as Kataract attempted to talk to the bartender whose name was Squid. Kataract spent most of the time stumbling over himself and did not get very far. At some point Hetty asked about Oppal. Squid replied he did not know anyone by that name. Everyone could tell that he was covering something up. They could not get him to talk anymore about that. He did give them an overview of the Blacklake District. It was mostly business sectioned off by type - Arcanist’s Alley, Arms and Armor, Bakeries, and so on. He mentioned Neverwinter Cookies that they had to try.

So, Pixel stayed at the Stable Quiver, Riva posted outside to keep an eye on the road, Hetty Henrik and Kataract went to look for the Neverwinter Cookie Bakery. They saw several shops, some were open, some were closed. They found the Original Neverwinter Cookie bakery, but it was closed. Hetty check the front and back doors and both doors were locked. She could smell the cookies. The contemplated breaking thinking something may be wrong. But they headed across the street to a Cinnamon roll place to get some rolls, coffee and information. When asked, the owner had not seen the Neverwinter Cookie bakers in a few days. She was a wizard who would travel for days at a time and her husband would go with her to keep her company. They were never gone longer that two ten-days. They headed back to the Stable Quiver to check in with Pixel and Riva. They met each other in the road each of them shaking their heads no that they had not found anything.

But, Hetty had bought a baker’s dozen of the cinnamon rolls. They decided that Kataract would take one of them into the Stable Quiver to give to Squid. He would go in alone. Again, Kataract stumbled over himself. Hetty had been watching and she and the rest of the group came in just as Kataract laid and huge kiss right on Squid’s mouth. Squid pulled back and said “What they fuck? Look, I am flattered, I really am but I am not interested. Katarack said he understood and moved to leave the tavern. He was joined by Hetty who spoke to Squid about the Neverwinter Cookie place. Squid said I can give you inside information, but it will cost since what I am going to tell you may be dangerous to me. Hetty pulled out 3gold pieces from Kataract’s pouch. Squid said he would need 3 more. She gave him 5gp and Squid moved closer to them and said:

“Afraid Oppal got herself nicked. Funny bit was, with all the laws she’s broke. she gets picked up for somethin’ she didn’t do. Murder no less! But I’ll tell you true. Oppal ain’t the murderin’ type. “See, Oppal was pretending to be a local orc thug, getting’ some information for a client. But in the meantime, that ore kills somebody on that very same night Oppal’s pretendin’ to be him. The guards know the orc, then they find Oppal lookin’ like him. arrest her. and throw her in the Holes under Castle Never. Even though they know she’s a changer, they still blame her. Easier work for them. That’s the lot of a usual suspect in Neverwinter.”

Who is this orc Hetty asked? He is known as Minus the Thug. No idea where he is. He disappeared about the time Oppal was arrested.

Hetty noticed that a petite woman wearing a finely tailored suit and slicked back gray hair had perked up when she had heard the name Oppal. As Squid finished his last sentence, the gray-haired woman got up and left the tavern. Hetty used her Sending Stone to tell Riva and Henrik that this woman would coming out of the tavern and to follow her. They thanked Squid and left him a cinnamon roll and went to join Riva and Henrik following the gray-haired woman. She had left the tavern and had gone west. They followed her down the street. Pixel turned into a pigeon and flew about the buildings. He saw three groups of humans in the alleys around the main street. He and Riva saw the gray-haired woman give a signal with her hand and a whistle and the three groups appeared and pulled out crossbows aiming them at Riva. Riva cast Conjure Animals and summoned 8 panthers one for almost every bandit including the gray-haired woman. She then jumped up the wall of the nearest building and then climbed to the roof and began to shoot her crossbow. Henrik ran to the fight while Kataract cast Haste on him and then pulled out his hand crossbow. Pixel stayed above the fight to make sure no one would escape. Hetty ran and then Shadowstepped up to a bandit and one-shotted him. Between the panthers and Riva’s crossbow shots, and Henrik’s attacks, the bandits fell quick and soon it was just the gray-haired woman.

She was surrounded and Hetty said it may be a good idea for you to surrender and start talking. The woman said I think you are right. They group asked her why she was interested in Oppal. She said the same as you, I am trying to find her, get her out of the Holes. She had been selling goods and making a lot of money and the gray-haired woman’s boss was interested to know where Oppal was keeping all this money. Through a short conversation she told them the following:

• Neverwinter’s worst offenders, murderers, traitors. and tax cheats are imprisoned beneath the ruins of Castle Never. Locals call this prison “the Holes.” Trying to free someone from the Holes is a good way to end up in them.

• Anyone in the holes has already been found guilty by Lord Neverember of high crimes, the punishment for which is death. Executions take place once each ten-day. at noon. The next execution occurs in two days.

• During executions, guards are numerous, and powerful people show up to see justice dispensed. Rescuing one of the condemned from the gallows would be a nearly impossible feat.

• Only one known entrance leads into the Holes from the main level of Castle Never. That level is being rebuilt, so bricklayers, stonemasons, and untrained hirelings are common throughout. A minimum of four guards and three veterans stand watch at the entrance. Seven more guards and three veterans do the same within the Holes. But there could be more. There were always more on execution day.

• On the day before an execution, friends and family of a prisoner are allowed into the holes to bring the condemned a last meal.

They thought about having Kataract be arrested to get into the Holes. While enthusiastic at first, he later admitted he did not like that plan and was only going along to be a good party member. They asked the gray-haired woman if she knew anyone on the inside. She said no, not directly. But wait, give me an hour and I may able to get you some additional information. They were telling the panthers to go along with her. She said I need to do this alone. Henrik said we do not trust you. She said and you shouldn’t, but this is the only way I can get the information it sounds like you need. They were hesitant at first but agreed. They would meet back at the Stable Quiver in an hour.

They looted the bandit’s bodies. They found a scroll of Motivational Speech, 9 suits of leather armor, 9 light crossbows, 9 scimitars, and 90 bolts.

About an hour later, the gray-haired woman returned. She said I met with a man about a dog who told me about a Neverwinter guard who can be bought. She can get you into the Holes for 35 gold. She also said that there are rumors of a secret access to the Holes from a cave on the shore of Blacklake. But she, nor anyone she has ever talked to about this entrance, had ever found it nor had they heard of anyone escaping through it.

They thanked her and she said twas pleasure doing business with you. Hope to never see you again. And she left.

They had 4 options:

• Bribe the Neverwinter city guard.

• The secret entrance that no one had ever actually seen or used.

• Track down the orc, Minus the Thug, who committed the murder Oppal is accused of.

• Pretend to be Oppal’s friends or family to get into the Holes rather easily.