Your first sense of Waterdeep is an assault on the senses: the cries of dockworkers, the stink of the day’s catch, and the aroma of a hundred different dishes hawked by street vendors compete with guild colors and the brilliant morning sky for attention as you step from the Lady’s Mercy onto the docks. It’s not your first glimpse of such a city – you boarded the Mercy from Baldur’s Gate, itself hardly a backwater – but the sheer number of ships in the harbor, the teeming masses, and the imposing presence of the castle atop Mount Waterdeep make you wonder if the city’s nickname – City of Splendors – isn’t just the hyperbole you assumed it to be.
You have barely a moment to take it in before the thump of your baggage on the dock next to you takes you back to the task at hand. Berran Ironhouse, the agent from Candlekeep who hired you to protect him during his journey north, motions you all closer, to better hear him over the bustle of the port.
“Gather your things,” he says. “We’ve got rooms waiting at the Sleeping Serpent.” He gestures at the warren of warehouses, storefronts and taverns that ring the docks as far as the eye can see. If the inn’s there, it’s not obvious where. “And don’t get your hopes up,” he grins. “It’s just as cozy as it sounds.”
Berran looks around at his sellswords. Orthik Muffinhead, a dwarf priest of Moradin, rested on the haft of his warhammer, his kind eyes belying a ferocious skill with the weapon. The dwarf poked Gidder Harpell in the ribs, getting his attention; the mirthful human mage was always captivated by something, and the harbor’s sights and sounds were hard for anyone to ignore. Calvia Kessemer noticed, and laughed, captivating everyone, as she always did. Beautiful, charming, and quick with a blade, the half-elf bard stood easily on the dock, at ease as she always was, regardless of where she stood. Ryeltar Oblodra, the last of the group, held a little back from the others, a hood covering most of his face, as much to protect his sensitive eyes from the sun as to avoid alarming any dock workers who may not have welcomed a drow sorcerer in their midsts.
It’s a motley group, Berran thinks, but it has the makings of a formidable one. Which is good, considering….
“We’ll get settled in first. You’ll have a few hours to explore, but be back by twilight. We’ve a deal to strike tonight, and we’ll want to be prepared.”
With easy grace, the grey haired man picks up his backpack and turns to lead the group away from The Lady’s Mercy, then turns back over his shoulder for a final comment.
“Just remember, when you’re exploring” he says. “It’s outsiders that call Waterdeep City of Splendors. The people of the Dock Ward have another name.”
“City of a Thousand Deaths.”