City of a Thousand Deaths

Session Summary 2: April 25th, 2009
Insects, Kobolds, and Filth

After a successful battle with a group of beetles infesting a collapsed section of the sewer, the group found themselves no closer to their goal of tracking down the group of thugs responsible for the assasination of Berran Ironhouse. They did recover the body of a fallen dwarf warrior, and gave him an impromptu burial in the rubble. The armor he used, fire resistant as it was, did not save him from the beetles, but perhaps it would serve Orthik better.

Ultimately it did, but not before the group got itself hopelessly lost in the labyrinthian sewer complex. What’s worse, the prolonged exposure to the noxious fumes was making everyone ill, with the exception of the impossibly resiliant Calvia Kessemer, who managed to take even exposure to disease in stride.

While the group failed to find its way to safety, or to track down the thugs, they did stumble on a small stronghold of kobolds, situated in an old complex of some kind with the sewer flowing around it. Seeing an opportunity to seize a safe resting place, they attacked. Ryeltar bluffed the kobolds long enough to cause them to lower their defenses for a moment, for fear of a drow attack. A moment was all Orthik and Calvia needed. They leapt past the traps and obstacles the kobolds had erected to deter attackers and smashed the defenders in the first redoubt. Steeped in cunning, the kobolds lead a flanking action, but Gidder and Ryeltar repeled it with force, acid, and conjured clouds of daggers. At the end of the battle, the group held a part of the kobold stronghold, but as they paused to catch their breath, they could hear the counter-attack coming.

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The Sleeping Serpent

Beer cleans up so much easier than blood, Alaerd mused. The innkeeper sighed, and stared despondently at the spot on the table where Berran Ironhouse died. The assassin’s blade had passed cleanly through the back of the man’s neck. Likely the man was dead before his head hit the table, drenching it – and the chairs, and the floor – with blood.

The next thirty seconds had been terrifying. The dead man’s bodyguards had reacted violently, and although the assassin hadn’t come alone, he’d underestimated that motley crew. Even disoriented by flash bombs and alchemist’s fire, the wizard had the assassin unconscious before he made it out the back door. At least, that’s what Keypip said. The poor girl had been caught between the assassin and the dwarf charging after him. She was sure the man would escape, but he just stumbled and fell to the floor, like something heavy had hit him. Only, nothing had, as far as she could see. Until the dwarf’s hammer smashed the man’s head all over the back alley.
Something else that needed to be cleaned up. That, and the bar, which had been sprayed with acid, drenched in ice, and scorched with fire in the space of half a minute. A carpenter was doing what he could with it.

At least the inn was better off than the Fishgut Cleaner’s digs up the street. The whole Ward was abuzz with that inferno. It was somehow connected with the attack in his inn, although the gods’ knew how. All he knew is that the sell-swords had pursued the surviving assassins right into the gang that was burning the place down, and the gang wasn’t none too happy to see them. THAT was a fight he was glad happened outside. Keypip said Merrick the ropemaker’s apprentice had gotten a firsthand look at the whole thing, and told her what happened.

What happened was her fiancé had gotten himself set on fire and thrown out a second story window by some man, dragon, wizard thing, while a gang of thugs burned the whole place down. Rogue dragonborn, everybody’s saying, although Sergeant Fremon swears it wasn’t. Too short, he said. Man sized. But Sergeant Fremon’s dragonborn himself, and Patrolman Kep said they were getting different accounts from different witnesses, so the verdict’s still out, there. Shame about the place. It was a front for thieves, and all, but the Fishgut Cleaners weren’t a bad bunch, as gangs of thieves go.

If that attack was a turf grab by a rival gang, Alaerd thought, his new neighbors were going to be less sociable.

Alaerd thought about that a moment. Them sell-swords were still living upstairs. With a violent new crew around, that might be a bad thing. But if that crew comes hunting them…. Well. That could be bad for business.

First things first, Alaerd thought. Fix the bar. Clean the blood up. Get a stand in for Keypip while she mourned. One way or another, the Sleeping Snake was staying open for business.

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Prelude: First Impressions
A bold new band arrives in Waterdeep

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.”

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