In the aftermath of the Virgin Square Massacre, the party are rushed by the city guard to Castle Waterdeep to ensure their safety. Not long after they are joined by Laeral Silverhand and her bodyguard Glaevir Sunderstone, themselves fresh from fighting the red dragons that had attacked the city. Rezmir, her high ranking Cult of the Dragon allies, and most of the rebel Red Wizards that had taken part had fled the battle soon after they lost sight of Bensvelkeargix. The assorted forces of the city guard, the Watchful Order of Magists and Protectors, the Griffon Cavalry, as well as a selection of powerful individuals including the Blackstaff had managed to put an end to the rest of the cultists and a few of the red dragons, but four of the young reds had managed to flee the scene.
As Laeral consulted with her advisors, Glinda and Princess Fluffypants looked exceedingly drained, having being raised from the dead by an elven cleric of Angharradh Lucky had by chance found at the Plinth. Laeral informed them the ill effects of being brought back from the dead should only last about four days, after which they would feel themselves again. During this conversation, the group hear a conversation outside in the hallway, and shortly after the guard showed in Leosin Erlanthar, his face full of regret and remorse. The half-elf monk apologised for his role in their ambush, knowing that Rezmir had tricked him into thinking it was a simple meeting taking place in Virgin Square. The companions brushed off his apology, knowing that it was not his fault.
The conversation shortly turned towards the companions wish to travel to Thay, in order to seek the means to destroy the hellish forcefield protecting the Well of Dragons. Leosin and Laeral both applauded their bravery for deciding on travelling to such a dangerous region, warning the party that they would be beyond their protection there. The Open Lord of Waterdeep wrote up warrants to explain their mission to the Thayans as well as indicate that they were, at least officially, under the protection of the Lords’ Alliance – but she made it clear that Thay would discard them easily if angered. The two explained the current political situation in Thay, the split in the Red Wizards, and a little about Szass Tam himself. Leosin carefully warns the group that any word against Szass Tam could get them in immense trouble. He also warns them to always speak deferentially to those of influence, and always to use their titles when speaking – never just their name. Before long, a message comes from the Lords’ Palace – a Red Wizard is in fact waiting for them there. Before meeting with the Thayan, the group decide to attend to some minor business in town.
Lucky and Bob check in with Narond Arkanfell at Skyreach Arms and Armour, to see how their business is doing. Business is excellent – Arkanfell had managed to use the current environment of building towards war to sell a LOT of weapons. The two collect 14,000 gp in profits over the last two months. They decide on two new ventures to make with the money. 5,000 gp is put into side dealings down out of the business in luxury goods perceived to be hard to get in times of war. The other 9,000 gold they deliver to Jomor Granitebrain, that he could start a subcompany of Granite Investments as an underwriter for adventurers, offering them insurance on their ventures.
Lucky also checks in with Jamna Gleamsilver regarding the Zhentarim’s readiness for war. The gnome informs him that they are ready for war, and that their forces are already gathering in the Western Heartlands – but their payment has not yet been discussed. She believes that her superiors are simply waiting for a more appropriate time to bargain – such as the last minute. The half-elf informs her of his mission to Thay, and tries to convince her to come – but the gnome is very reticent to do anything for free, and refuses. Both like gold a little too much, and again the two go their separate ways.
Meanwhile, Glinda checks on the Peacewalkers and has a suit made for Grax. She also has the Peacewalkers look for Naevan Glitterbane, whom she had forcibly renamed Bernadette. It appears the Waterdhavian noble was taking an extended holiday at his family villa two days travel outside the city.
Finally ready to depart, the companions meet with the Red Wizard, a woman named Nyh Ilmichh, at the Lords’ Palace. Nyh proves to be a polite and well spoken woman, who informs them that they are formally invited to Thay, and that they will meet with the Eseldra Yeth, the Tharchion of the district of Lapendrar. When they indicate they are ready to depart, the Red Wizard teleports them to Thay. The companions suddenly find themselves in a windowless keep of black stone, lit by magical lights, the walls covered in arcane runes. Ilmichh welcomes them to Nethwatch Keep. A wight arrives and informs them that the Tharchion is not present and away on business, so the group settle into their quarters, noting that the entire population of the Keep appears to be undead. Their quarters are luxurious however, and the facilities are top notch. Although they suspect the food is poisoned, they find no evidence of such trickery. The Tharchion does not call on them that day, so the companions eventually get some sleep.
16th of Hammer
The next afternoon the Tharchion finally receives them. She is revealed to be a stunning vampire, dressed in lavish blue robes. Ten Red Wizards, as well as a few wight guards look on in the grand audience hall. The Tharchion informs the companions that Thay and the nations of the Sword Coast will aid each other. They are instructed that if the Sword Coast informs Nyh Ilmichh, her proposed ambassador to the Council of Waterdeep, of the Red Wizards actions, then they will hunt them down themselves. She also implies that they can “unmake the magic the rebels make”, but makes no specific promises regarding the hellpowered forcefield around the Well of Dragons.
The vampire then questions the group, targeting her questions at individuals, regarding Severin’s plot and the rebel Red Wizards. They are mostly careful to address Eseldra Yeth politely and deferentially, but they forget to call her by her title, Tharchion, a bit at the start. Glinda also questions her on their policy of slavery, and is given a short answer about the racial supremacy of the people of the Red Wizards, the Mulan. They trade a book on Eldath for a book on Mulan beliefs. The Tharchion eventually calls the audience to an abrupt close, and Nyh Ilmichh informs them they’ll meet again in the morning. They peruse and use the fine facilities, and Glinda asks for a bucket of butter before bed.
That night each of the companions except for Fluffypants has vivid, horrible dreams of being tortured for information by the Red Wizards. GroB isn’t able to persuade them he is telling the truth, and is severely tortured. He is questioned extensively, but his answers don’t satisfy them and the torture gets increasingly worse until he is being eaten alive by ghouls while the Red Wizards heal his wounds. Meanwhile, Glinda simply charms her way through the interrogation, Lucky pretends to be poodle-obsessed and lies (very effectively) about his reasons and intentions, and Bob tells believable truths and the three get through with only fitful sleep, without any experience of torture.
17th of Hammer
GroB however wakes to find himself in a pool of blood, though without wounds, extremely tired, with the psychological trauma of the night, specifically being eaten alive by ghouls, ringing through his head. After breakfast they are guided back to the entrance hall, and met by Nyh Ilmichh and one other stern looking Red Wizard. Nyh informs them that Thay has decided to aid them, and that she will serve as Thay’s ambassador to the council. Glinda asks for a poodle and questions them on the dreams, but Nyh’s answers are evasive. GroB asks about why they didn’t use a zone of truth if they wished to interrogate the group, but Nyh never admits to what happened, instead saying that their ways of doing things are simply different. Once the companions gather their belongings, the Red Wizard teleports back with them to Waterdeep.
23rd of Hammer
Six days later the Third Council of Waterdeep meets. When Glinda tries to enter with Grax and Horse, she is prevented, and asked to leave them outside the council meeting with Leosin, who has never been formally invited in for the whole session either. While there, she asks Leosin about Darthan, and he informs her that the mercenary is at a retreat, far away from women, trying to learn how to be a better person.
Laeral opens the Council, and all the councillors start off by praising the companions for securing the aid of the metallic dragons, a massive coup. However, Sir Isteval, Ontharr Frume, and Connerad Brawnanvil appear to be openly uncomfortable with the presence of the Arcane Brotherhood, the Zhentarim, and most of all Thay. Laeral goes on to describe how the Virgin Square Massacre had rallied the people of Waterdeep, and that they were now fully committed to the fight, and she pledged the full resources of the City Guard to the heroes. She also took the occasion to name them full citizens of Waterdeep. After that, the councillors go through one by one, each declaring that they too would give the full support of their resources to the leadership of the heroes, including the Arcane Brotherhood. Thay promises no resources, instead pledging to help ensure the deaths of the rebel Red Wizards. The Zhentarim still don’t promise anything, waiting for the right time to name their price.
Baldur’s Gate and the Order of the Gauntlet are the most hesitant, but eventually Ulder Ravengard decides to fight with the Council purely based on their assessment of the heroes, his own life having been saved by Lucky informing him of the upcoming attempt on his life by the Shadow Thieves. The Order of the Gauntlet however, has the toughest time with their decision, the organization having been split down the middle over whether to side with the heroes due to their abilities and victories, or to stand alone due to the heroes dallying with evil forces such as Thay. Ontharr Frume makes a grand speech about his first encounter with each of the heroes, first with Glinda back in Aglarond, and later with the full group in Elturel six months ago at the festival which marked the eradication of the Zhentarim from that city. He claims that they had already won his heart that day, and he pledges that the Order of the Gauntlet will follow their leadership until the Cult of the Dragon is destroyed, despite the reservations of many within his Order.
The Council finally united, the Councillors then inform the heroes that the war effort is now entirely in their hands. The armies are assembling, with Cormyr and the Order of the Gauntlet being ready to assault the Well of Dragons in as little as 10 days. However, the armies of the dwarves and Luruar are still about 30 days away from the site. In that window, the region will gradually fill with the armies of the Sword Coast, and it is the heroes decision on when to go to war.
Remallia Haventree calls in Leosin, who explains that the Harpers’ intelligence states that Severin needs to first summon Tiamat’s temple from Avernus, and once that has happened the Cult will still need about 20 days to fully complete their ritual. If the ritual is disturbed before then, there is a chance it will still work, but it could also fail, or it could work but anger Tiamat so much that she would turn on the cultists. Severin would be desiring to complete the ritual properly if possible. He informs the group that they are keeping their eyes out for the arrival of the Temple at the Well, which will mean 20 days until Severin casts the ritual (in an ideal situation for the Cult). GroB requests the council investigate magic items for the group to use, Lucky asks for sending scrolls, and Glinda requests more diamonds for her divine magic.
“You don’t know me, but we can help each other immeasurably. My name is ”/wikis/Iskander/new" class=“create-wiki-page-link”>Iskander, and I made a terrible mistake in joining the Cult of the Dragon. The cult’s horrifying plans are sure to bring doom to all, but I can stop those plans with your help. Rescue me from
the cult’s clutches, and I will deliver to you the prize of prizes: the Blue Dragon Mask. Without it, Severin faces an insurmountable setback in his effort to call Tiamat back to our world. The mask is here in [[Xonthal’s Tower]], being studied and guarded by only a handful of wizards, including myself."
“The danger of my treason becoming known grows with every passing day, and if I’m discovered, I’ll surely be killed. Please hurry, for the sake of everyone and everything you value.”
The companions and some of the Councillors suspect a trap, so Taern Hornblade casts a divination spell on the message, which reveals that whoever wrote the message believed what they wrote. Taern also offers to scry the individual, but the group decide it is too risky. The Council urge them to go, thinking that despite the risks, the reward of the blue dragon mask is too great to ignore – having the mask might even stop the return of Tiamat entirely.
Taern goes on to explain who exactly Xonthal is – or was. His tower is legendary among the wizards and tale-spinners of Faerûn for its unusual magical defenses, including a magical hedge maze that surrounds it. The wizard Xonthal himself was an extraordinary figure. Beginning as a lowly adventurer, he traveled across Faerûn and beyond, reaching distant Zakhara, Kara-Tur, and even Maztica. His work focused on conjuration and elemental evocation, so he often kept elementals and genies for company. Xonthal prized solitude, so he designed his tower and its surrounding hedge maze to deter intruders and unwanted visitors. Over a century ago, the wizard kicked his apprentices out and sealed the tower. No one knows what Xonthal has been up to in the intervening decades, or whether he’s even still alive. Some think he must have become a lich, while others believe he’s just dead. A ll that’s certain is that the hedge maze remains a frustrating barrier, and the spells and wards protecting the tower against entry remain as powerful as ever.
The party debated – was the risk worth it?