Current Date: 1st of Uktar (November) 1357
Location: Bowels of the Earth tavern, Waterdeep
It’s the first of Uktar (November) and you’re sitting at your usual table at the Bowels of the Earth tavern trying to get warm. This rough, rowdy tavern stands on the southeast corner of the intersection of Snail Street and Simples Street, just west of Virgins Square. The Bowels is an old stone building that leans noticeably to the north into Simples Street. The windows are covered with stout wooden shutters, barred from within, because they long ago lost all their glass and screens. Inside, the Bowels of the Earth is chiefly memorable for being dark. Hooded candlelamps at each table provide the only illumination.
This evening, in fact, the room is so dark, you can barely see Ongamar, the bartender, behind the bar. Dark indeed, since Ongamar is a huge man and is almost as wide as he is tall (in other words, about six feet in each direction). His biceps are as large around as a fat man’s thigh.
You’ve been hanging at the tavern since returning from your last guard tour on a there-and-back-again trip to Mirabar via Longsaddle, Triboar, Westbridge, Red Larch and Amphail, guarding finished goods heading north and iron and copper bars bound for market in the south. The caravan master, Brengadir Greyaxe, a dwarf merchant lord of Mirabar, hired Anna and Maiele on the word of Blazidon ‘One-Eye’, a hiring agent of a sort, who put you in contact with Brengadir when he went north with finished goods in early Eleasias (August).
The month long road north to Mirabar was pleasant for it was still late summer. Going north, the caravan took on Fist and Hikaru at Berun’s Hill. Apparently, the monk and his friend were looking for experience and with a recommendation from the head of the monastery at Helm’s Hold, they headed east until they came to the hill. Seeing the caravan approach, they volunteered to join it. Initially suspicious, Brengadir only grudgingly accepted them into the caravan but soon, during the first attack from orcs just north of Longsaddle, they proved their worth and Brengadir was content.
The rest of the trip was done without incident and after resting for 2 weeks in Mirabar, Brengadir started south again with a cargo of metal bars. On the road near Lurkwood, Anna befriended Gaau, an almost feral barbarian halfling who had been trailing the caravan for a few days. Her music would bring him to the edge of the campsite every night and she eventually managed to get him used to her company and he followed her as the caravan continued past the woods, heading south.
As time goes on, Gaau is getting more and more used to people in large groups. While he remains deathly afraid of fire, Gaau is even now in the tavern with his friend Anna. He speaks little and keeps to himself in the corner opposite from the fire but he can and will talk to strangers now.
At the end of the journey, Anne and Maiele said farewell to Brengadir. Fist and Hikaru, having becomes friends with Anna and Maiele, stayed with them. Gaau, of course, stayed where Anna was. You all took rooms at the Yawning Portal Inn, the legendary inn with a well leading down to Undermountain.
Needing to find employment soon, you come to this tavern because this is where Blazidon does a lot of his business and many adventurers congregate here. It also lets you listen to the news from far and wide, which gives you an edge when deciding which job to pick.
Over the last two weeks you have heard many things, both about happenings in Waterdeep itself and in the North:
- The war between Ruathym and Luskan is going poorly for Ruathym. Luskan landed an invasion force in their capital city and has sunk much of its navy. The war started in April over the theft of a magical tome, the Tome of the Unicorn, from Ruathym’s fabled Green Room. This library is a collection of the many books, librams and spellbooks that Ruathym has accumulated over decades of piracy. Apparently, Ruathym had reason to believe the thief was aboard a Luskan ship and they sank it. Luskan considered the sinking an act of war and things got violent from there. Over the whole summer, bodies have been washing ashore north of Waterdeep, the results of the many sea battles off the coast. Then, in June, Luskan landed a large invasion force on Ruathym and Ulphron, the leader of Ruathym, has been missing ever since. Bets at the bars are 2-to-1 against Ruahtym pushing the Lusknanites off the island.
- Recruiters have been doing the rounds of the usual adventurer haunts, looking for recruits to defend against the annual spring offensive from Hellgate Keep. The troops are levied and paid for by the Lords Alliance and sent to Sundabar in early spring to participate in the defence of Turnstone pass against the demon hordes issuing from Hellgate Keep and the inevitable orc attacks. Even a few priests and paladins of Helm have been through, looking for recruits worthy of joining Helm’s Hundred, the annual troop contribution of Helm’s Hold to the fight against Hellgate Keep.
- In the past year, a green and a black dragon have gone on a rampage. In the same time period, two gold dragons were seen to be flying around north east of Waterdeep, apparently looking for something. This massive increase in dragon activity might be the sign of a dragon flight in the near future. The last such flight, a few years ago, laid waste to many cities across the Realms
- A rash of murder/suicides has plagued the North of late. While you were in Mirabar, there was one where a member in good standing of the iron guild took out a repeating crossbow and slew his three trade partners before taking his life by falling on his sword. Apparently, this pattern has been repeated in all the major cities in the North, even here in Waterdeep.
- Over the summer, a number of drow and mind flayer corpses have washed up on the banks of the Unicorn Run river in Secomber and on the banks of the river Delymbir in Loudwater. In both cases, the corpses bore marks of battle.
Those are the news items of importance. On more local matters, several representatives have been through this morning and posted ‘job bills’ on the bulletin board:
- The carver’s guild has just received a shipment of rare wood from the south. They need extra guards for their lumber yard for the next few days while they cut and distribute the wood to their members.
- The surveyor’s guild wants a group to verify the accuracy of a map that had come into their possession. The location to be disclosed upon hiring
- A very haughty noble came through, loudly inquired if one could hire adventurer’s here and then posted his bill saying only that a 5 man group was needed to settle a bet for people ‘of quality’
- An older bill speaks of a standing offer for exotic meat from the Butcher’s guild
- The City Watch is looking for a group for a mission into Undermountain. The objective will be explained once the group is chosen.
Later in the day, a tall tanned skinned man in a wide brimmed hand comes in and sits at a table in the corner. From his markings, he is a member of the church of Torm, possibly a member of the Order of the Cleansing Fire, a knightly order dedicated to hunting down demons, devils and other evil outsiders and destroying them. All he does is sit and watch the various customers, somehow seeming to see clearly in the dim light. His stare is unnerving and many have left, muttering about him over their shoulder.
After a while, he rises and moves to the center of the room. He waits for the room to quiet and, once he has everyone’s attention, he speaks in a loud, cold voice: “Friends, I am Inquisitor Praetus of the Order of the Cleansing Fire, order militant of the Church of Torm. I seek assistance in a matter of great importance to the North and the Realms as a whole. If you wish to help this world and rid it of the influence of the Evil that would destroy it, speak with me”.
He looks around the room, again seeming to see all within and meeting the gaze of each individual in the tavern then returns to his seat.
With your money running out and winter closing in, you need to find some employment soon. Which will it be?