Last Call for Luskan
The party awakes in the morning, almost surprised to have slept peacefully through the night. Wasting no time, they begin another interrogation of Loren to discover just how susceptible he might be to losing control of himself. They broach the subject of Markham, and Sim blurts out that Markham is dead. Eerily, Loren informs them in a calm voice that Markham is most certainly not dead, and the familiar mindblades form from his arms again. Using the silver sword they recovered from Markham’s mansion, they subdue him once more and knock him unconscious, but in the scuffle Sim and Lawrence notice a small red mark on the underside of his right bicep. Stabbing Loren again, Sim feels the cut of metal-on-metal, and the party tries together to extract the metallic object from his arm. They succeed in only bringing him closer to bleeding out. With little time to spare, Lawrence, Sim, and Khaber rush Loren to the nearest Temple of Oghma for healing. Petra elects to stay behind.
They find the temple bustling with activity, and most of the clerics and medics seem to be otherwise engaged and unable to help. With some urgent words they are able to gain audience with one of the higher-ranking priests, who they convince to perform surgery on Loren. He begins to attempt an extraction of the object, but Loren regains consciousness and loses control of himself. The party pins him down and urges the priest to continue; the extraction goes smoothly and the moment the metallic object is removed, Loren falls back unconscious and his mindblades vanish. The recovered metallic object is another one of the metal blood needles that the party had found in Markham’s mansion. The priest, shaken, offers a quick healing spell and then quickly demands that the party leave the temple. They oblige.
While the rest of the party tends to Loren’s treatment, Petra is approached at the inn’s bar by a man who offers her a drink. Though she refuses, he buys her a mug of elven wine, but she notices as he hands it to her that he slipped some sort of powder smoothly into the mug. She waits for him to leave before handing the wine mug over to the barkeep and telling him to dispose of it; she then follows the man out of the tavern and through the city.
The rest of the party brings Loren back to the inn and finds the barkeep on the floor of the tavern, dead, with spilled Elven wine soaking into his clothes. Determining that Petra is probably involved, Sim and Khaber take Woolf and begin to track her path. Lawrence stays at the inn to watch over Loren until he awakens.
Petra follows the man to the docks district, where he enters a wooden building which looks like a tavern. She suspects danger, so she does not follow him inside, but instead sets up a watch from the rooftops. It is not long before Sim and Khaber catch up to her, and shortly thereafter they see the man leave the establishment and head onto a ship emblazoned with the symbol of a hawk clutching a snake in its talons. Sim is able to find out that the ship is a pirate ship, and the establishment Petra was camped out watching is a brothel. He suggests that they book passage out of town as soon as possible, and Khaber sets out to find Halib for that purpose. Returning to the inn, Sim attempts to make Petra realize that it was her own mishandling of the situation at the bar which resulted in the barkeep’s death.
Back at the inn, Loren wakes up calmly. Lawrence hesitantly attempts to ascertain his condition, but Loren happily informs him that “Markham is gone.” In addition to that, Loren’s echophasia has also been cured. Loren still thinks that it is a decade prior, but Lawrence is able to convey to him that time has indeed passed. Loren says that he wants to see his mother, or Morgan, but says that he will stay with the party until he is able to see them.
The party reconvenes at the inn and Khaber tells them that he has booked passage on a small vessel leaving that night. They make one final, quick trip to the marketplace before returning to the dock district to locate their ship.
The vessel they find is captained by an impossibly dashing man by the name of Percival, with a bizarre gnome first mate who introduces himself as “The Most Magnificent Meddling Mage from the middle of the Moving Magma Mountain, Heglin.” They set sail within the hour, bound for Waterdeep.
Having never been on a ship of any kind, the party takes some time to acclimate to life on the open seas. A few nausea-ridden days later, they are finally able to venture above deck and speak with the crew members. Percival remains impossibly charming, but Heglin soon causes a great deal of strife. He is a sorcerer of fire – this simultaneously intrigues Lawrence, who has never seen magic wielded through nothing more than force of will, and infuriates Petra, who views the flames as sacred and not the plaything of a demented gnome. No real trouble comes of this, but Lawrence does install himself as Heglin’s pupil. While they travel, he trains to learn the ways of sorcery, Petra meditates, and Sim attempts to gain greater control over his newfound psionic powers.
Roughly two-thirds of the way to Waterdeep, in the middle of the day, the vessel finds itself in a sudden squall. Violent waves churn and the skies turn black and roil. The storm begins to change the vessel’s heading from due south to due west, towards a small island further out from the coast. As all hands attempt to brace themselves against the storm and right their heading, Sim hears a strange voice echo in his head. Though he does not understand the language it speaks, the inflections are familiar, and he calls out psionically in common. The voice responds in a very forced but proper common, and addresses Sim by name. Suddenly Sim recognized the voice as the aboleth that the party freed weeks ago from the underground ruins. No sooner do they greet each other than the boat is slammed by a huge creature, and tentacles rise to port and starboard, slapping furiously against the deck.
Through the storm they fight the aboleth, quickly injuring him severely. Sim fires a final shot from the ship’s ballista, piercing the giant creature and dragging it down to the depths. After the fight, it dawns on the party based on their research that aboleths typically do not grow from the size of a human to the size of a marine vessel in a span of weeks; nevertheless, they are certain that this is the selfsame aboleth that they freed when it was no larger than any of them.
The storm continues, bringing the ship further and further out towards the island, and despite his considerable skill behind the wheel, Percival is unable to bring the ship around. They pull quietly into an inhabited cove, where they see tribesmen armed with all manner of armor and weaponry from loincloths to chainmail, and one lone old man standing on a rooftop, chanting and waving his arms.