We Only Wished to do Good…
The party continues their journey towards Waterdeep aboard Percival’s ship. As they travel, Lawrence begins to teach Loren the ways of sorcerery; his mental condition is almost a blessing for this kind of lesson, and he is quick to pick up the basic concept. Anteos sends word that Arturus remains, or has returned to, the ruins in the forest, but is unable to provide specific information as to what he is doing.
The vessel pulls into the port of Waterdeep as the party looks on the great city, awestruck. As they prepare to part ways with Percival and Heglin, they ask the names of a few locations in the city, including the Temple of Mystra, where they intend to ask for aid in combatting the aboleth’s disease.
Lawrence, Sim, Khaber, and the tribesman all begin to head toward the temple. Petra, not wishing to be involved, wanders around the Fishtown district in the meantime. They arrive about a half-hour later at the steps of the temple, which is an imposing structure whose architecture conveys very clearly that it is a House of Magic. They state their business to the guards, who allow them passage.
Inside, they find no identifiable clerics – all the people milling about are dressed in rich robes that, while beautiful, do not give any indication of rank or purpose. They stop one red-haired woman as she heads for a grand spiral staircase and reiterate their purpose. She listens carefully to their story, then asks them to follow her to a waiting room. Inside the room they see a multitude of books of magic shelved neatly, as well as several objects around the room which also appear to be magical. She casts a spell and asks them to repeat their tale, which they do. She tells them that the temple can provide them with what they require but that it will require over six thousand gold as well as two weeks of time. When they admit that they have not the gold nor more than two days to spare, she says that she must speak with the High Priest, and leaves them.
They pass they time admiring the objects and books in the room, but are careful not to touch anything out of fear. Loren and Lawrence especially find their surroundings fascinating. After several minutes, the woman returns, and says “Magister Starseer will see you now.” No sooner does the word “now” escape her lips than the party finds themselves instantaneously transported to a strange, spherical room, which appears to be an audience room.
Seated on a chair floating a few inches above a dais in front of them, reading two tomes simultaneoulsy, is a man with grayish hair. He greets them and offers introductions, naming himself Magister Starseer, High Priest of the Temple of Mystra, the Goddess of the Silver Flame. The party introduces themselves and Sim and Lawrence begin to explain their purpose. Starseer fills in information in their story as if he were helping them to tell it, and has a few choice words about the life path that Anteos has chosen.
As they continue speaking, Starseer coaxes more information out of the party than they intended to give in the first place. They admit that the disease they seek to cure was caused by an aboleth that they freed, and that the aboleth was being held by a man named Arturus in the ruins of the forest to the northeast of Waterdeep. With nothing other than the mention of the name Arturus, Starseer identifies him as a psion, which intimidates the party further. For all his mind games, Starseer does finally admit that he is willing to offer the aid of the Temple in curing the villagers, but that unless the party can front the payment, they will have to perform a service for Mystra. There is a man who arrived recently in Waterdeep who has managed to ruffle a few feathers, and Starseer says that if the party can silence him and offer proof of this, that he will weigh their deeds against the cost of the wand. Though they prod him for more information as to who this man is and why the Temple wants him silenced, he remains tight-lipped, offering only a place that they might find him, and a single identifying feature: a dragon tattoo from his neck to his left ear. He returns them back to the temple proper, providing them with a talisman that allows them to detect the true nature of a person, so that they might be certain of the task with which they have been charged. They exit the temple, book a room, drop off their belongings as well as the tribesman and Loren, and head out to rendezvous with Petra.
While wandering Fishtown, Petra is shocked when a manhole cover pops up from the ground, and a crocodile pops up from the hole. A second manhole cover pops up and a second crocodile emerges, but this crocodile shapeshifts into a boyish woman. She greets Petra in druidic and offers some information about the city. It becomes apparent to Petra that she has heard of this woman, Temera, before, when she first encountered the wind serpents in the forest. Temera seems very knowledgeable about Waterdeep and offers to accompany Petra back to the docks, where she will rendezvous with Sim, Lawrence, and Khaber.
The party meets up and Petra introduces the men to Temera. Though they attempt to withhold information from her, Temera seems so genuinely helpful that they inform her of their goal: to meet with a woman named Lenara in Skullport. Temera recognizes the woman by name, tells them where she can be found, and offers a few rules of etiquette when dealing with the residents of Skullport. They also inform her that they are to meet with a man on behalf of the Temple of Mistra, but do not state their exact business – again, she knows the man by his description, and tells them that he has caused the Magisters some angst since arriving. He is a preacher, of sorts, and they do not seem to like his message.
Temera escorts the party to Skullport, stopping along the way to forage through some garbage for dinner. Used to life in the wild, the party unquestioningly joins her. As they enter Skullport, Temera bids them good luck and leaves.
The party first locates the establishment where they are to find the tattooed man, a tavern called the Temple of the Third Hand. Since it is still early, they find the establishment mostly empty, and decide to pay a visit to Lenara in the meantime.
They enter Lenara’s shop and make a veiled nautical reference to a boat named Cassandra. Lenara’s eyes widen at hearing that name, and she beckons them into a back room. The party explains to Lenara all that has happened, and Lenara offers up what she knows. After her last meeting with Cassandra, Lenara began to see Arturus himself come to her shop, claiming that he was acting on Cassandra’s behalf. Doubtful, Lenara refused to sell him anything at first. He returned with more thugs, but evidently even Arturus fears the retribution one would face for attacking a resident of Skullport, and left without incident. Lenara goes on to say that she thinks of herself as Cassandra’s friend, and demands that the party bring Loren to her so that she can verify his safety. When the party mentions that Cassandra is dead, Lenara is instantly indignant, stating in no uncertain terms that that is impossible. When pressed, she admits that she had tried to have Cassandra raised with divine magic, but that the clerics were simply unable to cast the spell – Lenara took this to mean that Cassandra has yet to die, and is still being detained somewhere. They thank Lenara for her time and promise to bring Loren back tomorrow.
They return to the Temple of the Third Hand and wait patiently for the man to arrive. Not long thereafter, a man dressed in the white robes of the Al-Rashid steps into the tavern, and they see very clearly the dragon tattoo. A feeling of dread falls over Sim and Lawrence, but it is Khaber who reacts most strongly to seeing this man. His eyes go wide and his skin pales a few shades as he watches the man furiously argue with a Waterdeep native.
After the argument dies down, Khaber approaches the man and they converse in the Al-Rashid’s native tongue; the man appears to speak down to Khaber, but this does not seem to bother him. Khaber returns to the party shortly and says that they should leave without causing an incident, but Lawrence steps forward and begins to talk to the man. The Al-Rashidi is very argumentative and accusatory, and Lawrence meets his tone with a few light threats, even invoking some of his sorcerery to make himself seem more imposing. Using the necklace given to him by Magister Starseer, Lawrence learns that the man is perfectly neutral, as would be expected from an agent of Al-Rashid. The conversation seems to rile the Al-Rashidi, who Khaber names as Rakhoum, to the point of violence, and he brandishes an imposing spiked chain. As it clangs against the floor, the sound instantly registers in Petra’s mind as the sound of the chain from their battle with the orcs and the mercenaries in the underground ruins.
Khaber rushes forward, pushing Lawrence out of the way, and demanding that his blood be used to sate the weapon. Unable to stop the scene, the party watches in horror as the man cleaves into Khaber’s shoulder, then spits full at Khaber’s face. The man puts his weapon away, offers a few threats, and leaves the tavern. Though they offer healing to Khaber, he refuses it, and says that they should leave immediately.
Outside, the party discusses the facts. Based on Petra’s identification, they determine that he is working in the service of Arturus, and Khaber’s unwillingness to admit that to them is all the confirmation they need. Though it pains them to try to pit Khaber against a member of his own order, they remind him of his mission to prevent them from dying, and they say that they must fight and kill that man. With little time to waste, they begin to track Rakhoum, leaving Khaber at the tavern to think on what he will do.
They catch up to him soon thereafter and a bloody battle ensues. With no real strategy planned out and the enemy’s capabilities unknown, they find themselves fighting without their usual advantages; furthermore, Rakhoum is a seasoned warrior, and one who can bring a man to his knees should he merely be able to catch his target. Beyond the difference in capability, Rakhoum also harbors a personal grudge against the party for insulting him, so he fights furiously – but the party is fighting not only for themselves, but also the lives of the sixteen thrall villagers. As the tide of the battle begins to turn slowly in the party’s favor, Khaber rushes to their aid, uncharacteristically violent and fiery, and cleaves Rakhoum with his scythe. This attack catches him unaware, and creates an opening for Lawrence, who calls upon his force of will to infuse an arrow with flame. The arrow pierces Rakhoum in the eye, and fires consume the Al-Rashidi from within, reducing his entire body to ash in the blink of an eye.
Lawrence and Sim offers thanks and what healing they can to Khaber, who says nothing, not even his usual Al-Rashidi prayer for the dead. They quickly gather Rakhoum’s belongings and clear the alley, returning to the inn.
It is not long after they return to the inn that Khaber stands and leaves without a word. Sim follows him alone through the streets of Waterdeep. Khaber seems lost in thought, but he also walks fervently; his focus makes him especially unaware of the man trailing him. Sim follows him all the way back to the Temple of Mystra, where Khaber attempts to enter. When the guards bar his path, he grabs them and declares, “I wish to see Magister Starseer.” Sim rushes over to defuse the situation, and is able to talk their way into the Temple.
They meet the same red-haired clerk as before, and Khaber again insists on seeing Magister Starseer. The clerk informs them that he is asleep, but is so afraid at seeing Khaber’s barely-restrained fury that she agrees to wake him. She returns quickly, and tries to say that he is ready to see them, but they are transported before she can get the words out of her mouth.
Starseer sits before them clothed as before, though he does not flip through any tomes. He tells them that he already knows that they have completed their mission successfully and subtly hints to Sim that he selected this target specifically for them because of their quest. Khaber mutters angrily that Rakhoum was a great man, which does not seem to change Starseer’s mood or treatment of the situation in the slightest. Starseer’s manner of speech and his nonchalance towards the death of a superior Al-Rashid officer causes Khaber to furiously charge him. Starseer unaffactedly uses his magic to halt Khaber in his tracks, and states calmly that Khaber will pay gravely for attempting to harm the High Priest of Mystra.
Sim quickly brings to bear the fact that Starseer must know the punishment within Al-Rashid for attempting to kill another member; he admits that he knows full well that the punishments are excommunication from the Order and death, and based on that allows Khaber to be forgiven for his outburst this one time. He is sure to tell Khaber that if it happens again there will be no such lenience before he teleports him out of the chamber. He adds to Sim that proof of the deed can be shown at the temple tomorrow, at which point the clerics will hand over a staff with the promised powers. He returns Sim to the inn.
Beaten, Khaber mutters that a cleric of Al-Rashid was fond of saying that no man should sleep with the anger of the day upon him, and yet he must get rest to face the day ahead. He removes his armor solemnly and lies down to rest. The rest of the party books a separate room for all of them, and quietly leave Khaber in peace. Before closing the door, Petra says to him that he did what is right, and that no man will be fit to judge the actions he took today.