The Last Drop

Junkie SMASH!

After a night of experimentation the reflection Izahn the Earthwalker realized the mirror trap activates when a person’s image is present in three mirrors. Byron Brushgather returned to the mirror maze and carefully traced a path through to the chest, which he was able to carry back to the party. Sythyith Firthuin was able to pick the lock and open it without much effort.

Inside the party found a piece of cloth. It looked different to each person. With little discussion Sythyith decided to keep it for himself – it then appeared to be a velvet cloak for everyone. It did not seem to have any immediate effect.

The group went up stairs. They caught a glimpse of a shadowy figure striding up a spiral stair case on the far end of the room. The party heard some rumbling as a hulking junkie roared down the stairs.

Lo-Kag Wolfbrother charged the goliath and was swatted away with two swift slaps. Izahn quickly froze the giant in place, and sustained the effect for several minutes. The party used this to get distance and assault the monstrosity with every ranged attack at their disposal.

But not Lo-Kag. He was drawn down the hallway by a fountain of pure D. He rushed it as quickly as he was able and dunked his head in. He emerged invigorated and enraged. He rushed back to the other junkie and began trading blows with it with nearly matched strength.

Byron used the opportunity to investigate the D fountain, and he discovered a smaller fountain of clear liquid near it. Being a simple man, he was not able to divine the smaller fountain’s function. He decided to drink the D. Using the discipline instilled through years of monastery life, he was able to retain his sanity and mental focus. He sensed a great hatred for the smaller fountain that was not in him before. He reasoned this feeling was the drug speaking, so he decided to drink from it. His invigoration wore off, but he felt no immediate compulsion to drink more D. He filled his wine-skin with the antidote and began running toward the behemoth screaming, “I have the cure!”

While Byron was figuring this out, the giant picked Lo-Kag up, bit his shoulder, and flung him into Sythyith, knocking them both across the room. Sythyith began to glow in a faint, almost undetectable blue aura.

Izahn ran after Byron, ripping the wine-skin from his hand while chanting an incantation to summon a mage’s hand. The hand carried the wine-skin above the junkie and poured the water over him. The man shrunk almost instantly. He wound up on the floor, whimpering.

Lo-Kag, bolted for the D now that the threat to it was dispatched. The rest of the party tried to stop him. Izahn was able to strike him down with a thunderous clap. The Byron quickly poured some of the antidote over Lo-Kag, calming his mind.

Once both Lo-Kag and the former addict regained consciousness the group began to question Dan, the recovering D addict. They learned that Edgar Hornblower is the vampire leading the Dead Rats and a new army of the hulking D users. Edgar has been subverting people through his drug, manufactured by the ‘blood cult’ in the nearby room. He uses the goblin’s blood as a primary element of the drug, then works his dark magic over it before transferring it to the kegs the fountain draws from. Edgar uses the antidote to refresh the members of his army that are more than heavy hitters. Once cleared of the effects of the drug, these people are transferred to the dungeons where they are force fed more D, so that they remain dependent on him.

The party followed Dan’s terrified gaze up the stairs. Lo-Kag asked Dan if there was some place he could go. Dan explained he was a member of Neverember’s guard brought up from Waterdeep, and that he’d attempt to reclaim his post. If they would not have him back, he’d travel home as soon as able and live with his sister Daria while he puts his life back in order.

Knowing Edgar is a major threat to Neverwinter, the party must face a vampire – a being who is practically a god.

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Up or Out

When the group awoke from their rest they took inventory of the room. Lo-Kag found a scrap of his brother’s cloak in the stairwell leading up. The party followed the stairs to find themselves in a hallway. To their right was a horde of Dead Rats and Orcs chatting, eating, and conducting their affairs. To the left they saw a stable.

The monk Byron Brushgather slunk behind the stable-hand and delivered a swift blow to the back of his head, rendering him unconscious. They began to look around. In the saddle bags they found several letters that made reference to the Crown Tower, a few miles to the south east.

A quick assessment of the tower was all the party needed to decide to move the investigation to Crown tower.

A Dead Rat patrol and his pack of hell hounds found the party. Lo-Kag lured the patrolman in close by offering to show a letter proving they were on official business. He then proceeded to stab the guard.

The fight lasted seconds. The dogs exploded under pressure of Izahn the Earthwalker’s magic, and the guard dead from lacerations and fractures. Another body was left in the streets for the craven beasts to pick over.

Once the group made it to the Crown tower they found an unorganized array of camps. Each camp had junkies of various species surrounding it. The density of orcs on the ground level was higher than it was at the Scepter tower.

The party approached the door, guarded by a pair of brutish looking crcs. The party attempted to buy some D, but when discussing the quantities needed the orc grew suspicious. He marked a dead drop location on the map. When they demanded to speak to a supervisor, they were taken to a peephole in the door. The higher-up would not suffer them inside.

The party abruptly dropped this line of egress, and the orcs figured the group were junkies or thieves and promptly tightened their security.

The party found a tree growing along the side of the tower. Lo-Kag climbed the tree to the third floor while Byron made his way up to a ledge on the second floor.

On the third floor Lo-Kag saw a ritual being performed for some sort of blood cult. He didn’t understand the language, but saw a large group of the paritioners cutting themselves and draining the blood into challaces, which were passed around.

On the second floor Byron found a group of five goblins praying to Thalos. He stalked inside and motioned for the rest of the party to follow them. Once everyone was in, they interrupted the service with hostility. After killing the congregation, the shaman yielded to the party. He told them that the Dead Rats had been subverted by a vampire named Edgar Hornblower. The party recognized the name as the noble and close friend of Lord Neverember. The shaman plead for his life, offering the location of one of Edgar’s hidden caches. He warned the party that groups of people usually come out swearing loyalty to the vampire, while single people stood a 50/50 chance.

Once the party found the cache, they found it to be a narrow hall lined with mirrors at odd angles. The mirrors were polished mythril, set into the masonry of the building. Each mirror had a black, radiant gem floating in the reflection that had no equal in reality. Byron attempted to walk through the right side of the hall, but after he passed a few mirrors his reflection stepped into reality.

During the ensueing battle, Byron was caught by another mirror. A second doppelganger appeared. With a moment’s hesitation Izahn the Earthwalker conjured a mage hand to hover over the real Byron. The party threw spells and missiles into the room at the faux Byrons, while Lo-Kag stood back and watched.

After a few minutes the mirror images were killed. The bodies evaporated, leaving a large, clear gem behind. The gem floating in the mirrors that spawned the monsters were gone. The party stopped and took inventory.

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A Mistake, An Opportunity, and a Lie

The party set off to the line that separates the Blacklake district from the River district. While walking down Kings Street, a fire broke out at the Philippe Inn, just ahead of the group. A swarm of people rushed out of the tavern, pushing and shoving their way through the streets. Sometime during the bustle, the ropes binding Charles Fynn to Lo-Kag snapped.

After the initial crowd fled, a group of long-time addicts stood back. They sensed some amount of D secreted away in Charles’ pockets, and they wanted it. The party decided to protect their prisoner, who sat slumped against a wall.

A kobold appeared from down the street, noticing the commotion. A quick offer to assist the party was accepted without hesitation. Within moments the party dispatched the junkies, but Charles was no longer moving.

A close examination revealed thousands of tiny cuts all over his body, as if Charles had been dragged through razor wire. Lo-Kag eyed the kobold suspiciously while nearby residents carried water to the inn to extinguish the flames.

“I’m Sythyith Firthuin, I saw the fire and thought I’d come to help!” Lo-Kag’s eyes narrowed, but he said nothing.

After a few minutes, Lo-Kag broke the silence, “What caused this fire?” The party launched their arson investigation. The fire was worse in the kitchen, and the char marks seemed heaviest near the stove. While their findings were inconclusive, it seemed as though a grease fire had caught and spread to the wood lattice work that covered the walls. Sythyith volunteered to climb the charred, crumbling stairwell to look for supplies. Everything upstairs was burned beyond recognition. There were no bodies anywhere, as the fire seemed to spread slow enough for most of the patrons to flee.

After the investigation concluded, Sythyith inquired to the party’s next move. Since their ultimate destination was on the far side of a line of guards that they didn’t have permission to pass through, they weren’t sure how to proceed. Sythyith offered to take the party through the sewers to the River district… for a share of the reward. The party agreed, under the assumption that the kobold would see the quest through to its end.

Izahn suspected the party was, in fact, lost in the sewers, but eventually Sythyith led the party to the basement of the Scepter Tower. Upon entering, the party found a suspiciously empty room, with a silver dagger laying atop an alter. Byron and Lo-Kag bee-lined to the knife – but after a few steps the floor tipped over completely and Byron began to fall into a pit. Using his honed reflexes, he righted himself as he fell, then rolled as he landed. As he looked around, he found an identical room to the one he fell from, only it lacked a dagger.

Lo-Kag lowered a rope for Byron to climb up, and then the party began to proceed carefully around the room, stomping hard on each tile to reveal further traps. After running along the wall in a feat of acrobatic grace, Byron was able to retrieve the silvered dagger. Upon close examination he discovered it was covered in engraved tenticals. The dagger seemed to be ritualistic, not functional.

The group pressed forward. After opening the door to the next room the group was ambushed by a pack of were-rats. With a little bit of streetwise, the enemy group was flagged as a detachment from the Dead Rats. They were not interested in negotiations – and they did not notice the silvered dagger around Byron’s belt. The battle was a close thing, but eventually the rats were exterminated. Byron drew his new dagger and slit their throats, preventing regeneration.

The party now faces a choice. Do they investigate the Dead Rats’ presence in the tower, or do they search for Charles’ dead drop outside?

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A proposition

On a brisk afternoon General Sabine and her honor guard walked into Anchor tavern like a nail enters wood. She announced her need of adventurers to assist the city of Neverwinter in stopping various ongoing issues. Chief among her concerns were an influx of drugs and a string of disappearances among the nobility.

Lo-Kag Wolfbrother, a tribesman from the Craig, was immediately enticed by the opportunity to track down his missing brother. A monk from Waterdeep, Byron Brushgather pined for excitement, and took the serendipitous offer as an omen from Kord.

Sabine was pleased with the volunteers, but felt the need to squeeze more resources out of the Anchor’s patronage. She spotted a slender cloaked figure near the bar. She pointed, “You! Over here with this lot. There’s plenty of reward to go around.”

Izhan the Earthwalker stood with hesitation, then joined the group. Once everyone had been gathered Sabine laid out the details. The drugs have no known source, but the rumor is it has something to do with the orcs that have taken up residence in the River District. She also noted that Lord Neverember is in negotiations with the orcs for a peaceful resolution to the looming territory disputes. The general also claimed ignorance on where to locate a lead on the drugs, but advised that they would be relatively easy to find.

Byron asked Sabine for some documentation proving the party was on official city business. Sabine flatly refused. “If you are killed or captured, Lord Neverember will disavow all knowledge of your actions. If you can resolve the drug crisis peacefully, all the better. If not, Neverwinter will not be marked by your folly.”

And so the group set off to the Protectorate, discreetly asking shifty characters where they might acquire ‘D.’ Eventually they came upon a man garbed in the uniform of Sabine’s mercenaries. This guard led the group to an alley, and three of his friends appeared from their hiding places to jump the group.

The battle was quick, the team was able to dispatch the ruffians without much effort. They quickly went over the bodies and found a small stash of drugs. After a brief analysis Izhan determined the compound is made by some combination of natural and arcane sources. The arcane component seemed to act primarily as a binding agent.

Byron suggested they take the potion to a nearby alchemist to obtain further details. The party moved on, allowing the corpses to fade into the noise of murder and indifference that boomed from every home, shop, and wagon in Neverwinter.

They met the well spoken half-orc, Alchemist Hathgar. He was not able to provide much information about the manufacturing process of the drug, but after some research he was able to identify a property of the elixir – the imbiber would feel a slight pull, a whispered calling, to some location. Hathgar suspected this would be the location of more drugs. He also identified its primary effects: a short term burst of strength, with a long withdraw period.

With some hemming and hawing, Lo-Kag downed the drug. His muscles tightened with a surge of power, while a generally pleasant feeling shrouded him. In a moment of reflection, he noticed that glowing sensation was slightly stronger in the direction of the Blacklake district.

The party played a game of ‘hot and cold’ for a few hours, until they found an Import/Export office near the river, slightly east of the nobles’ main holdings. Lo-Kag kicked in the door without a moment’s consideration. Splinters flew over a waist high counter intended for clerks to pass invoices and inventories to legitimate customers. Inside, a startled Charles Fynn stood and approached the brute, empty hands held up clearly for all to see.

“Where are the drugs?!” Lo-Kag boomed, steel leveled directly at Charles’ throat.

“Woah, friend. Let’s lower the blade,” Charles stalled.

Meanwhile, Charles’ guards approached from the back room. A pair thugs peaked out from behind the counter. Weapons were drawn on all sides.

Izhan sized up the situation and placed a layer of ice over the northeast corner of the office, effectively separating the back groom from the lobby. It took the three guards standing there by surprise, causing them to slip and and fall. Two of them cracked their heads open, and the third braced himself awkwardly, causing his sword to shiv through his own stomach.

The fray was quick and brutal. Charles called for reinforcements, but Byron and Izhan were quick to seal up entrances, the former by viper-striking any who entered, and the latter by creating a fog of magical razors. A few of these guards had the wherewithal to get in via windows. Their cleverness was rewarded with a swift death.

Lo-Kag and Charles squared off. Charles quickly unsheathed his sword and stabbed at the ranger. Lo-Kag deftly stepped aside and countered with a well placed stab of his own. This process repeated itself a few times before Fynn realized he was outmatched. He dropped to his knees and yielded. The few guards who hadn’t been slaughtered promptly fled the scene.

Not in a charitable mood, Lo-Kag repeated his question, “Where are the drugs!?”

“In the drawer, over there!”

Byron opened the drawer and removed the false bottom. Inside he found twenty vials, a small fortune in illicit goods.

“Smash it,” Lo-Kag demanded.

With a slight pause, Byron complied. The three adventurers congregated around Charles and extracted all the information they needed.

“I get the product from a dead-drop at the Scepter Tower. It’s on the east end of the river district.”

Lo-Kag was tempted to coup d’é·tat, but Izhan intervened. “We’ll need him to get past the guard line that keeps the undesirables out of Blacklake.”

Byron saw the light, and supported Izhan’s decision. It wasn’t easy, but eventually Lo-Kag agreed. Byron quickly bound Charles and tied him to Lo-Kag, in chain-gang fashion.

Before leaving, Lo-Kag noticed a crest behind Charles’ desk. A golden shield with a raised tentacle. He knew this brand belonged to the Cult of Cthulhu.

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