When last we met
Thing went so, so badly.
What all started out as a pleasant if extended conversation with an elderly apple farmer ended in ruin, with our party of adventurers literally fighting amongst each other. Rizzo, the wizard, turned out to be a necromancer. Some zombies got involved. She ran off into the night.
The next morning
The three remaining members of the group woke up, slightly hung over from the keg of ale they had purchased, and sadly discovered that it had not all just been a bad dream. Rizzo was gone.
This would have been unfortunate but manageable, except they needed to find the kidnapped Gundren Rockseeker, Dolemite’s cousin and the dwarf who had hired them to come to Phandalin in the first place. They had reason to believe he was being held in Cragmaw Castle, only no one actually knew where that was. Quoras’ aunt, or maybe sister, it goes back and forth (insert either a torrid family secret or a dungeon master unable to keep his facts straight, as you prefer), had suggested they find Reidoth the druid, who knew the area well. Last she had heard Reidoth was hanging around the ruins of Thundertree, which rumor had it now played host to a dragon.
So: to find Gundren they would probably have to fight a dragon. They did not want to fight a dragon missing a person, especially a wizard. Quelline, the dwarf of uncertain relation, had suggested they take a trip up to the major cited Neverwinter and try to recruit someone there.
But first: Dolemite handles a situation
As they left the farm and headed north they heard a shout. A man ran up to them, clearly out of breath. It took them a minute, but once he angrily asked them if they had taken care of the orcs yet, they- nope. Still nothing.
See, they had first met Townmaster Harbin Wester almost a year ago, real-time, at our first meeting. Then they had promised him they’d take care of a group of orcs near Wyvern Tor.
“Oh,” Clant said. “Yeah… Orcs. We… totally did that.”
They hadn’t, of course. But they were able to convince him they had. He seemed ready to believe them, actually, and muttered something about the price. “Didn’t you say you’d give us 100?” Quoras asked.
“Well, yes,” he said, not really making eye contact. “But that was when… The wizard…”
Oh. Right. Rizzo had promised him, um, a Bills game missed connection. Rizzo, the departed.
Dolemite assured Wester that she was right around the corner, but wanted him to be blindfolded. You know what? You know how this ends. I’m going to pan over to the curtains while romantic music plays and leave it at “Dolemite got them their money”.
A great city, destroyed
A few days’ travel later they approached the gates of Neverwinter. None of the three were from the north, so while they had heard of the destruction that the eruption of Mt Hotenow had caused to Thundertree they were taken aback by what had happened to this once-great city.
The road split, heading to both a southwestern and a southeastern gate. While there was a steady stream of people heading into and out of the southwestern gate, the road to the east had become overgrown, its gate cracked and broken. They headed to the west.
The guard at the gate took one look at them and told them all mercenaries needed a permit from General Sabine, who would be at the Moonstone Mask at this hour. They paused, unsure of what exactly was happening. He shooed them along and turned to the next person.
They weren’t trying to be mercenaries, though Quoras thought it actually sounded like sort of a good idea. They walked into the city, unsure of who General Sabine was or where to find the Moonstone Mask. They tried to talk to people, some of whom hurried past, before someone stopped.
The Moonstone Mask, a woman told them, was an inn by the docks. She pointed the way and tried to run along. They stopped her and asked what was going on, if there was anything they needed to know.
She told them about all that had happened since the eruption: the town had been torn apart, figuratively and literally. The southeastern quadrant of the city had a huge chasm in it, and things… things happened there. Bad things. Don’t go to the southeast. There was a wall that had been built, staffed by mercenaries — aha! — that tried to keep things at bay, but, well…
The city was safe, she said. The city was safe. Dagault Neverember, the Lord Protector, had come up from Waterdeep to take control. He split his time between the cities, and was tough but fair. She seemed afraid, though.
“You live in fear!” Quoras shouted at her, and off they went.
The group made their way to the west, to the shoreline and the docks. There they found another person, a salty sailor who was more than happy to show them where the Moonstone Mask was. He pointed up.
There in the sky, held to the cliffs by thick chains, was a floating island.