On the last day of the journey from Silverymoon to Waterdeep, accompanying both the gold shipment and Ugrun, there seemed to be little left to go wrong. Gnf had contracted mummy rot, but was looking forward to visiting a healer in Waterdeep. Ugrun had been saved from the kidnap plot.
However, the first sign that the last day’s journey would not be smooth came when Lyra noticed that some of nearby geese were acting oddly. Further investigation showed that they were of slightly odd marking and shape, and that their animal spirits were slightly off, much as they were during the party’s journey through Abeir. Gnf was concerned that the party might have crossed over into Abeir again, but found no evidence of it. Nor could Aprilane be sure that the rabbit she saw off in the distance was a normal Toril rabbit.
However, she did mistake the smoke from all the chimneys of Waterdeep for a great fire in the city. Looking closer, when still about a mile off, she noticed that there was some sort of disturbance at the city gate ahead, and that there was a great figure sheathed in fire standing outside the gate with sword and whip, engaging the guards of the city. A demon.
Max looked and said it was a Balor, and that we had no chance of doing anything against it. The party was debating what to do when other demons, smaller, were noted spreading out and causing chaos. These were the Carnage Demons, the Evanti. A group of them were headed up the road toward the party, so the wagons were sent to the rear and preparations made.
The Evanti were dispatched with relative ease. Though Max developed some strange new tactics wherein he ran around the battlefield like a man possessed, inviting the demons to swing at him. They did, of course, and this allowed Ugrun and Allyson extra shots. But then, with a cry of “Retribution” Max unleashed a mighty swing which staggered one of the demons. Then he followed up with a blow only slightly less potent, killing another demon.
As the party finished, they followed Lyra’s point and watched a great dragon stoop from the sky onto the Balor, landing all four claws and jaws upon it with a great crash. Then great beats of its wings slowly lifted the Balor off and toward the sea.
This was to be the last fight the party had with Ugrun. They passed through the gate with the heads of the six demons on display, which both earned the gratitude of the guards and the admiration of passersby, but served to distract them from Ugrun, who had his hood pulled well over his head, and hung back. Many of the guard had died fighting the Balor, and very generous donations were made to the widows and orphans fund by party members.
Questioned about the guard, they said simply that the dragon was known as [The Silver], and that he was known to appear from time to time to aid the city.
The caravan proceed through the city to a warehouse of the Jeweler’s Guild. The clerk there looked at the manifest and the signet carried by Alfred Sweetvine, and waved them into the inner yard and quickly closed the doors. He then commenced to uncovering the gold and counting it in the party’s presence. When all was accounted for, he made out a receipt and gave them their fee. 1000gp each.
While this was going on, Ugrun drew Aprilane aside to a private corner and engaged her in some earnest conversation. When they returned, Aprilane seemed a bit staggered by whatever news Ugrun had conveyed to her. The party was soon staggered when Ugrun revealed himself to be no less than a Prince of Many Arrows, son (though not the heir) of the King.
At about this moment, Eldreth Deepwater arrived and congratulated the group on their fine work. Ugrun, who seemed to have met Eldreth before, introduced Lyra and Aprilane. Eldreth included an extra share for each of them as members of the company, and told them all that they were invited to a reception that night as guests of [The Chairman] at [The Residence].
The rest of the day was spent by most in fevered preparations for the soire, though in Gnf’s case, it was merely spent in a fever at the healers, where he was cured of his mummy rot. Allyson, Aprilane and Lyra all obtained new garments to wear, and spent the afternoon at the Lion and Compass Inn preparing and dressing.
Allyson obtained a fairly low-cut evening dress that was blood-red in color, and managed a very convincing air of femininity, particularly when she did elbow smashes with Ugrun in the receiving line.
Lyra settled on a sort of priestess’s garb, and beads. Lots of beads. More beads than she had ever seen on one person before, in fact. The feather in her hair was cleaned and combed right along with her hair. And not very gently either.
Alfred went along with Aprilane while shopping, and gently steered her toward garments befitting nobility. Although he did manage to chisel the price down somewhat by mentioning the important friends that Aprilane had, and how noticed the dressmaker’s wares would be that evening.
Meanwhile Max bathed, laundered, and relaxed in the common room, resting his feet and watching people come and go while pondering the house that he had seen this morning where there had been an empty field just before. Indeed, no one else had seemed to notice the house.
At the reception they were all announced, and mingled. They met a variety of people, including Krendel, headmaster of a, no, pardon me, of THE young-wizard’s school in Waterdeep. Gnf made quite the impression by reenacting the morning’s fight with the Balor via his prestidigitation.
Then the trumpets sounded, and the Chairman entered and said, “Tonight we welcome a new visitor. He is an envoy from a kingdom that we believe it advantageous to have better relations with. There is much opportunity for trade, and mutual security as well. I ask you to greet our guest with our best Waterdeep greeting, not forgetting that there is money to be made.”
This brought a chuckle from the crowd.
“In any case, I give you Prince Ugrun of Many Arrows”
Of course, when Ugrun walked out, he was finely attired in Waterdeep-style clothing. He was greeted both by gasps and polite applause. The party’s applause was quite a bit more enthusiastic, though they managed to keep themselves from becoming a spectacle through assorted pokings and elbowings.
Ugrun said a few words about how glad he was to be there and how much he thanked Waterdeep for its hospitality. His words were greeted with more applause, slightly more enthusiastic than before. And thence the receiving line.
Ugrun made it clear to the Chairman and any watching that he knew the party members when they came through the line. Of Alfred he said to the Chairman, “Watch this one, or he’ll deal you out of your shoes!” Of Aprilane he said, “She makes an excellent rabbit pelt!”. With Allyson there was first the formal hand-kissing and curtsy, and the the familiar fighter’s forearm smashes and dap was given. Max, who had worn his scimitar to the party, also exchanged forearm smashes. The Chairman inquired about the sword, and Max replied serenely that death was always nearby. The Chairman replied blandly that it certainly had been nearby that morning, and thanked Max for his work. Ugrun asked Lyra if Bob (her spirit companion) had come along, and Bob promptly appeared and gave Ugrun a ghostly lick.
After this the party loosened up. Some teenage girls glomped Lyra with questions about Ugrun. Gnf found some other gnomes and exchanged family connections and geneologies. Some of the gnomes told him about the sewers, the domain of the Plumbers and Cellarers, and how gnomes were very imporant in that guild. The sewers, it seems, do not stink. There is some sort of special fish that keep them clean. Except, of course, when the Plumbers and Cellarers are unhappy with some state of affairs in town. The sewers and catacombs eventually lead into the Underdark, but the gnomes doubted that anyone knew all of them.
Alfred, of course, spent the evening dancing with every pretty girl he could find, whilst Aprilane spent the evening begging off dances, saying she needed to rest her feet.
Wiser about alcohol from her experiences with the Blackspear Tribe, Lyra mostly refrained, and thus awoke early the next morning to find Max at a corner table in the common room with scriptures before him and parchment and quill in hand. Apparently up all night, his appearance was somewhat haggard though his eyes were intent.
Alfred struck up a conversation with Celine, Paladin of Sune, whom he met at the Temple of Sune. It seems that Celine wanted to talk something over. She has taken on the task of visiting villages nearby and planting and tending flowers, especially roses. This is particularly important for the upcoming Midsummer Festival. And it seems that travel about the region is getting more difficult and dangerous. Though it could be just bad luck, or her imagination. What did Alfred think? Alfred advised her to trust her instincts and keep her eyes open. Did she want some accompaniment on her travels? Celine thanked him and said that so far, even though more dangerous, it wasn’t anything she couldn’t handle. But she thought that maybe someone in the city should know about it. Alfred suggested that she mention it to Chess Silverman, make a report to him, and mention that Alfred sent her.
Lyra wandered about the city and found herself attracted to the waterfront. Perhaps it was the smell of fish, or maybe it was the skewer of something called octopus that she purchased from a vendor’s cart. Wandering among the stalls, she encountered scores of strange new creatures until she found and promptly purchased an octopus. Wrapped in a piece of oilskin, she carried it back to the Lion and Compass, where it was turned into a fine soup for her lunch. Lyra went back into the city determined to find a fishing pole, and to perhaps catch one of these octopus for herself, or perhaps one of those sharks.
Gnf went to visit Calfalas the next day, and debriefed him about everything that had happened since Gnf had last visited. When Gnf mentioned his communication with Tulvin Narnari, Calfalas gave him a scroll of Sending, with which to reply. Calfalas was most eager to hear about both the spontaneous interplanar travel to Abeir, as well as the strange portal and other planar space to which Ugrun had been kidnapped.
He then detailed to Gnf what his studies had revealed. Namely, all teleportation and interplanar travel magics had depended on a stable correspondence from one plane to the next, a sort of interplanar matrix. It had never occured to Calfalas that such a thing might change or decay, but that is what seems to be happening. To take the example of the Silverymoon-Waterdeep portal, at first, right after the Cataclysm, the landings were slightly off, and it was frankly the least of magical worries in those days, but instead of settling down to a new configuration, like most magic did, it continued to drift more and more, making travel through them more erratic and dangerous. Things would change size a bit as they came through or land a bit off. As the error grew, so did the danger, to the point were now no one used it, lest they end up in rock up to the waist, or turned inside out.
Gnf asked Calfalas if he knew any means to ascertain, for certain, what plane one was on. Calfalas said that there must be such tests, and he would look them up. It would also be helpful to visit a nearby site that Calfalas had recently learned of. Would Gnf and perhaps a few others like to accompany him there?