Red… Red all over me!
Rae’na’lís felt as if she’d come back from a very long way away. She hadn’t gone anywhere – the smell of the sewer was dank moldy proof of that – but she felt tired. Her arms hurt. They were covered in—
Blood! Blood everywhere.
At her feet was what remained of the thief that tried to escape with the mask. She didn’t know him, knew only that he wanted the mask and that Celethel run him down…
Rae’na’lís felt as if the rest of her had caught up. She remembered trying to disguise the claw and fang marks with rending cuts of her blade. She couldn’t let Celethel’s actions be discovered. The guards had made clear the consequences for her companion if they were. Covering up the wounds by opening the flesh was all she could think of.
The sole blessing was that nobody would think her panther capable of this.
In a macabre stencil, the jagged lines on the thief’s back came together to form a picture that stared back at her.
The Dragon Mask.
With the thieves dead and the mask secure, the party’s actions were discovered by a patrol of the Night Watch. Suspicious of the bodies littered about and the damage done to private property they arrested Sai’on’ay, Nikos and Trisana and escorted them to the watch house, unaware of Rae’na’lís and Celethel in the sewers below.
Sai’on’ay, however, was well aware of what his companion had done beneath the streets as his raven familiar had seen the grisly art.
Meanwhile, back at the Green Griffon, Basket discovered that as good as Flynn was at holding people’s attention, he was just as good at avoiding it as he had left the young druid to explain the noise, the bodies and the hole blown in the inn’s roof. Demanding an accounting, Basket offered to work off the damages to the unimpressed innkeeper.
He confiscated the party’s belongings anyway.
Rae’na’lís, unaware of Basket’s peril and acutely aware of the perils facing the rest of the party, covered her escape through the sewers, backtracking to the Green Griffon in the hope of picking up Dranosh’s trail.
Nikos attempted to hide the Black Dragon Mask that was discovered by the Night Watch and that discovery, if anything, made them even more suspicious of the party. Taken to their headquarters, the trio were thrown into a cell and waited for an audience with Captain Nathanial Connerson with whom they would plead their case.
Rae’na’lís returned to the Green Griffon just in time to see Basket in the middle of a brawl with the upset patrons who were none to happy about the party attracting thieves and murderers to the inn. With most of the party in peril, Rae’na’lís decided to secure Dranosh’s help freeing her friends from the Watch, and sent Celethel into the inn to even the odds. A growl drowned out the indignation of Green Griffon’s customers and nobody was keen to continue the fight while Basket could count on the panther’s aid. Unfortunately the members of the Night’s Watch responding to the disturbance at the inn were not as easily cowed and Basket became the fourth member of the party invited to attend the watchhouse
Rae’na’lís, unaware of this, arrived at the temple of Bahamut where Dranosh slept and dragged the Paladin out of bed to plead their friends’ innocence.
It was an innocence that Captain Connerson had a hard time believing. The discovery of the mask had resulted in new charges being laid upon Sai’on’ay, Nikos, Trisana and, now, Basket as they learnt that ships along the Sword Coast had been accosted by pirates bearing similar garb. Adamant in their innocence, Trisana sought the aid of priests whose divine incantations could determine the truth of their claims. Fortunately, and with no small thanks to a donation to the coffers of Bahamut, both the Abbot of the Temple and Dranosh arrived.
The Dragon God of Justice was able to determine the innocence of the party, both of murder in the streets and of being complicit in acts of piracy, but innocence came at no small cost. The repair of the stall Sai’on’ay had damaged, the hole in the roof of the inn, the affray and disturbance to the peace of Neverwinter all attracted hefty fines that, thanks only to the rewards attained in Mirabar, the party was able to afford. The Innkeeper was further mollified by the promise that the Green Griffon would receive exclusive rights to Flynn’s future performances in Neverwinter— an even that would occur at least once a year.
The party was free of the watch but not of suspicion. The Abbot was most displeased at Dranosh’s reluctance in sharing the discovery of the Black Dragon Mask – deciding that it would better to leave the mask in more secure and experienced hands – and Sai’on’ay could not stop looking at Rae’na’lís, both knowing the grisly reason why. Unable to retain their rooms at the Green Griffon, the party instead traveled beyond the reputation they had made and purchased lodgings at the Sea Sprite. Located close to the ship that would see them to Candlekeep, the party had to decide what they would do about Fedic, the crime lord of Neverwinter whose ire they had attracted.
Fedic, it seemed, wanted a resolution to this conflict as well. A new contact that Nikos had made passed on Fedic’s desire for a meeting. A meeting that wasn’t inviting or conducive to a peaceful resolution, but at least it might put Fedic within the reach of the party. Agreeing to send three people to negotiate terms, they headed toward the decrepit centre of Neverwinter, the area most affected by the troubles that had challenged Faerun and the area most likely to avoid the attention of the watch.
Expecting a trap, Rae’na’lís, Dranosh and Basket shadowed Nikos, Sai’on’ay and Trisana to the rendezvous, reacquainting themselves with an adversary met on the way to Neverwinter; the mage Sarah Maria. Escorted into a dilapidated building, the party were confronted not with Fedic, but instead with a pipe that carried the voice of the crime lord from an adjoining building. Fedic remained absent but his demands were present: A payment for the slaves the party had freed to the tune of 2100 gold pieces immediately. Nikos set about haggling only to discover that Fedic was not the type to bargain. Strictly speaking, neither was Nikos and with deft suddenness, Sarah Maria once more found herself a hostage to the rogue. Negotiations stalled and combat came as quickly as Fedic’s guards. Fortunately Rae’na’lís, Dranosh and Basket were just as quick!
What originally was going to be a fighting withdrawal quickly turned into a route for Fedic’s forces as the party overpowered the thugs. Cut down by axe, sword, arrow and spell, the fight moved from the streets of Neverwinter, through the abandoned building and into the favour of the party. When it was all over, Trisana and Sai’on’ay had taken one of the thugs hostage though the thug’s captain, the mage and Fedic had managed to escape. Disproving the axiom of honour among thieves, their hostage bought his freedom by telling the party everything he knew about Fedic’s activities including a number of interests located close by. Willing to press the advantage, the party headed to a nearby warehouse were Fedic’s trail grew cold. Carefully avoiding the traps left, Trisana, Basket, Rae’na’lís and Nikos discovered the warehouse served as a cache of potions and poisons that Fedic had taken.
Meanwhile Dranosh and Sai’on’ay discovered that Fedic still lurked close by. Each were taken by surprise by a poisoned dart that nearly killed the Paladin and rendered the mage both unconscious and, in a turnabout move, a hostage just as Sarah Maria had been.
Rae’na’lís stepped out into the night air to see Dranosh: the strongest of their number, dying on the ground. Frantic, she searched for Sai’on’ay but saw nothing. Listening hard, the crack of a whip and the clatter of hooves and wheels against cobblestone reached the periphery of her hearing. Trusting in her remaining companions to care for Dranosh she sprinted desperately after the noise that, doubtless, spirited Sai’on’ay toward some grim fate…
Fortunately among the cache were potions of healing that were able to counteract the purple worm poison coursing through Dranosh and Basket was able to restore the Paladin to his feet. Rae’na’lís meanwhile, ran hard in pursuit of the horse and cart. The elf was fast but outmatched by the constitution of a horse-drawn cart. Fortunately she had pinpointed the direction of her foes and, surprisingly, it turned out that the party was not without a horse of their own.
Basket had experienced more in the last couple of weeks in search of Trisana than she had her entire life and, realising the urgency of their need, unlocked new powers that allowed her to take the shape of a horse herself. Trisana, an adept rider, flung herself upon Basket’s newly broad back and they thundered down the street in pursuit. The distance closed as Fedic had his thugs push their own horses beyond endurance, resulting in the death of one and the exhaustion of another. Taking shelter in a safe-house, Fedic brought his blade before Sai’on’ay’s throat and demanded the surrender of the party.
As fear, panic, hopelessness and desperation threatened to overwhelm her, Rae’na’lís reached deep within herself. In the blink of an eye, the scared little girl was replaced with the bloodthirsty demeanour of something much darker.
With Trisana and Basket attempting to gain entrance through the front door, Nikos and Rae’na’lís discovered a hidden entrance in the roof. Nikos’s plan to carefully creep into the house was supplanted by Rae’na’lís’s desire to save Sai’on’ay and destroy the one who threatened his life had resulted in reinforcements all of her own. With deft, superhuman even, faculty the not-quite-elven ranger lead the way through the skylight, bypassing locks, traps and floorboards while Trisana kept Fedic’s attention on her. Not pausing, not even capable of doing so, that which controlled Rae’na’lís stole quietly behind Fedic before introducing her rapier through his chest as smooth as butter.
Taking advantage of the attack Nikos struck to knock aside the sword Fedic held to Sai’on’ay’s throat, and managed to disarm the halfling assassin. Leaving Fedic to the surprisingly savage attentions of Rae’na’lís’s, he then leapt to unbar the door that was denying Trisana and Basket entry. The Dragonborn and the horse were ushered through the door and battle was joined.
Fedic, even surprised, was capable enough to use his light crossbow and poisoned quarrels to deadly effect. Rae’na’lís felt the poison course through her and did not care. Trisana and Basket held off the remaining thugs while Sai’on’ay and Nikos joined the battle against Fedic. Rae’na’lís, if she could still answer to that name, kept coming toward Fedic, using her buckler to fend off the crossbow bolts aimed at her and Sai’on’ay. With wild powerful swings of her rapier intended to maim rather than kill, she pressed back the halfling assassin. The true Rae’na’lís, recognising the ease with which her passenger could have dispatched the halfling attempted to goad it into finishing the job – but as a result the poison that had been held in abatement assaulted her with such viciousness that the elven ranger fell to the ground.
Despite his wounds, Fedic retrieved his foe’s rapier and was determined that he would not die alone. Dispatching her own foe, Trisana thew herself over her companion, forcing one of the recently-acquired healing potions between Rae’na’lís’s lips. It was a treatment administered just in time as the halfling’s skill saw the rapier thrust into its owner, but was spared the fatal blow.
It was then that light was brought to this dark place as Dranosh, recovered enough from the poison, filled his sword with Bahamut’s divine power and joined the battle.
Fedic avoided a furious Sai’on’ay who was equal in vengeance to Rae’na’lís’s safety as she was to his but he could not avoid the justice administered by the chosen of the Platinum Dragon. Falling to his knees, the holy blade passed through Fedic and, with that, the crime lords of Neverwinter changed from six to five.
Many questions remained:
What proof did they have that their actions taken this night had been in the cause of righteousness?
What repercussions awaited them from the underworld of Neverwinter?
Had Fedic actually had any knowledge of the dragon mask and the pirates who reputedly wielded similar artifacts?
Was there some hidden influence within the party that was somehow guiding them from one dragon mask to another?
What bargain had Rae’na’lís struck, and what would be it’s cost?