City of Splendors

Episode Recap: Season III, Episode X

With the deceitful wizard Randulaith in captivity and a shaken Quilynn at their side, the adventurers embarked towards the Monastery of the Sun. What should have been a simple trip of a few blocks through Waterdeep’s streets soon turned into anything but. Randulaith screamed for his life until he was silenced by the party, who had strapped him to a makeshift gurney. But even then, the stealthy mission was ambushed by a trio of mysterious attackers who seemed determined to see the wizard’s life ended.

Fighting back the aggressors and forcing them to flee, the party rushed with their payload into the safety of the Monastery. After some overnight recuperation, Aystra spoke with Quilynn to learn how she had ended up in Zhaeydan’s psionic prison. The cleric explained that she had come at the insistence of Jurisk Ulhammond, who was concerned with the party’s lack of proper debrief after their mission into Erya Eltorchul’s lair. When she arrived in Randualith’s home, she was attacked by Zhaeydan and entrapped within his powerful spell along with the party. Only once the group broke free of the magic were they able to force the conjurer to flee.

Randulaith demanded an audience with the party, insisting on his innocence. He claimed that he was an unwilling accomplice of Avaereene, the Eye’s officer of arcane arts, and that he was only acting in self-preservation. Unwilling to bear the shrill screams, Vyurek left the wizard to his captivity while they sent word to Blackstaff Tower of their progress.

Shortly thereafter, they were greeted by Blackstaff’s junior researcher, Tysha Andover, who had worked directly under Randulaith. The student was hardly shocked by her master’s story, and escorted the party through the city to speak with Lady Mage Laeral Silverhand herself.

In Silverhand’s chambers, Randulaith once again attempted to plead his case. He explained to the group that he had been approached by agents of the Eye, who saw value in his arcane knowledge, and demanded that he work secretly to aid Avaereene and her associates, under threat of his own life. Avaereene herself had been working in secret with Zhaeydan and the Amn emissary to sow discord in Waterdeep’s political structures, and exploit the Blackstaff to seek out and steal the very same relics the party had been hunting. However, Randualith claimed his shadowy employer reneged on her deal with Zhaeydan, refusing to be a pawn in the conjurer’s game, and instead ordered Randulaith to steal the items for the Eye instead.

Whether his claims were true or fabricated to protect his own well-being would be a question for the Blackstaff’s council. Regardless, it was clear that the threat to Waterdeep was now even greater than they had previously imagined, and the path ahead was clear: the adventurers now had the Lady Mage’s full support in pursuing and stopping Avaereene and the Eye…

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Episode Recap: Season III, Episode IX
Regret Me Not

An unending void called to the adventurers as they ventured onward, deeper into Zhaeydan’s Psionic Prison. Before them lay a narrow stone bridge spanning a black chasm, beckoning them to a floating stone island beyond. Encircling the alien plateau, eight identical cages made of otherwordly obsidian bars hovered just out of reach, tethered to eight rope and pulley mechanisms. On the far end of the island, a sphere of blinding golden-white light contained the faint image of Zhaeydan himself.

The cruel conjurer taunted the party as they investigated each cell, confronting their greatest fears once more. Zerg was the first to interact with the curious devices, reaching to throw the lever. However, he was suddenly cautioned by a voice unfamiliar to him, but immediately recognized by the others: their old companion Laire, the sardonic elf rogue.

Aystra, meanwhile, discovered her animal companion Luka trapped within one of the cages. Unwary of trusting the images before her in this strange dungeon, she quickly discerned the illusion before her, yanking the lever and sending it plumeting into the void.

Determined to overcome the torment of this dungeon’s final trap, Havard began to investigate the mechanical devices, unlocking the psychological locks at their core, discovering a method of focus to do away with the foul illusions without unleashing their emotional torment. As he worked studiously, Vyurek found a temporary ally in the image of their companion Edgar.

All the while, the aspect of Zhaeydan continued to torment the party, launching fierce magical strikes and raining hellish flames from above. Recognizing the mage’s shield was somehow tied to the cages, they set their sights upon the final cell, containing an imprisoned Randulaith.

The cowardly scholar pleaded for his life, insisting that he was more than an illusion, and that sending his cage into the depths would surely kill him. Holding off the strikes of the necromancer’s magic as long as they could, the party freed Randulaith from his bonds, leaving the scholar unconscious at their feet. With all eight cages disabled or destroyed, they prepared to do battle with the conjurer. However, a ninth cage materialized before them, entrapping the cleric Quilynn Dryadson within.

Aystra and Havard worked quickly to disable the cell’s mechanism, uncertain whether to trust the illusion, but knowing their duty to their friend transcended any foul trick. Unlocking the cage’s secrets, an unconscious Quilynn was thrown to the ground before them. This last act shattered the magical barrier protecting Zhaeydan’s form, and the four adventurers closed ranks to do away with the wicked wizard.

As they struck the final blow, the found themselves once again cast into the depths of an unending darkness, finally materializing once more in the very house in which they had stood. While Zhaeydan himself was nowhere to be seen, both Quilynn and Randulaith awoke from their foggy haze.

Quilynn explained she had been warned by Jurisk that the party had gone to confront Randulaith. Recognizing the danger in the task, she had rushed to their aid, only to become by Zhaeydan as she burst through the doors. Randulaith, meanwhile, pleaded his innocent in the matter, begging the party to reason with them. The adventurers had little patience for his claims, however, and quickly restrained the researcher, bringing him and their wounded colleague back to the Monastery of the Sun for recovery — and questioning…

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Episode Recap: Season III, Episode VIII
The Sum of All Fears

Randulaith was trapped. The party confronted the arcane scholar in his home, apparently in the midst of forbidden necromantic studies. Before they could confront him for his crimes, the mysterious conjurer Zhaeydan materialized in the room, demanding the return of his dark tome. Randulaith tried to bargain with his apparent ally, but found himself quickly imprisoned in a cage of blackest barbs. Moving to attack, the adventurers were engulfed in a sudden darkness, lost in a miasma of twisted horrors.

The four found themselves magically transported to an ancient stone temple, far removed from anything resembling Waterdeep. With some ingenious teamwork, the party began to unlock the room’s mysteries, pushing a quartet of twisted black statues down four identical hallways. As the otherworldly carvings locked into place, portcullises slammed down, separating the adventurers, surrounding them in darkness once more.

Zerg wandered onwards, emerging in a forest in the midst of the night. He stumbled across a campsite — a scene from his past immediately familiar to him. The half-orc was reminded of the night he and his brother quarrelled over a map that was said to lead to a wondrous treasure, resulting in Zerg murdering his brother in an overwhelming rage. In the present scene, Zerg was immediately confronted by the shambling corpse of that brother, taunting him for his fratricidal sin. Refusing to believe any of this could be real, Zerg cut the ghostly figure down as the great oaks collapsed around him.

Aystra found herself in a round room surrounded by stained glass windows, a familiar piece of furniture at its centre: the cabinet from which she stole her grandmother’s locket before running away from home. The image of her grandmother appeared as one of the windows shattered, shaming the cleric for her selfish choice to abandon her family. She then witnessed the scene of her young sister, wandering hopelessly through those same woods, searching for her in vain. The child was suddenly attacked by wolves, unable to defend herself. Aystra refused to believe the sight before her as anything other than an illusion, engaging the beasts nonetheless, emboldened by her prayers to Ehlonna. With the creatures slain, the woods around her vanished.

Havard awakened on a military cot, transported back to his past life as a soldier under the service of Duke Ravos Calantar. This was the day his commander, Bretti Overlock, had assigned him to officer’s duty, entrusting him with a perilous decision. The armies moving against Calantar had been spotted, presenting a valuable ambush opportunity in a nearby pass. However, other scouts had uncovered a slaver ring in the opposite direction, trafficking innocent souls. Haunted by his past decision to stick to the mission and condemn the slaves to their fate, Havard tried fruitlessly to change the course of the past, finding his words useless — no matter what he said, the scene played out exactly as it had in the past. The old soldier was suddenly beset by the undead spirits of those slaves, and no matter how many he tried to fight off, he could not escape the vision. Only when he rushed back to the barracks to discover a monstrous, massive snake was he able to defeat his past demons and escape the vision.

Vyurek came out of the darkness into a familiar living room: the home of the late Gyudd Goldenbrew, their client and friend in their expedition to retrieve the Crown Adamant. Though his fellow adventurers were nowhere to be seen, he turned around to meet the Drow Assassin they had tortured that night. The elf taunted Vyurek, replaying that horrifying guilt he bore for his treatment of their prisoner, laughing as the Illumian tried to fight off the animate flames around him. Only when he recognized the trick being played on him did he understand what to do. Vyurek turned around and thrust his blade through the throat of the Drow, putting the foe out of his misery once again, leaving the Magus in the dark once again.

Finally reunited, the four adventurers found themselves back in the temple’s central chamber. However, a pair of ominous double doors had now materialized before them, inviting them deeper into the bowels of this twisted illusory dungeon…

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Episode Recap: Season III, Episode VII
The Quick and the Dead

Determined to cut through the lies and deception, the party infiltrated the lair of Ellithral’s mysterious employer, disguised as their Drow enemies. Finding the complex seemingly abandoned, the group was ambushed by a cadre of elite guards. As they defended themselves against their attackers’ unexpectedly light blows, a disembodied voice boomed throughout the room, responding to their Drow disguises.

The voice referred to Avaereene, believing the party to be thugs sent to take the employer down and expose her deception. With cutting words exchanged alongside jabs, the adventurers began to suspect they had misjudged the true intentions of their shadowy contact. Upon realizing the group’s true identities, she called her guards off, and summon them to a parlay.

While she remained enigmatic, the employer finally revealed her name: Errya Eltorchul. Recognizing her plot had been unwittingly exposed by the party’s invasion, she reluctantly admitted her role as a double agent for The Eye. Errya served the criminal syndicate as their chief officer of intelligence and recruitment. In secret, however, she had been exploiting their resources to seek out the strange magical relics the party had been chasing and acquire them for her own ends. She reasoned that, while she was not certain of their true power or purpose, she felt it wiser to keep them safe under her own watch, than to let them fall into the hands of the Drow.

The adventurers remained skeptical when Errya insisted they hand Floshin’s chalice to her. Aystra questioned how they could trust her after she had manipulated them henceforth, suggesting the relics would be safer in the party’s possession. Errya did not hesitate to point out their naivete, claiming that her enemies had placed a mole within Blackstaff Tower, and that the group had been handing over the relics to the wrong side. Bargaining that she would only reveal the mole’s identity if the party handed over the chalice, Zerg reluctantly gave it up to her and her guards.

Errya revealed that Randulaith of Mirabar, the senior magical researcher in Blackstaff Tower, was secretly working for Avaereene, the Eye’s officer of arcanery. Loyal to The Eye, Avaereene hoped to acquire the relics for the syndicate’s own ends, to empower the wicked faction and serve her own selfish goals. After paying the party their promised gold as a show of good faith, Errya once again parted ways with the party, promising to remain in contact as the mystery of the relics unravelled.

The adventurers rushed back into the city, checking in at the Yawning Portal to simply tell Durnan they hadn’t found anything of note in the complex. The next day, they arrived at Blackstaff Tower, demanding to speak with Randulaith. The mage was nowhere to be found, having only left his students in charge of the lab. A young researcher named Tysha Andover told them Randulaith hadn’t been seen for days, and had taken the arcane tome Sumul Vohamana with him, claiming he needed to “cross-reference” it with his own materials. Immediately suspicious, they went to the chambers of Lady Mage Laeral Silverhand to share their findings.

Ever proud, Silverhand stubbornly doubted their claims. She insisted that the Blackstaff was impenetrable, and that the mere accusation of corruption could bring shame to the prestigious institution. Insistent that she see reason, Aystra pushed Silverhand to allow them to investigate the matter in quiet. Admitting that Randulaith was not permitted to remove materials from the tower, she gave the party instructions on where to find him in the city, warning them to keep their search quiet.

The party made their way to Randulaith’s home on the outskirts of Waterdeep’s City of the Dead, where they found the door open. Inside, the house’s foyer was unkempt, scattered with notes, arcane materials, and clear signs of necromantic experimentation. A pile of bones arranged around a glowing sigil marked the centre of the room, and as they began to investigate, Randualith himself appeared from the upper floor. He vehemently denied their accusations, but the party proved too savvy. Just as they had him cornered, the room grew dark and foggy, filled with a grim electricity. At that moment, the mysterious cloaked figure they had seen in their scrying visions appeared, demanding the return of his grimoire…

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Episode Recap: Season III, Episode VI
Dungeons & Deception

Over the course of their travels, the party had made many allies, more enemies, and several contacts whose motives remained in question. Now, with multiple stakeholders vying for their allegiance, the adventurers examined their contacts to determine just who to trust in the City of Splendors.

Continuing their information gathering, they sought out Firaq in Castle Waterdeep to deliver Master Floshin’s message. The old elf was in the midst of a training session with the City Guard’s neophyte soldiers, but he gladly took time to speak with them. Upon hearing the foreboding warning of a mysterious “Cassandra,” Firaq became guarded and stoic. He assured the party that he would investigate the matter, and would contact them if he required their assistance in the future.

Vyurek continued his quest to acquire a powerful magical item to assist him in his journeys, but the Illumnian’s deadpan persona once more befuddled his effort. With Aystra’s assistance, however, the group sought out their old contact, Wase Rydel, who was easily able to track down a Ring of Protection for the party’s Magus. While browsing the market, Havard was approached in secret by a shadowy figure who summoned them to the Yawning Portal Inn at Durnan’s request.

Before the meeting, the party checked into Blackstaff Tower in hopes of learning more about the mysterious magical items they had left in the care of the arcane research team. Senior researcher Randulaith of Mirabar was in the midst of decoding the Sumul Vohamanah when they arrived, and seemed agitated by their presence. While the adventurers attempted to garner more information from the mages, Randulaith hurriedly excused them from the room, insisting they were impeding his progress. Confused by his terse countenance, Aystra requested a meeting with Laeral Silverhand at her earliest convenience in hopes of gaining some guidance on what to do with these strange artifacts.

Arriving at the Inn, the stocky and jovial Durnan greeted the party with cheer. Accompanied by the same figure from the market, who introduced himself as Jurisk Ulhammond, Durnan took the four to the cellar of the Portal to speak in secret. Here, Durnan and Jurisk revealed their findings that Ellithral, the party’s frequent contact and employer, had been working with questionable figures with connections to The Eye — Waterdeep’s underground criminal syndicate.

Durnan cautioned the party to watch their backs and be wary of Ellithral’s motives. Jurisk, however, insisted on a more direct response, offering an entry into the suspected lair of Ellithral’s employer. While Durnan worried such drastic action would lead to a war in the streets among rival factions, the party reasoned that the Eye had attacked them first, and infiltrating the base would be a retaliatory measure at most.

Heeding Durnan’s advice regardless, the adventurers devised a plan to cover their tracks and protect their allies. Prior to launching the mission, they sought out a local spellcaster to magically disguise them as Drow soldiers in hopes of pinning the blame on the dark elves should they be discovered. Come nightfall, the group rendezvoused with Jurisk in the Dock Ward and made their way through Waterdeep’s sewer network to the hidden base. Poring through each room, they found the hideout strangely empty, totally devoid of life. As they made their way into a large storehouse, the lights around them fell into blackness, as the sounds and shadows of imposing figures surrounded them…

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Episode Recap: Season III, Episode V
Keep Your Friends Close...

Flames engulfed the Houes of Long Silences. Moments after their foes fled into the night, our heroes were left standing in the ancient temple as heat and smoke poured through its cathedral windows. The Ardeep Woods cried out, and the adventurers sprung into action in an attempt to extinguish the blaze.

With the aid of the Forest Giants, Vyurek conjured grand walls of ice to hold back the heat, while Aystra summoned an army of water elementals to fight the raging inferno. Their efforts together created enough opportunity to escape into the dawn, sparing the forest the wrath of the fire.

Upon their return to Floshin Manor, the adventurers met with Elorfindar Floshin, still recovering from his spell. He asked for the chalice’s return, but the party insisted he share its true history. With some reluctance, he revealed that the ancient artifact acts as a key to the portal network of the Ardeep Woods, hidden for centuries within the old temple. Those portals, like the ones throughout Undermountain, function via link to the Outer Planes. While travel is typically limited to a pair of portals’ direct links, their planar designs could open a backdoor to nefarious interlopers — in turn, allowing otherworldly foes to gain access to the material world, wreaking havoc and sowing chaos as they saw fit. Because of the danger inherent, Floshin insisted on his bloodline’s duty to protect the chalice and prevent such a catastrophe from taking place.

The party argued that the drow attack itself brought them dangerously close to such an outcome, convincing Master Floshin to accompany them on their return to Waterdeep, and to hand over the chalice so they could ensure its safe keeping. Upon their return to the City of Splendors, the old elf bid them farewell, and asked them to deliver a message to his old colleague, Firaq: “Be wary of Cassandra, for she knows not the power she wields.”

After recuperating at the Monastery of the Sun, the party rendezvoused with Ellithral to report the success on the mission his employer had assigned them. While Ellithral was eager to retrieve the chalice for his employer, the adventurers showed reluctance, insisting they needed time to consider how best to keep the item in safe hands. The elf’s candor suddenly changed. Now curt and indignant, Ellithral cautioned the party of his employer’s patience before excusing himself from the tavern, uncharacteristically leaving his four colleagues to settle the tab.

At last, the adventurers met with Quilynn back at the Monastery where she revealed more findings on her research into the strange objects they had recovered. In recent days, she had turned her attention to the medallion the party recovered months earlier in the tomb of Barrus Yeldoon, and which had allowed Aystra to control — and eventually overload and destroy — the magical Runestone in Undermountain. The insistence with which Yeldoon’s nephews refused to take back the heirloom, gifting it to the party through Ellithral, had always seemed odd. Delving into local history tomes, Quilynn discovered a striking resemblance to an amulet worn by the mad mage Hallaster in old portraits. Considering Barrus Yeldoon’s reputation in life as an unsavoury dungeon raider, she speculated that the amulet had come into his possession by illicit means. Knowing the paranoia that defined Hallaster’s arcane activities, she posited that the medallion may have instilled a curse upon Yeldoon, dooming him to his posthumous fate as a reanimated tomb guardian.

Stranger still, the brilliant red gem inlaid within the medallion could not be identified to any commonly known minerals. Quilynn recalled from the adventurers’ tales that the stone seemed to resonate with certain magical crystals in Undermountain, including the Runestone itself. From her research into the Crown Adamant, she had discovered another curious piece of historical trivia that offered an enigmatic coincidence. Alchemists of the Shoon Imperium were said to have experimented with the art of transmuting arcane energy into a physical form. While the art was abandoned as a “technological dead end” centuries prior, it remains an obscure form of alternative arcane energy channelling to this day.

The group parted ways with an exhausted Quilynn, leaving her to tend to her duties within the Monastery itself. While such a revelation presented the party with much to consider, they were now left with even more questions and riddles, and more colleagues to contact on their quest to uncover the truth behind these strange relics…

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Episode Recap: Season III, Episode IV
Deeper Into the Woods

The perils of the Ardeep Woods had taken their toll on the party. After stumbling into a confrontation with a group of Drow monks and a carnivorous tree, respite would not come easy. As they made their way through the perilous forest, the line between flora and fauna blurred, and they were once against attacked by a Hangman Tree and its symbiotic Assassin Vines.

The deciduous dastard clouded the minds of the party, releasing spores that hypnotized all but Aystra into seeing it as nothing more than a harmless sprout. Its woodland charms lured the party in while the valiant Cleric did her best to break the spell. Eventually, the adventurers shook off their photosynthetic funk long enough to ignite their foe, immolating the surrounding swamp’s methane gasses, making charcoal of their wooden foe.

Finally approaching their destination, the four adventurers took a moment’s rest in an ancient shrine to Ehlonna, the goddess watching over these woods. It would prove to be a much needed blessing for the challenges that laid ahead in the House of Long Silences.
The presence of their enemies was immediately apparent as they approached. The temple’s ancient doors had been smashed in, their voices echoing clearly from within. Havard would scout ahead in an attempt to gain insight into the Drow plans, only to discover that Erelune Dyrr and her accomplices had little idea how to use the spoils they had looted. Chalice in hand, the Drow commander made her way to the center of the chamber and placed the relic upon a random pedestal, opening a portal to another realm.

She would immediately discover the error in her ways, though, as a hideous creature phased into existence before them. The massive arachnid set to attacking anything in its range, confused and enraged by its unexpected teleportation. As the adventurers and Drow soldiers alike tried to fend off the beast, Erelune narrowly escaped with her life, abandoning the chalice in favour of her own survival.

Seconds ticked away as the party were left to defeat the beast, who was suddenly sucked back into the portal from whence it came after Zerg valiantly retrieved the chalice. Their victory would be short-lived, however, as smoke began to pour into the temple, the surrounding woods set aflame by the retreating Drow soldiers. While the party had the item they set out to retrieve, the Ardeep Woods now beckoned once more, their ancient timbers fighting against the immediate threat of wildfire…

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Episode Recap: Season III, Episode III
Into the Woods

The ancient timbers of the Ardeep Forest loomed over the adventurers as they pressed onward in pursuit of Floshin’s chalice. Before setting forth, the heroes took a moment to investigate the note discovered in Xedac’s coffin, revealing cryptic information of her mission’s purpose, and making reference to one Erelune Dyrr, a potential accomplice of the vampire. With their foes well ahead on their race to discover the House of Long Silence and its ancient portal network, the party knew the journey ahead would be perilous.

Moonlight cut through the towering woods in rays of wispy white while an eerie calm hung over the forest. Having little direction to go on save for the Ardeep’s well-worn, ancient trail network, the party found themselves relying on an elusive series of standing stones to help illuminate their path. After an hour’s journey into the heart of the forest, the sound of a melee broke through the trees, drawing the party in to investigate.

Havard scouted onward, discovering a small group of Wood Giants fighting a pack of Drow soldiers and their arachnid assistants. Recognizing their enemies, the party rushed in to assist the giants in battle. While the elven swordsmen attempted to slice away at the party’s resolve, Aranea lurked in the background, spewing sticky webs in an attempt to slow the heroes. The Underdark villains were subdued, and the Giants offered their thanks, and a word of warning of the dangers of the Ardeep woods.

Continuing onward, the adventurers came across a steep, eroded slope that proved treacherous. Opting to avoid tumbling to uncertain doom, they veered off course into an overgrown pathway blocked by a fallen trunk. While attempting to climb over, the group was attacked by an opportunistic Deadfall Scorpion who had made a home of the hollow log, awaiting its unsuspecting prey. Despite Havard falling ill to the overgrown arachnid’s poison, Zerg was quick to dispatch the bug, squashing it heartily with his massive axe.

Next, the party stumbled upon another group of Drow in the midst of being attacked by a sentient tree. The woody menace proved a formidable foe for the adventurers, utilizing its complex root network to subdue and savage its opponents one by one. Beaten and bruised, they finally took the hulking timber down, alongside the Drow monks. Before taking a moment to recover, Aystra found a journal in one of the monks’ bags and learned more about their mission. The last entry once again mentioned Erelune, and his service to High Priestess Zendayanna — leaving the party with even more questions as they pressed deeper into the dark heart of the Ardeep Forest…

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Episode Recap: Season III, Episode II
The Mystery of Floshin Manor

S tanding over the ashes of their fallen foe, the four adventurers collected their wits in the dining hall of Floshin Manor. Master Floshin himself had been rendered catatonic by the breaking of Xedac’s spell, and while he gradually came to, the party discussed how best to proceed. Uncertain over the logistics of vampiric physiology, and well aware of the threat posed by this familiar fiend, they opted to divide the vampire’s ashes into four distinct piles, keeping them safe and separate for the time being.

Once Elorfindar Floshin had regained a modicum of sense, he attempted to explain the series of events that had led up to this fateful confrontation. Though clearly suffering from a form of amnesia as a result of Xedac’s curse, Floshin told the party of her arrival at the manor some weeks earlier, posing as a collector of curious antiquities. Upon being invited into the household, Xedac took control of Floshin and his servants, allowing a force of Drow mercenaries to search the premises for the object of their desire: a rare chalice of exotic origin.

While reluctant to reveal the object’s secrets to these newcomers, Floshin eventually explained that Floshin Manor served as a gateway to the House of Long Silence — a temple in the Ardeep Forest guarding an ancient Elven network of portals that connected Faerun and beyond — and that the chalice itself was a key to one of these portals. Despite the absence of the thieves since the party’s arrival, Floshin speculated that they would be well on their way into the woods, and that the party should pursue them.

Unfortunately, the invasion had activated the manor’s arcane security network. As a failsafe, the devices that had placed the manor on lockdown could only be deactivated manually, through a series of triggers and switches throughout the house. Floshin provided the adventurers with a key to the Library before retiring to his chambers to recover from his spell.

The Library would be the first in a sequence of brain-twisting riddles that would tax the party’s comprehension. After solving a sequence of puzzles that revealed some of the ancient history of the Floshin Estate and its relationship to the Conclave of Six, the party made their way to the ballroom. Here, they were forced to navigate a series of sliding grids, guiding a mannequin across the dancefloor to her long-lost partner while the room’s sentinels stood watch, ready to cut down any would-be intruders.

Their sleuthing eventually pointed them to the manor’s Gallery, where the clues gathered throughout the house culminated in a final riddle that would provide access to the depths of the mansion. Making their way down into the dingy cellars, they gained more insight into the intruders’ actions, while Zerg liberated a fine axe from a now-deceased former owner.
In the manor’s wine cellar, the group discovered an elaborate sequence of pulleys and levers that secured the way forward. While Zerg and Vyurek threw a pair of twin switches they believed would open the way forward, in doing so they set off a trap that encaged them within. Together, Aystra and Havard scoured the room for hidden switches until finding a pressure plate nearby. Rather than waste time and effort maneuvering a weight up and onto the plate, Aystra summoned a celestial leopard to sit on it like a good boy. Before taking her leave, she also uncovered a hidden alcove where Sundryl Floshin had been entombed for centuries. Clutched in his decaying hands was a journal, revealing the true secrets behind his betrayal of the Conclave and the fate of his descendants.

The room ahead was as cold as a crypt, and appropriately so. Within, they discovered the coffin of Xedac, which contained an encrypted note. Overlooking the fiend’s sleeping quarters sat a massive mechanical monstrosity, apparently the final guardian between the manor and the forest. Remembering the curious gear they had looted from Xedac’s ashes, Havard was able to deftly disable the clockwork device, securing passage into the deep, dark woods ahead…

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Episode Recap: Season III Episode I
Good Manors

D awn broke over the City of Splendors, signalling a new season of opportunity for the intrepid adventurers. After some much-needed rest during a rare Sword Coast cold snap, the party reconvened in the Monastery of the Sun, summoned by their longtime ally, Quilynn Dryadson.

Quilynn had spent much of her spare time while the group had been off adventuring seeking answers to their nagging questions. Why had their late companion Gyudd longed for the Melairkyn crown, and why did he pay the ultimate price when the party was attacked by Drow assassins? Through her research, Quilynn had discovered several curious truths behind the crown’s origin. As it turned out, the relic was not of Dwarven origin at all, but a centuries-old symbol of power of the Shoon Imperium, a prolific Faerunian empire of days long past. The crown had been acquired in a territory war between King Melair VI’s refugee nation and Amahl Shoon IV, the Mad King of the Imperium. Though the Melairkyn were eventually driven back by the Shoon, the dwarves managed to slay the Shoon’s leader, seizing his crown as a trophy of their small conquest. Determined to keep their retreat from scarring the Melairkyn legacy, King Melair convinced his people the crown was their ancestral claim. While the legacy of his empire soon crumbled under the constant Drow menace, his story stuck, entrenching the relic within his people’s lore through the generations.

After their briefing from Quilynn, the party then proceeded to Blackstaff Tower to inquire to the mages within on the mysterious objects they had acquired on their journeys. Meeting with Randulaith of Mirabar, a journeyman scholar of arcane devices, they learned scant details that shed light on the spear and book’s origins. The weapon, he explained, was well over 1000 years old, and imbued with dark magics linked with the domain of death. The tome, meanwhile, was an ancient script of necromantic arcanery, written in Kadari, a long-dead tongue of the Necromancer Kings of Sahu. While the mages worked dilligently to decode its cryptic words, they had so far observed the word “Sumulael” — or, “Harvester of Death,” as part of the book’s title: “Sumul Vohamanah,” or, loosely, “Reaper Codex.” The book also made frequent reference to “Kazerabet,” or “Angel of the Dark” in a tone suggesting the tome may be an instruction manual of a necromancer in training.

Their minds swelling with newly acquired knowledge, the adventurers were abruptly summoned to a meeting by their colleague Ellithral the Golden, via his typically cryptic and overly paranoid delivery methods. That night, they would find him in the Dock Ward, where he led them through Waterdeep’s network of catacombs to meet with his shadowy employer once more. Again shrouded in secrecy, the employer explained what had transpired while the party were occupied in Daggerford. Another Drow attack had taken place, this time outside Waterdeep’s walls, on the private estate of Elorfindar Floshin. While they subdued and restrained the manor’s many occupants, no casualties occured, and only a single item was stolen: a rare chalice from Floshin’s private museum. Ellithral’s employer petitioned the party to investigate the theft and locate the chalice, believing it to be an object of great import well beyond any historic bauble.

The group gathered their effects and set out once more on the Trade Way south of Waterdeep, toward Floshin Manor. After a two day’s journey and a brief exchange with local merchants, the party arrived at the estate, where they were invited in by Elorfindar Floshin. The elven steward of the old family estate presented a stoic, almost vacant demeanour as he led them through the mansion and invited them to dine with him. Over a strange dinner of blood red wine and raw meat, Aystra determined that all was not well in the manor, and that Floshin was under the charm of a nearby creature’s spell. While Vyurek kept him distracted with idle conversation Aystra attempted to dispell the charm and free Floshin of his mental prison. The spell snapped the elf out of his catatonic state, but sent him into shock as the party were suddenly confronted by his captor: Xedac, the vampire who had attacked them weeks earlier at the Runestone in the heart of Undermountain. After a heated battle with Xedac and her vampiric slaves, the party cut down the hematophagic foe, leaving them to explore the abandoned manor and solve the mystery of the missing chalice…

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