Fellowship of Lightning #10

Chapter 10

Queless asked Morin for the magical whistle given to them by the Velvet Champion. Morin smiled and handed it to him. “Morin, I am off to deliver messages to our old friends. Perhaps we can gain their assistance. I will first go visit the lovely Loli Savage and her brother Karis. Afterwards I’ll try to find master Greenhill. I’ll return after a few other stops.”

“Good luck my friend, please be careful. I will pray to Moradin Soulforger for your safe passage in the city. If you have any problems please close your eyes and ask Moradin to send your location to me. If I continue to pray and meditate my mind should remain clear.”

It was dusk when Queless exited the spires of morning. The streets were emptying as everyone went home for the evening, blissfully unaware of what dwelt under their feet. Queless pulled the magical whistle from his pocket and blew it. Within minutes the Velvet Champion came streaming down the street with a whole wheat roll in his pocket and a salad bowl in his left hand. “Hail Queless. You caught me at dinner, but it’s not a problem. I can eat and drive!” Queless smiled and gave the Velvet Champion the names of his destinations. “Velvet Champion ye have an incredible skill. I trust thine navigation skill to get me to my destinations as quick as possible. I must go to the Temple of Sune, the guard station in the South Ward, Piergeron’s Palace, Department of Sewage Construction and Maintenance, and a place where halflings congregate. If ye know where to get flowers and fine spirits on the way ‘twould be most appreciated.”

“Aye, we shall go to the Garden of Delights here in the Castle Ward to pick up some flowers. Then we’re off to the personal residence of the Snome Noble Family in the North Ward. The Snomes are Illuskan Nobility who have lived here and imported fine spirits for 100 years. Dandobar Snome is our contact and I have always been his personal transport. Given that I know not his relationship with those of your race perhaps it is best if upon arriving you pass off the coin for the spirits and I visit the front door and attempt procurement of your choice liquor. They do not normally deal from their noble house residence, but he has on more than one occasion offered me numerous personal favors in return for my most expedient services when late he ran for meetings with other Nobility.” The Champion started off slower than normal as he finished his half eaten meal while trotting along and then began to pick up the pace.

Queless visited the florist who was closing up and refused service. Upon seeing the Velvet Champion she quickly changed her demeanor and assisted them in acquiring exactly what Queless was looking for, a beautiful bouquet of white roses and yellow lyphilettes.

Next they stopped in the North Ward at the Snome Nobility House, a huge mansion covered in ivy with enormous green leaves and sprouting beautiful purple flowers shaped like stars. The stones making up the gigantic mansion looked very old and this structure was probably here long before this noble family made Waterdeep their home. The Velvet Champion took Queless’s money and made his way up the stone steps to the front door. He knocked and a beautiful woman came to the door followed by a man dressed in fine silver clothing and a gold cape. Their finer features could not be seen as the light from inside cast them as silhouettes upon Queless’s vision. Within minutes the Velvet Champion returned with a fine bottle of liquor and his money. “They gave it to me free of charge. You can owe me one- so to say.”
The Velvet Champion said before hefting back up the rickshaw. He seemed somewhat perturbed although Queless was not sure why.

“The Department of Sewage Construction and Maintenance is in Piergeron’s Palace so I assume that is our next destination?”

Queless nodded and the Velvet Champion took off like a bat out of the nine-hells. Within 10 minutes they were back in Castle Ward at Piergeron’s Palace.

(Below: Piergeron’s Palace)
Queless climbed out of the rickshaw and stood before the grand entrance to Piergeron’s Palace with liquor and flowers in hand. “Would you like me to hold onto those for you Queless?” The Velvet Champion asked with a grin on his face. “Or do you plan on giving those to Lord Piergeron?” VC winked at Queless and laughed out loud. Queless handed only the bouquet of flowers to VC and proceeded into the palace. The guards at the front stopped him. “Please state your name and business you have at Piergeron’s Palace.” The first guard asked.

 

“Queless Huldane of the Fellowship of Lightning here to see Council Member Grendmeer Mendothian. Also I’d like to schedule an appointment with Wendell in the Sewage Construction and Maintenance department. ”

“Sir, those officials have probably gone home for the day.” The human guard stood there with a smirk on his face not wanting to check the palace for some random officials who most likely left hours ago. The fact that a Drow Elf stood before him requesting this didn’t help the situation. The other guard, a half elf woman with long blond hair braided and tucked into her platemail smiled at Queless. Her name was Rionnius Patricia and she had lived in Waterdeep for a decade which was but a blink of years in her long life.

Rionnius originally hailed from the High Forest and had been part of a movement there to free many wild elves from the enslavement of Demons from Hellgate Keep. Prior to this event she had never had a home or been treated as an equal by humans or elves. After freeing these elves they adopted her to their tribe. They treated her as an equal and she was like a daughter to one of the elders. After years learning the ways of her elven ancestors she sought to find her ties to human-kind. Thus, Rionnius found her way to Waterdeep, City of Splendors and made it her home. She found work performing small magical enchantments learned from the elves on footwear at Candiera’s Fine Shoes and Sandals, on the west side of Redcloak Lane Three shopfronts south of Belnimbra’s Street, in Dock Ward. One day after a late night’s work on magical shoes for the Sage of Silverymoon, Rionnius left for home. She stumbled down dark alleyways and took a wrong turn. It was here that a group of men dressed in dark garb came from the shadows and surrounded her. They tried to have their way with her and she fought with basic magicks and punched, bit, clawed and did whatever she could to escape. They tore her clothes from her body and were prepared to rape her, one after another when someone came quickly walking down the alleyway towards them. One of the men called out to the stranger and told him to get lost. The stranger approached and pulled a sword from the sheath at his side. The group dropped Rionnius to the ground and drew blades and clubs. The stranger rushed the thugs and dispatched each and every one with the swift accuracy of a skilled warrior. The leader turned to flee, but the dark stranger grabbed a dagger from his boot and launched it blade over hilt spinning towards the detestable thug leader. The blade embedded itself deep between his shoulder blades and the leader slammed into the cobblestones face first. The stranger then took a blanket from his pack and covered Rionnius. Rionnius looked at the warriors blade, which markings revealed him to be a Piergeron’s Palace Guard.

His name was Charles and Rionnius quickly fell in love with her rescuer. They had many fine late night dinners together after Charles got off duty for the evening. Everything was amazing, but Charles would not commit. He kept claiming that his ties to the Church of Tyr and his commitment to the City was all that he could handle at this point in his life. One day he wanted to settle down, but wished to rid the world of evil before starting a family or even taking the first steps in that direction. Rionnius had never seen such dedication and commitment and longed to be close to Charles even more so. She decided to take some hand to hand courses and learned how to wield a blade. She picked up her human side very quickly and became very skilled at numerous weapons, she was the best in her class. Once upon her second summer of training she applied to the City Guard and was accepted. She obtained great joy helping others and even assisted a lady in dock ward who fell prey to a similar prediciment. After working tirelessly in the City Watch she was promoted to the Piergeron’s Palace and once again worked her way through the ranks until she was promoted to Entry Guard. And here she stood, before Queless and eager to help.

“My friend, my name is Rionnius Patricia and I would be more than happy to check to see if Council Member Grendmeer Mendothian and Wendell in the Sewage Construction and Maintenance department are still within Piergeron’s Palace. Please wait here and I shall return promptly.” Rionnius smiled at Queless and went inside to check for the officials Queless had requested. Queless waited politely by the door hoping it wasn’t too late to pay these officials a visit.

Rionnius returned after a time. “Sir Queless of the Fellowship of Lightning, Council Member Mendothian is just finishing up for the day but will see you nonetheless. Wendell, unfortunately did not show up for work today which is most disturbing indeed. Wendell is usually the most prompt of anyone within our palace. He is one of the first to arrive and last to leave. I spoke with the guard in Sewage Maintenance and he said Wendell left yesterday afternoon to investigate a problem with sewage backups at the Field of Triumph and did not return. No one has yet to question the guard that I spoke with so they have no reason to suspect anything out of the ordinary. I on the other hand suspect something may have happened to him as this is very out of character for him. Perhaps I shall take leave from my post to investigate. My first stop would be his home to see if he is sick. After that I will proceed to the arena and see what has held him up there. I will escort you inside since I wish to speak to my supervisor regarding this matter.” Rionnius led Queless up the grand stairs and into Piergeron’s Palace.

Rionnius led Queless to the Council Members personal office and then left to speak with her superior. Council Member Grendmeer Mendothian motioned Queless in. “Hail and well met.” He clasped hands with the Drow hero. “What brings you to my office at such a late hour?” Mendothian motioned for Queless to be seated and served tea.

“Council Member, sorry to disturb thee at this hour. Thou hast done much for us and The Fellowship of Lightning would like to give thee a token of our esteem.” Queless handed him the bottle of spirits. “Also, we’re in contact with the clergy of Lathander and plan on starting our assault tomorrow. We have one last request.” Queless handed Council Member Grendmeer Mendothian a letter. “Please read this and tell me thine response. We’ll also be requesting Karis Savage’s assistance. He is a guard in the South Ward. I will be on my way to him after this.”

Council Member Grendmeer Mendothian picked up an ornate gem encrusted letter opened and neatly sliced open Queless’s letter and removed it from the envelope. He put on his small spectacles and looked the letter over.

To: Council Member Grendmeer Mendothian
From: Queless Huldane Fellowship of Lightning

Council Member Grendmeer Mendothian,

First let me thank you for all ye have done for us. We look forward to our future working together to further the glory of Waterdeep.

Second I have another favor to ask, I am almost ashamed to mention it because it is large. I must petition the release of one Vendall Vermannis of Vendall’s Varied Goods, arrested today on charges of smuggling. Good council member, I do not contest the charges against him, but he did save both mine and Morin’s life and I owe him a debt of gratitude. I ask thee for a trial by sword. Allow him to assist us in exterminating our ‘problem’ and if he serves honorably then we ask thee, in thine wisdom, to drop the charges against him or consider leniency based on circumstance. We are busy recruiting potential members, among them is Karis Savage, guard of the South Ward. He could make sure Vendall fulfills his obligation.

Thank you for your time,

Queless Huldane

Council Member Mendothian took a deep and thoughtful breath. “This is a matter that I alone cannot determine. I will speak with the Council at a secret meeting tomorrow evening regarding this. Thank you Queless for your visit and I hope you are able to obtain that which you seek. Well met.” The council member looked tired and ready for bed. He began to gather up paperwork to take home.

As Queless exited the palace he noticed that Rionnius was being replaced by a reinforcement guard at the entrance and Rionnius was preparing to leave her post. Perhaps she was off to investigate Wendell’s disappearance.

“Rionnius, if ye be headed to check on Wendell then thou shouldst be careful. Go not into the sewers alone if ye value your soul. Walk with me, girl.” Queless took her aside while walking to the rickshaw. “There are vampires down there. If ye are truly brave and as skilled as ye art beautiful then thou shouldst come to the Temple of Lathander tomorrow in the early morn. We shall discuss these matters and the way to exterminate them.”

“You shall not refer to me as “girl”, after all I have done for you…. you think one would show a little more respect!” Rionnius quickly changed her demeanor. “If vampires exist in the sewers why was Wendell not warned and why has a general warning not gone out to all the guards, especially here in the palace. I believe you speak farce sir and I shall be on my way now. Good eve.” Rionnius turned and strode quickly down the street towards the arena.

“Thou did thine job and are now bloated with pride? Fool of a girl! That pride shall be thine fall. My apologizes for calling you girl, but I was only trying to warn thee. Now ye would walk happily into death. Fare thee well Rionnius, I hope you are as tough as you talk or me thinks it won’t be long before we shall have to save thee. If ye find I speak the truth than you are welcome to join us.” Queless stood next to the Velvet Champion, awaiting a response from Rionnius.

Rionnius halted in the street and turned to face Queless and the VC. “Vampires? Normally I would not believe such tales, but I have heard stranger things living in Waterdeep. Though your speak is foreign and harsh your tone shows worry for my safety and for that I thank thee. I must keep a watchful eye on the occupants of this palace and Wendell is one of them. He may have run into something and thus I must go. Perhaps you wish to come with me just in case if you are worried so?”

“Rionnius, I fear I shall be up all tonight petitioning people to join our cause. If ye check on Wendell and find he is missing, please do not descend into the sewers without me. Do not confront this evil alone, you cannot win. Please return here at anti-peak and we shall talk more about this matter. Take care Rionnius. Again, my apologies. Pressure is mounting and time is short, I should not have taken my frustration out on thee.” Queless put his palms up in a sign of honesty and non-aggression.

“Thank ye for your apology Queless. If ye shall be up late this evening where can I find you in the wee hours of the morning should I have trouble finding Wendell?” Rioniuss had now turned and slowly walked closer to Queless.

“I shall be sequestered in my room in yonder Castle Ward at the Spires of the Morning. The priests there have graced us with stay there after the fire consumed our rooms at the Silver Lion Inn.” Queless replied.

Rioniuss nodded. “Then I shall seek your audience there should I have troubles with Wendell. Good luck on your hunt for guild companionship.”

Queless waved farewell and hopped into the rickshaw. Queless watched Rionnius’s beautiful and physically fit figure as she walked gracefully down the fine cobblestone streets of Castle Ward at night. The moon was nearly full and it was a good night to be out. The light cast shadows from the spires of Piergeron’s Palace unto nearby buildings and transformed Waterdeep into a different city entirely. The comfortable summer night wind made Queless take a deep breath and close his eyes, dreaming of the tall Duskwoods of Shadowdale. The Velvet Champion woke him from his slumber.

“My friend?”

Queless opened his eyes and smiled, looking down at the Velvet Champion.

“Velvet Champion, we must be off. To the Temple of Sune!”

The Velvet Champion nodded. “Tis called the Temple of Beauty and it is in Sea Ward. Let us be off!” Once again the VC shot off so fast Queless’s stomach was left in the courtyard outside Piergeron’s Palace! The next thing he knew, they were blocks away. Queless rode for a time and then began to think about the potential dangers brought about by this vampire. He wondered if the vampire were to target people close to him if the Velvet Champion would be grouped amongst those.

“Dost ye have a family Velvet Champion?” Queless asked.

“I do, my mother and father passed years ago, but I have a brother, sister, aunt, and uncle living in Icewind Dale, my homeland. They do work as laborers and artisans. I also have another sister living in Silverymoon who is studying magery, 2 cousins in Baldur’s Gate- one is a shady fellow and we don’t know what he does, the other is a Paladin of Tyr at the temple there, he keeps an eye out for his aforementioned brother, a nephew who works as a scribe at Candlekeep, and two nieces who are barmaids at a tavern in Arabel- that’s in Cormyr. Other than that, I don’t have any family living here in Waterdeep.”

“By helping me you put your life in danger. Come, stay with us at the Spires of Morning until this has past.”

“You truly think my life in danger? I can outrun any danger which may come my way, but if you deem it necessary I will join you at the Spires of the Morning. Will I need to donate coin for room and board? If so, I would prefer to stay at my home as I am trying to save every coin I can to perish a debt I had incurred in my youth. I am bound to service until it hath been fulfilled.”

*****

Meanwhile at the South Gate Karis Savage leaned against the wall, eating an apple. A drip fell on his face from bad plumbing above. After the horse accident that nearly killed him, he did not feel much like talking to anybody. “Crazy woman throwing tiles off the building tops” he mumbled to himself. Plus, the tiles in Waterdeep were not small by any standards. He took another bite of his apple. He was standing by a large door made out of pine wood. Six other guards stood around him talking with amusement to themselves.

Wild sounds of rumpus and moans were beginning to settle down in the room that they were standing guard around. Savage looked around him making eye contact with the other guards. He faked a smile as their eyes met. “I sure do wish I was related to royalty sir” said one of the guards, a young pubescent boy in his late teens. Savage just kept looking him in the eyes. Another boy piped in, his helm was a bit crooked and his hair stuck out from underneath it. “You wouldn’t know what to do with a lady if your life depended on it Jyels.” The other guards laughed heartily. The door finally began to open. Savage snapped his fingers and pointed at the guards. A queue to stand at attention. The boys were obedient, and did what they were told. Savage locked the keep’s main entrance just before the royal blooded buffoon he was ordered to “protect” stepped out of the guest quarters at the other end of the hall. It was Savage’s job to make sure no one found out that this affair was taking place. The noble’s wife was more than a bit suspicious about her husband’s whereabouts, which made this job rather difficult.

Savage let out a salute to the man, “All is clear down the corridor sir, you may proceed.” The man was wearing silk leggings, his clothing was ruffled and wrinkled. Savage already knew what he would say next. “Bring me a fresh garment while I proceed to the stables. My wife will be rather upset if I return from my audience with the royal magistrate looking like such.” He then clapped his hands lightly together three times, as if that would make Savage move any faster. As the man stepped out in front of the guards Savage turned to one of the boys and glared at him with that Savage style of command. The boy, knowing that shit rolls down hill, did an about face and headed down the hallway. He would have to locate the laundry quarters on his own, Savage thought to himself. He had never been to the Magistrates palace and would most likely take a bit of time locating something suitable for the royal bastard. Savage shook his head at the thought of waiting around with Garrette of house Selbent. “Lord Garette, if you will not be needing my services I shall take my remaining men to the stables below to ready the horses for your voyage.”

*****

The Velvet Champion finally reached the Temple of Beauty and let Queless off the rickshaw. The temple doors were closed but not fast. Queless still knocked on the large wooden double doors out of consideration using a cast iron knocker shaped like the head of a beautiful woman, her hair wrapping in and around itself. He then pulled it slightly ajar. Light streamed out along with steam and the sounds of sexual fulfillment and laughter. No one responded to his knock so he peered in and saw three large cauldrons set upon hot embers on the stone ground of the temple proper. Naked women bathed and giggled in large heated baths inside the giant cauldrons. Every once in awhile a man would pop up here and there and the women would giggle and push his head back below the steaming water. One woman with curly red hair climbed out of the bath. Candlelight streamed over her naked, wet body like a demon’s tongue licking at that which hath been deprived from many. She smiled at Queless, her bare breasts bouncing as she climbed the stairs down from the cauldron with great grace. Each movement was slowly taken, but fluidly as to appear as water flowing from a decanter. She pulled a white robe from a hook and flung it over her body, letting her fingers trail down her wet legs, watching Queless’s eyes all the while. With her sultry gaze she was obviously getting something out of her exhibitionist display of sexuality. Finally she closed the folds of the thin robe over her wet, naked body and addressed Queless. “Do you come to seek pleasure in the Temple of Beauty?”

“No, although it is most appealing. I have an urgent message for Sister Loli Savage!” Queless stammered while staring at her robe, it slowly unfolded as she spoke revealing her supple tan legs.

“Loli? She is no longer with us at the Temple of Beauty. She has joined the Order of the Sun Soul, an alliance of Lathander, Selune, and Sune. The Order of the Sun Soul maintains a large monastery in the city, due in large part to the presence of prominent churches of those three gods. The order’s current leader, Monastic Abbot Hanor Kichavo, is attempting to unify the three sects of the order into a cohesive whole for the first time in centuries. Drawing selectively on historical texts that survived the Netherese diaspora and the fall of Calimshan’s Cajaan dynasty, he preaches that Lathander, Selûne, and Sune are tripartite fragments of Amaunator, and that the Yellow God shall rise anew once the three are unified to form the one.” The priest spouted this in such a tone that Queless drew that she was not impressed nor swayed in her belief by this new order. She seemed well educated though and Queless was impressed at her knowledge even in matters which were of no real concern to her. He could also disseminate that she did not see this new order as a threat.

“If you’re looking for Loli Savage I recommend trying Misha of the Order of Aster at the Spires of the Morning, Lathander’s temple. He’s dating her.”

“Balls.” Queless muttered. “Well, Mistress of Pleasure, thank you for your time.”

“Anytime.” She said while leaning close to Queless, pretending to pick a piece of something off his clothing and blowing it to the wind. She blew lightly on his neck making Queless shiver and crawl with sexual anticipation. “Good evening.” She said, turning around and dropping her robe to the floor. She stood there naked, glanced over her shoulder at Queless and climbed back into a steamy cauldron.

“Priests dating priests yet I feel like I’m the one living the monastic life…. something is wrong with this picture.” Queless thought as he exited the Temple.

After a brief stop at a push cart for a snack Queless was off again. This time to the South Gate hoping to meet Karis Savage in an attempt to gain his support.

The shadows caused by the light from the torches danced on the fortifications. As Queless approached the guard tower the guards became tense and eyed him suspiciously.

“Hail guardsmen. I am Queless of the Fellowship of Lightning, a mercenary guild here in Waterdeep. I seek Karis Savage, he is a friend of mine.”

The guards looked at each other. One called out “Stand your ground and do not move from that place. I must speak with Sir Savage and see if he has time for the likes of you!” The guard climbed down a wooden ladder mounted in the middle of the wall and into the chambers below. He strode through the hallways and to the barracks where his captain Sir Karis Savage slept. “Sir, I am sorry to bother you, but a Drow warrior stands at the gates, on the INSIDE! He asks for you by name and says he is Queddlek Fellow of Lightning Mercenary. Do you want us to order him away from here?” The guard stood at attention, waiting for a reprimand from the waking Sir Savage.

Savage bolted up right out of bed. Sweet dripped down his forehead. He blinked twice and felt for his sword. Damn, another dream. The wars took a toll on Karis when he was younger. He was now starting to feel the mental effects. He looked down at his pillow and ran his hands over it. Drool stuck to his palm. I really should have a cleric look me over, he thought to himself. Then he focused on the situation at hand, “No don’t send him away. I will see him. We go back. Way back.” Karis rubbed his eyes. “Bring him into the anti chambers, I will get dressed into my uniform and meet with him there.” Karis looked up at the guard. “Oh, and make sure you have some hot tea waiting for me. I think I will be in need of a second wind tonight.” He saluted the guard as a sign of dismissing. Karis suffered from sleep disorders. Being a veteran of the wars, loathing his job, and feeling like he couldn’t make much of a difference in a world consumed by corruption and evil he tended to sleep a lot in his off time, as sleeping at night was nearly impossible for him. He knew quite a bit about the taverns of Waterdeep as well. He was always welcome, as the extra security in the taverns seems to keep order and law. Order and law was Karis’s only salvation in life at the moment.

The guard hurried out of the room to start some tea and summon the Drow to the anti chambers. Karis donned his uniform and armor. He then headed off to the anti chamber to meet with his old friend who assisted him in times past. The guards led Queless the Drow into the South Gate anti chambers where Karis stood ready to greet him. The two stood there looking stoically at each other for a moment, until Karis broke into a tooth-filled grin.

“Karis, my friend.” Queless embraced Karis. “Tis good to see thee again. Things are well, yes? Have ye a moment, there are some things I must discuss with thee.” Queless handed Karis a letter while sitting down to drink tea. “Waterdeep has a vampire problem at the moment. People are dying and it seems like it’s up to us to stop them. I am trying to gain cohorts to confront this problem, and thou, with thine skill at arms, are at the top of my list. I will also ask thine sister Loli to accompany us, she has proved herself quite capable in our travels. I just learned that she is dating Misha, who I also know. So, what say thee, old friend? Thou shalt be doing a the city of Waterdeep, and more importantly the people of Waterdeep, a huge service.”

Karis looked at him and raised an eye brow. “Do you always deliver your own letters Queless?” Karis then cracked a smile.

“It doth seem silly, I know. But I knew not if I could speak to thee. And since I took the time to write this letter I thought it fitting to give to thee.”

Karis looked at Queless intently. “It’s hard to find a job with stability around here. Health benefits, food securities, and a stable income. Why not put your rest off for a while and join me at the Dancing Cyclops. I am meeting with Wallingford Greenhill & Drake for a drink or two. We really should discuss this further tonight.” Karis’s head was swimming with the idea of some real adventure. Vampires are not usually his idea of adventure however. To him it sounded more like suicide.

Queless debates the merit of sleep versus meeting with old friends who aren’t stuffy dwarven priests. “I have fought two battles today and found out a friend may have become a vampire. And that was before lunch. Now, as we reach anti-peak, my fatigue is tempered by a sense of urgency. Knowing that we shall meet with Wallingford and Drake eases my mind, for that means my journey is nearly completed. Let us make haste to the Dancing Cyclops!”

Old friends Karis and Queless left the shelter of the South Gate guard post to join the Velvet Champion in the street. “Queless, good to see you found your friend. Please climb aboard. Where are we off to now?” Queless and Karis climbed into the Rickshaw. “We are bound for an establishment by the name of the Dancing Cyclops my friend. Doth ye know where this tavern doth lie?” Queless asked. The Velvet Champion nodded and smiled. “Aye. Very well, hold on tight!” The Velvet Champion charged through the streets with new found strength from his rest outside. In what seemed like minutes they arrived at the Dancing Cyclops. It was located on the southwestern corner of the High Road & the Street of Tusks, just a half block east of Waterdeep Way.

Before entering Karis gave Queless the dirt on the large tavern. “Here is what I have learned and love about the Dancing Cyclops Tavern & Inn. The Cyclops as they like to call it, is a prosperous tavern. This is the ‘home’ of The Company of the Dancing Cyclops. A group of adventurers that are famous throughout the city and parts of The North. Lark Whisperwind and Jaspryth Redlockes have helped make The Cyclops one of Waterdeep’s hottest taverns in the city.”

“Many other patrons call the Cyclops their home, and to be perfectly honest, many of them have become like family. Like any family, they have their disagreements. Sometimes trouble finds its way into this happy home, but they always manage to come together, closer and stronger than before. The people who come to the Dancing Cyclops are many. There are those who come just for a quick drink and those that linger all through the day until closing. With every person comes a story. This is the reason that the Cyclops does so well, everyone here has a story. Some patrons don’t bother anyone and wish the same for themselves, others like to tell their tales to any who will listen. Sometimes 2 or 3 or even 17 times if they can.” Karis finished his long professional guard speak and let out a sigh. “They serve damn stiff drinks too. Let’s have a couple.”

With that the two climbed off the rickshaw and proceeded towards the entrance. “Shall I wait here sir?” VC asked Queless.

Queless turned to the Velvet Champion. “Ye have worked hard for me today, and if ye are thristy than please join us. The Fellowship of Lightning will pay for thine drinks.”

“Thank ye Queless, but I do not drink while working. I will await you here. Just to let you know tonight will be fairly expensive, I hope you are not perturbed with the price by night’s end.” The Velvet Champion sat down on his rickshaw to wait and pulled out an apple to chomp on while relaxing outside.

The sound of music could be heard outside and as Queless walked into the Dancing Cyclops he realized just how unwelcome he was. Passing the bouncers was easy, but once he fully entered the tavern a group of wizards quickly stood up reaching for their wands, almost out of instinct. The music stopped. After an awkward silence, the mages sat back down. As Queless passed they muttered something. Queless caught part of it. They said something along the lines of “the only good drow is a dead drow”.

At another table a group of tough looking humans sat with their hands on their weapons looking at Queless. As Queless stared at one of the humans a halfling snuck up and punched him in the cod piece. As Queless doubled over in suprise the halfling laughed loudly and fell to the floor in a state of hysteria.

“Mwah, ha, ha! nice to punch-er see ya again Queless.”

The rest of the Dancing Cyclops Tavern & Inn exploded in laughter.

“…. Well met, Wallingford. I am glad to see that thee hast not lost thine sense of humor…. dick. Where’s everybody else?”

Wallingford Greenhill was short even by halfling standards. He always wore a fine green vest over a lighter green tunic. He also wore brown trowsers with suspenders hanging at his sides and belt pouches doing a full 360 around his belt to hide various trinkets and stolen coin. He had tousled brown hair and eyes and a smattering of freckles from too much time spent laying in the sun on rooftops sunbathing. He looked as if he had gained a little weight (perhaps from drinking a few too many mugs of ale) although it didn’t seem to slow him down. “My good friend, it is a pleasure to see you! Sorry about the codpiece bit, it’s all in good humour! This place is great! We like to sing and dance and party and drink and sing and dance and party and sing…”

“Ahem, Wal- where is Drake this evening?” Karis inquired while grabbing the halfling by the back of his neck and pulling him closer. Wallingford gulped staring at Karis’s large muscles and pointed across the room to a table of fine maidens. Drake sat on a chair with a beautiful blond in a white gown on his lap. Five more women surrounded him showering him with praise and affection. Drake seemed fairly inebriated and laughed loudly while grabbing the ass and then bosom of a tall brunette who screamed and slapped him lightly in the face. Drake lept up knocking the girl on his lap over the table as if she was getting into position for him. He then grabbed the brunette who screamed and hit him with her fists. He picked her up under one arm and the blond under the other and proceeded to try and haul them out of the tavern. A couple large bouncers immediately gave up their post at the door and started heading in Drake’s direction. They did not look happy. At the same time one of the mages sitting at a table near Queless yelled “NOW!” The mages whipped out their wands and leveled them at the bartender who lept behind the bar as a stream of lightning bolts completely obliterated a section of fine imported liquors and showered the patrons in glass and fine spirits. The mages faces contorted and shifted and suddenly groteque alien humanoids appeared before the group. One turned towards them while pulling out a strange alien blade and pointing a wand at Queless. “Do not move!” it said seemingly speaking through Queless’s mind.

Queless looked at the creature and felt a wave of racial hostility wash over him. Having never met these creatures, he found the feeling awkward.

Looking at the creature in the eyes, he yelled without thinking. “Look out behind ye!” And dove, attempting to draw his lightning spellsword.

The creature would not be fooled by such trickery and leveled it’s wand at Queless. “Draw that sword and die.” it said, again speaking directly to Queless’s mind. Queless looked it in the eyes while rolling over and unsheathing his spellsword. The creatures mouth flared in a display of small sharp teeth and a disgusting hole of a maw pulsating and bulging, colored white and purple. It let loose a charge of the wand which created a beam of bright white light that leapt from the end of the wand towards Queless. Queless rolled under a nearby table out of instinct just as the light hit. The table was ripped off of Queless and the creature moved the wand up and lifted the gigantic, heavy round table clean into the air and threw it across the room. While busy doing this Queless pushed himself off his knees and into a running start straight at the creature. His spellsword fit snugly and perfectly into his hands and as he neared the disgusting writhing humanoid he thrust out with the blade, stabbing it directly between it’s ribs. The grotesque humanoid staggered back and Queless slashed again, striking his left arm and sending the wand tumbling through the air. Out of the corner of his eye Queless could see a small halfling form leap from a table top, snatch up the airborne wand and disappear behind the bar. Meanwhile all nine hells were breaking loose. Three of the creatures were charging towards the bar, letting loose massive amounts of magical energy which blasted and pulsated completely obliterating the old wooden bar and it’s attached stools. Glass and wood was flying everywhere. A sharp piece of wood flew off the bar and impaled an old man who was attempting to escape the tavern and inn. He fell the to ground bleeding badly. The man called out “Jondar, I need a healer…” and trailed off, passing out on the floor. After this there was a low growl and rumbling from behind the bar. “ARRRGGGG!! I AM JONDAR THE BEAR, OWNER OF THE CYCLOPS. YOU WILL LEAVE NOW OR DIE MIND FLAYER SCUM!” A human man who was so squat and muscular he resembled a dwarf leapt out from behind the bar with a huge heavy club in hand. “BRING IT.” He said to the Mind Flayers before him. As this transpired Karis stood up and brought his shield up to guard himself while charging the nearest Mind Flayer and pulling his City Guard issue longsword free from it’s sheath. Wallingford Greenhill was now nowhere to be seen and seemed to have slipped out into the night with his magical wand gift from the Mind Flayers. Flashes of bright light and crashes eminated from the bar as “Jondar the Bear” waded through the rubble thumping his gigantic club into the Flayers and sending them flying through the air and crashing into tables and chairs, furthering the destruction of his quaint tavern.

Suddenly a strange deep hum could be heard not in the occupants ears, but in their minds. Many people collapsed on the floor and stopped moving. Queless feared that they might be dead. The group of Mind Flayers suddenly began moving towards Jondar the innkeeper with vast aggression. The one in melee with Queless held his ground though and Queless continued the battle with the single creature. Drake, Karis, and the others attempted to stop the Mind Flayers moving towards Jondar but with a wave of the Mind Flayer’s wands the would be heroes went flying through the air, crashing into tables and chairs and hitting the ground hard. Queless glanced over and saw his friends faces contorted in pain. They were bleeding badly and looked near death which was surprising to him since they had sustained much greater wounds in more dangerous battles. Perhaps these Mind Flayers wielded a power alien to the friends. Queless was awoken from his distraction by the Illithid before him! The creature stabbed forward with his blade, Queless tried to parry, but the blade bit home before he could get his defense up. It found it’s home in his left shoulder and cut clean through his armor! Pain radiated through Queless’s body and his left arm began shaking and weakened a bit. He clenched his jaw and held onto his spellsword with all his might, and as the creature withdrew the blade to stab again Queless made his move. Queless pressed forward hoping to knock the Mind Flayer prone. His blade sliced the Mind Flayer’s flesh like butter. The creature feebly attacked with its blade but it was caught and trapped by Queless’ spell sword. Queless twisted his wrist in, palm up, then thrust his blade into the Mind Flayer’s abdomen. The Mind Flayer looked into Queless’s eyes and pulled his blade deeper into his gooey abdomen. Purple juices oozed out all over his lightning spellsword. The creature hissed and its tentacles began to caress Queless’s face. Queless bowed his head and the Mind Flayer’s tentacles grasped his helm. Queless picked up his front foot and turned it inward to help him as he swiveled his waist, shifting his weight back, and pulling his sword upward slicing through the Mind Flayer’s vital organs. He finally pulled the blade out of the creatures chest then sliced horizontally cutting it’s thigh wide open. Purplish blood oozed from the creatures multiple wounds and it shivered uncontrollably before collapsing dead upon the barroom floor.

Queless looked up just in time to see three of the Mind Flayers charge Jondar. Jondar slammed his gigantic club into one who was crushed to death under the weight. Unfortunately the club was so massive that to lift it back up to attack took great strength and time which Jondar did not have. Instead of attacking Jondar the other two Mind Flayers reached out and grabbed onto Jondar. Drake lept to his feet, recovered but still injured and ran towards Jondar to help. “Jondar, I’m coming!” Drake yelled over the noisy melee. What happened next caused Queless to do a double take. The two Mind Flayers and Jondar became somewhat transparent and blurry. Their forms shifted and twisted and were bathed in a strange red light. Then all three of them vanished completely. The rest of the Mind Flayers promptly vanished as well and all that was left was the groans of the injured. A few uninjured patrons sifted through the remnants of tables, chairs, and broken glass to help others. A man in his early thirties ran out the door to retrieve the city guard.

Drake with his long brown braided hair dangling, helped up an injured maiden and began to carry her past Queless. “Queless? By the gods, it’s been awhile! I have to get Vivian to a healer, then I’ll be back to help. Wait here, we have much to talk about!” Drake smiled showing Queless that he was missing another tooth and rushed out the front door. Karis and Wallingford lay unconscious to the left of the bar, covered in broken glass and wood shards. Neither was moving although Queless could see their chests rise and fall. They would need healers, but were still alive. Queless surveyed the injured and rushed to assist them by binding their wounds. Starting with the most critically injured, he ripped some fabric from their clothes then tried to stop the bleeding. “Tell the man with the rickshaw that Queless needs the dwarf priest urgently!! He’s at the Temple of Morning.” Queless spoke his thoughts aloud “Morin the Velvet Champion is coming to get thee. There has been a battle and people are hurt including some of our friends.”

A middle aged patron of the bar called out to Queless “I shall speak with your rickshaw driver and send word!” He ran to the exit and nearly collided with Drake who burst through the doors still carrying the maiden in his arms. His face was flushed and he looked as if something horrific had just occurred leaving him speechless. “Que- I, we… Something is… wrong…” He could barely speak. After a few moments he regained his composure. “I don’t know what happened, I’m… we’re not here or it’s not there… I went outside and it’s gone… everything… Waterdeep… gone. I… I don’t know what to do. I’m sorry.” He set the maiden upon a table and fell onto the floor in a crouched position breathing hard. “It’s gone… it’s gone.. it can’t be gone… have I lost my mind?” Drake sat down hard and looked around the room in a daze. Queless wondered if he had been adversely affected by the Mind Flayers magic wands or a blow to the head. The middle aged bar patron ran out the doors and quickly returned. “HELP! HELP! Something is wrong! Waterdeep is no longer outside! We’re somehow… caves… caves… we’re inside a dark cavern and… we’re doomed! Evil magic has doomed us all! We’re all going to die!” The man burst into tears and sat down at a table next to Drake sobbing uncontrollably. “I’ll never see my wife and daughter again… by the gods! Someone save us! Please!”

“BY THE GODS!” Queless yelled as he upturned a table. “Must we endure this again? Can not this city stay in one place? Once all the wounded were bandaged Queless walked towards the solid oak double doors of the establishment. As he neared very cold air pushed it’s way in through the cracks. He threw the doors open and saw a sight quite surreal. Blue gray stone ground was in place of cobblestones and was far reaching. With his infravision Queless could just barely make out a rocky wall straight ahead pierced by black sharp spikes about three feet long which curled up at the ends. Looking up he could just barely make out the skeletal corpses of long since dead humanoids impaled on the spikes. The rock wall climbed up for as far as he could see with his infravision. Queless thought he could just barely make out a light eminating from somewhere above the rock wall. To the right and left the rock floor went on for as far as he could see. The ceiling was far too high to make out, but it was evident that somehow the entire inn had found itself inside of a gigantic cavern. The inn sat completely out of space smack in the middle of this alien landscape. Queless thought this sounded like something out of a children’s novel his human mother used to read him. A famous line from that book came to mind. “We’re not in the Dalelands anymore…” Queless said aloud.

***** 

 

*DANCING CYCLOPS INN & TAVERN COURTESY OF RAFLAR’S WEBSITE ON WATERDEEP: CITY OF SPLENDORS! THANK YOU RALF!*

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About Jonathan G. Nelson

Jonathan G. Nelson is the editor-in-chief and owner of NERD TREK. He is also owner/publisher at AAW Games / AdventureAWeek.com, a tabletop gaming company based in Snoqualmie, WA. Connect with Jonathan via Facebook.