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Week Thirteen

December 11th, 1997
Avg. Rating: 4.1

Festival of Greengrass, Year of the Shield, Night

As the episode began the entire party was together in the Stone Hearth, where a disconcerting discovery had been made- Juliet's back was covered with a bloody symbol, a circle around a claw, cut into the flesh.

As soon as he saw the mark Talyth demanded to know where it had come from, and why it was on Juliet. She claimed she didn't know where it had come from. Talyth simply turned and stormed out of the Hearth, followed closely behind by Kelly (who wanted to know why he was so upset). Kelly caught up to him in the street. Talyth was anxious and agitated, and reminded Kelly where else that symbol had been seen- on the back of King Zoar's assassin. She returned inside, he disappeared into the city.

The party decided it would be best to wake Tristan, to see if he had any idea of what this symbol was, or how it had appeared on Juliet. Though he had heard of this symbol, in connection with Zoar and Amlaruil, he didn't know how it had come to be on Juliet, though he was certain it was "the fault of magic". While he dressed Juliet's back the party explained to him their previous adventures, hoping to discover some clues as to what had happened. Once Tristan had finished cleaning the wound he was surprised to find that it had already closed, and left behind visible scars. He returned to sleep, as did Erik and Juliet; Gregory and Kelly stayed up a bit longer, Kelly eventually going to her room and Gregory sleeping downstairs in the bar.

Starcarn, Manayar 1st, Year of the Shield

Gregory was awakened early this morning by someone knocking at the door of the Hearth, an old beggar asking to speak with Kelly. Once the party had been roused from sleep the beggar was allowed in. He removed his tattered old cloak to reveal, not some elderly street beggar, but Lord Piergeiron himself, traveling the city magically disguised to escape the notice of his enemies.

Piergeiron explained to the group that he was attempting to contact all those in the city he felt could still be trusted, who had not yet succumbed to whatever madness was infecting his citizens. Only he would know who all these groups were, to make it more difficult to destroy them all. Piergeiron told the party that they had all been vouched for (Tristan and Gregory by Calishara, everyone else by Olaf before his death) and were considered trustworthy. He and the other Lords wanted them to merely keep their eyes and ears open, and to report back with anything which might shed some light on the current state of Waterdeep. They could pass a message to Kitten, a dancer at the Jade Dancer festhall, who would know where to relay it from there.

Piergeiron went on to explain how things were in the city. Crime and unrest were nearly out of control, and the City Guard and Watch had been mustered to the castle. They only patrolled the city in groups of ten or more now, after losing many soldiers to ambush and desertion. All across the city hundreds of people had disappeared or been killed, most of them sages, sorcerers, or clerics. The University had been burned to the ground, as had most of the larger private libraries. No spells of information or divination had been successfully cast in the city since the Storm, but it was obvious that what was happening in the city and elsewhere was being controlled somehow, by someone. The most probable explanation would be a resurrected Thieves' Guild, but then who would the new Guildmaster be, and why would they be acting so openly?

Finally, Lord Piergeiron wanted to explain one last thing. He told the party that he was a member of the Harpers, an informal and secretive alliance of those in the North who sought to do good and prevent the spread of evil. Talyth was also a Harper, as were Olaf and Blackstaff before their deaths. Piergeiron cautioned the group to be very careful in the coming weeks, because Harpers and their allies and friends were among those hardest hit by the recent wave of murderous persecutions. With that he redonned his cloak and returned to the streets as a beggar.

After some discussion the party decided to split up for the afternoon- Tristan, Einor, and Talyth would go to a local bookstore to research the runes on Juliet's sword, and Juliet, Kelly, Gregory, and Gino (who had arrived just before the party left) would go to the market for food, and also to see how things in the city were.

When Tristan, Einor, and Talyth arrived at the bookshop they were just in time to see three Shieldbreakers leaving in a hurry. A short scuffle ensued but the Shieldbreakers escaped after knocking Tristan unconscious. Inside the shop Einor and Talyth found the shopkeeper, also unconscious; everything inside had been splashed with lamp oil but not yet lit. They tended to the shopkeeper and explained to him what they had come for, and he rewarded them with two books: Netheril, the Kingdom of Mages, and A Nithril Language Primer. They took the books, and Tristan, and returned to the Stone Hearth.

Meanwhile, the rest of the party were making their way to the marketplace when they came upon a wandering street preacher. He wore a simple black tunic and cloak, but his face had been decorated with scales. He was loudly proclaiming that "She will return", and that "Her judgment will destroy the weak and reward the strong". Gregory quietly separated from the others, who approached the man to ask him of whom he spoke. "She Who Sees All" was his only reply, before launching into another long tirade about her judgment. At this point Gregory emerged from the shadows, juggling two stones and a rotten grapefruit, and asked the confused man to bet on which item would fall first. Perplexed and unsure (though he did win a copper piece), the half-crazed man continued on his way, soon heard in the distance once again spouting his strange beliefs to any who would listen.

At the marketplace the group purchased baskets filled with food, but before long one of the merchants recognized Juliet from her previous fight and set a group of Shieldbreakers on her. On the edge of the marketplace Gregory bought dozens of pastries and threw them into the air, announcing "Free pastries!" In the ensuing confusion they quickly escaped into the crowd (though not before hitting one of the mercenaries in the face with a tart).

Everyone soon met back at the Stone Hearth, where Tristan had already recuperated and begun reading his books. Tristan told Juliet that the runes on her sword read "A gift to the mighty Hemmontept, may it be the Bane of thine enemies", but that he hadn't yet had much success discovering how to break the sword's "negative influence". Juliet and Kelly went upstairs, as Juliet wanted to check on the sword (which she had left under the floorboards in her room). When Juliet opened the door, however, there was the sword lying atop her bed.

Speechless, the two went into the room and put the sword back under the floorboards, then closed the door and returned to the hallway. When they opened the door, however, the sword was once again resting on the bed! Amazed by this, Kelly held onto the sword in its scabbard, and Juliet tried to think of something which made her angry (in this case, Gino). Much to her surprise the sword appeared in her hand, though Kelly still held the scabbard and belt!

Downstairs, Tristan suddenly leapt to his feet and rushed upstairs to Juliet's room, with the rest of the party close behind. He stared into Juliet's eyes and said a few words; Juliet's eyes closed and she slumped down on the bed. Tristan began yelling like a madman, telling the party "Tie her down!", and "Hurry, there's not much time!" Kelly stood between Tristan and Juliet and demanded to know what he was talking about, but Tristan refused to answer, repeating his earlier commands. The rest of the party now began asking Tristan to explain himself- "This is the only way to save her!" he yelled, but still would not fully explain. (To read what Tristan read about the sword, click here). Finally, with the entire party between himself and Juliet, Tristan told them that he had possibly found a way to free Juliet of the sword's influences but that they would have to act fast. Still unconvinced by the newcomer's arguments, everyone stood their ground and discussed it amongst themselves. Talyth finally decided that he would tie her up, if for no other reason than to expose Tristan for a traitor. Everyone watched Tristan carefully as Talyth stepped forward with the rope; Kelly still clutched the sheathed sword across the room.

Talyth touched Juliet's wrist. She bolted upright, sword suddenly in hand, and swung a fatal blow towards Talyth's neck...

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My parents just came back from a planet where the dominant life form had no bilateral symmetry, and all I got was this stupid F-Shirt.
-- unknown