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Week Nineteen

March 12th, 1998
Avg. Rating: 3.3

Starcarn, Manayar 11th, Year of the Shield, Afternoon

The episode began with a short segue, set outside the back of the Stone Hearth. A large man, nearly seven feet tall, walked down the alleyway past the Hearth, casually glancing up at the second floor window as he went. A few blocks beyond he suddenly stopped and wheeled around, hand on his sword, but there was no one behind him...he cautiously continued. After a few more blocks he was ambushed by a six man Guard patrol. Three guards tried to wrestle him to the ground, but he was able to fling them away; one guard did manage to grab his sword, however, leaving the large man unarmed. He backed slowly away as the guards drew their weapons, until his back was to a wall. The large man was startled to see a beautifully crafted, black handled shortsword stuck in the rain barrel next to him; he grabbed it and waded into his six attackers. In a flash of steel and blood the man killed or critically wounded all six of the guards, not suffering a single wound himself. He marvelled at his new blade, tucked it into his belt, and continued on his way...

The party, however, remained deep in the sewers, in Xanathar's lair, continuing to pack up provisions and study some of the coded documents from the library. Lord Piergeiron removed the glove from his left hand, showing his arm and hand to be bloated and purple. Sivantri explained that he and Piergeiron had narrowly escaped yet another assassination attempt just moments before being summoned to the sewers by Willow's note, an assassination attempt by an undead pseudodragon.

While these conversations were taking place, Gregory was exploring the large tunnel which led from the lair's double doors. The corridor ended abruptly after 60 yards or so, but Gregory found a hidden catch which caused the wall to rumble down into the floor. About 20 yards beyond that was another wall; a small key hung from a peg here, and a large iron chain was suspended from the ceiling. Gregory, after noticing a small crack in the wall which let in sunlight and salty air, returned to the group.

When Gregory returned to the main chamber, the first of many "caravans" of guardsmen, laden with stolen treasure, had already returned to the surface, bringing the prisoner Caldia with them. Erik and Gino were exploring the storeroom/armory, everyone else seemed to be discussing how Kelly was able to magically transport the dwarf away when no other teleportation spells worked within the city. Three guards had been positioned in the hallway, leaving just one with Lord Piergeiron (a guard named Ludwig).

As everyone went about their business, Gregory heard a cry from the hallway, the one where the guards had been stationed. He, Ludwig, Piergeiron, and Erik crept out into the hallway to investigate; Gregory discovered a human skeleton standing across from the doorway, in the shadows. Upon closer inspection he saw that it was the skeleton of the zombie they had earlier slain, twisted and charred from the fire he had lit. Before he could learn any more the motionless skeleton sprang into action and tried to tear out his throat.

Gregory, with assistance from the others, quickly destroyed the reanimated skeleton. As its skull came free and hit the ground it looked up at Lord Piergeiron and croaked out an ominous message: "Piergeiron, I will eat your heart..." There was not, however, much time to puzzle over this, as a huge explosion rang out from behind the party. Turning to look, they saw the entire library room engulfed in flames, spewing thick smoke into the main chamber even as the parchment scrolls and maps burned up. The party then noticed that Xanathar's corpse was nowhere to be seen- and that there were sounds of someone coming down the sewer tunnel towards the room.

Those in the corridor remained to face whoever was coming, while those inside the room dealt with the fire. Willow magically shaped water from the tank across the library doorway, preventing any more smoke from escaping, while Kelly ran to close the door. Before she could, however, Xanathar's reanimated and undead form flew out of the library, blackened from the fire and still smoking. As the group in the room battled the undead beholder, the group in the hall could now see what was coming towards them- all three of the city guards, killed and reanimated. They quickly withdrew into the room, locking and barring the door behind them. The guards began trying to break the doors in.

The battle with Xanathar was fierce: Talyth and Tristan were both critically wounded, and at one point the beholder had even charmed Erik into attacking Talyth. But the combined might of the party soon defeated Xanathar once more, and they began retreating down the large corridor Gregory had previously explored. Willow covered their escape with a sandstorm, cast in front of the door the zombie guards were attempting to break down.

The party quickly made their way to the end of the tunnel and found the wall to be a large secret door. Once opened they stood overlooking the ocean, in the cliff face below the East Torch Tower of the city's walls. Gregory climbed to the top and explained to the guards on the wall what had happened; everyone was soon helped back into the city and onto a large wagon.

The wagon made its bumpy way through the streets towards the Stone Hearth. Piergeiron suggested to the party that they might be safer, for now, living inside the castle walls; though reluctant to leave the Hearth, the party saw the wisdom in Piergeiron's words and agreed. Kelly, Erik, Gregory, Willow, and Gino disembarked at the tavern to pack up what they would need; Talyth and Tristan were rushed to the castle for much-needed medical attention.

Two hours later a wagon carrying a ten man escort arrived at the Stone Hearth to bring the party and their belongings to Castle Waterdeep. As the wagon was being loaded, Kelly and Erik thought they noticed something moving on the rooftop of a destroyed inn two buildings down the street. Two guards were sent to investigate.

The guards climbed up to the roof and inched forward to the rubble Kelly and Erik had pointed out. Something flew away past them, just a blur of motion, knocking one of the guards off the roof to the street below. The party and a few guards rushed to the man's aid- though not hurt badly by the fall from the roof, something else was wrong with him. He was clutching his throat, and his lips and tongue were blackened. The guard was rushed to the wagon, but he died on the way to the castle. A large purple mark was discovered on his shoulder, very similar to Piergeiron's wounded arm.

Ludwig reunited the party with their wounded comrades, then escorted them all to their rooms. Willow and Kelly took the first room, Gregory, Erik, and Tristan took the second, and Talyth and Gino took the last.

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Happiness is the sense that one matters.
-- Sarah Trimmer