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Week Twenty Five

May 21st, 1998
Avg. Rating: 4.4

SEGUE

Ygraine and her Lliran followers, all eating together in their run-down tavern, were interrupted by a knock from the hall. When Ygraine opened the door her head was immediately engulfed by an undead pseudodragon, a pseudodragon missing its right forepaw. As the creature coiled its tail around Ygraine's throat the room filled with Shieldbreakers and grey robed Dragon Cultists. The surprised Llirans leapt to their feet, and the room erupted with the sounds of steel and the flash of clerical magics. When the dust settled all the Llirans had been slain, though two Cultists and three Shieldbreakers had joined them. The remaining Shieldbreakers stripped the Llirans of their possessions and followed the pseudodragon back out into the city.

EPISODE

The episode began with the PCs spread throughout the city: Tristan, still in the party's castle quarters, used the knowledge he gained from the first parchment he decoded to decipher three more, though even after being translated they still made no sense; Willow remained with Sivantri in his tower, assisting him in some research and learning the basics of the Retch spell; Kelly and Erik were in the marketplace purchasing new clothing and jewelry; Gregory went to see Ygraine and discovered what had happened to her and her followers. Before leaving he took all the robes and emblems from the bodies of the Dragon Cultists.

At this point a bell began ringing in the Temple section of the city; first one, then a second, then a third. The temples were in trouble! Kelly and Erik rushed from the market to the Tower of Luck, passing a few other temples on the way- it appeared that all the temples in the city were being attacked by Shieldbreakers, Dragon Cultists, even the occasional stirges or umber hulk. They arrived at the Tower just in time to see seven Shieldbreakers emerging from inside, blood on their armor and weapons. Erik and Kelly attacked, surprising the group and quickly slaying two of them. The remaining Shieldbreakers retaliated, forcing Kelly to attempt a retreat via her natural magic abilities- once again, Lady Luck favored the bold, and she and Erik found themselves suddenly standing back in Castle Waterdeep's courtyard.

Tristan and Rakmor, who had initially gone to investigate the alarm bells, returned to the castle at about the same time. While Tristan tended to Erik and Kelly's wounds, Rakmor reported what was happening and began organizing groups of cavalry soldiers to go and aid the besieged temples. He then led Kelly, Erik, and Tristan into the castle, to inform Lord Piergeiron of the situation. He came to them in the study, with Breesa, and listened carefully as Breesa tended Kelly's wounds. Breesa seemed to drug Kelly into unconsciousness while healing her, prompting Erik to leap to his feet and slam Piergeiron into the wall. Piergeiron put Erik into a magical sleep, then ordered Rakmor to arrest Tristan under suspicion of treason. Before Rakmor could decided what to do, Tristan surrendered and allowed himself to be bound. Erik, Kelly, and Tristan were all taken to the castle's dungeons, stripped of their possessions (Piergeiron took Heartseeker himself), and locked in cells.

Simultaneous to all of this, Willow and Sivantri were still in Sivantri's tower when the first bell began ringing. Sivantri turned to say something, but was unexpectedly stopped by a familiar blue blade jutting from his chest. As his body crumpled to the floor, his invisible killer slowly appeared- it was Lord Piergeiron, wielding Bane! As Willow watched, Piergeiron changed form, but not into Dandelus- he became an older man, with a hooked nose and a broad white streak in his black hair (Kormallis). Behind Kormallis, Caldia and Dugan (Xanathar's drow and dwarf henchmen) burst into the room, weapons drawn. As if that weren't bad enough, Willow also spied the eyes of the undead pseudodragon in the chamber. She had only one real option- she jumped out the tower's window.

As she fell, bolts of magic energy hurled by Kormallis narrowly missed her. Still in freefall, Willow cast a flight spell and began flying away. The pseudodragon, however, caught up to her and sank its teeth deep into her shoulder. Willow paralyzed the creature and they both fell to the ground. Just before succumbing to her wounds, Willow destroyed the beast by piercing its heart. She then fell unconscious.

Gregory, meanwhile, was also alone in the city when the first temple bell began to ring. As soon as he realized what was happening Gregory donned a Shieldbreaker tabard and began disrupting the attacks under cover of the chaos of battle. He set fire to carts laden with alcohol and rolled them into their siege lines. He picked off whatever stragglers or wounded he could find. He even brazenly lit two Cultists on fire, claiming his mind had been charmed. Finally, troops from the castle began arriving in force, though the only two temples not taken by that time were Mystra's House of Wonder and Tempus' House of Heroes.

As the battles raged on, Tristan, Kelly, Erik, and even Willow found themselves in the castle's dungeons. Though their cell doors didn't appear locked, they were magically held in place; the PCs couldn't even put their hands through the bars. In one of the other cells lay a prone figure on a bed of straw, a figure who turned out to be Lord Piergeiron. He seemed harshly bitter, uncharacteristically despondent. When Tristan cautioned him to "not give in to despair", Piergeiron clumsily rose and hobbled to the bars. In the dim torchlight of the dungeons the party could just make out steel caps on the stumps where Piergeiron's hands and feet used to be. "Don't speak to me of despair!" was all he bellowed before collapsing back onto his pile of straw.

In the silence which followed Kelly could hear something burrowing beneath the stone floor of her cell. To everyone's surprise, Shreesha burst up from the floor. Without explanation she quickly bent open enough cell bars that everyone could gather in Kelly's cell. The PCs retrieved most of their equipment (all except Heartseeker) while Shreesha retrieved Piergeiron (though she had to knock him out to keep him quiet). They all made their escape through the tunnel Shreesha had emerged from.

As the episode ended, Talyth was still unaccounted for (he also had rushed to the Temple district); Gregory was at the House of Heroes trying to convince the Tempurians and the City Guard to all rush to aid Mystra's House of Wonder; and Tristan, Kelly, Willow, Erik, and Shreesha were inside an abandoned building where the tunnel reached the surface.

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