11 min read

Gaining an Audience

The party is granted an audience with the Open Lord of Waterdeep, Lareal Silverhand. Their relationship with Davil unravels.
Gaining an Audience

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The Escort

Voice from behind: If I didn’t know any better, I would think you’d be testing me to see how many laws you could break before I arrested you.

Captain Staget leaned against the shed with his arms crossed. They hadn’t seen him in their urgency and spun around at his voice.

Staget: How about we put all that back where we found it yeah? Then let’s get moving, you’re wanted elsewhere.

The party obeyed, reentering the armory structure, and returning the items they had pilfered. Except when it came to Akta and Finzu. They both decided to slip a pair of handcuffs into their pockets.

Once they returned about everything, they moved back outside and awaited further instruction.

Staget: It better be a good fuckin story. I’ll hear it on the way. Oh, and you, the red one, how about we leave the handcuffs here? Or I can add theft to your tab.
I rolled a perception check for the Captain to determine if he noticed either of the two attempting to steal the handcuffs. He rolled higher than Akta’s sleight of hand which is why he was able to catch her.

The party followed as he led them across the open training yard that lay inside the walls of Castle Waterdeep. City Watch members, and a few individuals that looked to be soldiers, were running drills in the open air. The mountain towered over the castle, which itself looked as old and elegant.

He took them to another structure pressed up against the exterior of the yard. On the side was a water pump and a bucket.

Staget: You smell worse than you look. Wash up before I lose my lunch. And hurry.

He then led them, dripping from the pump, towards the main gate. All the while Taman regaled him with the tale of their adventure. Time and again the Captain would tell him to skip forward or that he didn’t care about “dolls” or “crocs”.

He then loaded the party into a carriage that was waiting for them. He took his seat in the box with them and instructed Taman to continue. Only when the Captain realized that Taman was telling him about Xanathar’s lair did he stop him.

Staget: You mean to tell me that the four of you, who can’t shit in the woods without someone catching you, found your way into Xanathar’s lair?

Viigo: Well, you see, it was kind of by accident.

Staget: And you did it all by accident. (the Captain shakes his head) Was the beholder there? Did you see him?

Taman: More like he saw us.

At this, the Captain was truly dumbstruck. His mouth worked but he was unable to get any words out.

It was a short ride before they pulled up in front of Pergerion’s Palace. The structure stood in stark contrast to Castle Waterdeep. Where the latter had sharp boxy angels composed of weathered gray stone, the palace that stood before them was the definition of elegance.

Perferion’s Palace stands in stark contrast to Castle Waterdeep

Pristine white marble columns held a billowing roof punctuated with gold ornamentation. Vibrant blues highlighted grand windows and sprawled across the stonework-like veins.

Staget led them through the main gate, a massive structure meant to impress those who entered. Marching down a wide white walkway, they soon arrived at the main entrance. The large double doors stood wide open with a pair of ornately decorated soldiers positioned on either side.

They nodded to the captain as he led them through a grand hall, up a small set of stairs, and out into a large open-air atrium. To say it was anything less than a large park would be inadequate. Trees and flower beds punctuated the space. But dominating the view was a large tower at its center.

The tower itself looked as if it didn’t belong. It had the feel of a time long lost. It was a shadow to the light of the palace. Surrounding the tower in its entirety was a shimmering shell of a purple hue. As they crossed the space they noticed the skeletal remains magically suspended within the shell.

Staget didn’t look twice. Instead, he took into a hall identical to the first. This time, however, he stopped at the first doorway.

The doors stood share allowing them to see inside. The room looked to be a study of sorts. Bookshelves packed with leather bindings lined the back wall. But their eyes immediately went to the large table dominating the space. Seemingly built into its surface was a scale model of Waterdeep. Every building and street is represented.

But even that was not enough to hold their gazes for long. A woman in fine white and red robes stood opposite them. She had a stern but kind face and her gaze, once tight in concentration, eased when she saw them approach.

Staget: I have brought them as you requested my lady.

The Woman: Thank you Hyustes. (Turning to them) It is a pleasure to finally meet you. I am Laeral Silverhand, the Open Lord of Waterdeep

An Audience With The Open Lord

There was a moment of silence as the words took hold. Taman was the one to fill the gap. He stepped forward, bowed, and addressed the Open Lord in a politically correct manner. Given everything, Laeral found the gesture a bit humorous and a small smile tugged at the tips of her lips.

Laeral Silverhand, the Open Lord of Waterdeep

Laeral: I must admit that I find your little group quite endearing. Though (pressing a finger to her lips) I find myself wondering what master you truly serve.

The party didn’t know how to answer that and then silence lasted more than a few breaths.

Laeral: (shrugging) Though, in the end, I don’t suppose it matters. Come, sit with me.

She gestured to a table that was set up against a large bay window overlooking the courtyard. Five chairs were evenly spaced around the table with a teapot and saucers on its surface. Laeral was the first to seat herself, taking the spot closest to the window.

After a few moments of gazing out the window, she spoke without turning to look at them.

Laeral: Are you familiar with Agherion’s tower? No? It is quite a tale. I admit I am surprised. The main protagonist is one of your close friends I am told. Renear?

Agherion was the first Open Lord of Waterdeep and was the one to establish our current political structures. While an excellent politician, he was also a powerful mage.

(nodding out the window) No one is thought to have entered since Ahgahiron’s death, thanks to a series of wards. Though some have tried. One such individual was a mage that went by the pseudonym ‘Ten Rings’.

This was not long ago, during a time of great struggle for us. This mage was able to slip under our radar because we were distracted by the murders of many of the Masked Lords.

Nonetheless, it was ultimately Renear and his allies, some you may know, that saved the day. Meloon Wardragon pursued Ten Rings through the barrier and nearly did not make it out before the opening collapsed. That was the night Vajra ascended to Blackstaff. And she did so with the help of Renear and Meloon.

That skeleton you see, dancing within the shield, that is what remains of the mage who dared seek the knowledge within. And no matter how we try, it always returns to that haunting position. Though I confess that I have become used to the macabre display.

She was now pouring tea for the party, letting her story sink in.

Laeral: Please, indulge me. I confess that imposing those badges upon you was on the aggressive side. However, you must understand that there are greater forces at play here than you or I. And I must ask, what happened to you not four or five nights ago? The badges are to return to me if they leave your person. And they are enchanted to grant me knowledge of your whereabouts. And yet, on that night, you disappeared. What happened?

She made a motion with her hand as if being carried off by the wind. After consideration, the party decided to tell her what had all transpired. They shared their descent into the Crypt of the Seven, their battle with the twins, and their conversation with the Animated Armor sentinel. The only piece they left out was that Davil had been the one to send them on their quest.

At the mention of Manshoon’s name, Laeral sat visibly straighter. Her attention remained focused, almost piercing, until they had concluded their tale.

Laeral: Of course. It would be a perfect place for him to take up residence. A crypt constructed by his captor. Why would anyone think to look there?

I will share this information with the Blackstaff. Her efforts to validate these rumors thus far have turned up naught. We will send a party to investigate those lower levels.

The party then asked about Mirt.

Laeral: Yes, my dear friend Mirt. That is another mystery. The blade used in his assassination attempt seems to have been laced with some type of poison. Unfortunately, it is of the variety that we know nothing about. We have tried everything we can thus far short of having the antidote. The best healers in the city, the best doctors we could gather, could not bring him out of his comatose state. And yet, he lives. I would expect nothing less my dear friend.

Taman: And Durnan? Do you know where he may have gone? He disappeared from the Portal the night we told him about Mirt. Rumor says that he may have come here to see you?

Laeral: (with a sad smile) Yes, Durnan came to see me. He was rightfully concerned with his friend. They have been through much together. After hearing our thoughts on the poison, he descended to Undermountain. He believes that he can find whatever caused this there.

Now tell me. You are the only ones who have first-hand knowledge of the Luskan operations. I, myself, am convinced that they are not here only for our entertainment. Something about their leader, the one called Zardoz is familiar and yet strange at the same time. What can you tell me of him?

The party shared their opinions of Luskans in the most political way they could. Skipping over the nimblewright operation, they did their best to convince her that they had encountered nothing particularly strange. Though they did admit eccentric was an understatement when describing Zardoz himself.

Laeral: He is, yes. When they arrived I had inquiries first sent around the city about his history. Everyone comes from somewhere. And yet no one in the city knew of the man. Nor could anyone tell me who had organized the affair.

And so I sent out messages to our sister cities. Again, no trace of a man named Zardoz Zord.

And then the topic turned to the Great Game. The party learned that Renear’s father, Dagault, had used the War of the Dragon to embezzle a significant sum of gold from the people. It is her belief that the gold resides somewhere in the city and that this Enigma is the key to finding it. When asked about her intentions, she spoke plainly and directly to the party.

Laeral: My intention is to use it to better the people of this city. To use it to help the refuges in the Field Ward. To help quell the violence in the Dock Ward. To help bridge the gap in the quality of life between those in the Sea Ward and Trades Wards.


Returning to the Portal, the party immediately bellied up to the bar and downed a few drinks. Taman noticed Davila’s in his normal booth and decided to approach. The rest of the party hesitated and mentioned that this may not be a good idea but Taman, a little tipsy, forged ahead.

The men around Davil’s booth parted to make way, per the norm, but unlike previous occasions, he was not offered a chair.

Taman: Hey Davil, how are things?

Davil: You tell me friend.

Davil’s demeanor was icy and unwelcoming. Taman tried to broach the topic of Davil’s ire but the persistence only served to anger the Sun Elf. Taman tried over and over to explain why they had aided the dow but Davil cut off as he began each sentence. Eventually, Davil snapped and gave them until noon the next day to leave the Yawning Portal, declaring the grounds off-limits to them.

When asked what they could do to rectify the situation, Davil responded:

Davil: Bring me his head


Meeting With Laeral

This meeting was critical to a later option I want to present to the group. Jarlaxle’s goal is to find a way to have Luskan join the Lord’s Alliance. The group has made it evident, whether intentionally or not, that they do like Zardoz and his band of misfits. Whether or not that affinity is still in place once they find out his true identity remains to be seen.

However, I think that the party will eventually come over to Jarlaxle’s side. (It is possible that these are famous last words. And if that is the route that they choose, I wanted to present them with an opportunity to establish a direct relationship with Laeral in the event that they wanted to broker a deal between the two.

Up until now, much like Xanathar, she has only been a name. While they understood the importance of her role in the city, it is hard to forget being low-jacked with the Badges of the Watch.

And so I thought it would be important for them to have a direct conversation with her.

Disappointing Davil

It is unfortunate that things went down the way they did. But one of the best parts of D&D is the consequences of your actions. It isn’t a video game where you can do as you please with minimal to no repercussions.

To that end, I have tried to keep the NPC’s reactions to the party’s actions true to their personalities. I view Davil as outwardly shrewd. He has the ability to read people but also has a soft spot for those he considers close. This is the reason for his blind spot when it comes to Skeemo. It is also the reason that he banishes the party from the Yawning Portal instead of doing something more drastic.

He and Taman have struck up what I would consider a friendship. He trusts the group and his actions during this session are more out of hurt than cruelty. He has just heard of their ‘betrayal’ and hasn’t had much time to deal with it before they come back to the Portal.

It is afterward when he has time to cool down, that he returns to his rational self.


Pacing and Information Sessions

The last few sessions have been pretty intense for the party. Starting with Dark Waters, they then followed The Path of the Purple eye and wound up [In The Eye of the Beholder]. It was time to pull things back a little bit.

One reason was action fatigue. I didn’t want to continuously force action and wear out the players. Another reason was to bring them back to the macro. The last three sessions they had dived deep into the weeds and gone completely off-script. It was time to refocus them on the campaign.

To that end, this was an information session. It was an opportunity for them to get some answers and also breath. I think it’s important to find that balance between the action and information sessions. You don’t need to do much, but allowing the players to relax a little can go a long way.

And, if you have done a good job with the narrative, even though they are relaxing they are thinking two things.

  1. Something is definitely going to happen here. Even though it wasn’t a combat encounter, their conversation with Laeral was full of back-and-forth. Both sides were working to extract information from the other without giving more ground than they had originally intended.
  2. If you have a few low-key sessions, it builds the pressure as they begin looking over their shoulders.

Real Life

Back in November, I had my second daughter. On top of that, the company I work for recently got acquired. In addition, there is Covid-19. Real life can be wonderful and stressful all at the same time. But it is always busy. It is what makes it an amazing experience. D&D is just a part of our lives and it is important to keep that in perspective.

With everything going right now I struggled to properly prepare for this and the following sessions. Not to mention keeping up to date with the blog. Finding that balance is what it is all about and I will need to be more diligent in keeping up with the game.