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    The following is a written record of the D&D Adventures of Lylie Briarthorn, Jonquie, Shade, Thwargle Playtenir, and Yasunga Teyanoga. These adventures follow these characters through the campaign Tomb of Annihilation. Written by Thwargle, with intro chapters 1-4 written by Warfric.

01 - Lylie

    It was official. Lylie Briarthorn had grown bored with her life. Again.

    The familiar sounds of the port surrounded her as The Fire That Flies pulled into Waterdeep harbor. Her hands deftly turned the ship's wheel as she piloted the vessel into its designated berth. The other crew suddenly made busy, lashing the ship securely to the dock. Another successful voyage, completed.

    "Fine work, Briarthorn!" boomed Captain Malcom. "We drink well this evening!". A cheer went up from the crew. Lylie didn't share the sentiment.

    In the realm of the high elves where she was born, deep in the quiet spaces of the woods, Lylie never quite fit in. Her kinfolk were always so concerned with their studies, their knowledge, their philosophy of taking the long view. Given that her kinfolk could live well past 700 years, that view could be quite long indeed. Wait they said, let the lesser folk run about with their petty lives and petty concerns. We will abide. Lylie cared little for waiting. So as soon as she was able, she fled her sylvan home, off to live among the "lesser" folk and their exciting lives.

    The first time she saw the sea, she knew she had come home at last. The crashing waves, the white foam, the ever-changing power of the ocean called to her in ways that the quiet swaying of the trees never had. She signed on with the first ship that was looking for crew, and she had been with The Fire That Flies ever since. She started as a lowly deckhand, learning the ropes, learning to move with the ship, move with the sea. Quickly she made her way up the ranks, until now, she was helmswoman of the ship, counted on to safely steer past dangerous reefs, away from pursuers, towards bounty for the taking. The danger thrilled her.

    But somewhere along the way, the excitement had gone away. This latest voyage was a case in point. Was the ship attacked by a Kraken? Was she called upon to steer the ship through a dreadful storm, the wind and rain tossing her and the ship like it was a toy? Did she feel the thrill of battle in her chest as she swung on a rope to the deck of a bounty ship they were boarding, knife clenched in her teeth? Zero for three on those options. No, they had picked up cargo in Neverwinter, sailed sedately south and ended up here in Waterdeep. It wasn't even contraband cargo. The most exciting part of this voyage was when Three-Finger Andre had a seagull defecate on his head. Three-Finger always seemed to spend too much time watching her backside when he thought she couldn't see, so as far as she was concerned, he deserved what he got.

    Had she left her homeland to end up… a merchant? That wasn't what she had in mind. As soon as the ship had been made secure and the captain gave leave to go ashore, Lylie quickly jumped over the rail and made her way down the dock towards the city. She need to clear her head. She needed a drink. And maybe a story. And she knew where to get both.

02 - Shade

    The last thing Shade could afford was being sick. Again.

    Yet the coughing had started once more. The last bout of hacking came with a prize: fresh blood. Curse this frail body. It wasn't enough that most people looked upon him as cursed: his light purple skin, golden eyes, horns, and tail ensured that his first impression on most eyes was "demon spawn", "cursed one", or simply looks of distrust or pity. As if his bloodline were somehow his fault. As if he personally knew the fool Asmodeus, Lord of the Nine Hells, who had cursed some great-great-great-whatever-ancestor to this appearance. What's that, Asmo, old buddy? Tea time at the club again? I'll be there!

    No, the automatic dislike from everyone around him wasn't the reason he hated his body. He was proud of his appearance. What he hated was this cursed frailty. The way he always seemed to be sick. The way he seemed to take ages to heal after injury. It truly felt sometimes like he were cursed. And perhaps he deserved it. His parents were dead because of him after all. Because of his greed.

    Now he had ended up in Waterdeep. Run out of another town, Velen, after attracting a bit too much attention from the authorities. They weren't wrong of course, he had been "helping himself" quite a bit, but it was inconvenient nonetheless. Garzor said he should come here instead, and the halfling hadn't steered him wrong before. He didn't trust many people, but Garzor had been a mentor to him, helping to keep him out of too much trouble, helping teach him how to survive as a professional thief. If only his greed would have let him listen to all of Garzor's advice, he wouldn't have stolen from the wrong mark and had to pack up and leave before he was packed away into a cell.

    Now he sat in the corner of the Yawning Portal, the most famous tavern on the Sword Coast, maybe in all of Faerun. He glanced over at the namesake entry into what seemed like the underworld: a huge well leading down into darkness. A rope and pulley system hung over the great opening, and brave/foolish adventurers were known on occasion to lower themselves down into the Undermountain, the sprawling dungeon below the city itself. The fools even paid the proprietor coin for the privilege!

    Two nights previous he had arrived here, with instructions from Garzor on how to make contact with the local thieves guilds. "Go to the Yawning Portal," he said, "and make the signs in the Cant on the table. Someone will contact you". And so he purchased an ale from the buxom barmaid (who only gave a moment's hesitation upon seeing his appearance). Then he "accidentally" spilled some on the table in front of him, and surreptitiously made the proscribed sign in the spilled liquid. And waited. Then waited some more.

    Finally, hours into the evening, after the crowd had thinned down to half of the evening's peak, a shady figure sidled over to the table. "Nice to see a new face around here," the smiling man said with a leer at Shade. The hidden message that only one skilled in the Thieves Cant would understand was: {Who are you, and what do you want?}.

    "My name is Shade, and I am merely a tourist in your fine city." {I'm looking for work. I was told to make contact here}.

    "First time in Waterdeep?" {Sent by who?}

    "Yes, it seems lovely this time of year." {A thief named Garzor, from Velen}

    "You should visit Mystra's House of Wonder" {I don't know the name myself, but if it checks out, perhaps the Zhentarim will have work for you.}

    "Thank you I will do that" {Thank you}

    "Bye. Hope you enjoy the visit." {Return here each night this week. I will make contact again}

    "Farewell!" {I will do that}

    And with that, the thief was gone. Shade then managed to secure a deal with the bartender for space to sleep in the inn's stables for work washing dishes and mucking out said stables once a day. And so his days consisted of doing chores, and the nights consisted of waiting once more for contact.

03 - A Drink

    As Lylie approached the Yawning Portal, she felt her spirits lift just a little. Anything could happen any given night at the Portal, plus she was fairly good friends with the owner, Durnan. Durnan had once been an explorer and adventurer himself, before he had hung up his sword and opened a tavern instead. Lylie liked listening to Durnan's stories of adventure and danger. She longed to have that life for herself.

    Finding an empty space at the bar, she waited to catch the bartender's attention. When he turned around she took a deep breath, preparing to give Durnan a hearty greeting. Then she thought that's not Durnan.

    "You're not Durnan!"

    "You're a perceptive one, I see," replied the bartender with a laconic smile. "Durnan is out of town for a fortnight. I'm covering the place for him. What can I get you?"

    "Just a mead," she said, trying to cover her disappointment. He reached behind the bar to grab a mostly-clean mug and filled it to the brim.

    "Don't mind the spots on the mug. My newest dishwasher is… still getting the hang of things. If he doesn't improve soon I'll have to find someone else."

    "Thanks" Lylie replied. Of course Durnan wasn't here. That was the way her week was going. Instead of an evening being regaled with stories of danger and excitement, she would have to content herself with lukewarm mead in a mostly-clean mug.

    I can't take any more boredom! she shouted silently, as she lay her head down on the bar quietly.

    And then the screaming started.

04 - The Encounter

    Shade's first sign that something was happening was the scratching. It sounded like… rats running on stone maybe. It seemed to be getting louder, to the point where he wondered "How big are those rats?!".

    The second sign was the waitress screaming and dropping her full tray to the ground, as a greenish-brown hand, black-nailed and clutching a scimitar, emerged over the side of the portal in the center of the inn. Other heads turned to check out the commotion, and the screaming spread as a flat face with pointed ears and a mouth full of small sharp fangs followed the hand out of the well. And then two other filthy leather-clad goblins joined the first. A small stampede started towards the exits as the patrons fled.

    Over by the bar, Shade saw a tall female elf, decked out in sailor's attire, jump up from her seat and draw both a shortsword and scimitar from opposing hips, shouting "Finally!"

    "Finally!" shouted Briarthorn. Finally something exciting happens! Drawing a blade in each hand, she charged the nearest goblin. Ducking under a clumsy swipe from the goblin's scimitar, she responded in kind with her own blade, connecting to the creature's throat. It went down, grabbing at its neck and gasping for air. One down. Next!

    Shade jumped up from his table as his attention was caught by the sight of the Portal's youngest (and nicest to him so far) barmaid, Yvette, falling to the floor in her attempt to escape a goblin charging close behind her. To the Nine Hells with this he thought, drawing his shortsword, now I have to get involved. He stepped over the fallen Yvette and waited for the goblin to come within reach. Hands shaking, he swung with all his might at the goblin's face, and connected… with the stout wooden beam over the goblin's head. The unexpected impact with the rock-hard beam made his hand go numb, and he dropped his sword. Before he could draw his dagger, the goblin sliced him on the arm, drawing a deep wound. He felt the already numb arm go limp, and the warmth of his blood dripping down his hand.

    Despite the shock he was in, or because of it, Shade managed to swipe at the Goblin with his dagger and connect solidly. The hurt goblin, seeing one of his compatriots already fallen, and seeing a second one being taken down by the tall elven sailor across the room, decided that he had seen enough, and turned to flee back into the well from whence he came.

    Oh no you don't thought Briarthorn as she stepped over the second fallen goblin. Dashing toward the portal to cut off the final fiend's escape, she slashed the already injured goblin across the chest, and it went down, cursing her in its guttural language. Chest heaving, and feeling alive for the first time in months, Lylie smiled as she cleaned and sheathed her sword. I cleaned up this mess, someone else can take out the trash she thought, as she returned to her seat at the bar, leaving the bodies of the fallen goblins behind.

    As she took her seat again, the bartender, with wide eyes told her "That was fine work on your part. As thanks, drinks are on the house the rest of the night". He slid a fresh pint of mead across the table and then started shouting orders to the rest of the staff to clean up the mess and get the inn back in working order.

    A short while later, as patrons started filing back in, a tall, well-dressed man approached her. Rather than taking a seat, he cleared his throat and said "Excuse me, ma'am, but my name is Balthazar, and I would like to make you an offer. My master is looking for individuals with certain… talents, and based on what I saw this evening, I think you fit the bill. If you are interested, please come to my master's home tomorrow evening at 8 PM. I think you will find my master to be quite generous with those in her employ." With that, he slid a card onto the bar and walked away.

    Lylie picked up the card. On it was simply the name "Syndra Silvane" and an address in the nicer part of the city. Lylie recognized the name as a well-known and wealthy merchant.

    Maybe this is exactly what I need she thought, and took a long swig of the mead.

    "Let me help you with that" the tall grey-haired man said as Shade tried to staunch the bleeding on his right arm. The ruined thing wouldn't even respond, it just hung limp at his side. Looking up suspiciously at the speaker, Shade saw the man hand over a vial containing a bright red liquid. A healing potion? He thought. What's the catch?

    "What's the catch?" he growled.

    "No catch, just consider it a downpayment on a future employment opportunity" replied the man.

    Grimacing, Shade downed the potion in one gulp. Immediately, he felt warmth flowing back into his injured arm, and slowly stretched the previously injured limb. Better, he thought. Heck it might have even cured my cough. "What do you mean, future employment?"

    "Only this: My name is Balthazar. I am in the employ of someone looking for skilled individuals, and while you were not quite as impressive as the lady by the bar, you appear to have the type of instincts my master is looking for nonetheless. If you are interested, please visit my master tomorrow at 8 PM. Here is her card."

    Glancing at the card with suspicion, Shade replied "Perhaps I will. Perhaps I won't".

    "Either way, good day to you sir" spoke Balthazar, and walked away.

05 - Thwargle

    Thwargle Playtenir wiped the sweat from his brow, his dusty red hair and beard glinting with sweat. He had finally perfected juggling 10 plates at once. The crowd was louder than he had heard in quite a long time. He took a bow to show his appreciation before he stepped behind the curtain on stage and shook hands with the next act, a sword swallower.

    Life on the road; not quite what Thwargle had planned. The hill dwarves were not well known for their travels but he didn't have much choice. He could never go home. The shame he'd brought his family name was so much that his father had stripped him of it. He had changed his surname to Playtenir, a play on words that made him chuckle when he heard it. As a juggler, he specialized in handling plates and the name reminded him of "plates in the air". He hoped that one day he would be able to redeem himself to his family but most of all to his father and return to his banned lineage.

    After wandering aimlessly from town to town, luck found him. He had never been much of a religious man in the past, but things kept falling into a place so often it was hard to deny the truth. Tymora, the goddess of luck fondly referred to as Lady Luck, had chosen him to follow a path he still did not understand. As luck would have it, a traveling band of performers had found him in a tavern in a small town, not long after he had left his home. He joined their ranks and trained in juggling. He had always been fairly dextrous and the juggling act came naturally to him.

    As Thwargle mastered juggling plates, he began opening the shows for the group each night. He grew more comfortable with the plates until he was able to master them, and juggle an incredible ten plates as he had tonight.

    "A copper ter tha lady returns tenfold in gold!" chuckled Thwargle in a thick dwarven accent as he flipped a plate deftly in his right hand.

    "You keep bringing in crowds like this, you just might see tenfold," replied the stage manager Gregory Meadenhold, a smile on his face.

    Gregory was a kind human who had always been fair to the entertainers. He was fair with pay, and always tried to find the cleanest towns on the road to perform in. He cared about each of the acts, and helped to encourage and strengthen their teamwork.

    A low grumble erupted just outside the curtain, and the smiles drained from Gregory and Thwargle's faces.

    "What in tha name 'o luck was that!" exclaimed Thwargle.

    "Nothing good," retorted Gregory.

    The screams from the crowd solidified their fears. Jumping past the curtain, Thwargle's eyes strained against the stage lighting. When they finally adjusted, he saw a small group, maybe five or six of what looked to be green creatures of some kind.

    "Goblins" cursed Gregory.

    Grabbing an axe from somewhere Thwargle couldn't see, Gregory charged toward the commotion. Thwargle rushed after him to help where he could. Without a weapon, Thwargle made a decision to throw one of the juggling plates directly at one of the creatures. As it left his hand, he felt a strange sensation. The plate flashed with a deep black hue. When it struck the goblin in what seemed like slow motion, Thwargle felt his hand tingle. To his surprise the plate, the very plate he had just thrown appeared back in his hand. The goblin fell to his knees in agony, barely clinging to life. From the place where the plate hit, a nasty black gash appeared. It seemed to morph and spread quickly from the wound. Soon the goblin fell, taking a last wheezy breath.

    Gregory had reached the foray, axe swinging wildly. He connected with the closest goblin, splitting it nearly in half in one swing. As he began to pull his axe from the now-dead goblin two more approached him, daggers drawn. Thwargle readied his plate and threw again. He connected with the nearest goblin, but only barely nicked his arm. The plate shattered on impact but the strange tingling came yet again and Thwargle felt as the plate appeared in his hand. The goblin clutched his arm and hissed, turning his attention to Thwargle.

    As the injured goblin turned to Thwargle, the remaining goblin engaged with Gregory. Taking a nasty swipe, he connected with the side of Gregory's face. A huge gash splattered blood nearby as a gash flowed on his cheek. A small scream issued from Gregory as he dropped his axe in pain. Thinking quickly, Thwargle instinctively thought of nothing but helping Gregory and released a second plate from his left hand. With a light red hue, the plate connected with Gregory directly in the face. The strangest thing happened; as the plate broke, the wound seemed to reverse on his face. The bleeding immediately stopped and Gregory seemed both surprised and in immediately less pain.

    The goblin with the wound on his arm was nearing Thwargle. As it approached him, he brought a plate down deftly on the goblin's head. With the tinkling sound of a broken plate, the goblin fell over but was clearly still breathing. By this time Gregory had picked his axe back up and swiped the goblin nearest him. Connecting cleanly with the goblin's neck, it fell lifeless. Thwargle brought his foot back and kicked the downed goblin near him directly in the face, ending his life. He looked around and saw that a few armed members of the audience had taken care of the remaining goblins who had attacked.

    "You a'right?" hollered Thwargle to Gregory who had taken a knee, hand to his cheek.

    "I suppose I'll live." replied Gregory.

    Looking around the benches where the large crowd had been, Thwargle saw four dead audience members, among the bodies of the goblins.

    "Poor ol' buggers, came ter watch a show end up as yer last. Wonder what in tha world that were all about." Thwargle said shaking his head.

    "Never mind that, what in the world did you do with those plates?" Gregory had finally stood back up.

    "Ter be honest with yeh, I have no idea" Thwargle looked down at the plates in his hand. They seemed to be completely normal plates now that the fighting had stopped.

    "You hit me square in the face with a dang plate, and I felt better..." Gregory said in amazement. "And look at this one you hit with the other plate."

    As Thwargle looked down at the body of one of the felled goblins, he could see veiny lines of black reaching out from a large black gash where he had impacted the goblin.

    "I dunno what that's all about." Thwargle glanced at the plates again. They seemed completely normal.

    "Well I know a wound that's been inflicted by Necromancy before, and you're looking at it. How did you do that with the plates?" Gregory held his hand out for Thwargle to hand him a plate.

    Out of nowhere an arrow whizzed by, striking Gregory directly in the side of the head. He fell instantly dead. Thwargle roared out of surprise, fear and sadness, whipping his head to the direction of the arrow. A wounded goblin had already nocked another arrow in his bow. With speed and agility, Thwargle threw a plate harder than he even knew he could. It raged a deep black and struck the goblin in the center of his chest. The goblin was pushed off his feet, nearly six feet back before falling to the ground instantly dead. Thwargle turned back and picked Gregory's dead body into his hands. He broke the arrow off at the side of his head and held him in his arms tears streaming down his face. He looked around, worried another arrow might be coming at any time.

    The group packed up the show in sadness that evening. They had lost their leader and the person that held them together as a performing arts group. Nobody felt like performing, least of all Thwargle. He took the death of Gregory personally. Not long after Gregory's death, he stopped performing altogether. It was a rough time, bouncing from town to town spending what little money he had left on drink and food.

06 - Jonquie Mortom

    Jonquie Mortom felt nothing but pain. There was darkness. No, not darkness but more like nothing. There was so much nothing and pain that it was clearly something, but she didn't understand what it was. For what felt like an eternity, she existed in the nothing and the pain.

    Just as she started to lose a sense of who she was, and what existence was, she woke up screaming. A cold sweat drenched her body and the pain of the nothing was still on her mind. Taking heaving, deep breaths she sat in a strange bed in a strange room. An elderly small dwarf rushed to her bedside.

    "Oh good, yer awake dear" the dwarf patted her forehead with a warm, damp towel.

    "What? Wha, where.. " began Jonquie.

    "Settle down, settle down. Yer alright!" She bustled around the bed, shoving a small table to the side. "We've got ya squared away in here, you just settle yerself right down dear. Yer heart was clear off dearie, but we got ya started right back up. Ye'll be fine in no time at all."

    The dwarven woman continued busying herself with who knows what. Jonquie laid back down and closed her eyes. As quickly as she had closed them she opened them again. The nothing was too recent, too real. She couldn't close here eyes. Not after an experience like that. She stared at the wooden beams above her and tried to calm herself down. She had no idea how she had gotten here, nor what had happened to her.

    As a wood elf, Jonquie had lived a full and pleasant life. She had been on numerous hunts and raids with the border patrol, keeping her community safe. She had never thought anything of dying, or what happens after you die.

    "Here ya are dear, busy yerself with this." the dwarf interrupted Jonquie and her thoughts.

    As she glanced up still in a daze, the dwarf had shoved a ball of yarn and two small sticks into her hands.

    "And what is this for?" asked Jonquie. She didn't understand what the dwarf wanted.

    "To busy yer hands, dear." started the dwarf. "I always find it helps me tuh keep muh mind offa things."

    "I don't.. I've never knitted before." Jonquie replied.

    "Oh it's dead simple, here."

    The dwarf sat with her every day for the next few weeks. Each night came without sleep. As soon as she began to drift, she woke quickly to screams. The fear of the nothing and the pain was too much for her to bear. The patient old dwarf worked with her to teach her simple patterns with the wool. Despite her hesitation (and her skepticism) she began to enjoy her time with the old dwarf. Knitting was mundane. It required no real effort and you could lose yourself in the patterns of the wool.

    After several months, Jonquie had moved into a small room near the edge of town. She had never learned how she came to be at this town, nor how she had died. It didn't matter. She knew she had to find any information about what could be done so that she never had to experience pain like that again. Her mind made up, she recovered slowly. She began to frequent a local library to find any information she could about death. How to avoid it, how to reverse it. She didn't find much in the dwarven village and she knew that she must move on to learn as much as she could. After a long talk with the elderly dwarf, she thanked her for what the dwarf had taught her and let her know that she would be making her way to Waterdeep.

07 - Yasunga Teyanoga

    "Why are you being like this?" Yasunga Teyanoga asked his brother Tiryk.

    Yasunga Teyanoga was the oldest brother of two. Growing up in the Forgotten Realms of Chult, Yasunga and his brother Tiryk had generally gotten along well. Their mother was the Chultan tribal chieftan Ekene-Afa. Yasunga was next in line to ascend to power, and he could feel Tiryk's jealousy grow. Anger burned in him, as he looked his brother in the eyes. Tiryk had been speaking with criminals and shady people in the last couple of weeks. Out of character and unacceptable to Yasunga, he challenged his brother's behavoir.

    "Leave my business to me, brother." shot Tiryk.

    "I will not. Mother will hear of this. She will decide what should be done."

    Yasunga loved his brother, and only wanted the best for him. It was clear that their mother's advancing age, and the looming proposition of Yasunga ascending to power was bothering Tyrik. He was acting more shady and distant than ever the past few months.

    Later that evening, Yasunga was walking back to his sleeping quarters. A spear whizzed by his head, and with a loud clang lodged itself deeply into the mortar of the stone wall. He sprung into action and began to run as quickly as he could out of the open space. He could feel the men closing in on him. Unsure who they were, Yasunga lead the unknown assailants down a long corridor and into a room he was familiar with. The room was fairly open, with very little furnature. It was a store room for tables and chairs, but they had been removed from the room and set up on the great lawn for the upcoming celebration. Yasunga was readying the tribe for his ascension. He readied himself just inside the door for what he knew would be a good fight. He didn't fear fighting, nor the men who pursued him now.

    Within seconds the first man rushed into the room. Without hesitation Yasunga flashed his greatsword across the man's chest. Blood flowed down the blade, deep red glistening brightly in the torchlight. Two more men deftly jumped over the corpse of the fallen man. Daggers already drawn, they swiped at Yasunga. The man on the left nearly cut into his arm as he parried the dagger from the man on the right. With a spin, he brought his blade up into calf of the rightmost assailant. With a muffled scream the man fell clutching his leg. On the way down, Yasunga finished the task by slicing a large chunk from the man's face. He fell dead.

    As the fight progressed, two more assailants entered the fight. Yasunga knew he had to act as the three men cautiously surrounding him. Using a crouching spin, he rushed the man to his left and connected with his shoulder. He pushed the man into the wall and felt the air rush from the man's lungs. With the man dazed, he turned to parry the dagger that was falling towards him from one of the other men. A loud ting pierced the night air as he deflected the attack and responded with a backwards thrust. Yasunga's greatsword plunged into the man with almost no effort and he felt him go limp.

    Pulling the sword out, he turned. The dazed man didn't get up to pursue him as he engaged the last assailant. The dagger flashed in the torchlight as it was brought down towards Yasunga's face. At the last moment, he lunged to his left bringing the greatsword swinging upward as he did so. The man's arm was severed completely, and a large gash appeared onto his torso. He turned and ended the man's life quickly so he didn't suffer.

    As he turned he rushed the dazed man, his hand quickly around the man's throat.


    One word was all he needed to say.

    "Your brother says hello." the man whispered to him.

    Trying to catch Yasunga off guard he brought a dagger up quickly towards Yasunga's face. Shoving himself backward from the man, Yasunga narrowly avoided the blade as it swung up past his face. As quickly as he had backed off, the greatsword ended the traitor's life.


    His own blood, his brother, his friend. Sent assassins. He processed the words the man had said. "Your brother" kept repeating in his mind. He knew what he must do. He could never fight his brother, or bring such dishonor to his family. He had to leave. He couldn't bear to punish his brother the way that he deserved. An attack on him would mean treason and the death penalty. He couldn't have that on his conscience even if his brother had tried to have him killed. No, he would have to leave.

    Without saying a word to anyone, Yasunga packed a small travel pack of things he would need. Some food and water, pocket money and his greatsword was all he would really need. He snuck onto a ship in the harbor, that had been preparing to leave on a voyage.

    As the ship left the dock, he couldn't help but wonder what would become of his family. He hoped that his brother would lead his people well in his absence, and that their mother would forgive him for leaving with no explanation. It was for the best, he convinced himself as their home disappeared on the horizon.

    Years passed and Yasunga took jobs as a hired hand with the Black Corsairs. Working on the Tigress was tiresome, but satisfying. Physical labor took up most of his time, and sleep came easy when you were exhausted. As time passed he learned to push his past from his mind, and focus on the task at hand. Yasunga felt like it was time to start his own path. It was time to build a name for himself, not working for a crew but earning his own way. That's when they landed in Waterdeep.

    "Here I will find my own way." thought Yasunga as he left the Tigress for what would be the last time.

08 - Unforgotten

    He made his way to the Yawning Portal, a famous tavern in Waterdeep. Before he could order his first drink, a well-dressed middle aged man approached him.

    "Pardon me, sir. Are you Yasunga?"

    "I am." Yasunga replied, turning to face the man.

    "My mistress would like a word with you. She has a.. business proposition for you."

    As he said this, the man handed a letter to Yasunga. He didn't need to read the letter to know what he was going to do.

    "I've been away long enough. It's time for me to pursue this." he said as the man turned and quietly made his way out from the bar. Turning to the bartended he asked "The gentleman that just handed me a letter; he works here?"

    "No, he doesn't work here. Seen him in here a few times lately though. He was talkin' to my dishwasher just last night. Hadn't seen him again until just now."

    "I'm interested in speaking with this man further." Yasunga wanted to know what he was walking into, rather than just blindly trust this stranger.

    "Well I don't know him." replied the bartender.

    "Do you know anybody that might?" he pushed further.

    "Nope." The bartender wasn't giving any information even if he might have known something. "Can I get you a drink? I've got other customers here."

    "Sure, I'll take a drink. What do you have?"

    Somewhat exasperated, "Ale, Beer, Mead" he said as he waved his arm behind him at the obvious stock of drinks behind him.

    "Give me an ale please."

    The bartender reached behind the bar picked a spotted, dirty mug, filled it with ale and rushed off to another patron clearly ready to get away from Yasunga. Mulling over the letter, Yasunga sat and drank his ale slowly. He was unsure what he should do without more information. Who was it that knew who he was, or that he'd be in this bar at this time. He decided he had to investigate what this man wanted from him.

    As he exited the bar, the moment he opened the door a thug attacked. He dodged left as the thug swung, barely missing his face with a closed fist. With agility that surprised the Thug, he slashed against the thug's body. The blade glanced across the thug's side, and landed in his armpit. Without putting all of his might into the swing, the cut was deep, but not fatal. The thug winced and brought a right hook directly into Yasunga's face. His vision blurred as the strike rattled him. It had been a while since he'd taken a hit that hard.

    Yasunga brought the greatsword back and swung again, missing the thug completely. His head was still spinning and he wasn't thinking clearly. The thug didn't miss a beat, and with his left pulled a mace from his belt. In one swift movement he brought the mace crashing down on Yasunga. The mace smashed into his arm. Warm blood gushed from his wound. Anger blazed within him, a rage he hadn't felt since the day he fought the assassins his brother had sent. As the pain fueled his rage, he brought his greatsword swinging with full force into the thug. With his arm completely severed, the thug's strength failed.

    "Your brother says hello."

    The last words of the thug ran sharply through Yasunga's mind. Despite his wounds and the pain, it was nothing for the sadness he now felt. His brother, even after all these years, was still trying to end him. There was no escape from this. He knew he must meet with the man who had given him the letter. At this point he needed the man's help. He was hurt, and hurt badly.

09 - Jonquie's Invitation

    The talk of the streets and taverns has all been about the so-called death curse: a wasting disease afflicting everyone who's ever been raised from the dead. Victims grow thinner and weaker each day, slowly but steadily sliding toward the death they once denied.

    When they finally succumb, they can't be raised — and neither can anyone else, regardless of whether they've ever received that miracle in the past. Temples and scholars of divine magic are at a loss to explain a curse that has affected the entire region, and possibly the entire world.

    After a lot of reading and an immense amount of research, Jonquie had taken to experimenting on corpses, trying to learn as much as she possibly could about life and death. Blood still fresh on a scalpel, she heard a knock upstairs.

    "Who in the world?" She double checked that there was no blood on her hands or clothes, set the scalpel down and made her way up.

    "Coming!" she hollered.

    Topping the stairs, she closed the door that led to the basement. As she opened the front door of her home she was greeted by a tall, grey haired man who was well kept and very well dressed.

    "Hello there, ma'am. My name is Balthazar. I bring this letter from my mistress. She would like to meet with you. The information about this meeting is contained within the letter. If you would like to meet with her, please head to this address this evening at 8 pm."

    With that, Balthazar handed her an additional small card with the name, address, and time for the meeting. As he handed her the card, his hand brushed hers and she felt the warmth of his skin against hers. She had the sudden urge to dissect him. She had been studying nothing but corpses lately, and she wanted desperately to understand what made him desire life. As the feeling began to fade, she couldn't help herself.

    "Thank you; Are you feeling alright dear?" she asked.

    "Oh yes, I'm quite well thank you." he replied confidently.

    "Are you sure you won't come in for some tea?" she asked, desperate to close the door so should could begin some experimentation on him.

    "Yes I'm quite alright, thank you."

    With that Balthazar left. Jonquie closed the door, and shook her head. She knew it would have been wrong. Corpses would do. For now. Later that day, she locked her front door and headed down the cobbled road towards the address on the card. She had brought the letter and the information card in case she needed them when she arrived.

10 - A Lucky Meeting

    {Nearly two years later.}

    Nearly two years had passed since Gregory had been killed and Thwargle found himself in Waterdeep. He was walking aimlessly down the road through town, still holding no purpose.

    "What'm I supposed ter do?" He wondered to himself. "I'm gunna flip this here coin. If it's heads I'm gunna head down ter tha nearest pub and forget about anything. If it's tails I'm gunna go down ter tha nearest pub and forget about anything." He chuckled at his own joke.

    He flipped the coin and let it fall to the ground. To his surprise, it was neither heads nor tails. The coin landed perfectly on its side, and began rolling down the craggy road.

    "That doesn't seem possible" he grumbled to himself.

    He began to follow the coin as it snaked is way through people and continued impossibly rolling down the road. Thwargle followed the coin as it rolled and bounced its way impossibly through the cobblestone. As it fell to its side, Thwargle bent down and picked up the coin. Pocketing it, he looked up and took note of his surroundings. He saw the back of older looking elf woman as she walked away from him down the path. There were a few run down buildings mixed with a few homes. Nothing here looked very interesting to him, and he wasn't sure what to make of the area the coin had led him.

    Just then, from a small gap between two buildings just ahead, he noticed two thieves sneak out, weapons drawn heading directly toward the older elf. He couldn't let that stand. He quietly pulled a plate from his belt holder. As the anger of the thieves' behavior flowed over him, the plate began to glow a deep black. Rearing back, he let the plate flow with expertise. The plate connected directly with the back of the thief's head, exploding on impact. Blackness spread instantly over the body of the thief as it fell forward.

    "Watch out, ma'am!" Thwargle yelled to the old woman.

    Thwargle grabbed another plate and made a run towards the thief. He threw both plates, but the combination of both running and throwing with both of his hands only one plate connected with the thief. With a shattering sound, the plate burst into pieces as it connected with the thief's face. Small cuts from the shards of plate began to bleed, the deep red of the blood glistening even at a distance. The plate that missed smashed harmlessly onto the cobblestone before the pieces disappeared. The strange tingling flowed through Thwargle's hands as he felt the plates reappear.

    The thief wiped the blood from his face, took one look at the black shriveling corpse of his fellow thief and began to run back down the alley they had approached from. Deciding it was not worth his time, Thwargle did not pursue him.

    Jonquie turned and shouted "Wait I can help you!" but the thief continued running without hesitation.

    "What're these people chasin' you about fer?" Thwargle asked.

    "I don't know. Thanks for your help." she replied simply. She seemed much more interested in the corpse than in Thwargle at the moment.

    "Yer welcome. Where are we?" He asked, still not sure why the coin had brought him here.

    "Oh I was just making my way to a house down the road here." she replied, still preoccupied with the still-shrinking black corpse of the thief.

    "I'll walk with yeh, make sure none o' these ruffians try and rough ya up some more." said Thwargle, glad he could protect someone.

    "I would very much appreciate that." was her reply.

    The two continued down the path a few more blocks until they reached a nondescript wooden door. Jonquie knocked, and was not surprised to be greeted by Balthazar.

    "Ah, Miss Jonquie you are expected." he greeted.

    "Thank you." she replied.

    "Who is your friend?"

    Turning to look at Thwargle, she said "I didn't actually catch your name. He was.."

    "I'm Thwargle. Thwargle Playtenir." boomed Thwargle.

    "Oh just interrupting older people who are talking, that's not polite." she scoffed. "Anyway, he has just assisted me with some thieves on the way here."

    "Any friend of Miss Jonquie is welcome here as well." bowed Balthazar as he moved aside to let them in.

    "Well where are we, what are we even doin' here?" asked Thwargle, still no idea what was really going on yet.

    "This is the home of Syndra Silvane. She is quite famous around here. Have you not heard of her before?" Balthazar continued incredulously.

    "Never have. I'm not from around here. I'm actually a traveling entertainer muhself."

    "She is a very successful merchant and dabbles a bit in the arcane arts. She has a proposition for your friend here. Perhaps you could stick around as well?" Balthazar closed the door as Jonquie and Thwargle pushed in to the foyer.

    "I suppose I've got nowhere in particular to be." said Thwargle.

    "Perhaps.. fate brought you here?" said Balthazar mysteriously.

"Could be, could be." Thwargle replied.

11 - Into the Den

    As the unlikely pair entered the door, they were greeted with a small sitting room. The room had a couple cushioned armchairs and a side table. Beautiful portraits hung from the walls. A fairly filled bookshelf stood near the wall to the rear of the room. There were a few doors, all closed. On the side table was an ornate dish of hors d'oeuvres and a pitcher of water with some glassware. A small lamp dimly lit the room. Thwargle looked around and noticed a red-haired elven woman hovering near the bookshelf and a feeble looking tiefling off away from the light. Shade coughed roughly into his hand, a deep chest cough that sounded like it wasn't a common cold.

    "Are you ok, dear?" asked Jonquie.

    "No, thank you." was Shades blunt reply.

    "I'm pretty sure I've got a cough drop on me somewhere. Would you like one?"

    "No, thank you." he replied again, obvious he was not interested in Jonquie or anything she had to offer.

    "If you wouldn't mind waiting just a moment longer, we are still waiting for one more." stated Balthazar.

    "How much longer?" Shade looked anxious to be away from the present company.

    While they waited for the mystery "one more" to arrive, Shade filled a plate with food and sat sideways in one of the chairs, his head held low and away from the light. Jonquie struck up a conversation with Thwargle.

    "Tell me a bit more about these plates you were chucking at the bad guys." Jonquie began.

    "Whaddya wanna know? It's a plate." Chuckled Thwargle.

    "I know, but the one guy turned to black mush!" Jonquie looked excited about the very memory of the incident.

    "Awe, don't worry about that fella..." Thwargle trailed off.

    Just then a knock at the door interrupted the conversation. Balthazar opened the door. A large, dark-skinned man was there looking very disheveled. There were large, open wounds on his arms. He was covered in dirt and grime mixed with sweat, and he was bleeding from the nose. It was very clear that he had recently been in a fight.

    "Are you alright buddy? Do ya think ya need some help?" shot Thwargle as he moved toward the man ready to aid him if necessary. His hand twitched against a plate at his belt.

    "I'm ok.. I've been attacked." replied the man through staggered breath.

    Jonquie picked up a very ornate embroidered napkin on the table that had the hors d'oeuvres.

    "Oh, honey. Can I please... You've got a bit on you." Moving toward him and handing him the napkin, she shoved her finger deeply into one of the nasty wounds on his arm.

    Pulling back, the man let out a cry of pain and shoved the woman's hand away.

    "Did you have some trouble on the way here sir?" asked Balthazar, in no apparent rush to aid the man.

    "Yes." he replied with labored breath.

    "Did you fall down every step on the way?" Balthazar joked.

    "No. I had some difficulty. It follows me everywhere I go." he replied, breath still labored.

    "I understand. I understand. Well you're not the only one who has needed a helping hand in the past." His eyes flashed toward Shade. Reaching into his suit jacket, Balthazar pulled a healing potion and handed it to the man. As he did so, Shade perked up with interest looking deeply at Balthazar and noticing several vials in the depths of his coat. The injured man popped the stopper and downed the vial hastily. Wiping his mouth the wounds slowly began to twist and close. With a wince of discomfort, the wounds began to reverse.

    "It appears that everyone is here..." began Balthazar to the group.

    "Balthazar, was it? What is it that you and your employer do? Are you just a simple servant?" interrupted Shade.

    "I take care of my mistress and the things that she needs. I acquire them for her. In this case, she needs you so I've acquired you." her replied.

    "What does she do?" he quipped back.

    "She is a dabbler in the arcane arts, but primarily she is a wealthy merchant. She trades in many different items from around the world. She is a very successful trader." Balthazar showed no sign of annoyance at the line of questioning.

    "And she needs... our help?" Shade seemed incredulous.

    "She does. Yes." Balthazar said simply. "I would rather she explain her desire rather than you hear it from me. I do not know the details. She merely told me the people to acquire and I did so."

    "Specifically by name, huh?" Shade did not appear to fully trust Balthazar.

    "Some of you, yes. The large dark skin fellow here has a specific reason for being here. Miss Jonquie was invited specifically for certain... Let's say obsessions that she has." Balthazar was working his way around the room.

    "Oh it's merely a hobby." Jonquie chuckled.

    "The two of you," continued Balthazar looking towards the red-haired elf and the tiefling. "I just happened to stumble upon you two, Lylie and Shade. You both jumped towards danger. That's a quality that is high in need right now."

    "The only person you haven't mentioned is the dwarf." Shade looked loathingly over to Thwargle.

    "Well, he came tonight with miss Jonquie and she vouched for him." he replied.

    "I wouldn't go so far.." muttered Jonquie under her breath, quiet enough it might be mistaken as a cough.

    "What was that?" asked Balthazar, unsure what she had said.

    "Oh I was just wondering if it would be alright if I began knitting." she said, covering her insult.

    "Oh, please." Balthazar nodded. "If there is nothing else, I can take you to my mistress now."

    "I think that's a good idea." Shade replied shifting his gaze around the room.

    As the group made their way down the hallway following Balthazar, Shade tried to fall behind. He looked around the hallway being sure not to touch anything. He was taking stock of what the house held as well as looking for any type of security. The elderly elf followed closely behind him, nearly pushing him along as he tried to slow his pace. He instinctively whipped his tail, contacting the side of her leg smartly.

    "Oh!" Jonquie exclaimed, taking a step back.

    The group made their way up a grand staircase to the third floor before they were ushered into a wood paneled room with a fireplace, comfortable chairs and a heavy table bearing goblets and bottles wine. The darkly painted walls were covered with maps and sea charts. Racks, shelves and cabinets held hundreds more rolled up maps and charts. A person was seated in an overstuffed chair near the fire. A large heavy blanket covered the person's body, distorting the groups view of them. A dark hood and a silver mask covered the persons face.

12 - Syndra Silvane

    "Help yourself to wine." a dry raspy voice croaked from the mysterious person. "Take a seat my friends. I hope I may call you that. My name is Syndra Silvane. I was an adventurer many years ago. Unfortunately in my adventures, I visited the other realms. I passed away and I was raised from the dead."

    "Ah!" cheeped Jonquie, unable to contain her excitement at this revelation.

    "Yes, miss Jonquie?" Syndra asked.

    "Tell me more! How did you die?" Jonquie asked.

    Shade popped a cork on one of the wine bottles noisily. The group looked over as he sat down and began to drink directly from the bottle.

    "Yes, yes. Help yourselves. Please." Syndra said, no obvious issues with this behavior.

    "Oh I am." continued Shade as he took another drag from the bottle.

    Directing her attention back to Jonquie's question she continued. "There was an unfortunate incident with a giant, and a club, and my head."

    "So, what brought you back?" Jonquie's excitement still visible on her face. "What did you see? What did you feel?!"

    "How much did it cost you?" asked Shade, clearly only interested in price.

    "It cost me nothing. It cost my friends... many coins."

    "Oh coins only huh? No, life for a life thing going on here?"

    "I'm not sure what you're driving at good sir!" Syndra replied incredulous. "Anyway, I have since retired from that life. I am now merely a merchant and a curious person who likes to dabble in the arcane arts. Now, as to why you're here. I'm sure you've now heard of this "death curse" that is being talked about all over the place. Well, as you're aware those who have died and been resurrected now fade away. As I have died, I am wasting away to nothing. I do not know how much longer I have until I waste away to nothing, and then there will be no help for me after that. Clerics have no ideas. However, I have many contacts around the world from my days as an adventurer. I have spent a good deal of my fortune gaining as much information is I can about what the source of the curse is. They have told me that there is an artifact called the Soul Monger. The soul monger absorbs the souls of the dead and does not allow them to return to their bodies. My sources tell me that this soul monger resides in Chult. Our friend here, Yasunga is here because that is where he is from."

    "Yes, I am from the land of Chult. My family rules in one of the tribes of Chult. My mother, she trades in goods there but I have exiled myself from my family." Yasunga looked saddened as he spoke the truth out loud.

    "For those of you who are unfamiliar with the land of Chult, it is a harsh place. It is a jungle region, a peninsula ringed with mountains and choked with rainforest. Enormous reptiles some call dinosaurs, savage goblins, and armies of undead prowl the jungles. Mapping the area has.." began Syndra.

    "Wait a second. Ya just told us that the undead die if they're... dead. This curse. If they waste away like you are why should we be concerned about them?" interrupted Thwargle, clearly unsure what an undead really was.

    "The undead have been there for over a hundred years. They have hunted the jungles, undead have no souls." explained Syndra calmly.

    "Right you are." Thwargle said, clearly happy with the answer.

    "The land is so savage that mapping them have been impossible. Nothing is known about the regions central area beyond a few miles from the coastline. However, my contacts have put together a map that is more advanced than any other. If you agree to take my mission to find the Soul Monger deep in the jungles of Chult, I will provide this to aid you on your mission."

    "Sorry, I wasn't paying attention at all." Shade began. "What are we doing with this Soul Monger once we find it, using it to control you? Is that what I heard?" a smirk crossed his devilish face.

    "You bring it to me. I will reward you handsomely." Syndra replied calmly.

    "What is it you will do with this Soul Monger once you have it?" asked Jonquie.

    "It sounds to me like she might be willing to pay more for it." said Shade.

    "We will destroy it. The soul monger is sucking the life force from the world."

    "I would love to study it's qualities a bit more." continued Jonquie.

    "And how much would you pay for it?" continued Shade.

    "I'm not sure you can put a price on it." Jonquie's excitement about the artifact evident to everyone.

    "See, now this isn't going to work for me." Shade shook his head.

    "I've got a question." Yasunga jumped in. "How exactly are you going to help me with what I need."

    "I am very good friends with one of the merchants there. Wakanga O'Tamu. In fact, I plan to stay with him after we travel there."

    "Oh you're coming with us?" asked Lylie, speaking for the first time of the evening.

    "Yes. I'm too weak to travel into the jungle with you, but I will be nearby in case you need support." replied Syndra nodding towards Lylie.

    "Are you providing the ship to get there?" Lylie asked, excited about getting out on the open water.

    "No ship required, I have prepared a teleportation spell. If you are willing to join me; tomorrow evening, return here and we will all teleport to Chult."

    "Where can we get supplies?" Yasunga asked.

    "Also, what supplies will you be willing to provide us?" asked Jonquie.

    "I will provide each of you 30 gold in advanced, to gear up in any way that you need. You may want to wait until we arrive in Chult before you spend your coin however. There may be certain things you will need to overcome in the jungle that the vendors there will have more readily available." Syndra's suggestion seemed more like a warning.

    "Are you familiar with the place of Chult? I know that you have a contact there." Shade asked.

    "Yes, I do have a great friend there." Syndra replied.

    "How well are you known amongst the locals there; more than just your friend?" he continued, a deep rattling cough erupting suddenly.

    "When I am there, I stay with him. I doubt many of the locals would know me directly." she answered, ignoring the coughing.

    "And you know what we will need there?" replied Shade, wiping at the corners of his mouth with the back of his hand.

    "I can get you in contact with locals who will know what is required to venture into the jungle." she replied simply.

    "And 30 gold will cover this cost?" Shade continued to grill Syndra.

    "30 gold is what I have to offer." was her reply.

    "No. You're very wealthy, you can offer more." Shade continued to press upon Syndra.

    "Again, I have spent a great deal of my fortune gathering what information I have."

    "How about you give us 20 gold now, putting in a good word with your merchant friends to buy supplies here in town and then provide us necessary equipment in Chult."

    "I can perhaps dig a bit deeper. I can offer 50 gold each. That is all." she replied. It was impossible to tell emotion behind the silvery mask of her hooded head, and her cracked raspy voice gave no impression that she was upset by this.

    "Thank you very much. I know this will impact your pocket books more than you intended, but I promise you that you're getting the best that you can get with me."

    "I still suggest that you buy your equipment when we get there. But I will supply the gold now if you wish to shop before we need to depart. You have one evening." Syndra gave a look to Balthazar.

    "I would like to take the full 50 gold now." Shade said without hesitation.

    "I too, will take the gold now." Yasunga said.

    "I'd like to wait." said Jonquie.

    "Oh I don't mind waitin' until we get there. I'm not in a hurry fer nothin'." said Thwargle.

    At this, Balthazar reached into his coat pocket and pulled out two small bags of separated coins. Shade thought to himself that it seemed convenient to have already been perfectly separated into 50 gold increments to hand them.

    "What will be the final compensation for helping you in this task to find the Soul Monger?" asked Jonquie.

    "Should you succeed, I expect you will be rich beyond measure just from what you find on your journey. You may also come each of you and make one request from me each." replied Syndra.

    "I have but only one thing that I care about." whispered Yasunga, to no one in particular.

    "What's that ya great big man?" Thwargle asked, hearing Yasunga's muttering.

    Yasunga said nothing as he stared off into the distance, looking at nothing in particular. He was no longer paying attention to the conversation clearly lost in his own thoughts. Thwargle didn't press him more.

    "Is that any request at all?" inquired Jonquie, snapping the conversation back to Syndra.

    "If I may provide it, then yes. You will have saved my life and I will be beholden to you." Syndra replied.

    "When will we have to tell you this request, when we return with the Soul Monger?" Jonquie continued.

    "Yes, when it is delivered."

    Syndra was patient in answering any questions the party had. They never sensed that she was annoyed or bothered by even the most mundane or repeated question.

    "Miss Sylvane, Mr? Miss?" Shade interjected.

    "Miss, yes." croaked Syndra.

    "Do you happen to have a contact here in town with any of the merchants that you could put in a good worth with for me to purchase anything? I don't come from much." Shade asked through a wheezing cough. "The 50 gold you've given me tonight is all I have. As you can tell, I am a lot more frail than the others here tonight."

    "You do look a bit sicker; I won't lie." she replied.

    "We have already used two of your healing potions from Balthazar before our quest has even begun, and I fear we will not have enough healing potions." explained Shade through a wheezing shortened breath.

    "Funnily enough, my friend in Chult sells healing potions. He owns a monopoly on them there."

    "Oh, well then maybe I shall wait until we get there to purchase anything. Thank you." Shade sat back in his chair and took another long draw from the wine bottle. "I thank you very much for this opportunity. I shall hopefully be returning tomorrow."

    "Hopefully?" Syndra asked, adjusting herself in her chair. "You would not just take my money and vanish? I give you this in good faith."

    "I would not. If I do not return you can assume I am dead. My complexion does not yield me the kindest of responses in town. I will try to keep it safe."

    At this Shade stood from the table and made his way out of the room abruptly. As he walked out of the house, he made his way back to the Yawning Portal. He decided it would be best to work his last evening he had agreed to in the yawning portal. Using his skills as a thief, he loudly bragged in Thieves' cant about his new job, and the fact that this would be his last night in town if anyone was in need of his skills. Heading back to wash dishes, he hastily scrubbed the plates and glasses without any real care or effort before making his way back to the stables for some rest.

    "Any questions from the rest of you?" Syndra continued, not showing any anger at the tiefling if she had any.

    "I would very much like to talk with you about this...condition that you're going through." said Jonquie as she scooted her chair closer to Syndra's.

    "You may stay afterwards if you'd like." Syndra replied.

    "Do ya happen tuh have a room I could stay in fer the evening? I'm new in town and haven't found a room yet." asked Thwargle.

    "I will have my man, Balthazar find you a room." she replied, nodding for Balthazar to do so.

    "That'd be great!" boomed Thwargle cheerily.

    "If you would prefer a free place to stay, I have an extra cot." Jonquie piped up, turning her attention from Syndra back to Thwargle.

    "I'll take a room from you fella, I wouldn't wanna put her out." Thwargle said, looking past Jonquie to Balthazar.

    Balthazar handed Thwargle a card from his jacket pocket. Thwargle was surprised how many items Balthazar seemed to be pulling from that jacket, but decided it best not to mention anything. He took the card and headed down the grand staircase, and back out the doors he had come. Once outside he followed the directions on the back of the card and found himself in a very fancy hotel. At the bar, he was greeted by a kind man who seemed very happy to help him to his room. It was a grand room with very ornate furnature and a bed that looked wonderful. Locking the door behind him, Thwargle made himself at home in the grand room for the evening, excited at the chance for such a nice rest with the prospect of travel and adventure ahead. He took his shoes off and sat down on the bed before melting down into the mattress, quickly asleep.

    "I need a place to stay tonight, preferably with someone who might know anything about town." said Yasunga as Thwargle made his way out.

    "What do you want a nighttime tour of waterdeep?" joked Balthazar.

    "No, I don't need an escort, but I've already been jumped once here in this wonderful town.

    Balthazar handed a crumpled card with a corner missing and the text a bit faded from his back pocket. As Yasunga followed the directions of the card, he was greeted by a dingy little building that was dimly lit. Making his way in through a ragged door, he was greeted gruffly by a squat old man. The tavern's bar area was noisy with drunken patrons singing and telling stories quite loudly. The man pointed down a hall to room 4 and did a little wave of his hands as if he was annoyed. Yasunga made his way to his room and was surprised to find a few other travelers already resting. There were a few beds haphazardly placed in the room and he made his way over to one of the bunks. He didn't bother to remove any of his clothing and placed his pack under his head as he laid down to try and get any sleep that he could in this noisy little tavern.

    Lylie Briarthorn decided to head back to her ship and get some rest in a familiar bed.

    In the middle of the evening, Shade woke with a start. There was a warm hand firmly gripping his mouth. A black face hovered inches from his and whispered quietly into his ear.

    "You were seen outside Sylvane's house this evening. Why?"

    "Mmmhmammdm." Shade mouthed through the gripped hand.

    The assailant moved the hand down to press lightly on his throat, clearly a warning.

    "I've been offered a rather nice gig to help her out. In exchange I get to case the place. I figured this would be of benefit to you guys." Shade replied calmly, also whispering.

    "Well, what's the job exactly?" the man whispered, black eyes glinting faintly.

    "We're headed to Chult. I'll be out of town for a little while. She needs some errand ran. She has markets to hustle and monopolize over there. She wants a couple of stronger people to bully their people in the markets, and some of the sneakier people to do some backroom dealing. She figured I could handle the second part of that need and she has some big guy to help with the first." Shade said calmly, despite a cough rising through his gripped throat.

    "We'll take any information you can get on the marketing front; we're always interested in business opportunities. However, we have a more important job to be done in Chult. We know Sylvane is going there, so we're trying to get someone in her group. We're looking for a man whose name is Artas, Artas Cimber." the man said, not moving his hand.

    "Was he last known to be in Chult? Also if you wouldn't mind moving your hand, I have a hard time breathing as it is." Shade asked through a light cough.

    "I kind of like the position we're in right now. I think you'll stay this way." replied the man.

    "Do you have a dagger?" Shade asked simply.

    "Would you like to find out?" was the angered reply.

    "You could use that instead. I don't want to be choked to death and I'm having a hard time breathing." Shade said, another cough surfacing.

    The man sharply pushed a knife into Shade's neck, drawing blood. "Better, buttercup?" he chuckled at his own joke. "Cimber has an artifact that the brotherhood wants. We want you to acquire it."

    "Is that all the information you'd like to give me?" Shade asked smartly.

    "It's a ring. The ring will feel very cold. Bring it to us." replied the man.

    "It will feel cold upon his dead finger, sure." Shade replied through yet another stifled cough.

    "Not that kind of cold brother. Bring it to us. The brother hood wants it." replied the man.

    "You'll have it." assured Shade calmly. "Do you mind if a hand is attached?"

    "Fine by us. You'll be contacted when you get to Chult. We have spies there already. we have people everywhere." the man stated, moving the dagger slightly against the trickle of blood forming on Shade's neck.

    "I'm aware. Can I go back to sleep now?" Shade was confident to the point of being cocky.

    "Sleep well." the man slid the dagger slowly from his neck and disappeared into the dark.

    Back in Syndra's room Jonquie was alone with Syndra. She shuffled her chair even closer to Syndra and set her knitting down on the table in front of her.

    "I was just wondering what you saw when you passed. Did you see or experience anything?" her eyes stared deeply into the barely visible eyes of Syndra, hidden behind her mask and cast into shadow from her hood.

    "I'll be honest with you," Syndra croaked, her voice even more raspy after the earlier conversations. "I do not remember much of the other worlds. There was lights and a feeling of... movement. Of flying."

    "What kind of lights? White, blue, pink lights?" Jonquie pressed, excited to hear any details.

    "It was a color that could not be described. It was not a color you can see with your living eyes." Syndra replied mysteriously.

    "How did you feel to be brought back?" Jonquie asked intensely, her face even closer to Syndra's.

    "It was like being born a second time but much more painful." Syndra answered. She shifted uncomfortably under her blanket and brought it closer to her chin. "Any other questions?"

    "No, this is very, very helpful! As it is, I'll head home and let you get your rest." Jonquie's excitement was fading. She leaned back and picked her knitting back up from the table.

    On the way back to her ship, Lylie felt the urge to release some stress. Her first night in town, she'd been at sea too long, and hadn't had much excitement the last leg of her journey. She wanted to practice her skills, especially with the excitement of the upcoming mission keeping sleep far from her mind. She wound her way through town and found her way to a fight promoter. After talking with the fight promoter, she signed herself up and found a place on the bleachers while she waited for her turn to fight.

    After about an hour, one of the large men keeping order in the room motioned it was her turn. She steadied herself and walked in to the fighting area. The first few fights she decided it would be best not to come out as hard as she could. She took a few hits and returned some, leaving it to the judges to decide. After throwing the first fight, she thought she should have won the second one. When it was time for her third and final fight she was angry.

    Walking into the fighting area for the third time, she was matched against a larger man who was clearly a crowd favorite. Cheers from different areas of the crowd floated down to her as his name was called. She knew she had to fight, and fight hard for this one. It wasn't about money, but she had to prove to herself that she would win. As the fight began, the brute threw slow loping punches that would be devastating if they had landed. She was too quick for him. Dodging around she connected a few hard punches to his side. He winced back and shook off the pain. Coming in again, she dodged opposite his strike and jumped into the air, fist forward. She connected with his jaw and felt the sickening crack of bones against her fist. She hoped for a moment it wasn't her hand, but quickly felt as his jaw gave way to her punch. The brute fell back with muffled screams as he clutched his face. The fight was immediately called. She heard as the crowd boo'd down, clearly upset she had hurt one of their favorite fighters. The fight promoter shoved 10 gold to her and suggested she pack on out. She took this suggestion as a requirement and made her way back to the ship.

13 - Morning Beginnings

    As the morning broke, Shade made his way back to Syndra's house. With a knock on the door, Balthazar opened.

    "Yes?" he asked, clearly unsure why Shade was here so early.

    "Uh, I need to speak with Syndra." Shade said mysteriously.

    "She is currently indisposed. She is not feeling well. The curse weighs heavily upon her." Balthazar said with a small bow.

    "I completely understand, but I think that she will want to meet with me." said Shade, giving him no more information

    "Again sir, she is indisposed. I cannot take you to see her." Balthazar said.

    "How well is your house guarded?" Shade asked, Balthazar furrowing his brow.

    "Miss Silvane, when she was and adventurer, was quite adept at many spells." her replied, suggesting that Shade not try anything.

    "That's good. That also wasn't what I asked." Shade shot back relentlessly.

    "If you would choose to test them.." Balthazar began, steadying his grip on the door.

    "I'm not. How well is the house guarded? Is it very well?" Shade asked again.

    "Again, she is.. " continued Balthazar

    "I'll wait inside." said Shade, beginning to walk toward the door. Balthazar moved to block his way.

    "Please come back later." as he said this, he moved more into the doorway, closing it some to block the way.

    "No, she needs to see me now." said Shade, still moving towards the door.

    "It's not possible sir." said Balthazar a final time.

    "Then may I borrow a sheet of paper and a pen?" Shade said, confusing Balthazar even more.

    "I... I suppose." He closed the door and Shade heard the deadbolt latch. A few moments later it opened again.

    With the paper in hand, out of sight from Balthazar, Shade scribbled a note in small neat print. "Zentarim are interested in your trip to Chult."

    "I'm terribly sorry, I don't mean to bother you." Shade handed the note to Balthazar and walked away.

    Thwargle woke with a yawn and a stretch. The bed had been wonderful, and he felt very rested. He decided he would head out onto a local corner and practice his juggling. Leaving his bag in the room, and locking the door behind him, he spent a few hours out on the street. Thwargle placed his hat on the floor, gathered his plates around him and began to juggle. He worked his way up in plate count, until he managed his 10 plate juggle. Throughout the next few hours he only stumbled and dropped a plate once. He noticed in the back of the crowd that Shade was lurking and chuckled to himself when Thwargle had dropped his plate. After a bit more Thwargle decided that was enough practice for today. He looked in the hat and was surprised to see he had pulled in 6 gold for that short amount of time. Happy with his earnings he headed back to his nice room, to relax before the evening's activities began.

    Lylie woke to a start and headed to talk to Captain Malcom. She slowly broke the news to him that she would be leaving for a while. She talked to him about her upcoming adventure and explained that she was ready for a change of pace.

    "I wish you all the best." she said solemnly.

    "You've always been a valuable member of the crew. You will definitely be missed." said Captain Malcom.

    "Best of luck Captain. Hopefully I will be back next time you are in port. I hope you will take me back as a helmsman when you return." she said, holding back any emotion.

    As she made her way from the ship, she was suddenly grabbed from behind tightly into a bear hug.

    "We quickly passed a hat around and gathered what we could with such short notice!" said one of the boat's crew.

    "Thanks guys!" said Lylie as she looked into the hat. She dug out 5 gold pieces and put them into her coin purse.

    With one last look at her boat, she headed back into town.

    The day dragged on and as dusk appeared, each member of the group slowly found their way back to Syndra's house. One by one they knocked on the door and were let in by Balthazar. Shade was one of the first to arrive, anxious to speak with Syndra on his own to ensure she had read his note from earlier. Balthazar was still not allowing him to see her, but had let him into the parlor. When Thwargle arrived, Shade struck up some small talk.

    "So Thwargle, was it?" he began, through a small cough.

    "That's right." he said, his thick dwarven accent bellowing in the small room.

    "What uh, what brings you to Waterdeep?" Shade asked.

    "Oh, I'm not really sure. I was just wanderin' about." he said, somewhat preoccupied with a trinket he'd found on a table. "And yerself?"

    "Uh, looking for work." he said unconfidently.

    "Wonderful!" Thwargle boomed.

    "Fortunately." said Shade, a weak smile across his lips.

    "It worked out didn't it? Haha, luck must be on yer side!" he chuckled, slapping Shade on the shoulder.

    "Must be; must be." Shade said, rubbing his shoulder. "So... You weren't supposed to be at Syndra's?"

    "Nah, not at all." he said without any concern.

    "But, you're coming anyways?" pushed Shade.

    "Yeh, why not?" he said through a grin.

    "Why not?" Shade continued, "It could be very dangerous."

    "I don't care about danger, what have I got goin' on?" chuckled Thwargle.

    "Well I mean, you've got family right?" Shade continued.

    "Nope." was all Thwargle gave him.

    "Well, do you have any... friends?" Shade was pushing for more information, and Thwargle was not giving him much.

    "Nope. I was a travelling entertainer for quite a few years." Thwargle said.

    "You got a troupe?" Shade pushed.

    "Huh? Oh, not anymore." Thwargle chuckled loudly. "I thought you said I got a trip, haha!"

    At that, the rest of the group slowly trickled into the room. Once everyone had arrived, Balthazar led them back up the grand staircase and into the same room they had spoken with Syndra previously.

    "Welcome back my friends." she croaked hoarsely. "I'm glad to see that all of you have decided to take me up on my offer. Are you ready..." she said through wheezing breaths " go to the land of Chult?"

    "Miss Sylvane, are you ready?" Shade asked, concern in his voice.

    "I'm as ready as I can be in my current state." she said as she waved her hand dismissively.

    "And you've taken all of the necessary precautions?" continued Shade.

    "I have." she said.

    "Based on what has transpired?" he pushed.

    Syndra gave him a nod of understanding.

    "Here is the information that I promised you last evening." Syndra said. She pulled out an old ragged map of Chult. "Unfortunately, it is as I told you before. Only the coastline is really known. Where we go to now, is the city. To Port Nyanzaru."

    "You mentioned teleportation." stated Shade. "What, uh... what are the negative reprocussions of teleportation upon someone in your state?"

    "As far as my contacts tell me, there is no downside. I will die at the same rate that I'm dying now." said Syndra simply

    "Would you mind if I get the 50 gold from you now?" piped in Jonquie.

    "Of course." Syndra motioned for Balthazar, who pulled a small sack of gold from his coat and handed it gingerly to Jonquie

    "Will he be coming too?" asked Shade, motioning towards Balthazar

    "He will not. He will remain here and maintain my estates here in Waterdeep." she answered. "Now would be the time to say your goodbyes to Balthazar."

    "Goodbye Balthazar!" said Lylie. Jonquie gave a slight tilt of her head, and the rest said nothing.

    "Bye." was Balthazars simple reply.

    "If you are ready then, we will proceed." said Syndra. "Please remain standing."

    Moving her hands in the air in precise and strange motions, the air in the room began to shift and change. Nobody moved as Syndra began mumbling words under her breath. She continued to chant, making formations with her hands as the room itself began to shift and change. The group appeared almost at once into a completely different setting. They were in a tropical location under the blazing sun, a stark contrast to the dimly lit room they had just been in. They collectively shielded their eyes and squinted in the bright sunlight. They were greeted by the familiar sounds of a harbor; creaking ropes, slapping waves, heavy barrels rolling along cobblestone all mingled with voices shouting and cursing. A non-familiar language filled with clicks, inhalations and sing-songy words sounded almost musical to all but Yasunga. An aroma of spices and tropical fruit assaulted their noses, mixed with the smell of the sea, of fish, tar, and canvas.

14 - Port Nyanzaru

    "Yes, I love the smell of low tide in the morning!" joked Lylie.

    Beyond all that, Port Nyanzaru was an explosion of color. Buildings painted blue, green, orange and salmon pink surrounded the immediate vicinity. They could see walls adorned with murals of giant reptiles and mythical heroes, as well as weaved baskets and clay pots filled with colorful flowers arranged haphazardly around entrances. Some were draped with leafy, flowering vines. Minstrels in bright clothing adorned with bright feathers and shells performed on the street corners. Multi-colored pennants and sun awnings fluttered on the city walls. Crowds of children dressed in bright feathered hats and capes passed and squealed in delighted terror as a street performer dressed in a big-toothed lizard costume stomped playfully after them. The entire city seemed to be bustling with life; sweating, laughing and singing.

    "I suggest, if you need somewhere to stay, there are two inns that I can recommend. One of them is called The Thundering Lizard if you're looking for a raucous time. Or if you want something a little quieter there is Akaia's House of Repose. Both of those are located in the Red Bazaar area." Said Syndra, breaking their wonder and shock from the teleportation.

    "Your friend here," she continued as she motioned toward Yasunga "should know where that is."

    "Where should we go to get the supplies that we need?" asked Jonquie, squinting slightly as her eyes were still adjusting to the sudden light.

    "There are merchants everywhere. There are a few certain items only sold by the merchant princes themselves. There are also guides that you can hire that can help you to specific places and inform you of the different dangers that you must overcome." Syndra replied, her raspy voice cracking through a cough.

    "If you need help with that, you can speak with Jobal. He is one of the merchant princes; one of the seven who rule the city. He has a monopoly on the guides that can help you find your way through the jungle." she explained. "You may also visit me and my friend Wakanga; he has a monopoly on the magical items in the city."

    "Do you know where I can reach Jobal?" Jonquie asked. The city was overwhelmingly active.

    "Yes. The merchant princes, for the most part, do not like it if you go to their homes without invitation. I would not recommend that, but they do their business at a place called the Golden Throne." said Syndra.

    "Sounds like a place ye'd take a big ol' dump!" chuckled Thwargle, amused by the name.

    "That is in the merchant quarter," continued Syndra, unamused. "Near the center of the city."

    "I feel like I could use a 'Golden Throne' myself after that teleportation!" chuckled Thwargle, still amused at himself.

    "Um, Syndra?" interjected Shade.

    "Yes?" she replied, turning to look at the feeble tiefling.

    "You said you're staying with your friend.." he began.

    "Wakanga," interrupted Jonquie.

    "Please. I know that you're older than I am.." he tried to continue.

    "Your brain is not as quick as I am," Jonquie smirked. "I'm just trying to help you along dear."

    "I don't need you to interrupt, please." he said with exasperation.

    "Are you staying with Wakanga?" he said, directing his attention back to Syndra.

    "Yes, I am staying at his home. If you need me, you can find me there." she replied, no apparent notice of the small squabble between the tiefling and the aged elf.

    "Is it far from here?" he asked.

    "No, it is not too far." she replied.

    "Would you like an escort?" Shade asked seriously.

    "Yes, that would be lovely." She said with a small nod of her hooded head.

    "I would be happy to accompany you." said Shade.

    "Does anyone else need anything from me before I retire?" She asked. Nobody in the group spoke up and she began to make her way towards Wakanga's home. Shade followed closely at her side. As they made their way out of earshot from the group she spoke up.

    "Thank you for the... information" she began.

    With a hushed voice, shade signaled for her to stop talking about the letter. "It's very nice here." he said, changing the subject quickly.

    "It is. It's...quite warm though. It tires me more than my home in Waterdeep does." she continued along the line of small talk.

    "I'd imagine," continued Shade through rattled breath and a small cough, "that it would. This wasting curse that is afflicting you. You are very covered so it's hard to see any leprous spots or anything similar; are you literally wasting away? Your vitality seems very great."

    "I am literally wasting away. My flesh is not pretty, that is why I am as covered as I am. You would not like to see what is beneath my robes and mask." she said candidly.

    "I assume you also wear them to keep your affliction hidden from others?" he asked.

    "At this point the cat, as they say, is out of the proverbial bag. I think that everyone knows." she replied.

    "Well if you need any further assistance, I can forgo any activities in the city and aid you." he offered.

    "I am well for now, thank you." said Syndra with another nod.

    The two walked in silence for a while. The towns street wound and split lazily as hundreds of shops and thousands of people were around them. The noise of bartering filled their ears and the smells of many exotic foods filled their nostrils. Shade's eyes darted left and right constantly, always on the lookout for anything that might be suspicious. A large towering villa threw Shade and Syndra into shadow as they approached the high, fancy door. The exterior gave the impression that the interior would be magnificent. It was clearly a home owned by someone important. There were golden trimmings, and expensive cloths used in the decoration of the villa. Shade gave Syndra a little bow and turned to head towards what seemed to be the Market area.

    Back on the dock, Yasunga was inundated with questions from the other members of the group, each of them trying to figure out where they should go. After taking a moment to explain a few locations in the town, they all decided they would make their way to different places. Lylie wanted to head to the raucous inn, to find herself a drink and someone to share a story with. She hadn't been fond of the teleportation and a good stiff drink would put her back into a better mood. Jonquie and Thwargle both wanted to head to the Golden Throne to speak with Jobal. Yasunga felt it would be necessary to find a potions vendor. Their separate destinations all branched off from the same main road, so they made their way together for a little while.

    As they made their way through the crowded streets, each of them was looking around taking everything in. Thwargle looked at as much as he could, filled with excitement. He loved crowds; the people, the smells, the sounds. It reminded him of performing and hearing the excited people as he waited to take the stage. He thrived on their enjoyment and excitement. Jonquie remained silent and did not appear to take any immediate interest in anything around her. On their right, there was a large, ornate temple for the deity Gond. The centerpiece of the temple was an extremely ornate fountain with large jets that constantly changed the fountain's shape. Circles, squares, flames, and impossible shapes appeared briefly in the water before shifting and changing before their eyes. On the left were the royal docks, as Yasunga had told them. There were only a few large, ornate ships with large sea walls guarding the town from the water. Yasunga had told them this was a dock specifically for the royalty of the city, not to be used by the regular merchants.

    They continued down the road, still taking everything in. They noticed a little farther down the road, still on the left was a dry dock area. There were large ships being pulled from the water by enormous beast of burden. The beasts had three horns with skin like a lizard. They were pulling the boats with ease, and their immense size was a surprise to Thwargle.

    "Would ya look at that great big thing over there?!" He exclaimed with excitement as he pointed out the large beasts.