I tried to warn Laney and her people it would be dangerous, but in their zeal for change they would not be dissuaded, so I reluctantly agreed to accompany the girl and her family to the secret meeting at the Safe Haven Inn, along with my companions Carric and Xavi. It was as I feared — the meeting was interrupted when the City Watch burst into the inn’s upstairs dining room, and all of the conspirators were forced to flee. Thankfully, Laney, Aluf, Oefrid, Balda, and the other common folk were ferried out safely through a secret passage in the cellar, along with the two lead conspirators: the human Cottager Lorbrin Cooper and the the Greenroots leader, an elf named Shava Moonwhisper.
(Always “respect nature” and “preserve the balance,” with these elves… except when it comes time to slaughtering orcs like wild beasts. Are my kind not part of this “nature” you claim to respect? And what manner of “balance” is achieved by driving us from our forest strongholds and forcing us into the bowels of the Underdark? But this is an argument I’ve had far too many times with Carric during our travels together.)
As the common folk filed towards the escape tunnel, I attempted to hold off the City Watch without needless bloodshed. I have no quarrel with the Watch of Waterdeep and even less desire to attract their notice. Thankfully, brittle-boned humans can still be relied upon to turn tail and run when they hear an orc roaring at them, threatening to carve out their kidneys with a glaive. (I’m glad I thought to extinguished all the nearby torches; I don’t believe any of them got a good look at me.)
Carric’s druidic moon-magic prevented the Watch from descending the opposite staircase, although one poor Watchman suffered grievous wounds to his nether regions. (He’ll sire no more children, that much is certain.) Carric was assisted by Xavi and a formidable warrior woman named Clara, who is also no stranger to the Art — I wonder where she learned her spellcraft? I noted that she could have killed the injured Watchman with her wand, but seemed to deliberately hold back. I’m relieved no one was killed, but doubtless the Watch will be looking for all of us now.
After fleeing through the secret passageway, we ditched the City Watch and my companions and I were led to a warehouse by another co-conspirator, the mysterious elf Finathin Nix. Clara came with us, as did a roguish-looking halfling named Viola and a human bowman with the unlikely name of Geswanouth Slahoot — both companions of Clara’s, it seems, all of them newly arrived in Waterdeep.
Fin told us a bit more about the nature of the conspiracy, which seeks to advance the interests of the common folk in and around the city. Their aims are righteous but their methods seem… dubious at best. He interrogated each of us in turn, asking what we were willing to do for this fledgling movement: theft, sabotage, assassination? It’s no surprise that my druidic friend Carric would seek to aid these so-called “Greenroots,” but I was shocked that Xavi, a fellow devotee of Mystra and someone I know to be an honorable man, would ever countenance the notion of murdering someone in cold blood — especially at the behest of a conspiracy we barely know anything about. I must confer with him further on this! Surely this must be some manner of subterfuge on his part? For my part, I told Nix I wanted no part of any killing, nor anything else that might lead to innocent folk getting hurt.
The other three seemed a more cutthroat bunch, to be sure, an impression that was only intensified when we met at the Red Sails warehouse the following night. Fin was surprised to see me, as were the others — truth be told I wanted nothing further to do with this cabal, but if I’m to keep Laney’s family safe I must know what these conspirators intend. And I have few friends in this world — if Carric and Xavi are going to throw in their lot with this conspiracy, well… after all they’ve done for me, I cannot abandon them as they pursue this dangerous path. I suppose if I’m going to find the answers I seek, I may have to make… further accomodations. But I cannot allow any more innocent blood to be spilled.
And godsbedammed, these folk are a ruthless, reckless sort! Nix, a courtesan employed by the Pink Hydra, claims to have as his client one of the famously anonymous Masked Lords of Waterdeep, one Bardryn Sarich. His plan was to kidnap the man in order to “send a message” to the other Masked Lords. Such a foolhardy scheme would only have brought misery to the common folk, and ruin to all of us. The other Masked Lords would have imposed martial law, shut the city gates tight, and turned Waterdeep upside-down while rounding up anyone even suspected of harboring any revolutionary sympathies. They would stop at nothing in their effort to find the missing Lord, and the uprising would be crushed before it could even begin to take root.
The rogue Viola was only too happy to go along with this rash plan, though it was clear her main interest was in the opportunity to help herself to as many Waterdhavian splendors as she could carry away from the Sarich estate. Clara also seemed hell-bent on the kidnapping, for her own inscrutable reasons — where was the compassion that stayed her hand earlier? Though I admit I am becoming more curious about what might lead a well-spoken, clearly well-educated battlemage to so wholeheartedly embrace this ragtag uprising among the lowborn. Only Ges showed any basic decency and common sense, refusing to go along with the scheme favored by his hot-headed companions. Clearly he is the voice of reason in this trio: the other two would do well to listen to his counsel more frequently.
But we were faced with another problem. An associate of Carric’s, the druid Igald, was at another secret meeting last night, which was also raided — it seems they all were — and has not been seen since. We presumed he was taken by the City Watch. We knew not where, but perhaps Bardryn Sarich would have some idea.…
Carric floated the possibility of “merely” interrogating Lord Bardryn in his bedchamber as an alternative to kidnapping, and blackmailing him to keep his silence — not a plan I’d ordinarily be in favor of, but if this solution will prevent this band of unprincipled ruffians from trying to drag a Masked Lord (who has not wronged us or any of ours) from his own bedchamber and through the streets of Waterdeep, then hand him off to face certain torture by a band of wild-eyed radicals… I see no alternative. I proposed to handle the interrogation myself — Clara has already seen grown men of the Watch wet their breeches at the sound of my voice, so she reluctantly assented to this, on the condition that if the interrogation fails, the kidnapping would proceed.
Our plan is this: Fin will ensure that Lord Bardryn is found in a “compromising” position. Carric will use his druidic magic to help us remain undetected and ensure we cannot be followed, and will assist me with the interrogation while Clara guards the door. Xavi and Viola will search the manor for documents or other information that may help us in our cause. Ges is — probably wisely — sitting out the whole thing.
Our interrogation succeeded, as I knew it would — being feared and hated by the “civilized races” has its advantages. We learned that Igald has likely been taken to the South Fort Keep along with the others rounded up during last night’s raids. Alas, Lord Bardryn doesn’t know who tipped off the City Watch to the secret meetings. And it appears the Masked Lords’ identities are a secret even to other Masked Lords! But we did learn the likely location of their next meeting: the High House of Roaringhorn, in a tenday’s time. Lord Bardryn agreed to meet us — alone — eight days hence at the Broken Lance. As we left the bedchamber, Carric “kidnapped” Fin and threatened to send the courtesan back in pieces and expose their relationship to all should Lord Bardryn dare speak a word of this to anyone. Honestly, the Masked Lord seemed genuinely unaware of the grievances that have so riled the common folk, and was utterly perplexed as to why they should want to rise up against the benevolent rulers of Waterdeep.
We will need to find a safehouse where Fin can hide for the time being — it is far too dangerous to allow a “kidnapped” man to walk the streets freely.
Also, to ensure the success of my interrogation, it became necessary for me to remove my disguise. As we fled his estate, even in the dark with my hood up, I am sure my new companions noted the absence of the grizzled, scarred false jaw I’d been disguising myself with since arriving in Waterdeep. I begged of them to keep this information to themselves, and I can only hope, for their sake, they are more trustworthy than they seem. I do not wish anyone to come to harm on my account, even scoundrels.
Though I must admit, this Viola is a very clever scoundrel indeed — she managed to pilfer Lord Bardryn’s royal seal! (Along with every valuable she could stuff into her satchels, I’m sure.) I suppose she might be a helpful person to know for one seeking answers… that is, if she can can be somehow persuaded to keep her more murderous impulses in check. But she did well snatching that seal; there’s some chance we might use it to spring Igald from prison right under their noses. Though if we are to do that we’d best act this very night, before Lord Bardryn has the opportunity to alert the guards at South Fort Keep.
Xavi also found a stack of documents pertaining to the Masked Lord’s business dealings, which I should very much like to examine when the opportunity presents itself. But for now, we’d best act swiftly and decisively. Lord Bardryn will not take this incursion lightly, of that I’m sure.
Meanwhile, I find myself no nearer to my goal. And despite my best efforts, I also seem to have entangled myself in an additional conspiracy, one I wanted no part of. I suppose it’s true what they say: “Mortals plan, Beshaba laughs.”