Here we go!
After everyone introduced and described their characters and talked about their backgrounds, we started the campaign in earnest. Having struck out from Balder's Gate, Malagoth arrived at the port in the city of Waterdeep, and began asking around for any information on the brigands who had sunk the Freewind. The harbormaster told the goliath that a schooner meant for transporting passengers from Neverwinter to Waterdeep limped into port two months ago with a broken mast. Mal discovered that the captain of the schooner was named Captain Ventus, who liked to frequent a not so nice tavern called the Whirlpool, which was located across the alley from the dragonborn Stark's tinkerer's shop.
Stark, fiddling with his widgets, watched the goliath enter the Whirlpool, thinking to himself that a bar brawl was certain. Inside the Whirlpool, Bran ,who arrived in Waterdeep the day before as he tracked the movements of his parents across their travels along the Sword Coast, watched Mal order a drink from the put-upon dwarven barmaid, Avon. After a quick bribe, and after a first lesson from a strange birdwoman who deftly snatched Mal's coin purse (causing some of the customers to flee the tavern, and drawing Stark's curiosity), the barbarian learned that Capt. Ventus was hired to transport elven hunters and rangers from Neverwinter to Waterdeep. Mal also learned from Avon that it was a giant ballista bolt that damaged Ventus's mast in the attack, and that they managed to outrun and lose the attackers before the mast gave way.
The talk of elven hunters drew the attention of the half-elven ranger Bran, who introduced himself to the goliath, even as the goliath and the aarakocra continued to bicker back and forth. The birdwoman, who hasn't offered her name as of yet, had been placed in the dock ward by the Thieves' Guild in order to test her ability at maintaining a disguise. On their way to the North Ward, the group passed a magic and potion shoppe, run by a friend of Stark's, a silver-haired half-elf named Luisa, who waved at the group as they passed by.
Bran and Mal were told of a fellowship hall in the North Ward called the Shrine of the Shining Way, a waystation for adventurers built many years ago on the ruins of a former tavern. Stark, having lived in the City of Splendors for the past few years, guided them to the Shrine, followed by the birdwoman who found the whole situation interesting.
Arriving at the Shrine, which was a cozy one-room meeting hall with a few birch trees standing to the west of the property, the group met the caretaker, a halfling woman named Enid. Enid invited them in and told them that she was the only one around for a while, as all of the members were on missions or quests, taking Waterdhavian nobles on "adventure safaris" to various locations along the Sword Coast. Enid told the group that a few of their company had taken some nobles to a small town called Nightstone, which lay 10 miles down a trail off of the High Road, south of the city.
On a wall inside the shrine, Bran noticed a painting of a group of adventurers from decades ago. However, in the painting, Bran noticed a male elf wearing a cloak that had a clasp made of a smooth black stone with runes etched into it. As the birdwoman left to con a carriage rental place into giving up one of their carriages to make the short trip even shorter, Bran questioned Enid on the painting. Enid told Bran that the painting was twenty or thirty years old and she had no idea who the elven man was. However, depicted in the painting, there were two elven women called Nasisi and Marin who were still active members for the Shining Way, perhaps they knew more about the mysterious man in the painting?
The birdwoman returned with a fast carriage and a large horse for the barbarian to ride. After retrieving Stark's gear from his shop, the carriage struck out on the High Road. After Mal's horse slowed down and grew tired from lugging around 400 lbs of barbarian, Mal realized that it would be just as fast for him to run in order to keep up with the carriage. Several hours of travel later, the carriage arrived close to the signpost for Nightstone and could go no further without camping for the night. The group thanked the carriage driver for his assistance and parted ways, continuing along the path and camping for the night close to the crossroads.
The next morning, the group continued 10 miles down the dirt road, growing closer to the Ardeep Forest. As they approached, a bell could be heard tolling in the distance and as they neared the motte and bailey settlement, they could see part of the wall of the keep and the connecting bridge to the village partially collapsed.
TO BE CONTINUED…