The Zhentarim Gambit

The Unexpected Guest

A three session summary

Construction was well under way at Curze manor, sinking the foundation was much easier than expected given the swampy area. Kardos sure did get lucky when he bought this land, Rogal thought to himself, and imagined what the eventual manor would look like when it was finished. The knight snapped back into reality when he heard a voice calling for him in the front. A short walk over the newly laid cobblestones brought him past the ongoing construction, arriving at what will eventually be the main path from the road to the manor.

Squire Garro, whom Rogal entrusted with making sure only the laborers got access to the property, was standing next to an unfamiliar man with even more unfamiliar clothes. His clothes we certainly cotton, but the craftsmanship far surpassed anything you could buy, even at the most expensive tailors. Black fitted pants, a white shirt with a stiff collar, a black double-breasted jacket, and what appeared to be a long piece of black silk knotted at his throat, under the collar.

Rogal gave Garro a nod then addressed the man, “this property is not accepting visitors at this time, you’ll need to return when Lord Curze returns.”

The man smiled. Calm, casual, and unnerving all at the same time. “I am aware Kardos isn’t here, but I just here to deliver two things. Here is the first, he lost these.” As he spoke, he reached into his jacket and produced a small stack of papers, neatly folded.

Rogal took the papers and read what was clearly Lord Curze’s handwriting.

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After Krogg cleaned up the fleeing Zhentarims, John, Krogg, and I regrouped and tried to find where Orianna and Mendartis had run off to. We very quickly found the secret passage behind the fireplace. Guessing that they had gone exploring, we doused the flames and headed down after them, with John electing to stay behind in case the Zhentarims returned.
We did eventually meet up with the two of them in what appeared to be a elegantly styled waiting room with two doors. I offered my stolen cloak to the magical hooks hoping I wouldn’t need it again. It gladly accepted.

The right hand door led to what appeared to be a lab. Some of the implements and concoctions found in the cabinets were familiar from the anatomy and biology classes I largely slept through. Maybe if I hadn’t slept so much I would have known not to touch the fern Krogg affectionately named Chuck.

It was an odd experience, having your body swapped into a half-orc. I always knew that Krogg was patient for his kind, but I didn’t know how much self-control he truly had. It took everything I had to stop myself from swinging his axe and destroying everything I could reach. To live like that everyday, with those feelings, and to have as much composure as Krogg seems like an impossible task. I’ll probably never understand Krogg completely, but those brief minutes gave me more insight than years of friendship ever did.

The rest of the group managed to convince Chuck to return me and Krogg to our proper bodies. As an apology for being rude to the plant, I tasked Bob to return Chuck to him native home. I left Bob in charge of figuring that out and I half expect him to get killed by a passing eagle at some point. Not that I would be upset if that happened.

Moving into a hallway we found ourselves in front of an ornate double door with ancient inscriptions. I was able to decipher the runes and when I spoke them allowed the doors opened.

We were greeted by a clocked figure, one we had seen before when our group just met. He was clearly plundering the tomb that we had walked into. Grasping a sword, he set his constructed servant on us and opened a portal to escape. We weren’t quick enough to stop him, but not all of his quarry escaped with him. I managed to recover the hilt of the sword, a seemingly perfect match to the scabbard Mendartis holds.

The servant was a formidable foe. My magic proved useless against him, but thanks to some ball bearings and clever thinking by Orianna, we managed to destroy him by knocking him into an acid slick.

With the area calm again, we were able to take a better look at the tomb. It was clearly the tomb of Roland, the figure of legend whose sword we were looking for. With a few treasures plundered we left the manor and the city behind us.

We made a stop at Yupa’s tower to let him know what we had found. I was initially upset that he had guided us into a trap, but soon realized that while he is older than he appears he is by no means omniscient.

We left for Waterdeep at Yupa’s advice. It was over a weeks travel, but thankfully it was largely without incident. As we travelled, I got to know John, Orianna, and Mendartis better. Trusting them when things got hairy is one thing, but liking them as people is another. Thankfully, with a few bothersome quirks aside, the three of them are good people and hope that they live long enough to see the end of this.

All this time I had been forgetting why I started this journey with Krogg, and it wasn’t until we reached Waterdeep that I remembered. My worry for Krogg’s safety increased as we approached the command station of the besieging orcs. Grokk had beaten Krogg here and assumed command. Only Krogg was allowed in the tent, so I took a look at no-man’s-land hoping that finding a way into the city would distract me. It didn’t.

The sound of orcish chanting drew the four of us back into the center of the camp. it appears that Krogg and Grokk were to fight to the death.

I was scared that Krogg would lose, and terrified what that would mean for his travel companions. I hid my fear with unflappable composure, a skill that I had used previously when I was working in the information business.

It was a great relief to see that Krogg was victorious; I might have gotten carried away in the moment. But it was short lived. The army behind Waterdeep’s walls took the fight as a signal to attack, and we were soon in the middle of a war zone.

In the midst of the melee, a gnome recognized us by the Roland’s hilt, which I had tuck away in my armor. He beckoned to follow and with no plans on dying the four of us had no choice but to agree.

I say four because Krogg had to stay behind. With Grokk dead he was now the leader of the army and he said it was is duty to rally the troops. I told him I would signal when he could join us in Waterdeep.
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“This is surely his. Its in his hand, and the quality is awful,” Rogal said with a frown. “Where did you get this?”

“It’s of no importance, I am sure he will be happy just to have them returned. I also have a gift. You see, I am a busy man and I am not sure I will be able to return here in quite some time. I will likely miss Kardos’ return when his manor is finished. So I will trust that this gift will be waiting for him when he does.”

The words sent a shiver down Rogal’s spine. He couldn’t place it, but there was certainly something insidious in the man’s words. He know he shouldn’t take the wooden box the man was now offering, but he reached out it took it anyway. With words that were not his own, but speaking them nonetheless “Lord Curze said there should be nothing unexpected when he returns, but I don’t see the harm in one surprise.”

“Nor do I” agreed the man.

And without a whisper, the man was gone.

Rogal starred out into space, as if he had forgotten something. The moment ended, and the knight turned back towards the manor. Sinking the foundation was much easier than expected given the swampy area. Kardos sure did get lucky when he bought this land, Rogal thought to himself. A very lucky man indeed.

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