8 Marpenoth 1486
Continuing the conversation, Leonon tells Envar that, if he wanted, they could probably restore his good name if he wanted to return home. Envar doubts that, and switches to speaking in Elvish, which no one else besides Natalia can follow. Envar might have omitted some details in his retelling… seems he lost his temper and tried to kill the town favorite. Leonon suggests they wait a decade or so for it to cool off.
Atarah has left at some early point during the conversation, mentioning she needed to go check in with the other paladins at the Halls of Justice, and that she’d send word if she anything went wrong.
<…>Tranled, having been given information by one of his subcontracted urchins, tries to slip away to check out reports of a giant in the city. Korotir and Titan, being suspicious, don’t let him go alone even when he claims it’s for a privy visit. Envar confronts him on his shifty ways when they return, and Tranled confesses the information and the giant in the area. The party (minus Atarah) troops out to go see the Giant by way of the Halls of Justice in order to get their missing paladin.
The giant, however, happens to be between them and the Halls of Justice, so they meet him first. Titan decides he must be at eye-level to the giant for this confrontation and badgers Tranled for more pixie dust. Tranled declines of course – he still has one dose and further ones are going to cost. Titan, exasperated, says “Fine!” yanks out a small pouch and sprinkles it on himself. It’s… not pixie dust. It’s pepper. Titan goes back to the Inn to recover.
The giant, attracted by the screaming, asks “Are you alright? Is there something wrong with your friend?”
City guard run up behind him, yelling, “Don’t change the subject! Giants aren’t allowed in Waterdeep!”
The giant, whose name is Harshnag, is a member of Force Grey, an adventuring party known for their collateral damage (“Oh good, someone worse than us.”). The party asks if he knows about the strife among the giants – oh. He knows. He’s been hunting down his evil kin, he’s only back in Waterdeep to resupply. Waterdeep is his home. Envar persuades the guard to leave Harshnag alone.
The party says goodbye and good luck to Harshnag and go on to the Hall of Justice. Atarah is not there. She left a while ago and went north into the noble districts.
Atarah doubled back to the Cuvelier mansion after visiting with the Hall of Justice and checking in (and finding Natalia’s messenger bird, somehow). She’s been in and out of the house her whole life, Merden gave her her first sword lessons, and something feels off. Atarah is not subtle about it either.
She manages to catch Merden, the Master at Arms, alone in the stables and demands to know what’s going on. He doesn’t answer for awhile, tending to his horse, and Atarah pitches in to help.
Finally, after she threatens to use her paladin tricks on him (and he reminds her he knew her when she was in nappies), he tells her that it does seem like Lady Cuvelier has two faces, depending on who gives her the news about Natalia. Especially when it’s Kastris, Frederick and Lady Cuvelier together.
There’s also been a lot more determinedly-anonymous people coming round the estate, always minor business types with various necessary financial transactions, since the new Unmasked Lord came into power (Laeral Silverhand).
Merden asks, before she leaves, if she was seen coming in. Atarah doubts it but says she wasn’t exactly making sure she wasn’t being followed. He says she should start doing that.
Atarah leaves and decides to find an alleyway she can surprise any followers out of. This goes badly for her. She’s shot with crossbow bolts and paralyzed by poison. “The Left Hand will be happy to see you.”
When Atarah wakes, she is chained to a pole and stripped of armor and weapons. She is quite pissed and spits in her captor’s face, casts Light on her chains in order to be as obnoxiously visible as possible. He threatens her with more crossbows, aimed at her from the other side of the curtains partitioning her cell.
“You’re useful to us alive… but only as long as you talk. Tell us where your family is, and you’ll stay alive. Refuse, and we start taking fingers.”
“Go ask my Dad.” “Your father is dead.” “Hah! Right. Go ask him, assholes.”
They start taking fingers, slowly. Atarah swears and threatens and carries on until the air is blue.
The rest of the party has gone back to the Cuvelier estate; Natalia knowing her friend well and guessing at her direction. Luckily Natalia is also far more observant than Atarah and spots the paladin’s boot prints in the mud of the road and leads the party along until they also find the place where Atarah took a half-dozen crossbow bolts.
Korotir knows the scent of Aasimar blood well and can track her from the scene of the attack; the path leads the party across the city back into the seedy sections of town and a dilapidated warehouse. Atarah’s yelling and carrying on becomes very obvious.
Korotir roars and breaks down the front door, leaving Envar perfect shots to take out two of the three guards visible in the room. Korotir rushes the third and kills him, but not before taking a crossbow bolt to the gut. Natalia steps through calmly with a Guardian of Faith hovering at her side. Tranled has ducked around the side to catch any escapees, finds two by the time he gets there and burns them to a crisp.
“Stop! I have a knife to this girl’s throat and I will kill her if you come any closer,” yells the leader from behind the cloth. And there is one at her back with a knife, the other holding her sword to her eye.
“Korotir! There’s two in here, one behind me and one in front—”
“I will kill her—”
“Don’t kill the one with my sword!”
“He’s all yours, Atarah.” Korotir yanks the curtains down and shield-bashes the one behind her, flinging him across the room. Envar fires simultaneously and drops the leader to the ground, along with Atarah’s sword.
Freed from the chains, Atarah picks up her sword and kicks the leader over. Natalia said something really great here that I didn’t write down and Atarah ignores in favor of being cruel. She stabs the leader in the shoulder, pinning him to the ground and demands to know who sent them.
“The Left Hand!” “Who in the Left Hand?” “I don’t know! – It’s just business!” “Where were you supposed to take me to get your money?”
“Why should I tell you? I’m dead anyways!” Envar twists the arrowhead and Atarah leans on the sword. “Daggerford! Supposed to go to Daggerford!”
“Requiescat in pace.” And Atarah rips her sword out with a twist, laying open the man’s artery. He dies in seconds. Atarah has flashbacks to her nightmares.
The last remaining bounty hunter (Torn Black), being held prone under Korotir’s shield, is let free with a strict warning to tell his friends not to touch any of the Auraests, or they will end up the same. They find out from him the bounty hunters received a tip from around the Cuvelier estate that Atarah was nearby. He agrees and flees.
Tranled saunters in, dramatic hood flip, to mention that there might be a fire and the guard might be coming and they should all leave. Atarah is tersely grim, even after Natalia is able to reattach her finger and her gear is collected.
Voldrick catches up with them as they’re leaving the district to inform them that the Lords Alliance won’t work with dragons and that he’s still looking for mounts. He might have a lead in the form of an ex-cultist in Goldenfields with a vulture mount. The party will check in again with him later.
It’s decided to check with Naxine’s mage friend Chasleth on the way out of the city to see Atarah’s family. It’s late now, eight or nine in the evening, but Mages keep weird hours. It is known.
Chasleth, the mage, has a silver dragon friend, a young wyrmling named Izorel. They discuss options for dragons to work against the Giants. There’s an ancient dragon named Old Gnawbone who lives in the Cryptgarden Forest; he collects scrying balls and would know a lot about the current situation, could advise. But he doesn’t want treasure: he wants to not be bored. There’s lots of stories about Gnawbone, and a cult that worships him, so he probably won’t kill them outright. Probably.
Chasleth hands everyone potions of Poison Resistance just in case.
As late as it is, and given how far it is of a walk to Atarah’s home, the party goes back to the Inn for the night, to rest and collect Titan (“I regret everything!”). Tranled discovers more names on the list the Bounty Hunters had in addition to Atarah; one of them is a flower merchant in the Noble’s district.
9 Marpenoth 1486
They check on the flower seller on the way out of town. He’s definitely dead, was killed three days ago and the trail is cold. They move out of the city, north to Atarah’s family home….