Wherein the party gets their first glimpse of what has become of Waterdeep.
Callindra’s Diary 8-27
We traveled for another day, mostly working with paddles as the wind wasn’t in our favor. As my shoulders ached I missed my old affinity with the wind. As the sun began to sink, we navigated through some difficult rocky waters with the help of some more big fish that Kain summoned and set up camp on the edge of a rocky beach. A storm was blowing in by the time Holt and I set up some shelter and although it was a damp evening we managed to stay relatively dry. I am thankful we didn’t try and stay at sea.
Connor brought up some good points about not wanting to rush off into the unknown completely unprepared but I had been thinking about this. While he worked on fixing the boat and working on whatever it is he works on in the evenings I set about sharing my ideas of how we should approach Waterdeep with Vilhylm. I feel a little bad about rejecting Connor’s ideas about waiting for a few weeks so that he could make some things but we simply don’t have the time. Gode warned us that he was weakening. This must be done. We have a long way to travel after we recover the Breath.
The next day, the wind was again not in our favor and I sarcastically suggested that maybe Luftin could help us, shaking Shadowsliver for emphasis. He doesn’t seem to know that I’ve changed. When he asked me if I was sure that I could no longer work with wind I tried… and to my amazement I felt them respond to my coaxing.
I haven’t felt so alive in over a year, standing in the prow of the boat with the wind lashing my face. I knew the power of the Wind was still with me. I knew Luftin was still my ally. Let whatever was coming try and stop us.
As we drew nearer to Waterdeep my enthusiasm waned and was replaced with determination. The desolation left by the Abyss was sobering. This kind of thing could not be allowed to continue. Burned out fishing villages on the shore, hulks of ruined ships and destroyed docks sometimes all that remained of them. Who knew how many untold thousands had been killed?
We made amazing time thanks to my magic and even though we might have reached the island on the southern end of Waterdeep by sundown I decided we would take the afternoon to plan, therefore arriving at our destination in the morning. Holt spotted another fishing village and we decided it would be easiest to moor the boat there. After all, there was a dock that was only partially destroyed and a ship next to a dock would be less conspicuous if anyone or anything happened to be watching.
Holt and I checked out the area, making sure there weren’t any abyssal spawn close enough to cause trouble. When we reached the top of the rise above the village, the whole of Waterdeep was spread out before us. Even though it was nearly a day’s travel away by foot the walls were so high it seemed to be much closer. The city itself was in various stages of destruction. Fires burned still and it seemed that a seething mass of creatures were roving aimlessly about without any real pattern or purpose to their movements.
Here and there, dotting the city itself and also floating above it were huge globes, looking like soap bubbles from some massive Titan’s bath. I could see some small things flying about, many landing on the spheres themselves but none moving inside. A shiver of nervousness went through me but Shadowsliver, or should I say Luftin, assured me that the black dragon I feared was not here. It was at Griffin’s Nest, the last place I had heard The Grunge was calling its port.
I returned to the shore, feeling power from the spell I had wrought to bring us here still pent up inside me. It was a call back to my past, a time when magic was my enemy instead of my ally. A time when my fear of magic lead to my lack of control. Excusing myself from my companions, I performed the Final Korumn; the Korumn of release.
As it had before, the last eight sweeping movements cut a perfect compass rose into the surface of the basalt boulder upon which I performed. It was a performance, a ritual, an acknowledgement and an offering of thanks to my God. Even though he was many hundreds of leagues away I could feel his satisfaction, as I am certain he could feel mine.
Vilhylm and I took the first watch. We had both catnapped earlier in the day while Connor was puttering about with something. I hoped he appreciated the amount of time he had to prepare and that he made good use of it. For all that I had denied him the opportunity to take as much time as he needed I did value the things he could make for us. Even if we don’t need them here, we will still have them the next time we face danger on the waters.
When the sun dropped below the horizon the very field before us seemed to come alive. Things rose up from the ground and the noise of their grumbling and moaning was a constant drone. They were much closer than I would have liked; some less than a hundred strides from the ruined warehouse where Vilhylm and I sat.
The eyes of his helm glowed brighter the closer the things came to us. Eventually I realized it might be what drew them; we had lit no light. I whispered for him to remove the helm or cover the eyes so that the light would be dimmed. Although this seemed to keep more from approaching, nearly a dozen of the things still shambled towards us.
They seemed to be very weak, I didn’t doubt that we could easily destroy them but caution told me the sound of the fight would bring others and there were more here than even the largest army I had ever seen could handle. After all I knew an entire Lance of soldiers had fallen to this horde. As the things continued to draw near, I invoked a minor spell.
The sound of a small group of people running towards the city itself sprang up at my call. I let out a deep breath as the creatures shambled after my spell but noted that it also brought flickering lights dancing from the city and surrounding fields. They were beautiful, like huge fireflies, but I knew they were not friendly.
I woke Holt, attempting to sneak up on him, just to see if I could. I was only a pace from his seemingly peacefully sleeping form before he asked me to if it was his turn to hold watch. He had always sensed me coming before and the fact that he still seemed attuned to my presence brought a smile to my lips.
Sleep hardly seemed to have claimed me before a thunderclap startled me to wakefulness. I looked out into the clear night and realized that something must be amiss above. Vilhylm was stirring as I slipped from my tent, tightening the buckles of my breastplate. I whispered that I would go and investigate since I was a bit stealthier than him. He nodded his assent, not that I would have taken any discussion in the matter, and I moved up the ravine as silent as a shadow.
I trusted that Holt would hear me coming, so I remained quiet all the way up to the place I knew he and Kain were keeping watch. I saw them silhouetted against the stars and could tell by the angle of his head that Holt was watching me approach. Kain seemed to be awkwardly leaning against the wall and I heard a clatter of stones from his shifting feet.
We sat completely still, there must have been a hundred or more of the things out there. Eventually most of them wandered off, except for two that shambled by, making that low groaning sound that grated on my nerves. Once they had gone, I motioned to Holt and slipped along one side of the ravine. He understood my gestures and moved along the other. I paused at a place where the trail below dropped off steeply and waited for my prey to pass by.
Looking across the chasm before me I could see Holt standing on an outcropping of rock, an arrow nocked to his bow. I caught his attention with a wave, pointed down and leaped lightly from where I stood. Expertly brushing the wall with my hand to slow my descent I landed without a sound behind the rearmost abyssal spawn and slammed Shadowsliver through its rotting body with enough force to drive whatever was keeping it mobile back to the abyss where it belonged.
Looking past its shoulder, I saw the glow of Vilhylm’s helmet and an instant later Holt’s arrow pierced the throat of the leading creature. We had destroyed them without so much as making a sound. With a grin and a wave at Holt, I made my way back to my bedroll to make good use of the rest of the night by sleeping.
I was awakened the next morning from wonderful dreams involving winning a sword master’s tournament and claiming my prize. The rather dashing man who was handing me the Amulet of Mastery was about to offer me a kiss when the sound of a saw rasping through a board and the tapping of a hammer wrenched me from my sleep.
Stumbling out of the tent only half awake I noted that the sun had yet to completely rise above the horizon. Connor was doing something down by the dock and making one hell of a racket. Thank the gods for Reed, he had breakfast cooking and water boiling. Holt made a strong, bitter tea which helped me regain part of my consciousness and I managed to work through a morning practice.
I rejoined Holt and Reed by the cook fire, eating porridge and accepting another steaming mug of tea to make up for my lack of sleep. Holt and I were talking about our approach to the island when Reed asked why we didn’t just take the flying boat. The carpentry sounds were blessedly absent and I turned to look at the dockside. I blinked and looked at the tea in my hand, then at Holt.
He had a similar stunned look on his face, and then caught my eye; telling me that there weren’t any strange substances in the tea. Our confusion stemmed from the ship, there were wooden wings attached to the side of it, but that wasn’t what unnerved us. It was wriggling, and moving; the wings raising and lowering hesitantly like a bird just waking up from a good night’s rest.
While we looked on, Connor waved merrily to us, took the tiller, turned the ship and moved it forward. The ship took a long time to get up to speed, but after a few moments it broke free from the water and was winging through the air. I couldn’t believe it. Connor may be annoying, he may do things without consulting me, he may sleep through the night while I am up fighting abyssal spawn to keep him safe… but that was fucking cool.
Apparently, as with most enchantments, this was going to be short-lived. We boarded in haste and the ship lifted off. We kept low to the water, I was still worried about the dangers of the air, and though the others tied themselves to the ship I didn’t like the idea. We had been in the air for approximately a half hour when massive tentacles erupted from the water to grasp the ship out of the air. All I felt as the air rushed by me was relief that I had decided not to tie myself down.
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