The Highwind Blows
Session 5 - Desperate Decisions
Session Date: 12 February 2017
Having defeated the minions of the treacherous Zann, Snipit, Edwynd, Shankill, and Lanneth stood in the now-quiet Torgott Mercantile warehouse, unsure of what to do next. Snipit entered the reception area, trying to determine where Zann had escaped to, while the others looted the corpses. However, before they could finish, two squads of Flaming Fist mercenaries — long-time enforcers of law in both Baldur’s Gate and Amn — arrived on the scene, led by Lance Captain Bran Hennig and accompanied by Trademaster Artur Harlon.
The Flaming Fist soldiers surrounded Edwynd, Shankill, and Lanneth, and Hennig curtly demanded that they throw down their weapons and surrender. Lanneth, intrigued at how quickly law enforcement got involved, was first to kneel. Edwynd and Shankill protested, insisting that things were not as they appeared. But Lance Captain Hennig, surrounded by clear evidence of trespassing and possibly murder, repeated his demand.
Soon Edwynd tossed down his weapons and joined Lanneth in surrender. Shankill, getting increasingly angry as his protests fell on deaf ears, refused to surrender until Hennig assured him that they would all receive due process of law. The soldiers took the three into custody, relieving them of their armor and possessions, and perp-walked them from the warehouse to the Flaming Fists barracks downtown. Edwynd, Shankill, and Lanneth spent the remainder of the night in a holding cell.
Snipit, meanwhile, had escaped the Flaming Fist cordon by shapeshifting into a mouse and getting out of the building before the Fists could secure the reception area. He hightailed it to the Golden Flagon Inn, trying to find Aldavius Tonberry, but was informed that Tonberry had left during the night, heading to his next gig in Baldur’s Gate.
Snipit then went upstairs to check on Lelldraen, who was still awake, and filled him in on the events at the warehouse. As he left the room, four Flaming Fist soldiers came up the stairs. The gnome made himself inconspicuous as they knocked on Lelldraen’s door, demanding that he come with them since he was a “person of interest” in an ongoing investigation. Snipit left the inn as the confused drow acquiesced to their demands.
The gnome found himself alone and running out of allies quickly. Rushing as fast as his legs could carry him, he called upon Nessin at the druid grove. The old druid welcomed Snipit warmly in spite of the late hour. But, when Snipit asked him about potential allies that he could call upon, Nessin had to admit that he had not been in the city in over thirty years. Finally, worn out by the night’s events, Snipit crashed in one of Nessin’s spare rooms, and slept well into the morning.
While Snipit was sleeping off his exhaustion, soldiers deposited Lanneth, Edwynd, and Shankill into an interrogation room within the Flaming Fist barracks. Lance Captain Hennig — quickly dubbed “Lance Headache” by Shankill — handled the matter personally, informing the party that their prior investigations into Torgott Mercantile had attracted the attention of Tradehouse Bannon (one of the noble merchant houses that rule Amn), and now the Tradehouse was pressing him for a quick resolution to this matter.
Lance Captain Hennig, however, honored his promise of due process and invited the trio to tell him their version of events. Shankill, Lanneth, and Edwynd spoke over one another, trying to convince the lawman that they had been lured to the warehouse under false pretenses and that the carnage in the warehouse was a matter of self-defense; however, in their efforts, they admitted that they had entered the premises without the authorization of the lawful owners. Hennig produced two letters — the letter from “Z” to Captain Jothias Stan, and Crispin’s forged letter addressed to Trademaster Harlon — as evidence against them.
After a while, Shankill and Lanneth expressed frustration that so much attention was being given to the relatively minor matter of trespassing. Lance Captain Hennig agreed — and slammed one of the party’s Harper tokens down on the table. “How did you become associated with a known terrorist organization?” he asked.
While his companions sat in silence, stunned at the accusation, Snipit awoke and took his leave of Nessin, thanking him for his hospitality. He then took a cab to the docks, arriving at the Harbormaster’s office just before noon. Harbormaster Jann Mardon received him, and Snipit asked him where he could find Chief Wizard Mithandria. Mardon, surprised that anyone would actively seek out the Chief Wizard, informed him that she was on patrol and would not be returning to port until sundown. Snipit, feeling that time was of the essence, asked Mardon if he had anyone who could take him to her ship. “Do we look like a bloody water taxi?” Mardon asked. The Harbormaster then told Snipit that he would not stop him if he could find someone who would be willing to make the trip.
Meanwhile, as Snipit searched frantically along the docks for willing transport, Lance Captain Hennig explained to his defendants that the Harpers had been branded a terrorist organization twelve years prior. Before then, the Harpers had been tolerated in Amn, despite their vigilante tendencies. However, in recent years, their tactics in the cause of “justice” had become increasingly violent and brutal. Once a Harper tried to assassinate a member of the Council of Six (the ruling plutarchy of Amn), the Council outlawed them. Shankill claimed that he had simply found the Harper token in an alley somewhere; to their credit, the trio managed to dance around the question without exposing any of their Harper allies.
At length, a soldier entered and whispered something to the Lance Captain. Hennig excused himself, claiming that he had an urgent matter to attend to. He left the interrogation room, leaving Shankill, Lanneth, and Edwynd to stew. But, shortly after the door closed, it opened again — this time admitting Trademaster Harlon! Harlon plopped down at the table across from them and asked, “What in the Nine Hells is going on in my warehouse?” Harlon explained that Crispin’s forged letter tipped him off that something illegal was going on at the warehouse, and that he had called in the authorities. Sensing that Harlon was genuinely ignorant — and hoping that he might be the way out of their current predicament — Lanneth offered the party’s services as freelancers to investigate and deal with the culprits on behalf of Tradehouse Bannon. Harlon told them that he would convey their offer to his superiors, and then got up to leave.
Before he made it to the door, though, the Lance Captain returned. He shot a nasty glare at Harlon as the Trademaster left the room. Hennig sat down again, and informed the party that the interview was over, as Magistrate Altheia Jermyn had demanded an audience with all four of them. Soon, the Lance Captain escorted Lelldraen, Lanneth, Edwynd, and Shankill from the Flaming Fist barracks to City Hall next door.
As Lanneth was desperately negotiating, Snipit found a gnomish water taxi pilot named Vint who was willing to take him to Mithandria’s ship, despite her nasty reputation. Fortunately for Snipit, this was Amn, and money was a quite persuasive argument. The two gnomes set out, Vint piloting and Snipit filling the sails via his druidic magic. During the trip, the gnomes chatted amiably, and eventually Vint’s curiosity got the best of him; he asked Snipit why he was trying to find Mithandria, given the reputation for her temperament. It didn’t take long before Snipit’s evasiveness convinced Vint that he was in some kind of romantic relationship with the Chief Wizard — a notion that Snipit did not disabuse him of.
Within the hour, Snipit and Vint found Mithandria’s patrol cutter. Vint hailed the cutter, which heaved to and slowed so that he could pull the water taxi up alongside it. The crew of the cutter lowered a rope ladder for them. Snipit advised Vint to stay in the water taxi, which the younger gnome was more than happy to do. Snipit mounted the ladder and climbed onto the deck of the cutter, where Mithandria was waiting, both intrigued and upset at the interruption.
Snipit reached into his pocket and started to pull out the Harper token that she had given to Lelldraen. Immediately, a voice exploded in his mind, “Not here, you idiot!” Snipit’s hand froze. The Chief Wizard curtly suggested that they speak in private, and turned aside toward the captain’s cabin. Snipit followed her, shutting the cabin door behind him. When they were alone, Mithandria’s demeanor softened slightly, and she inquired about Lelldraen and the rest of the party. Snipit filled her in to the best of his ability. Mithandria explained that Tonberry had left for Baldur’s Gate because the Harpers had to get him out of the city immediately. The failed raid on the warehouse had exposed their presence to the Amnian authorities, and so the Harpers scattered to protect as many assets as they could. Mithandria also let Snipit know that their merchant friend Taliesin Munro had left with Tonberry. When Snipit asked Mithandria whether she could help his companions, the elf regretfully told him that she could do very little without compromising her position, but that she would do what she could.
Before Snipit took his leave of the Chief Wizard, she mentioned that it was highly unusual for anyone to seek her out on patrol, and curiously inquired what excuse he had concocted to justify the trip. Snipit gladly filled her in. As he descended the rope ladder and re-boarded the water taxi, he and Vint heard Mithandria bellow, “And get off my ship!” — thereby keeping up her end of the ruse. Snipit and Vint returned to port, the younger gnome imagining that a sexual dalliance had occured and pushing for details, and the older gnome continuing to dodge the issue entirely.
Meanwhile, Lance Captain Hennig delivered Snipit’s companions to the office of Magistrate Altheia Jermyn, a severe-looking auburn-haired human woman in advanced middle age. The Magistrate welcomed them, and then brusquely informed the Lance Captain that his services were no longer required. Hennig protested, claiming that these were dangerous prisoners, but withered under a glare from the Magistrate and withdrew. After “Lance Headache” closed the office door behind him, Magistrate Jermyn put a hand to a pendant at her throat — and her features changed into those of a very familiar-looking half-drow. The party found themselves in the presence of Zania Tansden of the Zhentarim.
Zania told them that she summoned them because they did not finish their conversation. She acknowledged that she had taken a risk in entrusting them with her secret, but indicated that the party would not last long if they outed her. Zania offered to smooth over their legal troubles with Tradehouse Bannon, but it would cost them; the party would become her lackeys for as long as it took them to work off the debt they would owe her. Lanneth, though, had none of it. She told Zania that Zann Oden was her problem, not theirs, and that they would need a better deal if she expected them to clean up her Zann problem for her. Impressed, Zania turned to Lanneth and said, “We’ll make a Zhentarim out of you yet.”
Zania once again assumed the form of Magistrate Jermyn, and offered the party five minutes alone to come up with their terms. She then left the office under the pretense of visiting the privy. A hurried conversation ensued. When Zania returned, Lanneth presented her with their terms: Lanneth and Shankill demanded information pertaining to their pasts, Edwynd demanded a fleet of ships so he could become an admiral, and Lanneth (on behalf of the druids) demanded a lifetime supply of elderberries. Zania presented a counter-offer: she would provide enough money for Edwynd to get two ships, she would provide one crate of elderberries, she would meet their other demands, and they would work for her.