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When we last left our intrepid heroes, you were still at the Wands' family Higharvestide party, having been gifted with small rewards from Lady Wands for your assistance in the matter of the ash rats.



However, as you rejoined the party, there was still something of a mystery in the air, at least to each of you. What was going on with the duplicate champagne saber that Charissa had made and the Wands were using? What had been going on with that key Garden had made? And what was going on with Lord Robilar Wands' odd drunken behavior? Curious for various reasons, you went to gather information in various ways. The Violettes took a look up at the high table, and noticed that there was a fair amount of tipsy behavior going on, similar to Lord Robilar. They wanted to get a sample of the mead to see if something was up with that, however, none of them could get really close to the high table, though Garden gave it his best shot. Undeterred, Garden decided to go to the source. Taking shameless advantage of the chaos of the party and the disruption in the kitchen from the ash rats' attack, Garden brazenly bluffed his way into the liquor room and into the mead room. He studied the racks of mead, and found that it all came from the Fruit of the Vine winery. Also, one particular rack, the rack that seemed to be going to the high table, had odd golden seals on the necks, which the others did not.

Concerned at this, and wanting to get to the bottom of things, the group "persuaded" Getha to come out to the alley and pressed her hard for the truth. Under threat of turning her into the courts, Getha confessed that her mother was dreadfully ill. She couldn't afford the treatments from the temple of Lathander, but another man had been treating her mother with less expensive herbal potions that helped her with the worst of her symptoms. As payment, he told her to get the champagne saber made. Also, he apparently pressed her nephew into service in getting a duplicate key to the liquor room. She did not know the herbalist's name, and was tearful and contrite as she spoke.

The group determined that the real saber was still locked up in the dining room, and to see what kind of plot might have been afoot, had Getha take them there to examine it. The saber was in its box in a locked and spelled cabinet. Examining it, William determined that it bore many protective spells to alert the user to poison or other impurities in the drink, and could purge said drink of any poisons or impurities. Alarmed that someone may have put something in the mead that the Wands would not have been checking for, secure in the fact that their saber would protect them, they sought at audience with Lady Wands. Getha protested fearfully, but went with them. She didn't want to lose her mother or her job for her part in what was happening. Some of the party was sympathetic, but Evelyn was... not.

As they approached the Lady, Getha was suddenly struck down by a most fearful curse. There had been a contingency spell on her, set to curse her into a coma if certain conditions were met (possibly confessing, or getting close to Lady Wands, the group wasn't sure). The Lady Wands was understandably startled by both the group seeking her out and one of her undercooks collapsing unto near-death, but let them speak. She sent for a priest attending the party as the group laid out the conspiracy, her lips pressed together in annoyance and anger. She sent for some of the suspect mead as well as the "false" saber. The saber was an excellent copy, and, as it turned out, imbued with a magical aura set to counterfeit the one on the real saber. Since the saber had only been delivered a few hours prior, that was cause for concern, as the caster might still be in the house. What was also of great concern was the fact that the mead was not poisoned, or diseased, or enchanted, but alive. It was, in fact, a creature called an amber ooze, which weakens the will of the victim and eventually, slowly kills them.

(Also during the conversation the group reluctantly dropped the fact that the Temple of Talona had gotten Steven to bring a box to the house. The Lady Wands said there was political trouble and goblets were treated with the powders contained in the box to ward off potential poisonings from bottles not opened with the saber. She didn't expect death, but rather embarrassment from giving guests food poisoning, which, in Waterdeep's mercantile political climate, can cause a great loss of power.)

Quickly, Lady Wands called for her servants to lock down the house and her priest said everyone who had drunken the suspect mead needed to swallow vinegar to expel the amber oozes.

Though the group had saved the Wands from a terrible plot, they'd also been instrumental in nearly bringing it to fruition, including copying noble property. Charissa was truly properly contrite. (Luckily no one had found Getha's nephew, and Garden didn't say boo about the key.) So to thank them, the Lady Wands magnanimously didn't press charges. She sent priests to tend to Getha's mother, in hopes that she could identify the person who'd treated her. And with that, the group left, except for Shandri, who stayed both to help her superiors pack up their supplies, and on Evie's insistence to gather as much gossip as she could.

The Violettes returned home, where Evelyn and her mother got down to the serious business of gossip. First, the most things were discharged - who was wearing what, who was seen with whom, and oh my did you see that Lady Isadore was definitely hiding a delicate condition? Eventually they did get around to the terrible plot as well. Steven attempted to commiserate with his father, who merely shook his head at the whole affair. To be honest, the man was a bit deep into a bottle of wine at that point. Maybe more than one bottle.

The Origamis also went home, and Garden quickly went over roof and gable to put the duplicate key copy somewhere far safer than in his shop. He also did a little investigating on his own, trying to find Getha's nephew. He backtracked from the Wands' manse, checking taverns and inns, and eventually did find him. In an alley behind the Pig and Potion tavern. Dead from arsenic poisoning. Oh dear.

Shandri eventually got back and went to talk to William. She said that the guests were mostly all right after a vinegar purge of the amber oozes. Getha's mother had also been dozed with one of the horrible little things, but hadn't had a clue as to who'd been treating her (she'd been very weak). The priests were able to help her too. However, they hadn't been able to save Getha; she was dead, and her nephew was missing. Concerned that all of this together could mean trouble for the party (whoever was behind this could try to go after Charissa, who'd made the saber, or the Violettes, who were distinctive personalities who'd helped thwart it) they decided to go to the Violettes.

They were still up, of course. They had a long discussion comparing their notes, and sent a message to the Origamis as well, needing to get their input. Shandri had suggested meeting at one of the many dockside taverns, but discretion had to be the group's watchword, as the Violettes were noticeable. Garden put in his suggestion - that they meet in the Empty Grave, an inn near the temple of Kelemvor, the god of the dead. A haunt, as it were, of morticians, coffin-makers, professional mourners, dirge-singers, Kelemvor priests, and others associated with the business of death, it would be about the last place you'd expect to see the group.

They got a private room there the next day and compared their notes. (Garden did not tell anyone about the fact that he had found Getha's nephew's body.) They wanted to investigate Getha's home to see if they could find one of the potion vials and maybe a maker's mark on it. Though the Wands were already investigating, the group was starting to fear for their own safety after Getha's death. With a bit of asking around, they discovered that Getha's wake was being held at the Temple of Chauntea. Two of the group went there and found Getha's mother, still pale, mourning her daughter. Carefully questioning her, they managed to get her address under the pretense of sending memorial gifts.

Then they went, got the group, and did some breaking and entering.

Though the place had been mostly cleaned up, Garden did manage to spy a single, mostly-hidden, partially empty potion vial hidden under a shelf. And it did indeed have a maker's mark. A bit of further investigation discovered that the nephew lived nearby. Checking out his place found a note on the floor - "Meet at the Pig and Potion," a local tavern.

Thusly armed with pieces of a conspiracy, the adventure continues...

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Timothy
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