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When we last left our intrepid heroes, they had defeated a wax golem masquerading as the alchemist Melvin Mask. The group had learned several important facts - that Melvin was likely alive somewhere (due to the customer list he'd left with the golem), he probably commissioned the golem done, and the fact that a potentially murderous dragon was with the Dragonward.

The group scattered to follow leads (after a meeting at the Empty Grave, naturally, when the all came in reeking of smoke). The Violettes and William would go first to the temple of Mystra to report the rogue construct, and then to the home of Maaril the Dragonmage. Charissa recognized one of the customers on Melvin's list, a very plain man called Smit who'd bought a lot of smokepowder from her over the past few years. The disturbing thing was that he'd also been buying alchemist's fire from Melvin at the same time. By now, Smit could have... quite a lot of both. She would go to the temple of Gond to seek advice. Garden also knew one of the customers, a halfling thief name Jaskar who bought tools from him and potions from Melvin, and would question him in hopes of finding out where the man himself roosted. Shandri would use her own expertise around the docks to see if she could find out if Melvin was attempting to flee the city by boat.

The Violetteshad had one recent encounter with the Magister, Meleghost Starseer - when they had been going home after the splinterwaif attack. The Magister had received Steven's note that night, and considering that members of the temple had acted too slowly in the matter of Marsekavris, had made the extraordinary gesture of coming to them himself. On a magic carpet (a gift given to hm from a recent visit to Calimshan).

However, this time, the Violettes went through proper channels. They (and William) presented themselves at the House of Wonder and requested an audience. William took copious notes of all the spells about the place, of which there were hundreds. The acolyte who'd greeted them, realizing who the Violettes were, turned white and ran off, returning moments later to ask them to follow him.

The Magister greeted them briskly and asked, "What tale of tragedy and woe to you have for me today?" Steven turned to Evelyn to have her tell the story and the Magister (who knew a thing or five about Evelyn's reputation) said, "No, what NEW tale of tragedy and woe?" After Evelyn finished putting aloe on her burn, she told the Magister about the wax golem. He considered that for a moment and told them to speak to Westra Brightwood, the temple's leading expert on magical constructs, and to follow proper procedure if there were any difficulties. It was evident that though he appreciated Steven's diligence, not every magical misuse in the city required the Magister's personal attention. However, being as he was a good friend of the Dragonmage, was happy to send him a note that the Violettes were coming.

After the Magister dismissed them, Evelyn asked he acolyte who had guided them about classes for understanding the nature of magic. The acolyte said there were some starting soon, for a small fee.

They group went to see Westra Brightwood, who listened to their tale and told them thus: Wax golems were not precisely expensive in terms of materials or magic used - they were actually quite cheap in that respect. However, the skill required to craft its face was rare. The subject would have to sit for the sculpture. Also, since the golem the group saw spoke to them and could read, it had additional magic used to scan its subject's memories and use them. There were three people who might have the skill to animate a wax golem:

Cassandra, an elderly woman who specialized in junk golems, now retired in the Dock Ward
Yalla, a halfling wizard with a mischievous bent whose sticky fingers had caught up to him. He was due to be exiled to Undermountain in the next few days.
Wu Yen, a human woman fairly recently arrived from Kara-Tur, who specialized in paper golems.

Though all three could animate a wax golem, making the face might take a real artist. She recommended the temple of Sune to find such a one.

Thusly informed, the Violettes and William went to the Dragonmage's house on their next errand. It was in the very wealthy Sea Ward, and had extensive gardens. At the far end of the shaded walkway, they could see a large green dragon dozing in the sunlight, one of the Dragonmage's cohorts. After explaining that they were expected to the guard at the gate, a black cat came walking down the pathway, and addressed them, "The Dragonmage is waiting. Follow me." This was Frethian, Maaril Dragonmage's familiar. He led them to a finely-appointed room, and then left. With Princess.

Suffice to say, they had very nice time together, though Princess later reported that, "He's not as smart as he thinks he is."

Maaril greeted the Violettes absently, though told Steven he was in charge of Marsekavris' armor, specifically in drawing out the faint dragon spirit within it. Maaril had plans for the spirit tht didn't sound very... polite.

Let it be known that as powerful as the Dragonmage is, he is a piece of work.

When they asked about the crimson drake, the Dragonmage was very cagey, saying that he would not tell them who the crimson drake came in with, as he was... above the Violettes' concern, but he would have a few choice words with the drake about manners.

Meanwhile, Charissa had gone to the temple of Gond to talk to Lissa Threefingers, a gnome woman with an excellent working knowledge of constructs. (Though no one asked, her and Westra Brightwood often shared a cup of tea together.) She told Charissa much of what Westra had told her, with the added point that wax golems were usually used by nobility and politicians. One being commissioned by a private citizen was odd. Also, the pondered the potential problem of Smit, the man who might have quite a lot of alchemist's fire and smokepowder. It could be the man was doing legitimate work (aboard a ship, or in a mine) or he could be storing up all that for some devious purpose. She'd watch for him for Charissa. Now, having been told that an artist was a good place to look for the maker of the golem's form, Charissa went to the Temple of Sune.

It was beautiful, with gorgeous architecture, gardens, songbirds, paintings, mosaics, perfumes, music... It was like walking into Evelyn's head.

To cover her questions, Charissa said she was looking for someone to embellish her weapons, and was directed to a man called Whittler. He would embellish her pistol with holy symbols of Gond and Tymora for her. When she asked about a sculptor in wax, he said he'd keep his ears open for her.

Garden went to talk to Jaskar, making small talk about "business," swapping stories about locks and security procedures. He worked the conversation around to Melvin, making it sound like he was wanting to buy from him. Jaskar told them Melvin sometimes went to the Bronze Gear, a tavern near the temple of Gond, "where instead of serving wenches they have those clockwork fellows, you know, homacals." (Or homunculuses, if you know what he was really trying to say.) Garden went to the Bronze Gear, where a "homacal" charged him "two sil" for some dwarven drinking ale ("eating" the coins like a piggy bank). Garden looked around, and wouldn't you know it? Spotted Melvin. The real deal! (He assumed...) Melvin was just fixing something behind the bar, shook the barkeeper's had, and slipped out the back. Garden went to go ask about him, and learned that Melvin was just fixing some of the taps, because he had to leave town for a while.

Despite having second, third, and maybe fourth thoughts, Garden slipped from the Bronze Gear and started to follow Melvin Mask through the darkening streets of Waterdeep...

And so, our story continues...

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Timothy
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