Treenuts Revenge

5 adventurers arrive in Waterdeep with their own particular goals and expectations. Little did they know that stepping in to break up a brawl at the Yawning Portal would lead to their championing the cause of an abused and exploited goblin minion, affectionately named; Tree-nuts.

Here is their story, or rather, the story of TREE-NUTS’ REVENGE!

The setting is lively for a weekday at the Yawning Portal Tavern. There’s a new bard in town with songs that most of the tavern regulars haven’t yet heard. The bard, Kvoth, is a master with the guitar, bringing forth notes heard by very few of the tavern’s patrons. This particular evening he’s attracted some fans who are also new to the tavern: a firbolg cleric (currently in his more compact form), called Ganymede and a gnome illusionist named Kerry Tomerighter Nosdig.

There are goings-on among other patrons who don’t seem to take the same delight in the bard’s ballads. Notable regulars include Jalester Silvermane, a knight of the City Watch and Meloon Wardragon. Jalester is deep in his cups while Meloon is holding court to all who will pay heed to his political rantings.

Some more newcomers to the tavern include an impressive minitour warrior by the name of Tiran, and mysterious, dusky elven sorcerer/warlock who goes by the moniker of Ven. While most of the tavern customers seem robust Ven is somewhat listless, almost as if he’s drunk, but he hasn’t had anything to drink, much less eat. He doesn’t look healthy.

Possibly sensing a warrior kinship, Tiran makes conversation with Jalester. Although he’s in little mood to talk, Jalester mentions he’s mourning a lost comrade and laments of the sad state of affairs on Waterdeep’s streets. Jalester discloses that the Zhentarim and the Xanathar’s Guild are in open conflict. According to Jalester, Guild members have ambushed and murdered certain members of the Zhentarim.

It seems that the conflict has brought itself to the tavern, as a brawny female half-orc, purported to be a member of the Zhentarim, squares-off with five scoundrels from Xanathar’s Guild. Jalester shakes his head in dismay while other patrons begin to clear away. Although the half-orc, Yagra Stonefist, is a noted champion at the tavern, she is outmatched by these thugs, and no one seems to want to stand with her.

Ven decides to offer assistance, more out of his mercurial nature than of a desire to assist the underdog. He launches an assault into the mind of one thug and then sends an infestation to plague another. Ganymede grows to his larger firbolg size and he and Tiran the minotaur warrior offer assistance to take out another thug. The illusionist, Kerry, sends his owl familiar, Sooty, to distract a thug, giving Yagra the upper hand to knock one unconscious with an uppercut from her ham-sized fist. Seeing a opening, the remaining thug moves to strike Yagra but is held fast by Kvoth, who approaches him with a rapid down picking technique on his guitar. While not exactly ensorcelled, the thug cowers in fear as the menacing notes bring realization to his fatal predicament.

Jalester officially arrests the fallen thugs and secures assistance to remove them. The bard, warrior, cleric and illusionist engage Yagra, who offers small thanks and mentions she’ll remember them favorably in any future encounters. While the others are talking, Ven takes the time to search the pockets of the ruffians finding for himself a small amount of coin.

As Yagra leaves the party, the tavern’s customers return to their festivities. Durnan, the tavern’s proprietor, comes over and offers his thanks for their assistance in breaking-up the altercation. Durnan remarks that the group seems well able to take care of themselves and that he has a way for them to make a little coin. As “a little coin” is more than any of the group have, they’re all ears.

Durnan coaxes the party to fight whatever the elevator brings out of the Portal. Duran promises to pay each of the group 5 gold pieces and cover their tabs if they win the fight. Apparently, they don’t have to pay their tabs if they lose the fight since they’ll be dead. Kvoth asks about his wages for playing at the tavern, but Durnan seems to consider it a wash with the publicity Kvoth’s received from playing at the tavern. With limited options at hand, no money and a deal like this who can say, “no.”

“No” is indeed the first thought that may have come to the mind of the group as the elevator delivers 2 hungry trolls. The experienced patrons fabricate a makeshift arena in the tavern for the contest leaving no way out for the trolls, much less the 5 adventurers. The fight is on!

Ganymede (who goes by “G”) and Tiran are of equal stature to the trolls and draw their immediate attention. Before they can move, Kerry casts Dragon Breath on Sooty, his owl familiar, and sends Sooty to give the trolls a fiery welcome. Tiran follows up by making an “echo” of himself in front of the trolls and engages them as well. Ven magically attacks them from a safe distance and G casts healing to keep Tiran in the fight. Kvoth, makes effective use of 2 vials of acid he happens to have on hand. The acid drives the trolls into a rage while Ven’s magic blinds them. The foul beasts succumb quickly to Tiran’s mighty strokes and the combined magic of the group.

The patrons deconstruct the arena and clear away the carnage as if they’ve done it many times before. Invigorated by the evening’s entertainment the tavern’s customers go back to eating, drinking and carousing. Durnan returns to tending bar, leaving the party to consider what to do with their newly won riches. They aren’t pondering long before flamboyant human of indeterminate age approaches the group and introduces himself as “Volo”.

The man is none other than Volotham Geddarm, author of the famous “Volo’s Guide to Monsters”. In fact, Volo offers the party a signed copy of the celebrated tome, which Kerry snatches for safekeeping. Volo praises the adventurers for handily dispatching the trolls and offers them a job. He requests that the group look into the disappearance of his friend Floon Blagmaar. Floon is a dandy and presents himself above his station. Volo seems quite distraught by the disappearance and offers each of the party 100 gold pieces to investigate with further reward promised if they return with answers.

The adventurers, being open minded and not ones to judge this progressive relationship, readily accept the commission and begin to investigate. Ven begins by using his minor illusion to get the exact description of Floon from Volo. Ven uses the cantrip to make his own face into a macabre, yet effective rendition of Floon’s.

Questioning the blustering Meloon Wardragon of “Force Grey” provides no leads. Durnin proves more helpful in disclosing that Floon met with Renaer Neverember at the tavern the last night anyone saw him. Renear Neverember is the son of the former Open Lord of Waterdeep, Jastin Neverember. Further investigation with another regular patron revealed that Renaer and Floon had been gambling with an elven female and left with her. The witness mentioned that the group planned to visit another tavern called “The Skewered Dragon”. This all took place the night someone was burned to death outside the back alley. The party decides to rest gratis overnight in guestrooms of The Yawing Portal Tavern and start anew in the morning.

They initiate their investigation in the back alley where it’s clear that some hapless individual was, indeed, burned to death. The fire turns out not to be magical in nature as the party finds that grease was the accelerant. Further investigation finds that the same grease is also on a sewer grate which the party removes and climbs down into the sewer.

They quickly discover the symbol of Xanthar’s Guild. The symbol, a sphere with 10 radiating spokes, is placed in locations showing the way to this particular guild hideout. Fortunately, there’s a walkway in the sewer which keeps the party from having to slog through the sewage. G can convey darkvision to Ven and Tiran. Kvoth muddles through by remaining in physical contact with other party members.
Some of the more observant party members note that something is keeping ahead of the party just out of eyeshot. Kerry sends Sooty the owl ahead to reconnoiter. Sooty narrowly avoids being hit with a ray from a “gazer” which Volo’s guide reveals is a common beholder minion. The gazer moves in to attack the party but is killed before it can cause any harm. The party presses forward to find a large door with the Xanthar’s Guild symbol.

While deciding what to do with the door the parry comes under fire from arrows shot from murder holes across from the door. They retreat the way they came only to be caught by 5 well-armed goblins who pour out from a secret door. Despite their gear, the goblins are no match for the party. One goblin surrenders instead of dying for the Guild.

When pressed for his name the goblin says something that sounds like “Tree-nuts”. The heroes dub him “Tree-nuts” without protest from the goblin. Tree-nuts explains that he works for a fearsome human named Nihilore and that they had 2 human prisoners they were holding. Tree-nuts seems to appreciate that the party isn’t in a hurry to kill him and agrees to escort the group into the hideout and to the holding cells.

One cell is empty and the other holds a body. The body belongs to Floon and is mostly intact with the exception of a large hole in the back of his, now empty, head. Ven, remembering some previous trauma, knows this is the trademark of a “mind flayer” and states how dangerous these creatures are and that he’d prefer they didn’t encounter one. Tree-nuts doesn’t seem to know anything about a “mind flayer” or anything that looks like what Ven describes. The party debates leaving with Floon as they’ve accomplished their mission. The righteous Kvoth remarks that Renear is likely still in the clutches of Nihilore, who they now believe to be a mind flayer. Kvoth eventually convinces the party to do the noble thing and try and rescue Renear.

The group heals up and comes up with a plan that includes illusions to hide their positions and charming, the now friendly, Tree-nuts into luring Nihilore into the party’s ambush. Everything is set perfectly as the party is able to arrange it. Everyone is hidden or, in Ven’s case, playing dead. Tree-nuts is charmed and willing to work on the party’s behalf. Tree-nuts, obviously terrified of Nihilore, knocks on the door and enters. The party can hear him speaking to Nihilore who responds with a rhythmic, pausing, and well enunciating cadence. Nihilore seems as if he’s about to fall for the trap but notices that Tree-nuts seems more nervous than ever. Nihilore places his hand on Tree-nuts and states that he knows Tree-nuts is lying and that the party is lying in wait for him beyond the door. He also says that he doesn’t care and will go out despite the intended ambush. He boldly strides out the door and as he enters the room with the hidden party he snaps the neck of the beloved Tree-nuts.
As Tree-nuts body falls lifeless, a well-dressed human looks around at the party and peers through all of their disguises. He lets them know that they’ll need to leave but they’ll have to help him if they want to leave alive. Kerry pipes up that they’re not leaving without Renear. Nihilore calls back into his chamber, “Renear, come out here. These people want you to leave with them.”

Renear comes out and explains clearly that he has no intention of leaving and that he has plans with Nihilore. Renear says that the party must leave and that Nihilore will escort them out of them out of the hide-out. Several party members scrutinize Renear to see if he’s somehow under Nihilore’s power but find no evidence of that. It does seem odd to the group that a noble like Renear would associate with anyone within the city’s sewers.

The group agrees to leave and be in the service to Nihilore who says that he will use them to secure pieces of the Stone of Golore. He doesn’t say what that is but that there’s four pieces to it and he has none of the pieces. Nihilore leads the party out and tells them that he’ll be in touch. He brings out another gazer and states that he has hundreds of them and that the party will always have eyes on them. they need to keep their mouths shut and wait for his instructions. If they don’t keep their mouths shut, they’ll be killed. To accentuate the statement, Nihilore’s face blurs and briefly reveals his true nature. Nihilore is a mind flayer!

After the loss of Tree-nuts the revelation about Nihilore doesn’t seem to carry the weight, it might normally have. With heavy hearts the group gathers Floon’s body, the dead goblin gear, and departs the sewers to return to the Yawning Portal Tavern.

Volo is decimated but grateful to have the body of his friend. He takes the body and mentions that he will leave Waterdeep for a time. Before Volo can depart, Tiran reminds Volo that he mentioned payment once the investigation was concluded. Volo states that he has no more money. That he and Floon were going to procure and run a tavern together. All the same he states that he’ll give the party something worth more than money, he gives them the deed and keys to the tavern.

The party travels to the tavern in Trollskull Alley. It is unfinished and needs work. Maybe this could be a base for the group. They can use it while they wait for Nihilore’s instructions. They can use it while they plan to get back at Nihilore for brutally murdering Tree-nuts. Maybe the party’s name, their plan and this tavern can all have the same name.
TREENUTS’ REVENGE!!!

DOWNTIME
Our intrepid party takes some time off from adventuring together, but none is idle, and some are more active than others.

Ganymede or “G” takes some time to scope out libraries. Although he doesn’t find a library, he does find a bookstore willing to lend the books for a small fee. The bookstore, “Tortoise Shell” is run by a tortle named Churl. Churl doesn’t move all that quickly but he’s very helpful and G has no trouble navigating this well-organized establishment. It’s clear to G that he’s found an invaluable resource in Waterdeep.

Kerry spends his time showing his new compatriots his various illusions and points out that they’ll be able to distinguish them by recognizing Kerry’s signature “K” which he will embed in his creations. Kerry visits a wax museum and practices using his Minor Illusion cantrip to cast a replica of creatures and individuals. While showing-off his new talent to his friends, G suggests that Kerry make a replica of Treenuts. Kerry does just that which leads to a bittersweet moment for the party and segways into Kvoth’s exploits.

In this time, Kvoth perfected the “Ballad of Treenuts.” Not only are the lyrics brilliant but, the talented Kvoth, developed a three-part harmony to accompany the song. In just these two weeks the song has become a Waterdeep favorite rivaling such tavern favorites as “Have You Hugged and Owl Bear” and “Pete the Ploymorpher”. This magnificent composition is so moving that it will refresh the most weary and downtrodden individuals. (Gain and additional hit die +1D4 HP during short rest).

Tiran made significant inroads with the Waterdeep populace in respect to minotaur relations. The horned warrior was already known to be a mighty force in battle but shows there’s more layers to this bovine onion than raw muscle. By spending time with the populace and the City Watch, Tiran has become a social justice champion for minotaurs and equity for all races within the city. His familiarity with the local area, law enforcement and citizens will likely benefit the party in ways they cannot foresee.

Ven, may have been the most industrious of all, and indeed his group is not even clear on Ven’s endeavors. Not requiring sleep Ven has been working constantly, installing copper tubing from his residence in the tavern to the cellar. What this piping is for, is anyone’s guess and the enigmatic Ven offers no information. He’s also taken on some work, the nature of which, will become clearer in the party’s next adventure.

SHAKE THE NUTS!
Finally, the crew is all together for an evening except for Ven. Gazers have shadowed the crew over the past couple of weeks indicating that Nihiloor hasn’t forgotten about them. There’s been a bit of municipal interest in the party’s intentions for their recently acquired establishment. Representatives from the Tavern Keepers Guild, Distillers & Brewers Guild as well as city revenue officials want to know how the group will use the tavern. The consensus of the party is that they should take advantage of Waterdeep socio-economic development programs and declare the operation a MOS-B (Minotaur Owned Small Business). Any further discussion is interrupted by a loud explosion that shakes the inn to its foundation.

The party rushes out to the street to find the aftermath of an explosion further down Trollskull Alley. Two buildings across the street from each other are still smoldering from a fire blast. As the party approaches, neighbors are already aiding the victims and the City Watch who quickly extinguish any lingering flames. At the epicenter of the blast there are four bodies. Two appear to be human sized and are burned beyond recognition. Another is a halfling and the fourth turns out to be Ven.
Tiran shows feigned concern as he picks up, the apparently dead, Ven. A Ven-ish voice speaks directly into Tiran’s mind, “Find the stone.” Tiran knows instantly that Ven’s referring to the Stone of Golorr, wanted by the mindlfayer Nihiloor.

As Tiran caries Ven, looking around for any signs of the Stone, Kvoth plays a bardic tune to calm the blast victims. G puts his firbolg ability to speak with animals to work and Kerry tries to help clean up using Mage Hand and Unseen Servant. G makes friends with a snarky feline and Kvoth’s efforts are well placed at calming the crowd, but Kerry only seems to be getting in the way of the City Watch’s efforts. The wizard decides to put his energy elsewhere and go into one of the, no longer, burning buildings.

A flower shop and a residence were damaged by the blast. Being a forest gnome, Kerry is naturally drawn to the flower shop. He meets Fala Lefaliir, a female elf, who mistakenly assumes Kerry is with the City Watch. Not wanting to put any more stress on Fala, Kerry decides not to reveal his lack of authority. He learns that Fala saw 2 human sized individuals pursuing a halfling. She saw the halfling stop in a compliant manner and reach into his pocket. At that moment everything went red as a blast of heat damaged part of Fala’s shop. Not getting any more info from Fala, Kerry decides to visit the residence across the street but not before noting that Fala’s shop carries much more than flowers. It appears to be more of an apothecary than a flower shop.

Kerry’s met by G who’s befriended a cat, appropriately named, Smokey. Smokey basically has the same information as Fala but notes that there was someone on the rooftop of the residence. Smokey decides to follow G in the hopes of getting some fish or basically anything edible. Kerry decides to head into the building and find an access to the roof. G meets one of the residents of the building, Jerzyne, a human male and father of a pre-adolescent boy, who was injured in the blast. G takes time to heal the boy as Jerzyne tells him that he saw what looked like a marionette on top of the roof. He saw it while walking home. It pointed “something” at the men in the street and then the world went red.
Further questioning of the witnesses uncovers nothing else. Kerry’s trip to the roof reveals nothing but a spent metal casing. Having no idea what the casing is, the group takes the lifeless Ven back to the tavern, with Smokey the cat in tow.

They are greeted at the tavern by a half-elven/Chulten female, accompanied by one of the infamous gazers. She introduces herself as Frances Bacon. Ven ceases to “play dead” and perks-up to listen to her story. Frances is a gambler who came up short on one of her dealings. A loan shark named Nihiloor covered her loss but insisted that she do his bidding and take along a gazer to watch over her. Although she doesn’t appear to have any arms or armor, she exudes a subtle confidence that leads the group to believe she can take care of herself. Although she doesn’t share everything, she seems in a similar predicament with Nihiloor as the rest of the group, making her a perfect fit.
Ven is worn-out from the fire blast and accepts Frances without question. He does, however, question this new cat that followed G home. The team has some questions for Ven about his involvement with the blast and these individuals. He recounts his story, somewhat indignantly, that he was only trying to earn some money for our cooperative enterprise.

Ven’s been working as a guard (of sorts) for the Gralhunds, a wealthy family in Waterdeep. He and his boss, Urstell, were going after the halfling who apparently had the Stone of Galoor. They were just about to get it from the halfling when the fireball hit them. As a practitioner of the arts and from firsthand experience Ven can attest that it was a magical fireball. Ven, Urstell, the halfling and another Gralhund guard were all caught in the blast. There’s likely more to this story but that’s all Ven shares currently. Ven does know what the casing is. It’s the casing for a round to a drow firearm. With night falling and Ven needing serious rest and healing the group decides to wait until morning before taking their next move.

In the morning the group decides to divide and conquer. Kvoth and Kerry will accompany G to see Churl at the bookstore. Tiran and Ven will talk to the City Watch and visit the Gralhund mansion. Frances will head to the waterfront to see what she can snoop out.

Churl does turn out to be very helpful. G learns that the Stone of Galoor was owned by Jaster Neverember, the former Open Lord of Waterdeep. Jaster somehow used the stone to hide his vast ill-gotten fortune. They also learn that the “marionette” they saw was likely a Nimblewright, an animated construct made at the House of Inspired Hands, the temple to Gond, the god of craft, smithing and inventiveness.

Churl doesn’t want to get into any discussions about Jaster’s illicit dealings or the possible whereabouts of the Stone of Galoor. He refers G and friends to his brother Bura, who lives in the sewers. Bura may know more about the undercity and any illicit activity. Kvoth is also surprised to find that Churl may be the only person in Waterdeep who doesn’t like his music. Kvoth takes the deflating news with good grace and as a possible challenge to add Churl to his fanbase one way or another.

Tiran and Ven learn about the Niblewrights from the City Watch. Everyone thinks they’re simple and harmless constructs that are not capable of carrying out violence. They decide to go on to the Gralhund mansion. At the mansion they meet Yale Gralhund the recent widow of the family’s patron. Her mourning seems to be at an end as she seems to take an interest in Tiran’s muscular physique. Questioning the progressive Yale is unfruitful until Ven mentions the Stone of Galoor and uses his arcane powers to peer into Yale’s mind. Unfortunately, there’s someone else already present there, Nihiloor.

Nihiloor is surprised to see Ven who he thought was dead. Ven doesn’t entertain any further remarks about his exaggerated death and instead elicits quite a bit of info from Nihiloor. Ven’s recounting of earlier events are rewarded with Nihiloor telling him about Zardoz Zord, who’s the drow, Jarlaxle in disguise. Jarlaxle is running a casino and fun-park called the Sea Maidens Faire. Jarlaxle also wants the stone. Nihiloor dismisses them with orders to find the Stone.

At home on the waterfront, Frances makes friends with a local fish monger. She can’t help but notice the three ships which make up the Sea Maidens Faire. The monger isn’t especially helpful but, when asked about the marionette the monger mentions that sounds like a Nimblewright. As it happens there are a number of those at the Sea Maidens Faire. The friendly fish monger seems to want to chat more but Frances excuses herself saying that she must get home to cook. She leaves the waterfront with a large fish although it’s unclear if she ever paid for it.

Niblewrights, drow firearms, and Jarlaxle wanting the stone all seem to point the party toward visiting the Sea Maidens Faire. They decide to visit as Kvoth and entourage thinking that will get them access to see Zord/Jarlaxle and possibly the stone. They travel to the Sea Maidens Faire. Ven decides to make a little extra on the side by using some magic to enhance the value of Kvoth’s autograph to make 300 GP off a gullible noble and his wife.

Kerry notes that the entire place is magical and is full of illusion. The staff are all unbelievably beautiful people, also enhanced with illusion. Undaunted by the façade, Frances and Ven both head to the gambling tables while Kvoth meets with his admirers. Kerry and G enjoy the comped drinks as part of Kvoth’s entourage. Frances and Ven both lose all their gold, but plot moves on as Zardoz Zord arrives and invites Kvoth and friends to a personal dining experience. The trusting party allow themselves to be ushered into Zardoz’s private dining area. Once they pass into the area and the door shuts all their magic dissipates. Frances’s gazer is no longer with her, and the party is certain that not even Nihiloor could see them in this place. Zardoz is no longer there but they are greeted by a drow who introduces himself as Jarlaxle.

Jarlaxle commiserates with Ven on his half-drow heritage. He doesn’t seem all that interested in the fact that Ven doesn’t seem to be quite alive, but obviously Jarlaxle has seen many strange things. Jarlaxle quickly shows his hand stating that he does not have the complete Stone of Galoor but would like to gestrong textt it and he wants the party to help him. Jarlaxle’s demeanor is much more pleasant than Nihiloor’s and Jarlaxle’s clear on the fact that he has no intention of killing everyone to get the Stone which is less than the party can say for Nihiloor. The party agrees to switch to Jarlaxle’s side.

Delighted, Jarlaxle calls for the food. He states that he’ll provide the party with resources and pay 500 GP each once they recover the missing pieces of the stone. Jarlaxle says that the first thing they’ll need to do is to get rid of Nihiloor, as in “kill him”. Nonplussed, the party realizes that they must now come up with a plan. A plan to kill a mindlfayer. A mindlfayer who has a few gazers always watching them. A mind flayer who can read their thoughts. If only they had an inside man or even, an inside goblin. If only they had Treenuts!