(image by Lucio Parrillo, from City of Splendors: Waterdeep)
A year ago Sheen would never have thought it possible, but the walls of Waterdeep were beginning to feel like a cage. She wrapped her threadbare cloak a little more tightly around herself, fully conscious of the contrast between her destitute state and the City of Splendors. It was just as well that she had little need for food; it had allowed her to stretch the money this far, at least. She went through her pouches and pockets methodically one last time looking for anything else she could sell.
The tools in her belt pouch shifted aside and something shone whitely beneath them. Mystified, Sheen dug for it, but only with the aid of an awl was she able to pry it loose from the cranny where it was wedged. It looked like a moonstone, and a large one, easily the size of the last digit of her thumb. Where had it come from? She didn’t recall packing it, but she’d been so hurt and terrified that she’d simply stuffed her pockets with whatever would fit. Perhaps she’d thrown one of Gyderic’s belongings into her pouch without noticing, where it had remained undisturbed until now.
She smiled a bit at the irony. Gyderic’s last act would be to pay for new clothing, lodging, maybe even a new start in a new city. She tossed the stone in the air and caught it with her other hand. One of her fingers poked through a hole in the glove and made contact with the stone. It began to vibrate slightly, emitting a soft glow. Then a voice spoke.
“Baltazo, if you’re hearing this then I am dead and my mission has failed. My pawn does not suspect her role in our drama, but the Cullers have caught my scent and I may be exposed before the artifact is mine.
“It now falls to you to avenge me. Years ago, before our current plot was hatched, the wizard Morard devised a weapon for me, similar in principle to Sheen’s creation but with far greater destructive potential. It was too blunt a tool for our attack on the Elder, but the time for subtlety is over. Now it will serve us well.
“Journey northeast to Morard’s home in the Larch Hills east of Redlarch. He won’t know you, but tell him ‘The Great Eye beholds the City of Mirrors’ and the wizard will know you speak for me. Bring the weapon back to Waterdeep and use it in the manner we discussed at the Feast of the Moon. Blame will fall upon the Cullers, and when the smoke clears the artifact will be yours.
“I wish you luck, my friend. I know the cause will live on. Your brother in arms, Gyderic.”
Sheen dropped the stone on the ground and leapt back from it as though it were a poisonous snake that might bite her. Actually, knowing Gyderic, that was a possibility. “That bastard!” She yelled, causing several passers-by to look at her oddly. Realizing her position, she scooped up the stone and stuffed it into her pouch again. There was no possibility of selling it now, of course. Anyone could handle the stone and hear the message.
“Damn him!” Sheen muttered viciously, winding her way through the crowd. “The Feast of the Moon is, what, five days from now? Where’s Redlarch?” She snagged a random pedestrian. “Pardon me, sir, would you happen to know the way to Redlarch?”
He stared at her blankly for a moment. “It’s northeast of here, about sixty miles I believe. You should be able to get there by following the signposts on the road.”
“Ah, thank you.”
“No trouble,” he said, rolling his eyes.
“I suppose I could go there and see about this wizard. It would be something to do at least, and it might even be profitable.”