Sister Wellington awoke me gently to let me know that I had a visitor. I thanked her and dressed swiftly, curious who would seek me out at such a late hour. When I saw Lord Neverember – he insists we call him Renaer – I could not help but smile. He has ever been a generous tither, particularly after his abduction and subsequent rescue.
I greeted him warmly, though it was clear from his expression that he was upset. I invited him to sit in one of the temple’s private rooms while I fetched some mulled wine for his nerves. When he drained half the cup in a single gulp, I knew whatever was amiss was something serious. I did not, however, pry. He would share what he would in his own time.
Grief, as it happens, was the cause of his distress. A friend had died by violence, and Renaer said he felt no small amount of guilt, though he did not immediately say why. By and by, he explained that his deceased friend was one of the people who had liberated him from captivity. He had never had anything but kind words for these folk, though I have never had occasion to make their acquaintance. I shared my sincere condolences.
Then, young Lord Neverember admitted that the young man had been slain while seeking something on the nobleman’s behalf. The item had been recovered, but at the cost of a life, it is no small wonder that Renaer would question his responsibility. I consoled him, reminding him that each of us must follow our own path, and though this young man’s journey has ended, it had been in service to a friend. His death may be lamented, yes, but his life must also be celebrated. I think my words offered some measure of comfort.
When Renaer seemed calmer and his cup was empty, I dared to ask why he had sought me out for counsel above others. We are acquaintances, yes, and he has never been anything less than cordial, but we are not close. Typically in times of loss, one reaches out to someone more familiar. When his expression clouded once more, I realized he had come to me with a request.
Lord Neverember confessed that the object that had cost him his friend was but a means to an end. It provides a way to access a vault containing immense wealth set aside by his father some years ago. It appears that he has asked his surviving friends to proceed in seeking out this vault, despite the gold dragon that is said to serve as its guardian. And in the absence of their lost companion, Renaear would like me to provide counsel and divine magical protection for the venture.
The likeliest danger comes in the form of a wizard of great magical prowess, an ancient creature known as Manshoon. He is a leader among the nefarious Zhentarim organization that has stirred up so much trouble in Waterdeep of late. In fact, it was he that slew the young nobleman’s friend, right on the heels of recovering the artifact they needed to access the elder Lord Neverember’s hidden treasure.
This dangerous man also seeks the vault and knows the identity of one of the surviving adventurers whom Renaer holds so dear. It is only a matter of time before he tracks them down and they all rightly fear they would not survive a second such encounter.
Renaer said that he appreciates the danger that this task entails, and he told me that he did not ask this service of me lightly. I have the Joybringer’s favor, of course, and have been trained as a capable combatant, should it come to that. Still, a dragon and an ancient wizard? I confess that I am not certain I am up to this task.
However, Lord Neverember is a good and faithful – and, as I mentioned, generous – servant of Lliira. Despite his recent conversion, I am inclined to accept this request and do everything in my power to thwart this villain and keep the Neverember fortune out of his hands.
May the Mistress of Revels smile upon me.