Critical Failure

Attack on the Slaughtered Calf Inn

Adventure 1

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Dal’s perspective of the first evening.

Dinner at a local tavern, meal was passable if somewhat ruined by the terrible singing of a rather attractive girl.

Dinner interrupted as a patron of the inn fell dead in front of me. Seeing a dagger embedded in the man’s neck I drew my sword and readied my guard. A crazy woman covered in blood charged me. Some magic lights and floating purple hand later the city guard burst in and engaged a masked man in combat.

Tried to grab the man for the guards to take in, damn slippery one. Escaped my grasp and was quickly disable by a mountain of a dragonkin who bathed him in acid. Don’t like working for free.


It was hard going back into that tavern – having to sell myself like some green faced girl trying to earn her living. I used to dance for nobles, the lords and ladies of the highest rank – until the accident changed everything. Now I’m left with little to offer but my name, and many of the courts don’t need a singer or any other form of musician, so I was turned away with the promise that I would be welcome at any moment – if I were to dance.

The matron of the Slaughtered Calf Inn was kind enough – her face is so familiar but her name escapes me. She could not hide her disappointment that I would not be dancing, but allowed me to sing nonetheless. I was foolish and asked that a song be chosen for me, and found myself having to sing about some pirate merchant whose name was difficult to rhyme. After the performance there was more applause than I was expecting. I know my voice still requires training but perhaps my enthusiasm and skill with the lyre were decent enough.

Shortly after my performance, the sweet girl who had given me the song to sing made her introductions – a pretty thing by the name of Fae. She showed all the signs of a small town girl in a bit over her head, her wide eyes and nervous smile a constant on her face. She seemed eager to please everyone around her and began serving several of the patrons seated nearby, far too kind to tell them that she didn’t actually work at the tavern.

It seemed like one minute Fae and I were conversing and then the next it was utter chaos. People screaming about guards being murdered, and of course that caused quite a bit of panic and shoving. Seeing the rather frightened look on Fae’s face caused me to grab her hand and drag her along with me as I searched for the source of some rather heated shouting. After making my way towards the noise I found an armored man with a sword yelling at a rather crazed looking woman who was also armored, but covered from head to toe in blood. I couldn’t tell what the argument was about but weapons were drawn so I tried to get control of the situation. I cast a magical hand forward between the two and seemed enough to cause them both to pause rather than continue to swing at each other.

A few chaotic minutes later, the city guard showed up to try and get some control of the situation. The man seemingly behind this all was pulled from thin air and began trying to escape. Thankfully the large dragonkin was able to stop the assassin before he could do anymore damage or get away. As the acid burned at the man he shouted something about the black masks and how they “won’t be stopped”. I do hope Fae isn’t too upset over all this, she seemed to be producing magic without seemingly having any control over it. This has definitely been one of the strangest evenings I have ever experienced.

Fae’s Journal

I’ve never kept a journal before. I guess I never felt the need. Nothing exciting ever happened back in Red Larch. I don’t think anyone would be interested in stories about daily chores and crumblecake. Or Jhandlatha and Peieyrie’s good-natured bickering behind the bar. Or father’s jokes that were never actually funny. Or anything at all about a life lived in a small town. It’s exactly why I always dreamed about leaving. I memorized every bard’s tale by heart until I knew it like the story was my own. And here I am, on my first big adventure … and I’m feeling homesick. Imagine that. It’s silly really. But I can’t go home.

Sometimes I want to be so mad at father for keeping the truth about my mother from me for so long. I agree that it was simpler when I still believed that she was just some beautiful elf that had loved us both very much and had passed away too young. But having some explanation for all the crazy things that have been happening lately, even if it’s not a pleasant one, is better than nothing. At least I won’t be breaking dishes anymore without knowing why … or almost burning the inn down. I know I need to learn to control it. That’s the whole reason I left and the reason I can’t go back. So what am I doing?

I should have just taken a deep breath and walked up those stone steps to the wizard academy. Instead I let myself get nervous and wandered into the nearest inn. And now … I’m probably in a bit over my head. It’s just that Waterdeep is nothing like Red Larch … it’s so much better. All the tall buildings – libraries and temples and shops selling everything you could possibly imagine. And the people! I’m pretty sure there are some races I didn’t even know existed. And they’re all just running around, not even knowing each other’s names, and living lives right next to each other without anyone knowing the details. In Red Larch you can’t pick an apple without the whole town knowing within ten minutes.

Even the inn was fantastic. I always thought the Swinging Sword was big because it was a lot larger than the Blackbutter Inn but boy was I wrong. Just the tavern room alone was nearly twice its size. And it was more packed than the Swinging Sword during Highharvestide! There was even a real stage for the bards to perform. I was so excited that, even though I knew I should really be going, I had to stay for at least one song. The beautiful bard on stage was even taken suggestions. I called out to hear my favorite pirate’s tales. I don’t think she knew the song though and I’m afraid I might have made her a bit nervous because she was … just a little off-key. But I cheered and clapped anyway and so did everyone else. Her name was Lorafine Feathermoon, doesn’t that even sound fancy? She was really nice and seemed to know a lot about the city, which she would. She was a bard after all and they travel everywhere. Of course, I ended up looking like a fool in front of her. Some guys at the table near us asked me for a round of drinks and without even a thought I was on my way to the bar. I grabbed a tray and ordered the drinks and it wasn’t until they asked me to pay for them that I realized that I didn’t work there. I guess old habits die hard. I was so embarrassed I just paid for them and dropped them off. But it’s okay, It was a nice thing to do and I’m sure they were happy about free drinks. Or at least they would have been if they had gotten to finish them because right about then is when things got very strange.

There was all this commotion and suddenly people were shouting and running for the door. You hear about things like this in stories but it’s a lot scarier in real life. Half of me wanted to run away too. I wasn’t even supposed to be there. But Lorafine grabbed my hand and headed for the thick of it. There was a woman covered in blood and another angry man and as the crowd began to clear there was no mistaking the fact that the people who hadn’t moved were dead. Now I don’t know if this is the sort of thing that happens in the city a lot but I’ve only seen one dead body my whole life and that was Old Mr. Hilliger and he’d died in his sleep after living a long, good life. These men didn’t look old at all … and there was quite a few of them just lying there in puddles of blood. I didn’t know what to do and there was all this yelling and accusations flying around and I started to get that feeling I usually get when strange things happen. My toes and fingertips start tingling, like when they’re about to fall asleep, except every part of me feels more awake and alive then I’d ever believe possible. I knew that it was coming and that I didn’t know how to control it.

The rest was just a blur. I know a few times I felt the tingling stop and all that energy surged through me. At one point it was so intense that I was afraid I might light this inn on fire too. I didn’t though and when all was said and done I found myself standing in the inn with a handful of strangers (and Lorafine). And this huge dragon man, who was a lot bigger than I had pictured in my head from the stories, thanked everyone for their bravery and their help and I wondered if everyone else was feeling as shocked by the recent events as I was or if this was just another day in the city. I know at least Lorafine and a handsome man standing with a rather drunk woman seemed more interested in receiving a reward than anything else. I thought for sure we would all be free to go and I tried to explain that I really needed to be leaving but the dragonborn and his colleague insisted that we go in for questioning. I don’t know what they could possibly expect me to say. Or if we’re in trouble … something tells me I won’t be making it to the wizard’s academy any time soon.


Appearances are such fickle things. One moment you’re a simple merchant minding his own business, the next you’re trying your best to not get blood all over a perfectly good identity.

The night started with a drink and a song. The wine had gone a little sour, but compared to the notes the singer tried to hit, it was nothing to complain about. I overheard a woman at the bar trying to get a job with the city guard. I have no love for the guard and typically avoid them, but I couldn’t resist a little meddling. There really didn’t seem to be a downside; a competent person gets hired on my suggestion and the guard likes me a little more; an incompetent person gets hired and the guard gets a little worse on average.

Unfortunately, the guard choose that moment to die of natural causes. Well, natural in the sense that a dagger through the throat will quite naturally kill you. The assassin who did it was good, gone before I had really seen him. Three people knew I was there. The guard wouldn’t know anything soon. The assassin wasn’t sticking around. The woman could maybe identify me, but most likely the dying man would cause my face to be lost in her memory. Time to go.

Disappearing in a crowd isn’t hard, most people will just look for the top of your head. I put a few bodies between us, bent my knees a little and hunched. Now the top of my head would not be where it was expected. Simple.

I started to the door and could feel the crowd begin to realize something was wrong. I should have just kept going. Maybe it was curiosity. Maybe it was knowing a person had seen my face and could possibly implicate me. Maybe it was the really drunk girl at the bar and the thought that the night might not be a total loss. Who can say? Certainly not the drunk girl. I may have underestimated her level of intoxication. I may also have to get a new shirt.

The guard arrived, which is never a welcome sight. I saw a chance to win their favor and lightly stabbed one of the assassins in the back. Backs make such nice targets. I was unavoidably involved now, but at least my opportunism might seem like heroism. They still want to question me. The day an interrogation reveals anything true about me will be the day I gladly walk to the noose.

Next: Witnesses


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