Chapter 1:A Dragonborn’s Listing
This story is based on the Wizards of the Coast published adventure “Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage” and there will be spoilers.
They say that the city of Waterdeep has no permanent residents. That the people here just pass through on their journey to greatness. That it’s population is made up of this revolving and refreshing supply of adventurers and those who make money off of them. I have lived here my whole life, and there are others who have too. Although this lawless town seems to be a step for many, it is a home for a lot of us. Some say it is this place’s curse that keeps us here, trapped within the city limits. They say that it is the madness that was left behind from a different time that is embedded in the roots in this town. A madness that we are born with but that those who come to visit catch like some common contagion. A contagion that has slowly spread throughout the world and now it draws them all in, from all walks of life, from all parts of this miserable world. The magical curiosity to see what really lies bellow the Yawning Portal.
The Yawning Portal is a bar built on top of the ruins of an old mage tower. It is the only entrance we have to the dungeon bellow it. Most people who come flock to this quaint bar built on ancient stone searching for something. They say that deep below the dungeon are rooms filled to the rim with boundless treasure. They say that down below, in the farthest reach of the tower is a great library that houses the knowledge of everything including true power. Some people come to make money, to line their coffers with gold so they can ride into the sunset and live like royalty. Other’s pass through those doors expecting to come out the other side with the power of gods. And yet other’s come here for the thrill of the adventure.
But this town isn’t a forgiving one, and that dungeon even less so. It chips away at the hope and spirit of those who dare descend into its darkness. Some never lose the allure, and continue to make the trek day after day. Others return frightened and broken, treading their sword for a ride home, never to return. Others never return and their bodies rot away in the darkness, alone until another group of adventurers or beats stumble over them. It takes a special kind of crazy to venture into the dungeon. It takes a special kind of insane to keep going after the fact. Maybe the madness is contagious and there really is no treasure down there, just the side effect of delusion.
But this story isn’t about the city, it’s curse, or the countless adventurers this city eats up. This story is about the few who descended to the deepest parts of the tower and conquered it all.
It is around noon when Dilrajis Eshbis, a blue Dragonborn, walks into the bar. The double doors screech loudly as they swing wildly behind her. The bar is mostly empty except for a few people who are too busy with their drink to look up. She looks onto the random assorted tables and benches that orbit the large well that sits at the center of it all. The remnants of an old wizards’ tower and the entrance to the dungeon. She looks onto a bar where a lone large burly man is busy cleaning glassware. Behind him sit neat stacks of large barrels, a couple with spouts sticking out of them.
As she looks into the bar, she notices that some people clean the tables. At the center of the bar there is a large well that sticks out of the ground. A large winch is propped up beside it, holding a wooden platform over the whole. There is a large bar across from her, lined with bottles made from different colored glass collecting dust over the large wooden barrels stacked neatly behind a burly man who slowly cleans at a glass. Above those are shelves lined with glass bottles made from glass of assorted colors.
Dilrajis pulls back her hood revealing bright blue and green scales that seem to shine even in the dimly lit bar. Her bright yellow eyes turn to a large wall covered in sheets of yellowing paper. She takes a deep breath, her nostrils filling with the thick stale scent of ale and old tobacco, and takes a step towards the wall covered in paper. She clutches at a piece of parchment in her left hand. In her right hand she holds a long staff plane staff that lands beside her in rhythm with her steps. She stops in front of the board and reads over the different posters. She glances over wanted signs and advertisements until she stops at a point near the center of the board. She ponders for a second before placing the staff gently against the wall and carefully pins her piece of parchment on the wall. In neat calligraphy the page reads:
Adventurers wanted. Only the best will do. Searching for a group of likeminded and strong individuals who want to conquer the dungeon. If you are interested, ask for Dilrajis Eshbis.
She studies the page with a smile on her face. Her tail wags in the air. She seems to linger on it’s message for a few minutes before she picks up the staff and walks towards the bar. She walks up to the man behind the bar who is still busy cleaning a mug. He has a long neat greying beard. His hair is put back in a tight and messy ponytail. A few strands of hair poke out. He stands a bit shorter than the dragonborn. He doesn’t look up when she approaches but continues to clean the glass he is holding.
She places her hands on the bar and sits on the stool. Her hands stick to the counter. She lifts her hands from the bar’s surface and rubs her fingers together, trying to get the mysterious substance that now coats the surface of her hand. For a brief moment, a look of slight disgust creeps over her smile, but she composes herself and the smile returns. She clears her voice and with a clear and confident voice she says “Excuse me, Hi. Yes. My name is Dilrajis Eshis, it is a pleasure”
Dilrajis extends her hand towards the barkeep. The barkeep stares at the blue extended hand and continues to clean the glass in his hand before he lets out “Can I help you with something”
“Well” Dilrajis responds as she awkwardly puts her hand away “I would like to admit I am a big fan of this place. I have come from far away to take care of the little problem you have in the basement” she says as lets out a laugh. The barkeep is no longer looking towards her but continues to clean through the box of mugs that sits in front of him. “Maybe you can help me with something, I want to start a powerful adventuring party. Do you know anyone that is looking to join one?”
“Look kid, this ain’t that kind of place. If you want a party, you gotta find one yourself. I serve food and drink” he says, picking up another mug to clean.
“Ok, that’s fair. Well if anyone asks about my poster, I will be over there” she says as she points to a table in the corner.
“That’s paying customers only, you can buy something to drink or you can fuck off”
Dilrajis nods her head in agreement as she takes out a small leather pouch and starts riffling through it’s contents. The sound of clanking coins fills the bar. She pulls out a silver piece and responds “I will have a drink and a bowl of food please.” She places the coin on the bar table. She takes out another silver coin and places it on the table “and this is so you don’t forget to send any proposing adventurer my way.”
The barkeep grabs the coins and bites them. Satisfied with them he puts them in his pocket. He grabs one of the mugs and goes to a barrel to fill it. The mug fills with dirty amber colored liquid that foams over, running down the side of the mug. He places it in front of Dilrajis and a small puddle starts to form around the base of the mug. “Someone will be out with your food. Now if you don’t mind, I got some cleaning to do”
Dilrajis takes the mug of ale and takes a small sip. She winces as the liquid makes its way down her throat. “Thank you, remember. I’ll be over there” she points towards the table in vain. The barkeep is no longer paying any attention to her. She makes her way to the corner of the room. She looks over at patrons who are either drinking in silence of passed out, hunched over tables. She sits on the long bench and places her bag next to her. She pulls out a stack of papers and a book that she places in neat precise piles in front of her. She pulls out a bottle of ink and a pen and starts reading through the large book. She stops from time to time to take a sip from her mug or jot notes down, but as time passes, she keeps her nose deep in a book. Almost as if entranced by its contents.