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Lost Laboratory of Kwalish



Name: Iselas
Age: 26
Race: Half-elf
Class: Rogue
Level: 3

HP: 20


200 gold pieces
Leather armour
Crossbow and arrows
Thieves' kit
Deed to the Trollskull Manor

In centuries long past, a common scholar named Kwalish took an unlikely path to becoming one of the most powerful arcane inventors of all time, after his discovery of strange magic in the Barrier Peaks. His studies of an ancient, crashed planar craft set him on a path that might have seen him rival Ioun and Heward - until his experiments overtook him, and he became lost to the ages. All that’s left of his legacy is a single example of his earliest work - the apparatus of Kwalish that is the only way most folk now know his name.

It was Kwalish’s foray into the Barrier Peaks that set his advanced studies into motion, when he joined an illfated expedition in search of Daoine Gloine, a legendary city said to be populated by creatures of glass. He found it, people say, but he did not find what he expected to be there. Now, Daoine Gloine is just a rumour and the legendary inventor has not been heard from since.

In the last week, the famed walking statues of Waterdeep were showing signs of getting ready to power up once more, and not even the Blackstaff can shut them down. Or at least that's what you were told, when she summoned you to the office urgently. Blackstaff explained that old histories suggest that Kwalish’s lore might hold the secrets of doing so, and before you know it, you are sent to seek that lore out before the great magical statues can run amok

Anaxi Zephries, a wealthy gnome merchant and sage, was the person that Blackstaff pointed you to, claiming that he was the man with the solution. Anaxi offers to pay for your dinner and drinks, while he introduces himself and you discover that, if anything, he is certainly not a humble man. He speaks with pride of his vast collection of maps, which cover the known world, pocket dimensions, routes across the planes, as well as numerous expeditions of exploration that he funded, sending adventurers to all corners of the world - both to draw new maps and to verify the authenticity of others already in his possession. The Cartophile, people call him, though not many like to spend too much time in his presence.

"So, you are the new recruit!" The Cartophile grins with enthusiasm, "Though, I have to admit I did not expect an elf to take up the task... uh, no offence."

- Ask about him.
- Ask about his work.
- Ask about Kwalish.
- Ask something else.



When the man first entered the local inn, his walk bouncy and easy, buckles on his boots dinging like if he wore spurs, as if he came in to crush the long-established laws and traditions with his obviously nordic culture - easily guessed by the attire - he expected anything but this. A cartographer. A... Cartophile. Let alone that this Cartophile - which actually meant "potato" in his native language - would come forth with an offer like that. He did expect a certain offer, but, given the amount of instruments hanging on genasi's back, and his exotic looks, he expected it to be something else. "There are two types of people." He murmured at some point in the conversation. "Those who I need something from; and those who need something from me. I don't need anything from you, so..." The unsaid question hung in the air. He never finished it, and didn't even care if the other man heard it. It wasn't a malicious question, neither the tone - as the matter of fact, during the talking, he supported a light smile - something that was rare for his preppy self, at least genuinely. Thing was, Etienne liked certain things in people. He was absolutely attracted to people who were smart, people who were strong, and people who were funny. While not incredibly strong, gnomes usually combined other two qualities he cherished so much, and so, the sight of fey-like, bug-eyed, and pointy-eared little people always filled him with satisfaction and anticipation. It was safe to say gnomes always started with a much higher appreciation level than most other races and species around.

He tried to hide his general lack of admiration towards the rare maps. After all, he grew in Sigil (a secret he held close to heart), and hopping dimensions was a daily thing out there, people coming in to talk about all sorts of weird places they've been into whether on purpose or by accident. Such maps weren't rare in those parts - albeit surely lacked the professionalism of Zephries in their performance. What seemed to be crazy and exciting in this world seemed mundane in the City of Doors, and vice-versa. After all, at some point Etienne was absolutely in awe (and at the same time afraid) of grass and flowers, the skies and the sun - things taken for granted by these people. In turn, any tales of portals and pocket dimensions didn't interest him that much. That was normal. A boring Tuesday. But he did his best to put on a mask of polite interest, nodding of not to the rarity of maps, then to the skill which the cartographer wielded.

He held a clay cup, rolling around some local citrus-smelling drink. Etienne didn't drink much, for he got drunk very easily. His high temperature basically burned out any fat he had, making him extremely susceptible to alcohol, and he was aware of that. Since the man implied business by the mere fact he approached a minstrel, he was weary of being drunk.

The genasi smiled a little wider - crooked, somewhat predatorial smile - at the barmaid's comment, following her around with his glare for a few seconds, as the gnome was finishing. "And how exactly do I look?" He asked, taking a small pause, before turning his eerie eyes to the Cartophile. "I admit, the exotic look is part of the show - and a very good one... after all, as many people that come for music, come to just look at the freak of nature. Which, in turn, only makes the audience bigger. But what leads you to believe that a minstrel would be able to do what other, far more professional expeditions, could not?" He waited for a moment. It was just a little game. A game of hard to get, so to speak.

"I must admit..." Etienne's voice suddenly became a bit louder, the way he was hammering down words like copper coins - more prominent, as if he was ripped out the depth of his thoughts, and thrown into reality. "...that Barrier Peaks sound a little ominous. As if they guard this land from some evil. What is it in there that you find so interesting in them? And..." He stopped after the 'and'. He wanted to figure out where exactly expeditions vanished from the existence, but that would hint that he said 'yes'. And he didn't say 'yes'. Not yet, anyway.


"Oh..." Anaxi's words catch in his throat for a moment as he looks at you with some between astonishment and guilt. He must not have expected a stranger to be so blunt with him, and despite his talkative nature, he is at a loss for words.

The barmaid from before passes by the table again and snorts out a snarky laugh, then just walks away, shaking her head.

This seems to help Anaxi recover, out of spite or something else, and he clears his throat and adjusts the neat bow on his neck. Shifting briefly in his seat, the gnome regains his composure, and places is hands on top on the table, leaning toward you ever so slightly in a tone that is meant to flatter and persuade.

"I did not mean any offense, master bard. I have merely come here with a proposition that can be profitable for both of us... and the rest of the world, if what I think there is to be found in the Barrier Peaks is indeed there. I would not let you go alone, of course, there is a group of hirelings I have gathered for this occasion, but alas there is no one clever enough in this pirate port to lead them." He smiles, "You have strolled into this city, turning heads and attracting attention, a stranger whose name was learned on the very same day. But, I don't believe it for a second that all you want to do for the rest of your days here is sing pretty songs in a tavern or otherwise provide an attraction. You need something more and I am able to give that to you."


Offence? The man arched his brow sarcastically. There was none taken. He was quite honest with understanding why people came over, and he appreciated this in his own way. In fact, the profession was chosen solely because his kind was this rare, and attracted this much attention. It has proven to be quite useful as well - the profession it is. So many rumours he managed to overhear, so much new things to learn, and so many doors were open to someone who possessed some musical talent, and looked a lot like an especially bright and prised peacock. People liked to stare at unusual things - they visited circuses and freak shows to see them; and this lust for visual stimulation was making Etienne half of his income. He did not, however, explain that. Just shook his head with a sigh. No offence were taken. At least, to that.

In all honesty, Etienne hated the word 'bard'. When he heard it, he always imagined frill-dressed baby-faced idiots filled with lust, going into town to sing a few love songs and impregnate all the young and impressionable girls, before running off to never be seen again. He preferred to call himself whether a musician, or a minstrel. The attitude towards the term was betrayed by just a small twitch of an eye, and no more. 'That's bold, thinking that if I arrived on a ship, I'm here to stay.' He thought. 'The man must be really desperate if he uses the opportunity to leave the place towards a travelling minstrel as a seduction attempt. He must have something personal involved. Family? Career? Illness?' He frowned a little, thinking about what that might be, but didn't try to overanalyse and read the little man. After all, he didn't give Etienne any reason to doubt his sincerity. Not yet, anyway.

"And yet, you are so reluctant to tell me what lies there that gets you so interested." The genasi said, blinking with theatrical naivety at Anaxi. "I see what you're trying to do." He leaned over with a sly, almost flirtatious smile. With the way he looked, it looked both insinuating and intimidating at the same time - the kind a drop-dead gorgeous man would have while hunting for a busty lady for the night to break her heart later. But Etienne wasn't a drop-dead gorgeous man. Maybe handsome, definitely exotic, and the way he was smiling reeked with confidence, and ego, and 'I get what I want whether you like it or not' attitude. "Everyone loves a bit of flattery, but you are trying to get me to buy a cat in a bag." For some reason, when he said 'cat', he sounded even more foreign than before. Something in the way of him dragging out a deep, glutteral 'a', and a very ringing 't' made it sound like he was from far-away lands, and just recently learned the language. "You'll have to be more specific if you want me to agree to the escapade."


The gnome is silent for a moment, but not as long as before. He is quick to recover and it seems like he is thinking that things are going to his advantage. He is still a bit guarded and perhaps not ready to present his case like an open book, but in order to acquire your help, he might be willing to part with more information.

"Have you heard of Kwalish?" Anaxi asks, leaning across the table, with a conspiratorial look on his face, "The great scientist and inventor. The maker of the Kwalish Apparatus? The first ever submersible that has allowed us to explore the depths of the ocean." He speaks with unmasked awe, "Unfortunately, Kwalish is now only remember for this, by the common man. Yet, I am far from common, as I think you are too, my friend. It was Kwalish that first undertook the expedition to the Barrier Peaks, ages ago. He believed that an ancient city was hidden there among the rocks and ruins, forgotten, but filled with arcane secrets and treasure.

"I am the Cartophile, I make maps. My purpose is simple - I want to find the Barrier Peaks and the ancient city and make a map of the area, to uncover the past once and for all. But I am a scholar and cannot go into the mountains. I need someone strong and able, and I had hoped to find it in you."


The genasi nodded, his hair drawing an s-shaped figure in the air, flowing like flames. "Of course." He said. "What educated person doesn’t know Kwalish?"

He lied. He had heard the name, - and the next few sentences explained where from - the weird underwater contraption - but didn't know anything about the man specifically. It was an impulse, probably brought forth by the ego of the man which didn't allow him to admit to not knowing something, but Etienne soon decided to believe this was a strategic step for the Cartophile to show his hand.

"So why don't you go on the expedition?" Asked Etienne, leaning down and speaking in a lower, quieter voice, as if this all was a terrible secret. "You do realise how suspicious this looks: a map maker sends people for his passion project to do his job for him - people obviously not having the same professionalism needed for said passion project... and those people disappear, while the craftsman himself is being left behind. Even the barmaid knows, and deems her duty to warn people." He nodded towards a place he last seen the woman, albeit he wasn't sure she was still there. His tone was full of concern, even if not a genuine one. He tried to come off as empathetic, as if really worried about the image Anaxi was painting for himself. "Aren't you worried that others might think you're sabotaging such things on your own?" He made a confused, compassionate face, narrowing his eyes and shaking his head, small earrings wobbling as he did so. At first, this was just a small play, a show, but as Etienne voiced the sentence in his head, he suddenly grew more concerned: what if the man did sabotage the missions? He was hiding something - that he was sure about, but what could that be? Why would he do any harm to expeditions he funded? Why wouldn't he go himself? Etienne started him right in the eyes, looking as compassionate as he could be, at the same time trying to see the change in the mood of the little man.

When he leaned back on the chair, his voice returned to the previous volume. "So you'd like to... hire someone to basically command a group of mercenaries?" Was his next question. 'That seems like an overkill.' He added to himself. "I have travelled northern mountains, and the desert sands... but never the jungles. I can see how a genie blood might come in handy in a jungle heat, however... hm-m-m..." Etienne scratched his chin, thinking. This was a good opportunity, but the fact other expeditions disappeared, was making him concerned. He knew full well he was no fighter, and if something was destroying other groups, he could hardly help in fighting off. On the other hand, laying eyes on an ancient city was very tempting.

"I... might need to ask where the expeditions disappeared. Or rather, where were they last seen and where they were headed." He sighed, with an expression of defeat on his face. "If it's a specific place, I'd be weary of it. You... did keep in contact with these people, did you not?" He cocked his head, like a curious dog. If his ears could move, there was no doubt they'd perk up. "And I am inclined to ask again for your company. You surely know about Kwalish more than anyone else, and this might... no, it will come in handy." As if to emphasise his point, Etienne nodded while saying this. "As well as become a great bonus to your reputation around here." He added in a somewhat suggestive murmur, looking around for the barmaid who warned him. Even she knew things were not well with this job.

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