Started reading Virginia Tufte's Art Sentences: Syntax as Style. In it, she uses tons of examples from different authors to discusss types of sentences and how... syntax interacts with style. I don't think much about the way I am writing when I write these entries, I'm more concerned about just getting thoughts into words (I don't even edit except to fix typos or missing words before I publish), but I thought maybe I should. Maybe I can write with more economy, with more style, with more care. Maybe it's just another thing I think is an interesting idea and then don't follow through on.
After having it floating around in different book piles in the house, I finally read/looked at my book of Jane Irish paintings, Interiors of Power, Architectures of Resistance. You can see samples of her work at her gallery Locks' website. I was not familiar with her work before, but we were at the gallery to see some Jennifer Bartlett work, and the Irish book jumped out at me. This book is primarily focused on these detailed but loose and expressive interiors she paints of elegantly furnished rooms that are transformed by ceilings and walls painted like murals to depict various historical/political content, often about the Vietnam war and colonialization. It is unforunately hard to make out a lot of the details in the reproductions, but I love her use of varied non-representational color and loose brush work (primarily in egg tempura or gauche). Makes me realize I like paintings of interiors, as I started thinking about Vallotton (another book on the pile) and Hammershoi. And the photography of Uta Barth is also, often interiors. While all three of those artists are fairly sparse and restrained in their imagery, Irish is detail and expression and color and narrative.
We had our regular D&D game yesterday, with Ian running the Waterdeep: Dragon Heist book for 5e. So here's what I remember...
We picked up where we left off, with the part in the Yawning Portal Tavern talking to Volo, a well known author who wants us to find his missing friend Floon Blagmar. Volo lets us know a few more things about Floon: he's not that wealthy and doesn't really live in the fancy area of town he uses as an address; he works as an "escort"; he was blackmailing some lord about some kind of indiscretion. We get him to tell us where Floon actually lives (in the Dock ward, not the nice area of town, but thankfully also right near the bar Floon was last seen at). Still tired and wounded from last session's fight we immediately run off to investigate rather than taking any time to rest (this becomes important later).
On the way to Floon's we are detoured by the city watch who have a section of street cordoned off after what appears to be some kind of gang massacre. Closer inspection indicates it's likely a mix of Zhentarim and Xanatharians. (The Zhentarim are like the lawful legitimate business-men gang and the Xanatharians are like the chaotic do whatever the hell they want gang. My character Ludo has a contact with the Zhentarim. I don't believe any of the characters have any contacts with the Xanatharians.)
As we detour we notice a weird shop with a stuffed (as in toy/plushie) beholder in its window and a sign that so "The Old Xoblob Shop". We know it is said that the head of the Xanatharians is a beholder, which tracks with the way they use eyes as symbols, so we go in the shop (or maybe everyone else is just curious, I thought there might be a connection). Everything in the shop is purple, like tons of purple, like obsessive purple. The owner appears to be some kind of goblinoid who is also... purple-y (I think it's a "xvart" which other than being small, purpleish, and into "X"s I recall nothing about). He is Xoblob, or rather Jim but when we took over the store everyone called him that so he just goes by it now. He has a lot of purple crap all over the store. We roll on a table to see what we find. Nottie the gnome buys a purple hat that folds up into a small square of cloth. Ellai the halfling buys a very large tooth that is partially painted purple. Marfaen the Unlucky buys a sequined purple glove (just one). Ludo the thief find an amethyst in the shape of some animal but decides not to spend his money. No obvious connection to the Xanatharians, but we note its location for later and continue on.
Our next stop is where Floon lives, a not very nice 4 unit apartment bulding. We bang on the door a lot and a woman on the second floor sticks her head out the window and starts talking to us. Floon lives below her on the ground floor, no he hasn't been home recently, no she won't let us in to leave a message. Nottie casts charm person on her and succeeds in making friends. The woman, later identified as Petunia, lets Nottie in and they go upstairs to chat. She learns that Petunia saw two well dressed men get ambushed by a group of thugs in the street the other night. The rest of the party, now in the front door (Nottie leaves it unlocked for them), try to get into Floon's door. Ludo critical fails picking the lock and thus breaks it and, thanks to Marfaen's unluck, also slips on some oil and falls down. Ellai tries a crowbar and also fails. Finally two of our sidekicks, gang up and break it open. We've really really ruined Floon's door.
Not much of excitement in Floon's place. A big bed with red sheets, a lot of perfumes and oils, lots of clothes (Ludo steals a nice outfit for himself). In a pocket, someone (I forget how) find a note indicating that someone named "Henrik" paid Floon money for something. Maybe that's the blackmailee. We continue on...
At the Skewered Dragon Inn (a place that oddly has an anchor stuck into its roof), things are lookig pretty rundown. A bunch of guys are drinking and look askance at us. Ludo buys drinks for the party with a big tip for the bartender, Brian O'Brien, and makes friends with him using his contact Yagra's name (this is a Zhentarim bar). He finds out Floon and Volo were here the other night. Volo left. Then Renare Neveremeber, wealthy son of the former, now disgraced, "open lord" (aka mayor) of Waterdeep showed up. He and Floon hang out and leave together. A bunch of Zhentarim followed them out. Brian is nice to enough to indicate they hang out or somehow are involved with a nearby warehouse.
It's now evening so we head to the warehouse under cover of darkness. We find one door and two windows. Marfaen scouts around and finds a larger door in a fence behind which is another large door and a window. Ellai notices a guard passing by in the street. Ludo decides to break in one of the window, jimmies the lock and opens it up. It looks like a warehouse office. Listening at the door into the main room we hear some shuffling around and opening of crates. We open the door and sneak forward, we are on a balcony opening onto the lower storage area. There appear to be a lot of bodies lying around as well as a few bird folk walking around with torches, apparently either looking for something specific or just looting the place. It's not totally clear what happened here.
In case they might be willing to talk, we send Marfaen (highest Charisma) down the stairs to talk, while the rest of us prepare to ambush the bird folks. She basically surprises them, and one immediately raises weapons to attack. We ambush and combat ensues. Ludo kills one right away with his bow. Fawzi hurts one with a dart. Nottie freaks one out with some kind of psychic attack spell. Ludo who was still injured from last combat is hit by an arrow and goes down. Fawzi, ditto and ditto. Someone takes out the second already injured bird folk. The other two surrender. Ludo's sidekick Pip uses her healing to fix him up a bit. Someone else uses medicine to get Fawzi up and about.
The bird folk seem to only talk by parrotiting things they've already heard. This is helpful as we learn that whoever was here kidnapped someone and that they "followed the yellow signs" in the sewers. The bodies appear to be, again, both Zhentarim and Xanatharians. In a closet Marfaen finds a wealthy young man hiding. It's Renare Neverember. He tells us about getting kidnapped with Floon by the Zhentarim, then the Xanatharians showed up and took Floon away, but he thinks it was mistaken identity and really they were after Renare. Apparently, Renare's father (former mayor) supposedly stole a lot of money ("dragons" the coin of the city) and there's some kind of artifact called the "Stone of Galor" that can be used to find the treasure, but... the stone had gone missing (the Xanatharians had it and lost it?)... So... Floon is in trouble cause he's not the right kidnappee and he's been taken to the sewers by a vicious gang.
We also find a secret door hiding some paintings and silver bars (we try to take them). At this point we also hear someone breaking down the door upstairs. We try to flee but the window is jammed shut and it sounds like there are people outside the other doors. A bunch of city guards show up, none to happy. Captain Bob Staggett of the city guard seems ready to arrest us until Renare uses his upper class credentials to get us off the hook, since we rescued him. Staggett gives us a strong warning and also a list of laws and punishments (yikes!). Somehow in here we here the name "Erstal Floxin" who is a Zhentarim somehow involved with... the warehouse? Or the kidnapping or something.
Outside we ask Renare about the sewers, he points out a nearby entrance, which, on closer inspection, was recently opened and not closed fully. We decide that's our next avenue but first we all go home, rest, and then meetup back at the Yawning Portal. Durnan tries to get Ludo to admit their secret mission. He does not.