Elminster Speaks

(Part #28) : The Recent and Colorful History of the Wizard

The Whistling Wizard, Continued

One morning early in the winter after Dove's departure, Ansilber Klauthaudra was found dismembered in the common room. Ansilber was the sleepy-faced, lazy, and casually cruel fat man who owned the Wizard at the time. He was a former tailor from Essembra.

Mourning was swift and investigations of the death even more so, and the staff ran the inn unsupervised for less than a tenday before the unlamented Klauthaudra was replaced by a young, haughty, and even more cruel, thin, and nasal-voiced snob of a Selgauntan wastrel by the name of Ravvas Thurrpurtyn, who used money given him by his father (almost certainly with the admonition never to show his face in Selgaunt again) to buy the inn.

Independent Harper reports insist that Ravvas was slain and impersonated (perhaps even before his arrival in Voonlar) by a nameless undercover agent of the Red Wizards of Thay. It seems likely that this agent was in turn killed and replaced by a Malaugrym who posed both as Ravvas and as the Red Wizard agent.

Under the tenure of "Ravvas" (whoever he in truth was at any given time), the Wizard was a haven and contact place for Dragon Cultists, Thayan agents, and informers-for-hire who reported to Sembian cabals, agents of Hillsfar, and certain Zhent factions. At times, guest arrivals were almost comical, as everyone in the common room (dining room) looked up menacingly to see if the newcomer was here to see them . . . or someone else in the place.

Things came to a head when "Gathkatra" (real name almost certainly something else), an ogre mage polymorphed into a more human semblance, decided to take up residence as ch√Ętelaine of the inn (by slaying the incumbent in an accident and then offering "herself" as replacement), doppelgangers joined the cooking staff, and finally an uniquely gifted illithid archmage (employing a spell-spun "tall human from afar" disguise, and using the name "Klondras Imdree, late of Westgate") settled in at the Wizard for a long stay. All of this caused the soothsaying Wizard Well in the basement, which then as now whispered aloud to many travelers who dared to consult it in private, much consternation, and it eventually decided to act.

The Well is in reality a female spectral harpist who in life was a dancer and Zhentil Keep courtesan by the name of Zarracee Ambroanye. The Well is dedicated to functioning as a message exchange for passing Harper agents. Zarracee attacks persons she views as foes of the Harpers who venture into the Well waters and readily avoids attacks upon the Well by simply passing out of its walls and moving elsewhere in the inn. When guests really interest her (usually because they're suspicious characters), she's been known to spy on them from the closets of their inn bedrooms -- and even to rouse some guests to deal with others when skullduggery is afoot late at night.

Calling (via a Harper messenger) on no less a personage than Elminster to cleanse the inn, Zarracee caused a strike force consisting of Sharantyr, Illistyl, and Jhessail of the Knights of Myth Drannor, assisted by no less than two dozen Harper agents, to descend on the Wizard. Unfortunately, the Harper messenger was returning from a mission to report to Storm Silverhand, and included mention of the Well's consternation when speaking with the Bard of Shadowdale. Storm mounted her own attack on the Wizard, with the aid of her sister the Simbul and half a dozen of the Witch-Queen's most ambitious apprentices on the same afternoon.

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