Fjordix stayed silent during the entire conversation, he knew by now that Arliden was a bit of a smooth talker and could probably talk his way out of this, but then there was still the murder, he kept his hand on his weapon and would leave it there until everyone dispersed.
Arliden would like to try and find a messenger in the caravan that would be willing to ride ahead to Waterdeep and carry a message to one of guard captains there. He's willing to pay well but would want the messenger to move with purpose. Ideally he's looking for someone that would arrive at the city at least a day ahead of the caravan. Is that something he can find?
Go ahead and roll an Intelligence (Investigation) check to see if you can find someone in the caravan that will believe you and/or you would trust to deliver the message and convey its urgency.
I give the messenger 3 gold and ask that he proceed with all haste to Waterdeep and under no circumstance should he read the letter, or give it to anyone that is not a official of the city. I want it delivered to whomever is in charge of inspecting caravans coming into the city, or at the very least, a guard captain.
Once I write out the letter I'll roll it up and seal it with wax, then put that in a small scroll tube, I'll also include the gold and sapphire ring from Greenest inside.
Dear Lady or Lord of Waterdeep,
Greetings, my name is Arliden and I'm sure you have plenty to read so I'll make my point first and then explain. I am traveling in the company of a large caravan that contains within it a cult that was responsible for the sacking of Greenest, the murder of many of it's townsfolk, and the theft of much or its wealth. I know this as my allies and I were fortunate enough to be near Greenest when the attack occurred and did what we could to defend the city, to which governor Tarbaw can attest if you had a way to contact him. While I do believe we were able to save lives, we were unfortunately unable to stop the destruction of much of the town.
My allies and I now find ourselves traveling in the same large caravan as several of these cultists wagons and on our way to Waterdeep. I have included a ring that is evidence of their theft of goods belonging to the town of Greenest. While I wouldn't expect that you simply take my word for it, I will ask that you inspect all good within the caravan to identify the stolen good and help us bring this cult to justice. If you need any assistance in locating the caravan, or the wagons that may contain stolen good you can ask around for the speaker and I'll do my best to find you.
Arliden, you send give the message to someone who you deem trustworthy, and he speeds off to deliver the message. The caravan eventually continues its way north to Waterdeep, making it there in 2 days with no further incidents.
As you get closer to the city, you notice that all of the wagons are being directed to go through a checkpoint before being allowed to enter. Some of the wagon drivers begin to complain about how they've made this trip dozens of times and never had to go through a checkpoint before. When you are finally close enough to overhear what's being said, you hear the guards at the checkpoint asking if anyone knows of someone calling themselves "the speaker." No one from the caravan is being allowed to enter the city until they have asked at each wagon.
When Arliden hears this he will try to find one of the team and let them know he is headed to talk to the guards just in case something goes wrong. Then he will approach the nearest group of guards and quietly (even handing them a slip of paper if there are a lot of people around) let them know that they have found the speaker. That he wrote the note and he would be more than happy to help.
One of the guards, apparently understanding the sensitive nature of the situation, pulls Arliden aside where they are less likely to be overheard. "So, you're Arliden, then? You've made some pretty serious accusations with very little proof. I'm going to be quite frank with you. We can't hold these merchants from doing their business for long enough to validate your claims. It would take at least 2 months to send word all the way to Greenest and hear back. Only reason we've done as much as we have is that one of the higher-ups thought it was worth at least getting some more information. Do you have any proof of your claims or some badge or writ of authority to pursue this cult? If not, we'll have no choice but to let everyone go through."
"I am indeed Arliden, and I understand that you can't hold everyone up. There are honestly only a few wagons that I know are involved and I can point them out to you for search, they should have items that bear the marking of Greenest like the ring I included in my letter. As for a symbol of authority, I don't know that I'm the authority on it by any means but I do work for a group that is more than a little interested in helping you all uncover what is going on here." And I will show him the badge/pin for the harpers. "I'm traveling with a few of my friends who are with the Harpers, and some with the Order of the Gauntlet. We've been tracking this group, cult, since we...ran into them...in Greenest. We showed up when they were laying siege to the town, and we did our best to help. I can gladly give you more information, and the full story, but I'm not sure here is the best place to do it. If you want I could gather my allies and talk to you and the higher up that was interested, but that would take time, and I'm not sure how much time we have."
The guard looks at the Harpers pin as if trying to remember something. Slowly, he says, "I think you're going to want to talk to Helgret. She mentioned that if anyone had a pin like this, she needed to speak with them. I'll take you to her right away."
With that, he leads you over to a dwarven woman who appears to be in charge and is wearing a large medallion of the Harpers insignia around her neck. After a brief introduction, he leaves and Helgret says to you, "So you're following the Cult of the Dragon? Dangerous business, that. If you've come all the way from Greenest, I'm assuming that means you've been in touch with Leosin Erlanthar. Something grave must have happened if he's not with you. Tell me, is he still alive?"
[Insert your reply here (for the sake of saving time, but you're still free to type your response if you'd like).]
Helgret continues, "I'm glad to hear he's still with us. Listen, some of my guards claim a black half-dragon rode by a tenday ago with a strong escort of mounted guards. From what I've been able to suss out, a large amount of money was paid around that time to people who outrank me to...ignore...anything that would hinder the cult's movement further north. I was barely able to convince them to allow me to set up this check point. I was hoping you'd have a bit more proof I could take back to hold the cult wagons here and let the other wagons pass through. Unfortunately, there's nothing much I can do without it. All I can do is hope we can get enough provable information to stop them. Perhaps..."
She trails off as if lost in thought before continuing on, seemingly much more excited, "Lord Neverember is rebuilding Neverwinter, and the road between here and there needs to be rebuilt. I can get you with a group of workers who will be heading north into the Mere of Dead Men to a base camp for the rebuilding project. My guess is that the cult is going to need to pass through there to get wherever they're going. After the long trek you've been on, I imagine everyone will need to take some time to rest and restock supplies. The cult will probably stick around for a day or two before heading north again. Ardred Briferhew at the High Road Charter Company owe's me a few favors. Mention that to him, and I'm sure he can put you with whatever caravan the cult joins to relieve the group of workers who are already up there. If you can find out their destination, we can coordinate something bigger to stop whatever it is they have planned. If you do this, I will see to it that you are made a Watcher within the ranks of the Harpers. What do you say?"
[Mechanically speaking, she is offering you the chance to increase your renown and earn the first rank within the Harpers faction.]
[First reply: He would just fill her in on what happened avoiding any of the more complicated details]
"Well otyugh shit....though I guess I assumed that they would just bribe their way out of trouble. I'm actually a bit surprised that even this checkpoint got set up, at least it's good to know that someone in power out there is concerned with, oh, you know, a cult that worships dragons and murders people." [He's clearly pretty frustrated, and starting to get even more worked up] "I mean, transporting stolen good, sacking a town, imprisoning and torturing a ranking member of the Harpers. Sure that all sounds bad, but have you seen this gold? Fucking rulers and nobles......"
[Self imposed Wisdom Save: 15] Arliden is starting to work himself into a fury, voice is becoming raised, cheeks are starting for flush, he's doing that thing where you don't actually look directly at anyone and pace just a bit like you're not angry at a particular person in the room. You're just angry, period. "As long as I make my money the death of innocent people is fine. After all, what are a few fucking sacrifices as long as I get to feel my silk lined pockets with gold. I mean it's only a cult that worships dragons right, how bad can it be? Whats a little slavery and torture? It's not like they could destroy a city or anything. It not like they....serve...A...FUCKING...DRAGON." At this point he's about one level below yelling and his voice is getting harsh, in a magical kind of way [since Vicious Mockery only has a verbal component, when he gets super worked up I imagine it bleeds over a little, not enough to actually cast a spell, but enough that something weird is clearly going on and it might ring a little more harshly in people ears].
When he realizes how angry he's getting he pauses, "Sorry, you know what, just.....just give me a minute." He takes a minute or two to literally just breath and calm himself down some.
"Sorry Helgret, I'm not mad at you; in fact, thank you for doing what you could. This kind of shit just bothers me, money shouldn't be more important that people. And if feels if people wouldn't be so self interested the world would be a much better place. Anyway thanks for putting up with my rant."
"I suppose at this point all we can do is to keep following them, into the Mere of Dead Men? Corellon, who names these places, I mean the Mere of the Gentle Passing would have been fine with me. Anyway, a few days to rest does sound good and I can't imagine anyone of our group wants to be done at this point. I'll go talk to them and we'll go talk to Ardred about what we need to do to join the cultists caravan...again. That actually raises a potential issue. One of the cultists, name is Lillian if it matter, which I guess it doesn't. Anyway she recognizes me from our time spent as their captives and subsequent escape. And if she recognizes me, I'm sure there are other that might. I don't suppose there is anything you all have that might be able to help with that issue?"
Arliden takes a few more moments to calm down and think and then says, "Before we make any decisions I think I'd like you to meet the rest of the group that I'm traveling with just so that you know us all, and we know you. Would you mind meeting us again somewhere so it wasn't obvious I was going to get my friends and bring them to meet the captain? of the guards. Maybe there's an tavern or inn in town you like and we could all meet up there tonight for further introductions?"
Helgret is getting visibly more angry the longer Arliden talks. "Listen here. I'm going to give you a pass just this once because you are clearly not from Waterdeep and are, therefore, unfamilar with the Code Legal. You come to my city, make serious claims with no proof against a cult few people even know exist, much less pay any attention to, and expect justice to be done just by taking you at your word? Maybe that flies in whatever backwater town you came from, but we do things by the book here. If you want to see them brought to justice for the horrors they have committed, get tangible proof that I can take before the magistrates.
"I'm not saying I don't believe you. I do. You're not the first of our network to bring in reports of what's been done by that cult. A few pieces of jewelry, that could belong to anyone so far as the magistrates know, however, isn't enough to prevent merchants from conducting their business. We need more than that.
"Yes, the Mere of Dead Men is an awful, dangerous place. Yes, there is a very good reason the High Road Charter Company hires at least a dozen armed escorts for every supply train that makes their way into the Mere, and it has nothing to do with bandits. I'm not sure what we can do about you being recognized, but we'll try to figure something out. Until then, be on your guard that they don't try something to get rid of you. That you've escaped captivity from them once is more often than most.
"I agree that we should plan on meeting later on. The easiest place to meet up would be The Yawning Portal. Follow the Way of the Dragon north until you get to Soothsayer's Way. Head west and you'll get there in just a few blocks. Impossible to miss. Meet me there just after nightfall."
"WHAT?!?! A PASS!?!? You're going to give me a pass? A pass for what, telling you what your network is already telling you? What exactly is the Code Legal...don't bring suspicious things to the authorities attention? Is it like the opposite of be aware? Hey Waterdavians why don't you only report things after you already have proof a crime is committed. We don't have time for concerned citizens, just freelance detectives. I was just hoping you'd search a few wagons based on some reasonable suspicions, I didn't know I'd need to do a guards job too and gather proof myself. And you know what? I did just come from a backwater town, it's called Greenest and a bunch of people are fucking dead, so save me your bullshit 'by the book' speech. At least most backwater towns seem to care more about doing what right than some rules on paper. I'll remember that I need to file a form with the guards if I find anyone in the city that needs help."
and [assuming they let him] he turns to storm off, and then stops short.
"And you know what Helgret, you're definitely not saying you do believe me so at least have the guts to tell me you don't believe me, or the spine to do anything about what you do believe."
and with that [again assuming they let him] he storms out of the building and head back towards the caravan.