The Shadow of Dragons

Session Eleven
Ghosts of the Empty Forest

Session11.png

May 20, 1482

After a short, damp rest, the party left the caves beneath the castle. They spoke briefly with Snapjaw, who informed them that the lizardfolk’s rebellion was successful, all “dragon-kneelers” and most of the bullywugs were dead, and a great feast would be held that night in their honor.

Still needing more information, the heroes explored the two remaining towers. In the first, they discovered Rezmir’s quarters. There, they found a significant cache of gold and gems. Among the papers on her desk were also her notes describing the portal beneath the castle and how to operate it, including its command word (“Draezir").

Also on the desk, held down by a familiar small ornate wooden box which contained a small goopy mass of what seemed to be rotting fruit, was another note:
2_-_Rezmir_s_Note.png

Much thought was put into the contents of the note and the box – Who were the “they” mentioned? Are “they” the “Outcast” and the “Red Woman”? What experiments, and why did they seem to matter more than the Cult? Where was the “cursed place”, and how would it “feed” on a corpse? Was Rezmir doubting her faith in the cult?

That discussion was tabled for later, and the party moved on to explore the final tower. There, they found the ancient remains of some sort of device, part orrery and part telescope. Exposed to the elements for untold years, they found the crystal lenses smashed and severe damage overall. It seemed at some point someone spent a bit of time hacking the device apart with an axe.

This, they surmised, was the Farseer, the device which brought Venix here. S.HAR.M.IN. stated that Rezmir and Dral had found a number of journals here, but had burned them as heretical. S.HAR.M.IN. had, however, indexed eight of the books before they were burned. When asked for a summary, he described the history of the Ephemeri, a group of astrologers led by a man named Naerytar.

S.HAR.M.IN. told the party that Naerytar kept detailed records of their discovery of an intelligence beyond the stars which drove him to paranoia and madness, eventually killing the other Ephemeri and then himself. Whether his discovery was fact or delusion is unknown, but without the Farseer it would be hard to say.

Venix was disappointed in the loss of this knowledge, but S.HAR.M.IN. offered to recite the volumes he had indexed if Venix wished to transcribe them.

With an overabundance of information, the heroes joined the lizardfolk in their celebration, with plans to travel through the portal in the morning.

May 21

After bidding goodbye to Snapjaw and his people, the party assembled on the misty portal and spoke the command word. Instantly, they found themselves in a similar circle within a crumbling ruin. They were in a wooded area, and could see mountains a short distance to the north. With some geography work, they placed themselves in the northern Kingswood. Venix’s familiar, an owl called Hector, gave them an aerial view, and could see a small farm ahead, then another larger dwelling, and in the far distance a small village.

The party headed north on a deeply-rutted trail. After a short while, they noticed that there was no birdsong, no buzzing of insects, no noise other than the wind and the trees themselves. As dusk approached, they heard a scream from ahead. A ghostly horseman and steed were in the process of trampling and cutting down three peasants travelling with a wagon. Unable to reach them in time, the heroes watched helplessly as the creature finished its attack and disappeared into the wood. They placed the bodies in the cart, calmed the frightened donkey, and rode the cart on north.

As darkness fell, they arrived at the farmhouse of farmer Tarbee and his daughter Tanasha. They offered the party shelter for the night, and some information about events in the area. It seemed that the local wild elves, who for years lived in peace with the locals, have all but disappeared. According to Tarbee, six months ago they “went crazy” and started killing everyone they found in the woods, and won’t let anyone leave the small village up the trail, called Ossington. Shortly after that, the horseman began appearing in the woods, “hunting any who wander these woods.” Tarbee did not have further details, only saying that both the elves and the horseman seemed to leave he and his daughter alone, and he wanted to keep it that way by not getting involved.

Tanasha arranged a meeting with Venix and Tarathan in the barn, and begged them for any food they might have to spare. They shared some of their rations, which she hid in the barn. Tanasha then asked them that were they to return this way, they take her with them. Without promising anything, Venix and Tarathan calmed her and said they would do what they could.

May 22

The heroes departed early the next morning. After a few hours travel, they came upon the second structure. This turned out to be an ancient church and graveyard, presided over by a woman named Henwen. She seemed odd and a little creepy, but nice enough, inviting the party to pray to her nine strange gods and walk the graveyard with her. She expressed great concern for their souls, and pressed them continually to “prepare their souls” for death. The heroes chatted briefly but gained no readily useful information from the woman, so said their goodbyes and headed out again.

Later in the afternoon, the dense wood opened up into a large clearing, ringed by huge standing stones. Within the ring were farmers fields gone fallow and to rot, then another, smaller ring of stones. Within that second ring stood the small hamlet of Ossington. As the party approached, a crowd of ragged, starving villagers began to form – but never leaving the inner ring of stones. Once the heroes moved into the village proper, they were surrounded by the villagers, all begging for food and salvation.

Before things could get out of hand, a man emerged and played a calming tune on a lyre, and the crowd grew quiet. He introduced himself as none other than Jozan Lostcaller, better known as The Sparrow, a world-famous bard. Some in the party were familiar with him by name, and all of them at least had heard one of his popular songs. He welcomed the party and offered to escort them to the village elder. He led them deeper into the village, singing “his latest composure, a work in progress” called ‘Saithnar Awaits the Barrow’.

The last sunbeam
Lightly falls from the finish’d helm,
On the forest floor here, it is looking
Down into a new-made grave.

Lo! the moon ascending!
Up from the east, the red round moon;
Beautiful over the treetops, ghastly phantom moon;
Immense and silent as the grave before him.

I see a sad procession,
And I hear the sound of coming mourners
All the pathways of the forest they are flooding,
With voices and with tears.

For Saithnar prepares to take his place
In the foremost ranks of the fallen;
Twice veteran’d,
And now the grave awaits him.

O strong dead-march, build the barrow!
O moon immense, with your red face!
O my soldier! O my warlord!
Who shall remember two battles, won and then lost.

(My apologies to Walt Whitman!)

View
Session Ten
Beneath Castle Naerytar

Session10.png

May 19, 1482

Before they can head downstairs, Gareth heard a voice in his head, asking him to come to the window and look across to the castle’s central tower. Doing so, the party could see a gnome, Venix Idris, imprisoned by Dral.

The heroes made their way back to ground level to find the lizardfolk had launched their attack on the cultists and bullywugs, and were fighting for control of the castle. The party picked their way through the fighting, ascended the central tower, and killed two bullywugs guarding Venix’s door.

Joining forces, the bolstered party made their way into the castle dungeons in search of the bullywug leader Pharbex. Despite some repeated troubles maintaining solid footing on steps throughout the muddy dungeon, the heroes successfully defeated more bullywugs, centipedes, and giant frogs.

They discovered a large chamber filled several feet deep with a glowing fog, that, it was soon discovered, hid a large magic circle inscribed on the ground. Unable to determine its purpose at this time, they opted to move on.

Descending further, they encountered Pharbex and a retinue of bullywug guards, and battle was joined. Pharbex filled the room with hallucinogenic spores and launched arrows of lightning, then retreated into another chamber while his minions peppered the party with thrown javelins. The heroes engaged the guards, killing most of them, but then began to succumb to the effects of the spores. Everyone except Venix begins to see both allies and enemies alike as horrific frog monsters, and felt a great need to go hide deep within the waters of an underground pool they saw earlier.

Eventually Pharbex fell, and the heroes took a much-needed rest.

View
Session Nine
Castle Naerytar

Session9.png

May 17, 1482

In the morning, Tarathan receives a Sending from Marnius Cortes. It seems to be a broadcast message: “Radiant Servants hear this. High Clerist Lycus gravely ill. We ask all faithful to perform devotions to his health and keep him in your prayers.”

About an hour later, Gareth received a similar Sending, from Sindri Smokebeard: “All Freemen, High Clerist Lycus has fallen gravely ill. Keep him and all of our brothers of Pelor in your prayers.”

Tarathan and Gareth took a moment to offer prayer for Auberon Lycus, First of the Holy Church of Pelor, before moving on. The party followed the trail to an abandoned campsite/waystation. They secure the area, set watches, and rest.

May 18

Just before dawn, a group of lizardfolk approach from the east in three canoes. Their leader calls out in Draconic, “Are you there guys? It’s us!” The party hides and prepares an ambush. As the lizardfolk dock and begin moving into the camp, the heroes attack, killing one and wounding several of the lizardfolk. Their leader, Snapjaw, begs them, in very good Common, to cease their attack and speak with him. The heroes oblige.

They learn that Snapjaw is a member of a tribe of lizardfolk who are enslaved to the “dragon kneelers” and their bullywug allies. An elf named Dral Borngray leads the cultists, while the bullywug shaman, Pharbex, slew the lizardfolk chieftain, leaving his tribe leaderless and his people’s spirit broken.

They are being used to transport the crates of treasure from the Roadhouse to an old, sinking fortress in the swamp called Castle Naerytar.

Snapjaw tells them that he has been gathering and hiding steel weapons in preparation for leading his people in revolt, but has been unable to convince his tribe to fight. He hopes the heroes can help him, and in exchange he will help them get into the castle and help them in their fight against the cultists. The party agrees to accompany him to where his people are living outside the castle.

They arrive at the castle grounds just as full dark settles over the swamp. Snapjaw leads the heroes to a set of well-kept reed longhouses where his people stay, and describes the castle interior to them. He tells them that his people need a sign that their oppressors can be defeated, and the party asks if the sight of Dral’s body falling from his tower would work for him. Snapjaw lets them know this would be more than sufficient, and together they formulate a plan.

Snapjaw has the heroes wait just outside the castle’s gate, while he goes inside to retrieve his hidden cache of weapons. After a while, he returns hauling a small wagon, its contents concealed beneath blankets and hides. He tells the heroes that all seems well inside, and gives them directions to Dral’s tower. He will gather his people, distribute the weapons, and await their signal.

The party bluffs their way past a number of bullywug guards and cultists, and climbs the tower to Dral’s chambers. They are met by some higher-ranking cultists and made to wait for an audience. They can overhear Dral having a conversation in his bedchamber, but, oddly, the other side of that talk seems to be answering with a series of chirps and hoots.

After a few minutes, Dral emerges clad in purple robes similar to Frulam’s, and the heroes initially try to bluff their way into getting him alone, but he shows a lecherous side and offers to meet privately with Drianna while the others wait. They decide enough is enough, and the battle begins. The confined space makes for a chaotic fight, but eventually the heroes slay their enemies without allowing any to escape or raise an alarm.

Forgetting briefly what happened with Frulam, they set about searching the area until Dral’s corpse also disgorges a worm and reanimates itself. Another short battle breaks out while the heroes put down the abominations.

They discover a small cache of treasure beneath Dral’s floorboards, and a magic dagger hidden within a small statue of Tiamat. Also in his office, they discover a small mechanical owl, seemingly animated by magic. After engaging with the device, they are able to understand its hooting. It introduces itself as S.HAR.M.IN., Sentient HARdware, Mobile INdexer. It is very polite, and offers its assistance whenever they may need to reference any of its indexed knowledge. Drianna offers her shoulder for it to ride, and it happily accepts.

Satisfied that they’re finished here, the party tosses Dral’s mutilated corpse from the battlements, and immediately hears shouts of combat from below. They ready themselves and prepare to descend into war.

View
Session Eight
Construction Ahead

Session8.png

May 10-16, 1482

The party shadowed that caravan for several days before reaching the Carnath Roadhouse. There, they attempted to pose as undercover cultists there to oversee the operation. The site’s superintendent, Bog Luck, eventually accepted their story. However, Half-Nose, having also just arrived at the Roadhouse, strongly objected. The heroes spun quite a story, and bluffed, intimidated, and threatened their way into being given a room and talking later.

They met a very eager assistant in the form of the stableboy Wump, who aspired to be a great investigator one day, and offered to assist them with any mysteries they might be trying to solve. They spent some time gathering information about the goings-on at the Roadhouse, met the camp chef Gristle Pete, and determined that all the treasure was being deposited in one room, but never seemed to leave.

The party waited until nightfall, and attempted to sneak downstairs to get a look at that room. Wump was able to warn them beforehand that Half-Nose and his crew were suspicious of the group, and waiting in ambush for them.

A very short battle ensued, with the heroes making quick work of Half-Nose and his cultists. Working quickly, Drianna disabled the locked door, startling the half dozen lizardfolk inside. The creatures had entered through a trap door in the floor of the room, and were ferrying the crates of treasure into the tunnel below.

Another short fight ensued, and the party slew all of the lizardfolk. They quickly gathered all the bodies and dumped them down into the passageway, and were about to investigate it when they all also discussed what to do with Bog Luck, Wump, and their horses. Drianna gave Wump the address of Thornhart, Inc. in Exridge, and told him to wait two days, take their horses, and head there and he’d be taken care of.

They also determined that things would be better if Bog Luck was also dead, so Razar-De entered his room and killed him in his sleep. Bog Luck’s body joined the others in the tunnel, Drianna re-locked the door from the inside, and everyone headed down into the passageway, spiking the trap door closed behind them.

The tunnel was filled chest-deep with cold swamp water, and the party made their way along the dark passageway. After a distance, it opened into the swamp northeast of the Roadhouse. Locating some lizardfolk canoes, they discovered a blazed trail and paddled deeper into the swamp.

View
Session Seven
On the Road

Session7.png

April 8, 1482

The caravan departs, planning to travel the stretch of road from Varsten to Torsuul as a three week journey.

April 10
The cultists’ wagon – the sixth in the caravan – overturns when a wheel breaks on a rock. Of the crates that tumbled free, one smashes open, revealing dozens of beautiful items of jewelry wrapped in wool for protection. Oddly, one of the treasures is a small, silk-lined box, which itself broke open, spilling an apple into the road. The cultists don’t notice this at first and busy themselves trying to cover the treasure.

The apple comes to rest at the boot of a Dwarf perfume salesman’s human guard – Gavin Hyland – who happily picks it up and starts eating it while watching the cultists scramble. Gavin gets really interested in the treasure and starts asking about it, at which time Half-Nose notices the broken box and Gavin eating the apple. Half-Nose smacks it out of Gavin’s hands and collects what’s left of the fruit, carefully placing the remainder back in its box.

April 13
One of the travelers – Rhetett Vuraga – was regularly seen mistreating his horses. He allowed their collars and girths to chafe sores in their hide, skimped on their feed, and whipped them when the aching, hungry animals didn’t pull hard enough or fast enough to suit him. One of them finally collapses, and the heroes intervene. After nearly coming to blows, Vuraga agrees to sell the horse to Gareth, who (along with Razar-De) stays behind a day to care for the creature.

April 16
A very friendly and, the party notices, very adept adventurer Jamna Gleamsilver joins the caravan, paying for passage on one of the wagons.

April 18
Gavin Hyland disappears. A brief search by the heroes found his battered body at the bottom of a nearby ravine with a broken neck and large gash across his gut. Investigation shows signs of poisoning, and that his injuries aren’t all from the fall. A deep wound in his gut was clearly inflicted by a blade.

April 20
Half-Nose and his crew finally recognize Gareth, Razar-De, and Tarathan. They assume the party are either deserters from the cult or spies, and warns them off interfering with their business.

April 25
On this beautiful, sunny afternoon, a herd of deer is spotted grazing on a nearby hill, including a magnificent stag that shimmers in the light as if its coat is spun from gold and its antlers plated with platinum. Nearly everyone in the caravan who can handle a bow wants to bring down that beast, but a few of the more cautious types warn that the creature was clearly a blessed being and that killing it would bring bad luck on the caravan. Despite their concerns, the hunt is on, and the deer herd scatter into the nearby forest.

Gareth and Tarathan join the chase, but more to protect the stag. The stag loses all of its hunters except the two heroes on a long chase to a moss-grown, ivy-draped stone ruin within a box canyon.

Cornered, the stag speaks, attempting to speak with the pair in an unfamiliar language before switching to broken Elvish. It assures them that they were on the right track, and they “must continue following the river of gold until they reach the castle in the sky”. Sadly, “their path will be filled with hardship and blood”. To aid them, it stamps a crumbling part of the floor, revealing an old but sturdy box containing an exquisite longbow. “Not all will survive," the stag sighs and lays resting before the remains of the ancient hearth. The heroes thank the creature and take their leave.

April 28
A torrential downpour begins, all but stopping progress for several days.

April 30
After two days and nights of rain, lightning, and strange whistling sounds on the wind, the party awakens to see that the surrounding countryside is blanketed with purple fungus, growing everywhere, including on the road.

Whenever anyone steps on a mushroom, it emits a puff of black spores and a horrible moan of pain. Unpleasant as it is, a party of volunteers is assembled to clear the road and proceed.

May 2
Jamna joins the party for breakfast, and takes the bowl of oatmeal that Tarathan is about to eat. After poking through the oatmeal with the blade of her dagger, Jamna lifts it out and shows the party an object resembling a tiny bead. She glances over her shoulder toward where cultists sit at their breakfast. "It’s a sliver of bone,” she whispers, “curled into a circle so you can swallow it in a mouthful of gruel without noticing. Once eaten, it slowly uncurls inside you, piercing your guts and killing you slowly. Let’s talk this evening.”

The heroes are suspicious of the halfling, but go to meet her that night after dinner. She says, “We don’t work for the same people, but we’re all on the same side – we share a belief that the Cult must be stopped. I need to know what they’re carrying in those wagons and where they’re taking it. Will you help me find out? We can do it tonight.”

The party volunteers neither to tell her about what they saw when the wagon spilled, nor to assist her with her plan. She departs friendly enough, but obviously disappointed.

May 4
The camp awakens to a killing. One of the cultists was murdered overnight. He was stabbed in the back with a sword and left where he fell beneath their wagon.

Half-Nose and friends immediately accuse the party and demand to inspect their weapons. They make a fairly weak argument, and the heroes are on such good terms with most of the caravan that without witnesses, most agree that nothing can be done, the gods will punish the guilty party and life will go on.

May 7
The caravan arrives in Torsuul a week later than expected, so payments and goodbyes are made quickly and the merchants scatter into the city. The heroes shadow the cultists’ wagon, following it north around the city wall, where it joins a small encampment of other wagons. Drianna learns that those wagons are headed east to repair a trade road between Torsuul and Exridge – they will join a work camp at the Carnath Roadhouse. After nightfall, Razar-De takes a closer look at this new caravan, and receives an odd note from a fellow watcher.

View
Session Six
Covert Operations

Session6c.png

March 27, 1482

During the return trip to Greenest, much effort is put to figuring out a way to pry information from Frulam Mondath, but she is a committed fanatic. All efforts are only turned back on the party as she attempts to convert them.

They also notice she keeps a close eye on the sun, as if waiting for something. At noon while they are stopped for lunch, she seems to go into distress. She pitches forward violently and vomits, expelling a semi-solid mass of lumpy black jelly. Upon investigation, the lumps appear to be similar to frogs eggs – the size of a small pearl, slightly opaque with a black center. She offers no explanation for this, only haranguing the group, “You are as ants before a dragon. Unable to even comprehend what stands before you, much less hope to defeat it. Free me and survive a while longer … or join me and live forever in Her glory.” Gareth collects some of the vile muck and burns the rest.

After reaching Greenest, Escobert imprisons Frulam in the tower. That evening, Governor Nighthill interrogates her and asks the party to delay any travel until the morning and attend the questioning.

Nighthill: Who are you?

Mondath: Why waste time with what you already know? I am Frulam Mondath, Wearer of the Purple, disciple to the Wyrmspeaker Rezmir the Black.

Nighthill: Why did you attack Greenest?

Mondath: Our Lady demands tribute.

Nighthill: Where did your bandits go?

Mondath: Bandits? Bandits he says. Do you see how shortsighted you are? She sighs. My “bandits” left to rejoin our other “bandits”.

Nighthill: Who else is in this cult?

Mondath: Oh, Arendor, Margary, common folks like them. Auberon Lycus tucks us all into bed each night! Look for us everywhere.

Nighthill: What is your goal?

Mondath: Our Lady sings to us from the darkness. Wake, wake my children. Gather, and all will know my terrible beauty, and kneel before the five, for I am the patron saint of their demise.

Suddenly, Escobert, with dawning horror, orders her to name herself and declare her Heritage, to which Frulam smiles darkly, and answers with a short incantation in Draconic – “Horsebiter, Dusteater, Skinchanger”. A Snake clan!

Escobert shouts, “Kill her! Kill her now” as Frulam appears to be torn apart from within. Her head split apart, quivering razor-tipped tentacles emerged, and the body bursts free of its bonds, immediately killing a guard.

Session6b.png

At the same time, her entire abdomen seems to slough off onto the floor, revealing a misshapen, three-foot long ,wingless red worm – a disturbingly malformed monster that seems half snake and half dragon. This creature strikes out at Escobert, latching onto his leg and biting deeply.

Session6.png

The heroes spring into action, destroying both abominations without further injury.

Although the banished Snake clan is known to be able to take the form of other humanoids, there is no record of this type of transformation, nor for this “parasite” within her.

Nighthill, shocked and traumatized, urges the party on to carry this news to Elturel.

March 28 – April 2

The party travels on horseback for Elturel.

April 2 – 3

When they arrive in Elturel, they are directed to the “headquarters” of the Order of the Gauntlet, a tavern called The Black Antlers. Ontharr Frume is there with Erlanthar, Nesim Waladra and a handful of Erlanthar’s other disciples.

When the characters meet Ontharr Frume, they find him to be a good-natured paladin of Kord, always ready with a drink and a laugh. When he sees Gareth for the first time, he says, “Is that Gareth Elvere? By Kord, my son, what happened? Were you ensorceled with shrinking magics? You’ve grown so small and infirm! Have you fallen ill son?” And then immediately tries to wrestle Gareth to the ground while crashing into tables and laughing.

After the reunion settles down, the party reports their experiences over a few rounds of ale and wine. After, the heroes are shown to rooms with instructions to rest and wash up, and return for dinner. Frume’s squire – a halforc named Zud Doriglar – is put at their disposal.

That evening, Zud welcomes them back to the inn, which has been closed to the public. Waiting for the party are the broad-shouldered human paladin, the monk, and many pitchers of dark red wine. The paladin’s face wears a serious expression, unlike its usual open countenance.

“My friends, we have important business to discuss. At this point, you know almost as much, or more, about the situation as we do, and thanks to you, we already know twice as much today as we did ten days ago. Something rotten is afoot. We have no formal organization to oppose this evil – not yet anyway. We’re working on that. And we need people like you, who know how and when to fight, and how and when to keep their heads down and observe. We can’t promise you anything except long days filled with danger and stress— but what could be better than that?”

Frume asks for the group’s continued help. He has already communicated with Captain Cortes, and the Radiant Servants will allow the party to be assigned an adjunct role to the Order of the Gauntlet.

Meanwhile, Erlanthar reveals himself to be a member of the Dullahan. Some of the party have heard of the Dullahan, but don’t know much about the secretive group beyond what is generally rumored: that the Dullahan are dedicated to furthering equality and justice and to keeping power out of the hands of those who don’t deserve it. Erlanthar explains that the Dullahan are loosely organized; agents are allowed wide freedom of action.

Ontharr Frume himself represents the Order of the Gauntlet. His order shares many of the Dullahan’s principles, but the two organizations are very different. The Order of the Gauntlet emphasizes faith, vigilance, and constant struggle against threats of evil. Many of its members are clerics and paladins, but the order welcomes anyone who shares its ideals. Discipline is key, and the order is distinctly more structured and hierarchical than the Dullahan, as both Gareth and Tarathan can attest.

Frume explains that the top concern of both groups presently is this Cult of the Dragon. In the past, the cult was small and more active far to the to the west. This new focus on Tiamat is a cause for concern. He tells them that the cult is on the move and it’s up to something big – and the Order of the Gauntlet, the Dullahan, and a third allied group known as the Emerald Enclave want to thwart the cult’s plans.

Frume and Erlanthar would like the heroes to go to Varsten, locate the caravans mentioned in Mondath’s recovered note, and accompany it on the journey. They could get themselves hired as guards— not by the cult’s wagon masters, but by other merchants who are traveling in the same direction at the same time. Merchants from different companies commonly join together to form larger trains for protection.

Their goals would be to:

  • Locate the cultists and/or Rezmir
  • Find out what caravan they are joining
  • Hire on to the same caravan
  • Follow the treasure, if possible sending updates to one of the organizations

Timing is an issue. The note from Mondath’s chamber indicates that the wagons of treasure were heading west to Varsten, but not where they were headed from there. Just getting to Varsten from the camp area would take about two weeks, depending on conditions (skirting the Ondo Mountains either way makes the trip much longer). Erlanthar does some quick mental math and says they likely have five days before the cult’s wagons depart Varsten.

The party has been booked passage on the Fishmaid’s Wish, an eastern frigate captained by a man named Yirdpool Yiss. Before they depart, Frume gives them a friendly contact in Varsten, Selebon Hogsbottom, who they should seek out on their arrival. He is the owner of Hogsbottom Freight & Conveyance, located just inside and to the west of the cities’ southern gate.

April 3 – 5

The heroes sail to Varsten aboard the Fishmaid’s Wish.

April 6 – 7

Hogsbottom Freight & Conveyance is located two blocks west inside the southern city gate. There he sells all the material needed for long-distance freight hauling: wagons, rope, netting, grease, chains, wheels, and so on. His shop also repairs wagons. He is not directly involved in the hiring of guards for caravans, but he knows people who are. Hogsbottom offers to vouch for the characters, and they should have no trouble getting hired on as guards for a caravan, but he isn’t aware of the presence of any cultists or half-dragons in town.

Hogsbottom suggests that a good day spent investigating the city might turn up some information. The party splits up and investigates areas of the city most applicable to their skillsets.

Gareth overhears a society woman gossiping – “I saw a palanquin, and one of their bearers slipped and the curtain started to open – a ghastly affair in and of itself, but I would swear to you that the hand that reached from inside to hold it closed was covered in black scales. This was just outside that abhorrent Foxtraveler place.”

Tarathan is spotted by a street urchin making a large donation to the local poorbox, and has an interesting conversation with him – “Where’d you get all that gold? Are you a dragon too? My friend Tomby said he seen a dragon in the city. But all shrunked down to people size! He said he thinks that dragon must be moving to a new cave so shrunk down its horde of treasure and is sneakin it through town. He saw him with his own eyes over at Samar’s place.”

Drianna speaks with an outer city bartender – “That Aravax’s place is strange. It’s supposed to be an outfitter, but it’s more like a hotel. I swear I saw four men with boxes, and I mean crates here, full of gold go in the back door two days ago. Now why would someone with that much loot stay in such a dump?” The Fox Traveler Outfitters, ruled over by Aravax Foxtraveler, a half elf , is protected by a handful of thugs and a hellhound Aravax keeps as an unruly pet. Drianna discovers that Aravax runs the local thieves guild, and pays him an interesting visit.

The party regroups. Although they suspect Rezmir is at, or at least visited, the Fox traveller, they decide not to investigate further at the moment. Instead, they follow Tarathan’s lead on “Samar”, who is a merchant called “Samar the Hope”. The next morning they track Samar down to his hotel, and join him for breakfast under the pretense of hiring on as guards for his caravan. He is sad to say he’s already hired enough guards, and points the heroes to a group of four men at another table. There, Razar-De recognizes one of the men from his half-missing nose as one of the cultists from the camp. Wanting to avoid recognition themselves, the party excuses themselves and leaves.

Having located the correct caravan, they party speaks with Hogsbottom and learns of some other merchants in the same caravan still in need of guards.

Edhelri Lewel is a Moon Elf Merchant, with a load of exotic wood from the Hawkswood in Rulos for the master carpenters and cabinetmakers of Torsuul to turn into exquisite furniture. She is impatient with people but exacting about her wagon and doting on her animals. She turns out to be quite odd, but agrees to pay each of them 25 gold for each of the three expected weeks of the trip.

April 8

The heroes report as instructed to Varsten’s North Gate, and the caravan departs for Torsuul.

View
Session Five
The Hatchery, Part 2

Session5.png

March 26 – 27, 1482

The party rested briefly, then moved into the cavern to the east. They could see that the room that opens at the bottom of the stairs was immense, and at the edge of their vision they could see the fragile curve of an enormous egg. A wide ledge ran along the left wall and dropped away to a pit on the right. Many stalactites and stalagmites filled the room, and the sound of dripping water echoed continuously. Like the other split-level cavern they discovered, this one also had a caged staircase that led to the lower level. Looking closely, they could count three of the great black eggs.

The groups light and movement awakened two guard drakes, who began sniffing and snapping near the gate. As they considered their next move, one of the stalactites began moving – it was actually a roper, and reached out to grab the party with its tentacles. The heroes attacked.

After latching on to Gareth and Tarathan and dragging them into range of the drakes, it surprised them all when it began to speak. “You’re not supposed to be here!” it shouted. It seems the roper had a deal with the cultists to not eat the eggs, but proposed that if the party brought it Frulam Mondath’s corpse, that deal would be ended (and it could eat her corpse).

The heroes decided against this and slew the roper and both drakes. After short deliberation, they also destroyed the eggs – the infant dragons within struggling for breath and squirming for a few minutes before dying.

Retreating back to a more secure room to the north, they took a short rest, then returned to explore a narrow crooked fissure to the west. After a few feet, it opened into a carpeted and well-appointed room, belonging to a very surprised Frulam Mondath. Quickly overwhelmed by the party, she was knocked unconscious and badly wounded, but captured alive.

Binding her mouth and hands, the group easily returned to the caverns’ entrance and snuck out of the deserted camp, intent on bringing their prisoner to Greenest to face justice before they move on to Elturel.

View
Session Four
The Hatchery, Part 1

hatchery1.png

March 24 – 25, 1482

The group puts a safe distance between themselves and the chaos at the camp, and stops to rest for the night. They set out again in the morning, arrive in Greenest shortly before noon, and hand Leosin over for medical care.

After a short rest and a meal, they meet with Governor Nighthill, Escobert, and a medicated but lucid Leosin. The monk offers the party additional payment to return to the camp and return with any further observations, especially with regards to the “hatchery” cave.

Leosin plans to spend a few days recovering, but then will depart for the city of Elturel to meet with the paladin Ontharr Frume, an ally in his investigation of the Dragon cult. He asks them to meet him, or Ontharr, there when they complete their task.

The heroes accept, and depart immediately.

They take a more circuitous route this time, and arrive at the edge of the cliffs overlooking the camp. It’s immediately obvious most of the raiders have departed, and much of the camp has been abandoned and burned. The only real center of activity continues to be the cave entrance, so the party waits for nightfall, dons their disguises, and heads down into camp.

When challenged by the guards, Drianna lays out a stunningly effective series of bluffs and deceptions that they are allowed to pass without issue, and the heroes move confidently into what turns out to not be just one, but a series of caves and twisting tunnels.

They first discover what appears to be a recently-emptied treasure room, and carefully avoid the sleeping guard. Next, heading down to an eerie farm of giant mushrooms and other fungi, Razar-De springs a trap, and tumbles down into an ambush by several aggressive ambulatory purple mushrooms. A quick and quiet battle ensues before the heroes move on.

Another path leads them down steep stairs to a leather curtain, which Tarathan attempts to push through and discovers is embedded with poisoned barbs. He briefly falls ill, but uses his divine powers to remove the disease. Beyond the curtain is only a naturally cold cavern used to store a large amount of meat.

Backtracking a bit, the group discovers several kobolds in a split-level chamber used for the raising and training of guard drakes. Again, the heroes make quick work of the kobolds, but the activity agitates the drakes, who begin roaring and calling out. Thinking fast, the party tosses the bodies of the slain kobolds to the beasts, who fall silent as they feast on their former masters.

Continuing down the tunnel, the party runs into Langdedrosa Cyanwrath and two human guards in a large cavern that has been decorated as a temple to Tiamat. A brutal battle ensues, but the heroes win through, slaying the half-dragon and his lackeys.

Drianna goes to work on a locked chest, aptly disabling the trap she discovers as well. Inside is a small fortune in gems and jewelry. Further searches of the room discover nothing but the complex carvings in the walls – a five-headed dragon, rising from an erupting volcano while other dragons, dwarfed by the five-headed monstrosity, flock to its side.

View
Session Three
Raider's Camp

raiders-camp.jpg

March 22 – 23, 1482

The next day, Governor Nighthill requests the party locate the raiders’ camp and find out certain information. He offers to pay them 250 GP apiece. He wants to know where the camp is sited, how many raiders are there, who their leaders are, what’s motivating these attacks, and where they plan to strike next. The heroes conclude that their orders would cover this activity anyway, and accept.

Meanwhile, Razar-De is approached by Nesim Waladra, a fellow monk and disciple of Leosin Erlanthar. He knows Leosin was researching the Tiso clan and their involvement with the Cult of the Dragon, and fears he was discovered and captured by the raiders.

They party departs southwest, easily following the trail left by the departing raiders. As they reach the foothills of the Sunset Mountains, they spot a small squad of stragglers, and ambush them. The group slays a number of kobolds and human cultists, and manage to capture one severely wounded acolyte alive, Dehalac.

After some interrogation, they learn the location and basic layout of the raider’s camp. Unable to justify killing an unarmed captive, Tarathan heals Dehalac, and orders him to report to Greenest and surrender himself. Surprised by their honor, Dehalac tells them how to avoid the raiders’ rear guard.

The group takes a moment to disguise themselves using the robes of the dead cultists and departs. They find that Dehalac’s information was true, avoid the rear guard positions, and blend in with other raiders returning to camp.

A great deal of time is spent exploring the camp, noting the presence of Frulam Mondath and her champion Langdedrosa Cyanwrath. They also learn of something called “the nursery” within the heavily-guarded caves at the edge of camp, and surmise the presence of young dragons or dragon eggs.

They also locate Leosin under guard at the back of the camp, tied to a stake and severely beaten. Using Drianna’s elvish gift of messaging, they have a short mental conversation with him, and let him know to prepare for rescue.

The heroes wait until most of the camp beds down for the night, then unleashes a series of distractions. From a position atop the cliffs, Drianna fires flaming arrows down into the camp, setting alight several tents Gareth and Tarathan had soaked in oil. Razar-De creates the illusionary sound of dragons screaming in pain at the entrance to the nursery, and Gareth plunges Frulam’s tent into magical darkness.

Chaos erupts in the camp, and Gareth and Tarathan take the opportunity to disable Leosin’s guards and free the monk. They throw an acolyte’s robes over him, and make their way out of the camp. The party reassembles at a prearranged location and begins the trip back to Greenest.

View
Session Two
Greenest in Flames

greenest-dragon-attack.jpg

March 14 – 21, 1482

The party returns to Exridge, and is debriefed by Marnius Cortes. Captain Cortes informs them that a sizable force of bandits has gathered near the town of Greenest to the south. Everyone agrees to depart for Greenest after rest and resupply.

At the end of their eighth day of travel, sundown is approaching when the group tops a rise and sees the town of Greenest just a few short miles away. But instead of the pleasant, welcoming town they expected, columns of black smoke rise from burning buildings, and a dark, winged shape wheels low over the keep that rises above the center of the town. Greenest is being attacked by a dragon!

As the party makes their way towards the keep through the burning village, they rescue several small groups of townspeople from packs of marauding kobolds. After reaching the keep, Escobert the Red greets the heroes and hurries them off to meet with Governor Tarbaw Nighthill.

Nighthill is grateful for their arrival, and asks for their assistance in the running battle. The group’s initial excursion – out the front gate, across open ground as a hostile dragon flies overhead – met with overwhelming resistance, but they did manage to capture and interrogate one of the human cult members leading the kobolds. The party set out on another, more successful sortie to save the town’s mill from being burned, and returned to the keep shortly before dawn.

After a brief rest, the party returned to the battlements to see Frulam Mondath, leader of this Cult of the Dragon warparty, meeting with her captains and leaving for the southwest. Her half-dragon champion, Langdedrosa Cyanwrath remained behind to challenge any taker to single combat in exchange for several hostages. Tarathan accepted this challenge, but though he put up a valiant fight, was defeated by the tremendous strength of Cyanwrath.

Satisfied with the combat, Cyanwrath freed the hostages and left to join his mistress while Gareth healed his compatriot. Tarathan and Gareth rejoined Drianna and Razar-De in the keep for some much-needed recuperation.

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.