Tales of the Dragon's Hoard

Prologue

The wagon train trundled south towards Greenest, the lazy caravan drovers flicking their oxen sporadically to keep the large furred beast moving down the dusty road. At the head of the caravan its leader rides alone on an old horse, the axe at his hip worn from use but his hands nearly too old to carry it.

In the last caravan in the train the hired chef prepares the midday meal. Meat from a deer poached not one day past stews with what little herbs the dwarf had left after the long journey. He plays a strange many stringed instrument as he watches the stew simmering away in the iron pot.

Guards sit up and down the line, or walk alongside it. Most are unremarkable, roughs carrying crossbows eager to make easy money. Only one guard sits alone, a large beard protruding over his heavy armour. Over his knee he carries a two-handed hammer and between glances at the treeline he carefully flips through a small prayer book.

As well as the usual drovers and roughs a priest sits atop one of the wagons. An older man of diminutive stature who carries a number of books and holy symbols about his person, the priest has said little about his purpose with the caravan. Happy to have a priest along for morale, the captain had not questioned the strange chain bound book the cleric attempts to hide within his pack.

Eying the cleric from the wagon behind is a tall and thin man in robes. With the daggers on his belt he could be a rogue, and the coin he habitually flips would seem to reinforce the idea. But that when no-one is looking the coin does more than flip, weaving around the man’s hands and glowing with an inner light. He, like most on at caravan, is solitary and secretive.

One traveller makes no secrets of his abilities. The great teenage wizard entertains some of the caravan drovers as they trudge down the road, flicking different coloured balls of ice between his hands and bragging about the many magical texts he read while studying at the great mage college of Crydee. The drovers don’t notice how the boy’s hands shake when he isn’t catching their eyes.

An unusual group sits atop the caravan making its way to the town of Greenest. But there were stranger folk wandering the Scimitar Coast in these recent years…


Chapter I: Greenest in Flames


Part I: A Dark Shape Above Greenest

Blue%20Dragon.png
[The dragon circles Greenest Keep]

The five figures watch the 'Murdered Shepard' burn in the light of late afternoon, their bags heaped around them where they were hurriedly thrown out the upper windows of the inn. None were overly eager to spend time with the others. Whether it be prior accusations, rude words spoken in haste or pure social anxiety they were five strangers who had no real wish to be anything but strangers.
As the caravan moves out the next day the strangers have no idea how interwoven their fates are.

[Disaster strikes a town]
Some days before the caravan makes its way towards Greenest five strangers occupy the Murdered Shepard inn on the Uldoon trail. In the kitchen the dwarf Ravath slaves over a boiling pot of stew, his magical assistant stoking a fire across the other side of the room. Within the common room four figures sit, clearly avoiding each others eyes. The heavily armoured and bearded man had introduced himself as Marius, but the elderly cleric in the corner of the room had simply ignored him and gone back to reading his book. Father Diedrich was a private man and had no interest in making small talk this afternoon. Eyeing the room from beneath his massive hat Logan grimaced when an older man with a neatly trimmed goatee sat next to him at the table. Niko Fause knew a wizard when he saw one, and was eager to see what this young man was doing so far away from the Colleges of Magic.

The relative quiet of the inn is broken up when a group of goblins walk through the front door. Shocked the inhabitants barely react when the creatures begin jibering at them in orcish and demanding their money. Only Marius and Logan react, the former hefting his hammer with a cry while Logan casually throws a ball of ice at the goblins that shatters and rips them to shreds. The remainder flee, pursued by an enraged Marius. Unfortunately in the commotion another goblin had managed to infiltrate the kitchen and start a fire. While Ravath tries his best to control the grease fire it eventually begins to spread into the inn's thatched room and quickly engulfs the entire building. The five strangers are stuck out the front of the burning inn when a caravan heading for the town of Greenest arrives some hours later, the caravan leader accepting payment to allow the group to join him when the caravan sets out the next day. Ravath plays an instrument to entertain the drovers, and when the local chef makes a nicer meal than him uses his magic to make it inedibly salty. It is an uncomfortable night spent sleeping around the caravan, Logan and Niko in particular lack bedrolls and so spend an uncomfortable and unpleasant night on the stoney ground. The next morning the caravan packs up and makes its way towards Greenest.

The caravan moves along the Uldoon trail for most of the next two days before cresting a hill an arriving at Greenest. Far from the village they expected they see smoke rising from buildings and several fires spreading through the town. Figures run to and fro between buildings and above the stone keep at the centre of the town circles a massive dark and winged shape. Ravath and Marius rush down at once to help the beleaguered townsfolk, while the hesitant Niko and elderly Diedrich follow at a slower pace behind them. Logan stays with the caravan, unwilling to risk himself in the dangers below. Jogging down into the town Marius and Ravath spot a group of townsfolk fleeing from strange scaled creatures wielding rusted daggers and snarling as they circle the group. One of the humans turns to fight with a spear but she is quickly cut down by the snarling beasts as Marius and Ravath rush forward to protect the children huddling behind their wounded father. Marius manages to kill a few of the beasts but is quickly overwhelmed by their numbers, falling back to where Ravath faces off against more foes. Eventually both fall to the ground, wounded, and are only saved when Niko shoes away the Kobolds with a blast of magical energy. Diedrich sees to Marius' wounds first but by the time he reaches Ravath the dwarf had bled out, his stomach pierced many times by the rusted blades of the creatures.

Putting their short-term allies body in a nearby house for safe keeping the group continues onwards into the town, gathering more townsfolk and killing or scaring off any creatures who face them. Eventually leading a large group of refugees the group reaches the keep at the centre of town, let in by frightened looking local militia wearing the green hill symbol of Greenest. Some minutes later Logan approaches at a run, followed by half a dozen more townsfolk. Just getting in before the door closes he recounts deciding to rejoin the party just as a larger group of the creatures arrived, seemingly reinforced by leather clad humans. He recognises the beasts as "Kolbolds", goblinoids said to have some draconic heritage. Inside the keep refugees from the camp huddle around in groups, tended to by healers and given food and water by camp fires. The militia hustle to and fro, preparing the walls and equipping themselves with leather armour and spears under the direction of a dwarf bearing a hammer and shield. An older portly man in a black velvet coat approaches the group, introducing himself as Governor Nighthill the Lord of Greenest and thanking them for helping to save his people. He welcomes them to the keep and allows them to rest within the barracks. Almost an hour later, when the group are rested and have recovered from their battle within the town he approaches again, asking if they could assist Greenest once more. From atop the keep he has spotted a group of Kobolds and humans surrounding both the warehouse and the temple in town. If the warehouse burns the town will lose all their supplies for winter, and the church has many huddled townsfolk hidden within. He has not the forces to relieve either location and asks if the group will assist him.

Some time later the dwarf Escobert who had previously helped to rally the militia, leads the group through a secret tunnel under the keep towards the river that runs adjacent to the town. Hoping to slip past the forces in town and save the townsfolk in the church the group are surprised to find the river entrance guarded by a group of Kolbolds and leather armoured humans with curved scimitars. The group smashes the raiders with magic and hammer blows but Niko and Diedrich are wounded in the process. While Escobert leads the pair up to the keep Logan and Marius decide to continue their mission. On the outskirts of the city they find a strange figure. Massively tall and covered in red scales one of the legendary dragonborn watches the group of Kobolds that are attempting to batter their way into the Temple. The dragonborn introduces himself as Torrin and says that he has hunted this group a long way, eager to discover their intentions here. He offers to help the party save the people in the church and suggests that they kill one of the men wearing a purple stone mask as an attempt to destroy the morale of the rest of the raiders. Marius and Torrin rush into combat with the masked man, managing to cut him down before his troops can even react. Unfortunately they do not flee, and quickly overwhelmed the pair are forced to fall back into the town. Nursing their wounds in a nearby house they can only watch as the Kobolds and humans break into the church, slaughtering those within and taking artefacts and chests of gold into a waiting wagon.

Slinking back to the keep they inform the Governor of their failure. Night falls and the town of Greenest is lit by the many fires still raging within its wooden buildings. At the keep the dragon that had been circling the town all day begins to attack the assembled militia, its massive blue scaled wings making a booming in the sky as it shoots beams of lightning from its maw down at the panicking humans. Within the medical centre the group can do little but wait as the dragon kills more and more of the town militia. Eventually the dragon flies higher and swoops away from the town and an eerie quiet falls over the keep. This is broken up when a voice rings out from outside the gates. A massive figure strides forward from among ranks of Kobolds. He stands hulking over the size of any man and has blue scales across his body. The dragonborn carries a massive curved scimitar and shouts out to the defenders of the keep. He offers to let his prisoners go if they send a single warrior to face him in combat. The Torrin speaks out at once, offering to clash blades with his fellow dragonborn. Moving out from the keep with spear and shield in hand Torrin agrees to terms with the blue dragonborn, who introduces himself as Langdedrosa Cyanwrath. There is quiet in Greenest once more as Cyanwrath and Torrin face off across scorched earth. With a cry they leap at each other but before Torrin can reach him Cyanwrath's spear takes him in the chest and he is knocked to the ground. Struggling to get up with the spear in his gut Cyanwrath walks over to Torrin and declares the duel over. Following their leader the remaining Kobolds pack up and leave Greenest behind them.

The Dwarven Chef Ravath, who after losing his job at the Murdered Shepard inn was gutted and bleed out by Kobolds in greenest.


Part II: The Raider's Camp

Camp.png
[Within Cyanwrath's Camp]

Dozens of Kobolds walk openly in the camp, chatting amongst themselves or strolling between their odorous leather and fur tents. Further into the gully armoured humans bearing scimitars are similarly relaxed, their nicer tents arranged in no real pattern but to avoid the tent at the centre of camp. Larger than the others and made of blue cloth this is where Cyanwrath spends his time, the blue dragonborn leaving his tent each morning to oversee executions or punishments for those that broke orders in the day before.
Heads poking out of scant brush two hundred feed away the heroes from Greenest observe the comings and goings from the camp and the near two hundred armed men and kobolds that inhabit it.
Torrin and Marius meet eyes and nod, standing and preparing their weapons for the coming battle. Further back Diedrich adjusts his walking stick, his full weight resting on his remaining leg. Only Logan had the uncharacteristic courage to speak up from beneath his massive hat. His stammering and half-breaking voice stopped the preparations in their tracks.
"There has to be a better way to do this…"

[A rescue mission]
The day after the raid the mood in Greenest is sombre as burials are held for their many many dead. The fires in town are put out and the surviving militia secure the area. The group buries Ravath in silence before a pre-arranged meeting with Governor Nighthill. Nighthill says that there must be vengeance for what happened here, and offers to pay the group 250 gold pieces each to track down the raiders who attacked Greenest. The group accepts, with Marius offering his share of the payment back to the families whose homes were destroyed by the attack. Outside town the group are met by a young monk wounded in the fighting. He informs them that his master Leosin is missing after the attack, and asks that the group find the Monk within the raider's camp. He says that Leosin was investigating the strange raider's and may have answers about their purpose in Greenest. The bandit's passage was not difficult to track, and soon the strange group made their way out of Greenest and into the grasslands surrounding the town in search of its attackers. The tracks are not hard to follow, dozens of booted and clawed feet making easy trails for the keen eyes of Torrin.

Following Torrin's lead the group makes their way through the rolling green hills of Greenfields. After around a day of travel they come across their first clue about the whereabouts of the raiders when they come upon a group of Kobolds and bandits making camp just off the road. Eager to avenge the dead of Greenest the group wades in without hesitation, smashing down Kobolds with hammer blows and javelins before they even know what is happening. As the bandits move to counter-attack they are met by Logan, Diedrich and Niko. Bursts of purple flames, white hot spot fires and beams of concentrated ice rip through the lightly armoured foes and quickly send them into rout. Heartened by their victory the group camps for the night before setting out once again along the worn path of Greenest's raiders. The next group along the path seem to be guarding from the very arrival of the group, a pack of men wearing strange black tunics accompanied by two men in black robes. Spotting them ahead of time Diedrich and Marius walk up the middle of path while the others flank. The leader of the group, a hulking man wearing heavy black chainmail and holding a spear in two hands, demands the pair turn back. While he parleys with them his scouts are cut down by magic and javelins from the sides and by the time he realises what is happening Marius' blowing hammer smashes his skull into paste. Looking over those they just slew the heroes find strange black crystals used by the robed men to cast magic. Marius pockets the items for safe keeping.

Three days out of Greenest Torrin finds the final destination of the raiders. A large camp stands in a valley cut into the hillside, dozens of tents and a number of wooden watch towers filling the small rocky basin. Reporting back he notes over one hundred Kobolds in fur tents and nearly four dozen leather armoured humans in blue tents bearing a dragon emblem. He spots the monk Leosin and many other human prisoners and outside a tent in the centre of town the hulking blue form of the dragonborn Cyanwrath. Reporting back the group discusses an assault but eventually decide it would be folly. As none are particularly skilled at stealth and Torrin noted many people coming and going from the camp the group decides to go with their strengths and simply walk into the camp as if they belonged. The next morning they heft old cloaks and walk through the front gate. Walking ahead Torrin and Marius get through without raising suspicion, while Niko enters a tent and a begins to befriend some of the humans. Walking alone Diedrich and Logan are spotted from the fighting in Greenest and promptly thrown in the pen with the other prisoners.

In one of their small tents Niko talks to some of the men who had helped raid Greenest, unsubtly inquiring about their purpose here. The intoxicated men are open about their purpose; gathering riches in service of a "great dragon". Niko probes further and finds they are referring to the mythical evil dragon "Tiamet", a legend who fought against the Lord of Light in the time before time itself and was imprisoned for all eternity. How these men intend to give the riches to her they do not know, and a frightened Niko rushes to join the others. Now in chains and uncomfortable sacks Logan and Diedrich find themselves sitting alongside the missing monk Leosin. Leosin agrees to tell them what he knows if they help him escape and Torrin begins to formulate a plan. Taking guard duty he secures an escape route while Marius and Niko manage to kill the guards watching the prisoners. Niko in particular excels, putting aside his magic to kill one guard by repeatedly stabbing him in the neck with his dagger. Securing their fellows possessions and hiding the bodies Marius and Niko free Logan and Diedrich, letting lose the other prisoners and the monk Leosin.

The freed prisoners are led by Diedrich through the camp and up a massive ladder that leads out of the valley to the cliffs above. Torrin watches them from his guard tower, the position secured to facilitate their escape. At the top they regroup, realising too late that Logan had not come with the group. Wandering off to find the coins and valuables he had been relieved of Logan had followed the tracks of his captors through the silent camp to a large cave. Within the cave he was set upon by two men wearing fearsome masks shaped like a dragon's visage, and in his tired state was easily overcome. After Logan does not return for half an hour after the original escape Torrin makes his way out of the tower and back into the camp, while Diedrich leads Leosin and the prisoners off to safety in the scattered forest above the camp. Walking as if he belonged, Torrin makes his way past a number of guards to the cave-mouth, where Logan is being searched by a pair of regular cultists. Opening his mouth he exhales a mighty breath of fire upon them, scorching skin and bone alike and leaving the pair writhing on the ground in pain. Slinging Logan over his shoulder the dragonborn breaks out into a run. As the camp mills around him he gets back to the ladder and under covering fire from Niko manages to lose the pursuing guards in the darkness.

Two days travel back to Greenest and the injured monk Leosin is put to bed under the watchful eye of his apprentice. The Governor is true to his word and pays the group 250 gold pieces each for their trouble. Marius uses his funds to help rebuild the chapel in town, while the others indulge in a night of drinking and frivolity that seems to uplift the spirits of the few surviving locals in the Maiden and Mug tavern. Niko leaves the group during the day, researching in the Governor's private library before putting up an advertisement on the town crying board for help needed. A few days later Leosin regains his strength. Standing around his bedside the group hears him confirm that the raiders are worshippers of foul Tiamet, and that they are pillaging and looting for some unknown purpose. He heard them refer to a "hoard" within the camp cave, but knows little more of its purpose. He tells them that these dragon cultists have been popping up all over the Green Heart and Scimitar Coast for the past thirty or so years, and that he could even trace some of them to the disaster that befell the city of Karse in the north decades before. He knows he cannot ask any more of the adventurers, but requests that they return to the camp and discover what lies within the cave that they guarded so jealously. And so the group prepares to leave Greenest once again, still unaware of the shallow grave in which Niko had buried the now missing farmer who had agreed to his experiment…


Part III: Dragon Hatchery

Dragon%20Cave.png
[The Dragonling 'Carl']

Cyanwrath lurches forwards with a snarl, his blue scaled hands swinging forward a heavy curved blade that misses Torrin's head by less than an inch. Ducking the blow the red dragonborn replies, jabbing his spear into Cyanwrath's side in a flash of purple blood. Dancing away Cyanwrath ignores the wound, swinging his blade again and again. Torrin only survives this attack by the breadth of a hair and his spear bounces off Cyanrath's heavy bronze armour. Trading sword swings and spear jabs the two dragonborn dance around one another within the chapel to Tiamet, red versus blue as the rest of the group can only watch on in anticipation.

[Searching an abandoned camp]
Leaving Greenest back to Cyanwrath's camp at Leosin's request, the group discusses just how they would defeat the some hundred enemies at the camp. In the two days of travel they do not reach a decision, but arriving at the camp find it abandoned! The Kobolds huts have been piled and burned, while the human tents sit abandoned or crumbled. Some figures move around in the camp, and approaching the group finds them to be leather clad hunters. The hunters are friendly, telling the group that they are hunting for food for those living inside the cave, gesturing at the cave in the centre of the camp where Logan went searching for his trinkets days earlier. Torrin attempts to pay the men to assist him in hunting those in the cave, but they consider it bad business to kill their previous employers. They have no qualms about informing the group about those employers however, noting that the dragonborn Cyanwrath along with a number of Kobolds are within the cave. They are led by a human who they refer to as "The Wearer of Purple", but do not know her real name. Arming up the group light their torches and move into the cave.

It is not long before the guards of the cave respond to the incursion, with a pair of robed men wearing steel masks shaped as the visage of a dragon sweep forward with a scimitar in each hand. Caught unaware Marius is cut deeply, but a javelin and a burst of magic end the lives of the cultists. Patching Marius' wounds the group moves on, walking through a small forest of toxic mushrooms that make them cough and gag as they release poisonous gasses. The natural cave is vast, and after burning away a group of giant insects hiding within a cave full of bats the group finds a naturally cold room being used by the Cultists as a storage room of sorts. Chunks of meat hang on hooks, and after taking their share of beef and mutton the group light their torches and head deeper into the cave system. Wandering through the cave the group stumbles upon a large group of Kobolds. Catching the beasts unaware many are slain by hammer blows and magic bursts before they can even react, and as the rest flee Torrin pursues them with spear in hand. Chasing them through a short winding tunnel he pursues them back into a room where a dozen more of the creatures lie in wait! Led by Kobolds with stunted dragon wings the horde swarms Torrin, but with a roar the Dragonborn fights back. Not long after the rest of the group arrives, slaying the few Kobolds that remain and reinforcing a bleeding but calm Torrin.

Further into the cave the group finds a carved room, the walls inscribed in draconic and featuring dragon imagery and iconography. In this room stands Cyanwrath, the hulking blue scaled dragonborn accompanied by a large human man with a bushy beard and a crude two handed axe. Cyanwrath is surprised to see Torrin, who he thought had been slain after their duel in Greenest. He rechallenges Torrin to a duel, wishing to "finish the job" this time. Torrin accepts, gleefully preparing his weapons and armour for the duel. In the meantime Marius wishes to challenge the human, who grunts a reply and readies his axe. Unfortunately in his wounded state Marius is no match for the barbarian and his quickly smashed to the ground. Healed by Diedrich's prayers, he can only watch as Torrin and Cyanwrath face off. Blue and Red dragon face once again, greatsword and spear giving off sparks as the two circle and test each others defences. Niko sees this as a good chance to search Cyanwrath's possessions, slinking towards his armoured chest. Unfortunately Cyanwrath notices this and seeing it as a betrayal moves to attack Niko. The barbarian rushes towards the downed Marius, but Logan unleashes a wall of ice that freezes him solid as he runs forward, while a tired and wounded Cyanwrath is burned to a crisp by Niko's purple flames as he rushes forwards.

Searching the room Marius finds what appears to be a shrine to Tiamet, the draconic god of evil. His hammer is lit by holy energy as he smashes the shrine into dust. Wounded and exhausted the party moves on, finding an area where more Kobolds seem to be guarding some large dragon eggs. Slaying the Kobolds, Marius moves forwards to smash the eggs. In his eagerness he doesn't notice the two blue guard drakes that lurk in the shadows and the pair of horse sized lizards leap upon him. His flesh is ripped from his bones by their razor sharp claws and his throat ripped by their teeth, a brief scream being the last sounds the paladin would make. In shock the rest of the group moves forward and kills the creatures, but before they can recover their fallen ally a voice rings out from the darkness. Purple-black tentacles slink out of the darkness at the edge of the room, grabbing Marius' body and pulling him into the darkness. Stunned, the group listen as the creature in the darkness says that it "claims this meat to let you leave". The horror is too much for Niko, who seems to snap and lash out at his fellows with his belt dagger. Logan is cut, but Torrin soon knocks Niko unconscious and throws him over his shoulder.

Leaving Niko in a corner the group continues searching the cave, finding a dragon cultist who had been left behind when the others left. A young woman she introduces herself as "Razaminana" and after a short awkward pause, "Raz". She had been left behind by the cult when they left and is more than happy to talk to the group about those that betrayed her. She tells them the Cult is led by a woman called "Rezmir", the so-called 'Wearer of Purple'. The Cult had taken their loot and made their way to the north-west to the town of Berdusk. Niko recovers from his insanity under Diedrich's healing and the group takes their lootings from the cave outside. Torrin wishes to remain behind to help the three dragon eggs hatch and the others say goodbye to him. They return to Greenest, where Diedrich holds an empty-grave burial for Marius. Logan decides to head to the library at Candlekeep to further his research and possibly find out some information about Tiamet, while Diedrich and Niko stay in Greenest to await Torrin's return.

In Greenest Diedrich handles the sale of the looted weapons and gems from the cave, putting money aside for Torrin and Logan when they return. Back at the hatchery Torrin's attempts to mother the dragons have mixed results. The first dragonling is born and to his surprise it is a Black Dragon, renowned for their hatred and evil natures. He attempts to bargain with it and dominate it but it quickly leaves the cave, killing the gathered hunters and taking flight. Shocked by his failure Torrin kills the next dragonling when it is born. Seeing the dead creature his sympathy grows and endeavours to tame the evil nature of the dragonlings and make them see the value in doing good for the world. When the last creature is hatched it quickly bites into Torrin's arm, ripping flesh from bone. Calmly Torrin keeps eye contact with the creature, and although his arm is destroyed beyond use the dragonling eventually kneels in supplication. When Torrin returns to Greenest a black dragonling named "Carl" flies far overheard, awaiting his instruction.

Marius of the Brilliant Circle, harsh of word and swift of hammer blow, whose light was no match for the darkness.


Chapter II: Tracking the Hoard


Part IV: Company on the Road

Sage%27s%20Inn.jpg
[The 'Sage's House' Inn]

"I swear it was an accident. I slipped…No I missed my attack…The flames got away from me. Yes all three happened"
Sweat pours down Niko's face as he backs away, his panicking voice lost in the dark trees around him. The two figures paced after him, spear and crossbow raised.
"You attacked my pet. I want to show him the good in the world and you showed him more violence". Torrin snarls as he speaks, his red scaled mouth baring teeth.
The hooded elf speaks next, raising his crossbow: "It's just business friend, I hope you won't hold this against me"
Finding his courage Niko stands from where he had fallen and begins to run. He dashes through the trees, cracking branches beneath his feet as the voices of his former allies call after him. Puffing he only stops miles away, his back against a tall oak and his wand in his hand. He would fight those traitors, he would be no easy meat.
Above the black dragonling sits on a branch and continues to watch its prey…

[Tracking the Cultists]
Three days after leaving Cyanwrath's camp the group reunites at Greenest, only Logan missing as he had not yet returned from Candlekeep. Arriving back at Greenest they find Leosin absent but a stranger there in his place. Ailluin is an elf swathed in a black cloak, leaning casually against a wall as the group approaches. He carries a note from Leosin, the monk having gone west to the city of Elturel. Leosin's note informs them that he will meet them in Elturel and they are to ask after his associate, Ontharr Frume of the Order of the Gauntlet. He had left horses with Ailluin and the group quickly makes provisions for the journey north. Their prisoner from Cyanwrath's camp is turned over to Governor Nighthill and the following day hanged for her crimes. Staying in the Trickster's Wain inn the group shares many drinks and celebrate their relative victory in Cyanwrath's camp. Ailluin, although cold and unpleasant at first, begins to befriend Niko over a shared passion for acts of violence. The following morning, as Raz hangs in the Greenest keep, they mount their horses and leave Greenest far behind.

Riding through the green pastures of the Greenfields region the group makes good time upon their riding horses. On the second day riding west a strange figure steps out in front of the riders. A short half-orc in ragged robes waves the group to a halt, brandishing a strange stuffed bird in his hand. He wears a scimitar on his hip but shows no wish to use it. He introduces himself as Norman, a traveller from the Tannoch desert to the north. He wishes to explore these "wetlands", and decides to join the travellers on their journey to Elturel. He takes the spare horse, and unwilling to reject the naive creature the group makes no comment. But the ride to Elturel is not without incident. That very night a pair of Bugbears try to sneak up to the camp but are spotted by Norman, who promptly begins to make conversations with them. The Bugbears are confused by this, but gladly sit down in the camp and share of the mutton stew. The others only sit in shock as Norman attempts to befriend the violent creatures. It is only when the Bugbears begin to offer Norman and Torrin a spot in their gang, murdering and robbing the farmers and villagers of the region, that the half-orc and dragonborn become hesitant. Suddenly from the shadows a bolt from Ailluin kills one of the creatures and with a burst of clerical fire the other is burned. Norman is upset about the deaths of his new friends and goes to sleep in a huff.

After six days on the road the small group of mounted men arrive at Elturel. Elturel is a large city with a massive glowing orb above it, a miracle from the Lord of Light that illuminates the city day and night and is said to drive away evil. It's guards wave the group through and they soon find directions to meet with Ontharr Frume, the member of the Order of the Gauntlet that Leosin had told them to meet. Ontharr is a large man who wears his golden gauntlet tabard over chainmail. He is jovial and organises to speak to the party the following day, as he is off duty and keen to have some fun. Niko visits the local library, while the others join Ontharr in the Order of the Gauntlet headquarters for a night of revelry. Ontharr plays a game with Torrin in which ceramic mugs of ale are drunk and then broken, while Ailluin and Norman drink on their own. Inebriated games of darts, arm wrestling and weight lifting follow, with ale and whiskey poured late into the next morning. Over a fried breakfast the following day Ontharr talks to the group about Leosin's wishes for them to travel to the coast down the Chionthar river and meet up with caravans there. The Dragon Cultists had travelled across country to the city of Ald's Gate and seemed to be intending to board a caravan convoy there to the north. Leosin and Ontharr intended the party to travel to Ald's Gate and infiltrate their caravan.

Leaving the horses in Elturel and purchasing additional armour and weapons from Ontharr's blacksmith the group boards a riverboat the following morning, intending on travelling to Ald's Gate on the coast. The River Oxen is a large barge and the group sleeps on its deck for the three nights it takes to sail down the Chionathar to Ald's Gate. Ald's Gate is a large stone city, built with many winding alleyways and tiny streets. Due to this architectural choice traders wishing to travel the Coast Way need to unpack their possessions and have them carried on-foot across the city. It is this factor that allows the group to catch up with the Dragon Cultists. For while their stolen hoard is carted on foot across the city the group skirts it entirely, coming to the western side where the caravans heading north meet up. It is tradition for a half dozen or so wagoneers to group up on the other side of Ald's Gate and make a convoy to head north, gaining safety in numbers. Meeting with Akin Slelon, a thief contact of Ailluin's, the group manages to get employment amongst the various merchants and caravaners who have joined the convoy containing the Dragon Cultists. A half-tenday later the convoy sets out, a dozen wagons travelling under guards along the Coast Way towards their eventual goal of Leor. Of those travelling at least half are secretly transporting the hoard of the Dragon Cult and among the guards of the others the group from Greenest are hidden in plain sight.

The caravan is due to take three tendays to reach Leor, and it makes good time along the dusty Coast Way. Passing through the Fields of the Dead the caravan is delayed when overnight a whole forest of black poisonous fungi grow around the caravan. The guards spread out with axes and swords to hack away the fungi, while Diedrich and Niko burn away the fungi. It delays the caravan by a full day and many guards get sick from the noxious fumes, but eventually the caravan convoy continues on its way. Rolling clouds herald a storm that hits the caravan the following day. A few miserable days along the road are spent wet and cold as the muddy road slows the caravan's progress to a crawl. The night of the storms clearing the caravaners find they are not the only ones stranded on the road as a pack of hungry owlbears attack the camp. With claws and beaks the owlbears rip into the campsite, killing a merchant and her guards before they can even react. Eventually the remaining guards manage to drive off the hunters and the caravan has no more trouble before reaching the Sage's House inn on the fourteenth day of their journey. The inn is full to capacity with a group of nobles and their retainers and the tired wagoners are forced to sleep in their wagons on the street. Ailluin intimidates his way into gaining a room for his employer, while Niko challenges the nobles to a duel in order to gain access to a room. The duel quickly escalates when after Niko is bested Torrin calls in the dragonling he had taken from Cyanwrath's camp.

The nobles driven off by the sight of the dragonling, with Niko flinging magic after them as they scurry off down the road. Unfortunately in the melee a wayward blast of flame from Niko's magic hit Torrin's black wyrmling and the creature is heavily wounded. Torrin is furious at Niko for harming his pet, and in his anger approaches Ailluin. For a price of 100 gold pieces the elf agrees to help Torrin kill Niko, and that night Torrin invites Niko into the forest with him to collect alchemical ingredients. Niko follows, suspecting Torrin but unaware of his intentions. When deep enough into the forest Ailluin strikes, one of bolts splitting Niko's knee is a blossom of flame and bone. Niko limps away, fleeing through the forest on his ruined leg as Ailluin and Torrin pursue him. He bargains for his life, but never attempts to strike back at them. Finally as he slumps against a tree in the dark forest around the Sage's House and Torrin reaches him. Torrin has one last thing to say, and at his masters command Carl the black dragon wyrmling lunges towards Niko.

Niko of many masters, whose purple flame was rightly feared. He fell when his coin dictated he attack a black dragon.


Part V: Weary Travellers

Caravan%20Stop.png
[The caravans make camp outside of Daggerford]

The conspirators sat at a table in the 'Finicky Wren' inn, the Defenders of Greenest at a table not far off watching them. The conspirators kept to themselves, keen to keep secret their association with the forbidden Dragon Cult and even more hidden the thousands of gold worth of stolen artefacts and jewels they had plundered from the towns and villages of Greenfields.
The Defenders of Greenest were starting to argue, a robed elf arguing with the stout Half-Orc in hushed tones. The Half-Orc gestured towards the conspirators but was quickly shushed by his fellows. Almost petulantly he stood and spoke loudly, pointing directly at the Dragon Cult conspirators.
"I don't see why we don't just go and talk to them. Or kill them".
Silent, the inn all looked at the Half-Orc and his embarrassed looking comrades.

[The journey to Leor continues]
As Niko's body is consumed by the black dragonling "Carl" the caravan convoy moves away from the Sage's House inn. It enjoys a few sunny days of travel without trouble, the group from Greenest slightly awkward about the death of one of their own. One night the wagons make camp with a pair of young woman who they encounter upon the road. Barreta and Nahalis are traders going east to Leor and agree to join the caravan for safety, but Ailluin is suspicious of the two women and spends the uncomfortable night in a tree watching the camp with his crossbow ready. The weather continues to be pleasant as the wagons move along the Trade Way towards Leor, the two newcomers entertaining all with their delightful company. On a day where a light drizzle of rain falls from the sky shouts echo down the road. Rushing up, the Defenders of Greenest find a flipped wagon besieged by a band of tall green skinned creatures. The hobgoblins shoot arrows at the destroyed wagon, the men and women huddled beneath it struggle to move or attack back as arrows thud again and again into the wood. A tall red skinned hobgoblin holds a curved two handed sword above his head as he shouts instructions to his followers.

The hobgoblin captain goes down with a crossbow bolt in his neck as Ailluin fires from afar. Torrin and Norman draw weapons and rush forward, while Diedrich hobbles forwards on his peg leg. The hobgoblins turn their arrows to the group and Ailluin ducks to cover as a dozen black fetched arrows fly his way. With the hobgoblins distracted a pair rush from the ruined wagon. A man holds swords in two hands and rushes forward with a cry while his companion, a diminutive woman, begins to morph and change as she runs forward. By the time she reaches the hobgoblins she has transformed into a massive brown bear, her claws ripping a surprised goblin cleanly in two. Torrin and Norman charge in as well, felling greenskins with spear and scimitar as Diedrich summons holy flame that burns his enemies from afar. In the midst of the chaos of battle even Ailluin doesn't notice Barreta and Nahalis walking up from the caravan train to stand behind him. With a sickening crack Nahalis bends down and with a twist breaks the Elf's neck. In shock Diedrich and Norman disengage from the hobgoblins and rush back, lashing out at the two women and cutting them down. On their deaths Berreta and Nahalis transform into a strange blue creatures. Unsure what they are Norman burns them, while Diedrich reluctantly buries Ailluin's corpse.

After the strange events on the road the caravan convoy continues on, now joined by the merchant and guards from the ruined wagon. The transformed bear turns back and introduces herself as Daisy, a wandering druid sworn to protect nature from those who would corrupt it. Torrin speaks to her at length about the danger of the Cult of the Dragon and she agrees to assist him in finding out their source and shutting it down. The wagon was travelling east but with their provision destroyed the caravaners now head west with the convoy for safety. The knight with two swords is a hired guard who introduces himself as Sir Caradoc but shares very little personal information with Norman when the two converse. A few days later travelling along the rocky road the caravan spots a massive group of deer grazing on a nearby meadow. At its centre is a magnificent stag with golden-brown fur. Many of the guards eagerly reach for bows to hunt the creature but Daisy and Norman make it clear that anyone who harmed the beast would face their collective wrath. Daisy moves up to the creature and communicating with it discovers it is not a stag at all but a Wood Elf who was cursed to walk the earth as a stag. She agrees to take it to Leor and seek a way to heal it of its curse. The stag joins the convoy, still eyed by guards itching for its golden pelt.

Another week of travel remains before the caravan convoy reaches the town of Daggerford, and it is far from a safe road. Most enemies stay away from the heavily armed wagons, but a pack of Perytons need to be seen off with crossbow bolts and some offensive clerical and druidic magic. Daggerford is a relief when the caravan pulls into the large town. It is a primarily a trading outpost for those moving along the Trade Way to Leor and is built around an ancient dwarven castle in which the towns lord lives. The group takes rooms at the Weary Shrew inn and enjoy its locally brewed ale at their first night under a roof in some month. During the night two new figures join the convoy. A gnome named Gleamsilver joins no group in particular and instantly befriends Norman, who is characteristically jovial and friendly. The other newcomer is a turban clad man with an ill look about him named Yos. He is silent and joins the groups of secret Dragon Cult members with familiarity. During the night Torrin and Norman inexpertly question the dragon cultists, eventually giving away more information about themselves than they gain. Torrin reveals that he killed Cyanwrath, while Norman lets slip that he is looking for the dragon cultists. The cultists seem surprised by their honest while Sir Caradoc sits nearby eavesdropping with wide eyes. The next day he keeps his distance from the party, while keeping a close eye on the dragon cultists.

The next morning as the wagons are prepared for the short road to Leor. Gleamsilver the gnome approaches the group as they eat their morning oatmeal and discovers a poisonous sliver of bone in their food, instructing them to meet her upstairs in the Weary Shrew. She reveals herself to be investigating the Cult of the Dragon on behalf of her "organisation" and wants their help finding out where the stolen items from Greenest are being taken. She also implores them to be more subtle and reveals to them that Sir Caradoc is also investigating the Cult of Dragons for his own organisation. She asks the group to wait until Leor to make their move but as the wagons move out Norman once again tries to befriend the undercover dragon cultists. The cultists get increasingly annoyed at the half-orc, while that night there is a murder in the camp. The dead man is revealed to be one of the undercover dragon cultists and the female warrior leading the cultists accuses Torrin of the murder. With no evidence of his guilt she lets it lie, but looks at him with anger in her eyes. Things are tense as the group goes through the final few days of travel towards Leor. As the caravans approach the city Daisy turns into a rat and sneaks into the dragon cult wagons, hiding away as the caravan convoy makes its final approach to Leor.

The final road from Daggerford leads towards the coast, eventually arriving at its destiny. Arriving in early morning one can easily see why the city is referred to as the "Jewel of the West", the glistening clear blue water of the bay a sapphire under the sun. The city itself is a sprawling mass of wooden and stone buildings, massive and spread around the Melairkyn mountain near the centre of the city. It is upon this mountain that Silverhand Keep stands, the Arch-Duke's home and the capital for the entire Western Kingdom. Lord Silverhand rules from here, his purple banners flying across the city alongside a few of the King's own banners. The city bustles with merchants and traders from across the region and a dozen or so merchants quarters sit across the coastal city. The weary and wounded wagons of the convoy from Ald's Gate limp through the massive steel eastern gates and into the city they had spent so long travelling towards.

Ailluin 'the Shadow', who killed often and dispassionately. He had his neck broken unaware of his attacker, a kill he would have been proud of.


Part VI: Leor, Jewel of the West

Leor.jpg
[Leor]

In the Carnath Roadhouse the red dragonborn held his spear tight across from his opponent. She was a short haired and heavily scarred woman, holding a pair of shortswords in black leather gloves. They circled slowly as a group watched on. Merchants, allies and cultists in hiding watch the duel. With a roar the dragonborn rushes towards his foe, his opponent ducking his jab and slashing him at the ribs and leg with her shortswords. With a grunt of pain the dragonborn spins his spear back, hitting his foe in the back of the head and sending her sprawling into the mud.
Giving her time to rise from where she fell Torrin lowers his spear for a moment to speak between strained breaths:
"I have no ill will towards you. I did not kill your friend. But I will kill you if I must".
And in the cold roadhouse just north of Leor the duel continues.

[Surveillence in Leor]
The wagons are quick to disperse as they enter the city as the various merchants and guards split off into the massive port of Leor. Daisy sits quietly within the cultists' wagons, giving mental instructions that the rest of the party follows to the northernmost mercantile district of Leor. The cultists settle in the Welcoming Harp inn and the group stops just down the road at the Shepard and Mug. Diedrich, Caradoc and Norman set up in a shop across the road from the Harp that they rent from a suspicious old man. Daisy and Torrin head up town to spend their money on the finer things while the others settle in to watch the Harp to see if the cultists do anything suspicious. During the night Norman awakes to find himself wrapped up head to toe by a massive blue snake. Shaking the creature off he is shocked as it transforms into a strange creature with the body of the human and the head of a man. Ducking away from the creatures swinging scimitar Norman takes heavy wounds before a limping and recently awoken Diedrich grabs the beast from behind and in a burst of light turns it to ash.

Meanwhile in a tavern in the nobles district Torrin and Daisy spend their hard-won gold on food and wine, spending the night sleeping on the cold ground in the alley behind the tavern. The next morning the pair take the golden stag to see a priest of Chauntea, the goddess of nature and healing. Within the temple district at a stunningly beautiful garden they meet with Father Newnes who agrees to remove the curse just for the pleasure of the stags presence. With a strange ritual the priest heals the stag and before their eyes a golden skinned elf appears. The man stands, accepting a cloak from Daisy and introducing himself as Orzanelle, an Elven prince from a millennia past who was cursed to walk the earth as a stag. He says he will go to find some of his people, and promises to help Daisy and Torrin in the future once he establishes himself once again.

Later that afternoon the wagons begin to leave the Welcoming Harp and Torrin bumps into an old friend. Logan had made his way west from Candlekeep library to Leor and had been pottering around the town purchasing trinkets for some days now. He agrees to rejoin the group as they track the wagons to the outskirts of Leor. Just beyond the walls of the city the wagons holding the loot pillaged from Greenest join another caravan convoy, this one heading north along the Long Road. The caravans are going north to the Carnath Roadhouse, where supplies are stored to help repair the Long Road. The Mayor of Leor is rebuilding the road through the swamp after it was flooded some years past. Norman bribes a travelling merchant to allow himself, Diedrich, Daisy and Torrin to accompany him travelling north while Logan and Caradoc apply and are hired as guards. Norman and Torrin try to befriend the merchant, but he stays profession. Sleeping next to the wagons that night the newly formed caravan convoy trundles out of Leor along the ruined Long Road north.

The wagons drive north, breaking out of the hills around the coast and into the plains that lead north. The guards must quickly earn their pay when a pack of giant frogs infest the road ahead and need to be run off before they attack the horses. Logan brings to bear his newly learnt magic, summoning a snow storm that freezes many of the creatures solid and makes the others flee back into the swamp. Later that night a clan of swamp orcs attacks the camp, led by a massive hulking and terrible smelling ogre. They rush in from all sides and the caravan guards bring weapons to bear to defend their charges. The ogre is slain by Torrin and Norman and the orcs flee, their leader dead. Conflict arises when Sir Caradoc executes the surviving or captured Orcs, with Daisy taking offence to his bloodshed. A few more days of travel follow without incident, the weather becoming increasingly cold as the wagons move towards a northern winter.

The caravans destination is Carnath Roadhouse, a small staging post for those workers rebuilding the Long Road after it was overrun by the swamp some years ago. The caravans are stopping here, including the ones concealing the stolen loot of the Dragon Cultists. Surrounded by a wooden palisade the roadhouse has a number of rooms from its time as a roadside inn, as well as storage areas for building supplies and an armoured vault for the valuables of the travellers staying at Carnath. With no armoured guards to speak of, Carnath is protected and run by a half-orc named Bogluk, who carries a heavy axe at his belt and speaks in short brutish sentences. As the caravans are packed away most of the travellers converge in the Carnath tavern, drinking mead and mulled wine as the weather outside turns fiercely cold. Taking this opportunity to slip away Daisy transforms into a small lizard and wriggles her way into the strongroom. As she pokes around the dozens of wooden boxes stored in the room trouble brews back in the tavern.

Slightly intoxicated, the leader of the Cult of the Dragon accuses Torrin once again of killing her friend. She introduces herself at last as Vabara and challenges Torrin to a duel, drawing her two shortswords and walking out into the crisp evening air. Torrin accepts her duel and by the light of dozens of torches shortsword and spear clash again and again. The party and the Cultists watch on with baited breath as the two spar, Torrin giving out shouts of rage as he rushes Vabara one final time. Her shortsword cuts across his knee, severing the joints and sending the dragonborn sprawling to the ground. Before anyone can react she moves over to him and with a single clean stroke slits his red scaled throat. Silence fills Carnath Roadhouse as the watchers take in what has just happened before a sudden scream breaks the tension. Hurtling from the strongroom is Daisy, bloodied and bruised as she flees back into the stables. Pursuing her are two tall scaled creatures with violently red crests. Covered in mud the lizardmen scream a bestial war cry and swarm towards the inhabitants of the roadhouse.

Torrin, the first Red Dragonborn. He was pure of heart and was slain in a duel with a member of the Cult of the Dragon.


Chapter III: Muddy Waters


Part VII: The Mere of Dead Men

Swamp.png
[The Mere of Dead Men]

The mud-flies bit any inch of exposed flesh and the mosquitoes swarmed anyone not diligent enough to wave them away when they first appeared. Waste deep in the mucky water of the Mere of Dead Men the Defenders of Greenest sludged on through the swamp, ducking beneath fallen trees and clambered over mangroves and thorned vine growths. Within the swamp there was a perpetual dim light, and not even the cold of winter could break through the stifling heat of the muddy waters. They broke and rested whenever they found dry spits of land, but even these were often too inconsistent and liquid to allow any meaningful rest.
The Defenders of Greenest plodded through the swamp for many hours, following markings on trees that they hoped beyond hope would actually lead them somewhere…

[Moving through a swamp]
The thick scales of the lizardmen are no match for the blades of those within Carnath Roadhouse and the beasts are quickly slain, only a bruised Daisy wounded from her encounter with the beasts. She moves back into the strongroom to where the creatures appeared, finding a hidden trap door underneath an empty crate she had previously overlooked. While the rest of the Roadhouse returns to their warm bunks the party moves down the trapdoor and into a cold dark dirty tunnel. The tunnel goes for several miles, coming up further into the swamp in another trap door hidden by a pile of leaves. Sir Caradoc finds the tracks of the lizardfolk, while Norman notices they seemed to follow a path laid out by burn marks on nearby trees. Lugging their many possessions the group light torches and head out into the swamp known as the Mere of Dead Men.

There Mere of Dead Men is a smorgasbord of unpleasant sensory experiences. The fetid smell of death lingers in the nostrils long after the skunk-like odours that come and go as the group slushes through waist deep water or push through heavy overgrown spiked vines. The party walk through the swamp for hours, stopping at any solid ground they can find just to escape the oddly warm swamp water and the bite of the thousands of flies and mosquitoes that infest the Mere. It is with surprise and relief therefore that the group stumbles upon a campsite set up on the path of the burnt tree markings. In the camp sits a half-elf in blue robes who carefully wipes mud from the pages of a book on his lap. He rises upon the party's arrival and after a quick conversation they discover that he did not make this camp but stumbled upon it, using the warmth of the fire and the bedrolls to rest after an ordeal in the swamp himself. He was a travelling cleric of the Elven God of knowledge Curna, and was in the region to investigate some strange magical resonance that he had detected. Introducing himself as Pock he quickly ingratiates himself with Norman when he helps him complete a ritual to raise his seagull totem from the dead as a familiar. As they rest for the night the group discusses their own mission and Pock agrees to accompany them, intrigued by the mystery of it all more so than out of any obligation or duty.

Splitting into pairs the group moves further into the swamp aboard the stolen canoes, still following the strange burn marks on the trees. After some time they paddle past a group of lizardfolk on their own canoe. The creatures don't seem hostile, and they even talk to Pock in draconic, an activity that makes Caradoic deeply suspicious of their new ally. Further into the flooded swamplands Norman gives exclaim as a pack of massive blue snakes swim towards the boats. Recognising these snakes as the same as the one that assaulted him in Leor he leaps into the water, wrestling one of them before it got close to the canoe. The rest transform in a splash of water into that snake-headed human form, pulling out scimitars and shortbows. Logan and Pock begin to fire on them from the back of the line of canoes, Logans ice magic freezing the water solid while Pock pulls out a small crossbow and hurriedly begins loading. Caradoc and Diedrich row towards a pair of creatures who had swum back to dry land with bows and smash into the creatures, slaying them with sword and staff. By far the most fearsome is Daisy, who in an instant transforms into a massive grey bellied crocodile! She grabs one of the creatures in her jaws and rolls over and over in the water until the creature stops moving. As quiet falls across the area Pock informs the group that the creatures are called Yuan Ti, going on to reel off a tirade of information about them as the others phase out and begin preparing the canoes to move on.

In the canoes again the group moves through the flooded swamp, the noise of insects and the splash of water the only noise as they make their way further into the Mere of Dead Men. Suddenly the ground seems to grow more solid and they seem upon the horizon the shape of a stone castle. Grey stone and built on the only solid ground for miles the castle is decrepit and decayed but clearly occupied. Mud huts surround it, seemingly home to dozens if not hundreds of strange frog-like creatures. Walking on two legs the creatures have the features and skin of frogs, but clearly wear leather clothing and carry stone tipped weapons. Nearby the mud huts sit several wooden longhouses in front of which sit lizardfolk, gripping their weapons and clearly eying off the frog-creatures. Waiting on a small ridge nearby the group waits for a full day, watching the comings and goings of the castle. The next night, careful to avoid the penned off guard drakes, the group moves into the mud around the castle intending to infiltrate the structure. With a cry Caradoc breaks the silence, his foot having sunk into the mud and revealed half a dozen frog-creatures sleeping there! He leaps away and begins to run for the castle while Pock uses his magic to smash open the pens holding the guard drakes. A magical thunder clap wakes the creatures and as all hell breaks loose in the camp the group moves into the ruined castle.

With activity bustling behind them the group moves onwards through the ruined gate and into the castle proper. The first few rooms are filled with the strange frog creatures, as well as the massive frogs that they seem to keep as pets. The creatures are fierce warriors, but break and run as soon as they take too many losses. They go down to sword blows, magic and bolts as the group moves from room to room clearing the outskirts of the castle. Explosions of thorns rip from the ground itself as Daisy brings her druidic powers to bare, ripping the frog-creatures to shreds. As they move on Norman pauses to pull a small pinch of black sand from his pack and throws it on the ground, disappearing in a swirl of sand. With Norman invisible the group moves onwards into the castle, the half-orc scouting ahead.

He returns some time later with a captured lizardfolk. The brown scaled creature walks calmly behind Norman, his weapons held by the now-visible half-orc. He does not seem hostile, and greets the group politely despite the weapons levelled at him. The lizardfolk talks to Pock in Draconic, revealing that his tribe the 'Blackscales' had been hired by the Cult of the Dragon to protect this castle from outsiders. The tribe was paid in steel weapons, and although they were happy for the reward many of the lizardfolk hated the frog-creatures. He refers to these creatures as "Bullywogs", and seems to have a great loathing for the slimey beasts. He discusses with Norman and Pock the idea of the group giving the tribe more metal weapons in return for him and his people helping to clear the castle of both the Bullywogs and the Cult of the Dragon.


Part VIII: Two Tribes

Swamp%20Castle.png
[The castle in the swamp]

Norman saw the newly blown hole at the top of the tower and even through his rage saw an opportunity. Hurtling forward he grabs the crumbling gargoyle with his large orcish hands, pinning its wings to its body. The two were flung out into the air a moment later, Norman laughing to himself as he half-orc and his captured gargoyle plummet thirty feet to the hard stones below…

[Clearing the castle in the swamp]
The group continues their discussion with the Lizardfolk known as 'Snapjaw'. It is slow as Pock translates the guttural draconic spoken by Snapjaw, but the information slowly gets across. Rezmir, the leader of the Dragon Cult known as the "Wearer of Purple", has been to the castle many times in the past but is not here at present. It is also revealed that Rezmir is a dragonborn with black scales, her origins a mystery even to Snapjaw. The castle is run by an elf named Borngray, a servant of the Cult of the Dragon who balances relations between the Bullywog and Blackscale Tribes. The local Lizardfolk tribes worship a dragon god called Voaraghamanthar, a name the group struggles to pronounce and have never heard before. Snapjaw agrees to find the group a safe place to rest and wait out the daylight, when the Bullywogs are most active. The Lizardfolk want to claim the castle when the Cult of the Dragon is gone and the party rests among the scaled lizards as they wait for the sun to set.

Moving out into the castle Caradoc strides ahead, once again accidentally awakening a group of Bullywogs as he barges into a room filled with the creatures. In a panic Logan fills the world with a whipping cold and many of the creatures fall to the ground. The rest swarm out of the room into the courtyard. Bloody battle fills the courtyard of the castle in the swamp as dozens of the slimey Bullywogs swarm out of the mud filled room where they had been dwelling. Diedrich lashes out with holy magic, turning those who touch him to ash as Caradoc fights at his back lashing out with sword and shield. Daisy's staff glows green with magic as she bludgeons enemy after enemy until eventually the courtyard falls quiet. All are heavily wounded, the Bullywogs biting and clawing to their very last, and exhausted the group returns to the Lizardfolk to tend to their wounds.

The Lizardfolk keep the group hidden while Diedrich tends to their wounds, a promise of metal weapons formalised to keep Snapjaw on side. After a rest the group moves back into the castle, pushing inwards until their path is blocked by a pair of blue guard drakes. Battling with the creatures another figure appears from further back in the courtyard. Riding a blue drake the elf wears scale armour built to look like the scales of a dragon and holds a curved longsword in one hand. He flings magic as he rides closer, forcing the group to jump to cover as his black flames lash the stone walls. All magic and bolts that are sent back at him are blocked by a shield of black flames that the man swings up in front of him. He fights off the group for some time before eventually a shield bash from Caradoc sends him sprawling from his mount unconscious. Tied to a post the elf wakes some time later, slinging words of hatred in elvish that make those who understand it pale. Borngray clearly hates all humans and wants all but elves to be obliterated. In his eyes it is Tiamet who would help him to clear the world of these filth. Realising the man would give them nothing Caradoc cuts off his head.

Leaving Borngray's headless corpse in the courtyard the group moves up the tower he had emerged from, moving through offices to find a surprised looking Yos. The man from daggerford has removed his characteristic turban and now wears strange red flowing robes. His head is covered in arcane tattoos and he raises his hands somewhat sarcastically as the group enters. He reveals that he was working with the Cult of the Dragon because their goals aligned but has no real loyalty to them and is not a member. He just wants to survive and agrees to leave the castle and not bother anyone again. When the party agrees he teleports away in a literal puff of smoke, a smirk across his pale face. Slightly perturbed by the encounter the group moves upwards through the tower. They find Yos and Borngray's bedchambers and what appears to be an office used by Borngray in managing the castle. Moving upwards the group reaches the top of the tower, where a strange bronze item sits in the middle of a room adorned with banners bearing the symbols of the Cult of Dragons.

As the group reaches the top floor the roof is ripped away by clawed stone hands. The gargoyles on the top of the tower had animated to protect their masters domain. Diedrich flings a blast of magic that blows out a full side of the tower, destroying a gargoyle in the process. Diedrich and Pock are cut down almost at once as the creatures leap upon them with clawed stone hands in revenge. Taking a running jump Norman tackles one of the creatures out of the hole in the roof, smashing it to pieces on the ground below and lying still himself a pool of blood. Escaping from the creatures Logan leaps from the tower top, summoning a sheet of ice that he slides down and lands softly far below. Turning around he looks at the final two gargoyles in the tower and with a massive explosion of ice destroys the entire top of the structure.

Caradoc and Daisy limp down from the tower, barely alive. Caradoc was able to shield them from the blast but all have frost-bite and other wounds from the vicious battle. Back in the Lizardfolk's quarters Snapjaw congratulates them on their victory but warns them that one of the leaders of the enemy forces still lives below the castle. Below the castle there apparently dwells a portal of some kind, used by the Cult of the Dragon to transport themselves between the castle and another base of theirs. It is in the dungeons beneath the keep and filled with forces loyal to the Cult of the Dragon. The portal is guarded by 'Splattergoo', the so called "king" of the Bullywogs. So with Borngray slain and Yos gone the group rests once again, preparing themselves for the many Dragon Cult forces still occupying the castle in the swamp.


Part IX: King of the Bullywogs

Beneath%20the%20Castle.jpg
[The Bullywog Shrine]

"I do believe this is a crude depiction of Ghaunadaur. He was an ancient Dark Elven god did you know". Pock gestures at the crude stone statue carved into the walls of the cavern beneath the swamp castle as he realises most of his fellows are not listening to his explanation of religious history.
All around him were carvings and crude statues, dozens of busts and symbols carved by a scattered mind over a long period of time. Spread around the room the group assessed the many strange statues.
"This is Leira, goddess of shadows. A foul daemon god". Caradoc growls with disdain, drawing a chisel and hammer from his pack and proceeding to destroy the alter.Watching with curiosity Norman gestures at the many open mouthed heads carved into the chamber.
"Ornok brings food to the starving and forces his enemies to eat until they die. He is god of vultures and gluttons."
Pock nods as his fellows talk, taking notes in his heavy leather bound book. He notes the bizarre collection of gods and goddesses apparently worshipped by the Bullywogs as the group stops to rest in the mud and slime filled temple beneath the swamp castle.

[Forces fight for the castle]
The wounded rest within the shattered tower while Daisy and Logan inspect the strange brass object. They theorise that the item is a telescope for some kind, but when looking through it Daisy can see only a cave in the swamp filled with gold. The pair fiddle with the adjusting knobs and lose the vision, confused by how a telescope pointed at the sky can be viewing the swamp below. Heavily wounded Norman regains consciousness, marvelling at the brass object that he had only heard rumours of in the past. Known as a "Farseer of Ellusk" the telescope is said to be able to harness magic to see beyond the normal scope of human eyes, even seeing things far away and hidden from sight. Unfortunately none can get it to work properly, and with Diedrich still too injured to fight the group decides to move to the part of the castle where the Cult of the Dragon resides and cleanse their presence before they realise their leader is dead. A few minutes later the group kicks down the door into the cult tower, the head of the elf Borngray dripping blood in Caradoc's hand.

The head of their former leader on the ground before them the four leather clad cultists in the room listen carefully as Norman instructs them that he is their new leader. They believe his lie, some even following his instructions and leaving the room on various miscellaneous chores Norman thought up on the spot. After a few minutes however Norman's lack of knowledge about the Cult of Dragons begins to show and the cultists become suspicious. Logan takes this as license to act, summoning a snowball storm that bludgeons and freezes the cultists. Executing the survivors the group pauses for a while to analyse a massive wooden shrine to Tiamet before moving upwards into the tower, finding a room filled with scribes wielding makeshift weapons in an attempt to defend their mistresses' tower. The group kills the scribes, much to Daisy's sadness, and moves further upwards into the tower. Passing a library with easily a thousand books the group promises to come back and save the books later and enter the lavish furnishings at the top of the tower. The only area they had seen with clean walls, the furnishings here are lush and thick carpets warm the cold stone floor. Finally the group enters Rezmir's private chamber, Daisy rushing ahead to look through her wardrobe. But the Wearer of Purple is savvy and as Daisy opens the wardrobe a globe of acidic gas falls from the roof and smashes on the ground, filling the room with a poisonous green gas.

As the gas clears the room is ruined, finery in tatters after the acidic gas expanded. Daisy is badly burned, her skin only saved as Logans works his ice magic to cool her down. Most of the items in the room are destroyed, the notable exception being a large ornate black dragon statue in the corner of the room that appears to be made of actual black dragon scales. The scales and diamonds that make up the stylised dragon are exquisite and an argument soon breaks out between Norman and Logan when Logan attempts to rip one of the teeth out of the statues mouth. While the pair argue Pock examines the statue, noting that it is priceless but only if kept in one piece. The group are agreed they should sell it and share the proceeds, lashing it to Normans backpack. Further into the room is an office that went undisturbed by the office, containing records of the dozens of shipments of stolen gold and jewels brought by the Cult to the castle and through the portal to somewhere else. They also find the activation word for the teleportation portal; "Draezer" a draconic word Pock recognises. Within the office they also find a scribe, but the man is loyal to Rezmir and will not give up information even under threat of violence. Caradoc stabs him in the heart and leave his body in the ruined room.

Moving back down the tower to meet the Lizardfolk the group turns over the many metal weapons they had been hoarding to the Lizardfolk. Snapjaw is given Borngray's scimitar and shield, both bearing stylised draconic imagery and deserving of the de-facto chieftain of the Blackscale tribe. The Lizardfolk are grateful for the weapons, arming their best warriors with javelins and scimitars and preparing their forces to kill the Bullywogs infesting "their" castle. Snapjaw tells the group where the Bullywog King resides, making a deal that his people would kill the Bullywogs if the group agreed to kill Splattergoo. The forces wait impatiently for after the midday meal, when the Bullywogs are full of food and slow on their feet and attack. As the Lizardfolk move into the common areas and start to slaughter the Bullywogs the group moves to the final tower of the castle. As the Lizardfolk clear the castle and move outwards to kill the Bullywogs outside in the swamp the group take stairs downwards. Rocky walls are coated in filth and muk, a thick layer of stinky mud on the ground and even some reeds and other swamp plants growing in the dungeon beneath the castle. The group moves carefully down the slippery steps, lit by the light of a bobbing torch at their fore.

Through murky water and muddy hallways the group moves deeper into the Bullywog warrens. They pass many sleeping Bullywogs incased in mud and some massive toads that croak loudly at them as they pass. They don't bother the group and they pass through along underground lakes and swamps to a chamber filled with a strange mist. The party investigates and discovers the mist comes from a strange well, some members getting obsessed with the source of the mist and investigating the water that seems to be causing it. Norman boils the water away with his warlock magic, stopping the source of the mist and revealing arcane runes carved into the floor of the room. Pock identifies the runes as that of a teleportation circle but the group decides to leave the portal for when they have killed Splattergoo. Further into the swampy tunnels the group happens upon a strange Bullywog temple. There seem to be statues to gods and goddess of a half dozen random focuses, a mess of worship created by Splattergoo's strange tapped thoughts. In the temple the group finds the first enemies in the underground dungeon, Bullywogs in hide armour with sharped stone spears tipped in poison. Even the elite Bullywogs are no match for the party, cut down by magic and blade as they try to defend their shaman.

Bursting into Splattergoo's private chambers Caradoc is pierced by thorny vines that are summoned from the muddy ground, swallowed by a giant frog as he reels from the wounds. His muffled chambers fill the hall as the frog's stomach acid eats at him. Shocked the group rush in to help him. Daisy transforms into a bear, ripping into the giant frogs with her claws and teeth while the rest battle Splattergoo. Norman is stabbed again and again by Splattergoo's poisoned spear while Pock and Logan fling magic at the Bullywog shaman. Eventually Pock sends forth a brilliant beam of light and the "king" of the Bullywogs is obliterated in a burst of light and green blood. On his death a strange smoke fills the air and the group hurriedly drag the dead frogs and a wooden chest with them out of the chamber. Daisy rips a gasping Caradoc out of the stomach of a dead frog, Norman washing him off with waterskins that ease his raw flesh. Within the chest the group finds a massive curved and hooked sword bearing strange green runes. Norman claims the weapon, despite a warning from Pock and Logan that the weapon is likely to be cursed. Outside of Splattergoo's now ruined sanctum the group stops to catch their breath, deciding their next step.


Chapter IV: Alliances


Part X: Out of the Swamp

Talis%27%20Lodge.png
[Talis' Lodge]

The air was filled suddenly with a light so bright it hurt the eyes. The smell of sulphur and burning filled the nostrils of the six figures standing in the centre of a circle of arcane runes in the dungeons under the castle in the swamp.
A palpable sense of tension filled the room until, in a burst of light, the figures disappeared entirely.

[Through the portal]
Avoiding the toxic fumes of Splattergoo's demise the group moves back out into the caves, where they meet with a surprised Diedrich. Having recovered from his wounds the old Priest had come down into the tunnels to help his friends, only to find himself wading through waist deep mud with his peg leg. Reunited the group decides to clear the tunnels of the Bullywogs, Diedrich having spotted a group on his way in guarding a room. Moving back through a room filled with sulphurous water the group are shocked as suddenly Logan is pulled below the surface. Caradoc pulls the gasping youth back above the fetid waters as his attacker appears, a massive black slime that surges forward to engulf the battered Caradoc and Logan. It does not get far, Diedrich summoning his holy magic and burning the creature to a crisp in a burst of purified white fire. Moving on the group finds the remaining Bullywogs guarding a hatchery for the giant frogs that had dotted the castle and the dungeon beneath. Norman and Daisy talk with the creatures and promptly scare them off, the frog-like beasts leaping high overhead and into the underground lake that splits the dungeons in two.

Heading after them Diasy transforms herself into a giant frog, leaping after the Bullywogs. A minute late she returns, swimming furiously pursued by a dozen massive frogs in the underground lake. Many of the frogs leap out of the water onto the spit on which the group stand, biting and spitting at them with acidic tongues. Under water there is a thrashing as Daisy battles with her pursuers, turning into a bear and ripping them to pieces with her fearsome claws. Having cleared the dungeon the group makes their way back through the mud and up the mossy stairs to the castle proper. Standing atop a tower Pock uses magic to amplify his voice, announcing that Splattergoo is dead and the Bullywog's broken. The last of the Bullywogs flee into the swamp and Snapjaw meets with the group in the blood soaked courtyard at the centre of the tower. The attack had gone well, and Snapjaw was now the ruler of the castle. The Blackscale tribe would continue to live here, promising not to touch the library until the group returns to claim the books. The castle is filled with celebrations, with Pock and Norman drinking with Snapjaw and convincing him that a simple mace was a legendary magical weapon through the unsubtle use of magic. After the revels the group settles in for the night, their well-deserved rest only broken up when Daisy attempts to steal Diedrich's holy tome. She gets a stern word for her actions and the group sleep through the night.

The next morning the group prepares themselves and move down into the dungeon once again to the room with the teleportation array. Pock deciphers the markings, determining them to be an ancient form of draconic that can be activated with the phrase they were given alone. Standing on the circle in the dank warm cave the group gathers around as Pock says the activation word. With a sizzle and the smell of sulphur the room fills with light, the group feeling a wrenching sensation before cold air suddenly hits their skin. The warm air of the swamp is replaced in an instant by cold mountain air as the group are teleported to a dark wood, scattered with snow. Around them are a series of mossy stone pillars bearing similar markings to the teleportation circle in the swamp and nearby other stones stand around similarly shaped circles. Pulling their cloaks close against the biting wind the group moves outside of the circle, weapons raised. Pock deciphers the writings on the stone, determining they express the location that the teleportation circle takes someone upon activation. In this case "unquiet swamp, mournful croaking". Checking the other pillars he reads out "endless cold, sea of white" and "red sands, unburdened arcane". With no idea what these riddles mean or the activation words for their portals the group moves into the forest, following a worn but well used dirt track.

Further up the path the group come upon their first sign of civilisation through the portal. A massive wooden and stone manorhouse stands on the grassy mountainside, a light dusting of snow sitting on the ground around it. Ducking behind a boulder not far from the house the group discuss what their plan for the manorhouse would be, eventually deciding to simply walk up and pretend to be members of the Cult of the Dragon. Slamming the heavy boar shaped door-knocker they are greeted by a grey haired man in finely tailored clothes. A simple lie gets the group past the butler, a man named Jaeves, and into a parlour with a roaring fire upon the hearth. Now inside the manorhouse is clearly a hunting lodge, stuffed beasts upon the walls and tapestries of great hunts in the past dotting the walls. Refreshments are served to the group and a few minutes later two guards in steel plated armour enter holding their spears rigidly. Behind them walks a far more casual figure, a woman in white armour takes a seat as she enters and pours herself a glass of white liquor. She introduces herself as 'Talis the White' and asks the group what they are doing at her lodge. They tell her about the Lizardfolk taking over the castle and claim to have been sent by Borngray and Yos. Sipping casually at her drink the lady of the house listens to the lies that the group weave before stating simply: "Well I know that isn't true so why don't you tell me why you are really here?"

Talis' revelation fills the room with silence before eventually Norm speaks. He explains that the group had been moving in similar circles to the Cult of the Dragon and had become entangled in events while at the castle in the swamp, which Talis corrects him to name 'Castle Naeyetar'. Talis does not seem to buy this either and the ever-honest Daisy comes clean with her. They tell of their killing of Borngray and hunting of the Cult, and of their wish to retrieve the hoard itself. Surprising even his fellows Caradoc reveals a seperate goal. He was tracking the Cult of the Dragon to establish whether the group had an abyssal origin, a mission given to him by his knightly order before he ever met the party. Talis weighs up this information and a smile fills her face. As it turns out she has no love for the leaders of the cult, wishing to move up their ranks herself. Towards this end she proposes a short term alliance. The group would kill the dwarf set above her by the Cult and stop the gold from being delivered by him and Rezmir and in return she would not kill them. She explains that the gold is stored in the nearby town of Parnast, to then be transferred to a floating castle commanded by the cult. The group questions the floating castle and Talis reveals it literally floats, some cloud magic of which she is unwilling or unable to explain. She provides the group with the banner and passphrase necessary to access the castle and instructions to get to Parnast, the village where the castle docks. Conferring among themselves the group agrees, and the deal is sealed with a bottle of find Goldenfields rose wine.

After a hearty meal Diedrich and Caradoc retire to a guest room while the others take advantage of their access to the lodges wine cellar. Bottle after bottle are discarded, empty, and the parlour is soon filled with raucous laughter and shouting as the merrymaking goes long into the night. Daisy awakes the next morning with dust in her mouth. She has wandered upstairs, to the only area of the lodge the group were warned not to go. She manages to sneak past the guards and return to her fellows, only to find she was the luckiest of the group carousing the night before. Norman had wandered into a hall with ancient suits of armour, inadvertently activated some long-dormant magic within the armour and being zapped unconcious by the magical surge. Eager to "harness the power of the cold" Logan had gone outside during the evening snowstorm, returning the next morning soaking wet and shivering head to toe. He spends the afternoon in the warm copper baths, his skin returning to a normal hue after many-many cups of tea. Pock awakens covered in mud in the kennels, where a half dozen guard-drakes are sleeping in their stalls. He is confronted by the kennel-master, Tepsen, a hulking four armed ogre. Tepsen assumes Pock is there as one of his new beasts to be trained, and despite the half-elf's words to the contrary Pock is soon beaten into submission by Tepsen. He returns to the group several hours later, covered in mud and sticks and immerses himself in a hot bath. Food for all is served by Talis' servants and at midday the group heads out on foot across the mountain. Heavy winter cloaks over their shoulders the group trudge through the fresh snow towards the town of Parnast and the castle floating above it.


Part XI: Lesser Evils

Parnast.png
[The mountain town of Parnast]

The group stood in shocked awe as they looked out over Parnast. The town was covered in snow, the first of the winter white that would soon cover the region, and had figures moving back and forth carrying torches. From this distance it seemed every inch the ordinary town, but what flew above it was far from ordinary.
A massive castle seemingly carved from a single piece of stone hovered a mile above Parnast, attached to the town by heavy mooring chains. Within its walls the half dozen towers were seemingly carved from solid ice and a chilly misty circled around their highest peaks.
The most disturbing thing about the castle in the sky was the scale. The doors were easily twenty feet high, the steps massive stone blocks and the courtyard too large for humans to need. This was a castle made by giants, for giants, and was now under the command of the Cult of the Dragon.

[The group arrives at the Castle in the Sky]
The group huddles around the cart given to them by Talis, filled with gold she had promised to deliver. It is a short march to Parnast through the snowy woods, but the sun is already setting by the time the group arrives at the town. The town itself is nondescript, the dragon banners flying above her town hall the only thing to pick Parnast out from the dozens of other villages in the Greypeak mountains. What makes it incredible is the shape floating above it. Seemingly carved from stone and ice the castle floats above Parnast like a cloud made solid, great chains keeping it moored to the ground and a rickety bridge connecting to it from a nearby rocky outcrop. The group sets up camp for the night outside the town, shivering in their cloaks as the winter winds set in. The next morning they ride into camp, a banner provided by Talis flown by Diedrich high on his staff. They ride through the snowy town, the villagers eyeing them wearily but obviously used to this proceeding taking place. The reason for this is soon apparent as the wagon joins a line of three others waiting on the hillside to cross the bridge towards the castle.

Saying the password, "Tiamet our mother and strength", to the armoured guards at the foot of the bridge the wagon passes across the rickety wooden planks and up into the castle. The cart is unloaded by some serfs and Norman lies his way into getting a guest room assigned for the group, claiming to be bringing Rezmir her statue. On the way in Caradoc notices a staircase magically concealed by mist and after the group arrives at the room he takes Daisy and Logan up the stairs to explore the upper part of the tower. Another courtyard lies above, this one more carved ice than stone, within which dozens of heavily armoured ogres practice fighting with one another. As soon as they poke their heads out of the door Caradoc and Daisy are seized by two ogres in Dragon Cult armour while Logan, trailing behind, manages to duck behind a pillar and stay out of sight. The ogres take Daisy and Caradoc further up the castle into a white stone tower, finally throwing them down at the feet of a massive man. Standing over three stories tall the man has grim features and light grey skin, his hand firmly gripping a bronze morningstar as ogres stand nearby in servitude to him. He introduces himself as Blagokthus, the master of the castle and bids Daisy and Caradoc to sit.

Back in the guest chambers a runner approaches and asks Norm to meet with Rezmir. They are taken to a lavish chamber with a massive woven rug where a black scaled dragonborn in purple robes kneels before an altar to Tiamet. They had heard much about Rezmir, the leader of the Cult of the Dragon in these parts and the architect of so much misery at Greenest and elsewhere across the Coast. Rezmir turns, introducing herself and asking the group how they came across her statue. They claim to have rescued her statue from the lizardfolk but her reptilian eyes contract in disbelief. She is suspicious as Norm and Pock blather at her, Diedrich reverently holding the holy icon beneath his robes. Bored of the talking Rezmir turns and walks towards her desk, giving Pock just the opening he needed. With a blinding flash of light Rezmir is thrown fowards, a beam of pure white energy burning into her and filling the air with the smell of sizzling meat. Stepping forward to finish her off Pock is surprised as the rug on the floor animates, its sides coming inwards and smothering him. As Pocks muffled screams fill the air Norm rushes forward with his greatsword drawn. Rezmir summons forth an unnatural darkness and holding his holy icon aloft Diedrich counters it with a sphere of pure light. As she clashes magically with the old cleric Rezmir clashes swords with Norm. The half-orcs greatsword clashes again and again, its green runes glowing as it makes contact with Rezmir's black longsword. Simple and unadorned her blade is viciously curved, ending with a pair of spikes that are razor sharp. Rezmir and Norm trade wounds, both struggling to overcome the other while Diedrich fights to keep the room alight.

From behind a group of Cult of the Dragon soldiers come rushing in, but before they can reach Diedrich they are ripped to shreds by what appears to be a pack of wolves. Seemingly made of green light, the fey creatures rush forwards, ripping apart Rezmir's guards as their mistress Daisy, walks slowly behind them with her eyes glowing green. Finally Norm falls to Rezmir's blade and she rushes towards Diedrich. However before she reaches him Diedrich begins to chant, his Celestial words reverberating through the room as glowing white energy begins to coalesce around his aged hands. As Rezmir approaches he unleashes the energy and the black dragonborn simple turns to ash, burnt to nothingness by the holy power on display. The room falls silent as the rug becomes motionless once again, revealing an unconscious but still living Pock. The group spreads out to ransack Rezmir's chambers, while Diedrich tends to Norman and Pock's wounds. From a locked chest Logan retrieves a white mask shaped like a dragon while Caradoc leans down to retrieve Rezmir's own black sword.

Resting in the guest chambers Logan dons the white dragon mask and Pock confronts Caradoc about the blade. While Caradoc admits the sword has unholy power he refuses to part with it, claiming to be strong enough to resist its influence. What none see as he turns away is the sly grin crossing his face as he runs his hand along the dark blade. Daisy and Caradoc reveal their accidental meeting with Blagokthus had gone well, the giant was sick of the Cult of the Dragon and would grant them amnesty if they killed Rezmir. As this task had already been completed the group packs their things and heads up the misty staircase to meet with the cloud giant. Blagokthus is pleased that Rezmir is dead, but concerned that the cult still has other forces in the castle. He says the ogres will be able to seize Skyreach but only if one of the two other powers involved are slain. One is a vampire who lives in the highest peak, an ancient being who has been part of the Cult of the Dragon long before any mortals present. He is known as the "nightwarden" to the inhabitants of the castle, and all know not to cross him. Far below lies the other guardian, a massive white dragon called Glazhael that guards the treasure collected for Tiamet. With both of these figures still alive the giant's forces will have no chance of taking over the castle, and so the party is called to assist once again.

The group moves upwards towards the icey tower in which the nightwarden dwells. With the door sealed shut and the stairs long since crumbled the group decides to scale the outer wall, using the crumbling ice as supports. Caradoc climbs up first, hammer in pitons that allow the others to follow. Daisy attempts to climb as a spider, frustrated that her web does not cling to the moist surface of the tower. Finally Caradoc and Diedrich arrive an opening in the tower, a doorway on the outside face, while Logan joins them soon after, moulding the ice to his will and climbing with no effort at all. Throwing open a dusty door the three come upon a stone sarcophagus guarded by two men wearing black robes. As the door slams open the two figures dash forward, revealing teeth and biting deeply into Diedrich's neck. As Diedrich falls prone the pair turn to Logan and Caradoc, slashing at them with sharpened claws and dripping fangs. Still laying on the ground Diedrich summons his magic and shatters the icey floor below them, sending the figures and the sarcophagus flinging to the floor below. The two thralls are turned to bloody mush by the hard stone floor far below, while Logan manages to fling out his hands just in time and arrest his allies fall. The sarcophagus hits the ground with a resounding crunch, smashing apart and revealing and well dressed man sleeping within. The vampire steps from the coffin, the room eerily quiet as he looks over those present with the eyes of a predator. Only Norm and Caradoc are not gripped by fear, rushing forwards with swords drawn. Slashing at the creature they are shocked to see the wounds healing as fast as they can cause them. Norm is smashed across the room with a backhand strike and crumples on the far side of the room. Caradoc is beaten down by the vampire but despite his heavy wounds rises again, throwing aside his shield and attacking with his sword in two hands. Lunging forwards the vampire bites him in the throat, ripping out his veins and leaving him bleeding out on the floor. Seeing his friend fall Norm turns invisible and the vampire turns to the survivors: "Let's talk".

Sir Caradoc of the Blue Rose, who searched far for Rezmir the Black. Having completed his mission his head was removed from his shoulders by a vampire after his fellows surrendered to the creature.


Part XII: Two Betrayals

Skyreach%20Castle.png
[Skyreach Castle]

In the town of Parnast the people gathered to watch as Skyreach castle ripped free from its moorings and began to float away. An hour earlier the sounds of battle had reached their ears. Those who had gone to investigate found ogres and Cultists killing each other in the courtyards of the castle and had hastily retreated. And now the castle was flying away.
Some felt relief at the departure of the Cult, but most knew in their bones that wherever the castle was going it was going to be far far worse than here…

[A deal is struck]
As Daisy, Logan and Pock stop to talk to the vampire Diedrich takes Caradoc's body and leaves the castle, unwilling to engage with such a foul creature. Still invisible, Norm slinks off to observe from afar. The Vampire speaks to the group, revealing his allegiance with the Cult of the Dragon is far longer than another other in the modern group. He is disappointed the Cult is engaging with the Dragons themselves, as he believed the Cult would be better served by killing the beasts and raising them as undead dragons. The group agrees to help him in this task, in return for power and rewards of their own. Their first goal will be the slaying of Glazhael, the white dragon that lives within Skyreach castle and guards the hoard of the dragon queen. The group moves down the misty staircase to the dragon's lair, Daisy moving behind the group. The others do not notice when she falls silently behind them, cut down by the greatsword of an invisible and vengeful Norm.

Led by the vampire the group arrives at the dragons lair, only realising now that the druid was missing. Moving back to find her they find her broken staff and words carved into the wall: "Followers of evil meet only one fate". Unnerved the group moves back to the dragons lair and enter. The room is filled with frozen pillars and the roof spikes of ice that threaten all those below it. Amongst the ice is frozen the hoard, the gold and precious items gathered by the Cult of the Dragon to offer Tiamet upon her summoning. In the centre of the room sits a massive white scaled lizard. Wings filling the chamber the dragon looks up as the group enters, letting out a burst of cold air from its nostrils as it leaps to the ceiling. Claws gripping the ice Glazhael looks down upon his would-be prey. The Vampire steps forward, trying to convince Glazhael to join his forces and allow himself to be turned undead. The White Dragon refuses, not wanting to sully his draconic blood with the vampiric curse in any form. It is now that the shy Logan steps forward, doffing a bow and offering his services to the White Dragon. He offers his skills at ice magic, wishing to be apprenticed to the mighty creature. The conversation is ended with the arrival of the Giant Blagokthus and an army of ogres.

Suddenly battle is joined, the ogres and golems of Blagokthus fighting against the vampiric thralls of the Vampire. From the stairs members of the Cult of the Dragon rush to protect Glazhael, and the vampire summons swarms of bats that pester ogre and human alike. In the air above a battle of epic proportions takes place. The dragon has taken flight, swathes of ice beaming downwards from his open maw onto the assembled forces. Chasing him is Blagokthus, his enchanted mace allowing him to fly after the dragon. The Vampire is not far behind, leaping from rock to rock on the icy ceiling and landing on the dragon's back, ripping its scales off and clawing deeply into its flesh. Below the group wades in, Pock sending magical bolts at whatever is nearest and Logan summoning ice magic to destroy whole swarms of bats. Eventually the dragon turns, beating its wings in gust of wind that knocks all those within the chamber to their feet. Blagokthus falls to the ground below where with a mighty exhaling of ice breath Glazhael freezes his blood in his veins. Thrown aside by the blast the Vampire flees back up into the castle and the last of his forces are destroyed by the ogres.

Even as the battle ends Pock feels weak, looking down to find Norms poisonous blade having nicked his leg. Falling to the ground Norm raises his sword for the killing blow before Glazhael commands him to stay his blade. Refusing Norm is smashed across the room by Glazhael's tale before being frozen solid by a burst of his breath. Recovered from her wounds Daisy returns to the group, having missed the fight but survived Norm's wounds. Exhausted and wounded Pock, Daisy and Logan stand before the white dragon Glazhael. And, as one, they bow.

In Leor the officers of the Knights of Torm gathered, their golden armour glinting as the light from the stained class window of the chapel hit it. At it's head sat Sir Frume, his bushy beard flowing over his own armour as he addresses the group. There were fearsome rumours about a castle floating through the skies to the north, but Frume knew something the others did not. Diedrich had been spotted near the castle. Frume and Leosin's motley band of adventurers were aboard that castle.
In Skyreach castle the white dragon Glazhael finished off the last of the vampire's thralls and looked up. Before him stood Pock, Logan and Daisy. The saviours paid by Frume to stop the Cult, those who protected Greenest and slew Rezmir the Black. As one, they bow and intone: "We serve Glazhael. We serve Tiamet!"


Campaign Appendixes


Dramatis Persona

Adventurers:

  • Marius: Trainee Paladin whose use of Warlock abilities was shunned by the Church of Light. Now a sell-sword eager to uncover the mysteries of his God.
  • Ravath: A dwarven chef who takes great pride in his work. Known for his delicious meals and his ability to play a strange instrument known as a 'Bouzouki'.
  • Father Diedrich: A clerical scholar from the Church of Light focusing on healing prayers. He was sent on a secretive and special mission by the Bishop of his cathedral.
  • Niko Fause: A Warlock interested in unlocking the secrets of the universe, many of which he believes are contained within the forbidden tome he carries with him.
  • Logan: A young man who would have people believe he is a well-read and powerful wizard. A talented spellcaster, he prefers the use of ice magic.
  • Torrin: A dragonborn sired in the north who wanders the lands trying to help people. A skilled hand with javelins and an expert hunter.
  • Ailluin the Shadow: An elf from the High Forest who has worked for years as a criminal on the Far and Scimitar coasts. Now he seeks a bounty put on the heads of the leaders of the Cult of the Dragon.
  • Norman: A half orc from the northern Tannoch desert. Just after starting his training he left his clan to journey to the coast, eager to see the "great salt desert". He fights with a scimitar and with powers gifted to him by 'the Old Man of the Desert'.
  • Sir Caradoc: A Knight from Crydee who is investigating the rise of the Dragon Cult and any links to the cult of the Dark Lady. He fights with two magically enhanced swords.
  • Pock: A half elf cleric worshipping Curna, the Elven God of Knowledge. Once a wizard's apprentice, he now wanders the lands of men searching for mysteries and any books he can get his hands on.

Notable figures & NPCs:

  • Governor Nighthill: The Lord of the town of Greenest. An old man who has never had to deal with any real threats to his town.
  • Leosin: Monk who has been investigating the raiders led by the Dragonborn Cyanwrath.
  • Gleamsilver: A gnome and suspicious character who joined the caravans outside Daggerford.
  • Orzanelle: An Elven Prince cursed in an age past to walk the earth as a golden stag.
  • Bogluk: A half-orc who is in charge of the Carnath Roadhouse.
  • Snapjaw: Lizardfolk of the Brownscales tribe in the Mere of Dead Men.
  • Splattergoo: A Bullywog shaman who leads the tribe in the Mere of Dead Men. A self proclaimed prophet, he worships several gods he doesn't fully understand the tenants of.
  • Tepsen: Four armed ogre and hunting master of Talis' lodge.
  • Blagokthus: The cloud giant in charge of Skyreach Castle. Hesitant ally to the Cult of the Dragon.
  • The Nightwarden: An ancient creature that served the Cult of the Dragon long before he was turned into a vampire. Wishes to transform the dragons of the Cult into Dracoliches who obey his will.
  • Glazhael: White dragon and guardian of the hoard collected for Tiamet.

Known Organisations:

  • The Cult of the Dragon: Believed to be worshippers of the evil dragon goddess 'Tiamet', these cultists are the core of a group of raiders who have been troubling the Greenfields region.
    • Langdedrosa Cyanwrath: A blue dragonborn who led the raiders on Greenest. Known simply as Cyanwrath by those unable to pronounce his Draconic first name.
    • Rezmir: Known as the "Wearer of Purple", she is a leader in the Cult of the Dragon. A dragonborn of unknown lineage.
    • Raz: A lower member of the Cult of the Dragon who was left behind when the cult left Cyanwrath's camp.
    • Azara Yos: A mysterious man serving as a consultant to the Cult of the Dragon.
    • Vabara: A female warrior who leads the Dragon Cultists in the caravan convoy from Ald's Gate.
    • Borngray: An Elf in charge of the castle in the Mere of Dead Men. He hates non-Elves and believes Tiamet will purge the world of all but the Elves.
    • Talis the White: Owner of a lodge high in the mountains, Talis is ambitious and wishes to move up the ranks of the Cult of the Dragon whatever the cost.
  • The Knights of Torm: A group of paladins and knights who revel and drink as much as they hold to Torm's codes. Nevertheless they are competent warriors who are deadly when pushed into action.
    • Ontharr Frume: Knight of Torm who loves having a good time. Plate armour clad with a single golden gauntlet. Has recently become concerned with the rise of Dragon Cults in the Scimitar Coast.
  • The Ald's Gate Caravaners: It is common practice for caravans heading west from Ald's Gate to Leor to band together and form a convoy to help survive the journey. This convoy consists of eight wagons and some of the caravaners include:
    • Eldkin: A dwarvent merchant dealing in finely made furniture.
    • Mayde: A brewer who accompanies the wagons and sells his brews to the wagoners.
    • Werond: A human horse handler, she rents out her services to those in the caravans.
    • Alan Alder: The owner of a small fur company, transporting hides and furs to Leor.
    • Edhenri Clearmoon: A moon elf dealing in exquisite elven gemstones.

Locations

  • 'The Murdered Shepard Inn': A roadside inn for travellers taking the road to Greenest.
  • Greenest: A small town on the Scimitar Coast. Built around Greenest Keep, it has been peaceful for many generations.
  • Cyanwrath's Camp: A few days march from Greenest, this is where the bandits and Dragon Cultists retreated to with their plundered goods.
  • Elturel: A city that was given a blessing by a priest in years past. A giant ball of light hovers over the city, illuminating it day and night and warding away undead.
  • Ald's Gate: Ald's Gate is a metropolis and city-state on the Sword Coast and Western Heartlands border, on the north bank of the river Chionthar. It blocks the Trade Road and is famed for its slippery and thin streets. It is the trading hub of the eastern Scimitar Coast.
  • 'Sage's House Inn': Inn and stopping house on the Trade Way. A two story wooden building that services traders on the way out of Ald's Gate.
  • Daggerford: A walled town a few days out of Leor that serves as a popular stopping location for travellers and traders to that large city. In it's centre is the Lord's massive castle, rumoured to be Dwarven built.
  • Carnath Roadhouse: A waystation just outside of Leor for work crews helping to rebuild the Long Road north.
  • Naeyetar Castle: A long abandoned castle built within the Mere of Dead Men north of Leor. While the castle remains functional the flooding around it has led to it being abandoned and subsequently reoccupied by creatures from the swamp.
  • Talis' Hunting Lodge: Located high in the Greypeak mountains on the north of the Scimitar Coast, this lodge is owned by Talis the White and is a staging post for the Cult of the Dragon.
  • Parnast: A small town high in the Greypeak mountains, recently occupied by the Cult of the Dragon.
  • Castle Skyreach: A castle carved of stone and ice that once served as the home of a group of cloud giants within the air plane. Now on the material plane it serves as a moving base for the Cult of the Dragon.
[1] Map of the Scimitar Coast
Scimitar%20Coast%20V.png
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License