The long cold night passed uneventfully in their tiny shelter at the base of the tower. Once they’d had their rest, they crept back up to the vampire layer just as dawn approached. Still minutes from dawn, a light mist flitted through the open doorway leading to the small balcony, barely noticeable as it traced its way along the domed ceiling above them. Suddenly, out of the mist a woman’s voice purred, “What is this? Someone has slain my pets. Maybe that cowardly black lizard bitch Rezmir has finally found someone to do her dirty work for her? No matter, you’ll serve nicely as their replacements.” The mist coalesced into the form of a stunning elf woman. Her eyes glowed dull red and her skin was deathly white. The door to the balcony slammed shut and the wicked vampire cackled with glee at the pending meal. Sandesyl Morgia was as terrifying as she was beautiful, but the heroes readied themselves for a battle with the cult vampire. She slashed and bit at them, spraying blood on the cold walls of the tower chamber. Calling to the night’s creatures she summoned swarms of bats to cloud the air and tear their flesh. Thinking fast, Rowan delved into her angelic heritage and brought forth a globe of magical daylight in the chamber center, but Sandesyl shrugged off the artificial sun’s rays. She’d long ago learned the difference between the true sun’s power and the arcane imitations. Things looked grim as the powerful vampire drained the life from Ossendar and shrugged off the blows of Cain and Jarrus. Thankfully, time was on their side and the rising sun was just now rising over the sands of Anauroch far to the east. Seeing the light peeking through the closed doorway, Cain smashed open the door, creating a beam of punishing dawn light that split the room down the center. The heroes used the light to find a reprieve from the vampire’s strikes and burn her into submission. Desperate and unable to find rest in her coffin, Sandesyl fled into the open day sky where she burned up into a fine ashen cloud. A light breeze from the east sent what remained of the ancient vampire floating away.
Torn and bleeding again, the group decided to take their chances in the now unoccupied tower for another long rest, bringing them to mid-afternoon. During their rest they had an extended discussion as to what their best course of action was. Do they strike at the giant overlord Blagothkus, or at the White Dragon Glazhael? And then there is Rezmir and Azbara Joz leading the cult forces. How do they defeat so many enemies? From their conversation with Talis the White they learned that Blagothkus was not particularly enthusiastic about helping the cult, and may in fact have his own goals apart from the Tiamat worshipping Rezmir. They decided to run with that and make contact with Blagothkus, the Cloud Giant Lord of Skyreach Castle.
Ossendar suggested that contacting the giant might be easiest by approaching the castle guard ogres and convincing them to give them an audience by posing as cultists reporting the death of Sandesyl. Carefully interrupting their game of ‘pokey’ (wherein they poked each other with sticks) Rowan smooth talked the dim-witted brutes right to the personal chambers of Blagothkus. Not surprisingly Blagothkus, Lord Blagothkus, was haughty, arrogant and rude. However, the towering Blagothkus did take a keen interest in the death of Sandesyl, but saw no reason to investigate into the matter himself. One less dragon worshiper in the world was a good thing! The observant Blagothkus saw through their ruse fairly easily, but also saw an opportunity regardless of their duplicity. He proposed that if the small folk would eliminate the cultists and the dragon as they had Sandesyl, he would seize the treasure destined for the Well of Dragons. He intends to use it to marshal an army to crush the burgeoning dragon threat. The heroes were put out that they wouldn’t be able to keep the treasure, but happy to thwart the plan to raise Tiamat, so they agreed to the terms.
Blagothkus then took them across the top tier courtyard to his control room. The control room was a jeweled wonder of giant manufacture, controlled in part by a cloud giant spirit that responded to verbal commands. The giant lord pressed a few gems and pulled a lever, and the whole of Skyreach became invisible around them, save for its Cultist tenants. Blagothkus gave a sly grin the heroes and said in giant, “Esclarotta, conduct maneuver T-Alpha.” He then turned to the players and said, “You may want to hold on to something.” A shrill alarm sounded across the castle and the ogres all stomped their feet, embedding their metal spiked boots into the icy floor. A quiet moment later, the castle began to list to the right. Farther. Farther. Up-side down! Screaming as they fell to their deaths, dozens of cultists rained down from Skyreach to the distant forests below. Obviously pleased with himself, Blagothkus chuckled, “Dragon worshiping vermin. Now, time for you to uphold your end of the deal. Get out there and crush them. The cults remaining forces are still enough to slay my guards and guests!”
The group wasn’t about to argue with their new and powerful ally so they took off for the lower tier ready to finally settle the score with the cultists. They arrived at the lower courtyard of the castle to a strange sight. Two powerful Stone Giants being swarmed by dozens of kobolds. The heroes leaped to the giants’ aid, slashing the pathetic creatures to ribbons. With the new-found aid, the giant pair stamped and crushed the kobold swarm to mush with their huge clubs. The pair then retreated to their sanctum, allowing the group to join the main battle between cult forces and ogre guards in the courtyard. Two red wizards, Azbara Joz and another, more powerful wizard held the center of the courtyard while the cultists staved off the guards. Azbara and his master, Rath Modar blasted the group with their powerful magics, but could not keep up the assault long. Rowan unleashed her most powerful magics on the pair and Jarrus and Ossendar weaved their way to the pair, slicing and smashing away at cultists as they went. Cain waded his way in as well, smashing into the nearest cultist he could. A chill wind swept across the courtyard as the white wings of Glazhael cruised across the battle. Moments later a blast of ice energy froze two ogres solid where they stood. Azbara tried to keep the mad and murderous pair of heroes away from him but could not outrun them. The combined blows of Ossendar and Jarrus wore down his magical defenses and knocked him out cold. Seeing his apprentice down and having no desire to follow him, Rath Modar leapt to the air and disappeared into the sky. With the battle for the lower courtyard won, the ogres fled inside their tower walls to avoid Glazhael’s icy breath. The heroes ducked back inside the main stairwell back to the upper tier and made their way back up to where the battle had moved.
When they reached the upper courtyard, they found many slaughtered and frozen ogres strewn about the place. Some of the ogres even festered as if they had been dead for weeks. The doors to the control tower were shattered and they could hear the sounds of someone trying to smash down the control room door resounding from inside the tower. Though they could not see him, Jarrus could hear the steady beat of dragon wings circling above and around them. Glazhael was near. Jarrus channeled his primal power to enshroud them all with cloudy mist and hide them from the dragon’s sight so they could cross the courtyard and slay Rezmir and her guards. Ossendar decided to stay hidden and watch for the dragon, just in case they couldn’t make it across. All was well until Cain’s splint mail armor began to creak in the cold. The screech of ice on metal was like a dinner bell to the dragon and the beast burst from the clouds and swept in for the kill.
Slashing at Ossendar first, the dragon raked his claws across the monks’ bare skin but barely missed him with his ferocious bite. So terrible was his wrath that Rowan, Cain and Jarrus were instantly gripped by uncontrollable fear and could not even think about attacking the terrible dragon. Saying a prayer to his god, Cain instead blessed his allies. Jarrus crept his away around the beast, trying to find a way into the control tower and out of sight. Rowan found her spine and started blasting the fierce dragon with eldritch energy. The dragon swept at its enemies with tooth and claw and tail and things did not look good in those first moments as the heroes were scattered and afraid. But they pulled themselves together and began to smash the icy scales of the dragon. Ossendar’s ki powered strikes busted a few ribs and Cain’s fiery smites sizzled as they landed hard and sunk into Glazhael’s flanks. Reaching into her extensive knowledge of natural lore and summoning magics, Rowan summoned forth a swarm of giant sharp fanged bats around the furious dragon, boxing him in with the leathery wings. Having massive wings of his own, the dragon reared up and beat them furiously, knocking down both hero and bat alike and smashing them with their power. Tired of the pestering insects and their annoying bites, Glazhael breathed deep and let loose an icy blast from his maw, which Jarrus and Ossendar barely avoided the worst of. The slicing blades of Jarrus then found their mark. The ranger was more than familiar with dragons and how best to fell them. The cold blood flowed freely from the dragon and he could see he was outmatched. In a mad bid to escape he beat his wings and leaped up onto the control tower, only to again be caged in by a swarm of giant bats. Thrashing wildly as he tried to take flight, the bats sunk their jaws hungrily into the wings of the fierce monster, and he crashed to the ground in a heap, dead from many wounds.
Rezmir and her death squad was still trying to force their way into the control room so there was no time to lose. Rowan sent her giant bat minions in first, thrashing the black drakes and Dragonfang cultists with their teeth and wings where they stood guarding the ascent up the stairs to the control room door. The dragonfang called upon the black dragon magics bestowed upon it by Rezmir and Thoss Fyurnen, the Sun Swallower and hurled a bolt of acidic energies at Ossendar, dousing the monk in acidic liquid and burning him badly. With incredible agility and guile, Ossendar leaped up the side of the stairs and grabbed onto the tail of one of the ferocious drakes, pulling it back down off the stairway after him. Jarrus and Cain then went to work on the beast and slew it easily. Another drake jumped down onto Ossendar as he lay prone from a failed attempt to pull down a Dragonfang, digging deep into the monk with claw and tooth before he Cain could slice into the beast. Acidic blood flew everywhere as the paladin thrashed the creatures swarming down from the 2nd story. The Dragonfangs swooped down using their limited flying ability and sliced into Cain and Jarrus.
Rezmir, the foe they’d been chasing since they first saw witnessed her plundering of Greenest many months past, appeared at the top of the stairs. She was impressive in stature, standing over 7 feet tall and covered in black dragon scales, revealing her dragonborn origins. Her face was not that of a normal dragonborn but instead was a hideous and terrifying black dragon skull mask. The mask seemed to move and conform to her face as she spoke, “At last we meet. Pathetic fools that you are you think you can stop Tiamat from returning to savage this world. Nothing can stop her…or me!” In her right hand she wielded a black bladed longsword the seemed to draw in the light around it. Her mask glowed green and steamed as she breathed deep and spewed forth an acidic flood from her gaping maw, soaking Ossendar and Jarrus is the corrosive liquid. Then, the lights went out as they were covered in complete blackness through which no light could be seen.
Drake claws and fangs tore at the heroes in the darkness and they could hear Rezmir and her Dragonfang’s cruel laughter as they closed in around them. Rowan, hearing her allies’ feeble attempts at fending off their enemies in the darkness, desperately reached into herself to again call forth the angelic light of Oghma. Before she could release her power though and dispel the darkness she was also dousing in acid and succumbed to the terrible pain. Cain, hearing her painful screams and collapse behind her, crawled over to the unconscious Bard and cast a spell of divine healing to return her to life. From her knees she blasted out with her sweet guitar and divine light flooded the dark room, revealing their enemies. She dug even deeper into her divine power in her blood and glowed so brightly with Oghma’s power of knowledge that the light began to burn the cultists. The last drake shrunk back some, but Rezmir would not be stopped and she pressed on, slashing at Cain with her terrible blade, drawing both blood and vitality from the paladin with each strike. She breathed deep yet again, but Cain just barely managed to raise his shield in time to shield both he and Jarrus behind him from the worst of the corrosive blast. Rowan wasn’t done blasting out her sweet guitar solo though and she turn to a nearby unsuspecting cultist. With one sweet cord riff sent him flying back through the tower door and across the courtyard. Fucking epic. Cain channeled his righteous fury and chanted the sacred prayers of vengeance as he swore his Oath of Enmity. For the pain and suffering Rezmir and the rest of the Cult of the Dragon has caused along the Sword Coast Cain declared his judgement. His blade struck true and cut into the flowing robes of the black dragon, splitting her scales along her shoulder and leg. The opening was more than Jarrus needed. The ranger, also on a quest to bring down the Cult for their attack on his village so long ago, lopped off the hand that wielded the terrible broadsword first, then with a vicious cross cut removed Rezmir’s head (mask and all) from her shoulders. Before her body or head strikes the ground, it turned to a fine dust and disappeared completely in a puff of acrid smoke. Unable to comprehend their utter defeat, the last remaining cultist stood agape in the courtyard. Rowan drew her Bardic songbow and uttered an epic diss as she let fly a music infused arrow. The arrow streaked to its target and blasted right through his chest, leaving a smoking and blackened hole where his heart used to sit.
Battered, frozen, burned, bleeding, exhausted. The four companions looked like they’ve been through hell securing Skyreach and were in no shape for any more action. The massive ice door to Blagothkus’ control room slid open slowly. Ossendar snatches up the artifacts from Rezmir’s body and hastily stuffs them into his bag of holding. Effortlessly pushing aside the bodies of his dead ogre guards and cultists alike, Blagothkus strides down the stairs. “Well done! I’d say we make quite the team, don’t you? With the cults treasure horde I will marshal an army the likes of which this world has never seen and slay every last dragon on this world and beyond!” As he speaks, his eyes seem to look past you all as they blaze with zealot’s conviction. The very air around Blagothkus seems to vibrate and shake. The intensity fades though, and he peers down at you curiously. “What did you recover from that overgrown Iguana? She had that incredible mask of hers.” No amount of trickery from Ossendar was going to convince that powerful giant that he did not have the valuable artifacts so he offered them up to the giant to inspect them without putting up a fight (wise given their vulnerable state). Not interested in keeping them, he used his magical ability to identify them. Rowan took the mask, which gave her incredible powers of draconic persuasion, the ability to spray acid and skin as tough as dragon scales. Ossendar took a powerful pendent that imbued his hands and feet with magical dragon-like claws. Cain Sundersword reluctantly took up the foul Hazirawn, a black bladed long sword that echoed evil whispers in his mind, but promised incredible power on the battlefield. For his killing blow on Rezmir, Blagothkus gifted Jarrus with a magical shortsword with the ability to temporarily steal the life force of its victims.
Blagothkus declared, “My destination is the Spine of the World Mountains, far to the north. I will drop you off at one of the dwarfholds on my way there. Mithril Hall should suffice.” The heroes made themselves comfortable in the giant-sized guest rooms for the long journey north and took the time to hone their skills and bond with their new artifacts.