Tyranny of Dragons

Smoke in the Distance
Five Companions Travel the Road to Greenest

Why are these five companions traveling the road to Greenest this afternoon? Where do they come from and what do they seek? As they approach their destination they are alarmed to see far in the distance black smoke and a great blue winged beast circling Greenest. The Town is under attack by a Blue Dragon! Now is the the time for heroes!

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Greenest needs Heroes!
A night of terror in Greenest

The Heroes arrived to Greenest at dusk and found the once-peaceful community under siege. An adult Blue Dragon and a small army of cultists, kobolds and men-at-arms were plundering the village and killing anyone who got in their way. The town guard, used to dealing with bandits and highwaymen, was quickly routed but was able to get many of the villagers to the relative safety of the town Keep. Unwilling to let the people suffer, the Heroes leaped into the fray and dove headlong into the chaotic streets of Greenest.

Immediately upon entering the city, the Heroes came upon Lin, a human commoner fleeing from an alleyway with her family from a pack of hungry kobolds hot on their heels. The kobolds, not expecting to meet any resistance in the streets were completely unprepared for the wrath of the Heroes and quickly fell. Lin was at first unsure of their intentions given they had a monsterous Dragonborn in their midst, but was soon allayed by the charms of Chef Boyarde, the lovable folk hero chili artist of renown. Lin begged the heroes to help them reach the keep lest some other fiend do them in the heroes naturally oblige.

On their way through the backstreets of Greenest the Heroes also came upon a small group of cultists about to set fire to the local orphanage. Bad idea. They were utterly smashed before they could even light their torches, several of them were even reduced to shadows on the ground by the fiery wrath of the Chef.

The last group of cultists that stood between the Heroes (now with a large group of villagers/children in tow) was duped by the wiles of the crafty wood elf monk, Mike King. When asked who they were and where they were leading their prisoners by a cult ‘Dragonclaw’, the Heroes got the jump on the cultists and broke them utterly. The heroes and the villagers arrived to the Keep portcullis just as it was falling shut, allowing them just enough time to enter before a large group of cultists descended on the keep.

When the Heroes arrived at the Keep the guards were at first alarmed by the Dragonborn fighter that casually strolled through their gate. However, a charming joke (CRIT!) from Chef immediately put the guards at ease and the keep Castellan, Escobert the Red soon followed suite when he heard the tales of the adventures told. Not one to squander a band of heroes when it falls into his lap, Escobert sent the Heroes to see Governor Nighthill so that they could be put to work where it was most needed defending the village.

Nighthill wasted no time putting the Heroes to the test as the Blue Dragon decided that cooking the inhabitants inside the keep with bursts of lightning was the best way to pre-heat his evening meal. The Heroes took to the roof and managed to drive off the dragon before it could do irreparable damage to the fortifications or kill all the city guard.

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With the roof clear, Nighthill and Escobert were able to get a good look at the village and organize a rescue mission to the nearby Temple of Chauntea. Nighthill also asked that they try and capture a cultist or lieutenant and return him to the keep so that they could interrogate him and learn more about the cult, their strength and their motives.

After a rather messy and smelly trip through the secret tunnel out of the keep to the riverbank, the Heroes emerged and narrowly dodged a nearby patrol. They then crept to the nearby hill and successfully duped the forces assembled at the door to the temple into think they were reinforcements. The ruse was going smoothly until one cultist, a dragonclaw by his black clothes and mask, delivered the greeting “Hail Tiamat in all her Glory!” (holding his right hand up and wiggling his fingers to signify the five headed evil goddess of chromatic dragons). This did not sit well with the Chef and pushed him into inconsolable rage, striking the dragonclaw down. Luckily for the Heroes they were able to dispatch the rest of the cultists before a nearby mob was able to discover them. The Heroes persuaded the villagers inside the Temple to allow them in and quickly devised a plan to get everyone out alive. The Heroes opened the back door, but were greeting by a storm of sling missiles from the hungry Kobolds that brought both Chef and Content Not Found: ander-flameborn-1_ to their knees. A few well placed spells and crossbow bolts from Boink Goldswaith and Rowen Evenwood with some insane judo chops from _Content Not Found: mike-king cleared the field though and the Heroes were able to escape the Temple before the cultist mob could break through the front door.

With their unconscious dragonclaw in tow, the heroes returned to the keep through the secret tunnel and found that the cult has become impatient and decided to break through the sally gate and attempt to overthrow the defenders. Escobert and his guard were hard at work in the courtyard, locked in deadly combat with a drake and several cult soldiers when the Heroes arrived. Things got very quiet very quickly as Boink Goldswaith muttered an incantation that he had recited in many a barmaids bedroom and near all the attackers fell suddenly to sleep! With Escobert’s aid, the Heroes routed the remaining cultists and drove back another wave before the village enchanter could Mend the door back into working order.

With the Keep secured and the last of the villagers made safe the Heroes sat down down to take stock of their supplies and mend their wounds. The night was yet young though and who knows what the mysterious cultists could have in store.

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Show-down Beat-down
Greenest's heroes step up to get smacked down

With the final incursion into the Keep thwarted, the heroes earned themselves a brief respite to heal their wounds reassess the state of Greenest. Naturally, Governor Nighthill soon came to them with even more dire news. The mill on the western fringe of town appears to be under attack by the raiders. If the raiders put the mill to the torch the people of Greenest will surely suffer starvation by the end of the coming winter. The heroes sneak out through the tunnel and make their way to the mill without meeting any resistance for once. Upon their arrival they discover that the raiders were actually attempting to bait them into a trap! Some clever illusions from Rowen Evenwood gave them the upper hand and the raiders did not last long. Suspecting a trap, Boink Goldswaith took the lead and with some truly inspirational sneakiness rode the waterwheel up to the second floor and bypassed the well laid trap of the cultists. The rest of the group followed suite and soon the whole party was outside a second story window poised to lay ruin to the cultists in their own trap.

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Sadly, Ossendar Osterius was not prepared for the rusty window hinge trap! He critically failed his attempt to open the window without drawing any attention.

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A ruckus ensued. With a few well placed kung fu kicks one cultists quickly found himself airborn and headed down to the first floor using the gravity express. The rest of the cultists could not stand before the heroes and were quickly laid low, but not before Cain Sundersword was felled by a well timed blade. No matter, that’s what healing potions are for right? With the mill secure, the heroes were soon relieved by a small group of guards from the keep and could return to Nighthill for their just reward.

With their ambush thwarted, its seems as though the leaders of the Cult and their raider army had had just about enough of Greenest. When the heroes arrived back at the Keep they found the entire army had assembled, dragon and all, outside the keep’s main gate. Out from the darkness strode the terrifying blue-scaled monstrosity, Langdedrosa Cyanwrath. The dragonborn called out the heroes of Greenest to a test of single combat, with the prize being the release of one of their hostages. With the whole army watching, Chef Boyarde stepped up to the challenge. Governor Nighthill rewarded his bravery by gifting him with Peacekeeper, a magical longsword kept by the Governors of Greenest since the town’s founding. Chef stepped out into the combat circle and was immediately crushed by the terrible strength of Cyanwrath. With two swift cuts the stout fighter was bested and knocked out cold. Unimpressed, Cyanwrath took Peacekeeper as his spoil, and said “Come back when you’ve grown a little, whelp, and maybe then you’ll present more of a challenge.” True to his word, he released his hostages before striding off into the darkness, leading the Cult and all their forces from the bereft and smoldering ruin of Greenest.

In the warm sun of a new day the leaders of Greenest decided that they would not loose hope. Governor Nighthill commissioned the Heroes to follow the raiders back to their base to try and determine what their next move was before they could leave the area. Refreshed with a night of rest, the heroes set out. It wasn’t long before they encountered a group of stragglers along the easy to find wagon trail. These fools had no chance and were quickly slaughtered. Now the heroes of Greenest stand ready to continue on the trail south onto the rocky plains where certain danger awaits.

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Ocean's 5
Infilltrating the Cult of the Dragon's Camp

The heroes resumed their journey towards the cultist’s camp and a few miles farther down the wagon trail they encountered a natural choke point and rightly anticipated a trap. The heroes managed to route the cult initiates, acolytes and their guard leader, but not before one of the cultists fled.

Walking into the camp, even with initiate apparel, now seemed ill advised. Stealth and misdirection were to be their weapons of choice and they quickly formulated a foolproof plan. Their objectives were clear: obtain the desired information about the cult, rescue Erlanthar and recover any valuables they could. Rowen Evenwood would sneak into camp that night and acquire as much info as she could (by any means necessary) before Ossendar Osterius would create a massive bonfire distraction outside camp. With the fire distracting much of the camp guards, Chef Boyarde, Cain Sundersword and Boink Goldswaith would enter the camp from the rear and try to retrieve the bound Leosin.

The first phase went swimmingly. Rowan managed to sweet talk the needed information from some reveling cultists before going ‘black widow’ on one of them. The poor fellow ended up on the wrong end of a crossbow bolt before they could consummate their new-found love among the boulders on the edge of camp.

Just as Rowan was removing her crossbow bolt from the back of the cultists skull, Ossendar lit a fire big enough to be seen from Greenest in the grasslands just outside of camp. The guards and many of the cultists and kobolds from lower in the camp gave chase as predicted, but were no match for the blinding speed of the portly Monk.

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When the signal fire blazed, the other three heroes made their way down the rock face and sneaked into the camp’s less populated fringe without attracting any attention from Leosin’s guards…almost. Time was short and a well delivered Sleep spell by Boink managed to keep the guards from raising the alarm. Boink proceeded to creep up to Leosin, being the least noisy of the unlikely burglary squad, and unfortunately had to knock out the poor fellow before he could make any fuss about his removal from the camp.

With Ossendar’s distraction played out, the cultists were beginning to return to camp. Rowan had to think quick to rescue some captives she came upon unexpectedly and decided to use her compatriots across the camp as best she could. She promptly ran up to the guards and said, “Look, someone’s escaping with a captive!”, directing the guards to her fleeing friends. She then managed to draw the remaining ones off with a well placed minor illusion cantrip, allowing her friends just enough time to make it up the hill before the guards could reach them. The jig was up though as one guard headed for the guard tower to raise the alarm. With an EPIC feat of very un-bard-like strength (thanks to Bardic Inspiration) she managed to pull all the spikes keeping the slaves in place from the ground and headed for the hills with the liberated captives as fast as she could.

With Leosin draped over Chef’s shoulder, he, Cain and Boink scrambled up the hill and turned to give battle to the pursuing guardsmen. The guards, with a berserker a leading the charge, gave the three all they could handle. The berserker was a foe stronger than any but Chef had faced before and his reckless blows staggered Chef and Cain. They won the skirmish, but not before Cain delivered a crushing blow with his Thunderous Smite. The blow nearly ruined the berserker but also unfortunately alerted every cultist in the area to their whereabouts. A pair of half-orc scouts raced across the plains in hot pursuit and managed to catch Cain and Chef, cutting them down with blade and arrow. Luckily, a firebolt or two from Boink was enough to stay the deathblow and a couple healing potions got the trio back on their feet and fleeing the scene with Leosin before the rest of the camp could converge on them.

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Just as Cain’s thunderous blow tolled across the camp, Ossendar appeared out of the gloom above the chaos of the camp, shouting, “Death to Tiamat… motherfuckers!” He then disappeared into the night in a flash, leaving the Cult of the Dragon in utter disarray.

The heroes and the rescued captives arrived back in Greenest in the early morning hours after a hard overnight march to a joyous welcome. Governor Nighthill paid them their promised 250 gp apiece and they spent the next day enjoying their success and popularity.

The next day, Leosin summoned his rescuers to his bedside and told them his tale. He had been tracking the cult’s movements and attacks in the region and decided that in order to learn more, he would have to join their number when they attacked their most likely next target…Greenest! His plan went afoul when he was taken prisoner by the cult and their dread leaders, Rezmir the Black, Frulam Mondath and Langdedrosa Cyanwrath. Leosin suspects that the cult is up to something much more diabolical than mere robbery in the depths of the cave that occupies the back of the camp. He fears time is short and there is no time for him to recover. He asks the heroes to delve into the cave and find out what the cult is hiding and planning, and thwart it if they can. Leosin offered 150 gp payment for their troubles and additional payment for their transportation north to Elturel (where he must go when he regains his strength) after their task is complete.

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Delving into the Cultist Lair
Bringing the Fight to the Cult of the Dragon

Leosin Erlanthar offered the heroes a tidy sum of 150 gp a piece to return to the Cult of the Dragon camp and enter the hidden cave. Once there, they were to determine what the cult’s purposes were and to thwart them, if possible.

This being their first true dungeoneering trip the group decided to err on the side of caution and stocked up on healing potions, thieve’s tools and other assorted gear…just in case. They returned to the camp with caution, but found that it had been abandoned. The carts and treasure appear to have traveled west just after their nocturnal incursion.

As they took note of their surroundings they were approached by a man on horseback with a panther companion. Jarrus Stormrider was his name, and he had a tale to tell. Jarrus was a hunter for the cult, and had been spending his days ranging across the plains in search of game for the cult. He and others like him had been supplying the cult with an astonishing amount of game, presumably for the drakes the cult bred and training somewhere in the cave.

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He was in fact only biding his time, and was on a quest for vengeance. One of the cult leaders in the cave, Frulam Mondath previously attached and killed many people of his village. Now, far from home and branded a traitor to his people, Jarrus seeks the aid of the heroes and to join their ranks.

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Upon entering the cave, Rowen Evenwood was ambushed by a small group of guards who saw the party approach. A pair of the fierce Dragonclaws, clad in black and bearing wicked scimitars, led the assault and Ossendar Osterius was nearly felled by their blades before Rowan could heal him with her healing words.

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The guards and Dragonclaws were felled eventually by the fiery breath of Chef Boyarde and the sweeping blade of Cain Sundersword. Jarrus and Pan-thor (his panther companion) waded into the fray and eventually the day was won. They took one of the guards captive and eventually were able to successfully interrogate him. The found out that deeper in caves lived many Kobolds and possibly Drakes, and that he is a personal guard of Frulam Mondath. Leaving the guard unconscious, bound, gagged and tied to a pillar, the group pressed down into the cave’s depths.

Their first challenge came from a simple stair-slide trap devised by the devious kobolds residents to dump unwary adventurers in the midst of some dangerous violet fungi. Jarrus Stormrider fell victim to the trap and suffered a necrotic blast from the foul fungi. In the next chamber, they were engulfed by a dense cloud of angry (and very much not willing to be handled) bats while they fended off a swarm of bloodthirsty stirges.

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Cain Sundersword, despite his best efforts could not squish the winged vermin with much success. Jarrus, Rowan and Chef had more success and managed to smash quite a few of the little buggers before they could do much damage. With the stirges splattered they pressed on and found a drake training area and luckily were able to dispatch the kobold guards before they freed the dangerous beasts under their care. Soon after that, the party found their way into the barracks of the wretched kobolds and managed with a few strong blows to decimate them as well.

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Now, the heroes of Greenest must decide how deep into the cave’s depths they are willing to venture and what risks they will take to expunge the Cult of the Dragon from their lair. They have yet to find any trace of the mighty Langdedrosa Cyanwrath or Frulam Mondath.

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ROUND 2...FIGHT!
Langdedrosa laid low and Frulam flees

The heroes pressed on into the cultist’s lair despite their resources being stretched to the limit. As they descended deeper into the darkness they discovered an unholy altar of Tiamat and their foe, Langdedrosa Cyanwrath! The foul dragonborn challenged Chef Boyarde to a rematch and the two again fought. This time Chef was prepared and the contest went on for what seemed an eternity. Unfortunately, the repeated blows of Peacekeeper (the stolen magical sword of Greenest) in the hands of Langdedrosa proved too much for the heroic Chef and he had to call for aid from Rowen Evenwood. With that interference the bystander guards joined the fray and battle was joined in the temple. A blast of lightning from Langdedrosa found Boink Goldswaith, but the villain soon fell to the furious fists of Ossendar Osterius and the twin blades of Jarrus Stormrider. His guards were easily diced by Cain Sundersword, who took the opportunity to bring forth holy might at long last.

After the fray had subsided, the heroes found a small chest at the base of the hideous shrine to Tiamat and unfortunately tripped it’s trapped lid. Where’s a rogue when you need one!? They were forced to flee the room by caustic fumes but most escaped with only minor injury. They then found their way into the now abandoned chambers of Frulam Mondath and her retinue. The priestess had fled, leaving behind her vestments and most belongings. It appears as though when the road got rough, Frulam’s dedication to the Cult of the Dragon was not as strong as she thought. The party also recovered a partially singed map, detailing the plans of the cult to move their stolen goods to west and north to Baldur’s Gate.

The heroes took their time exploring the rest of the cave and eventually discovered the true purpose of the Cult, three black dragon eggs. The eggs were guarded attentively by the last of the cave’s kobolds and two fierce guard drakes, all of which died from the heroes onslaught. The egg chamber also contained an invisible guardian, a Roper, who the cult had kept satisfied at great expense as a final safety measure. The dangerous creature was interested only in food, and was redirected to the easiest meals possible to keep it from gobbling up the party as well. Well played, heroes.

After taking a long rest in the cave (and hitting level 4!) they emerged to find that Frulam and her guards had slain the hunters camped outside the cave, stolen all their horses, and rode north at a great pace. Doing the right thing, they brought the dragon eggs and the few stolen valuables they were able to recover to the people of Greenest, before striking north on the trail of Frulam.

Over several days they gained ground on the priestess in the wilderness, but could not overtake her before she reached the ‘Caravan City’ of Scornubel. Not to be deterred, they began combing the city for news of the priestess and encountered one of her guards, deep into his cups. This just so happened to be the same guard they left chained to a pillar in the hatchery, and so he was none-too-thrilled to encounter the party again. The inebriated guard was surprisingly eager to reveal Frulam’s plans though, and revealed he was no longer in her employ. Having failed in protecting the cult’s hatchery, the priestess has decided to reach out to the nefarious Red Wizards of Thay. She has sent them messages, and has arranged to meet their representative that very night at a secret location. The guard had heard many evil things about the Red Wizards and their Lich leader and wanted no part. He happily gave the party Frulam’s current location in return for being left to his ale.

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The Scornubel Marathon
The Spice of Life is born!

With Frulam’s hideout now known, the heroes made their way through the busy streets of Scornubel to confront the priestess. Death was in Jarrus Stormrider’s eyes and his mood was as black as his cloak. As they entered the square they found their timing to be poor. Frulam, seeing the now famous Chef Boyarde across the square, gathered her guards about her and took flight through the streets. If the heroes wanted to stop her before she met with the Red Wizard Emissary, they were going to have to catch her first!

With a healthy head start of 500 feet, Frulam and her guards led the heroes on a long chase. Though many obstacles impeded their progress, it was Jarrus’ feats of superb marksmanship that ultimately slowed the priestess’ flight. He whispered the sacred words of the wild to his first arrow and let fly an unbelievable shot of at least 300’. The arrow found it’s mark in the leg of Frulam and burst forth with terrible nettles, piercing her flesh and binding her legs. She lost much ground to the heroes before she resume her flight, and it was only a matter of time before Pan-Thor and Ossendar Osterius closed the gap. Desperately casting her domination spells at any hero in reach, Frulam couldn’t quite gain any distance. Ossendar ran himself ragged with incredible speed, closing the gap quickly! A final arrow in the back from Jarrus brought the cowardly priestess down. With their employer now defeated, the guards gave up and scattered into the city.

The heroes bound and gagged the unconscious Frulam and brought her to the nearest inn for interrogation. Once she regained consciousness, Frulam (with some persuasive assistance from Rowen Evenwood) sang like a bird. She revealed that with her failure at the hatchery she was likely now marked for death by the cult. Her only option now was to sell out her former cohorts, the red wizards Azbara Joz and his mentor Rath Modar. She contacted the leaders of the Red Wizards of Thay and arranged a meeting to reveal the cult’s movements and plans as best she could in exchange for transportation to Thay and a ‘safe’ harbor. She asks the heroes, “Who are you people?” and they respond in unison “We are the Spice of Life!” She then tells the heroes of the assigned meeting place with the Emissary at the Wailing Wench tavern. Ossendar, exhausted from his efforts in the chase takes this time to rest and keep watch over their prisoner.

The Spices decided to attempt a bold ruse. With their purple cultist robes from the hatchery, they disguised Rowan as Frulam to attempt to learn what they could from the Emissary, possibly even offering to hunt down the errant wizards Azbara and Rath themselves for a prize. A grim scene greeted them at The Wailing Wench. The bodies of patrons were strewn about the place and the back room glowed with cold blue menace. They may have underestimated the evil of the Red Wizards! Steeling their will, the Spices enter the back room and found a red robed and tattooed human man and a ghastly bodyguard. Behind them, a glowing circle of runes on the ground pulsated with arcane energy. The wizard greeted the Spices coldly, but was otherwise convinced by Rowan that she was indeed Frulam. After a brief exchange, the wizard harshly ordered Rowan to enter the portal for her payment. Rowan hesitated, but moved toward the portal slowly. Her confident outward appearance hid the sheer terror building inside her. At the edge of the portal circle she stopped, sweat now beading on her brown. The terror now evident, the Wizard deduced he had been duped!

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Pan-Thor leaped to Rowan’s aid and began slashing at the Wight, though his teeth seemed to do little real damage. Uttering the words of the spell Tasha’s Hideous Laughter, Rowan then attempted to neutralize the wizard. The Emissary laughed, but only at her pathetic attempt at spellcraft as his Counterspell easily negated Rowan’s efforts. With a sneer and a cruel laugh he disappeared from view. Now the Wight looked to the dead bar patrons and said in a voice that chilled the heart, “Rise!” and four of the deceased staggered to their feet and attacked with cold, lifeless limbs. Overcoming his horror, Cain Sundersword invoked the blessings of Lethander on his allies and Rowan gather her spite and cast Bane on several zombies. Chef waded into the fray, wielding Lawbringer with incredible skill as he hewed one of the Zombies in two. The Wight struck out at Rowan, diminishing her life-force little by little. From about the room the Emissary cackled, letting fly barrage after barrage of magic missiles, whittling down the Spices. As the zombies began to fall to pieces and the Wight’s defenses buckled, a cruel laugh from the Emissary heralded a fiery blast as the Thayan let loose a powerful fireball on his undead thralls and his enemies. The arcane flames incinerated the zombies and overcame Cain and Chef. With glee the Wight’s longsword slashed at Rowan, rendering her unconscious as well. Jarrus alone stood now against the invisible wizard and his Wight, but he took a moment to administer a health potion to Rowan, getting the bard back into the fight before the Wizard could finish them all off. With words and blessings of healing Rowan then healed herself and Cain. Cain in turn with healing hands brought Chef back from near death. Seeing his defeat at hand the Emissary howled, “The Red Wizards of Thay will not forget this! We will bring ruin to the enemies of Szass Tam where-ever they hide!” and with a flash of arcane magic the portal activated and whisked the wizard back to Thay. The wight was quickly slain without the aid of the Emissary and the Spices took a moment to survey the scene and recover.

The Wight wore a Cloak of Protection, which luck gave to Jarrus for his many heroic deeds. After a quick swig of the finest spirits the Wailing Wench had to offer, the Spices returned to Ossendar and Frulam to plan their next move. Leosin Erlanthar waits for their report on the hatchery in the Green Dragon Inn of Elterel, a 2 day cruise west by river skiff on the Chionthar River.

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The Sea of Swords
High Adventure on the High Seas

With Frulam Mondath in tow, the Spices embarked on a brief cruise down the Chionthar River to the city of Elterel to meet the Harper agent, Leosin Erlanthar at the Green Dragon Inn. Approaching the city they couldn’t help but notice the shining orb floating above the central citadel, the Companion. This orb of divine radiance shines over the City of Elterel at all times and is said to protect the entire realm of Eltergard from creatures intolerant of sunlight (Drow, Vampires, Zombies etc.). After delivering Frulam into custody of the city guard they set out into the city to find the Green Dragon Inn. They found the Inn easily enough and were greeted by their old friend Leosin. Before they got a chance to catch up though, Leosin introduced them to his associate, Ontharr Frume, a paladin of Torm and the leader of the Order of Gauntlet. Ontharr challenged the Spices to a number of good-spirited drinking games and tests of strength during their evening in the Green Dragon. Jarrus got his ass kicked in arm wrestling and Cain shamed the fellow paladin in the art of the guzzle. Eventually, Ontharr was impressed by the Spices and at last saw the spark of debauchery – er- heroism that Leosin had extolled. As the hour grew late Ontharr invited them all to a secret meeting in one of the Inn’s back rooms.

With the curtains drawn tight and the door secured, Ontharr and Leosin debriefed the Spices on the situation with the Cult of the Dragon as far as they knew it. The sacking of Greenest by the cult was by no means an isolated incident. The larcenous fiends had been looting small villages up and down the sword coast and east as far as the inland sea. Strangely, up to now the cultist had been extremely successful at making their stolen treasure disappear. With great effort the Harpers had discovered that the cult was moving the treasure in disguised crates west, to the harbor city of Baldur’s Gate. The cult intends to ship it north to Neverwinter by sea as part of a merchant flotilla in ten days time. Leosin and Ontharr asked the Spices to travel down river with great haste to the city of Baldur’s Gate and meet with a representative of the Zhentarim, a gnomish woman by the name of Jamna Gleamsilver. The Zhentarim (or Black network as many know them) have a professional interest in the thievery of the cult, and have accepted the Harper’s request for assistance in this matter. Before parting ways, Leosin (Harpers) and Ontharr (Order of the Gauntlet) offered them all membership into either of their factions, with access to the faction’s resources going forward and on their mission. Jarrus Stormrider and Cain Sundersword joined the Order of the Gauntlet, and Rowen Evenwood and Ossendar Osterius joined the Harpers. Huzzah!

A few uneventful days on the river later and the Spices arrived at the foggy Gray Harbor of Baldur’s Gate. They took in the sights of the glorious city briefly and tried to lay low, then made their way to the Low Lantern, a beached 3-mast sailing vessel converted into the seediest of seedy taverns. Hours went by and they were beginning to get nervous that their contact wasn’t going to show. Then, while waiting for an order of mutton and a round of mead, Ossendar heard the faint sound of breathing from close at hand and then noticed a pair of large eyes peering up at him from under their table. They had found their contact.

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Jamna made quite the impressive entrance. The spunky gnome immediately slid into their midst and claimed to save them from an assassin’s barb. They had been ‘sloppy’ up to this point and attracted far too much attention during their stay in Baldur’s Gate so far… according to her. She offered them three options for joining the flotilla bound for Neverwinter. First, they could join the crew as deckhands and be invisible, unarmed and undetected by the cultists. Second, they could book passage for a handsome price of 100 gp per person and try their luck at disguising themselves from the cult’s agents on board. Third, they could bribe the guard’s guild and attempt to join the voyage as the ship’s guard. Unpredictably, the Spices decided that that best course would be to split up, with Ossendar joining the deckhands as a crows nest squab, Chef and Cain signed on as guards and Rowan and her manservant Jarrus signed on as passengers. They each donned their disguises hoped for the best.

Sadly, the open seas are no place for a panther of the likes of the mighty Pan-thor. With a heavy heart, Jarrus Stormrider released the faithful cat from his side and they parted ways…possibly forever. In typical cat fashion, Pan-thor coudn’t care less. It would take much time and training for Jarrus to hone his skills in combat to make up for his beast companions absence, but luckily Chef had nothing but time and cooking to keep him occupied on the voyage so the two got to work.

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The captain of their vessel, The Crying Daughter, and commander of the flotilla was a water genasi by the name of Barnabus Foamrider. He and his sea-elf first mate, Sal-Ritha Keelwright ran a tight ship, and the small fleet of 5 sailing ships made its way north at a moderate clip. The voyage was uneventful for the first couple weeks…

One day, a passing pod of dolphins and whales caused some commotion when a particularly large whale breached nearby, splashing the deck and knocking some crates loose..and open! Some unseemly deckhands quickly secured the cargo before anyone (anyone except the keen-eyed elf in the crow’s nest that is) could get a look at what was in the crates. From his perch high above the deck, Ossendar got a fleeting glimpse of something shiny before the deckhands packed away the goods. A few nights later a murder was discovered! One of the ship guards, a swarthy fellow that shunned the Spices for some reason, was found dead on the deck one night amidst some crates. Cain noticed some small boot-prints leading from the scene, but eventually lost the trail below decks.

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A few days later, The Lonely Son, was attacked by a group of bloodthirsty Sahuagin. Rising from the depths without warning, the vile sea demons attacked from the backs of fearsome hunter sharks and wreaked quite a bit of havoc and misery aboard the Son before the Spices could make their way over to fight them. The Sahuagin priestess and her giant octopus mount made short work of some of the Son’s guards, but were no match for the Spices!

After a rousing victory party, Captain Foamrider decided it would be prudent to seek repairs to the Lonely Son in the nearby free port of Mintarn. The island city was known as a safe, albeit fairly lawless harbor for those seeking refuge in the Sea of Swords. On their way there, they encountered a group of merfolk merchants. The merchants sold the Spices some water-breathing potions, conversed with the crew for a time and then were on their way. Chef decided to join the merfolk and rode astride their sea turtle beast of burden away into the sunset to everyone’s great sadness. It seems as though not even the trackless paths of the sea could tame the wild wanderings of the Dragonborn hero-chef.

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Kugag's Tomb
A Storm Giant's tomb is no place for the unwary

After a pitched battle with the Sehuagin, Captain Foamrider brought the fleet to the Freeport of Mintarn for repairs and resupply. Before they could settle in Jamna Gleamsilver approached the Spices with a job offer. A group of Zhentarim ‘archaeologists’ has gone missing on a nearby island while investigating a tomb. She was tasked with the recovery of the team and their goods, but intends to finish their mission as well. She needs muscle, hero muscle… Spice muscle! The area of Mintarn is lorded over by a ornery ancient red dragon named Hoondarrh and she had no intention of ending up in his belly. Having a week to kill, the Spices decided to make some coin while they waited for the Lonely Son’s repairs to be completed.

Jamna commissioned a small sailing vessel to take them to the somewhat remote island where the tomb was said to be located. Besides an attack by a pair of hungry Perytons the voyage was uneventful. By mid afternoon they had beached their vessel and made their way to the far side of the island. They were surprised to find a group of sailors from the Howling Hound on the beach as they rounded a rocky outcropping.

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The sailors had heard tales of a great stag with a coat of pure gold that made it’s home on the island. They promptly took to the woods to search for and slay the beast. The Spices decided to join them and before long Jarrus Stormrider and an invisible Rowen Evenwood found their quarry. Amazed by the beauty of the golden stag, Rowan could not raise her hand against the beast. With the help of Ossendar Osterius they persuaded the stag that they meant it no harm. The creature then beckoned the Spices, seemingly asking them follow it into a nearby ruin.

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They followed, and once they promised not to slay it for profit it revealed a divination, saying “Though much pain lays yet before you, stay true to your path and follow the river of Gold to the castle in the sky.” The stag then offered them an Elvish Songbow to aid them in their quest and thanked them for their mercy.

The Spices reached their destination by late afternoon. The Zhentarim expedition’s camp was pristine, but deserted. The camp laid just outside a great cave opening along the craggy seashore. Jamna noticed that the tracks of the archaeologists led directly to the cave opening.

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The Spices carefully investigated the cave and found a gruesome but puzzling scene inside. The expedition members were found all dead on the cave floor, their battered bodies covered with blisters and apparently drowned as well. A great door stood at the far end of the cavern above which read in dwarven script “Here Lies Kugag, Beloved Betrayer. Endure as he and you may pass” and four pillars of unique construction stood at it’s center. On each pillar a riddle was written in a different language:

A smooth blue stone pillar with a basin protruding from it read in Celestial, “I look flat, but I am deep, Hidden realms I shelter. Lives I take, but food I offer. No man can own me, yet I encompass what all men must have.”

A intricately carved sandstone pillar with a small hole carved in it read in Primordial “Born of cold and born of heat. Pacing the world on legs fleet. Swiftest on high, lethargic down low. The actions are seen, but the form does not show.”

A roughly hewed granite pillar with a jagged recess read in dwarven script, “I wear a crown of white and a shirt of green. My heart is heavy and hard, though I know no sorrows. To the sea I march day by day and yet I never reach it.”

Finally, a jet-black glassy pillar with a notch in it had writing that nobody could decipher, so the Spices decided to rest the night while Rowan brushed up on her Comprehend Languages Spell.

Shortly before dawn the Spices were awoken by the sound of howling wolves in the distance and quickly came under assault by a pair of Dire Wolves and their wolf pack. The massive beasts burst forth from the trees and their snapping jaws dug into the Spices where-ever they could. Jarrus was surrounded, but his flashing blades slew many of the wolves before they make a meal of him. Coming to the aid of his companion, Cain Sundersword channeled all the fury of his faith and smote the male Dire Wolf…HARD. With their pack now in ruin, the remaining Dire Wolf fled into the gray morning mist.

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Ready for whatever might burst forth from the tombs massive doors, the Spices set about to solve the riddles. Casting her comprehend languages spell on herself, Rowan read the black pillar’s Jotun (giant) speech riddle, “A bound serpent dances on the cave floor. A writhing guardsman of the windy door. Sharp yet supple and mute yet speaking. Devoid of hunger, nourishment seeking.”

The elements of course! But what sequence would spare them the same fate as the last expedition? With no obvious course before them the Spices decided…to hell with it! Cain poured his flagon worth of seawater into the blue pillar’s basin. What’s the worst that could happen, right? The cave mouth immediately sealed them in by some hidden mechanism and water burst forth from the tomb’s ceiling and began to rapidly fill the room. Sensing a slight weakness in their plan, Cain scooped up a torch from a fallen researcher, lit it and placed it into the black pillar’s notch. Immediately the water and the air in the room began to feel much warmer and several of the party began to feel the heat. Jarrus reached down and scooped up some sand from the cave floor and stuffed it into the granite recess, causing the ceiling to begin dropping down toward them! Time seemed short as the water deepened, the ceiling began to drop while the temperature climbed. Jamna swam down to the remaining air pillar and blew into it as hard as she could. Arcane light burst forth up from the cave floor, revealing an unseen portal circle beneath the sands between the pillars. After a blinding flash, Jamna and the Spices found themselves prone on the floor of a great circular room. They could see faintly above them the depths of the ocean through clear crystal. Faint blue light from the far away surface revealed a room with intricately carved reliefs on the walls and a massive humanoid statue at the room’s center. Four dark doorways lined the walls around them… they had arrived in Kugag’s Tomb!

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The Fury of the Elements
The Spices Search for the Keys to Kugag's Tomb

Gazing up at the wonders of the aquatic world above them the Spices were in awe of the Tomb of Kugag. Many incredible creatures of the deep could be seen swimming by, including a whale of incredible size. Truly, the dwarves must have held this storm giant in high esteem to build him such a place to eternally rest. The story of Kugag and the dwarves played out in relief carvings along the walls of the room. A terrible war was waged by giants of all kinds against the people of Faerun in ancient times. Kugag is portrayed as the bringer of hope and salvation, though it is not apparent how or why a storm giant would betray his people. A massive door loomed before them at one end of the perfectly circular room and four doorways led off into the gloom. Braziers adjacent each doorway swirled with the elements; fire, wind, water and earth. The massive door had four empty sockets and their task appeared clear. Find the keys to the sockets to breach Kugag’s tomb and claim his treasure.

First they delved into a room of bitter cold. They found a frozen pool that contained a glowing blue orb in it’s depths. Ornery ice mephits greeted them and tried to thwart their attempts to access the ice covered pool. Upon touching the pool’s frozen surface, a Water Weird burst forth and lashed out at the heroes. The fearless monk, Ossendar Osterius dived into the form of the water weird and managed to pass through it into the depths of the pool. Ossendar swam to the orb on it’s pedestal without succumbing to the icy waters and escaped the fluid tendrils of the water weird as well. But the magical power of the key flash froze the water of the pool again, sealing the monk and Cain Sundersword in ice. With immense strength Cain cracked the restraining ice and escaped the Water Weird before the guardian could drown him. Passing over the threshold seemed to dispel the guardian and they walked away chilled, but resolute.

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The heroes next tackled searing heat of the room of flames. Intolerable blasts of heat leaped forth randomly from fissures in the floor and magma mephits shrieked and clawed at the intruding heroes. So long had the heat brewed in the depths of the tomb that they had attracted fire snakes from the plane of elemental flame to them, and they fiercely defended their home. This time it was the bold Jarrus Stormrider who nimbly ducked in and out of the flames, managing to traverse much of the gauntlet without meeting harm. His luck ran out though as several of the snakes and mephits converged on him. The searing heat from their flesh nearly bucked the brave ranger but he was rescued by the healing words of Rowen Evenwood. Eventually Ossendar again was able to retrieve the key from it’s resting place. Without the key the searing flames were subdued and the Spices were able to squelch their flaming garments and left the room victorious.

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After a brief rest to mend their wounds, the heroes decided to tackle the room of howling winds. In this room they found a series of pillars scattered about a windy room with a tall monolith at it’s center. At the top of the monolith they presumed their next key awaited them. Seeing an opportunity to break the shit of out the DM’s – er- I mean cleverly ascend the monolith, Ossendar tied a thin piece of rope to an arrow and Rowan shot it over the top, trying to secure a climbing rope somehow. The trick worked, but as soon as Ossendar grabbed the rope to start climbing he was hoisted up into the clutches of a very angry Air Elemental. The otherworldly strength of the creature was not enough to squash the pesky monk though, and he nimbly ducked much of it’s assault. The monk managed to grab the key from it’s nearby resting place and base-jumped off the monolith. Never had the skills of a monk been more utilized than this day. Focusing his Ki, the portly bearded bastard fell harmlessly to the earth. HERO KNEE SLAM! The air elemental swept down among the Spices like a hurricane and battered Jarrus and Cain, tossing the pair like ragdolls while searching for it’s lost Key. Eventually the magical spells and arrows of Rowan and Jamna Gleamsilver sent the windy creature back to it’s plane. On to the earth key room!

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This dark earthen cavern seemed to be an intricate set of natural tunnels and at first the key alluded them. Suddenly, the wall behind Ossendar came alive as a massive boulder fist crashed down on the monk. An earth elemental of incredible strength and durability and it’s mud mephit allies smashed into the party from all sides. The elemental passed through the caverns walls like a great fish through water. Again and again the fists smashed into the ranger, paladin and monk, but it was the cunning words of the Bard that brought them relief. A spell whispered from the lips of the beautiful Aasimar caused the elemental to launch into an uncontrollable fit of laughter. The peals of laughter sounded like a landslide and rumbled through the cavern, causing dust to fall from the ceiling. By the time the creature composed itself and shook off the powerful spell, the blows of the Spices had nearly whittled it down to mere pebbles. As the last boulder cracked asunder a glowing orb of elemental energy popped out. The final key to the tomb of Kugag the Betrayer was theirs.

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