Through the Portal

Just a quick recap of last session, as I’ve only just remembered I haven’t done it yet, and I’ve got the next session this evening! (We can’t play next weekend due to scheduling conflicts.)

After a long rest, the PCs went to the portal. Fully expecting to be ambushed on the other side, Flint cast invisibility on himself and Roscoe. After the portal was activated, everyone was surprised to find themselves staring at an old hunting lodge on a forested mountainside, with snow gently drifting down all around them.

Remaining invisible, Roscoe went for a walk around the lodge, while the others crept into the trees. Roscoe noted doors and windows around the lodge, taking particular note of the stone balcony above the back door and the large hole in the northwest portion of the roof. He picked up on animal noises coming from one of the outbuildings around the back. The other building was quiet. As he was heading back, he also heard the unmistakeable sound of a pack of kobolds coming from the back window on the lodge’s east side.

Meanwhile, a pair of trolls and their drake companions on patrol picked up the scent of the PCs and moved in to engage. Keo summoned his bear companions and then wildshaped into a bear himself. The three bears ganged up on one of the trolls, although it eventually hit him hard enough to cause him to lose his concentration and the other bears disappeared. Mara hacked away at the other troll, while Flint shot fire spells at both of them from up in the pine tree. Eventually Roscoe arrived and helped kill the trolls with his new acidic dragontooth dagger.

Flint then cast rope trick and the party retreated into the safety of the extradimensional space to catch their breaths. As they rested, they were disheartened to see a big, four-armed troll with a muddy (and obviously fire resistant) cloak with a drake on a chain leash approach the battle sight. The troll sniffed around for a while, then headed off again.

Rest over, they followed his footprints in the snow and noted that he had gone first to the back door of the lodge, then along the short path to what was obviously a drake kennel. The door of the kennel was now slightly ajar. The PCs crept up through the woods on the west side of the lodge and took position behind the wood pile. They were nearly discovered when a cultist came out of the back door to fetch some wood, but fortunately the others were able to keep Mara from making too much noise.

Roscoe then decided to brazenly approach the kennel. The troll saw him coming and opened the door wide enough to be seen. They had a brief exchange in which Roscoe was able to convince the troll that he was a cultist looking out for those responsible for killing the patrol. The troll explained that he’d gone and had a look himself but hadn’t been able to find anything, so he’d reported that there were intruders on the grounds and had come back to take a defensive position in the kennel.

Roscoe wandered back to the group, and they devised a plan: Roscoe and Keo would circle around the kennel from the back, while Mara and Flint would stay behind the wood pile. Roscoe would then attempt to get the troll to come out into the open so that Keo and his bears could jump him. Flint and Mara would then engage from a distance. The signal to attack would be Flint casting a fireball into the kennel through the opening in the doorway.

The plan worked pretty well, and the four-armed troll went down in a hail of claws, teeth, enchanted steel, fire and acid. His drakes didn’t last much longer. When no one came out of the lodge to see what was happening, the PCs went into the kennel. Keo took one look at the troll’s makeshift shrine to the demon lord Baphomet and ripped it apart. The PCs also found a collection of valuable furs that had been outside the range of Flint’s fireball.

Keo had also been able to get his bearings, as the view of the surrounding region was much better on the far side of the kennel. He realized that they were now in the southern reaches of the Greypeak Mountains, not far from the human settlement known as Parnast. He had been here before with his clan, back in the good days …

Figuring that the cultists in the lodge were waiting to ambush them should they attempt to go through the back door, they instead moved over to the eastern side of the back wall, where there was a decent blind spot between the windows, and proceeded to chuck a grappling hook up onto the balcony. Scaling up one-by-one, they found a set of double doors leading into a large open room. The walls were covered in tapestries of dragons in various locations. The largest tapestry depicted Tiamat squashing the cities of Neverwinter, Waterdeep, and Baldur’s Gate beneath her massive claws.

We finished the session with Roscoe wondering if he could pry off some of the valuable-looking gems stuck on the tapestry of Tiamat, while Flint cast detect magic and picked up a ping coming from the other side of the west wall, in which the only door out of the room was situated. (Roscoe searched for secret doors behind the tapestries but didn’t find any.)

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Flint’s Journal

This session’s recap is brought to you by Flint:

By some miracle Mara stabilised and recovered enough to travel back to the roadhouse with us, where Jamna was reassigned and replaced in the group by the halfling rogue Roscoe. He has a flying snake, which might be useful. I found some time on the journey to study the scrolls and spellbooks I recently acquired from Erevan’s effects and the chest in the caverns and add a few to my repertoire. The swamp crocodile was, thankfully, nowhere to be seen. Perhaps the dragon pickled him.

On returning to the castle, with Roscoe fully briefed on our previous experiences and current assignments, I turned him invisible and he had a scout around the castle in the late afternoon. Then we all went back down to the caverns using Keo’s wonderful water breathing spell again.

As we moved along the passageways we heard voices in the misty cavern where we had previously found the magic portal. We could hear at least three voices which we assumed were cultists tasked with guarding the portal. To minimise the risk of being attacked from behind as we attempted to enter the castle from below, we attacked the guards, killing them quickly and dumping their bodies in the water for the giant frogs to eat.

Moving to the stairwell, the still-invisible Roscoe scouted up and reported back. The first level was muddy with pathways indicated by planks on the mud. We moved up there and barred the door into the hall from the stairwell, then continued up the stairs. The second level stairwell revealed closed doors behind which we could hear snoring and muted conversations. On the third level a cultist was seen through an open door to be reading at a desk while snoring emanated from behind the second door, which was closed.

Roscoe and Mara were able to kill the reading cultist quickly but they made enough noise to disturb the cultists in the other room. The door opened and battle began, made a little awkward by Keo transforming into bear state in the confined space at the top of the stairs and trying to attack the cultists through the doorway while I tried to keep an eye out for anybody coming up the stairs. The cultists knocked out Mara but were all eventually killed, and I poured a healing potion down Mara’s throat.

By now cultists on the lower levels were mobilising and Keo lumbered down the stairs. A few cultists were able to evade his reach and rushed off screaming about a bear attacking them, while the rest were slaughtered. By this time Mara, Keo, and Roscoe needed a bit of healing, and I needed some time to recover some of my magic, so we all went back down to the caverns and used my Rope Trick spell to have a short rest.

During the rest, a detail of lizardfolk searched the caverns but went back up the stairs empty-handed. I don’t know if they were looking for us or for the portal guards we had killed earlier.

With everybody feeling a little better, we went back up the stairs to the first level where the entrance to the main hall was. We had originally barred the door while we cleared out the upper levels of that tower but some of the cultists escaping from Keo’s bear had unbarred it and we hadn’t re-secured it when we were looking for a place to rest. Now Roscoe saw that during the time we had been resting the cultists had been barricading the hall and preparing for a fight.

I came up the stairs behind Roscoe and cast a fireball into the room, killing eight cultists, singeing a few others, and leaving two cultists and a guard drake to fight amongst the barricades and burning debris. The drake was eventually killed but the cultists ran out the side door into the courtyard. Keo, once again in bear guise, followed them to the now-closed keep door. He couldn’t hear anything through the thick door but returned to the main hall when he heard more shouting.

While Keo was outside, I had gone to the kitchen end of the hall and carefully climbed the stairs. The cook threw a meat cleaver at my head from where he and two assistants were hiding in the pantry. They were quickly subdued and tied up. The top dry goods level was cleared and discussion began on how to deal with the keep. Without any climbing spells, entry would have to be by another method than last time.

Moving back to the hall door out to the courtyard, we saw that the keep door was now open! Roscoe rushed out the door to try to get in but was ambushed by a guard drake and a cultist as soon as he left the hall. While we were engaged in battle with those two, the elf teleported into the hall behind us.

Now that I have only one arm, defending myself is so much harder because I can’t carry a shield. In this fight I quickly fell and have been told that Mara defeated the elf and removed the magic ring he was wearing. When I woke up I examined the ring, noting it was an evil magic device associated with Myrkul, god of the dead. It was with misgivings I presented the ring to Snapjaw to pass on to the swamp dragon as promised in return for our lives in the swamp. Finally we entered the southeast tower.

It was empty of people and we explored freely, finding the codeword to activate the magic portal amongst the papers on a desk, many valuable books in a makeshift library, and furnishings which collectors would pay well for. Snapjaw revealed that one of the statues had a magical dagger inside it, which we’ve let Roscoe have. An acid trap on a wardrobe was cleverly avoided when Roscoe used a rope to open the wardrobe door from outside the room. We were all safe when the acid bomb went off but most of the contents of the room was damaged or destroyed. It looked like the black half-dragon Rezmir’s room. We sent a message to Leosin through the Sending Stone, informing him that the castle had been cleared of cultists and that there were valuable books and furnishings to be collected.

The delay in clearing the castle due to Jamna’s departure and Roscoe’s arrival meant that the treasure we have been following appears to have been moved through the portal already. We untied the cooks and returned to the caverns to have a good long rest before we attempt to use the portal and find out where the treasure has gone.