To the Well of Dragons

In which the Alliance marches against the Cult, and our heroes infiltrate the tunnels beneath the Well of Dragons.

As the heroes made ready to meet with the Council of Waterdeep for the last time, the ever-present background noise from the Draakhorn shifted and became a clear, ominous blast, heralding the impending doom of all who heard it.

The final council was held in the palace gardens so that the representative of the giants, Harshnag the Grim, could attend in relative comfort. Harshnag, a good-aligned frost giant who had helped Waterdeep’s leaders in the past, reported that the Cult had recruited a number of trolls and ogres, as well as some hill giants, all of whom were clearly too stupid and/or ignorant to realize they were on the wrong side.

Lord Neverember and Taern Hornblade both complained about the suffering their cities had endured due to a lack of draconic support, although no one quite believed Hornblade, as Silverymoon had plenty of other defenses, including a mythal, to protect it.

The renowned elf ranger Cylanestriel was brought before the council to recount her harrowing experience at the Well of Dragons. She was the sole survivor of an adventuring party that had attempted to infiltrate the Cult’s lair. She witnessed the creation of the Temple of Tiamat within the well, conjured up out of the mud and bones strewn around the caldera and infused with infernal power. She spoke of access tunnels in the sides of the volcano, leading into a network of lava tubes that the Cult had long ago worked into a stronghold. The slopes of the volcano were swarming with troops, and dragons patrolled the skies. The land for a hundred miles all around had been scoured.

Lastly, the leaders of the various factions represented at the council voted to support the heroes in their efforts to fight the Cult. Although it was a close thing for some, particularly Lord Neverember and Ambassador Brawnanvil, all present offered their full support for the fight.

Lady Laeral used her formidable magic to conjure up an illusory map of the Well of Dragons and the vicinity, and the alliance proceeded to plan their attack. The soldiers and mercenaries of the Lords’ Alliance, along with the agents of the Emerald Enclave and the Order of the Gauntlet, would take on the bulk of the Cult’s ground forces. The mages of the Arcane Brotherhood would work to counter the actions of any rebel Red Wizards on the battlefield, while the mages and spies of the Harpers would focus on sabotage and intelligence-gathering, as well as relaying messages between the various allied units. Lastly, the metallic dragons and the giants aboard Skyreach Castle would engage the chromatic dragons in the air.

The heroes, meanwhile, would take a small force (consisting of Lords’ Alliance soldiers, a dwarven priest from the Order of the Gauntlet, a Harper spy, some elven scouts from the Emerald Enclave, and two Zhent thugs posing as Roscoe’s bodyguards) and infiltrate the tunnels beneath the well in order to stop Severin from completing the ritual that would bring Tiamat to Faerûn. If they came across the Draakhorn in the process, they were to put a stop to its noise as well.

After months of preparation and marching, the alliances’ forces were arrayed on the battlefield. On the eve of battle, Keo communed with nature in order to locate the tunnel entrances on the mountainside. Based on intelligence reports, he knew which ones were heavily used by the cult already. He located one on the south side of the mountain that hadn’t come up in the reports. The heroes decided to check it out.

The next day, as the battle commenced, Keo turned himself and his allies into clouds of mist, and together they sped up the southern slopes of the mountain until they found the tunnel entrance he’d sensed. There didn’t appear to be any recent activity here: no path or even any tracks. Only bats inhabited the cave. After shedding their cloud forms, the heroes and their followers proceeded inside, with the stealthy Roscoe leading the way.

At length, the group came to an intersection. It appeared to have been blocked at one point, but something had cleared most of the rubble away, except for a shallow wall still blocking the eastern corridor. Roscoe pushed on down the straight and came out into a sinkhole filled with dragon bones. He could see dragons of all colors battling in the skies far above, but he could see nothing of what else lay in the caldera, as the pit was a good 30 feet deep.

Reporting back to the others, they decided not to risk exposure in the caldera and dug out the side passage. This opened onto a disused corridor that led to several chambers and intersections lit by lamps and torches. Roscoe scouted ahead, finding several luxuriously decorated rooms that appeared to be where the rebel Red Wizards resided. He also found a large chamber containing several guard drakes fighting over hunks of meat that were best left unidentified.

The group pushed on through the Red Wizards’ rooms and came to an intersection along a wide, curving corridor. They could hear a patrol moving about and hid out of view as it went past. Shortly after, some cultists came down from the left and went into nearby chambers and brought out a bunch of prisoners. As they hauled them back up the way they’d came, the heroes decided it was time to act.

Charging out into the corridor, the heroes laid into the cultists. A few survived long enough to yell for reinforcements. One of Roscoe’s bodyguards accidentally shot one of the prisoners in the process. After all the reinforcements had been dealt with, the heroes ushered the freed prisoners back the way they’d came into the disused tunnel.

There, the heroes and their squad paused to bind their wounds and catch their breath before heading back into the tunnels once more …

The Frozen Castle

In which our heroes journey to a remote glacier to recover Skyreach Castle.

Note: This recap covers two sessions.

Upon returning to Waterdeep, the heroes learned that agents of the Cult of the Dragon had attempted to reclaim Skyreach Castle. They failed, but the attack resulted in the castle crashing into a glacier north of the Spine of the World mountains. The council wished to see if it would be possible to get the castle flying again so it could be used in the assault on the Well of Dragons (and afterwards for recovering the treasure hoarded there).

The heroes agreed to go and investigate. Before they left, a number of councillors took them aside and gave them special information:

  • Delaan told Keo about a werebear friend of his, Dalo, who lived on a peak jutting out of the glacier. He could give them the lay of the land. Delaan also gave Keo directions on how to find the glacier.
  • Ambassador Brawnanvil told Flint about some dwarves struggling to survive on the glacier. The mining community of Mkoz was under the thumb of a group of frost giants, who forced the dwarves to pay heavy tithes for access to the outside world and who occasionally stirred up a nearby orc tribe to help keep the dwarves in their place. Brawnanvil suggested that the dwarves would be able to get the castle flying again. He was adamant that Flint should take all steps to avoid letting the castle fall back into the hands of the giants.
  • Zelenn the White told the group of a wizard named Allac who was studying a tribe of yetis on the glacier. He was a strong enough mage to have the power to get the castle flying again, and his yetis could crew it, if needed.

Armed with that information, the PCs used the Harper teleportation network to reach Everlund, and then Keo wind walked them all through the mountains.

They headed for Dalo’s cave first. The werebear told them about the various factions and their relationships. He also told them about some thermal vents east of Uldoveld, the frost giants’ steading. Lastly, he informed them that he’d seen a white dragon flying overhead a few times, scouting out the glacier.

After resting in Dalo’s primitive accommodations, the heroes to make a circuit of the glacier, starting with Skyreach Castle itself. Shrouded in fog, the castle took some finding. They discovered that most of the lower courtyard was crushed in the crash, but the iceberg core and the upper courtyard were still intact (with the exception of the crumbling tower that the vampires had been nesting in). The only problem was that it was now frozen solid into the iceberg and would need to be dug out.

The heroes proceeded north, through the thermal vent area (which they were forced to avoid due to a territorial polar bear) up to the yetis’ hills. There they discovered that Allac, who looked much like a yeti himself, was a little unhinged from his long isolation. He was happy to help but only if they dealt with the orcs who were hunting his yetis first.

Next up came the dwarves of Mkoz. They were reluctant to let anyone inside until the heroes showed them their writ from the council and Flint dropped Ambassador Brawnanvil’s name into the conversation. The dwarves said they would be able to dig out the castle and get it flying again, but only if the heroes killed or drove off the giants first.

Feeling somewhat discouraged by all the tit-for-tat that was going on, the heroes decided to skip the orcs and head straight to the giants. As they approached the great hall of Uldoveld, they were met by a friendly storm giant named Oromis. He took an instant liking to them and offered to help them get an audience with Jarl Brunvild, the ruler of the frost giants on the glacier.

Brunvild was impressed with how the heroes presented themselves and offered them a chance to prove themselves worthy by completing one of three tasks: stealing a remorhaz egg, wrestling a giant, or going on a spirit journey. The heroes all readily agreed to the last option and partook of the giants’ spirit mead.

Stripping of their weapons and armor and cold weather gear, the drunken heroes wandered out onto the ice, warmed from within by the mead. Keo saw a vision of the frost giants’ god, Thrym, cutting up the ice with his giant ice axe. A small shard fell near Keo’s feet and he took it back to show Brunvild. Skie encountered Pindalpau-pau, the Mother of Reindeer, and returned with a distinctive frost-burn scar resembling the ancient Giant rune meaning “birth”. Flint and Roscoe, meanwhile, encountered an ancient yet born on a litter by ice toads. In the yeti’s lap was a snow fox pup. A voice in their heads told them a little of the history of Ostoria and the giants’ ancient war against the dragons and informed them that they both had fragments of the soul of a long-dead giant warrior named Salakko inside them.

When Brunvild heard these stories, he was most impressed and declared the heroes honorary giants and agreed to help restore Skyreach Castle. Once it was back in the air, he and his giants, along with Blagothkus and his ogre guards, would aid in the assault on the Well of Dragons!

First, though, the castle had to be dug out of the ice. While the ogres and other giants were busy doing that, Blagothkus had to use his magic to restore the castle’s ability to fly. While this was going on, agents of the Cult of the Dragon stirred up the orcs and convinced them to rebel against the frost giants. Just as the repairs were nearly finished, a horde of orcs showed up and attacked!

While the heroes helped defend the castle, who should show up but Talis, the new white wyrmspeaker, alive and still riding on Cloudchaser’s back! She brought with her a small but deadly strike force of cultists, backed up by a flight of five young red dragons who kept the giants busy while she focused her attention on the heroes.

After finishing off a group of orcs that had stormed up into the upper courtyard, the heroes fled for cover in the old kobold servants’ quarters. They weren’t safe there for long, however, as Cloudchaser flew down and tore a huge chunk in the roof with his teeth and claws. The heroes fought a bitter fight against Talis and her minions, but in the end the orcs and cultists were all slaughtered and Talis and the dragons were driven off. A few frost giants and ogres lost their lives in the fight, but the heroes had succeeded in getting the castle flying again.

Blagothkus gratefully flew the heroes back to Waterdeep, then departed again, saying he and his crew were going to see if they could recruit any other giants before meeting the alliances’ armies at the Well of Dragons!