In the Dragon’s Den

In which our heroes beard a dragon in its den.

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Note: This recap covers two sessions.

While the group rested in Flint’s extradimensional space, Roscoe got restless and decided to go exploring. Flint turned him invisible and the nimble halfling dropped down out of the hole and crept through the dragon’s lair. To the north of the main cavern he found a passage leading to two caves in which laired a number of dragon cultists. Some were asleep in their bunks while others played cards at a table by torchlight.

From that end, he couldn’t quite make out what was on the ledge at the south end of the cavern, so he crept back into the ettin lair and up a narrow sloped passage to a makeshift wooden door. Peering through some cracks and having a good listen, he realized there were more elves on the other side.

Roscoe decided it would be a good idea to try and lure one of the elves out so he could acquire a prisoner for interrogation purposes. Unfortunately, he drew out too many of the elves with his mysterious disembodied voice. This also gained the attention of the cultists, who came running to investigate. As a fight ensued, the rest of the group abandoned the rope trick to assist their comrade.

Skie flew into a rage and slaughtered many of the elves and cultists. The only one that really caused them any problems, though, was an elf mage who turned herself invisible and cast spells at them without reappearing. Keo ultimately dealt with her by transforming into a bear made of whirling air, into which he sucked her still-invisible form and crushed her into a wall.

The few surviving elves attempted to flee back up to their ledge, but the heroes were able to knock one out, finally getting their hostage. But then the dragon struck. A cloud of poisonous gas rushed into the ettin lair, taking out both Keo and Imsa, whose limp forms had to be dragged into the narrow passage to the south, where they were revived with healing potions.

As the heroes caught their breaths, a strangely androgynous yet clearly elven voice called out to them, suggesting they surrender. Instead, the revived their captive elf and interrogated him. He didn’t know much and seemed unwilling to lend any aid, fearing the dragon more than the heroes (despite having witnessed Skie’s murderous rage), but as time ticked away and the heroes began to feel trapped, the elf commented that it looked like they needed a miracle. There just happened to be an old shrine to some human god in an alcove at the back of the ledge. If he were to suggest to his remaining comrades that they not attack the heroes, and if the heroes managed to be stealthy enough, they might be able to get to the shrine and ask the god for help.

Not knowing what else they could do, the heroes jumped at this chance. When they arrived at the shrine, Keo and Imsa recognized it as belonging to the goddess of the druids’ First Circle: Eldath, a deity of streams and waterfalls but also peace and tranquility. The heroes all prayed for her aid, and they all felt an urge to drink some of the water in the shrine’s basin. Immediately they felt relaxed and rested, as if they’d just gotten a good night’s sleep.

Refreshed, the heroes turned to battle the dragon and its mysterious rider. The dragon called upon all its primal magic, filling the ledge with noxious gases and entangling weeds. The heroes struggled to fight their way through to the cultists who’d come up onto the ledge and the dragon, who clung to the ceiling nearby. Keo transformed into a bear made entirely of fire and chased the dragon into the lake in the middle of the main cavern, but only after it had killed its remaining elf slaves out of spite.

The others killed all the cultists except the leader, who turned out to be an elf as well. As the battle swung in the heroes’ favor, the elf leapt off the cliff and flew down to an island in the pond. When the dragon emerged from the water, the elf climbed onto its back and together they fled out into the woods.

After picking themselves up, the heroes went to investigate the rest of the lair. Beyond the cultists’ rooms, they found a larder and what looked to have been the leader’s personal quarters. They found some journals written in Elvish that they put in Flint’s bag for later. They also found a secret passage leading to a hidden shrine to the elven god, Fenmarel Mestarine, which contained another secret passage leading to the dragon’s private sanctum. As Roscoe and the others scooped up coins and trade bars and potions, Keo scouted around and discovered a submerged passage leading from here into the lake in the main cavern – obviously the dragon’s main entryway.

Emerging from the dragon’s lair victorious, the group made their way back to the village of Altand, where they informed Galin that he was free from the cultists’ influence. Flint, feeling guilty about the deaths of all the elves, insisted on telling Galin where to find the bodies so they could be laid to rest properly. Flint also used comprehend languages to translate the journals, which revealed that the cult leader was none other than the cult’s green wyrmspeaker, Neronvain, who also happened to be the long-lost daughter of King Melandrach. The journal outlined her plans to use the cult’s resources to overthrow her father and put herself on the throne. It also mentioned that, because of the loss of the black dragonmask, Severin had ordered all other masks be sent to the Well of Dragons for safekeeping.

Empowered after their defeat of Chuth, Keo cast wind walk himself (rather than having to use a scroll like before) and the group flew quickly back to Waterdeep, where they reported all that had happened. Flint returned Neronvain’s journal to Melandrach, who was both grateful, angry, and ashamed.

The group also did a more thorough debrief on their results with the dragon council. Most of the delegates were happy, although Ambassador Brawnanvil and King Melandrach were both incensed at the prospect of having to apologize to the dragons for their respective races’ activities in the past. They both agreed to do it, however, as protocol demanded it.

Lord Neverember also voiced his disapproval that the heroes had agreed to give the dragons a share in the treasure hoard recovered from the Well of Dragons. He was further disappointed when the heroes failed to assign any dragons to protect Neverwinter.

(As an aside, the heroes were surprised to see yet another new face at the council – this time a tiefling woman sitting beside Lord Neverember, ostensibly as an aid of some kind; she said nothing during the council session, but it was clear she was listening intently. Several of the other councilors, particularly Sir Isteval and Ontharr Frume, could barely disguise their disapproval of the tiefling’s presence.)

By the end of the session, the heroes had agreed to assign dragons to protect Baldur’s Gate, the Misty Forest, and Waterdeep, as well as to assist the Harpers and Emerald Enclave.

Next up: The cult strikes back!

Dragon Hunt

In which our heroes hunt a dragon in the Misty Forest

After the group had scouted the clearing, Keo used his nature magic to speak with the trees but didn’t learn much that he didn’t already know. The group decided to complete their “patrol” then headed back into the village and helped the elves with the rebuild.

The PCs’ hard work paid off as the grateful elves invited them to join them for dinner, after which they were able to ply Galen the village warden with copious amounts of alcohol. When they offered him a toast to his dead wife, he broke down in tears and quietly admitted that he had betrayed his village and his people.

After witnessing his wife’s death during the attack, Galen had found himself face-to-face with the dragon and its rider, a figure in purple robes and a dragon-like mask. In his moment of weakness, Galen had agreed to become an informant, reporting on other villages that the cultists might be able to raid instead of Altand. Galen confessed that he regularly met the dragon and its rider in a clearing south of the village. He didn’t know where the dragon laired, other than that it always arrived from and departed towards the southeast.

In the morning, the PCs set off. With Keo and Imsa navigating, the group had no trouble staying on course. They journeyed for several days. At one point, they came across another trail with gnoll tracks but decided not to get distracted. Later, they heard a cry for help and came across an elderly elf woman in druidic garb seemingly stuck beneath a fallen tree. She called out for them to help, but the PCs were suspicious of a trap and hesitated.

Eventually, though, the PCs determined that it would be OK to approach the elf. As they attempted to lift the tree off her leg, it rose up on its own, and the elf sprang to her feet, apparently uninjured. She congratulated them on their heroic selflessness and wove magical garlands that she gave them to wear. Without another word, she transformed into an owl and flew off into the woods, with three animated trees stomping off after her.

Flint wasn’t particularly keen on wearing his garland of flowers. He was able to determine that the garlands had protective magic woven into them, but he wasn’t sure what kind. He begrudgingly put his on after Imsa reassured him that it would do no harm.

The PCs had traveled nearly thirty miles from the village by the time they came to an area of the forest filled with spider webs. Some ettercaps and their giant spider pets came to investigate what had stumbled into their webbing but were soon scared off. On the far side of the webbed area, the forest opened onto a small pool fed by a high waterfall spilling over a cliff. There was no obvious path leading behind the waterfall, but they were sure the green haze hovering above the pool made Flint sure this was the green dragon’s lair.

Flint turned Roscoe invisible, and the nimble thief snuck along the south side of the pool and climbed up behind the water. He spotted a cave entrance near the top of the waterfall. They’d all have to climb up to reach it. As he came back, something large moved in the water, and a massive reptilian head on a long neck snapped out at Roscoe. It couldn’t see him, but it could smell him and got lucky, taking a tasty bite of the startled halfling.

It turned out the creature had four heads! Skie ran forward and chucked her axe at it, slicing off one of its heads, only to stare in horror as two new heads rapidly grew in its place. Flint realized that it must be a hydra of some kind. Keo and Flint blasted it with spells. When it was dead, they pulled its carcass to the shore, cut off all the heads, and cauterized the wounds just to be sure it wouldn’t regrow any more.

The PCs then proceeded to climb up the waterfall to access the cave, which rapidly descended into the dark. At the bottom, they could see some elves standing guard. Although they approached the elves warily, with Flint pointing out that green dragons were known to charm elves that they weren’t inclined to eat, things rapidly got out of hand. The elf leader drew her sword, and Flint fired an ice knife into the elves’ midst, killing them all with one stroke.

This sound shattered the silence and drew the attention of three ettins from a nearby cave, which Roscoe discovered by slipping through a narrow crack in the wall. The ettins came the long way around and tried to club the PCs to death but only ended up dead themselves. The PCs could hear shouts from deeper in the gloom, and Flint suddenly felt his silver dragon scale grow warm. Knowing that the green dragon was nearby, Flint directed everyone into the ettins’ now vacant lair, where he cast a rope trick. The PCs climbed in and waited …

Attack on Everlund

In which our heroes barely escape Everlund with their lives before heading to the Misty Forest

As the PCs made their way across a bridge, a black dragon swooped low in front of them, depositing a number of cultists in full regalia at the far end of the bridge. Meanwhile, an armored warrior bearing the symbol of Tiamat waded through the crowd, slaying anyone who got to close to the aura of fiendish spirits encircling him. Following closely on his heels was a half-blue dragon who looked a lot like Cyanwrath.

A fierce battle ensued, in which the PCs tried ineffectually to force the war priest to lose his concentration on his spirit guardians spell, which ultimately spelled their doom. If it hadn’t been for the nigh-unkillable Keo and his powerful healing magic, the group would’ve been wiped out. As it was, only poor Imsa died.

As the PCs tried to sneak through the city to Moongleam Tower, they were spotted by the black dragon, who strafed them with its acidic breath. This took them all down again, and this time Roscoe didn’t get up again. Flint regained consciousness first and used some healing potions to revive Keo and Skie. Flint cast gentle repose on both Roscoe’s and Imsa’s bodies and, finding that the battle had ended, the PCs were able to reach Moongleam Tower with no further problems.

After teleporting back to Waterdeep, Keo reincarnated Imsa, who returned as a human again, albeit in a new body, while the others arranged to have Roscoe raised from the dead. Both of them came back with more apathy than they’d had before. Imsa didn’t feel at home in her new body, while Roscoe simply couldn’t bring himself to care about much.

After recuperating and gathering supplies, the group went to see Delaan Winterhound, who supplied Keo with a scroll of wind walk to help them on their next mission: to investigate the cult’s attacks on the elves of the Misty Forest.

After zooming south in cloud form, the PCs set about inspecting the village of Altand, which had mysteriously survived an attack by cult forces, including an adult green dragon. The surviving villagers pointed them in the direction of their warden and new leader, Galin, who was struggling to come to terms with his new role as well as the loss of his wife, who had been killed in the raid.

The PCs were almost immediately suspicious of Galin. The elf was not telling them everything he knew, but they didn’t want to push him. Outside, Imsa suggested they try talking to Galin’s pet raven. Keo liked that idea and realized he could also talk with the very trees. He decided to try that first and learned from the tree holding Galin’s house that the elf had snuck out during the night and headed south. Other trees confirmed this and indicated that this wasn’t the first time they’d seen him do it.

Under the pretence of doing a patrol around the village, the PCs headed out into the woods and soon found a clearing to the south of the village where it was clear something large, like a dragon, had landed. There were also two sets of humanoid footprints.

Council of Dragons

In which our heroes meet with representatives of the metallic dragons

Elia the silver dragon arranged for the group to travel to Everlund via a secret Harper teleportation network. From a mausoleum in Waterdeep’s City of the Dead, the PCs were instantly transported to Moongleam Tower, a Harper stronghold in the city of Everlund, six hundred miles to the northeast.

As the group hit the streets, a number of locals recognized them as the great heroes who were leading the fight against the Cult of the Dragon. They thought the PCs had come to help them, as there were rumors that the cult was on the move in the region. The PCs felt a little guilty about the fact that they were just passing through …

Outside the city, Elia led them to a grove of trees, where she transformed into her true draconic form. She allowed Keo, Imsa, Roscoe, and Skie to climb onto her back, but she coldly insisted that Flint ride in a basket she had set aside for him as she did not want his dirty dwarf flesh to tarnish her scales. The PCs were taken aback by the vehemence of her disdain for Flint, but the grumpy dwarf didn’t want to pick a fight with such a powerful creature and reluctantly agreed.

The flight east into the Nether Mountains was uneventful. At one point, Elia circled a mountain before by a sparkling waterfall cascading down a cliff. She stepped forward into the water and held out her wings to allow the PCs to pass through without getting wet … except that she made Flint go last and moved her wing just as he was passing under it so he got soaked.

After passing through a short tunnel, the PCs came out into a stunningly beautiful alpine glade that they had not seen when passing over the mountains. Were they even still on Faerûn? They weren’t quite sure. Elia took her leave of the PCs, inviting them to explore the glade while she went to inform the other dragons of the group’s arrival.

The group wandered about, taking in the many beautiful flowers and trees and ponds. After what felt like hours, they came across a man playing with a monkey and a cat. Upon spotting the group, the man invited them to come and join them. He claimed to be a bard who just happened to be hanging out in Bahamut’s sacred glade. He introduced himself as Othokent Darastrix, which Flint realized was just Draconic for “clever dragon”. The dwarf was instantly suspicious.

Otho suggested they all sit down to feast, and the PCs discovered a magnificent spread had been magically laid out on a big slab of rock behind them. While they ate and drank, Otho told them what he knew about the various dragon councillors who were waiting to meet them. Meanwhile, the cat snuggled up to each of the PCs, while the monkey playfully made a nuisance of itself. At one point, the monkey hissed angrily at Roscoe before scampering off. Later, the monkey dug through Keo’s belongings and started hooting excitedly when it found his serpentine owl figurine. It didn’t want to give it back to him.

From Otho, the PCs learned that the draconic council was made up of one of each kind of metallic dragon: gold, silver, brass, bronze, and copper. The gold dragon, Protanther, was a former king and wary of making an alliance with the small races. He still had a chip on his shoulder about the dracorage mythal, an ancient epic spell that the elves had woven to cause all dragons in Faerûn, even the good ones, to periodically go mad. While the spell had been broken a hundred years ago, he was still upset about it.

The silver dragon, Otaaryliakkarnos (Elia), was more amenable to allying with the coalition, believing the small folk to be worthy of the dragons’ aid. She did have a bit of a blind spot when it came to the dwarves, however, due to their dragon hunts of old. One hunt had resulted in the death of her niece, whose hide had been turned into armor.

Otho warned Roscoe that Tazmikella, the copper dragon, wouldn’t taken kindly to his presence, since her hoard had been raided by thieves on more than one occasion. She was more open to an alliance than Protanther, however, as she believed it would help reduce casualties for all those involved.

Nymmurh, the bronze dragon, was the most amenable to helping the coalition. He had a long history of interacting with the small folk and liked them very much.

Lastly was Ileuthra, the brass dragon, who it was said lived with the Faerûnian god of knowledge, Oghma, in the upper planes. Having watched the small folk from offer for many centuries, and knowing that they had the capacity for great good as well as great evil, he was truly undecided.

Sometime later, Elia reappeared and led the PCs into a chamber inside the mountain, where they found themselves standing in a shaft of light as the five dragon councillors loomed over them from perches high above.

Protanther opened the council, and the dragons laid out their stances more or less how Otho had said they would. The PCs made their points, and in the end, they managed to get all five dragons on-side, but only by making some fairly hefty concessions: Ambassador Brawnanvil would be required to apologize on behalf of all dwarves for the harm caused by their dragonmooots of old (as well as arrange to return the remains of Elia’s niece), while King Melandrach would be required to apologize on behalf of all elves for the harm caused by their dracorage mythal. The PCs also agreed to hand over any and all dragon masks recovered from the cultists, as Ileuthra in particular felt they could be better protected from misuse in the hands of the dragons. Keo offered to return the serpentine owl to Tazmikella, when she revealed that it had been stolen from her hoard, but she decided to let him keep it after Roscoe offered the metallic dragons a share of the treasure recovered from the Well of Dragons.

With the council finished, Elia flew the PCs down to the road, this time allowing Flint, who had revealed to her his deep friendship with a silver dragon, to ride on her back. She apologized for not being able to take them all the way to Everlund herself, for she had much to do to ready her people for the coming conflict.

Along the way, the PCs encountered a group of dwarf miners who had captured a cultist. They hoped to ransom her to the PCs. Before anything could happen, though, another a half-red dragon in cult regalia flew in on a wyvern, while two ogres and two red drakes crashed through the trees onto the road. The dwarves fled, leaving the cultist in the PCs’ care. Spoiling for a fight, the PCs made short work of the cultists. After a short rest, they dragged the captured cultist to her feet and trudged off to Everlund.

Shortly after entering the city, a bell in the market square began to toll as dragons appeared in the sky and cultists swooped over the walls, scimitars and spells in hand! The PCs made it as far as the river before they were accosted by cultists.

 

Oyaviggaton

In which our heroes face off against Arauthator in his iceberg lair and live to tell the tale!

Note: This recap covers two sessions.

Part I: Against the Dragon
When it was clear that the ice toads weren’t going to stop them, the heroes collected their things, jury-rigged some crampons for their feet, and ventured out into the dragon’s lair.

Following a wide, circular tunnel that sloped up and down at odd intervals, they snuck past a chamber full of kobolds then came to a vast cavern filled with fog, in which loomed large shapes. Eventually they found themselves in an empty cave with a ramp sloping up out of the fog.

Flint cast invisibility on Roscoe so he could scout ahead unseen (as well as telepathic bond on the group so they could all stay in touch). Roscoe spotted a blue-skinned troll lurking in an alcove at the top of the ramp. Sneaking past, he entered another cave containing a large tent that looked like it would have been more at home in the deserts of Calimshan.

Slipping around to the back of the tent, Roscoe found another ramp sloping down into darkness. Creeping down, he found several makeshift bookshelves containing a number of books and scrolls that seemingly made his skin crawl just to look at them. The opening of a large chute yawned in the floor to the west.

Climbing back up to the tent, he pulled the makeshift walls apart just enough to peek through. Inside, he could see a tiefling sitting at a desk, with two nervous-looking kobolds in attendance. A brazier filled with warm coals gave off enough light and heat to make the interior quite pleasant. Although her back was to him, Roscoe was sure that the tiefling was the missing Brotherhood mage, Maccath!

Having telepathically reported his findings to the group as he went along, Roscoe waited for the others to come up with a plan. They rushed up the ramp and quickly dispatched the blue-skinned troll. As they rushed into the tent, they surprised the kobolds, who panicked and made a run for it, only to be swiftly cut down as well.

Maccath looked up at her would-be rescuers with disinterest. “Have you come to rescue me or kill me? Not that it makes much difference …”

The heroes quickly concluded from the tiefling’s demeanor that she was under some kind of spell. Keo dispelled it and suddenly Maccath came to herself. After bringing everyone up to speed on her activities during her years of captivity, Maccath pointed out that they’d have no hope of getting away from the iceberg with the dragon still present. Her absence would be noticed in due course and the dragon would hunt them down and kill them while they were out on the ice. The only real option would be to strike the dragon hard and fast and deal him a big enough blow – to his ego, if not his body – that he’d spend months sulking in one of his other lairs.

Maccath lent Skie her ring of cold resistance and let Flint rifle through the scrolls in the scriptorium below. After spending a bit too long hatching a plan for Maccath’s liking, the heroes eventually tied some rope together, tossed it down the chute, drank a few potions, cast a few preparatory spells, and then hastened down into the frigid darkness.

Arauthator somehow knew they were coming and was lurking in a pool at the western end of his lair, only his head showing above the slushy water. The heroes found themselves on an icy ledge, encrusted with coins and gems frozen into the walls and floor.

As you might expect, a fierce battle ensued. Spells were slung, dragon-slaying arrows and magic axes were hurled. Icy walls went up and fiery walls brought them down. Freezing fog froze lungs and icy breath froze flesh. Wings beat, tails slapped, claws ripped. Two aquatic trolls appeared and ripped poor Imsa to shreds before they could be stopped. Eventually, though, the dragon fled in a fury, and the heroes breathed sighs of relief.

Part 2: Looting the Dragon’s Lair
With the dragon dead, and Imsa’s body on ice, Flint cast detect magic and found two magic rings and a magic amulet. They dug those out of the ice, along with some gems and a fancy-looking eyepatch, and then climbed back up to the scriptorium. Maccath proceeded to collect all the Brotherhood’s stolen tomes and stuffed them into Flint’s magic bag.

They hurried back the way they’d came and climbed up the shaft to find themselves emerging in the Ice Hunter shaman’s hut. She was surprised to see them but made no attempt to stop them as they went back out into the snow and trudged over to the icy stairs, where Flint shot a fire bolt into the sky as a flare. Moments later, Desharra showed up with her griffons. They informed her that they’d chased away the dragon and found the person they were looking for. However, they just had a few more things to do before they’d be ready to leave.

Trudging back to the Ice Hunter village, they found the chieftain and informed him that they’d driven off the dragon. The Ice Hunters were ecstatic and, after a short celebration, began the arduous process of packing up their village. They intended to slip away into the depths of the Sea of Moving Ice, where they hoped the dragon would never find them again. Maccath reckoned they’d be OK. It was unlikely Arauthator would bother tracking them down, since they had no real contact with the outside world and thus would not be spreading word of his humiliating defeat.

After this, the heroes descended back down into Arauthator’s lair and sought out the ice toads. Maccath called for Marfulb, the toads’ leader, who came and spoke with Flint at length about Arauthator’s life. As the others began to get bored, Roscoe asked the ice toad if there was any more treasure in the lair. Marfulb explained that it depended on what he considered treasure. Some of the giants on display in the Hall of Giants, for instance, still wore some giant-sized jewelry. But there was also a chest of coins and jewels sitting on the deck of a rebuilt longship in the other trophy hall, where Arauthator also displayed his more bestial conquests: behirs, remorhazes, and abominable yetis.

Thanking Marfulb, the heroes retreated. Not wanting to tangle with the ice toads, they had Maccath guide them through the lair’s central chambers. As they attempted to pass another chute leading down into the caverns below, Keo’s weight dislodged part of the icy wall, which knocked Roscoe down the chute. They were able to fish him back up without too much trouble, though.

They then proceeded into the Trophy Hall, past all the enormous frozen corpses of monsters and onto the deck of the longship, which Skie could tell had been incorrectly rebuilt, though it didn’t look like too bad a job. Sure enough, there was an option chest of treasure. Flint opened his magic bag while Roscoe made to dump the contents into it.

As soon as the halfling’s hands touched the treasure, though, red light flared in the fog and the cracking of ice heralded the awakening of one of the remorhaz corpses! It appeared that Arauthator had set up some kind of trap! The remorhaz shrieked and attacked the would-be thieves. Roscoe delivered multiple nasty stabs, while Skie chucked her axe and Flint slung his spells. Keo changed into bear form and charged in, only to find that every bite was painful as the remorhaz was extremely hot! It got him up in its mouth and attempted to swallow him, at one point forcing him to revert to his normal form, but in the end the monster was slain (for the second time?) and the hard-won loot theirs!

Desharra agreed to fly the group straight to Luskan, where they returned Maccath and the stolen books to the Brotherhood. Once there, Keo arranged to have a gentle repose spell cast on Imsa’s remains, in order to buy himself more time to gather the materials he needed to bring her back to life.

And now that Maccath was safely back at home, she was happy to answer the heroes’ questions about the draakhorn. As it so happened, the horn had once been in Arauthator’s lair, but some humans in cultist garb had showed up sometime in the past year and had taken it away. It was an ancient relic that Tiamat had given to the chromatic dragons in their wars against the giants. There had once been coded blasts that could be used to send messages, but these were lost to the ages. She was not sure what the cult was doing with it now.

As the heroes were making ready to depart, Cashaan the Red, informed them that, in return for their help in rescuing Maccath and recovering the items Arauthator had stolen, the Arcane Brotherhood would be happy to join the coalition against the Cult of the Dragon! The heroes took this good news with them back through the magic portal to Waterdeep.

Keo wasted no time in using a sapphire he’d taken from the dragon’s hoard to pay for various rare oils and unguents he needed for the reincarnation spell. Once all was ready, he called upon the ancient magic and created a new body for Imsa’s spirit to inhabit. As the body, which was that of a strongheart halfling, came to life, its skin and hair rapidly changed to green. It would appear that whatever had caused this condition of hers was not merely physical! Keo resolved to get to the bottom of it somehow. In the meantime, he would have to help Imsa come to terms with the shock of finding herself in a completely different body.

Second Council of Waterdeep
The heroes soon learned that a political shakeup had occurred in their absence: the Masked Lords of Waterdeep had dumped Lord Neverember and appointed Lady Silverhand as the new Open Lord of Waterdeep in his place! This was quite the coup, and while not everyone was happy with it, many people were breathing a sigh of relief.

And it was Lady Laeral who directed the second session of the Council of Waterdeep. A rather glum-looking Lord Neverember sat to her right, along with Zelenn the White from the Arcane Brotherhood. Dagult had clearly pulled some strings to get his old friend to be the mages’ representative. Her presence on the council was welcomed by everyone except Ontharr Frume, who was not happy because the Brotherhood did not police its members. “Their leader is a blinking necromancer, for gods’ sake!” he spluttered. Everyone else ignored him.

As the council meeting got underway and the various delegates reported on cult activity in their respective territories, it became apparent that the cult was increasing its raids. When it got to be Delaan Winterhound’s turn to speak, the half-elf began to explain that the Enclave was investigating reports of dragon raids in the Misty Forest, only to be rudely interrupted by King Melandrach, who insisted that the raids had been dealt with by increased patrols and improved fortifications.

Lady Laeral then introduced a familiar face: Elia, the Turami noblewoman and friend of Lady Haventree whom the heroes had met at the first Council Quiet some months ago. Much to everyone’s surprise, she revealed herself to be, in truth, a silver dragon named Otaaryliakkarnos. She informed the council that the metallic dragons of the Sword Coast were arranging a council of their own. She recommended that the council send representatives, and so, of course, the heroes were chosen.

After the meeting, Delaan approached the heroes privately and told them more about what was happening in the Misty Forest. King Melandrach’s own son, Prince Alagarthas, was also convinced that something sinister was going on, for there were reports from survivors that the dragon was being controlled by a humanoid, possibly even one of the cult’s wyrmspeakers! If the heroes wished to investigate further, Delaan suggested they head to the elven village of Altand first, as it had mysteriously survived intact, whereas all the other raided villages had been destroyed.

The heroes agreed that it would be worth investigating. However, they decided that it might be worth talking to the metallic dragons first, and so agreed to attend the dragons’ council with Elia (aka “Otaaryliakkarnos”).

First Council of Waterdeep

A Series of Intriguing Events
After returning to Waterdeep, our heroes were given some more downtime. As winter gave way to spring, several things happened:

First, Lord Arthagast Ulbrinter was assassinated by the Cult of the Dragon. His widow, Remallia Haventree, swore she would not rest until the cult had been destroyed. With the backing of the lords of Waterdeep, who did not like to see one of their own so badly mistreated, Remi organized what would become known as the First Council of Waterdeep – a gathering of important leaders from across the Sword Coast, all of whom were beginning to feel the effects of the cult’s actions.

Second, a strange atmospheric effect began disturbing the normal hum of the city. It was a feeling similar to the drop in air pressure before the approach of a storm, or like faint tremors in the ground from a distant earthquake. As the days passed, it began to have an adverse effect on everyone. Animals, in particular, seemed quite sensitive to it. No one seemed to know what it was or what was causing it, though.

First Council of Waterdeep
Some time later, the heroes were invited to attend the inaugural session of the Council of Waterdeep. As Leosin guided them through the vaulted marble halls of the Lords’ Palace, he explained that the various leaders were in need of someone “to show them the right path …”

“Heroes who will lead the forces of the Sword Coast with certainty into the coming darkness!” interjected Ontharr Frume, coming up behind the group and pounding them all heartily on the shoulders. “I firmly believe you all have a chance to be those heroes!”

“Bear in mind, friends, that each faction will weigh your every word and scrutinize your every decision,” continued Leosin. “What pleases one group might anger another. It will be incredibly difficult to make everyone happy.”

As the group headed for the “secret council chambers”, they passed through outer galleries packed with nobles in heated debate, watched over by guards wearing the livery from city-states across the Sword Coast.

Dagult Neverember, Open Lord of Waterdeep and Lord Protector of Neverwinter, presided over the council. He opened the session by pointing out that all present could speak freely, as the council chambers had been warded against scrying and other forms of eavesdropping.

The council was composed primarily of members of the Lords’ Alliance. In addition to Lord Neverember, there was Connerad Brawnanvil, a former king of Mithril Hall and the ambassador for the dwarves of the North; Melandrach, king of the elves of the Misty Forest and ambassador for the elves of the High Forest; Ulder Ravengard, Grand Duke of Baldur’s Gate; Taern “Thunderspells” Hornblade, an archmage representing the city of Silverymoon; and Sir Isteval, a retired paladin representing both the town of Daggerford and the kingdom of Cormyr.

Representing the other factions were Remallia Haventree (Harpers), Ontharr Frume (Order of the Gauntlet), and Delaan Winterhound (Emerald Enclave). No one from the Zhentarim was present.

Once everyone had been introduced, Leosin and Ontharr stepped forward to report on their role in gathering information about the cult. They touched on the heroes’ activities from Greenest through to Skyreach Castle. The heroes were then asked to clarify a few points:

The Dragon Eggs: Several leaders were disappointed to learn that the heroes had destroyed the black dragon eggs they’d found in the cave south of Greenest. Remi and Taern would have preferred keeping the eggs to hold for ransom, thus potentially keeping the parent dragons from joining in the fight. Lord Neverember would have liked to have been able to sell them to “responsible buyers” in order to be able to buy more mercenaries. Delaan quietly pointed out that he had already expressed to Keo the Enclave’s disapproval of the disruption of the natural order that destroying the eggs had caused.

Skyreach Castle: Though the majority of the councillors were happy enough that the heroes had allowed Blagothkus to keep his flying fortress, Connerad was extremely upset. He felt quite strongly that the heroes should have commandeered it for the alliance, rather than letting it remain in the hands of the giants. Several others countered this by pointing out that it  could work in their favor, should they decide to reach out to the giants for assistance.

Rezmir: Everyone was a little disappointed that the heroes hadn’t been able to capture Rezmir alive, but they understood that the circumstances had not allowed for it. Connerad wanted to know who had struck the killing blow. The heroes explained that it had been a team effort, with Flint using his storm magic, Keo his faerie fire, Mara her greataxe, and Roscoe his trusty daggers. The council members all seemed suitably impressed.

Varram the White Wyrmspeaker: The Lords’ Alliance, the Harpers, and the Order of the Gauntlet were all pleased that the heroes had managed to capture Varram alive. Furthermore, Connerad insisted that, once the allies were finished with him, he be sent to Mithril Hall to be tried in a court of dwarven law for crimes against his own kind. Delaan was the sole voice of dissent, indicating that the Enclave felt this behavior was excessive. Keeping such an important member of the cult alive only opened the door for a rescue attempt.

The Black Dragon Mask: Everyone was pleased that the heroes had managed to get their hands on a dragon mask. There was still so much that could be learned about their significance, but surely the fact that the cult was missing one would have a negative impact on their ultimate goal.

With that feedback given, Lord Neverember asked the heroes if they would be willing to continue in their fight against the cult. When the heroes all replied in the affirmative, the council bestowed on them emergency powers of investigation, including a writ with the factions’ seals on it that would give them access to people and places that might ordinarily be off-limits to the general public. Lord Neverember warned that the writ came with oversight from the council, however, as the heroes’ conduct would reflect back on the faction leaders. The heroes weren’t entirely sure they liked the sound of that – Roscoe the least so – but they all agreed nonetheless.

Lord Neverember then steered the meeting towards new business – namely, that of the bizarre effect that kept occurring at regular intervals. He then invited  one Lady Dala Silmerhelve, a scholarly noble, into the chamber to speak on the topic. She explained that the effect was being produced by an ancient draconic artifact known as the draakhorn. She didn’t know much more than that, but she suggested that if anyone did know anything, it would most likely be one of the Arcane Brotherhood, an order of the “best and brightest mages” in Faerûn based in Luskan.

Over Ontharr Frume’s protestations (“The brotherhood does not police their members! There are known necromancers in their ranks, for gods’ sake!”), the heroes agreed to go and meet with the Arcane Brotherhood on behalf of the council. Lord Neverember offered to set up a meeting for them with his friend, Zelenn the White, an elven wizard originally from Neverwinter.

To Luskan
After the meeting, the heroes were given some time to gather their thoughts and then Leosin led them to the Lightsinger Theater. In a prop room at the back, the Harper showed them a bricked-up doorway. After asking everyone except Flint to avert their eyes, pressed a few bricks. The bricked portion swung open like a door, revealing an old dusty stairwell. Leosin reached up and touched the arch’s keystone and at once the stairwell was replaced by a shimmering portal that cycled through images of a dingy sewer, a dark warehouse corner, and a wheelwright’s storeroom.

Leosin muttered a phrase in Elvish that no one understood and immediately the portal settled on the image of the storeroom. “There you are, folks! That will take you to Wiley’s Wheels in Luskan. The shop is run by a dwarf named Maxxil, who’s an ally of the Harpers. When you’re ready to return, he’ll open up the portal again from his side. Just be careful over there. Luskan may be on the up-and-up but it always was a rough-and-tumble place and always will be.”

The heroes had little trouble finding their way to the Hosttower of the Arcane, the ancient tree-like tower that the Arcane Brotherhood called home. Their writ from the Council of Waterdeep granted them access and before long they were face to face with not just Lord Neverember’s friend, Zelenn the White, but also the brotherhood’s archmage arcane, Cashaan the Red.

The mages explained that their resident expert on draconic artifacts, Maccath the Crimson, had departed on an expedition three years ago and hadn’t been seen since. She had determined that the only way to learn more about some things was to treat with dragons themselves. She also desired to recover some artifacts that one dragon in particular, an old white dragon named Arauthator, had stolen during an attack on the Hosttower over a century ago.

With that in mind, Maccath had set sail for the Sea of Moving Ice. She’d maintained communication with her fellows via sending spells. Her last spell had indicated that she’d neared a distinctive iceberg. After that, nothing, and although the wreck of her ship had been found and the bodies of some of its crew, she had simply disappeared. Cashaan felt that she was still alive, however. He surmised that Maccath would be too great a prize for a dragon like Arauthator.

Cashaan offered to help the heroes: if they agreed to find Maccath and bring her back to the brotherhood, along with as many of the items Arauthator had stolen as they could find, he would provide the heroes with a ship and several items that might help them. The items included warm clothing and two arrows of dragon slaying. He also agreed to sell the heroes some potions at cost.

Ultimately, though, the heroes turned down the offer of a ship. Flint was not keen on spending so much time on the open water, and Imsa had mentioned that she was aware of an Emerald Enclave member who trained griffons as mounts in Fireshear, a town just up the coast from Luskan. Having flown with his dragon friend, Flint was much more comfortable with that idea. The others didn’t seem to care either way, so off to Fireshear they went and spent a few days training with Dasharra Keldabar, a dwarf veteran of Waterdeep’s famed Griffon Cavalry. Dasharra offered to accompany the heroes on their flight into the Sea of Moving Ice as well.

The Sea of Moving Ice
It took the heroes a few days to fly up to the sea from Fireshear. They then spent another four days fruitlessly searching amongst the endless ice floes until finally spotting some Ice Hunters tracking seals. They landed and attempted to speak to the hunters. Flint cast comprehend languages so that he could understand what they were saying and then conjured up little images using prestidigitation. The hunters seemed fearful of his magic, so Roscoe drew pictures of dragons and horned women in the snow. The hunters maintained that there was no dragon nearby and implored the heroes to let them go. The heroes reluctantly agreed and the hunters retreated to their boats.

The following evening, while the heroes were snugly camped out inside Flint’s tiny hut, Roscoe spotted a polar bear stalking a wounded Ice Hunter. Rousing his companions, he hurried out to help. Skie screamed and shouted ferociously at the bear, successfully intimidating it into fleeing. Keo gave the hunter some goodberries. Having saved his life, the heroes had better luck communicating with this Ice Hunter. He fearfully explained that there was a dragon and that his people lived on the iceberg with the dragon. But he begged the heroes to not go there as it would put his people in danger.

The next day, the heroes spotted the distinctive shape of the iceberg known as Oyaviggaton! After circling over it and spotting the Ice Hunters’ village at the center, they found a low shelf covered in large animal bones to one side. Landing the griffons there, they found a number of chewed-on humanoid bones in amongst the larger ones, which looked to have come from large seals and whales.

To the side of the shelf was a large cleft in the ice cliff. Someone had carved steps into it, leading up to the plateau at the top. As the heroes discussed how to proceed, Dasharra indicated that she’d give them 24 hours. If they hadn’t reported back in that time, she’d take her griffons home.

The heroes decided to try some magical scouting first. Keo used commune with nature to establish that there were humanoids and dogs at the top of the plateau, as well as what could count as a “manmade” structure inside the iceberg itself. Flint then cast arcane eye and sent it up the staircase. At the top, he was surprised to find a bunch of corpses frozen in a wall of ice as some kind of morbid warning. Some were dressed like Luskar sailors, some like the Ice Hunters. There was even a dwarf. All appeared to have died violently.

Flint sent the arcane eye speeding across the uneven surface of the plateau towards the Ice Hunter village. As it was snowing lightly, most of the people stayed inside, but occasionally he saw someone go from one hut or igloo to another. He sent the eye roving around the outer walls of the iceberg as well but could find no obvious entrance to the caverns beneath the village. Then he remembered that white dragons could swim and thought maybe Arauthator would have a subterranean entrance, so he sent his arcane eye under the water. After some time, he found a tunnel leading up into the iceberg and, viola, there was the dragon, clinging to the ceiling of his cave just like Cloudchaser had done! His spell ran out before he could explore much of the dragon’s lair, but he was able to deduce that there was still about 60 feet between the ceiling of the lair and the surface of the iceberg, so there was most likely some more caves in between.

The Ice Hunters
At this point, the heroes decided it was time to go and talk to the Ice Hunters in the village. Dasharra bid them farewell and took her griffons to rest on a nearby iceberg, where she could watch Oyaviggaton from relative safety.

As the heroes neared the village, the dogs started barking and the whole tribe spilled out to get a look at the newcomers. The tribe’s chieftain, Barking Seal, spoke a little Illuskan, so Skie was able to translate. Barking Seal insisted that they leave, but the heroes were equally insistent that they were going to stay, so the chieftain proposed a deal: if one of them fought the village champion and won, they could stay; if they fought and lost, they’d have to leave. The heroes reluctantly agreed.

Skie stepped up to fight a massive Ice Hunter named Orcaheart. The rest of the tribe circled around to watch. It was a fairly evenly-matched fight, and despite the restriction on using magic, Keo was sure he’d seen the tribal shaman heal her warrior when he’d “stumbled” into her at one point. Then Skie channelled her rage and it was all over for poor Orcaheart.

As it turned out, the tribe’s idea of hospitality was to offer the heroes the use of their storage igloo and a meal consisting of spoiled fish. The heroes did the polite thing, though, and ate the fish. And the next thing they knew, they were all tied up in an ice cave lit by whale oil lamps, with a bunch of giant white toads poking through their gear!

“Shouldn’t have eaten the fish …” Roscoe grumbled, as the heroes realized they’d been poisoned. Roscoe slipped his bonds and then helped free his friends. The toads backed away but did nothing to stop them. Flint tried talking to them and discovered that they could speak a little Draconic. They explained that the heroes were in the dragon’s lair and that they would end up as his dinner. They also acknowledged that the “horned lady” was still alive and was in her part of the lair.

And that is where we finished for the evening. Stay tuned for the next instalment!

 

The Serpent’s Lair

DM note: This post covers events from the past two sessions.

After a nice long rest in a cave, protected by Flint’s spells, the group headed back into the tomb.

First, they went and pumped the ghostly librarian for more info, with mixed results (Skie now looks to be in her sixties!), then they headed back through the throne room to talk to the devils. They mentioned that there was treasure in the room at the bottom of the stairs but wouldn’t say what was down there without a bit of something in return (they may have mentioned something about gems).

Leaving them to twiddle their thumbs – or whatever it is a pack of devils does when left on guard duty for long periods of time – the heroes pressed on to Diderius’ tomb. The long-dead wizard opened the way again, and the heroes slaughtered some more lizardfolk guards in the cave beyond and fought off their yuan-ti handlers.

Next they went up into the yuan-ti shrine and ended up fighting two suits of armor animated by swarms of snakes. They were soon dealt with.

Upon finishing off the snake horrors, the group proceeded up into the yuan-ti shrine room, where Roscoe resisted the temptation to pry out the rubies in the statues’ eyes. Instead, he listened at the door through which the yuan-ti had come, then opened it to find a short passage ending at another door. This one opened to reveal an ovoid chamber riddled with holes in the floor – along with two different yuan-ti.

Roscoe and Skie proceeded to talk to them, convincing the yuan-ti that the party didn’t want to fight. The yuan-ti, surprisingly, agreed and offered to take the party to their leader, a priestess named Asutali.

The yuan-ti led the heroes down the undulating hall and into a grand temple filled with more snake-themed statuary. Green flames guttering out of the statues’ mouths illuminated the temple. At the far end, a large snake-like yuan-ti waited, a dragontooth dagger held to an unconscious dwarf’s neck. The dwarf was dressed in purple robes. It was Varram!

Asutali indicated that she would gladly hand the dwarf over provided that the heroes promised to leave her people’s lair without further violence and never return. They readily agreed, but as the yuan-ti priestess released the dwarf’s body, she warned the heroes that his soul had been sucked out of his body temporarily and would not return until they had gotten him out of the lair.

Keo carried Varram’s body back to the divination pool room, where the party was able to revive him. He seemed resigned to his fate and admitted that he had lost the white dragon mask. He had come to the tomb to use the pool to find out where it had gone; unfortunately for him, it had already been recovered. He was now no longer welcome in Severin’s inner circle. Most likely, Talis would take his place.

The heroes managed to get Varram to talk about the room at the bottom of the stairs: he said it looked to have been Diderius’ bedchamber and was guarded by incorporeal undead. He’d lost a few men in there. The heroes then got him to call off his devilish guards, who vanished back to whatever infernal realm they’d been summoned from.

Heading out to the canyon, a slow clap brought the heroes’ attention to the clifftop above, where they discovered Talis waiting, sitting astride the white dragon they’d chased away from Skyreach Castle. Talis demanded that they hand Varram over to her if they wanted to live. Varram wasn’t keen on the idea.

Not wishing to relinquish their prisoner, the heroes retreated back into Diderius’ antechamber to rest. Upon their return to the tomb entrance, they discovered that some dragon cultists were waiting in ambush there. A fight ensued, during which the dragon and Talis kept swooping down to attack before flying back up out of sight.

The heroes managed to dispatch the cultists with relative ease, and Flint temporarily trapped Talis in a resilient sphere. Although she broke out, the party took her down with ranged attacks and the dragon breathed one last time in its fury before swooping away with Talis’ limp body still on its back.

Although the dragon’s icy breath knocked several of the heroes down, Keo’s protege Imsa was able to keep everyone alive. Flint contacted Leosin via the sending stone; the half-elf told the party to head back to Boareskyr Bridge, where he would send help. After limping back through the wilderness, attracting nothing more than a pack of vultures, the party found a small animal with a scroll of teleportation waiting for them at the bridge.

Flint successfully cast the spell from the scroll, and the heroes found themselves standing outside the gates of Waterdeep, with Varram still in tow.